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.