Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Good Question

A few days ago, in the comments section of a post, Bill asked me why I had stopped using a fixed gear for my commute.  I gave him a short answer, but later realized that I hadn't really answered the question very well.

I spent quite a bit of time searching for a Specialized RockCombo.  They were only sold for one year, and not many of them went out the door.  So, when I finally found a frame and fork, in The Netherlands of all places, I snapped it up.

Once I had the bike built up, I wanted to put it to use rather than just hang it up in the shop and let it go to waste.  So, I put a rack and some bags on the RockCombo and started commuting on it.  I planned on only using it for a while, then going back to my old commuter.  But, I got in the habit of grabbing the RC, every day and the fixed gear commuter ended up getting sold off.

The 100 mile rides I was doing also came into play.  I felt that sticking to multi-geared bikes would help me on the long rides.  I find that transitioning from fixed to multi-speed takes some adaptation time, and i didn't want to deal with that on the long rides.

But, I do miss the fixed gear.  So, I think I will put some slick tires on the snow bike, once snow season is over, and use it as a commuter this summer.  I will probably do something like use the RC one week, then the fixed gear the next.  I did that with the Thruxton and the Trident, when I was riding motorbikes to work a few years ago, and it worked out pretty well.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Got Home

I just got back from our annual lab inspection trip.  We made the loop through Grand Junction, Durango, Alamosa and Pueblo.  Here are a few shots of the scenery along the way.

Red Mountain/Molas Pass:

 Wolfe Creek Pass:

Check out the ski and snowboard tracks leading into the avalanche chute...

Had a slight wardrobe malfunction, on Tuesday:

 I developed a nice case of laryngitis, over the course of Wednesday and today, and eventually lost my voice, completely, this afternoon.  I am resting my throat, hoping to get the power of speech back.

Now, it is time to get unpacked and get back into my normal routine.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

One Year Down the Road

Just about a year ago (plus a week and a half, actually), I built up the RockCombo frame and fork I had gotten from the Netherlands.  I originally set it up in the same style it left the factory (as seen above):  wide tires, drop bars, no fenders or racks, etc.  But, since I planned on commuting on it, I knew that I would, at least, be adding a rack and bags, lights and a bell.  I did plan on leaving the fenders off, because I like the looks without them.
Of course, as the year progressed and the RC became my main commuter, I started turning it into a "commuter" rather than a "bike I commute on, occasionally".

The first thing to go was the drop bar.  I experimented with the Nitto Randonneur bar, then an Origin8 Gary II.  But, the drops on both were low enough that I had to have a huge quill extension on the stem to get them high enough.  The fact that this is an 18" frame, didn't help.  On a 20" frame, I could have probably made it work. As it was, though, I had so much quill showing on the stem that it flexed, noticeably, when I was standing and climbing.

So, I went with the old faithful mustache bar, and a shorter quill.  I like the looks of the drop bar and, if I ever start commuting on something else, I'll put the Gary II back on the RC.

I also broke down and installed some fenders.  It doesn't look as good, to my eye, but they are really a requirement for an everyday commuter.  On the other hand, there are people who actually like the looks of fenders on bikes like this, so I guess it works for them.

The tires are now 1.5" knobbies, rather than 1.9" semi-slicks.  They work better in the occasional unexpected snowfall on the way home from work, and actually seem to roll better on the dry pavement, as well.  The seat is now a Cardiff, and the bags I blogged about a few weeks ago.

Another requirement for a bike with bags on it is a good, sturdy, kickstand.  I like this rear-mounted side-stand better than the two-leg center stand I originally had on it.  The front wheel was always in the air, due to the weight of the bags, with the center stand, and it was just unwieldy.

So, after a year of commuting and errand-running, I have put over 3450 miles on the bike.  I guess I got my money's worth out of it.

I should probably put a new chain on it, soon.  And the bottom bracket/headset need to be overhauled.  Daily-use bikes tend to get neglected.  When you don't have much downtime on the bike, the time available for major maintenance is rare.

I'll probably end up changing out brake levers, as well.  The aero-style DiaComp levers on the bike don't really work that well with the cantilevers, unlike the non-aero version on the XO-2.  They require a lot of adjusting to keep the cable tension in the sweet spot.  I have some Ritchey mtb levers that I think I can shoehorn onto the bar.  They should improve the braking, immensely.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

News of A General Sort

I can't discuss the details, in a public forum, but there is news on the driver who ran me down.

The District Attorney refused to prosecute the Vehicular Assault charge.  The police did manage to get the guy charged with Careless Driving.  Trial date is April 21.

I am happy that some form of justice might be done.  We'll just have to wait and see how it goes in court.

Until then, I won't be bothering you with this unpleasantness, any further.

Thank you all for your well-wishes and your support.  It has meant a lot to me.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

On a Lighter Note...

I finished up the new snow-bike, yesterday:

I decided that I would like to use the vintage-styled fixed gear for something, rather than have it hanging in the shop building. 

So, it got the wheels and studded tires, rack and fenders, seat and pogies and all the lights from the old snow-bike...

I also took off the old-school Dura-Ace crank with a 45-tooth chainring and replaced it with a Sugino Impel crank, which my buddy Dan gave to me a couple of weeks ago.  It has a 32-tooth ring which, with the 18-tooth cog, gives me about a 50-inch gear.  Low enough for snowy roads, but high enough to get home in a decent time, once the roads melt.

When I first owned this frame, it was a standard Specialized RockHopper from the late 80s, and I used it as a 700c-wheeled commuter.  I modified it and painted it for Brad, then ended up getting it back.

It's one of my favorite commuters, so I might end up changing tires and gearing and using it, sometimes, through the warmer months, as well.


Friday, March 04, 2011

I should Probably Buy a Lottery Ticket...

...because I'm feeling pretty lucky.

These are the pants I had on, yesterday, when the driver of a Ford truck decided to run me down:

I'm not really sure how I landed that my pocket got destroyed, like that.  All of my change, pens and other miscellany I carry in that pocket were strewn all over the rode, when I got up.

My right glove got damaged, but not my left.  Oddly, there is not a mark on my hand, although the end of my thumb feels a little tender/bruised.

My left kneecap was under the larger shiny area, on this leg-warmer.  The lycra fabric is melted and fused, from the friction of sliding down the road, making the shiny spots.  My knee is a little swelled up, and I have some road rash even though the fabic wasn't rubbed all the way through or torn.

My left arm-warmer wasn't as lucky.  I have a nice bruise on my upper arm, where the tear is, and bruising with road rash at the elbow, where the smaller hole is.

He was a driver, like many others, who pulled up at the stopsign and yelled something unfriendly.  I took off, and rode down the street, between a line of school buses that kids were loading into and a line of parked cars that other kids were going to.

I was doing about 17 mph, as I recall, when I saw a lady point and yell something.  Then, the truck hit me.  Luckily, he hit my bag, which deflected enough that I wasn't knocked down in front of the truck.  Rather, I then was hit by the side of the truck and knocked off the bike and to the right, toward the school buses.

For some reason, as I picked myself up, I had the presence of mind to get the license plate number, as he continued driving away.  The driver was looking over his shoulder at me, so he knew I was down.

I called 911 and gave the operator the plate number, a description of the vehicle and a description of the driver.  Paramedics showed up, along with the cops, and my buddy, Paul Granahan .(He's also my supervisor, whom I had called and asked for a ride).

The lady whom I had seen pointing, just before impact, stayed and gave the police a witness report.  I am so grateful, for that.  Without a witness to corroborate my story, I'm not sure how everything would go.

I talked to the police, today, on the phone.  They have classified this incident as an assault, rather than a traffic call.  There is warrant out for the vehicle.  Once it is located, they will determine who was driving, and issue an arrest warrant for him.

At that point, I will be called in to look at a photo line-up.  Then, I hope the guy goes to jail.

And that's not just a desire for retribution, it's a concern for my safety and the safety of others.  He did this crime not only in a school zone, but in the presence of elementary school children.  He could just as easily run over a child, as me.  That shows that he has no regard, whatsoever, for anyone other than himself.  He's an animal who needs to be caged.

Me?  I'm just a lucky guy who didn't end up under the wheels of this animal's truck, seriously injured or dead.

Powerball, here I come!


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

How Quickly a Week Goes By

It's been a while since I posted, on this blog.  The daily bike stories make sure that I post something, 7 times a week.  And, I've been posting videos and comments, etc to a cigar box guitar site, as well.  So, Two Wheels has been a bit neglected.

Not that I haven't been working on and riding bikes.  This past weekend, I spent about 18 or 20 hours in the shop.  I got the bike project from hell finished and out the door.  It was nice to get it out of my hair (and to get a few bucks in my pocket).

I went down to Cycle Analyst and picked up some parts for an upcoming personal bike project (more later), and I modified a few existing bikes.

The Soma 415 snow bike was taken out of the fleet.  I rebuilt it as a suspension-forked single-speed (its intended use), with hopes of selling it on Craigslist, this weekend.  I will post it Thursday evening, in hopes that the weekend bike shoppers will see it.

Of course, now that it's built up, I think it's cool and kinda want to keep it.  But, I know it won't get ridden enough to justify keeping it.

I will post pictures of the new snow bike, later.  It's not quite complete, at this time.

I also swapped tires on the Panasonic 26" to 700c conversion.

There was a spot on the 35c knobbies that just kept rubbing the brake caliper, no matter what I did.  Eventually, I just said "screw it" and put these on.  It would be a nice, nimble commuter or light tourer for someone.  I hope that someone sees its potential and buys it.  It is much too nice a frame to go to waste.

I decided that I didn't like the indexed shifters on the Giant monstercross.  So, I replaced them with alloy Sun-Race-Sturmey Archer (all one company, now) friction thumb shifters.

This one is going on the block, as well.  But, I have to admit that it won't break my heart if I end up keeping it.

I have another bike which I am planning on taking to Pa, this summer.  More on that, later.