Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Friday, January 31, 2014

More Work On Danny's Bike

Or, as I think of it, nowadays, the never-ending build...

First, I installed a Salsa Enabler fork, and disc brake. I used the old wheel off of my bike, because I didn't have spokes to rebuild Danny's wheel with a new hub. I'll get the spokes, and rebuild his wheel, later. But, with snow on the ground, Danny wants to pick the fat bike up, tomorrow, and get some time in on it.

Then, I added a spacer to the rear axle, and threw on a 5-speed 13/34 freewheel and a new chain.

A new threadless headset, and a Surly Open Bar completed the build (so far). I'll cut the steer tube on the fork, once we figure out how high Danny needs the bar.

The bag is from Danny's Salsa Fargo (which I did some repair on, today). I put it on just to make sure it fits. There is another one on the way for this bike (and one for mine, as well).

In between working on Danny's two bikes, I did a bit of work on some of my own. I swapped the stem (longer) and bars (wider, more sweep) on my 29er mountain bike. I also did a little preliminary work on a new build, which I think I will keep under wraps until it's complete. I am waiting on some parts to get here, and I need to go get some other parts, tomorrow.

Stay tuned.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Best Laid Plans, Blah, Blah, Blah

At 9:00 o'clock, last night, I went into my bathroom to get ready for bed. I wanted to get to bed, early, so that I would have plenty of time to get bundled up for the cold bike ride to work. Unfortunately, that didn't work out quite the way I planned it.

As I walked through the bathroom door, I heard the unmistakeable sound of water running inside my wall. The cold water pipe to the tub had broken. The pipe which comes up out of the ground is galvanized, and, at some point in the past, someone had mated it to a copper fitting in order to hook the faucet/mixer up. The pipe, itself, was fine. But, the threads inside the copper fitting were completely rusted away, and the water pressure pushed the two pieces apart.

After getting completely soaked, and shivering uncontrollably until I changed clothes and put on a rainsuit, I managed to get a hose slipped over the pipe (a shampoo hose, which fits on a faucet, so you can wash your hair in the sink, or wash the dogs, etc.). The water was flowing so fast that the tub drain couldn't keep up with it, so I ran the hose into the toilet.

With the danger of imminent flooding of the entire house overcome, I started trying to get a plumber to come out. I called Roto-Rooter, PlumbLine, Appletree and a couple of mom-and-pops. No one was available, until morning.

Finally, I did what I should have done, first, and called Denver Water. Thirty minutes later, they showed up and cut the water off, at the street. (My house does not have a cut-off valve on the meter, or between the meter and the house. At least, it doesn't have one that I can find, anyway.)

By the time Denver Water left, it was eleven o'clock. I didn't get to bed until 11:30, and I knew that I had to come home and deal with the pipes, so I ended up driving to work.

Grrrrrrrr! I wanted to ride the bike!

I came home at lunchtime, and grabbed the copper fittings and pipe (for sizing purposes), and  headed to Ace Hardware.

Looking at the copper fitting, with the remains of the galvanized threads in it, I think that the dissimilar metals set up a Galvanic reaction, which ate the steel threads. The pipe is in good shape, as I said earlier, but the threads were reduced to powdered rust. I actually scraped the threads clean with a screwdriver. There wasn't even a solid piece of metal to unscrew.

At Ace, I got a galvanized compression fitting and a galvanized nipple. I installed the faucet pipe union onto the nipple, then connected it to the faucet. The compression connector tied the nipple into the existing water line, and everything was back together, without the short length of copper pipe and the threaded copper fittings which had been there.

I called Denver Water, again, to have them turn the water back on. The people there were very pleasant to deal with. They not only set me up to get the water turned on ("between 2:30 and 5:30, but I'll try to get him there as soon as possible"), but the lady also advised me to check my water bill and report it if the leakage had increased my charge, significantly. If so, they will help me out with a flood charge adjustment.

The Denver Water technician showed up at 2:25, and opened the valve for me. I turned all of the faucets off, and we checked the meter. No leaks!

So, hopefully, I can put this behind me ... until the next time something in the palatial mansion destroys itself, anyway.

Oh, well. Compared to the flood damage that the McGradys and so many others, here in Colorado, suffered in the September floods, I got off easy! So, no more complaining, from me.

Until, as I said, next time...


Monday, January 27, 2014

Another Beautiful Day For A Bike Ride

Not a lot of snow, but the roads were pretty slick. Not a big problem on the Beast, but the automobilists on the road were having some difficulties.

Fat bike tire tracks, in the snow. That's my shoe, for scale.

It's supposed to be close to zero, F, tomorrow morning. That always makes for an interesting ride.

The only problem is, I really need to be out in the shop, working on Danny's bike, and it's just too damn cold, out there.  I will probably end up moving the work in the house, before it's over. I told Danny I would try to get the bike done, by this weekend. 

I'll get it done, one way of the other.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mid-Winter Thoughts

About this time of year, every year, I start trying to figure out how to make a bit less of a mess out of my life. I look around my 600 square feet house, and the thousand square feet of crap in it, and I start trying to figure out how to simplify things, pay off some bills, lose weight, get in better shape, etc...

Usually, the clearing out and simplifying involves vague plans to cut down on the number of bikes I have. This year is no exception.

I was talking to Brad, the other day, and I mentioned the concept of cutting back to four "everyday riding bikes" (as opposed to the "just want to keep them bikes" such as the high-wheeler, my 1970 Western Flyer that I got for my 10th birthday, and my 1910 Iver Johnson). My thought was to cull the herd down to the titanium Funk, my 29er, and the fat bike.

I mentioned that if I could actually sell the other bikes for enough money, I would get a titanium frame for the fat bike. But, like I said, I've made these big plans before, and didn't follow through.

Then, a few days ago, a fellow in Chicago contacted me and asked if my Specialized Rock Combo was still for sale. I ended up selling him the frame and fork.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Slow Go On The Snow

I rode the fat Beast to work, yesterday, and I was glad to have it, particularly, on the way home. This snow is the type I have mentioned, before, which doesn't seem to pack, at all. The auto traffic simply churns it up into a granular mess which is too dry to call slush, and too loose to think of as real snow. It really is like sand, made of ice crystals.

And, riding in it is very much like riding in loose sand. The big tires on the Beast ride pretty much on top of it, but the resistance is pretty high, and the speeds come down from my already slug-like pace I normally maintain. The ride home, yesterday, took me almost an hour.

It's only a 9 mile ride!

I will admit that it could have been (and has been) worse. A few years ago, I rode home in similar conditions on a bike with 2-inch wide studded tires. It took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to ride that same nine miles. The next day, I ordered my first fat bike, the Tommisea Fat Sand Terrain Destroyer.

That bike was a terrific commuter. The 8-speed Nexus internally geared hub was great, around town. But, the gearing and the long wheelbase made it pretty much useless, offroad. So, I sold it and built up the Salsa Mukluk.

The Mukluk was a beautiful bike, well-made, relatively light, and one of my least favorite bikes, before it was over. It excelled, off road, but there was something about the sizing, or the geometry, or something, which made it less than comfortable on the road. If i was only riding fat bikes on singletrack, it would have been perfect.

As it is, though, 90% of my riding is around town, and the Mukluk just wasn't great for that. So, I sold it (to pay for a Gibson guitar), and figured I was through with fat bikes. Then, on  lark, I bought the beast and started modifying it. Now, it seems like the best of both worlds. The geometry is comfortable for 'round-towning, and works just fine on the trail, as well.

It is a bit heavy (38.5 pounds, with the rack and tools on it), but not so heavy that I don't enjoy riding it. One of these days, I am going to save up the shekels to have a copy of the Beast frame built from titanium. Then, I'll have a killer setup!


Thursday, January 02, 2014

NYDR 2014

Yesterday, I left the house at around 8:00 AM, in the snow,  for my New Year's Day Ride. This is something of a tradition, for me. I have only missed a couple of years, in the past 20 and, at one time, it was a social event, with up to 15 riders participating. These past few years, attendance has dwindled, to the point that I didn't even invite anyone, this year. Kids, careers, etc, have conspired to prevent a lot of the old gang from participating, I suppose. So, I started out solo.

I rode down to Kaladi Bros Coffee, and had some coffee and fellowship with a few of my buddies. Then, I headed out, with the intention of hitting the Starbuck's at the REI flagship store. I usually ride from coffee shop to coffee shop, on these rides.

On the way toward Washington Park, I passed a sign of the previous evening's festivities. This champagne cork was close to the middle of the street, in front of a house on Gilpin Street. I like to imagine that someone popped the cork on the front porch, and the trajectory brought it to rest here. Maybe not, but I like the mental image, anyway.

As I rode on, I realized that my bud Mark lives just a mile, or so, on the other side of the Interstate from REI. So, I stopped in the middle of Wash Park and gave him a call, to see if he might want to join me. He told me that he had coffee brewed, already, and that I was welcome to stop by for some. I did, and then he and I went for a bit of a tour of the Highlands neighborhood. I haven't been up there much, lately, and a few of my favorite businesses were gone, but, a few new cool spots had appeared to balance things out.

Eventually, we headed back toward REI, and the the Cherry Creek Trail, which I would take homeward. On the way, we stopped and Mark took this commemorative shot:

I headed down the path, and returned home in sunshine, with the front porch thermometer showing 42 degrees F.

I was a bit famished, after the 20 mile-plus ride on the fat bike. All I had eaten, since I got up, was a raspberry scone, at Kaladi. So, I cleaned up, and ordered a pizza from Beaujo's.

Later, Steve came over and we practiced for our upcoming show. 

Bike ride, coffee, pizza, music ... not a bad start to the New Year!