Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Little Cooler Than I Had Hoped

Between the time I posted, yesterday, and the time I went to bed, the weather forecast changed. Apparently a snowstorm dipped a little farther south than first expected, and we ended up with more snow, overnight, than i had gotten in the three days of snow, last week.

I stopped, once again, in Garland Park, for a scenic, snowy/icy shot on the commute. I think the high hit about 33, today, and the sun came out for a bit. That as just enough to melt the surface of the snow so that it could refreeze into slick-as-all-getout ice in many places. I think my ride home, tonight, might have taken a record amount of time.

It will probably be slow-going, tomorrow morning, as well.

On the good side of things, most of my scabs from last week's crash are gone. Now, if my thumb heals up, I'll be good as new. It seems to be slowly gaining some range of motion. 

Keeping my fingers crossed for my thumb!


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Back In The Saddle

Those of you who are Facebook friends already know that I had a bit of a get-off, on the bicycle, last Monday evening. But, for those who don't, here's the scoop.

I was pulling into my driveway, after participating in the trivia game at Fermaentra (we took 2nd place), when my front tire hit a stick that I didn't see due to the dark/looking over my shoulder for overtaking cars/inattention. As the tire skipped over the stick, it startled me and I grabbed a handful of brake. Unfortunately, instead of locking up and skidding out from under me, the tire caught on the pavement, and the bike spit me off on the high side.

At least I didn't break my collarbone, again. I avoided that by breaking the fall with my face.

Here's how I looked, immediately after determining that I still had all of my teeth:

The frame of my glasses broke, and I assume that is what gouged my right cheek. There is road rash on my nose, chin and lips (the lips were the most painful part), and my glasses frames smashed into the side of my nose and bloodied it. Plus, I had a bit of a contusion from my helmet, right at my (barely-existant) hairline.

You can see my cheek beginning to swell, in this photo without my glasses. It eventually looked like one of Jack Nicholson's cheeks, when he played The Joker.

(Photo from

New glasses are on the way, and should be here tomorrow. The scrapes and scratches are healing, although the inside of my lower lip is still a painful horror show. And, this is as straight as I can get my left thumb:

 I'll be posting about that guitar in the background, soon...
It's pretty swelled up, and a bit painful. But, as of today, I can move it a little. I am hoping that full mobility will come bas as the swelling goes down. Ice and Ibuprofen...

Today, I got on the bike for the first time since the accident. There are still stretches of ice on the neighborhood roads, so I took the fixed gear, with studded tires, down to the coffee shop and back. The thumb ached a little, and the cold air bit my lips. Otherwise, it was a good little ride.

I will go back to work, tomorrow, after being off all but Monday of last week (sick leave and holiday). I plan on riding in, and I just wanted to take a little test ride to make sure that is going to be a good idea. I think it will be. I particularly look forward to the ride home, in 40-something degree temps, after a week of cold and snow, here in Denver.

I am hoping to keep my face off of the pavement, too!


Saturday, November 21, 2015

This Week On Bikes

On Tuesday, we had a small snowstorm blow through, and I rode towork in the snow. Once there, I took a picture of my snowy fixed-gear mtb and wrote a post on my iPhone. I hit "Publish", and the post apparently disappeared into the ether. I didn't realize this, until the next day...

I rode to work that morning in an official blizzard, due to the wind speed. We didn't get a lot of snow, maybe 3 or 4 inches, but the 30-40 mph headwind I rode into made for a challenging ride.

By 1:00 PM, the storm was gone, and the sun was out. The snow melted and the roads were dry by the time I left work, at 4:30.

Yesterday, I didn't ride a bike, but I did a bit of work on the B+ mountain bike. I had decided to use an upright handlebar on it, but I didn't have one that appealed to me. So, I ordered up an Origin8 SpaceBar, with the bend I wanted.

 It has a couple of inches rise, more or less, and the width is nice, as well.

I have put a lot of thought and effort into building this bike up. Maybe, one of these days, I should go mountain biking with it!

Overnight, we got a few of inches of snow, once again. This morning, the neighborhood roads were very icy. So, once again, I pulled out the fixed-gear mtb, with the studded tires, in order to go to the coffee shop.

Every time I ride this bike, it reminds me of how much I like to ride a fixed-gear bike. I suppose I am just a simple guy, because the simplicity of the fixed bike really pleases me.

So, I wonder what the coming week will bring.


Saturday, November 07, 2015

Kindle Paperwhite

I'm a big Kindle fan. I have a basic, no-frills model, and a Fire, as well as having the app on my phone. Yes, there is something to be said about leafing through a physical book, feeling its weight in your hand, etc. but, there is also a lot to be said for having hundreds of thousands of books available to you, all in one small, portable package. That is particularly nice when you travel. 

I've been wanting the Paperwhite version, for quite a while. Its side-lit screen is easier on the eyes than that of the Fire, or my phone. And my basic Kindle is unlit, which makes it not only unreadable in low light, but also in the sunlight. 

But, at $129.99, the Paperwhite seemed a bit pricy to me. Then, this week, Amazon had a promo for Prime customers, which knocked $40.00 off the price. I pulled up the listing, and there was a second offer which knocked an additional $80.00 off if you applied for an Amazon Visa card. So, I ended up paying $9.99 for my new Paperwhite!

I don't really want the Visa, so I'll just cut it up when it arrives. And, I'm sure I'll get $9.99 worth of use out of my new reader!


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Okay, I Give Up! I'll Just Go Tubeless...

Some new things appeal to me, and I become an early adapter. Fat bikes come to mind, for instance.

Other things do not necessarily appeal to me, yet I use them anyway. Suspension forks come to mind, in this instance. Back in the day, when I was still riding competitively, it put me at a disadvantage to run a rigid fork. So, I used suspension forks, and full-suspension bikes, in order to level the playing field. Now, however, I am not competing, and you may notice a distinct lack of boingers on my mountain bikes.

Some new things, I have absolutely no desire to adopt, yet I am forced into it by circumstances. Tubeless tires fall squarely into this category. The Wilderness Trail Bikes tires and tubes that I want to use on my bikepacking rig are nearly impossible to deal with, with tubes in them. As a matter of fact, all of the tires and rims available in that size are tubeless. So, I broke down, bought the rim tape and valves, and spent three hours, yesterday, setting the bike up tubeless.

What a pain in the ass.

The tires are an extremely tight fit on the rims, even with the WTB rim tape. That's a necessity, when running tubeless, I know. But these things are ridiculously hard to mount. They are such a tight fit that I was able to just hook up my floor pump and air them up, in order to seat the beads. No CO2 cartridge or compressor required.

I did some experimenting, and I found that I can get a 700x35 tube inside the tire, in an emergency (assuming I can get the bead of the tire off of the rim, first). I am hoping and praying that I will have the  "no flats in two years" experience that tubeless users brag about. To that end, I put 4 ounces of sealant in each tire. (I started with 2 oz in each end, but decided to double up, due to the extra volume of the 2.8" tires.)

Keeping my fingers crossed.

I know that many, many people swear by tubeless tires, but I have never seen any advantage to them, for me. I don't experience any of the problems that the tubeless setup is supposed to solve. So, the added difficulty of mounting, unmounting, replacing sealant as it dries up, etc., don't really bring me any returns.

Maybe I'll change my mind, after a while, and wonder how I ever did without tubeless. I hope so, because the industry seems to be slowly but surely taking away my ability to choose whether or not I want to go that route.

Unrelated Band News:

Yesterday, I went to look at a bass amp which I had found listed on Craigslist. It belonged to a Korean Presbyterian Church (they have a "worship band"), and it was quite a bit less expensive than it should have been. The only thing I could find wrong with it is that one of the two instrument input jacks is broken. For a $300.00 discount over the normal resale value of this amp, I was okay with that.

It's an Ampeg BA115, 100 watt amp with a 15" speaker and a piezo tweeter. It's even an American-made model (which is a big thing to me).

The 30 watt Acoustic amp (12" speaker) that we had was okay, if the amp was miked, but it doesn't project enough over the guitar and drums in a situation where only the vocals are miked (like The Pit Stop or The Phoenix). Plus, the 12" speaker just doesn't have that big bassy growl that the 15" speaker delivers.

As a band, we have been putting our show proceeds into a pot to put toward this purchase. Next, I think, we should get the drummer a new high-hat. I'm pretty flush with guitars and equipment, myself...