This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and develops a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Stringing up the bike

Hopefully the cold snap is over.  Temperatures are promising to climb into the sixties this week and that is a good thing.  It's the first of April, I won't be teaching the next week and a half, so I'm taking my first real recreational ride of the year.  I will be counting on warmer temperatures and a westerly wind to push me over the continental divide.  I guess we will see.   I have a little preparation ahead but am looking forward to it.   
I ran across this interesting video this week.  Before you see this and start laughing, I want you to know that his may actually prove to be a viable cycling application for carbon fiber.  This is an application for real bikes developed in a place where people who ride bikes have destinations.  Up until this moment I believed the only viable application for CF was racing which is not a viable application at all.  It exists to fuel the endorsement of pharmaceuticals and increase the subscription base for Strava.  Making a CF cord to run this drive train may be useful.  It looks really goofy at first but  may be a really efficient way to operate a bike.  It may not be as elegant as the Nuvinci CVT, but it's lighter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

N+0, or; what went around looks better the second go around.

         Rule #12 states that the correct number of bicycles one must have is expressed by the elegant mathematical formula, N+1.  N is, of course, the number of bicycles currently owned.  The concept is articulated by American cyclists who have long lived in a culture where the proper number of anything owned is best expressed as 1 more than ______.  ______ being whatever relative, neighbor, coworker, casual acquaintance or (most importantly) tabloid celebrity they envy.   Trek has developed the penultimate expression of the formula;
the Trek Emonda SLR 10.
      This sleek crabon fiber queen with it's surprisingly subtle trademarks weighs in at 10 lbs and is priced in the second mortgage range of $15000.  What makes it remarkable is not the price, the weight or the lifetime warranty (which, including exclusions, probably weighs more than the bike). What is remarkable is it's absolute frivolity. While most riders cannot make adequate use of  CF road bikes in the 2-5K range, the bikes can be raced if they found an owner qualified.  The Emonda is so light it's illegal .  Consequently the bike is even more useless than other road bikes.  The spandex hamsters will promise their spouses a cruise in exchange for permission, but their club mates will cry foul because it's illegal.  Strava will have to develop a handicap system now.   After all, cycling is the new golf, right?  There is no reason for this to exist except to demonstrate ones desire to own.
   I have been in a suspicious position the past few years.  I have 4 bikes and literally have not considered another. The elegance of N+1 has failed.  So how does this abnormal state of affairs exist?

   I have a road bike, a touring bike, a city bike and a few years ago I bought a hybrid.  Seems simple, but until I owned a hybrid bike, I didn't have a bike that was a little of anything and everything.  The bike, of course, is the Sam Hillborne.   Sam is a pretty fancy hybrid but, considering the tire size and usage, it fits the bill.  I remember a charity ride where I used it.   A spandex hamster came up next to me and asked why anybody would want a bike like that?  I said, "It'll take me to the grocery store, on a metric ride or over the Himalayas, what will that do?"  I pointed to his CF crotch rocket.   He just made a face and shook his head like he was confused.

   Having a bike which has no specific purpose provides the freedom of having no restrictions.  It has left me in a state of N+0 now for several years.   The Sam reminds me of my first bike, a Panasonic Tour Deluxe.  They are very similar in use and geometry; easy to ride, comfortable all day, not too slow or too fast but durable enough for anything.  After that bike took a ride beneath a car which carried me on the hood for a block,  I foolishly "upgraded" to a Follis made of legendary Reynolds 531.  I rode that uncomfortable little tramp for about 15 years before realizing I needed to dial it back a bit, bought my current Trek with stouter tubing and a bit more forgiving geometry.  Forty years of experience has brought me back where I was.   We should all have one that is totally reliable and unspecific, then we might not envy the plastic, fat, gravel, mud, mountain, city, sand and snow bikes. With one bike that is completely useful, anybody will ride more often.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Been busy feeling sorry for myself.

      So where did the time go?  A week or so of wrenching on the bikes between some rather long commutes and teaching assignments and guess what?  I got miserably sick.  It happens every few years, I catch a common cold.  The problem is I suffer from any illness so rarely that when I do get sick I suffer as much self pity as physical discomfort.  I know people who seem to get sick for a hobby.  How do they survive?  I catch a sniffle and feel totally incapacitated.  I think I turned the corner, but have also been working on a couple of other projects.
     We are here, there are some chilly mornings ahead but it is time to pedal our butts on the streets.  Find your favorite corner and get started!  I have to make some mileage the next couple of weeks because I am taking an early April trip again this year.  Unlike last year, I'm going to do what I can to make this one both downwind and downhill.

     Between now and then I have had a couple of equipment updates to play with.Not a real important component issue but an interesting way to modify the Surly front rack I bought for the Hunq.
Soren Hansen, a reader from Denmark had told me how to add a couple water bottle cages to the rack to accommodate a couple extra things.  This sounds dangerous.  I have managed corporate offices, retail stores, restaurants and construction companies (if this makes me sound old, just deal with it, it's not something I discuss).  My point is; extra room tends to fill up.  In the case of a railroad office a few hundred thousand dollars can be pigeon holed pretty easily.  That's nothing.   A little room on a touring bike becomes 5 extra pounds pretty quickly.  That's serious.  Soren's suggestion was a little different.  Just adding a couple cages to the rack would make more convenient places to put the fuel container and tool roll.  So I gave it a shot.

 I like the Salsa stainless cages because they can be bent and will accommodate damn near any bottle or vessel.  I went to Lowe's, got a few L-brackets for a couple of bucks and started bolting them together.

It looks really useful.  The fuel canister has a place and
I can use another to mount the tool roll or another bottle.

Hopefully this will simply make the front bags a little less crowded 
and I won't replace the volume with weight.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sprinter is here!

Sprinter\sprint r\ Noun[Midwestern American] Spring/Winter, the highly anticipated shoulder season of cycling filled with short warm days, sporadic storms and snow showers to ride between.  (I'd love to take credit for this, but somebody in Minneapolis coined that word.)  Arcaic[OE,Mod Eng]something that moves somewhere quickly.
     I get excited, there are supposed to be two weeks of 40-50 degree temps during the day.  Sunday was the first day of daylight savings time, and some of the harder core got together for a club ride Monday.  I will no longer be relegated to avoiding the court appointed cyclists on the street and be able to relate to the snubs of spandex hamsters and their scorning gaze as I pass them on a steel bike. Life is good.
I spent the week getting "tired."  No, I really didn't ride anywhere, I just put fresh tires on a couple of bikes, shed the studded ones and am hoping for the best.  It was warm enough to putter around the garage and I let the week get away from me by rebuilding and tuning up the stable.

    The world of 650B tires has gone wacko. A few years ago you couldn't find one, now there are so many designs it makes you dizzy.  It's all that one guy's fault.  You know the guy who won a big mountain bike event with 650b wheels.  Now everybody has to try them because it was obviously the bike not the rider who won.   All the spandex hamsters in the woods expect their abilities to be enhanced by a strange piece of rubber under them.  All the new tires are knobby and 2+ inches wide and everything I want is out of stock.  I ended up trying one of the original 650b boom tires- Rivendell's Nifty Swifty.  I wonder why I hadn't before.

This is a sweet tire.   It has a very mild checkerboard style tread and rolls very quickly.  It is rated for 10 lbs more pressure than the Soma Express tires I had used and is an honest 34mm wide.  It's a fun tire made by Panaracer.  I don't know how long they will be made but QBP has about 20 in stock so I figure they have 15 years worth for me.  Since changing the studs from Byron to these, I not only don't feel I've put my foot into a bucket of sand, I feel like an archaic "sprinter."  The weather is promising, but then again, this is Michigan.  A promise is sometimes all we enjoy.