Monday, January 31, 2011

rSogn prototype

Pictures sniped from Rawland blog.
Whoa baby.

If I didn't have my Elephant, which was based on Alex's Gifford, which in turn, influenced nearly every identifiable feature of the rSogn, then I'd be all over this. In fact, the bike wanker hoarder in me really has a hard time letting this guy go.

The challenge: find a more versatile production frame set for $600.  This is a special bike: ability to fit super fat (2.1+) rubber, optimized for front loads, standard diameter 858 tubing, road-bike/quick-handling geometry, and sweet finish details (all the right braze-ons in all the right places, a sweet fork crown, nice powder coat). A perfect commuter, rough stuff, long-distance, and/or randoneur bike.

All this gushing is free btw. I got no dog in this fight, though full disclosure: I did help Sean (Rawland owner) write a bit of copy for the forthcoming press release on this bike. And he did give me store credit for that. So strictly speaking, I guess I have a small dog in the ring. But my enthusiasm here is genuine.

A bunch more nice photos can be found on the Rawland blog.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

SOS pics

Every Sunday, Joe and I take pretty much the same ride. We call it the SOS ride... same old shit. Routine is good. It's a socially paced trail ride. As the season gets warmer, the pace picks up. Sometimes people join us.

Patrick joins us frequently.

This time of year we end up skirting around the ice floes and the SOS route is tweaked. Normally it just follows the river. Bikely map here.

The SOS ride is often the highlight of my riding in a given week.

Today we went up through Riverside Cemetery, over the tracks, and down through the archery range. Still a fair bit of ice and snow.

This ride is only about an hour and 20 minutes or so. Coffee is an important part of the ride. We used to stop at Indaba, but they don't do Sundays anymore, so they're dead to us now. Shame. That was great coffee.

Now we stop at Atticus, which has a pretty good drip about 75% of the time. That's a C average, but it actually beats the pants off of nearly every coffee place in town.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mini velo Soma awesomeness

I don't know how Jim G always finds these little gems, but it seems like he sends out some random cool thing like this to the iBOB list about once a month.

But this one is really really cool. Apparently Soma is prototyping this rad mini velo as we speak. Spycam photo from flickr is here.

There's some talk there of making a bike for urban apartment dwelling people or something. Whatever. As I mentioned a while back, this screams fast trail-riding rally commuter pump tracker to me.

Hello -- Soma people! Yes. Build it. Make it cheap and buyable by the frame set only. Nothing fancy. And please put a threadless headset on it.  Oh yeah: and 2.5" clearance would be dreamy, but I'd settle for 2".

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rory bag hack

Before diving into the Rory bag trick, here's a picture from my ride today.

That's out on Mission Road. The one on the west plains. The bag there is attached with a zip tie on the bottom and leather straps on the back, which are strapped to my handlebar. A solution which is both inconvenient to remove and is wobbly and shaky and slidey.

So here's the fix.

Those are Ortlieb hooks. Specifically, the QL 1 Top hooks. I used longer M5 bolts and a big washer on the inside of the bag. Rory's technical term was a "big ass washer."

On the back, I had a cargo net that had busted and it had a nice hook. So that was easy too.

Aside from making the bag easy to remove, this solution also keeps the bag in one place without attaching it to my bars.

Big ass washer is top left. There's a hard plastic mat on the bottom of the bag.
Bonnie Mager and Pro-Emergency Services campaign signs stiffen the deal.
If this works as well as it's looking like it's going to work, I may do a similar hack for my Swift bag.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My first rack

I picked up my rack from Pat yesterday. I had it done in clear powder coat so I could gaze upon the details of my work for years to come.

I suspect real rack maker/brazer/crafts people would be horrified by my clumpy, poorly-finished brazing work, but I really like it. I feel good about the integrity of all the joints, given the relatively light weight duty the rack will serve.

Essentially, I built a copy of the rack the Alex gave to me a few years ago. The only things I changed were the back stop design; the height of the rack relative to the front wheel; I added braze-on to attach the fender to; and I added some wiring clips.

Everything turned out really well on it. I'm amazed at how well the fender braze-on lines up. I wish I could take credit for that, but Pat has this so totally half-ass-looking system of jigging up the bike and the rack with hunks of lumber and big clips that just seems impossibly error prone -- but it works really really well.

I need to lengthen one wire and shorten another to make it tidy looking.
I'll get right on that.
The wiring clips are so homely that I feel bad for them. But they're mine (of me?) and so I'll love them.

My goal was to learn to build a rack and I'm very grateful to Pat for providing the space and having the patience to walk me through it. The guy is a saint. Really.  I busted two drill bits, ham-fisted a bunch of cuts and filing -- likely screwing up some of his tools... he just smiles (maybe that's rage suppression technique?) and says it's ok... But really, the biggest hit here is a time hit. Pat is a busy dude, so to take a week night away and teach this class, essentially for free -- we paid for tubing and a measly "shop fee" -- is huge. Cause he's also running around during the week to make sure we have tubes and supplies and there's fuel for the heater and on and on. Anyway -- thanks Pat, I'm super happy with the product of my time in your shop.

Now, I want to build one for Liza's new bike. I've got a design sort of bumping around in my noggin, so hopefully I can get that done in the next year or so.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quick fix

I put the ol Shogun back together tonight. It took me just over an hour. About 30 minutes of that was farting around with the front canti brake, then tossing it and using another, then fussing with that.

Basic build: surly new hub/deep V rear; deore/bontrager front; old Sugino cranks; 42/18 gearing; mostly dead Brooks, Noodles.

I'm pondering fenders for the spring.

If I put them on, I'll definitely for sure have them off for summer trail riding. I really like this bike stripped down, but I have to fight my urge to put fenders and lights on it.

Tiger always blesses new builds.

And on some dark rainy night I'll regret the "stripped down" approach for sure.

I'm also pondering, again, the SA 3speed fix hub. And I have dyno hub in the garage. Maybe I'll dial that all in for next winter.

A well-disguised classic

At Riverside and Stevens. Can you identify it?
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A Year and One Elephant later.....

My Elephant is officially not the smallest in the herd. This honor now belongs to Maddie, I knew if I waited long enough I would be surpassed.

One year ago today I posted about how owning a custom bike made by Glen would be rad. A bit of bike magic happened, and the bike fairy came for a visit. I thought it time to weigh in and do my own post about my Elephant cross bike. You have all been introduced to this bike via a post John did back in Nov when it was rolled into the world, out of Glen's shop and into its first cross race.

John covered the radness of this Elephant with flashy centerfold type pics and gave it a ton of props....Now for the rest of the story.

I have never, ever, in my entire bike existence ever ridden a bike that fits as well as my new Elephant. The first ride was the last race of the cross series in Cd'A what a ride. I exerted very little effort and that bike moved, and moved me right into 3rd place. I was riding with those fast girls...I was a fast girl for just a moment.
Its really quite amazing what a difference material makes and what a few tweaks to the geometry will do to one's riding. First and foremost its steel, I mean how can you beat steel?! It has a bit lower bottom bracket, a fraction more standover, a resized triangle allowing me to actually sorta shoulder my bike on the run ups and overall just more control. There is of course also the coolness factor, and now I am cool I have an Elephant! I love this bike, I mean love it, small and brown, like me (my bike's name) lives inside protected from the scary garage and the elements. No bike mingling yet, not till its older....

My old cross bike, the Novara Pulse did me very well for nearly 2 seasons of racing but what a tank! It was a great bike to figure out if cross racing is what I wanted to do, and I put it through its paces, wore out the drive train, and it still performed. It was well worth the money! And one of the few bikes that I could find that fit, which is how Glen got involved in all of this.

I am looking forward to better riding weather, although I was able to get out on the Elephant some in December for some longer rides. My homework also was to ride enough to make sure my WSD Bontrager saddle was up to snuff to keep. The guys at 2 Wheel Transit hooked me up with a great saddle. Saddles like my former bikes have always been whatever comes on the bike or whatever is on sale. 2 Wheel has a very scientific fickle foam pad that you sit on that takes impressions of your sit bones which in turn helps them pick a saddle from the Bontrager line that is best suited for your butt. So far, so good, and it can go through the car wash when rinsing after cross racing and come out looking new.

I am uber happy with the whole setup.

My number one fan Barney and I are looking quite forward to next cross season.

Bike parking

At US Bank bldg. Sweet.
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Review: Carhartt Dungaree

It's no secret to the hipster world that Carhartt makes a good all-purpose pant. Unlike most hipster cycling solutions, which generally introduce discomfort into bike riding (no brakes, no fenders, weird handlebars, etc) for the sake of fashion, there's a lot of sense to the Carhartt thing. I'm nearly 40, so maybe Carhartts ceased to be hip years ago. Maybe they're back to normal again, since they're not super "skinny," but I dig them.

I came across a pair of Carhartts about a year ago -- the kind with the double front. They took some getting used to as they were stiff and the legs are cut huge for boots. The only way I can find to keep the legs (both legs) out of the turning bike bits, is to roll up both cuffs. I could probably do some sewing or get really serious with a toe strap, but after a year of fussing around, I find rolling just works best.

Most of my daily riding consists of short trips: my house to work (4 miles). My work to downtown (2 miles), then home (2 miles). The longest I'm typically on a bike during the work week, is maybe 45 minutes. I've been wearing these pants most of the winter. There are a couple super features I dig about these pants:
  • I don't care how trashed they get. I can happily work on bikes, kneeling on my greasy dirty garage floor, and not care about staining them. I won't do this with my technical fabric, since waterproofing tends to die if the fabric it's attached to gets dirty. Which is kind of lame.
  • Pockets galore and they're deep. I carry a lot of crap every day in my front pockets: phone, ear buds, chap stick, pocket knife, change, cash-money. That's the baseline. Typically, I have lists, receipts, and other super important stuff. The Carhartts make hauling all this crap too easy.
  • Tough fabric. This stuff will last forever under general bikey usage. There is zero wear at the butt bones after a few hundred miles of riding. The fabric softens with use and washing.
  • High value: I think I paid $40 for these pants. I've worn them a lot this fall and winter, and they're just getting warmed up.
  • Here's the money feature: these double legs keep me dry. For my tooling around town in the dumping rain, I don't bother with RainMates when I wear these. The Cordura fabric sort of absorbs a bit of water, then expands to fill the gaps in the weave.
Yep, they're heavy. Yep, they're a weird color. But a couple times this year, I've actually found myself in these pants for Sunday morning SOS rides. They're becoming my go-to pants for non-warm weather riding. I've yet to do a ride that is longer than a couple hours in them, but I'm thinking they'd be pretty right on for those early season S24Os.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hang at the Rocket on 43rd

Hiya -- late post, see you there if you can make it. Rocket at 8:00. Though the date next Monday speaks otherwise, tonight effectively marks the end of January. Yay! More yay for some than others...

Good one

I found this heavy little boulder in the saddle bag on my Rawland this morning. I think it's been there a while.
Made me actually LOL.
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Back again

The beloved Shotgun.
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Some Sunday pictures

Highdrive trails are mostly clear on the west-facing side. And they're frozen in the morning.

I wish my flash had a bit more throw.

I wish I had the flash open on this one.
The Greenwood climb.

I love Spokane. It's hard not to feel the love when you get down by the river this time of year.

The picture is not the point: we've got the tandem dialed in. We took about a 5 mile ride today. The bars and platform pedals force me into chill mode. Which is really a great way to travel with Liza on this bike.

Maddie rocking the Elephant.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The worse kind of riding weather

My opinion is that low-mid 30's with rain is the lamest of all riding weather. Today was one of those days.

It was under 20F last night, so the ground was nice and frozen when it started raining at about 6 AM or so. The rain froze when it hit the ground. Click the picture above to zoom in. That's a nice sheet of ice on the streets.

On a bike with studs, this is pretty straight-forward riding. It's much much easier than the frozen-solid-slush, which nearly always brings me down. In my experience, the key on any ice is in slow, wide turning. So as long as your going straight: party on!

At about 10 am, the rain stayed rain on the ground. And it continued to rain and rain today. I was out riding around on bike errands all day. I had planned on taking a longer ride today, but I don't attempt those anymore in the "cold and wet" scenario.

I got to ride normal bikes this week, but mainly, I'm pretty much on the work horse 7 out of 10 rides in the last month or so. And I'm ready for a change.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

New camera

Fancy. I wanted a wider-angle point and shoot with lots of manual options. Rory, owner of my future Legolas, pointed me to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. Turns out this is also Alex's daily driver camera. So there it is.

I still have my rugged/waterproof beat up Lumix that makes a funny rattling noise. I'll use that as my on-bike (while riding) camera. But this new camera will live in a padded case, which will be slung on my shoulder and protected first if I fall. No on-bike-while-riding-picture-taking with the fancy camera.

So here are a few of the first shots. I'm not making any claims of good photography from a framing/subject POV, but for a hack like me to take shots with such clarity in weird light conditions says a lot for the technology of digital cameras these days. I'm looking forward to figuring out the technical basics (beyond shutter speed) to take better pics.

The moving car shot. This is a requirement for newbies with an adjustable shutter speed camera.