Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ice Manchu

Five degrees F and snowing, on the way home.  They say the lows, the next couple of nights,  will be be well below zero (16 below, tonight).

The high, tomorrow, is supposed to be only 1 below zero.



Saturday, January 29, 2011

Now That The Shop Is Straightened Up, A Bit

... I am able to actually get in there and do some work.

This is the Panasonic mountain bike I picked up, last May.  I had planned on, maybe, building up something cool out of it and selling it.  But, on close inspection, it became clear that one of the rear brake cable stops, on the top tube, was about to fail.  So, instead of building it, I stole the wheels off of it and put them on my RockCombo commuter bike.  The rest of the Panasonic went into the "wait until something comes to me" pile.  I didn't want to discard a Tange Prestige lugged frame because of a relatively minor problem, after all.

This week, I decided to build a Franken-cross bike out of it.  So I grabbed a bolt-on cable stop out of the parts bin, to fix that problem, then started rummaging through my boxes to see what I could stick on the bike.  I really wanted to build it completely from stuff in the shop building.

I had a mismatched set of 700c cross wheels, but I did have to buy new Ritchey tires and some tubes.  The brakes are a mismatch, too.  The front is a newer Ultegra dual-pivot unit,

and the rear brake is the same model, from the late 1990s, when they were still labeled as "600".

Side pull brakes don't normally have enough adjustment to remove the wheel without deflating the tire.  But, since I am using mountain bike brake levers, I can actually release the cable at the lever, and then the brakes open up wide enough for the tires to slip in and out.

This is a Nashbar front rack that I bought, last year, when it was on sale for $5.00, mounted on the rear of the bike.  I don't know if it's going to stay on the bike.  I put it there because I am planning on using a large saddle bag on the bike, and I thought this might make a good support for the bottom of a bag.  I wouldn't trust it to carry a load, due to the way I had to modify the top stay to clear the brake.  It might move around a bit, on the lower pivots, if it has any real weight on it.

I'm not a huge fan of Shimano Bio-Pace rings, but this version is barely ovalized and I don't notice it as I'm riding.  I like having a 48 tooth ring on a bike like this.  It's not quite road bike gearing, but it is enough gear to motivate along at a good clip on pavement, when the conditions warrant it.

Another thing that I'll probably end up buying is some decent bear trap pedals.  The plastic pedals that were on the bike when I got it don't suit me.

I love this saddle, and I'm glad to have it back on a bike.

I bought these shifters off of eBay, last year, just to check them out.  They are big, heavy and quite ugly.  Yet, they are pretty functional and, at about $20.00 per pair, shipped to my door, I thought they were an okay value.

The handlebar is one of my old Huffy 3-speed bars, inverted in the manner I prefer.  I will have to search through my storage buildings and see if I have a stem which is just a bit shorter.  This one isn't bad, but I'd like to have a bit more upright position.

So, I now have a bike built to take to my sister's house, this summer.  Since I am driving one way, then flying back, I figured I'll probably end up leaving whatever bike I take with me.  And, I plan on doing a couple of mixed terrain rides while I'm out of town, so this should be a good build for that.

While I was working in the shop, I did a bit of work on the RockCombo.  I installed a new chain, trued the wheels, adjusted the brakes, cleaned it up and mounted up some knobby 26x1.5 Swiss Army tires.

It's so clean that it dazzles the eye!

I looked for 1.5 knobbies for a year before I finally found these.  I like to have a bit if tread, in case it snows or I decide to hit a gravel route.  But, I don't want the weight of 1.9 or 2.0 inch tires on the commute.

I ended up with a mild case of "mechanic's hand".  For a guy who hates to have his hands dirty, I sure spend an inordinate amount of time  with grimy digits.


Dramatic "After" Photo

In the comments on yesterday's post, Chris Johnson (Pondero), expressed disappointment that I didn't include the "dramatic after photo".  So, here it is:

It's not quite as dramatic as I'd like.  The shop is still fairly cluttered.  But, my work bench is clear, the tools are put away, and I actually have room to work on a bike, now (as is evidenced by the build in progress, on the stand).

The blue at the bottom of the photo is my motorcycle cover, which is sheltering my Triumph and my Honda, as long as the weather holds.  They will go back into the building, tomorrow evening, and that takes up a lot of floor space.  I am actually working on alternative parking for them, but it will be a while before anything happens.


Friday, January 28, 2011

The Pitfalls of Being a Slob

Today, I got off work at noon, due to some extra hours I worked, last week.  So, I decided I would take advantage of the nice weather to clean up the work shop, a bit.

I pulled all of this out of the shop... order to clear out some of this:

I worked on the shop for about 3 hours, including the time I spent riding the Triumph and Honda around the block a few times.  I wanted to run some gas through the carbs, and today was a great day for it.

At 4:45, it was still very close to the 70 degrees F that it had been most of the afternoon.

Eventually, I got the place in some semblance of order.  I can actually work in the work shop, now!

I have a couple of projects that I'm working on, and this will make them a bit easier.

More, later.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yehuda Moon Cap

Got my new Yehuda Moon cap, by Walz Caps, in the mail today.

Here I am, doing my best Yehuda imitation:

Yeah, I realized how silly it was...

Well, at least the cap is good looking.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back In Business

Rode the XO-2 down to Kaladi Brothers, this morning, and had my coffee.  For some reason, my world just seemed a little wonky, with this bike out of commission.

All good, now.

What is it about certain bikes (or guitars, or pocket knives, or whatever) that make them take a special place in our hearts?  I have plenty of other bikes to ride, so having this one down was not affecting my mobility, at all.  Yet, I felt compelled to get it sorted , ASAP.

Do you have a favorite ______, for which you have no explainable reason to hold so dear?


Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Rims On the XO-2

All right...I might wait a week, or two, to fix my broken hot water pipe to the shower.  And, I might wait a year to go to the doctor when I'm, having frequent, heavy, nosebleeds.  But, if the XO-2 is broken, I am Jonny-on-the-spot.

The UPS guy dropped the new rims off, yesterday.  I rebuilt the wheels, today.

The bike is back on the road, and I will celebrate by riding it to the coffee shop, tomorrow. 

I decided that the black anodizing on the rims was acceptable.  I might actually replace these wheels, if I come up with some silver versions, just because I prefer silver over black for vintage bikes.   For now, though, they are fine.

Maybe I can avoid breaking these, within the next year, either way.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Be Careful About What You Wish For

About an hour after posting, yesterday, about how boring the past week was, I decided to get my bike ready for today's commute.  I had been off work for three days, and most of the snow which I had ridden in last week was gone.

I went out to the shop building to get the commuter bike, then decided to pull out the XO-2, and install my big Basil canvas panniers on it.  I had a bunch of stuff to carry to work, and the Basils are huge, actually a little too big to use on a regular basis. So they work well for these occasional large loads.

I brought the bike into the house, and started strapping the bags on.  As I did so, I spun the rear wheel around and noticed it was out of true.

Back out to the shop to get a spoke wrench.  I figured I'd just do a quick, on-the-bike, truing and wait until it was more convenient to to actually put the wheel in the truing stand. As I adjusted spoke tension, though, the rim didn't seem to be responding, very well.

I got down for a closer look.  This is what I found:

Another Mavic 217 bites the dust. 

I think, over the years, that I may have been responsible for the destruction of about half of the total production run of these rims. 

I couldn't find a replacement 217, in 32 holes, at an affordable price, last night.  They are out of production, and eBay is about the only place I know of to look. 

So, I got a pair of Mavic 317s, to replace both rims.  The new rims are black, with machined braking surfaces.  I don't want black rims on this bike, so I may take them down to Lee at Prestige Powder Coat, and have him bead last them.

Or, I might just build them up, as is, and not worry about it.  (This is the most likely scenario.)

Either way, that'll teach me to complain that nothing blog-worthy had happened, lately.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Boring Weeks Produce Little in Blog Posts

Of course, I've blogged a new bike story, every day, over at the new blog.  But, not a whole lot went down, last week, that was worthy of a blog.

I didn't feel the need to write about the cold and the snow, every day.  Almost everyone in the U.S of A. was going through the same thing.  At one point, there was snow on the ground in 49 states.  And the one state without snow, Florida, is infested with alligators and David Caruso, so they don't want to hear any whining from us about a little snow.

Weather-related posts are sorta boring anyway.  I can tell you how cold it was (on Wednesday, not only did I have on my beard and mustache when I got to work, but I had ice on the exposed skin of my cheeks - frostbite, anyone?).  But will it make an impression on you?  Probably not.  A dog on the roof of a house only made enough of an impression to generate 3 comments.

And, all I did, last week, was ride to work, work, ride home and sleep.  I think the latest I went to sleep was at 9:30, and the earliest was 8:15.  Riding on snow, in cold weather, then working on my feet all day makes me tired, apparently.  Not exactly Earth-shattering news.

I did get out to see some live music, Saturday night, at Herman's Hideaway.  The headliner was a Celtic rock band, and the opening 3 bands were all alt-country.  It was fun, and the place was ultra-crowded.  But, I got no pictures or sound bites.

Today was laundry day, as well as MLK Day.  I was off work, and decided that I should go down to the river and beat my rags on the wet rocks.  This was the first time I did laundry since the week before my nephew Kyle came to visit, over Christmas and New Years.

The weather has been nice, the past 3 days.  High temperatures at the beginning of the week were in the high single-digits, and it's been in the mid-50s since Saturday.  The temperature today is pretty pleasant, but the wind is blowing so hard that if you go outside, the straws that normally get driven into tree trunks  during tornadoes and hurricanes will all impale you and turn you into a human porcupine.  Not a good look for me, what with my thinning hair and all.

That's all this world needs; a balding human porcupine complaining about the weather on a blog.

Hopefully, life might be a bit more interesting during this coming week.  If I manage to do anything other than survive the commute (750 work days in a row, as of this past Friday), I'll keep you informed.


Monday, January 10, 2011

I Asked The Dog, "What Is On Top Of The House?" "Roof...Roof!" he said.

Click this photo to make it bigger!

Often, as I ride down Kearney Street, on the way home from work, I hear a dog barking at me as I cross 37th.  But, until the other day, I never could find him.

Lots of dogs bark at me from behind fences, or from behind a storm door, and they are hard to spot.  I finally spotted this guy and, today, I got a couple of photos of him.

I have no idea how he gets up there, but he seems pretty much at home.  He runs around, barking his fool head off, like he is on flat ground.

I hope he never falls off.


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sunday, Snowy Sunday

Woke up this morning, and looked out the front door:

 Got a little snow overnight, here in Denver.  This was the scene at about 8:00 AM.

I rode the snow-commuter down to the coffee shop.  The side streets are easy to ride;  the snow offers pretty good traction.  Where I crossed Colorado Boulevard and University, it was pretty treacherous.  The snowplows have come though and removed the snow down to the packed ice.  Those streets would be more easily driven if they had been left un-plowed.  (They will clear off, more quickly, than the side streets, once the sun is out, though.)

It continued to snow pretty heavily, while I was at Kaladi Brothers.  In fact, it is supposed to snow, pretty continuously, until tomorrow evening.  Then, it should turn cold (10 below zero forecasted for tomorrow night/Tuesday morning's commute).
Bike parking was plentiful, this morning.  

When I got home, I shoveled the walk.  Now, two hours later, they need it, again.  I guess I'll go do that after I write my story for today.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

The 50 Miler Became 40, With Hockey

As I got ready to head out, this morning, I realized that I had time get to Colin's hockey game, down at Family Sports, if I skipped my coffee and scone.  So, instead of heading to Kaladi for coffee, I headed south to the sports complex (10 miles away).  I stopped at the Starbucks across Arapahoe Road from the ice arena, filled my thermos with Americano and got a breakfast sandwich.

Once there, I found Carol and her parents, and sat with them through the game, as I had my coffee and food.  The game was pretty good, and ended up tied at 3-all.  It took an hour and a half out of my ride time, but I was glad I stopped.  I missed Colin's whole season, last year, and I didn't want to do that again.

After the game, I continued south to the E-470 Trail, and headed west.  About 3 or 4 miles away from the hockey rink, I realized that I had an empty coffee thermos, but no water bottle.  So, I stopped at the convenience store at 470 and Quebec and got some bottled water.

As per usual, lately, I forgot my camera.  While I was stopped, getting water, I used my phone to snap one shot for the ride:

 Can you tell I was happy to be riding on a nice, sunny day?

I followed the C-470 Trail (it changes at I-25) to the South Platte Greenway, and turned north just in time for a head wind to start blowing.  Clouds were beginning to move in from the north, and it looks like the weather-guessers might have gotten it right, for once.  The forecast is for snow and Arctic-like low temperatures for the next couple of days. 

So, I left the South Platte at Dartmouth Avenue, and wound my way through the neighborhoods until I got to Kaladi Brothers.  I stopped in and got my coffee and scone, which I had missed this morning, and then headed for the house (after hanging out for a while).

All in all,  I ended up with a little over 40 miles on the bike, and I got to watch a pretty good hockey game, in the middle of it.  Not too bad for a Saturday.

Once home, I took the lighted spiral trees down, from the from yard, and got things shipshape for the coming snow.  Looks like the Holidays are officially over, now.


Friday, January 07, 2011

New Blog

I decided to do another daily blog, this year, but I got a slightly late start on it.  I didn't want to do the "sketch-a-day" thing again, though.

I am going to try to tell a new bike story, every day, for a year.  The story may be about something that happened to me or someone I know.  It might be fiction.  But, it will concern a bike.

Let's see how far into the year I get before I run out of stories.  Scott C always said I apparently had an endless supply...

Check it here.


Day Off

What a tiring week.  Back at work after a week and a half off, I had to ride on snow and ice every day, in some pretty low temps every morning.  I was quite tired, by the end of the week.

So, I determined that I was going to take it easy, this morning.  And...that's just what I did.  I slept until almost 8:00, got up, and rode the XO-2 down to Kaladi.

 It was crazy-busy in the coffee shop, and there wasn't a seat to be had.  I ended up sitting outside, with the temps in the low-40s.  I loaned my sweatshirt to the lady whose leg you can see in the background, so that she could use it as a lap-blanket.  She was kinda shivering, and I just couldn't sit there and watch it.

The bike closest to me in the picture is Don Fox's Fuji.  Don is an old friend, and one of the most interesting people I know.  He was very active in the motorcycle and hotrod world, here in Denver, back in the 50s and 60s, and was a professional body man.  He is full of hotrod stories, and motorcycle tales, and I love to hear him talk about the local scene, from back in the old days.  I eventually ended up inside, sitting with him.

Don just had his 77th birthday, on December 21.  He no longer drives (hasn't in the 8 or 9 years I've known him), but gets around fine by foot and bike.  I hope I am still going that strong, at that age.

I hung around Kaladi until about noon, then rode home.  The rest of the day was equally laid-back. 

Tomorrow, I plan on riding the bike for some significant amount of miles.  I'm not sure how far I will go, but I want to get a nice long recreational ride in.  My birthday ride is going to be a bit epic, this year, so I want to get some good base miles in.


Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's Day Ride 2011

Three bikes in Cheesman Park...

Well, only one other person went on the ride with Kyle and me, today.  Scott and Brad showed up for coffee, but only Tom (who also went, last year) actually came for the ride.  That's his Bridgestone MB-3 in the picture.

The temperatures have been cold enough, since it snowed, that the road surfaces are not real icy or slushy.  Traction is actually pretty good and, while I was riding on my studded tires, they were not a necessity, at all.  Kyle and Tom did just fine on normal mtb tires.

Kyle rode my titanium bike, and I rode the fixed-gear snow commuter.  I would have ridden the XO-2 (or let Kyle ride it, since he rode it all week), but I was concerned about the rim brakes freezing up and making stopping as bit iffy.  As it turned out, I don't think that would have been a problem.  Still, better safe than sorry.

We started off at Kaladi Brothers Coffee, as planned, and ended up riding through Washington Park to Cheesman Park, around through City Park and, after Tom peeled off to his house as we rode by, Kyle and I returned through Wash Park to Kaladi Bros for more coffee.  Then, since Illegal Pete's was closed, we went to Spanky's for food.

By the time we got back to the house, Kyle and I had put in about 19 miles at an average speed of 8.7 mph.  No world record, but not too shabby in the snow.

I have to say that, as usual, I was a bit disappointed in the turnout, though.  Every year, I wonder why nobody goes on these rides.  Yeah, it's generally cold and sometimes snowy, but we always have a blast.  Every year I hope that, next year, people will remember me saying how much fun it was and decide to go.

Maybe next year...

PS: This one's for Meligrosa!

Happy New year, everybody!