Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I have figured out a roundabout way to get photos from my phone to my computer, so here are a couple of little glimpses into my world, of late.

I got a Carradice Nelson Longflap bag for the rear of the XOXO, and a small Nitto front rack.  I plan on using this as my fair-weather commuter, this winter.  The bag on the rear is capacious, and will take my lunch, a pair of pants, shirt, socks and underwear, in addition to repair and flat-fixing tools.  I am kinda tired of the whole rack and panniers scene...

And, here's the artsy-fartsy shot of my Scrambler, reflected in my coffee, that I posted to Facebook, this morning.  A true "cafe bike"!  I flipped it, from the original orientation.

Tomorrow, I'll try to get a shot of my "new" 1983 Nishiki that I built up, yesterday.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Broken Equipment

I never realized how photo-dependent I am, when it comes to blog posting, until I broke my camera on our little mountain tour.  I still haven't replaced the camera, but I will be doing so, soon.

Until then, there probably won't be a whole lot of new content, here.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Boxing With Jack

I was going to post this here, but it was a lot simpler to post it to Facebook and link to it.  (My camera is broken, and I can upload directly to FB, with my phone...)

Click on this to see Jon Palooka.

You have to watch for the right cross, when boxing with Jack.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekend On the Scrambler

I came home from work about an hour early, and made my last-minute preparations while I waited for Brad to show.  Once he was here, we finalized the packing of the bikes, and had Carol shoot a picture of us, as she picked up my dogs.

Ready to roll.

Brad had decided that the low-mount Zard exhaust he had installed was just too loud.  So, he reinstalled the stock system for this trip.  I hope he gets the baffle situation figured out on the Zard, because it really looks cool on the bike.  (That's the same exhaust that the Hammarhead Jack Pine has on it.)

We took off right in the middle of rush hour, and our first 15 miles took 45 minutes.  Eventually, we broke free of traffic, and headed south on Highway 85 to Sedalia.  Then, we headed west, over to the South Platte River, and followed it south to Woodland Park.  From there we headed west on Highway 24.

We stopped in Divide, Colorado, and filled up with gas.  I was impressed that I had gotten 53 mpg out of the Scrambler, even sitting in rush hour traffic.

We consulted our map, looked at our watches, and decided to try to reach Buena Vista before stopping for the night.  It's not that far, but we wanted to get off the road before it was fully dark, because of the deer and elk which make a habit of walking out in front of vehicles, at night.

We got to Salida just as the evening turned to night, and stopped at the Coyote Cantina for dinner.

The bar is open, in Buena Vista.

After dinner, we bought a couple of beers from the World's Friendliest Liquor Store Clerk, and headed back up the road about a half-mile to the KOA Kampground.  Just about everything around B.V. is private land, so we bit the bullet and rented a campsite.  They initially told us there was no room at the inn, but they eventually put us in an "overflow" site. 

There were no trees, so I attached the top of the jungle hammock to a fence rail, and rolled out the bedroll.  After spilling about half a beer in my lap, I went to bed.  The moon was shining down like a spotlight, and I didn't have a sleeping pad under me, but I slept like a rock, anyway.

The next morning, we broke camp before I even thought to get a picture of my improvised shelter.

The view from camp.  That is the fence I attached my hammock rainfly to...

We made the run down to Salida, 25 miles south, to get some breakfast.  While we were ruising around looking for a breakfast joint, I spotted this:

I haven't seen a Pinto Cruising Wagon on the street, in years.  I had to pull out the camera and get a shot of it.

We eventually ended up at Cafe Dawn, a local coffee shop.

There was quite a selection of two-wheeled conveyances outside the shop.  Mountain towns are pretty full of bikes and such, usually.  Salida is no exception.

After breakfast, we hit the road and headed for Gunnison.  Neither of us had ever been to Gunnison, so the adventure part of the trip was officially on. 

Up and over Monarch Pass, I got in a groove, and was really digging the curvy road.  Later, after we got to Gunnison, Brad said, "I thought you were going to stop at the top of the pass, especially when I saw all of the other motorbikers standing there.  But, you just blew on by them and kept going..."

I didn't really even think of stopping there, since we had been there, before.  I was excited about getting to new territory.

In Gunnison, we parked the bikes and walked around the downtown area for a while.  Eventually, we ended up in a coffee shop (GASP!), where we got some fresh fruit juice, and relaxed on the sidewalk bench for a while.

I wanted to find a mount so that I could put my camera on the handlebars of the bike.  After coming up empty-handed at all the bike shops and motorcycle dealers in town, we stopped off at Radio Shack.  There, I got a flexible tripod and wrapped it around the handlebar.  With the addition of a zip-tie, it was ready, steady go.

On the way north, toward Crested Butte, I got a few riding shots of Brad on the road.

After repeatedly taking pictures of the bikes sitting on the side of the road, it was nice to get some photographic evidence that we were actually riding the darn things.

We got to Crested Butte, and walked the street to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is incorporated into the Crested Butte History Museum, and it was pretty cool to see some of the bikes and parts they had on display.

There was the first Cunningham bike ever built...

and a chrome-plated steel Ross which was an obvious copy of the aluminum Cunningham.

These were the prototypes of the Rock Shox and Manitou suspension forks,

plus ephemera from the early days of the sport.

After touring the museum, Brad and I walked up the road to a pub and had lunch.

From my seat on the shaded patio, I could see these two crows on the top of the old Town Hall building.
There was a picture of this building, at the museum, with a large hole in the side of it.  The local firemen, finding their hoses frozen during a fire in the early part of the 20th century, had used dynamite to extinguish the flames.  The display noted that "much of 4th street was destroyed in the blast."

I looked over at the street sign next to the pub, and noticed that the old Town Hall was on 2nd Street.  If "much of 4th Street was destroyed", and a hole that you could drive a truck through was knocked out of the side of a building on 2nd Street, what do you suppose happened to 3rd...?

After filling up with food at the pub, and $4.00/gallon gas at the Shell station, we headed up Kebler Pass.

Much of the Kebler Pass Road is dirt...

some is paved...

but all of it ...

is awesome!

Not long after this picture was taken, the camera got enough dust in it, that it was only semi-operational.  That was the end of the action shots.

We eventually reached the highway, and decided to head north to Carbondale.  That would give us a short day on Sunday, and let Brad get home to his ladies early enough to see them before Noella's bedtime.

We rolled into Carbondale late in the afternoon, and stopped The Blend, for iced vanilla lattes.  We got into a conversation with the guy behind the bar, and he told us there was camping along the creek, in the trees, along Prince Creek Road.  So, we had him cook us up some paninis, and grabbed a couple of beers each, and headed back south to Prince Creek.

Unfortunately, all of the campsites in the trees were occupied, so we continued up the dirt road, gaining elevation as we went.  We finally found a spot, but it had no trees.  I talked Brad into riding farther on to see if we could find something in the trees.

After about an hour rough jeep trail riding, in and out of Public Lands, we eventually ended up back at the spot with no trees.  Oh well, at least I got a bit of dirt riding out of it.

I have to admit, though, that the lack of trees was worth it for the views.

I used the bikes as tent poles, and set the hammock up on the ground, once again.

The sun went down...

and the bright-ass moon came up.  How bright was it?  I shot this picture with the flash, because if I shot it with no flash, the shutter stayed open and I got this:

These two pictures were taken about a minute apart.  That was a bright-ass moon, people!

But we still enjoyed a campfire, and ate our dinner before bedtime.

The next morning, I noticed that Brad's bike was a bit dirtier than mine.

I suppose that's because I am running a full-length fender, while Brad is using a shorty version

After we were packed up, I noticed that my chain was a bit slack.  So, I busted out the tool kit and adjusted it.  Then, I did the same to Brad's bike.  Once adjusted up, we ran back down to The Blend.

There, after breakfast burritos, we donned rain pants (40% chance of rain), and went across the street to fill up with gas.  We figured up our mileage, and I got 63 mpg on he $4.00/gallon gas!  I guess you get what you pay for.

Then, we headed out toward Aspen.  We blew through Aspen, and headed up Independence Pass.

I will say, right here, that I have never had any more fun on a motorcycle than I had riding over Independence Pass.  I got into a zone where riding the bike was like carving turns on a snowboard.  I wasn't going  particularly fast, but I was getting a good lean on, going into the turns, and not hitting the brakes.  It was smooth, and cool and exactly why I ride a motorbike.

Looking back at where we just rode.

We did stop at the top of this pass.

My new computer wallpaper.

From there, we went down the other side of the pass, and on to Leadville.  The Leadville 100 crowd made the traffic a bit heavy in town.  We stopped and filled up with gas.  66 mpg.

From Leadville, we could smell the barn, so we hightailed it for I-70.  After a pee-stop at Copper Mountain, we hit the superslab back to Denver.  After a bit of harrowing time on grooved pavement, and a little rainshower as we came into town, we were home.

Brad continued down 6th Avenue, as I peeled off onto I-25, and headed to the house. 

As I entered my neighborhood, I stopped at the gas station.  We were 100 miles from Leadville, so I figured I might as well fill up.

76 mpg!  

I mean, I know it's downhill from Leadville (10,200' elevation) to my house (5400'), but still...!

When all was said and done, I had put 535 miles on the bike, pushing my total over 2,000, since I bought the bike in April.

It's been a cool summer (despite the temperatures).


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Back, Safe and Sound

I will post some details later.  Right now, I am tired and in need of a shower, plus I am experiencing camera woes and can't upload the shots from the Nikon.

In the meantime, a teaser shot:  The view from camp, this morning, looking north:

More, later...


Friday, August 12, 2011

Heading Out, Tomorrow

Gonna go up into the hills, and here is the load...


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

So, How Does This Work? EDIT

This came in the mail, today...

 A nice, twine-bound little package.... from Hong Kong.  (Thank you, Chow.)

 While I suppose those are Hong Kong Dollars, it still looks like a good bit of postage.

 This was inside.  It is a swiveling flashlight mount for a handlebar (light not included).

Here it is, with a light in it, mounted to the nearest handlebar.  (Obviously, it is for a bicycle, I just put it on the motorcycle for illustration's sake.)

Now, for the part I don't get.

I bought this off of eBay, a few days ago.  I hit the Buy It Now, and got Free Shipping.  The Price, you ask?

99 cents!

How do you sell something for 99 cents, and mail it from Hong Kong to Denver, for free?

Is it some sort of evil method of gathering mailing addresses for future nefarious purposes?  Will a man with a folded newspaper bump into me at the train station, and demand the microdot?  Will I end up being a pawn in some international intrigue?


I just don't understand the economics of this transaction...

EDIT:  These are back on eBay, now for $1.99 plus $1.00 shipping.  Still a bargain, if you ask me.


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Cabin Fever

Not the bad kind, but the good kind.  Like..Boogie Fever, only with a cabin.

Went up to Brad's family cabin, yesterday, for the annual get-together.  I didn't have a dog-sitter avilable and, therefore, I couldn't camp out, as usual.  So, I loaded the Dodge up with a cooler full of ice, food and drink, threw the Handsome XOXO in the back and the cigar box guitar in the front and headed up for a day-trip.

This was my first foray into the mountains with the Dodge, since I got it, and I was interested to see how it would act in the hills.  I switched off the overdrive gear, for most of the drive, and had the A/C running.  It still got 14.5 mpg on the mountain roads.

Brad and I built a couple of stick boats, for Noella, and floated them in the creek:

 The Old Man and The Sea

 Brad's boat...

 and mine.  (You probably need to enlarge the picture, to see them...)

 We got out on the bikes for a short ride, before dinner.  Brad was riding a borrowed Raleigh XXIX, with the belt drive.  He is supposed to write up a review for the Treads Bicycle Outfitters site, soon.  So, I got some action shots of him to post up alongside his review.

Faster than a speeding bullet.

After eating way too much, and playing some music around the campfire, we took our leave and headed back down the hill.  Home by 11:30, and the dogs were glad to see me.

The ride didn't seem to hurt my ankle, which is a good sign that the Achilles tendon may actually be healing.  But, it didn't help the apparent pulled muscle in my back.  Lots of stretching, this morning, has helped, though.

I'm really hoping the back gets better before the motorbike trip, next weekend...


Monday, August 01, 2011

Handsome XOXO Built (Finally!)

Usually, I err on the side of quick turnaround when it comes to building up a new bike for myself.  I get the frame one day, and I am riding the next.  The Handsome XOXO, though, has languished in the land of the partially-built for weeks.

Not long after I got it, I slotted in a crank , seatpost, and stem, stuck a bar on it, wrapped some tires and tubes on the rims and bolted on the brakes.  Then, I hung it up and left it alone.  I was busy with preparations for the trip to Pennsylvania, and I wasn't riding much, due to the problem I am experiencing with Achilles Tendinitis. 

Plus, I wasn't sure what bar I wanted to use, and I was waffling on the drivetrain.  I considered pulling the rear derailleur and cogset off of the KHS hardtail mountainbike that I haven't ridden in 2 or 3 years.  But, I wasn't too hip to crippling one bike, to get the other on the road.

Peter wouldn't appreciate being robbed, no matter how much Paul was pressuring me for payment.

In the back of my mind, this whole time, was the nice SunTour XC Pro medium-cage rear derailleur I had picked up, a couple of years ago, for the XO-2.  I ended up using matching Shimano parts on the Bridgestone, so the XC Pro was sitting on the shelf.

Friday, I made up my mind to get the damn thing together.  So, I pulled the XOXO down from the hooks, and put it on the stand.  A quick trip to Performance for a chain and cogset, and it was time to get to wrenching.

Here is the result:

 I got it all put together, Friday night, after a real struggle with the headset.  For some reason, the brand new alloy Vantage headset I had bought for it would not adjust up.  I ended up replacing the top half of the headset with an ancient, first-generation, Dura-Ace model.  Perfect, after that,

I rode the bike to Performance and back, then back from dropping the Dodge off to have the steering looked at.  Altogether, I put about 2.5 miles on it.  Big ride...!

 The handlebars are a no-name mustache copy that my buddy Dan gave me.  I had the black seatpost, so I figured that the black bar was okay.  I wrapped the ends with natural-color Cinelli cork.  I'll shellac it, once I am sure I am keeping the bar.

 I have a cyclometer for it, but I have yet to mount it.  No hurry, I suppose.

 Nexave hubs are a real bargain, nowadays.  They are marketed as Hybrid Bike hubs, and the 1998 version was the first modern disc-brake hub that Shimano marketed.  I used the disc version on my 29er for a few years, including two 24-hour races, with no problems.  So, I figure these will be fine for the intended use of this bike.

 The brakes and brake levers are 1997 Shimano XT V-Brakes.  These things were real game-changers, when they showed up.  I put new pads in the original holders

The shifters are Ultegra 8-speed bar-end shifters mounted on IRC thumbie-style adapters., set to friction mode
 Friction mode allows the use of the SunTour derailleur, 9-speed SRAM cogset and chain.  It actually shifts well in indexed-mode, but it skips the 8th cog.  I like friction shifting on a bike like this, anyway.

 The front derailleur is a newish LX which I picked up at a yard sale for $5.00, a couple of months ago.

 The crank is the 175mm XT that I had on the 29er, before switching to 165s on the big-wheel bike.

 The orange decals on the French-made rims match the paint on the bike.  I know...I know...

 The seatpost is a brand I don't recognize, but it was inexpensive on eBay, and it has a two-bolt clamp.

That clamp is holding the Brooks B-17 that Michael Johnson (Apertome) so graciously sent to me.  The seat had stretched to an uncomfortable shape for Michael, so he passed it along to me to see if I could use it.

I tensioned it, quite a bit, and spent a good bit of time to get the tilt just right.  On my short little jaunts, Saturday, with no bike shorts, it seemed perfect to me.  A longer ride will tell the tale.

Thanks, Michael!

Now, I have a pair of two-wheelers which are modern interpretations of classic designs.  I guess the next thing I need is a Mini, or a new Challenger...