Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Road Trip

Tomorrow morning, I'll swing by Brad's house and pick him up.  Then, we head east, to Pennsylvania.  I have my nephew's motorbike strapped into the back of the Nissan (which goes to my sister), and a ton of other stuff to load in the morning, including Bill Lambert's bike.

We'll spend some time with Bill and Michael, riding mixed-terrain in Indiana, then mosey on into Columbus, Ohio.  A bit of visiting family, for Brad, and catching up with old friends for me will happen on the Fourth.

Then, it's on to Mercer, Pa., and my family.

I'll do my best to keep you posted.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Grand Ride

I decided to take a little jaunt on the Scrambler, this evening, since  I was close to 1,000 miles on the odometer.  I really just didn't want to hit the grand on my commute, tomorrow.

As I walked out to get on the bike, the sun was shining brightly, and big, fat raindrops were bombing down out of the sky.

Click this picture for the large version, and you can see the teacups of falling water.

Undaunted, I donned my helmet and headed north.  I figured I'd hit Common Grounds, over at 38th and Lowell, for a cuppa.  I soon ran out from under the rain, and enjoyed the relatively cool temperature.  It's been in the 90s, for a few days, and it is supposed to top 100 in a couple of days, so the 80-degree day we had, today, was nice.

As I crossed I-25 on Speer, the odometer on the Scrambler rolled over to 1000.0 miles.  I was able to snap a shot at the next red light.

Seemed like a milestone to me.  Kind of a goofy picture, though, when you think about it.  Oh, well...

I cruised around a bit, and eventually ended up at Common Grounds.

I sat at a window table, and enjoyed a really nice cup of coffee.  I don't know what the brew was, but it was very smooth and easy to drink.  The joint was pretty full, but it was quiet, almost subdued.  It was a nice change from the hectic din of Kaladi Brothers.

As I rode home, I stopped and took a picture of the Mother Ship coming in for a landing:

I stopped and filled up with gas, on my way into the neighborhood.  I am amazed by the mileage I am getting.  This tank netted 62.1 mpg!
Now, the bike is safely tucked away in the man cave, and the dogs and I are sitting in the back yard feeding the mosquitos.  Once I close the laptop, I'll spend a little time watching for bats.  I saw four, last night (or else, I saw the same bat four times, not sure which). 

Either way, it beats the TV all to hell.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

14,110 Feet

I left the house, early this morning, and stopped at Kaladi Brothers, as usual.  Not as usual, I was on my way to Colorado Springs on the Scrambler.  I planned on riding south out of town on 85 (Santa Fe), to Sedalia.  From there, I would turn west on 105, and ride to the South Platte River, then turn south to go through Deckers to Woodland Park.  Then, down the hill to Manitou Springs.

I wasn't sure what I would do, from there.  I had hoped to meet up with John Ryland and some other guys, from Classified Moto, and we had made vague plans to meet up for a burger.  But, the details never jelled.  So, I was flying by the seat of my pants, but I knew I would enjoy the ride regardless of whether I got together with those guys, or not.

One of the fun things about the ride from Sedalia to the South Platte is the few miles of dirt road, which includes one 15% grade.  That gets a little sketchy on the way down.

Just before heading down that 15% grade, I pulled off the road and climbed to the top of a bank on the side of the road, about 20 feet up.  There was a nice view from there, but I mainly just wanted to try going up and down the steep slope.

I eventually made my way to the paved road along the river, and turned south toward Deckers and Woodland Park.  The road along the river is winding, and scenic.  The speed limit is sort of low, but I rolled along at a good, fun speed, enjoying the fact that there was very little traffic.

I passed through Deckers, and continued south.  Eventually, I caught sight of Pike's Peak.

The Pike's Peak Hillclimb is tomorrow.  I had a vague plan to, maybe, ride up and see if I could spot a few race bikes or cars.  But, I wasn't even sure if the toll road was open.

I stopped at a little diner, close to the toll road, to get a milkshake, and this Ducati was in the parking lot.  Its owner had ridden it from Wisconsin (I believe that's what he told me), to be a pit crew member for a racer friend.  I liked the BMW bags, mounted on custom-machined frame adapters.

I decided to check and see if the toll road was open...

It was, though the traffic through the gate was a bit slow.  I took this picture just past the sign announcing that the gate is 0.3 miles ahead.  It took about 20 minutes to make that distance.

Once I was through the gate, it was smooth sailing.  I made it almost 3 miles before I overtook slower traffic.  I passed the first of about 10 cars I would end up going around before I got to the summit.

Interestingly, I had heard that the road had been almost totally paved.  The last time I went up it, 15 years ago, the pavement ended a few miles past the toll gate.  So, knowing that it had been partly paved, I was confused when the road turned to dirt at the same spot I remembered.

A couple of mile farther on, the new pavement began, and it went all the way to the top.  I wonder if they started at the top, and paved down.  Whatever they did, the plan seems to be to have the road completely paved by the end of the summer.

The new pavement made it easy to speed up the mountain, passing slower traffic as I went.  At one point, I hooked up with a couple of Ducati riders, and we had a little 3-bike joust up the hill.  I can tell you that, on some sections of that road, riding along at 50 or 55 mph is quite a thrill.  Even though I was keeping my eyes on the road, I couldn't help but notice the 300-ft drop to my right, two feet past the edge of the pavement.

Eventually, I made it to the top, and parked.  Like usual, the Scrambler attracted a group of guys who quizzed me about it.  One of those guys was going to be racing a KTM SuperDuke, tomorrow.

He was riding this KTM, today.  His buddy was on the Ducati.  There were quite a few bikes, up top...


Ducati GT set up for the long haul...

Harley V-Rod (switchbacks must be fun on a drag-style bike)...

some aging hipster on a Scrambler...

this Ducati, which I calculate to be bad to the power of ass...

a few more Ducatis (A club, I think.  They took a group picture of the riders)...
lots'o bags on this Motard...

There were a bunch of Diavels up there...

The pace car for the race made an appearance...

As I walked back to my bike, this guy came up and said, "Nice paint job!"

I was just about to point out the fact that it's just the factory gloss black, when he pointed at my helmet.
"I have the first helmet Roland decorated.  It was an old Italian lid, and he marked it up with a Sharpie.  The Bell guys saw it, and asked him to do a design for them,"  he continued.

Then, he introduced himself.  It was Mark Cernicky, the rider of the hammarhead Jackpine, in the video I posted yesterday!  

"Is the video any good?"  he asked.  "I never got to see it before I had to leave town."

We chatted for a bit, and I wished him luck, tomorrow.  He will be racing a Ducati Multistrada in the 1200cc class.

After Cernicky walked away, I took one last look around:

I headed down the road, coincidentally riding behind Cernicky and another rider.  I managed to keep them in sight for almost a mile, then they faded into the distance.  I actually met him as he was coming back up, and Cernicky gave me a big wave.  Nice guy.

After I got back to town, I filled the tank on the Scrambler (52.2 mpg).   I then filled my tank with chicken salad on marble rye at a deli in Woodland Park.  Then, it was back to Denver.

All told, I put in about 250 miles, and had a great time.  Then, when I got home, I built the bicycle for Carol's niece.  It was a long day, but a good one.

...or bust!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Desert Sled

If you are interested in this, you've probably seen it.  It's rad enough to post, just so I can watch it more easily, in the future...

I'm going for a ride, tomorrow.  Probably won't be quite this cool, but I'll try my best.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Soul's Tess

Yesterday was the so-called "longest day of the year".  That always amuses me, as I am pretty sure it was 24 hours long, just like every other day.  But, the great part was that the sun was above the horizon for the longest period of the year!

The Summer Solstice is a funny thing, for me.  I love the long day, but I hate the fact that, now, the days will begin to "get shorter".  That's okay, though.  I'll enjoy the long days of Summer while I can.  I can really understand why the solstices were big events on the Pagan calender.

Last night, I was feeling restless.  I had one of those evenings when I couldn't sit and relax, but I really didn't feel like doing anything constructive, either.  At about 8:00, I decided I would put the motorcycle in the shop building, and start getting things ready for Bike To Work Day.

Here in Colorado, we ignore National Bicycle Month, and National Bike To Work Day, because we have too much of a chance for snow and rain in the month of May.  So, we bump everything back until June.  And, today was BTWD, for us.

Anyway, I went outside, and noticed it was still light out.  That's when I remembered it was the solstice.  I went back inside, put the dogs out, and got my jacket and helmet.  Then, I did something that I haven't done in quite a while:  I went for an aimless, no destination, motorbike ride.

 I puttered around for about 45 minutes, just turning when I felt like hitting another street, and heading to nowhere in particular.  I ended up riding past Cherry Creek Mall, down Speer (the creek was over its banks and covered the bike path), down Broadway back to Evans and to the gas station at the edge of my neighborhood.

I filled up, and checked my mileage on the Scrambler (52 mpg, this tank), then rode home and put the bike up.  By then, it was finally dark, and I got down to business packing the panniers and making lunch for today.  I can only imagine how restless I would be up above the Arctic Circle, where the sun never set, yesterday.  I'm sure I'd be one of those guys who stays awake until they go psycho, or just pass out from exhaustion.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Random Weekend Bloggity

Time seems to speed up, the closer you get to a deadline.  In this case, my deadline is the first of July, when I will be leaving to visit my sister, her family, and my mom in Pennsylvania.  I've gotten the major stuff done (I put a new tire and a stock air breather on Kyle's motorbike, which I am taking to him, and I got a bunch of overdue maintenance done on the Nissan Frontier I am taking to Joy), but lots of little things remain.

I have bikes to build for people, tons of stuff to get squared away at work, and the million little things it always takes when you are going out of town.  So, I just plug away and try to get what I can get done, every day.  This weekend has seen a few small projects either begun or finished.  I did some bike repair for a girl I know through Tony (and got paid in chocolate-chip cookies! YUM!), started work on a bicycle plant stand for Carol, and got a small start on the Handsome XOXO.

I got the wheels trued and tensioned, and mounted up the tires.  I am going with the same Schwalbes I have on the XO-2.  I can always put some fatter rubber on, if I decide to do any heavy-duty mountain biking with it.

I'm still not sure about the bars and stem.  The bars don't extend as far forward as a mustache bar, and the stem is sized for a mustache.  So, the cockpit is a little short.  I'll ride it, a bit, then decide what I want to do.
In the meantime, it's coming together slowly.  I'm in no big hurry to get it together, what with the whole Achilles tendon thing...
For now, it is hanging in the Orange Section of the rafters.

Last week, I decided that I would like to have a tool kit on the Scrambler.  Triumph is so confident in the Bonnevilles, I guess, that they don't include a tool kit, at all.

There is no good place to stash a tool bag under the seat, so I hung a tool bag on the frame rail behind the shock.
It's a leather handlebar bag from Electra Bicycles.  I had it on a fixed gear bike, a few years ago, and I have one like it on the XO-2, now.  It just happens to be a good size and shape for this application.

I put together an 8mm Allen wrench, and 8" adjustable wrench, a pair of pliers, 8, 12 and 14mm open-end/box-end wrenches, and a 4,5,6mm Allen set which includes flat and Phillips screwdrivers.  I don't have a plug wrench, but if I need one, on a trip, I'll buy it when I buy the plugs.

They all roll up in an old bandanna, and the roll fits snug as a bug into the bag.

Anyway, enough rambling.  Gotta get ready for work, tomorrow.  Have to pack the panniers on the fixed gear.

Thunder is rumbling, outside. It's supposed to start raining, tonight, and rain all day tomorrow.  So, I'll be taking the bicycle to work.  Don't want to ride the motorbike in the rain.


Friday, June 17, 2011

How About Some Bicycle News?

When I got home from work on Wednesday, this was waiting at the door:

 Inside, was a 56cm Handsome XOXO frame and fork:

Pictured here with a direct ancestor.

The XOXO is basically a copy of the 1993 Bridgestone XO-1, although it is tig-welded rather than lugged, in order to keep it affordable.  So, it really is a closer copy of my 1992 XO-2, if you think about it.

Although it does have a nice lugged fork crown...

...and quite the nice mustache.

I think I have everything I need to build it up, except the headset.  I'll probably run down to Cycle Analyst, tomorrow and grab one.

I'll be using a mix of newer and older parts, some pretty classic and some newer style;  some black and some silver.  It's a vintage-style ride, but not true vintage (kind of like my Triumph Scrambler, if you think about it).  So, I don't think v-brakes and an external bottom bracket will be bad things.  I really just want this bike to work well, on-road and off.  It's going to get some riding...

I have another bike to build, this weekend, as well.  I'll be putting together a mixte for Carol's niece.  And, I have a gal coming over for some tune-up work on a three speed she just bought from Tony Gallagher.

And, I may be going mountain biking on Sunday.

I only rode the bicycle to work two days, this week, and I rode the XO-2 both times.  My Achilles Tendinitis is getting bothersome.  After the 40 miles in two days, it was inflamed and pretty painful.  Oddly, it feels as though I have a big blister running up my heel, when it gets inflamed.  But, the skin is fine.  For some reason, the pain inside my leg registers on the outside.

Still, I'm hoping that backing off a bit on the commuting and continuing my ankle exercises will clear it up.  Fingers crossed.


Friday, June 10, 2011

They Call Me Mister Lucky

 That's the first line from one of my favorite John Lee Hooker songs, and I've always felt that it applied to me.  So, when I decided to custom-paint a helmet to go along with my bike, that was my theme.

I started with a flat black Bell Custom 500 open-faced helmet...

 ...seen here being modeled by the Great Gazoo.

It took a few steps to get it done:

I did the numbers first.  Lucky 13!  I outlined them in gold, to reflect the lettering on the side covers of the bike.
Then, I masked the letters and the field around them, and sprayed it.

 After that, I spent a few hours adding the skulls with a paint pen.  I wanted a design that looked almost like paisley, from a distance, which would be quite different up close.  I'm pretty happy with it.

Once I sprayed the clear coat on it, the flat black became glossy.  And, the thing became very hard to photograph.  You can see the horizon reflected in the helmet, no matter what I do.  (I'm not much of a photographer.)

Now I look as lucky as I feel.


Sunday, June 05, 2011

I'm Calling It...

After more than four years, 828 consecutive work-days, and 14,327 miles of bicycle commuting, I am calling the game.  I have achieved every goal that I set for myself, and made bicycling my "normal" way to get back and forth to work.

Tomorrow, I am riding the Scrambler to work.

I have developed a case of Achilles Tendinitis, in my right leg, which makes it painful to walk.  I am doing calf-lifts and toe-stands in an effort to strengthen that area, but the constant pedaling is not letting the leg recover.

So, before the doctor tells me to stop riding, completely, I am going to cut back on the daily commute and see if things improve.  Bicycling will remain my "norm", but I am going to give myself the "out", when I need it.

Much like getting the first scratch or door-ding on a new car, the first day of non-biking seems like it will be the hardest.  I have enjoyed the unbroken streak of commutes, but I am not defined by it.

So, Friday was the end of that.  From now on, I will have some flexibility on the commute.  And, I hope to get a few more things done around the house, on the days I don't ride the bike.  It seems like I should be a little more lively, on those days.

I need to get Kyle's bike ready to take to him (new battery, new rear tire and brake pads, new speedometer and a stock airbox and filter), and get the truck ready for the trip, as well.  That trip is less than a month away, so time is ticking down quite quickly.

I hope I am not disappointing anyone (but I also know that this is not near as big of a deal to anyone else as it is to me).

Thanks for reading.