Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Busy Weekend

I started my weekend off by playing hooky from work and going snowboarding.  I have only been on my board once, in the past three years, and that was when I took my nephew Kyle up to Eldora, three Christmases ago. I am still sore from using different muscles than normal (and from falling on my ass a couple of times).  The snow was not the best I have ever been on, but it wasn't the worst, either.

Saturday was spent in the shop building, putting together my new 29er mountain bike.  I bought an unbranded frame from Bikes Direct (the same place I got my first 29er frame, which is now in Pennsylvania, with the nephews), and built it up using some parts from the FUNK ti bike, and a couple of new pieces that I bought specifically for the build.

The FUNK now has cyclocross wheels and tires, an old Sachs New Success rear derailleur, and a single chainring crank, but is otherwise the same as it was before I started this project.

For the new build, I put the XT-hub wheels, XT crank and XT rear derailleur from the FUNK, plus an XT front derailleur, Avid brake levers, Profile handlebar and Gripshift shifters from Randy Caley's old mtb. I bought new tires (CST Ouster 29x2.25 folding bead), a new 9-speed chain (I had a 9-speed cogset in my parts bin), Ergon grips, a Cateye cyclometer, and some Nashbar-branded Tektro disc brakes.  Also from the parts bin, a seatpost and a black Cardiff saddle finished out the build.

There's a lot of black, with just a few accents of silver. Kinda reminds me of my motorbike.

Speaking of the Scrambler, I recently got a new Triumph Sprint front brake lever assembly from eBay, to replace the stock assembly.  The brake fluid master cylinder on the Scrambler has always been a problem for me. I replaced the stock "pee cup" with a cnc'd version, last year. But, having that sticking up above the bar made me nervous, especially when riding off-road.

 This is what I had..

This is what I installed, today.

The modulation is a bit stiff, with the new setup. I think I will look for a brake caliper to match, and see if that improves the feel. (But, that is down the road. For now, this will do.)

Some views of the bike, with the new lever:

Since I was tired and sore from snowboarding, I decided to go mountain biking and break the new 29er in, today, after I bled the brakes on the Scrambler. The fact that it was sunny and 60 degrees here, today, helped make the decision to go pretty easy.

It was a slow ride, but fun. I felt almost like I was cheating, since the suspension fork smoothed things out, so well. I was not particularly faster on the downhill (unless you remove the brake levers from my bike, I am not likely to get much faster on the downs than I am on my rigid bike), but I was a lot less beat up at the bottom. I am hoping that will allow for some epic rides, this coming summer.

That's the plan, anyway...

This coming week, I hope to get the fixed gear mtb set up, and I need to install the replacement Campy Ergo shifter/brake lever on the red bike (I got one off of eBay, for a pretty decent price, last week).

Busy, busy...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bike Shuffling, and Big Plans

As most people who know me, either personally or through the blog, I have a need to make plans if I want to get anything done. I am not one of those people who can say, "I am going to ride my bike more, this year," and actually do it.  i have to set goals.

For all the time that I rode to work for over 800 consecutive work days, I set short-term goals (all of May, until the first snow, a full year, 500 days..).  That gave me something achievable to work toward.

So, this year, I want to get back into riding in a serious manner (and not just commuting), and I have decided to set some goals to assure that I do.

1.  I will do 10 rides, either 100 miles road/mixed terrain or 50 miles of mountain bike trail.

2.  I will get up into the mountains to ride the mountain bike at least twice per month from May through August. "Up into the mountains" means that I will get either above timberline or very close to it, on the ride. This would include rides such as Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass, the Colorado Trail starting from Copper Mountain and heading over Searle Pass toward Leadville, etc...

That means a lot of driving (for me), so I hope to have company on most of those, just to be able to justify the trips.

3. I will go to Moab at least once. For a period of 4 or 5 years, back in the 1990s, I went to Moab at least a half-dozen ties a year, and I really miss it.

To facilitate the mountain biking, I am building up an actual cross-country 29er rig, with a suspension fork and standard riser bars. I ordered the frame and fork, today.  The fork is an upper-entry-level RockShox, which is affordable yet still gets good reviews on MTBR. The suspension fork won't make me any faster, but it should reduce fatigue on long, technical mountain rides. That allows for more riding in a day, with less chance of injury. That makes it worth the added weight on the bike.

The Funk titanium bike is going to donate some parts to the MTB project, and then get rebuilt as a mixed-terrain bike, using drivetrain parts from the RockCombo.  The RockCombo will do duty as my fixed gear mtb.

The Red Menace II stays the same, as a commuter and round-towner.  It may get pressed into service on a 100 miler, or two, as well, although I plan to use the Funk for most of those rides.

These are my bike goals for the year.  In addition to them, I will also commute by bike on a part-time basis, and whatnot.  I think that these are reasonable goals, which let me become a cyclist, again, and still allow for motorbike trips, band practice and shows, and other things which make up a well-rounded life.

Whatcha think?  Overly ambitious, or under-motivated?


Monday, January 14, 2013

First Bicycle Commute Of The new Year

I have had this weird dry-throat, cough and occasional low-grade fever thing going on since I got home from Pennsylvania, two weeks ago.  Because of the cold weather, I have been riding the motorbike to work, so that I wouldn't make the throat worse before our show at Larimer Lounge, tomorrow.

Today, however, it was a bit colder than I like for riding the motorbike, plus it was snowing when I got up.  So, I grabbed the Red Menace and bundled up like an Eskimo for the ride in.  I was actually pretty comfortable on the way in.

My face got a bit cold, on the way home, because I didn't wear my balaclava.  The temperature had warmed up, and the sun was out, so I figured I could get away without that layer.

Here is a self-portait that I took on my front porch, when I got home:

I don't know if you can make out the temperature on the thermometer, but it is reading a balmy 20 degrees above zero...which is 30 degrees warmer than when I left the house, this morning.  Still cold, though, as is evidenced by the ice in my mustache.

I'll probably ride the motorbike, tomorrow, since the show is tomorrow night, and I would rather not put the physical effort out, in the cold, before the show.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Pretty Cool Bike At the Coffee Shop, This Morning

At first glance, it doesn't seen too remarkable.  It's just a tig-welded, 1990's steel road bike.  No big deal.

No big deal, unless you are a fan of Albert Eisentraut, that is.  I like his bikes, a lot.  I would prefer to have one of the lugged frames, for aesthetics, but I wouldn't turn down one of these later models, by any means.

It's amazing what you will see, propped up in front of Kaladi Brothers, some days...


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Getting Back In the Saddle, For the New Year


The band has taken up so much of my time, these past few months, that I have all but ceased to think of myself as a cyclist.  Sure, I ride back and forth to work, occasionally, and run some errands.  But, I haven't gone on a lot of rides, and none of any appreciable distance, in quite a while.

The silver lining to that is that my Achilles tendon has been less stressed, and I hope that it is pretty much healed up.  I have not experienced any pain from it, lately.  And I really hope that means that, once I get back to riding farther, and more often, I will have no problems with it.

Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I have been doing a little roller riding.  Even though there is no substitute for actual, on the ground, mileage, riding the rollers seems to bump-start my fitness pretty efficiently.  Being a bit out of shape, I find that riding in the cold is not that much fun.  I have to put so much effort into staying warm tht the ride, itself, is punishing.

So, the rollers came into the house, along with one of my all-time favorite bikes, Le Peugeot L'Orange.  Riding fixed on rollers is a lot more fun than riding with a freewheel, to me.

I sort of dropped out of the fixed-gear scene, a couple of years ago, due to a few factors.  One of those was that most of people with whom I ride don't enjoy riding fixed.  But, since I really don't get invited along on too many rides, nowadays, I suppose I might as well ride whatever I feel like. 

(It's amazing how quickly people stop inviting you along, at all, if you have a bit of a handicap on the bike, and have to turn down a few rides...)

Anyway, I think I will go back to riding a lot of fixed, this year.  I think I will even build myself up a fixed mountain bike, and do some off-roading, again.  I have missed that.  And, I have a suitable frame hanging in the shop building.