Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Free at last

April 22, 2014
My No. 2 Steelman Eurocross, a.k.a. Big Red.

My No. 2 Steelman Eurocross, a.k.a. Big Red.

It was Ride the Neglected Bike Day again yesterday. The office was feeling a bit cramped, what with all the computers, books, cartooning tools, audio-video equipment, and voices in my head, and having a bike clamped to a trainer in there — even if that bike was a Steelman Eurocross — didn’t exactly help matters.

So I liberated the Eurocross and myself from bondage. The tire pile in the garage included a serviceable pair of 700×35 Maxxis Razes, so I slapped ’em on and rolled over to Palmer Park to make a fool of myself on the single-track for a spell.

This is one of my old eight-speed racing bikes from back in the day, and like all the others it’s been through some changes, so I forget what I’ve got on it drivetrain-wise — seems likely it’s either 46/34 chainrings with a 12-26 cassette or 48/36 with a 12-28 — but you’d be surprised how well an old feller can go uphill on a bike that’s five or six pounds lighter than what he usually rides.

Today I was back on the Kona Sutra, which is next in line for an Adventure Cyclist video shoot — the old Quentin Ferrentino treatment, ho ho ho. The Sutra weighs 27.2 pounds without pedals, wears a pair of 700×32 Continental Contacts, and no, I did not ride it up any sketchy bits of single-track, thank you very much. Not even in the granny gear.

But I have some burly off-road rubber in that tire pile, and with the Sutra’s racks and fenders off I bet I can squeeze some fatties on, and then look out, Palmer Park. Bologna on a Kona, comin’ through!

April fuel

April 19, 2014
The Salsa Vaya takes five underneath a recently renovated bridge above the railroad tracks.

The Salsa Vaya takes five underneath a recently renovated bridge above the railroad tracks.

Y’know what they say about April showers? Well, we should be up to our keisters in May flowers if this weather keeps up. We already have a fine crop of dandelions in the front yard.

Deadlines and various chores have monopolized my attention lately. The House Back East™ has new tenants, and I celebrated by doing a bit of raking and bagging, as the back yard has looked a tad funky since our landscaper vanished mysteriously, leaving a mulching undone and his tools behind. Rumor Control hints at an extended visit with the authorities, but as you know we don’t believe the liberal media here at Chez Dog.

The garage was likewise becoming unmanageable. My half of it, anyway. It looked like the lair of a bike thief who was deeply into the art of stealing but contemptuous of the business end. And so today I tidied up a bit in there, too. Got Herself’s ‘cross bike up on a hook and everything, though there’s still an appalling pile of tires in one corner. And for God’s sake, if you’re a neat freak avert your eyes from the workbench.

In between shifts I took the Salsa Vaya out for a few gentle rides. You know, the usual — city streets, back alleys, pulverized granite paths, single-track, concrete bike path, the works. Everything but I-25, and I’ll get around to that before I’m through.

Today’s Bible lesson is “Thou shalt count the teeth on thy cassette.” That 11-30 cogset ain’t nothin’ of the kind. Big plate on that bad boy has only 28 teeth, which when paired with a 39-tooth middle ring makes me feel my years. Don’t make me use the granny without racks and bags, please, Lord. I’ll quit touching myself and everything.

 

Game of chance

April 5, 2014
Mystery flats forced a tire change for the Soma Double Cross.

Mystery flats forced a tire change for the Soma Double Cross.

The forecast calls for a chance of rain and/or snow through Monday, and I beat the odds with today’s ride — a light drizzle began just as I hit the driveway.

Maybe it’s a good thing I swapped my tires out before I left. I had been running some portly 700×38 Schwalbe Little Bens on the Soma Double Cross, but the rear keeps going flat for no good reason. I’ve replaced tubes, checked the casing and the rim tape, you name it, and the sonofabitch still goes softer than Paul Ryan’s head when parked in the garage overnight.

Anyway, the DC now wears a frisky pair of 700×32 Panaracer Pasela TourGuards, and we’ll see tomorrow whether the garage gremlins treat the Japanese any better than they do the Germans.

Me, I’m being mistreated by allergies. Faugh. Our recent moisture is bringing all the neighborhood trees to hideous life. Look for pix of The House Back East®’s apricot tree in bloom here in a day or two as I gobble Claritin-D tabs like M&Ms.

 

 

No foolin’

April 1, 2014
The Salsa Vaya, coming to an Adventure Cyclist issue near you.

The Salsa Vaya, coming to an Adventure Cyclist issue near you.

It’s New Bike Week here at Mad Dog Media, a 57cm Salsa Vaya 2 having arrived just in time for what passes for spring in these parts (37 degrees, 10-mph wind, etc., et al., and so on and so forth).

The Vaya is Salsa’s touring and “road adventure” bike — hey, all the roads are an adventure in these parts, Sparky — and it sports all the usual goodies, from braze-ons for racks and fenders and three bottle cages to a Shimano 105 10-speed drivetrain to some big ol’ honkin’ 700×40 Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires that weigh 940g (!) apiece.

The color is Smokey Blue Robinson, in case you were wondering.

We went for our maiden voyage yesterday, just an hour or so of chewing on the wind and inspecting some recently concluded work on the north-south bike path (fresh concrete, yay!). Once the temps inch up a bit we’ll do it again, because the weather wizards are calling for a chance of rain or snow Wednesday night.

 

The next 60

March 28, 2014
The Soma Saga in its present configuration. I'm thinking about losing the rando' bars for some short-reach drops, beefing up the bar tape and fattening up the tires.

The Soma Saga in its present configuration. I’m thinking about losing the rando’ bars for some short-reach drops, beefing up the bar tape and fattening up the tires.

Thanks to all of you for the most excellent birthday wishes. No. 60 was a quiet day around Chez Dog — since Herself was road-tripping for business purposes, the party was an exclusive affair; just me, the menagerie, and all those voices in my head (happily, they don’t eat much, not even ice cream).

Today, a milestone behind me and various millstones ahead, I continued what I’m calling Ride the Neglected Bicycles Week. So far it’s seen the Voodoos Nakisi and Wazoo, the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff, and the Jones all get out of the garage for some vigorous thrashing, and there are still two days left. Tomorrow’s supposed to be 60-something and mostly sunny. You can’t stop me!

When not riding, I’ve been reading about riding. “Life Is a Wheel” is Bruce Weber’s account of his second cross-country cycling trip, undertaken at age 57. I had been aware of his ride — a writer for The New York Times, Weber blogged about it for the paper — but the book had somehow slipped my mind. I saw the review, downloaded the book, and so far Weber and I have spent an enjoyable few evenings together.

Like other road books — “Travels With Charley,” “Blue Highways,” and of course, “On the Road,” “Life Is a Wheel” is giving me notions. Nothing so elaborate as a cross-country ride, mind you, certainly not in springtime. But taking a few days away, under my own steam, sounds like a wonderful departure from business as usual.

 

Strange beverage

March 16, 2014

The sky is crying.

The sky is crying.

Oh, ’tis a fine soft day in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ninety-three percent humidity is good for the skin after a long day spent drinking watery green beer with a few thousand of your closest friends followed by a nap in a shamrock-colored puddle of pee under the old F-350.

I managed to skirt the no-fly list once again and am squatting in the Charlotte airport awaiting the next pressurized aluminum tube full of viruses bound for Chicago, where I understand the climate is likewise good for preservation, especially of things like wooly mammoths, Ben and Jerry’s, and other frozen goods. Just as well, as I’ll be chilling there for at least a couple of hours before catching a Ford Tri-Motor for Bibleburg and Chez Dog.

Skipped the final day of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, as two days gave us a pretty good look-see at all the touring bikes that weren’t there and I like to rassle my travel arrangements early, especially when I have so little say in how they get made and turn out. If some TSA dude is gonna beat on my kidneys with a mop handle I want to get it over with early, is what.

Meanwhile, Mr. Deme is in Detroit, where he reports he is sipping a Miller Fortune.

“All I can say is we really needed High Life in another package with a bit of Malt Liquor Bull added to it,” he adds.

I recommended a chaser of Listerine, or perhaps some Park Tool chain cleaner.

“That’s next,” he said.

Happy St. Shiv In the Ribs Day

March 15, 2014
Kevin Harvey's blue wheeler.

Kevin Harvey’s blue wheeler.

Charlotte is busy getting its St. Patrick’s Day drunk on. Never mind that March 15 is the fabled Ides of March, of which Caesar was famously advised to beware.

Maybe it’s a two-fer: Get horribly sideways on green beer and pennywhistle dirges, and then run about stabbing people, shouting the Gaelic for “Sic semper tyrannis,” which as I recall is “Fook the lot of yis!”

Lights, camera, action!

Lights, camera, action!

But we were talking about the North American Handmade Bicycle Show before we wandered off on this Irish-Roman tangent. And yes, it is a show, in which North American handmade bicycles play a leading role, and nobody was stabbed in the making thereof.

The bike I heard mentioned more than once was Kevin Harvey’s baby.  Dude has a day job — machinist for Andretti Racing — but he’s a lifelong cyclist and likes to work his metallurgical magic with two-wheelers in his spare time under the Harvey Cycle Works label.

Check out the Baja-bug lighting system he added to this one. He was deep in the weeds during this little project, fabricating the cap and screen to keep rocks from turning out his lights and crafting bits of this, that and the other to route the cable through the fork and make the whole system easily removable. The lights also can be raised and lowered and toed in or out.

After eyeballing a few more bikes, Adventure Cyclist editor Mike Deme, CycleItalia honcho Larry Theobald and I braved the wild streets of Charlotte, shouldering our way through about 18,000 tosspots in green T-shirts to dine at The Capital Grille. The wait staff seemed happy that the annual pub crawl didn’t include them, and the cop we saw outside the joint looked like she was having about as much fun as the average root-canal patient.

One unsteady reveler at curbside was either preparing to topple into the street, barf on his cellphone or both. Erin go blaaaaugh!

Going Uptown

March 14, 2014
My homeboys from Moots were in the house.

My homeboys from Moots were in the house.

Day one of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show got off to something of a slow start today.

Well, for us, anyway.

I don’t do 2 a.m. real well anymore, in anybody’s time zone, so by the time Adventure Cyclist boss-fella Mike Deme and I arose from our coffins, grabbed a bite of breakfast at the Midnight Diner and got ready to roll, it was practically lunchtime.

Incidentally, if anyone is looking for a rock-solid solid investment opportunity, buy yourself a booth at the Midnight Diner and rent it out by the hour. The place was nuts when we walked in and nuts when we walked out, and I would give even money that it is nuts right now.

Anyway, after breaking fast we sauntered over to the show, exchanged pleasantries with various industry ne’er-do-wells, and spent a couple of hours stumbling around in desultory fashion, gazing slack-jawed at shiny bicycles and posing silly questions to ironically waxed mustaches wearing their little sisters’ pants. There was steel, titanium and carbon fiber, Gates Carbon Drive and Pinion bicycle transmissions, and them old-fangled whatchamacallems you shift with levers and stop with rim brakes. We’re gonna do it again tomorrow, but with more shuteye. And more breakfast. And more pictures.

Meanwhile, the NAHBS Exhibitor Party is this evening at Uptown Cycles. Simply everybody who is anybody will be there, so we’ll be blazing over there directly. Not on bicycles, more’s the pity. I couldn’t find one that would fit into the overhead bin.

Good morning, Charlotte …

March 14, 2014
A room with a view.

A room with a view.

… why so chilly? Please don’t make me wear pants on a Friday.

The flight out was uneventual, thanks for asking, which is to say that it sucked. The good thing about my connecting flights in Denver and Chicago being late is that I did not miss them, which seemed a high order of probability when I set out yesterday afternoon. And why is the under-seat space bigger in a pond-hopping turbo-prop than in a 737? Just asking.

Lights out came around 2 a.m. local time and lights on came way too bloody early. It’s barely above freezing and my shorts and T-shirts will stay in the closet for a while yet. But that closet is 23 floors up in a Westin hotel, so, yeah, I got that going for me, which is nice.

Now it’s time to grab some grub and scope out the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

Cars don’t play

March 10, 2014
Oh, good. More people playing when they should be driving.

Oh, good. More people playing when they should be driving.

I took my gradually fading cold out for a walk yesterday afternoon, and boy, was it ever a beautiful day. Didn’t need to see that pudgy jogger airing out his man-boobs, but occasionally a fella must take the bitter with the sweet.

We’re looking at another blast of springtime today — 72! — before the rain, snow and wind play a return engagement on Tuesday. So I plan to get out again while the getting out remains good.

Friend of the the DogS(h)ite Weaksides will not be so fortunate, alas. In comments, he advises that he’s enduring in-patient therapy after getting blitzed from behind by a car, and his condition may keep him out of his own damn’ home for a while. So shoot him some good wishes in comments if you have a moment.

Meanwhile, feel free to wax wroth about Apple’s latest brainstorm, CarPlay, a setup intended to make it easier for motorists to jabber on the phone, check their email and not incidentally run us over. Released today as part of iOS 7.1 and soon to be a column coming to a bicycle-industry magazine near you.


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