Friday, August 11, 2006

You Knew It Too

A direct quote of an article from, a sports equivalent to

Condi Rice Wondering If NFL Commissioner Job Still Available

WASHINGTON, DC--Condi Rice, frustrated by the continuing crisis in the Middle East and her own failure to secure a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah, is wondering if the NFL Commissioner'’s job is still available, according to a report in the Washington Post. Rice was quoted as saying that she "“may have been a bit hasty in taking her name out of the running so early."
"“Maybe I shouldnÂ’t have rejected the idea so quickly,"” Rice told the Post. "“I guess I was a little hasty. Now that I'’ve had time to think about it, I think the NFL Commissioner's job would be an exciting challenge for me. So…is it still available? Is this Roger Goodell guy a shoe-in? Because if he's not, I wouldn't mind throwing my hat in the ring. Condi Rice, Secretary of State. Sounds a lot more impressive than Roger Goodell, random guy in suit, doesn't it? Anyway, let Tags know that I'm through with this Middle East bullshit and ready to move on. These people are nuts."”

For those of you among the stupid, this is humor, ah, fake, ah, no Condi Rice doesn't really want to be NFL commish. Then again, maybe she does, but lost out to the insider suit. I mean like he had a chance to be Secretary of State? The old boys network ain't what it used to be, but it still operates on silly level, don't it?

Wednesday, rode in early to Al's Breakfast in Dinkytown. As Mary said, flyin' solo. That is without my usual compendum of pals. Yummy just the same. Although it is a drag to show up cycle sweaty and the only seat open is next to the grill. Eh, sweat a little more. On that same ride I saw three bunnies in my headlight. All went safely perpendicular and none tried to outrun me. I guess they figured out I was no contest. Rats.

I'm tired of talking about Floyd. Everyone I know, knows I'm a bike geek and seeks my opinion. I no longer know what to think. I liked his story of the hip problem, the bonk, the recovery and thrashing of the field the next day and the ultimate triumph. I thought he was a good yellow jersey wearing kind of guy who had earned it. I just don't believe testosterone would benefit him enough. Then again, I'm no endocronologist. I'm just sick of talking about it. I want it to be over. No matter what, its going to screw up US cycling for years. Must be a loser attitude I have that gee, I can't be President, I can't be CEO, there are smarter, faster, more talented people in the world than me and I should just piss myself and go home and cry or something. Why should I be comfortable in the world where I'm at, when I can cheat to get ahead? What a screwed up mentality I have with this willingness to enjoy what I have, try to obey rules and not burn to have more.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tour de France - Epilogue

I know you've heard it all before and pundits from Lemond to Armstrong have weighed in. Yet, I'd feel remiss if I didn't throw my two cents into the mix. I'm not looking to convince you of anything, just pose that there are no clear cut answers here.

First, I don't believe Floyd doped. I don't think he took anything stronger than a beer and a shot of Jack Daniels. He's not that stupid. Its pretty foolish for a cyclist of his stature to be using alcohol during such a big race. In my mind especially with the heat level he had to endure. As well as after having such a bad day, which could at some level have been due to some level of dehydration. The reason for me is the tendency of alcohol to contribute to that dehydration. Alcohol draws the moisture out of your system on contact, starting from your tongue and the saliva in your mouth. It continues on down the system. This dehydration is what gives you the hangover in part. For decades I've known that if you drank alcohol, but followed it with a decent amount of water to replenish the moisture you lost, your hangover was less, if non-existent. Yet, with all the stress of being a top flite racer, maybe he needed the depression or relaxation impact of the minor amount of alcohol. I've never been close to his level, so again, this is just my two sense.

Second, that alcohol can change the hormone level. Regardless of the accusations, Floyd did not test "positive" for high levels of testosterone. He tested positive for a high ratio of testosterone to epistestosterone. Fitness experts point out that the average joe, or guys like me have a nearly one to one ratio. Athletes of the caliber of Floyd, who's heart rate and level of body fat and other contributors to metabolism have a higher ratio of upwards of 4 to 1 "T" to "E". This isn't just because the testosterone isn't higher, its also because the episterstosterone is depressed. If you continue to ask your body to produce the wattage needed to propel it on a bicycle up mountains on a daily basis (or run distance, or weight lift or any one of many strenuous exercise) the body makes more "T" to enable it to continue. It also suppresses the "E" for that to happen.

Here are the things that I don't know, but suspect. When an athlete of Floyd's level has a bad day like stage 16, when he just didn't seem to have it, what happens to the excess calories he ingests? Doesn't it become fuel for that next day? And if a fellow is really motivated, what happens to hormone levels along with? Doesn't it seem that a guy unhappy with his performance, almost angry with himself over his day, might just have higher levels of adrenaline and testosterone? Face it, I'm no endocronologist, but don't we expect the levels of an elite athlete to increase under some circumstances? Isn't that a part of what makes them elite?

If you look at the wattage data that Floyd permitted to be released, they weren't extraordinary for Floyd. For me maybe, but not for him. The stage 16 numbers were rather average by comparison, but the awesome stage 17 numbers were simply on the order of values he'd already produced under other similar conditions. So although he astounded his critics, some of that impression was psychological, they just didn't expect him to come back. His coaches knew better. It has happened before.

Didn't a few other racers in the same race have some awesome days, and not test positive for anything? At least two of the mountain stages were more or less won by individuals on long breaks. They just didn't have the crushing lousy stage the day before. Yet they might have not had a very hard day, they may have hid in the pack and conserved. Although it didn't look that way, it is basically what Floyd did in 16, he didn't kill himself, he let others pass, and he rode at his own pace. Survived for another day.

Enough rambling. Time to wait for the results of the B sample, which I fully expect to be identical. Unless the lab screwed up, and I don't believe that. It is possible, but I doubt it. I hope to look out for some more experts to weigh in. I do know that other ratio type results have been tossed out. In other words this result is not always a guarantee of culpability.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Talk About Selective Hearing

Every time I hear the advert for the women's razor called the "Venus" I hear:

I'm your penis,
I'm your fire,
Its your desire.

Wouldn't Freud have fun with that?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Ride From Hell

Okay, not for me. For Sparky, the WunderBeagle, my part time pet.

I have a Burley cargo trailer that I get groceries in. So I got this bright idea to take Sparky for a ride. Sparky is about 10 years old and he's developing this arthritic hip and he no longer wants to walk very far. Sometimes I've walked him for what used to be a short walk and the last half he's dragging me by the leash. Backwards. Formerly he wants to drag me in the other direction. I use a Halty dog color that goes around his snout like a muzzle, but doesn't prevent him from biting, sniffing, licking, or whatever. It does allow me more control and its because the leash connects just below his snout. Not painful like a choke chain, but he quickly gets the message quickly as to who's the boss.

So, I thought I'd take him for a ride in the trailer behind the QB. He's only 30 pounds and I also have a harness intended for buckling him into a seat belt. So, I use this and I'm able to use the lash points in the trailer to keep him safe so he can look around, even turn around, sit or stand, but not get enough of his hind legs into it and leap out.

He's okay getting in. He sorta looked nervous when I put on the helmet and locked the garage door. "You aren't going to leave me here?" Off we went. I use a mirror on my sun glasses so I could turn my head and see him back there. His tail wasn't exactly wagging, but he didn't seem to be in distress.

I had thought I'd ride to a local coffee shop as they are on the order of three miles away. I went on a weekday afternoon last week, early enough in the afternoon that was very little traffic. When I got there, I noticed he was in a high state of agitation. He was quivering like it was time for shots. Something he dislikes almost as much as his nails being cut. I quickly disconnected him and put him on a leash. I have snuck him inside the shop before and I was hoping that AC would help him mellow out. I got a smoothie and then we sat outside. The entire time he stood and wouldn't relax. Usually he lies down or at least sits when he figures I'm not going anywhere. We've been there before so he knows the routine.

I made the stay as long as I could. I lashed him in, like I had before so he had movement, but not so much I thought he'd leap out. Wrong.

As I put my helmet on, and stuffed the Onion into my saddlebag, he was standing on the ground behind the trailer. I shortened the tie down three times before I got it to work. I had to make it so short he couldn't stand up. If he got his back legs semi straight, he'd leverage and then go into this frenzy shake like he was ridding himself of water. This would generate enough slack to get out of the trailer. Then he'd look at me with this look like, "You moron." Smartypantz.

We made the ride home, as fast as I could, but he wasn't happy about it. Okay, lets call that a short failed experiment, and leave it at that. Here I hoped he be able to enjoy my habit, um hobby, and he doesn't. Bummer for Sparky, and yeah for me too.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Thanks Bob!

Courtesy of Bob Roll, former cycle racer, funny guy, and current OLN-TV Tour day France commentator.

Thanks Bob! I agree.

Bob Roll's 8 Reasons Why the Tour de France Is Better Than the Super Bowl

1. The tailgate party lasts a month
2. Admission is free
3. More than 12 million people watch some part of the Tour in person, compared to roughly 80,000 who get to go to the Super Bowl
4. Bike shorts are sexier than football pants
5. The food is better
6. So is the scenery
7. Men and their machines- no padding
8. More struggle, more pain, more drama

And I'll point out that in #3, most of those 80,000 see nothing, or watch ants play a game.


If you haven't heard by now, you're not a bike geek.

Sadly for me, I am.

It started five weeks ago in Spain. A raid of some sort turned up drugs, perserved containers of blood, and complicated coded lists. List of 58 riders it was said. Codes detailing that some had paid the equivalent of $50,000 a year. To improve their ability by use of EPO or by modification of their own blood by increasing the number of available red blood cells enabling them to carry more oxygen in their bloodstream. Ah, thanks a lot science. I've no idea, but I'm left to wonder what disease or illness was this technology developed. Someone please tell me that it wasn't developed just for jackass athletes to improve their performance.

Then the information in the last few days got worse. The directors of the sport teams withdrew the names of the prominently mentioned riders. Lets start with Lance's arch rival, Jan Ullrich. Then the man who Lance just couldn't drop in the mountains where the winners are separated from the losers, Ivan Basso. Of the top five remaining after Lance's retirement there were two gone.

Next it was Francisco Mancebo was out as well, and he's speaking of retirement at 30 years of age. There were six others, but they weren't considered contenders. Then the rumors began swirling about as many as another 11. This did not come to be, but one more thing occurred, and it was an entire team.

The Astaná-Würth team was down to five riders with the eliminations. Home of Alexandre Vinokourov, a rider who lived to challenge. At any time at any location, Vino was a threat. And he was a pleasure, because he was willing to risk everything, to expect punishment to achieve. Although he didn't finish as highly placed as others, he was always interesting to see, and I will miss him.

So this is it, right? Should my level of disgust be so elevated (like with my own government and the fools that helped elect them and continue to defend them) that I ignore the rest of the tour? Not. Someone has to win. Everybody has to think they can win now. They all are thinking, hey, I'm five steps closer to the podium, to first, the malliot jaune, the polka dot jersey, some measure of improvement. Do you say, yeah, but. No, its le Tour de France, the greatest race in cycling and there are over one hundred top competitors who want your position. Now is not the time to give up on this race. It will be every bit as exciting.

Who are my favorites? I haven't any. I want them to win me over. I want them to show me who is so full of himself that he leaves the saddle with no regrets. Attacks should be plentiful. Who'll be the team to control the peleton and catch the breaks? I believe there is much excitement to see.

Will I be disappointed if no US riders figure prominentlyly? Not at all. I've followed the tour since Bernard "the Badger" Hinault was fighting with Greg Lemond and against Laurent Fignon. Then it was great just to see Lemond on a team with a contender. When Lemond won, I thought it might be 25 years before I saw another American win. When Lance came along, wow, that was simply icing on a cake I'd not expected to have a piece of. Like the World Cup, I don't think the US has to be the winner at everything. Lets just see now, okay?

Monday, June 19, 2006

I Did It!

Am I the only one with an urge to yell at other cyclist that act like morons?

No, don't answer my rhetorical question. I know the answer, very few of you do, which means it is my problem.

Today I did it. That is not yell. Somewhere along the commute I spotted someone ahead of me. Weaving. You know, every time there are a few spaces where there are no cars, he'd weave toward the curb. Confuses the heck out of cagers. Stupid. But he did hesitate at a stop sign long enough to consider it what shall always be referred to as an "Idaho cycle stop". That's a joke, son. (Reference Foghorn Leghorn)

Then at the one and only stop light in the area he does the truly annoying, I'm making a right hand turn without a signal, no, no, I'm just running the red light since there are no cars coming. See I was only about 4 cagers behind at this point. I was peddling incredibly slowly, so that I might not have to take my foot out of the toe clip before it turned green. Maybe my failure at that was the true source of annoyance?

Probably not. This guy was slow. So he wasn't a hundred yards past the light when it turned green. And those cagers needed to pass the weaving butthead a second time. Asswipe. Dork. Now, I was having trouble getting my foot in the clip, so I didn't catch him. I think I could have. I futzed with the pedal, so I wouldn't. Then if I wasn't close I wouldn't yell. Anything.

The next light turned green as I approached behind a car. So I was able to keep my feet in the clips and ride through it behind the moving snake of cagers. I easily caught up to him, but he was on the sidewalk and I was in the left lane intent on making my left turn toward work. I still held my senses together and didn't yell a thing. Some days I'm actually smart enough. Now if I could only stop thinking the horrible things I want to yell.

Cycling is supposed to be fun, why do I insist on taking the fun out of it, by letting the morons get to me?

Again, don't answer.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Did You Ever?

I feel like Andy Rooney for writing this.

Have you ever done something completely stupid and you should have by rights paid a terribly price for your stupidity, but you some how managed to get away with it?

So I'm cycle commuting home on Friday night. I was first in line at a stop light. There were four maybe six vehicles behind me and I took my lane as there was no place to occupy. I'm kinda leaning over the handle bars. I'd already took a good drink off the water bottle hoping the light would change soon.

Meanwhile a vehicle makes a left turn and goes by. Its one of these suburban white boys all dressed up like Eminem. Complete with heater and headband made from a bandana. I'll bet he had a tragic childhood in New Brighton? Meanwhile the vehicle is an all black SUV with the gigantic 22 inch wheels that look so stupid. Especially when you mix them with the low profile tires that give no shock absorption what so ever. Now the best part was the wheels were gold plated. Gold? Does this vehicle have any practical value what-so-ever?

I mean really who much a pretender can this guy be? Has he a record contract? I'll bet not. Has he resettled here from Compton? I don't think so. Is there any point other than image? It is a vehicle that will never see snow. Maybe not even rain. It sure won't see the rough country that an all wheel drive vehicle is designed for. Yeah, but it has leather interior.

Only here comes where I'm stupid part. I laughed. Yeah that's it. I mean, just from who much this dick head has tied up in his vehicle, you know he's as brain dead as a end table. So I let out a nice loud imitation of Nelson from The Simpsons. You know what I'm talking about, just a loud "Haa! Ha!".

The dolt heard me. Oh, I forgot to mention he's got his windows open so everyone can hear his awesome sound system playing his dope hip hop. What? Did I hit some sort of pause in the sound? He slams on the brakes and starts yelling. First the four letter words. Somewhere in there, I hear, "You better not be laughing." Or maybe it was "laughed at" or "laugh at". I'm not sure, but I responded with, "I just did!" So I began to really laugh. Loud. Like play hoot and howl, and just be an ass. I could hear laughs from some of the other cars. I know he put the car in reverse, but other cars coming along the same way as well as the long line behind me may have made that difficult.

I hit him where it hurts. Hard. Just the same it was incredibly stupid. Yeah, I took peverse pleasure it it. And it was childish as hell. I mean, I already knew the guy was a complete ass wipe. He lives for his image, and its what I care least about. And playing with the mind of someone who doesn't have one, is very foolish. And I should know better.

More Music Reviews

Death By Sexy - Eagles of Death Metal is an okay album, some strong campy ideas at work. The "death by sexy" thing includes a photo of the two members in a semi-kung foo position inside. I can't judge if their sexiness will kill you or not. They have fun, they play their guitars knarly and loud and aren't taking themselves very seriously. I enjoyed it and people that like the White Stripes and other low-fi blues bands should enjoy this.

Flashback - J. Geils - Hey, its your classic "best of". Although gone for twenty years, anyone that's not heard of the Geils band with Peter Wolf at the vocals should. One of those recordings that gets played at hundreds of parties across the nation. And its an example of those bands where everyone in it thinks they are a big part of the success, and it turns out that they weren't. Yeah, the played their bit, but separately they just don't cut it on any level even close to what they achieved together. Peter Wolf has put out some fine disc, but not one song is as rocking as his stuff with J. Geils.

Showtunes - Stephin Merritt - Stephin is so hard to understand. This is really a bunch of showtunes. Not my cup of tea. I can't begin to enjoy this disc. It has some amusing bits, great vocal, rather elegant playing, and really quality stuff. Yet, its nothing like anything I'm familiar with. Maybe it will grow on me? For risk takers only.

Broken Toy Soldiers - the Raconteur - Every bit as good as I anticipated. I've enjoyed Jack White's work both in the White Stripes as well as things he did with Loretta Lynn. This is good fun with a variety of contributions from all the members. Good solid work and it will be great fun to see what else they do next and maybe they'll tour behind this?

Steady State of Confusion

Ride a lot. Don't ride a lot. Hot weather. Dang near frigid weather. Its been a crazy two weeks in my hovel. Work has been rather insane with a demanding customer that buys very little in volume, but when they discover what they perceive is a problem, look out. Not only did they come for a visit with a failed system, they brought a couple of their customer reps along with. What a dog and pony show.

I'm lucky in that the intense autopsy of the device wasn't my job. I've got great colleagues that take care of that. Then the data analysis comes along. How many like this in history? Out of how many? Any like this? After they went back home, some days I got five-seven calls from these folks. Sometimes they'd be on a squawk box and the questions and stuff came so fast I couldn't write it down, so I'd have to do the, "let me see if I got this all straight" before we could end the telecon. I'd have missed something every time. Three weeks later we still aren't done. Normal customers we figure out what is wrong and fix the system and return it in a month. Enough about that noise. Its a good thing I have great people to work with (really, not BS in case they read this).

I am just about to finish up a bike for a friend. He ordered wheels from Chuck's a great clearance house. I've bought stuff from him for years. Okay, so I don't really know if there is a Chuck. They have been good to me. I ended up doing more to the bike then planned like rebuilding the headset. I've just got to put the chain on, lube it, and then install the cycle computer for which I located a battery.

Last weekend I wiped the drive of a computer for my son, Thing 3. It was just lousy with junk. He's used stuff to download music and who knows what else. It wouldn't boot without a pop up saying windows needed to evaluate all the system files for something. I split the drive into two virtual drives and put all his music data onto the second drive. I've also been loading songs onto his iPod. I've now loaded about 140 days worth of songs. He could listen 24 hours a day, and not run out of music before he has to return to school. I hope he enjoys that. I had real trouble loading the copy of Norton Systemworks that I had bought for it. I never did get it to load. I tried using the "safe mode" and other tricks, but no go. I couldn't uninstall either. I had to use a special uninstaller from the Symantec site to get it uninstalled. It then appeared to have hosed up iTunes as I couldn't load any more music. After I reloaded that, all seemed to be okay.

Now, next I've got another bike to work on. I'm going to try to take photos as I build it. Still learning my camera. I've had a vintage Cannondale frame for years. Its absolutely in cherry shape, as in built up, but never street ridden. No dents, no bends, nothing. I'm building it up into a light fast training/race bike for a nephew. He wants to try his hand at riding in a triathlon. Fun!

A reader (Doug) commented that in Idaho it is okay to do a rolling stop. I think that is okay, but in some cases I wouldn't. By that I mean, I wouldn't flaunt it when a car is in view. I don't like to piss them off, and since most cagers are so very ignorant of bike versus motor vehicle rules, why open the question. Here in Minnesota, a vehicle can't pass unless it can yield at least three feet. Very few drivers know this and they love to buzz you when annoyed with you. On hills, around corners, with oncoming traffic. Like its my fault they chose to pass. Thanks a lot, put my life in danger, you morons.

A fellow at work has a very nice Cannondale he bought from a shop I used to work in. Now as he has aged he learns that the classic road bike has the bars too bloody low for a normal person. Uncomfortable. So he spoke to me about it and I showed him the Nitto Technomic in the Rivendell catalog and how it has a double length quill to bring his bars up higher and make him more comfortable. So he calls a few shops locally and they either have no idea what he's speaking of, or quote a wacky price (double!) to order it from Quality (QBP) which happens to be in Bloomington. I started thinking I'd do it for him, but then thought, Duh! and have him call Jim at Hiawatha. Sure enough, Jim has the stem. It didn't take me long enough to make the leap from buying the stem and doing the installation, to sending him down and let Jim do the work. More money in Jim's pocket is a good thing. And it worked great. Jim suggested a very fair price and was a pleasure to deal with. My pal suggested it was a great experience and he likes putting dough down when its someone like Jim across the bench to pick it up. Saved me from another project I'd just procrastinate on!

Friday, June 09, 2006

This is how my week went, in a nice short statement. You have been warned. Personally, I'm grateful its over. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

My new camera...

My new camera. Posted by Picasa

This is my new camera. I got it through a program at work. We have a deal through Panasonic. I bought from Panasonic direct less expensive than I could find it anywhere on the web through any catalog sites. It came pretty quickly. The web site suggested that I'd get it in three weeks, but I got it in less than seven days. Pretty cool.

Days later I got my copy of the latest Consumer's Reports and it had a big review of digital cameras broken into three sections; Simple cameras, middle complexity cameras, and Single Lens Reflex (SLR) digital cameras. At first I noticed that not many Panasonic cameras were reviewed. Later when I read the whole article I found that in the first two groups the Panasonic (at list price) was rated as a best buy. It wasn't the exactly model as mine, but another one with slightly different feathers that was the same price. I chose mine because I preferred the features it has over the other one. So far so good, I think its an okay camera, and I'll look forward to use it a lot more. YMMV.

You Know You're Old When

When you are riding a bicycle and lose a race to a rabbit.

And the rabbit was facing in the opposite direction you were at the start.

And you had a rolling start when the race began.

And the race only lasted the lengths of two residential home yards.

And the rabbit makes a complete 90° turn at speed after the second house and is still leading when you lose sight of him behind some bushes.

Only redeeming factor? It did make for a smile that early in the morning. And I guess I scared the beejebus out of that bunny.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Denon Adventure

My new used cassette player/recorder. Posted by Picasa

So I saw this advert in Craig'sList. A quality cassette recorder/player for only $40. I haven't had a cassette player for years since I wore out the last one. I've worn out two Sony machines from the late 70s. I have hundreds of cassettes that up until now I could only play in the car player.

Speaking of cars, I'm car free again. My family and a few trustworthy friends know me as an easy touch when it comes to my car. Especially in the summer. I don't use it, so if they need to, it works for everyone. So since last weekend I was without a car.

I discussed this with the owner of the Denon and she was okay with waiting, but I wanted to get it done figuring that way someone else doesn't buy it first. Only trouble is their house was an easy 18 miles away on a direct route. Everyone knows you can't usually ride the direct route on a bike. That is if you value your life. And in this case value the new purchase I'd be carrying in my trailer. Her house was somewhere in St. Paul I wasn't very familiar with. Turns out there was two entirely disjointed sections of the road with the same name. My use of Google Map turned out to be most unhelpful. It sent me to the wrong section.

Start over. I told her I'd be by about 9:30, and intended to leave by 8:00 to be there on time and try to miss the worst of the heat during the day. Of course, as usual I didn't get on the road on time. It was more like 8:20. I'd spent about an hour with the maps trying to figure out the route. It appeared that the best route was to meander over to Lexington and take that south. At some point I needed to get off Lexington to avoid traffic and find my way to their street. I did this and it went okay until I followed Como too far almost into downtown St. Paul. And meanwhile they are doing road construction on Hwy 94 and they are rerouting traffic to a cross street. I don't know how long I waited at that light, but I finished the rest of my water. There was a squad car using some remote device to trigger the light.

At one point I was stopped behind some old gigantic tank of a car at a stop light. After one cycle of the quick light behind the guy, I got the idea that he wasn't moving. So I cycled by slowly and the car was running, the AC on, the windows closed. The guy was nodded out, or dead drunk or simply asleep. Against the steering wheel. He eventually woke up and later passed me. Just really strange considering it was like 9:30 in the morning. Maybe it was early for him?

I rode the entire length of the their street (or so I thought) and realized that I wasn't even close to their street address. So I finally pulled out the cell phone and called them. I apologized for being late and asked if I wasn't keeping them from something. Turned out I had actually gone too far. They lived close to Lexington and Grand and I wasn't far off. So, with his added directions, I was soon at their home and looking at the item. It was in great shape. Some tiny scratches on the top, but all the cords and instructions included. Awesome. I paid them for it and loaded it up in the trailer.

I rode down Grand a bit so that I could find someplace to get a drink. I ended up at an SA and got a couple of liters of Gatorade and a couple of doughnuts. Yum! I just sat in the shade and ate the doneys and drank a bunch of the Gatorade. Then I refilled my water bottles with the rest of the Gatorade and got back on the road. I tried a different route for the most part and got home in a reasonable time.

Total trip was just over 46 miles and about three and half hours of riding. It worked out to a pretty slow 12 something MPH, but reasonable considering I stopped at every light and such. I also spent mcuh time checking the map in my bag. I wasn't exactly lost, just trying to avoid dangerous routes. It was fun exploring St. Paul. It also makes you feel awesome to get out in any winter and do something like this car free. I just love the ability to say, I don't need no stinkin' engines. And I can tell the tales to prove it.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I Stop At Stop Signs

This morning on the commute to work, I was cruising along on Stinson Blvd and stopping at all the stop signs in a residential area and near a private school. There are several stop signs in a short distance. I must be a dope since I stop at every bleeping sign. Other cyclist blow by me on a regular basis. I used to get my blood pressure to skyrocket by getting angry with the morons. I figure when I get harassed by a car, its because there are more cyclist like them then me. My choices are to join them or ignore them. I find it so hard to ignore them, but I'm trying to so very hard.

Today I stopped like any other day. I look at the cars that stop beside me, but only to see if that tell tale blinker is working and I'm about to possibly get cut off. I also look to see if they actually stop to see if they are in that "its all about me" hurry and I should again beware. Otherwise I try to ignore the predominance of SUV versus modest sized cars.

I do always listen for that telltale sound of an electric window. I don't try to figure out if its going up or down, my adrenaline level goes up as I go into avoidance mode trying to prevent the possibility of getting something thrown at me. I've gotten empty cans, cigars, cigarettes, and half eaten hamburgers and sandwiches thrown at me. Sometimes its just the invective that spews out the window and I always find it hard not to retaliate in kind so I try to avoid hearing that too. Again, avoidance maneuvers are on order.

So, I do a track stand at a stop sign and a car is beside me. I see it is blue, and the turn signal is not on. I go through the intersection like normal about the same time as the car. The car does not zip past me and my senses heighten. Then I hear that window motor and I stand on the pedals ready for anything. As the window goes down I hear what I think is talk radio. Great, some conservative right wing nut. And I hear that first word I always expect to be followed with the insults. "Hey!" I resist looking, its bad to make eye contact. So the guy continues, "Did you know I was a copy next to you?"

Now I look. It is an Officer in uniform in unmarked squad car. I tell him no, I stop at stop signs because its the right thing to do. He yells, "Great job, keep it up!" I figure this is the end as the window goes up and I realize the radio is radio chatter from a squad car not talk radio.

Several blocks later, there seems to be a significant snarl to traffic. I hang with the car I'm next to, and don't piss the cars off by blasting past. When I get to the cause its my cop, along with three others running speed checks. Speed limit is 30, and it appears under 35, you get a warning. At some point they hand out pre-printed, pre-signed tickets. The cop walks in front and writes the license number, gets the drivers license, runs it through a car thing on his belt and the ticket is set.

I love it.

Button for today. I first heard this comment on a Simpsons' show. Bart says it, and I don't remember why. It appeals to me for this reason: I do not find clowns funny or amusing. The one word I consistently associate with clowns is EVIL. As in Stephen King's It evil. And since I have plenty of trouble sleeping clowns are as good a source to blame for my struggle as anything. Done. Happy Friday? Posted by Picasa

Anonymous? Maybe not

Someone left an anonymous comment. I didn't mind the comment or the opposing opinion regarding Neil Young's latest record. They were polite or non-threatening and didn't use any foul language.

Still, I don't like the ability to hide who you are and leave comments.

So, I've turned that feature off. Sorry. Register and show yourself or go away. If you feel strongly enough to leave a comment at least own up to it. If I read your blog and saw something worth commenting on, I would.

Its my blog and its the way I feel. Suit yourself on your own blog.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Week Ago Shopping Expedition

I got a pal. He is really interested music, even more than me. He owns a couple of guitars (Fenders!), amps (Fenders! tube!), and more recordings than me. Okay, maybe four times the number of recordings that I own. And I own a ridiculous number, no I won't admit to how many. I've been collecting for thirty years and I'm too bleeping anal to toss any away. In desperation I sold a few as well as traded a few. Serious mistake. The really bad ones remind me of mistaken choices, or whom I should never take advice from.

At any rate when Rocking Mr. Tom shows up, we usually go shopping. And when I talk shopping I'm talking the Fetus. An institution in the area for a long time, they have a great selection of blues, rock, and more. I can't speak for country as I can't stand that crap. Okay, I don't mind the quality country; Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and serious old school artists. Not that putz Garth and Wynonna.

So here is the list of what I bought this time. It had been quite a while since I had last shopped for recordings:

Death By Sexy - Eagles of Death Metal
Separation Sunday - the Hold Steady
Flashback - J. Geils
Showtunes - Stephin Merritt
Biggest Prize In Sport - 999
Elan Vital - Pretty Girls Make Graves
Broken Toy Soldiers - the Raconteurs
The Repulsion Box - Sons and Daughters
Songs and Other Things - Tom Verlaine
Dumbing Up - World Party
Living With War - Neil Young

So far I've listened to several recordings, but not enough of all of them. I have listened to these four in depth enough to make a review.

Biggest Prize In Sport by 999 is old school New Wave from the early 80s. I've had a vinyl copy for over 20 years. I loved it then, its pop, its catchy, it has wonderful guitar licks, and its completely meaningless from a seriousness angle. Its a guilty pleasure at its finest. When I saw it in the used bin for $7, I couldn't pass it up. I've rarely seen them in the new racks much less in the used rack. Embarrassed? Nope, its a band which has sentimental value as well as entertainment value. They might be the Bay City Rollers of the New Wave or Punk era, but nobody's hardly heard of them, so maybe its okay? You mileage might vary.

Separation Sunday by The Hold Steady is quality rock and roll with a twist of anger. Some might call it Power Pop or even Punk, but its just all rock and roll isn't it? I heard a cut off this disc on the The Current. The first thing that grabbed me is the vocal similarity to Mark E. Smith of The Fall. I also found the lyric about "your rat faced friend" hilarious. Great biting lyrics about a wide range of stuff. The disc just demands to be played loud. Lots of good crude guitar work and just solid rock and roll. The disc has been well reviewed elsewhere. I find it highly recommended if you like things like the Fall, the Clash, the Jam and other intense music.

Dumbing Up by World Party was a pleasant surprise to see in the record shop in the "new" bin. Its a bit short compared to his (Karl Wallinger of course) other recordings, but it holds up well just the same. If you remember the early days of The Waterboys, then you should consider checking out World Party's back catalog. Personally I suggest you start with Bang! as well as Egyptology. The man has a mind for hooks and catchy lyrics, but he also knows his sound. He always surrounds himself with great players and his recordings sound the same over his 20 plus years of discs. He likes lush production and smooth vocals that may not appeal to everyone. I really have always liked the sound of World Party since Karl was a part of the Waterboys. I thought that was partnership that broke up and each carried a solid portion of the musical ability and later recordings prove that Mike Scott and Karl Wallinger have the chops to carry off their own careers with ease.

Living With War by Neil Young was the biggest disappointment so far. Where was Neil's angst when he made Prairie Wind? I don't know where Neil was, but Shrubbery (its a nickname for George W. Bush by a Texan newspaperwoman you should know even if I can't remember her name at the moment) and his administration have sucked for a long time. I really thought this disc showed Neil's age. Too little, too late. What? The last five or six recordings have left me very unexcited. I don't think I've really enjoyed anything since Arc Weld and before. I expect more from Neil and frankly, I've not found it. Its begun to piss me off. Not bad enough like with U2 where I won't be buying anything new of theirs, but I'll be thinking long and hard before I buy another Neil Young recording. I'm so freaking disappointed.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Commuting in the rain

There was a couple of days a few weeks ago where it rained all the time. Just ride in it is my opinion. I use fenders. They keep a lot of the rain off your feet, legs, and off the chain too. Properly set up of course. That takes some work to get the fenders close and then to add a mud flap so it hangs down low enough to do a good job. Next I use chaps and a rain cape. The cape keeps the rain of you, and lets you get plenty of air underneath. The spats keep the muck off your calves.
Once set up, its no big deal to ride in the rain. I've done it lots and I'm sure I'll do it again.

So should you. Don't let rain scare you off. I think its fun. It makes you feel tough, you feel special, capable of anything, able to persevere against the odds. Cars tend to leave you alone since they are in awe.

For shoes, I use good old Converse All-Stars or Chuck Taylors. The canvas gets wet, but dries fast too. And you look cool wearing them instead of like a goof ball in click-ity clack shoes. This of course requires normal shoes so it means normal pedals. Add toe clips and straps if desired.

Or not.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Saw this on Bike Satan's blog and loved it. Take it where it counts you SUV owners! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Movin' On Up!

I'm proud of myself.

Okay it really isn't a big achievement, but still, I feel I have a right to be proud. I cycle commuted to work three times this week. First time was Tuesday when I met the crew, Jon, Tom, Curt, and Tim at Al's Breakfast in Dinkytown. We meet there about once a month for breakfast at 6 AM when they open. For those that haven't experienced the loveliness that is Al's there are only 14 stools, sort of like a diner. If there isn't room, you stand behind someone and wait sort of staring vulture like over their shoulder while they eat. They have these blueberry-walnut whole wheat pancakes that are big and fluffy and well, two is plenty for most. That is a short stack is two cakes. You can get real hot maple syrup too. And all the coffee you can drink. Delicious.

We meet there, talk bikes, bike porn, bike assembly problems, bike customers, bike news, and so forth. Its fun for a bike geek like me. Tiny drag to this is to ride there I get up at the unholy hour of 4 to be on time. Heck, I was early this time! Yikes. I'll never live it down.

Wednesday I had to do some parent taxi duties for Thing 3 (he's not a thing, I just don't share names over the web; Thing 1 is the eldest, Thing 3 is the youngest.) After we got our act done, and I dropped him off at school I went to work in the car. Discovered I had a flat tire when I got out. So that was the loud noise? At lunch I swapped the spare on. After work I tried to get the tire fixed. Nope, no can do pal. It was ruined as the hole was in the sidewall. Rats. I ordered another and it will be here sometime next week. So, I hate driving with that dopey small spare on, so I'm pretending to be car free. This means I had to ride to work Thursday and Friday.

Thursday wasn't bad. Cool, windy on the return trip, but overall okay. I was tired, but I do like how the fixed gear QB forces me to work the entire trip.

Friday was another story. Welcome to Yooper summer. Raw, cold, windy and wet. It was near 40 in the morning and stayed there all day. It rained almost all day too. Yow. SO both directions it was full rain/cool gear. Wool jersey, thin woolly under, wool tights, wool knee warmers (I'm old, I need warm knees), wool gloves, Carradice rain cape, and Carradice spats. The spats cover the front of your leg and the cape keeps the falling water off of you. Under you can get ventilation.

Worked great. I have to say I had a hard time motivating to ride in the morning. I had to talk myself into it, as I could have taken the bus. Just didn't seem right. The ride in was okay, but I seemed slow. Really slow. My normal ride took about 40 minutes to do 10 miles, and it was easily over 45. The return was worse with the headwind at about 15 MPH.

It took awhile to figure out what was up. It wasn't all me being out of shape. I'd lost a nut on my rear fender. It was rubbing on the rear tire constantly. I had no way to repair and no close hardware or other type of shop to get something to fix it. So I just rode it. Painfully slow. And no way to gear down. So it was an energy zapping struggle. All the time worried that I was going to get a flat from the rub.

The ride home took an hour. Man was I tired. I ordered a pizza, and got into the shower. By the time I was out of the shower the pizza dude arrived in a few minutes. Great timing. I was famished, but I held off eating too much. I felt like eating all durn night. I mean just hunger pangs the entire night.

So, today I fix the QB, finish a friends bike, and enjoy movies with Thing 3 who showed up with Sparky the Wunderbeagle. I was thrilled to have them come over unexpectedly.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

This Week in Geek Cycling

I rode this past Friday to work and back. That's it for about the last two weeks. It started about two weeks ago when I agreed to aerate the lawn for the town home association. I knew I shouldn't. I have bad (weak?) wrists. I've had carpel tunnel problems for years on and off.

So I did the aeration thing and paid for it. For four nights I'd wake up with my hands on fire from numbness. Even when I wore splints meant to prevent it. I was using ibruprophen like candy. It took a week for it to get mildly better. Last week I spent four days being a taxi driver for my youngest son. I also had the birthday party of good touring pal Jon to attend. So Friday was my only open day and I did ride.

I also have finally repaired my Carradice rain cape. I got a tool wrap from Rivendell and cut two sections from one. I then used iron on patch adhesive to bond them to the cape where the wrist loops attach. I had already tore one. I then used strong cotton thread to sew the around the parameter of the patch. This took four nights. I then used Carradice wax to seal the blazes out of the repair. It shall be interesting to see how it holds up.

Friday my hands seemed okay. Not great, but I'm trying to ice them and stuff to improve them. I'm hoping to ride all I can this week other things considered.

Saw this morning that the latest Tom Cruise movie didn't hold up to expectations monitarily. I'm very cool with that. Geeze the man is a whack job and a half. Chicks half his age that can't make any noise while delivering a child? Look I'm a guy and can't possibly know what it feels like, but I've been there for three births and I think a woman should get to say anything she likes including, "This is all your fault Mother F**ker." For the record, my ex delivered children like a champ. She worked hard at being healthy, preparing herself mentally and physically and went through labor like it was something done by millions of other women across the world. Yes, its special to those intimately involved, but it is also routine too. Yet, silent, she was not. She didn't screech like a monkey, but she made noise like any normal humans working at something hard.

Hey, would you look at that. The MN Twins actually beat the Tigers twice. The Tigers are a pretty good team and Twins don't seem to be. Their pitching and hitting seems to be something absent without leave. I'm surprised they won those two games. I'd like them to be more contenders. Only time will tell, but I don't see it as a World Series type of year.

What I Think Of Our President

This is what I think of our President and his administration. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Here once more to break up the bike action is Sparky The WunderBeagle. He resides with my kids and my ex as he's a very social dog. I have him over only when I plan to stay home and not stress him out by putting him in the kennel all the time. He has his peculiarities, but I love the boy to death. He's about nine years old in this photo, taken about the same time as the QuickBeam build. Posted by Picasa

This is the finished bike as I've been riding it. I like the Moustache bars a lot and the tape once shellaced is okay. Not perfectly happy. I've since upgraded the saddle to a honey B17 Champion from Hiawatha so the B17 can go back to my tandem. Yes, I added a dirt drop stem to the M-bars. And if you look carefully there is a ToPeak frame pump under the top tube. I love my QuckBeam! Posted by Picasa

This is midway through the wrapping. You can see in the background that the right side of the dashboard is complete and this is a photo of the left side, with only the white electrical tape (instead of blue) over the padding only. This allowed me to compress the padding in place so it stayed evenly on the top of the bar. I liked how this came out. Posted by Picasa

This was my first attempt at running the bar padding under the bar tape directly. Look closely and you see that as I went along it seemed almost impossible to keep it from sliding in the direction of the bar tape. The truth was it was compressing in one direction and not only looked funny, it felt funny. I was disgusted at this point and quizzed others for ideas. Note: The grey tape has made an appearance rather than the medium blue. Posted by Picasa

Second fender photo that didn't get there the first time. Now back to our regular scheduled assembly. Posted by Picasa

Fender photo that didn't get onto the blog the first time. Posted by Picasa

A shot of the first attempt at the ultra thick handle bar padding and the sweet gum Crane Creek break levers. I used blue electrical tape on the white and yellow padding still thinking I'd go with the blue handlebar tape. You can just see the Berthoud leather mudflap on my mudguard. Oh, and the Hiawatha watter bottles in the cages. Thanks boys! Patronize them too please!! Posted by Picasa

There should show three photos in one entry here. All are to show the nearly final installation of the fenders. I fiddled a lot with them and am not quite satisfied. They came with button allen wrench scews on the stays for one thing. Since I have to remove them to get the rear wheel out for gear changes, I want something a little more robust in terms of regular removal. I think their idea was to reduce applying too much torque and crushing the snot out of the plastic stay holders. I think that makes good sense. I'll just have to be careful. Posted by Picasa

This shots shows some more of my cotton handlebar tape work with the ends trimmed with Hemp twine and then shellacked. In this case it is more medium blue tape with clear shellac. I was disappointed at this point as how dark it became. I had intended to use it on my handlebars, but changed direction after this point. You can also see the rear fender poorly installed at this point. Posted by Picasa

Here is the inside of the Hoss to give an idea of how huge it is. Later I added leather thong (coated in Proofide of course) to help close the inside when needed. This shot was to show the piece of cardboard I shellacked. Yes, I cut it from the original box and managed to get the entire word "Quick" from the QuickBeam box. Oh the silly things I find fun and entertaining? Posted by Picasa

Here is a shot with the original saddle (borrowed from my tandem) and the big ole Hoss saddlebag. this is a later step as you might be able to see that the saddle post has blue shellacked cotton bar tape on it to cover its blackness. No, I don't ride with the saddle at this ridiculous angle. Adjustment came later. Under the saddle bag is the Bagman Expedition saddle support direct from my pals at Wallingford. Please patronize them. Posted by Picasa

These are the good old MKS touring pedals the QB got. Complete with extra large toe clips to fit most any shoe I own and longer than usual straps to do the same. Lovely pedals, I went with the little more expensive ones with a little more sideways clearance. With the intent of running the bike in fixie mode, it could be in handy. Posted by Picasa

One of the first anal steps for me is a frame wax job. Okay, more than one and that's all I'm saying. I really gobber it on and lovingly remove it and polish it. Its something I really enjoy and take a ridiculous time doing. I did the first coat without the bottle cages and the second with, as they make great carry handles. Posted by Picasa

I was suprised to find the breaks installed, the headset and bottom bracket, the crank, rear wheel and chain all installed as well as both tires and tubes. The tires were even pumped up when it arrived. The packing job was great, no scratches. In this photo you can see the black and white saddle on the Armstrong I hope to take on the three speed tour, and the saddle of my Atlantis. Posted by Picasa

Here is the start of the feared and dreaded QuickBeam assembly. I'm pretty anal, so this isn't for the weak hearted. To the left you can see my QB out of the box on the workstand Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ride Number Two is In

I rode the QuickBeam to work today. I put my clothes into my usual duffel and my haversack with my other junk and rode. It was a good day and I struggled at time because I'm overweight and out of shape, but not terribly. I've got to pare down on some of the stuff I'm taking. Too much junk.

After work I rode to UPS to get a package. Small stuff I had bought from Rivendell that was on back order. I was able to stuff them in my Haversack, and just slung that over my shoulder for the return trip.

My hands really got numb on the return trip. Wasn't cold or anything, so I'm not sure what is up. Really like the ToPeak frame pump, and how it fits and the strap that comes with.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rain, so I'm thinking I'll take the bus. Don't feel like subjecting it to the rain yet. Plus, I've got to repair my rain cape. It has a tear and I have some replacement material I can sew in and wax it so it is again water proof.

So the QB has almost if not over 50 miles in and I'm proud. Next, continue to stay off my butt and ride more! Try to figure out the hand problems. I noticed that the foam under the bar tape compresses and is giving a crease in the bar tape. Wonder if that will cause the tape to wear or something? Tough. Its just the experiment that keeps on giving. Still very glad I tried it, just wish it helped more.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Fixie Fun With Lugged Boys and Girls

I made the Hiawatha ride. I procrastinated in the morning. I like mornings, but I've become proficient at dawdling. Yet I got my act together and made it on time, so there were three four folks there when I arrived. I pulled the QuickBeam off my RhodeGear bike rack, pumped up the tires and stuck with a thin wooly, a Kenwood wooly jersey by Spot, standard bib cycle shorts and wooly Warm knee warmers. I used a skull cap, plus my usual cotton handkerchief headscarf. I had the wool gloves on for my hands.

My riding in a group with a fixed gear went well. We did one fairly steep climb, and one long climb. The steep climb I had a good view and spun up speed, eventually switching to standing up and was able to not collapse and die before the top although my cadence was about 3 per year by then end. Serves me right for spending too much time diddling with the QB build and not enough riding. On the long climb I struggled a lot more alternating between standing and trying to find any cadence I could maintain while seated.

Yet the QB felt good. At first the dashboard seemed too close, but after awhile it felt very comfortable. I'm glad I went with the dirt drop stem, bringing the bars up and reasonably close. The padding under the bars seemed great at first but by the end of the ride I was back to shaking alternate hands on a regular basis trying to dispel the numbness. This will improve as the season goes on, as long as I continue to train/ride. Saddle felt great. No trouble with the fenders. Minor goof, when I had put the front wheel in my haste I had put it backwards making the odometer sensor on the wrong side so that I got no speed or mileage reading. Tough. I didn't let it bother me. The pace was perfect for me, right around 12-14 most of the time, I'd guess. My kinda ride.

We went around Fort Snelling and the Airport and the place to "Run for your Life" Sprawl of America. Beyond that, I haven't a clue where we were as I'm terribly ignorant of that area. I did enjoy the ride a lot as I met a fellow and spoke to someone with a beautiful Kogswell which was gorgeous and fit the fellow well. There were also at least one Curt Goodrich which was simply gorgeous. There were other brands which I couldn't remember as well as one fellow riding fixed on a aluminum frame. Can't say we're snooty, as in all are welcome regardless if they pray at the altar of steel or not. I was really pleased to see three ladies show up, all mates of one of the male riders, but still. A mixed group is far more interesting. At least one fellow recognized and inquired if I was that (I think he would have liked to say, "lunatic" or "wacky" or something) guy Gordy, from the Bob List or else where. Dang, guilty as charged.

We had coffee at a shop called Minnetonka Coffee, which was a former gas station (how appropriate!) where they had a decent selection, were doing a great business, and we were able to sit outside comfortably. I was thrilled. I had a huge muffin (cream cheese icing) and an iced coffee. I needed all those calories like a hole in my head, but down the hatch! Skoal. Salut. Cheers.

After I studied gear in the shop and swapped the fellas straight up an unused pump I had that fit nothing with one that would fit the QB. Then I plunked down some cash (okay, my debit card) and got a B17 Special for the QB. I've been oogling it for some time and since the B17 I was riding is destined for elsewhere, it was time. Yee haw. Later I stopped back and got a shorter nut for the front rack mount that will permit me to level the rack and remove all the dumb washers.

After I left the cycle shop I met up with pal Donna for another ride. She has been nursing a calf injury (which coincidentally was a topic for conversation at the coffee shop) and invited me on a flattish ride for some miles and to help get the blood circulating. I got lost, about eight times getting to her house. Sat and petted her dogs for a minute or two before we got on the road. She has some great happy eager to be petted dogs and I just lavished them with attention. We went on a rather short by comparison ride, but it was nice to get moving on the bike again.

This time I put the bike in the car by removing the front wheel. There was a big scratch on the frame paint from the trunk rack. Bound to happen. I'll have to quiz Rivendell about touch up paint. Maybe there is a Testor's color that is a close match.

All in all a great day for cycling. Temperatures were good. No repeat of sunburn. I'm tired, but I got more miles in one day than any other this year so, I should be. Criminy its April! The QuickBeam is rolling, close to where I want it, and it is doing what I had hoped. Now I have two commuters for use.

What's next? Ride the buzzards! Happy Easter/Passover to all.

Its Time

The maiden voyage of the QuickBeam is this morning. I plan to make it to the only Hiawatha Cyclery ride of the weekend to show of the QuickBeam. There are three coats of shellac on the silver tape. Not sure I like the look, but there you go. It is ridable, so it must get ridden. And I need the miles. I'll have to fit a pump in the saddlebag as the TopPeak I bought didn't fit the frame. Bummed about that. Hope to trade it later. I've got to find some spare tubes that hold air, the leg warmers or at least knee warmers as the temps are about 48°F and that's too cold for my out of shape legs. I think I'll put the bike on a trunk rack so I don't mess up the fenders. Finding the bungies to help hold it down could be an issue. I'm sure other snags will show up, so I'd better get on with it. I shall report back later.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Burnt Fathead - Finnlanders and the sun don't mix well Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 09, 2006

QuickBeam Near Complete

The big problem on the QuickBeam has been the handlebars. Mostly the padding I wanted to use. I tried to just wrap the foam with the bar tape. Bad move. It stuck to the foam like a mother. I ended up having to cut the foam off the tape. It was miserable. The problem with wrapping it directly was that the foam would only spread in one direction.

Great pal Tom suggested trimming the foam diagonally to give it more taper. I tried on a piece of scrap and it was hard to make it work. Finally hit on the idea of using white electrical tape. I'd take a two inch piece and place it evenly on the foam and pull both ends taunt under the bar. Then another piece next to it. Nine hundred pieces or so, and one side was done. On top of the electrical tape, I put the grey cotton tape. After that I edged the tape with hemp twine. I finished both sides of the bars today and applied the first layer of shellac.

The only thing left is to put on the front rack. The bolt on it is long enough to go through the fender mount and accept a nut on the other end. I'd have installed it except I don't have two nuts and bolts to attach it to the front fork braze ons. I'll have to hit Home Creapo tomorrow at lunch or something.

So, why not just ride it tomorrow? Um, because I did something stupid yesterday. I had coffee with a friend. It was warm so we sat outside. I had a hat, but I didn't put it on. I wore my sunglasses. And yeah, now I've got a flaming red tomato head. I could hardly sleep last night. I've been outside (in the garage) some today without my usual hat. It felt fine as my head was like a sizzling burner. When I'm inside, I've been putting wet washcloths on it. I chill them in the freezer. Yeah its that bad. I asked a friend to come over and take a photo. Maybe if you write nice comments I'll post one.

I could have gone for a ride with a couple of friends, but no. No helmet wearing for me. Probably not tomorrow either. Even if it is going to be like 70°F. I just can't imagine my head being able to take a shave, a hat, nor a helmet yet. I can't wear anything yet unless its soaking and cold. Sleeping is a pain as there are few positions that are comfortable without my cheeks, my head, or my neck feeling prickly. Yeah I should know better.

Friday, April 07, 2006

What A Wussy - Redemption

Monday I didn't commute because the Atlantis needed some minor maintenance. Monday night I got on it and cleaned the chain really well with first a citrus garage cleaner and then some solvent to take care of the moisture left behind from the water rinse. Finally I lubed it with ProLink chain lube. I use the pen like syringe thing, one link at a time. Yeah, I'm anal.

So I packed the bag of clothes and a towel. I keep a pair of shoes at work, so I just carry undies, pants, shirt, socks, a handkerchief (I use it to blow my nose) and my washcloth and hand towel. I'm one of those lucky commuters that has a shower at work. Since I don't have hair (I shave my head, I can't grow enough to matter) I don't need much of a towel to dry off. I throw it all into a small cheapo gym bag. I then put that into a small Carradice front pannier. In the other front pannier I throw a small Duluth Pack Haversack where I put junk like my money, wallet, checkbook, PDA and junk like a lunch. I also have a Carradice LongSaddle Longflap on the saddle where I put my rain gear and junk, spare tubes, repair tools and a lock. I also leave a heavy lock on the rack at work. I seem to carry more junk than the average cyclist. Some like to ask, "Oh man, how far are you going?" That is always on the nice days, but its not like they are even out there when its cruddy weather. I try to be a cyclist that cope with most anything weather wise as well as failures.

So Tuesday and Wednesday were gorgeous. Did I ride? No. It was stupid, I just couldn't get my butt out of bed fast enough. So it would get wacky late and I'd have to drive. I can't figure our why I don't have much motivation. Then I feel dopey. Just kick myself, really.

Alright, I got to sleep on Wednesday early enough that I could drag my enormous butt out of bed on time. It was a pretty nice ride in, the temperatures were pretty good at about 50ºF or higher. Good start. The forecast was rain, but the as the day went on the forecast didn't suggest rain soon. Then it was like 3 PM and looking awful. So I chose to leave early at 3:30. I got changed, and headed out the door to be greeted with sprinkles.

I quickly dug out the Brooks saddle cover and then the Carradice rain cape. Soon it was coming down at a good clip. It rained all the way home. It was about 50ºF so it wasn't terrible, but seemed like a rough first day commute. I'd gotten a nasty flat on my ride into work. I could have paid the $2 and put the bike on the bus, but I'm glad I rode.

Today, I had a nice tailwind as I rode to work. It was pretty cool, much cooler than Thursday. Maybe 38ºF. After the first mile I stopped and put on my silk balaclava. My ears were just too cold. Felt pretty good, although tired. Man have I been lazy all winter. Since I had a tailwind in, I knew I'd get punished with a headwind on the way home. Tough. I did it. I got two days in. I'm pretty tired now, but it beet the tar out of being a wussy like Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hoping to finish the handlebar tape tomorrow on the QB. Maybe I'll get time to add the new small front rack too.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Easy Come Easy Go

Thought really hard about commuting to work on the Atlantis this morning, but I really need to clean the chain and lube the thing first. Should run a chain check measure too. So I didn't, I wussied out and rode the bus so I could read. I'm reading one of the books in the series about Hannibal Lecter and Clarice. I can hear Anthony Hopkins saying her name from the movie Silence of the Lambs. Loved the creepy way he'd say it. Well, at least I didn't drive and this way I'll have energy to get after the QuickBeam.

Last night I did get out for quite awhile after a trip to Menards to get some citrus cleaner and a quart of denatured alcohol to clean the shellac brush with. The citrus is to clean the Atlantis chain. I also got more pegs and stuff for the tool board so my workshop doesn't look like such a horror all the time. I simply need to organize the beegeebers out of it. Ha! Simple! Not for an anal retentive bloke like me. Bloody hell.

Back to the story. I spent a lot of time trimming up the brake cable housing. You know the drill, measure once, cut, oh, string of curse words. Nah, I measured twice and got them trimmed out nicely with the dremel cut off wheel and opened the hole with an awl. Then I used electrical tape to keep the housing running smoothly along the handlebar.

Now I still didn't like it. See when the brake levers were made for a drop bar it was great how the housing would exit on the inside of the bar. Now with a mustache bar it exits on the bottom of the brake lever. Hits your fingers in an odd place. So I got this bright idea of swapping levers left to right. Then the housing would exit on the top more like normal. So I pulled it all off and tried it. It didn't work. Nice in theory, but horsebleep in practice. Fine. Take it off and swap them back. Good thing I had the sense to mark the positions on the bar using a Sharpie so I could quickly get them back into place where I had found that I liked them. Taped everything down again.

Pulled out the Audax kit and went at it. Measured and played and looked and tried taping into place a variety of ways. Trimmed up one side and began with the cotton tape. Looked horsehit. The bar comes off looking square in profile. Either I've got to pull really hard on the tape to compress the stuff or something. Seems like that would defeat the purpose of the foam. It was getting time for dinner, I needed to swap tapes in the VCR, the Simpsons were on, and I was getting disgusted. Maybe I'll try again tonight.

Regarding cycling shoes. I have clipless pedals and shoes to go with. I was hoping to make this a simple bike in that I would need less gear to ride. Shoes that don't stick out as funny looking and don't click when I walk down the tile halls at work or in the tile floor in grocery stores. I just want something different that doesn't speak cycle with every step and glance. I like both clipless pedals as well as clips. Its just I don't have any sneakers or other shows left in the house that might work.

Okay, here's the deal. I'm a shoe whore too. I own more shoes than most guys. They have winter shoes and maybe summer shoes. Three pair tops. I ain't counting how many I have. It would scare you. I have a couple of pair of hiking boots I wear to work most of the time. I have some cycling shoes. I have a pair of sandals. I have a pair of old hiking boots that look horrid, but still fit okay so I use them only in the garage. I also have a pair of sneakers for the gym. I don't' want to get them grungy cause they gotta go in the gym bag. I have a pair of shoes I can slip into quick to go get the mail. Fine, color me embarrassed. Yeah, and I still covet another pair. Go ahead, leave comments on what a girly man I am. Fine. Guilty as charged.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Excruciatingly Slow Progress

The brake bridge mount for the fender worked. It took some bending, pounding, use of the feared and dreaded adjustable pliers, but I got it to hold the fender off the tire. Getting a tire in and out of the rear facing fork tips is a bitch with fenders on. Quick changes it is not. I think I'll end up loosening the rear stays to get the wheel out. Not quite desirable, but I'm not smart enough to see an alternative. If the stays had been an inch longer would make it better, but I don't have any ideas on how to lengthen them without making it look stoopid or else making adjustability awful.

Mounted the front fender mud flap. A Berthoud of course. Leather baby leather. Take that you PETA folks. Sorry, but I like animals, I'm kind to them, but I eat and use their hides. I'm not into animal cruelty. Seems like I did something else to the bike to make it ride worthy?

Oh, yeah. The chain. I had put a wider and sturdier track cog for the fixed gear part. So I needed a different chain than supplied. I got one from Freewheel, I think, somewhere along the line. So I dribbled a little laundry detergent and washed it. I put it into this plastic big mouth fruit jar and shake the beejesus out of it. Rinse with hot water. Added some Dawn dishwashing detergent next, and repeat. Also threw in some Phils hand cleaner too. I was very pleased how it got the cosmoline or some other heavy waxy grease off. I then dripped, using the lubrication pen, some Pro-Link lube on it. One drop per link pivot. Then I carefully wiped the excess off the side plates on the outside as well as off the side of the cog and chain ring. Discovered that with the small chain ring, there was rubbing of the tire. I was getting in a hurry for a test ride, so I said fug it and put it back on the big ring. Yeah, its all of a 40, so it isn't exactly huge. Took some photos using the disposable.

Pulled it out of the repair stand and put the pump to the tires. There seems to be something screwed up with my pump. Its one of those cheap "Joe Blow" or some silly yellow floor pumps. I would carefully open the tire valve (presta - choice of champions) and press on the valve after unscrewing it. Just a quick pssst, to make sure it was loose. Then mount the pump head on the valve and close it. Either it would pump to a million PSI in the first stroke or so, or the pump seemed like it was leaking everywhere and I'd manage like 10 PSI after 5-10 rapid full strokes. WTF?

I checked it all and had the right end of the pump. Air came out when I pumped it without anything attached. Fiddled with the knobs and finally it seemed to work on the first tire and got it up to 90 PSI. Duplicate problems followed by curse words muttered, followed by fiddling and success. Not a happy camper with the pump anymore.

Rolled it out of the garage and hopped on. Slipped my garage wear hiking boots into the right clip and instantly realized as I tried to get my left foot in, I'd screwed up. There was no way I'd get my left foot in while moving. Just not that coordinated. So I tried to slow using just my feet and loosened the friggen cog which I hadn't mashed on it, nor tried to tighten too much with a wrench. So I put all my weight on the right pedal and tightened it back up and then rolled to a slow stop using the brakes beside a curb. Got my right foot out, put my left foot in, did the hokey pokey, (no), and got started again. I'll need to find some shoes that fit the pedals. Nothing I own now does. Maybe a pair of Chuck Taylors or something cheap like that. Most of my shoes are clunky hiking boots sort of things. Makes fitting in clips difficult. Rode it around a bit, with a little wiggling, I got the break levers where they felt good and then rolled back into the garage.

Got a surprise when I put it up on the work rack. The wheels no longer turned smoothly. What? Out of true? Nope. Figured it out? The added pressure made the tires a little larger and now they rubbed on the fenders. I had to file some brackets and stuff down smaller in size, elongate some holes to slots, and cut at least one bolt that I can remember. Its sort of a haze of curse words, metal bits flying and such. I also filed down the "lawyer lips" of the fork tips by hand. Got annoyed when I was putting the front tire in and out to check where it was rubbing.

At first I tried to bend the fender and or adjust the lengths of the stays. Futile. I kept stupidly hoping it would work. Finally just pulled the brake bridge at the fork mount and looked. Sure enough, the nut was rubbing on the tire. It took me plenty of thinking and curse words to figure out what I could do. I had put a nut at the top of the big washer on top of the rubber washer so the fender didn't rattle. Trouble is that put it at its lowest. I had installed the nut near the tire so that almost no threads were exposed on the threaded rod, and then tightened from the top. What I needed to do, was remove that top nut, and let that washer set float up to the rod as high as possible, except now the end of the rod hit the tire. So I put two nuts on the rod, clamped it in the vise and pulled out the trusty (rusty) hacksaw. After looking at the blade I realized, dang, need new blades. Don't have any, so I pressed forward anyway. The rod was soft, so it cut easily. I then hand filed it flat and carefully backed the nuts off to smooth the threads. Could have run a tap over it, but was as usual in a hurry. Put the assembly together and installed the fender and the tire and found it worked fine. No rub, little trouble with the stays, and the tire/wheel didn't have to be perfect in the fork to not rub.

Now that I think I have the brake levers where the feel fine its time for tape. I also noted while at Hiawatha that Jim had his Moustache bars in the same place and they looked good. While I'm at it, I'll also trim some of the brake housing off to make for a smoother fit.

I'm also going to install some aerospace foam under the tape. I tried it before on an MTB and thought it was pretty good. This time I'm going to try the Audax kit from Wallingford. I'll take a few photos and let you know how it goes. I think I'll try it as is for a while before I shellac, but I'm not sure. Come to think of it, tape and a shellac isn't that expensive so I'll just shellac it and get riding. Too much perfection is a bad thing. I don't get enough done as it is.

After two more demo rides I also installed a wireless Sigma 1600 cycle computer. They are easy to install and set up. I haven't programmed it to be the right size of tire yet, but that will come. I think I'll get a Excess Access or something to move the cycle computer off the handlebars. I wish the bar part was bigger in diameter though. Maybe I'll try the competing Space Grip as shown at Peter White's site.

This weekend is a free Showtime channel on satellite. I've been recording movies to beat the band. So far I've recorded these flicks:

Sky Captain
Four Weddings and a Funeral
The Hole
Richard III
The Woodsman
Coffee and Cigarettes
Mean Girls
The Trees Lounge
Hotel Rwanda

Tonight I'll record these:
The Gingerbread Man
A Certain Kind of Death

Not bad for a few minutes searching the guide for movies I liked. Programming the VCR (I know, I'm cheap and lame, recordable DVDs?, TIVO? Pfft)and programming the satellite to hit the right channels at the right time. So far I haven't goofed, but I'm sure one will come. Oh, and six cheap video tapes.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Parts Obtained!

I'm so excited. It took a ridiculous amount of driving, but I did it. If weather might have been better I'd have done it by bicycle. That my friends is an excuse. All wussy and no guts. Pfft.

So first, I went by the Hub and looked their used parts cabinets. I also asked if they had any Esge/SKS fender parts. I knew from the web that Sheldon at Harris had spare parts like I desired available. I found nothing. They had lots of Planet Bike stuff in little bags, but nothing for SKS, although they had a few sets of those too. I asked, and they didn't have any hidden in the back. I know Terry Osell had them when I worked there, he must have kept them. Rats. I did buy some lonesome brake parts like the curved washers that go on brake bridges and fork crowns and are curved to reduce abuse. I also got a set of Velox rubber handle bar ends.

Next I went by Hiawatha as I just wanted to stop by. First off there was not only Jim, but another guy Kevin there. All know about some of my other cycling pals and such. It was great fun chatting and then I got the best surprise in that they had a bridge mount exactly as I was searching for. Woo-hoo!. I also picked up a bottle of lube as no where else I've been seemed to have it (Pro Gold or Pro-Link) and then a couple of water bottles. I really longed to buy a Honey B17 Special as they are so sweet, but I can't afford it. I'm so pumped to finally have the part so I can ride the QuickBeam.

Next I had bought the Planet Bike parts that I thought might work. It was plastic and was just too wide. So back to Freewheel to return the unused parts. I spent quite a bit waiting for the clerk that was helping a small family buying a bicycle for their oldest child. I think this is a marketing ploy. So I'm patiently waiting. Oogling high zoot shit. Unobtainium this, carbon fiber that, 7.25 spoke wheels, and all kinds of goofy stuff I have no interest in. I do come across a bunch of stuff on clearance. Thirty and forty percent off. So I get a wireless cycle computer. I'm sorry my other friends don't like them, but I always want one. I don't concentrate on them, but like to know how many miles the bike has gotten. Stupid, maybe. I'm okay with their dislike. So I get $5 back and spend $30. The story of my life, but it was a great deal.

My real problem? Too many shops I like. I really want to support Hiawatha, because they have the most stuff I covet. The stuff I believe in. I'm convinced I've got to buy that Brooks saddle when I have the dough. I think I should support the Hub as the continuation of Osell's and the fact they sell used stuff. I think that is so cool to recycle good bikes. Beats the socks off of "Eric the Bike Man" the most overpriced black hole for money in town. Then I like Freewheel because they have so much in small parts and things that you can't get elsewhere. Sure they have Brooks saddles too, but they aren't really believers. Too much Trek and other crap that ninety percent of the riders don't need that I won't buy those from there. I just wish I lived closer to Hiawatha. I think I need to try riding the train or something there and then put the bike on the front of the bus and train. That would be a great way to reduce the length of the ride. I'm guessing its near a 40 mile round trip. I so hope it is a good location for everyone else though. I truly want them to succeed.

My winter commuter. This is a Trek 930, a tigged steel frame I bought new from County Cycles. I asked Bob Brown (yes that Bob Brown) to replace the original short standard drops with nicer Campy style. The longer drops better allow me to run it as a single/fixed gear. I use Nitto Dirt Drops with 287 levers, used Shimano cantilever brakes, Nokian studded tires, SKS black fenders, Brooks black Flyer and a Carradice Lowsaddle Longflap. The crank is some no name I got at a swap somewhere. Sorry for the poor light, but it was the only way to get it without the reflective tape creating a crazy appearance. Posted by Picasa

Atlantis, 2001, first build with Blackburn low-riders in front, SKS fenders poorly mounted Posted by Picasa

My Best Side Posted by Picasa