Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Friday, August 31, 2012


Well, I easily made my goal of riding the bike to work, all through August.  July and August days, combined, add up to 24 consecutive ride-to-work days.  I even rode around to do some errands, today, since I was off work but didn't want to break my streak of workaday riding.

It really wasn't too hard to get back into the groove of the everyday bike commute, but I would never have done it without setting that short-term goal of riding every work day, this month. It's funny how my mind works, sometimes.

I rode the Handsome XOXO on every one of those days, with the exception of this past Monday, when I rode the Salsa Mukluk.  The Handsome works great as a commuter, particularly now that I have replaced the problematic rear derailleur with a new Shimano LX. I did manage to finally get a flat on the front wheel, when I picked up a thorn which wiggled around and made a hole that wouldn't seal up in the Foss tube.  I patched it with one of the Foss adhesive patches, and it has not given me any problems, since.  The Foss tubes are expensive, but they have been a lot less flat-prone than anything else (Slime, Stan's, Mr. Tuffy, thorn-resistant tubes) that I have used to commute.

The mornings are growing cooler (even on 90+ degree days), and I am getting to work before the sun gets over the horizon, so I can definitely feel Autumn coming on.  It won't be long 'til Summer's gone...

Time marches on...


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fender Adjustment

 I had a bunch of stuff that I needed to carry to work, yesterday, so I mounted up the bags and took the Mukluk.  I figured the fat bike would work well with the heavy load (I was right) and it had the rack on it, already.

Once I got to work, I got out my plastic welding kit and used the forced-hot-air "torch" to heat the fender almost to the point of melting, where it passes under the fork crown.  I was then able to raise the leading edge of the fender in a permanent manner.  This gives me a bit more room between the tire and the fender.  I hope that will prevent snow from packing up and stopping the wheel, when the time comes.

As a side note:  It seems really odd to me that there are no commercially-available fenders for these bikes.  I know it is a niche market, but Surly is owned by QBP, the largest bicycle parts distributor in the U.S.  Salsa markets a dozen different handlebars with their brand on them, but no fenders for a line of bikes which has an entry-level price point over $1500.00.  It just seems to me that these bike/parts manufacturers are missing the boat on the whole fender question...


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Actually Worked On a Couple of My Bikes, Today

I have declared a moratorium on bike work, for the most part, as I work on my musical project.  But, occasionally, I will still help out a friend.  Still, my own bikes are suffering from a bit of benign neglect.  Today, however, I managed to do a little work to both the Handsome XOXO and the Salsa Mukluk.

My Handsome had a couple of problems.  The short cage on the SunTour XC Pro read derailleur allowed for too much chain slap, and that was actually affecting the shifting.  I have enough chain on the bike to allow the big-big combination on the chainrings and cogs, and the short derailleur couldn't take up enough slack on the middle ring.  It would actually ghost-shift when I hit a bump in the road (and sometimes when I was torquing up a hill or through an intersection).  Also, the locking mechanism in the kickstand had broken, and I had to strap the stand to the chainstay while riding.

So, I installed this long-cage LX derailleur on the rear.  I bought it a couple of months ago, and then promptly misplaced it in the shop building. (Those who have seen the state of the shop can understand how this might happen.)  I stumbled across it, today, and decided I should install it while I still knew where it was.

I took the broken kickstand off and replaced it with the two-legged stand which was on the RockCombo.  I just don't like to have a commuter bike with no stand on it...

While I was working, I mounted the front fender on the Mukluk.

It's not the best looking installation I have ever done.  I fabricated the lower stay from aluminum bar-stock, and it actually clears the tire by a good gap on the front, even though it looks awfully close in this photo.  The curve of the motorcycle fender doesn't quite match the radius of the bicycle tire, and I can't seem to alter it.  I have heated it and tried to flatten the radius of the fender, but it returns to its original shape when it cools.  It still beats nothing, by a long shot, though!

The rear fender doesn't really protect the bottom bracket/front derailleur area.  But, it should keep me and the bag dry. 

In fact, since I used a rack as the fender mount, I can actually mount panniers on the rear, when the time comes to commute on it.

In other news, I am playing another set at Poppies Restaurant, this coming Monday, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.  I am going to amplify the guitar, this time, and turn the PA up, just slightly, to carry the sound a little deeper into the bar.  The owner is nervous about the music being too loud but, as I pointed out to the manager tonight, I will still be quieter than the piano player who was there, tonight.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Twenty Days

I was just updating my bike-commute log an noticed that I have hit the 20-days mark. It's not a lot of days, but it is a start...

In the meantime, the Achilles Tendon seems to be holding up, so far. I think I am going to have to something about the grip area on the handlebars, though.

Right now, I have the ends of the mustache bars wrapped with cork tape. Normally, that works pretty well, for me. But, lately, my wrists have been bothering me. This could be partly due to my increased time playing guitar as Steve and I rehearse the material for the CD, I suppose.

Whatever is causing it, I want to fix it. I have already raised the bar height, a bit. That helped, but didn't totally fix it.

On my ti bike, and the Bridgestone XO-2, I have ergo- style Mtn grips on the bars, in an effort to avoid numb hands (a problem I have had, on the bike, for 20 years). I think I might put some on this bike, as well. I have been talking about doing so, for a while....

Anyway...20 days and counting...


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bonneville 2012 (Lots o' photos!)

I left the house, heading for the Bonneville Salt Flats, at 5:00 AM, Thursday.  I hit the salt at 5:15, that afternoon.  After spending the night in Wendover, Utah, I went back out on the salt, Friday, and stayed until the return runs for the Thursday racers were done.  Many, if not most, of the racers had already left, so I did the same at about 10:30.  Twelve hours later, I was home.

In all, I covered 1310 miles on Thursday and Friday.  The Scrambler made the trip without a hiccup, including a couple of hundred Interstate miles at a constant 80 to 90 mph.  Through it all, I got 50 to 55 miles per gallon. 

The one thing that I really need to do, before I take off on such a long trip again, is to get a more comfortable seat on the Scram.  The first 300 miles were fine, on the first day, but then I started having to look for the comfy spot.  On the trip home, the comfy spot on the seat was AWOL, pretty much the whole way.

The other discomfort I experience came from wearing the full-faced helmet.  I haven't worn it since I got my new glasses, and I found that the helmet touches the glasses.  When a wind gust pushed the helmet, the helmet pushed my glasses against mt nose.  I have a bit of a black eye, on the right side, from the helmet punching me in the face, repeatedly.

Oh, well.  Maybe I will get a new set of lenses for my old, smaller, glasses for riding...

Now, here are the pictures!

Local fauna outside Vernal, Utah...

 And, in town...

 The Scrambler, on the salt for the first time.  Riding on the salt was a bit freaky...the horizon would disappear in the haze, at times and I would almost get vertigo, until I looked at the mountains off to one side.

 Maybe the coolest-looking car I have ever seen, in the impound lot, waiting to do a return run to try for an official record.

 Side-hack GoldWing...

 Now, that looks like a race-car!


 These guys are from Denver.

 Yeah, I'm a tourist...

 Dodge Daytona

 Sunrise, Friday.

 That is an impressive engine-bay!

 The racers were heading out for their return runs, as the sun finally peeked through the early-morning clouds.

 Supercharged 4-cylinder in a Studebaker

 They hit 162 mph in this beast!

 And this is the driver's seat...

 The official garbage truck of the Southern California Timing Association...

It was a whirlwind trip, and I would like to go for the early part of the week, next time, so that more racers would be there.  But, I got everything I was looking for out of the trip:  I got out of town, went somewhere I had always wanted to go, and got to put some serious miles on the motorbike.  

The weather was great (although I almost froze going through the Front Range, Thursday morning).  The high temperature on the trip was probably in the mid-90s, the sky was blue, the wind mild and I only got a little sprinkling of rain on the way home (for about an hour).

Where to, next...?