Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fixing the Nite Rider

Pat has all the right tools. And a warm, clean shop.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mercier Mini Velo -- let the hacking begin

So it turns out that there are bikes out there that don't meet the strict standard quality bar at bikesdirect.com. These bikes are sold at bikeisland.com. Such was the fate of this "Mercier" mini, which according to the ad at bikeisland.com, was complete but just didn't have the headset installed. For $250, shipped, I couldn't maintain my loyalty to my legions of friends at the LBSs.

Don't mistake this as an endorsement of either of these price-diver websites. There's a reason these bikes are so cheap. The internet is full of forum posts about how low-quality these bikes are. At the end of the day, this is really a buyer-beware scenario. If you are good mechanic and can deal with repairing super cheap parts, that are often not manufactured to be serviceable, then these super cheap deals may pan out for you. Especially if you are fixie/SS type: you can get a workable deal here.

Anyway. It turns out that the reason the headset wasn't installed on this bike is because the crown race couldn't be installed on the fork. The reason the crown race couldn't be installed is because there was a big burry turd on steerer tube. Glen mentioned something about a lathe and how it wasn't turned properly or that he'd need to properly turn it on a lathe to fix it or something. I wasn't paying close attention. But upon reflection, I'm thinking Glen is just making a stronger case for Pat to "store" his lathe in Glen's (really really dry) garage.

Onward! Glen fussed with the burr, as I looked for stuff. And by the time I had found the stuff I was looking for -- which turned out to be spilled across his work bench -- he had the crown race pounded on and was putting the headset together.

The headset of course is a super cheap number, with a knurled thread thing that you have to adjust with channel-locks (not the proper Var tool) to really appreciate. Of course Glen has the proper tool so he dialed it right in and I expect that it will be dialed in many months from now. And of course the bearings were ovalized in their little holders and had to be finessed into the bottom of the headset, otherwise they'de herniate out the sides.

Finally -- since the bike didn't come with installed forks/headset, the handlebar people didn't get the memo: "don't wrap the bars cause this one is a special case." So the bars were all wired up to the brakes and wrapped and the quill stem (traditional, w/ non-removable face plate) was at the bottom of the box. Luckily, Glen had the super turd stem + threadless adapter post on hand. Lucky me.

So there it is. If I had been putting this bike together, I would've hit the wall way back there at the "burr stage." And I would've been either broken something trying to deburr it, or just hauled the whole mess to Glen. I'm smart as I get older. I had this thing shipped directly to Glen in order to save a step. Fist pump.

Next up: ride it hard. Abuse it. Ponder changes to saddle (something more aero of course), brakes (canti posts are in order), bars (likely O-8 Space Bars), tires (anything would be better than these weird plastic turds).

Finally, the capper: it's a wheelie machine. As Glen says, all you have to do is look up and you're popping a wheelie. Sweet.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

FW: If i had a blog this would be a great post.

From: Jon Eberly
Sent: 1/25/2012 11:15 AM
To: John Speare
Subject: If i had a blog this would be a great post.

Today on my way to school I stopped by the Shop to pick up cyclocross magazine from coffee joe. Deviating from my normal commute path I decided it'd be fun to go down the trails from perry district to liberty park. The trails were slicker than snot, and given that studded tires only give you so much additional traction, I fell and slid most of the way down.

I now had to make my way from liberty park to SCC.  I chose to take the "scenic" routes through the train yards to avoid as much traffic as I could.  After I had committed enough to the endeavor that I didn't want to turn back and find a different route, I realized the route I chose had its own draw backs.  In between each track was a mini lake of ice cold water.  I had many opportunities to practice my cyclocross  mounts and dismounts but in the process soaked the wrestling shoes I was wearing.

After the impromptu train track swimming lessons I was relieved to finish my commute and get to school where I could warm up in the computer laboratory before class.  I dismount and pull the shogun into the bike rack while reaching in my back pocket for my u-lock.

"Fuck," I said realizing my lock must have fallen out of my pocket when I took a slide down the liberty lake trails.  I looked at my watch and realized I had 1 hour until class.  Do I head all the way home and grab another lock or do I attempt to find my u-lock where I think I may have lost it?  I decided to go find it.

Not knowing exactly where my u-lock fell out of my pocket I backtrack my path back to the park.  If my feet weren't soaked now they sure are now as I was forced to cross the train yard once more.  I make it to the park and begin my ascent of the icy trails.  I scratched, clawed and pulled my way up the frozen trail utilizing any shrubbery to prevent sliding back down.  Nearly at the top, lying right in the pristine ice, is my lock.  I grab it and this time stuff it in my pannier and head back to school.

I took a different path this time that didn't involve any wayward train track crossings.  I made it to school with minutes to spare, smiling, realizing this adventure is exactly the reason I ride my bike.


It's easier to ride this than walk it. Assuming studded tires of course.

Monday, January 23, 2012

For Glen

This chestnut popped up on Pandora for me today. Glen, watch it. Dig the manual-fest starting at 2:10.

Dang this is a great video. And song.

Pat tracks

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lunch time 1/2-Fat bike ride

There's finally a bit of snow here. A quick 5-miler on the half-fat bike shows more promise than I'd expected, frankly.

The front wheel sort of plows through everything and the bike's whacked slacked (then uber-slacked by the giant fork), forces me to sit down. Seriously. When I get off my butt to stand the weird geometry is like an invisible bully just shoving me back down. Luckily, the bike is geared for super fast, low-gear spinning.

Yes. I'm actually riding a bike here. Crazy, right?
I've got the paddle WTB tread on the back under all my weight. As a result, I sort of "plane" in that boat way of planing, not bike way, over the snow.

This might just work. The real test comes when this nice, cold, powdery snow melts a bit, then refreezes into deadly frozen slush ruts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some pictures from the last year or so


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maddie's mountain bike - Kona Smoke

Last year, Maddie and I did a tiny bit of trail riding on the HD trails, lots of dirt-road riding up at the river, and a lot of neighborhood errands where we sought out the dirt-way-there.

Maddie's Elephant is a capable bike for the kind of trail and dirt and lite-rough-housing that she does, but we're (ok, I'm) hoping to do more proper mountain bike this year. I think it would be cool to go out to the air strip area out at Riverside State Park and get Maddie in the woods on the flat and non-technical single track.

For that, she should have a mountain bike. Glen and I scoped out this bike and the parts. Glen built it up.

Kid bikes are hugely heavy always. And if you check out kid mountain bikes, they're even worse -- with the suspension bits and clumpy, low-quality components. So the goal from the start was to find a good-enough rigid frame that we could lighten up with nice old light stuff.

The frame here is a Kona Smoke. It's Steph's old commuter frame. It's pretty perfect for what we're looking for: steel, rigid, sloping top tube, and cheap. Maddie should be able to get at least 3-4 years out of this bike.

Dig the wheels, with the Mavic hubs. I bought the wheelset at P2P along with a styling MB-Zip frameset (which will likely be Maddie's commuter when she's older, or if Liza gets a hankering for mountain biking, she'll get it).

Gearing is 1x7. Paul Comp chain catcher. Redline 3-piece short cranks. Purple pedals and anodized bling on the rear brake. The purple grips smell like grape gum, which will make Maddie go faster. Carbon bars. Purple anno BMX stem. Suntour Pro shifter. Basic Shimano v-brakes. High zoot super light Maxxis 310 racing tires.

Bike comes in right at 23lbs. Maddie weighs 60lbs, so it's still a lot of bike, but I think it will work out well for her.
There's rules now in the garage.
Pay heed.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Bill, Tony, and I took a hearty cold ride today.

I think the high was about 28F. Bill's beard was nice and frozen.

Reason enough, right there, for a beard.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cat 6 and other cranky observations

I was riding home today and a guy on a bike was riding down the wrong way of the street towards me. This happens sometimes. I just hold my line and they always move.

But in this case, it turns out the guy was running down a guy in a car that must've blown the stop sign at the Centennial Trail crossing. The biker guy was yelling at the car dude while riding toward me.

Thankfully, I had Greg Graffin yelling at me in my ear buds so I couldn't hear the biker guy or what his particular beef was.

Then the biker guy swung off behind the car, did a u-turn, and then rode on the wrong side of the road in the opposite direction, just in time to cut me off as he turned onto the Hamilton St overpass. As I climbed the overpass to pass him, he drifted left. Ugh. I paused. He drifted back to the right, then I passed on top of the over pass.

That was it for that deal. I took off and was on my way.

I had forgotten about him until I approached nun statue where I had to pass some walkers. I was shocked to see this dude right on my wheel when I looked over my shoulder before passing the walkers.

Whoa. Freaky. Like one of those horror movies where the victim is looking out a dark window, the lightening flashes, and a big scary face is just right there. He was in my bike bubble for sure.

I immediately figured out that I had unwittingly just participated in my first Cat 6 stage and I wanted out. I slowed down and just focused on not paying attention to the guy, who thankfully peeled off under the Opera House.

One thing I've learned after lots of riding is to let stuff roll off. People (regardless of their mode of transportation) do unpredictable stuff all the time that has the potential to ruin my day/life when I ride. I watch for it. I expect it. Most of it is not done out of malice. And even if it is, what's the point of running them down?

This guy was pretty amped up. He was on a fancy double-boinger mountain bike and was all kitted up. I'm thinking he doesn't get out in traffic much because if you took the time to run down every cyclist or driver or pedestrian that does unpredictable silly stuff, then you'd never get anywhere. And you would be angry a lot. And the fun part of being on a bike would go away.

Speaking of which, I'm kind of fed up with the fact that fun is sort of a side-benefit of a lot of "why you should bike" stuff that I read. Newsflash: Fun is the point. All the other stuff (health, environment, easy parking, etc) is a side benefit. I've got enough to say on that to do a full rant and I just might do that.

Also while I'm cranking out the crankiness: I don't really say hi or wave to cyclists anymore. I used to. And I used to get sort of huffy when other cyclists didn't wave. But when I drive a car, I don't wave to all the other car drivers. Why would would I? I'm not unfriendly and I'll wave back if someone waves, but generally, I'm just spacing out and in my own world when I'm riding. And I like that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Initial impressions - Chrome Kursk Pro spd sneakers

The folks at Chrome sent me these shoes to review. I've been wearing them for a couple weeks and so far so good.

The fit is nice -- I'm used to getting squeezed out of most bike shoes, but the sneaker shoes fit like I want any shoe to fit. Not too narrow in the toe and enough room for mid/light-weight wool socks. The DZR's fit ok in this department, but these Kursk's are even better on the snugness scale. That is, they're not too snug.

One thing to watch though - the Chromes run long. The Chrome person who helped me recommended sizing down a half size. I did and the fit is right. I wear a 45-46 in Shimano and a 11 in most other shoes. These are 10.5's.

Final note on fit is a gripe: my heels slip up a bit when I walk in these shoes. And when I'm pushing my bike up a steep trail, my feet nearly pop out. Staring at the shoes, I can't quite figure out why this happens. Maybe the heel-pop is the trade off for the slightly roomier fit that I prefer? If so, I'll take that trade, but the shoes become a tad less useful as daily drivers and trail riding.

I like the rubber toe. When I was a kid, my mom forced me to buy shoes with rubber toes, which were uncool in junior high (thing Stan Smiths... a shoe I never owned), but now that I pay for my own shoes, (uh... well most of them anyway)... I get the rubber toe thing. PLUS -- it's a nice wind block. I've been wearing these shoes in our unseasonably warm winter, but I'm still happy as I tool around in sub-40 weather. How's that for rubber toe protection?

If I were king, I'd place the lace-keepers one more set of laces toward the ankle -- to hold the laces better.

Installing the cleats was easy. There's plenty of room for pushing the cleats way back, which is where I like them. In fact, the Kursk cleat bed is unique among my many SPD shoes in that they actually have more backwards room than I use. The cleat cut-away leaves lots of room for pedal. All-in-all, the cleat implementation is well-done on these shoes. Which is surprisingly rare for most non-race shoes that are SPD'ized.

Like all non-race SPD shoes I've tried, the shoes are stiff, but not crazy stiff. They suit me just fine in that department. Aside from the heel slip thing, the Chromes are comfy enough for walking around and daily life, which for me is a lot of sitting punctuated by a few rides. I wouldn't want to walk more than a couple miles in these shoes. But, I'd rather not walk more than a couple miles in any shoe, so that's not saying much about the walkability of this shoe.

I'll follow up with report on durability. And warm-weather breathability and the resulting funkidelicality or lack thereof.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

SOS classic

Classic SOS ride today. To have a classic, Joe must be there. It must follow a classic route. It must be socially paced. And the capper: it must end at Indaba.

Done. Done. Done. and Done.

Glen. Clipping out.


A bit a of snow. Likely a "trace" in the parlance of the pros.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Snow, finally

Hopefully it piles up enough for Pat.

Moose da (麋鹿)

I've been quietly grumbling about all the increased traffic on the HD trails for a while. It's inevitable. Most runner/walkers get it -- they appreciate the efficiency of stepping off the trail to let bikes pass. When it makes sense, I'll roll up the side of a trail to let a group pass. It's all about efficiency.

Whatever. I try to avoid the trail on weekend mornings and the top trail on weeknight afternoons, but sometimes you only get a small window to ride, so you gotta take what you can get.
See the moose up there?
Right on the stinkin' trail.
No getting around that dude.
Today, the trail hog was a moose. I'd put moose in the camp that doesn't "get it." But like big red-neck trucks on a rural road, moose get the "I'm bigger" pass for not getting it. So I work around them. Especially when they're traveling with a mom. I didn't see the mom, but the guy high-tailing it down the trail with his dog towards me said that the mom lowered her head at him like she was going to charge. Yow.

I've run into this pair before. A couple years ago, they were hanging out on the other side of Hatch Road, below the Pines development.

I make a point of giving them lots of room.
The context-less track.

To see exactly where the mooses were this morning, you can study the track to see where I had to double back twice.