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.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Another Art Prize afternoon

Every year Grand Rapids hosts the world's largest artist competition, Art Prize.  I go every year and had intended to go the Sunday following our gravel escapade, but I was the only one interested, it was a perfectly beautiful Sunday and that meant the crowds would be enormous.  I knew I would have some time free during the week, so I put it off for a weekday when the crowds would be thinner.
It was a good choice, I parked outside of town at a Home Depot on 56th St to avoid the massive traffic jam.  It was an effortless 12 mile ride or so to reach downtown and visit the major venues.
The artwork has gotten progressively better each year and the 
pieces ranged from imaginative and whimsical family portraits
ingenious wall patterns,
to truly sublime polished abstract sculptures.
Someone always finds an interesting use for the waterfall outside the Presidential museum.
Religious themes, such as this piece entitled "Desecration of Adam"
and the depiction of the temptation could be found in any venue.
Odd and interesting sculptures of archaic piston driven machines were submitted
as well this neurotic piece depicting scary clowns.  
The artist must have been in therapy and purging his coulrophobia.
There were quilts, curtains and a piece made of recycled running shoes.
Those gave the construction critics a chance to wonder at the brand of glue the artist chose.
My personal favorite was this stainless steel panel.
A wonderful abstraction which manipulates light from every angle in the room.
There was also a wonderful coastal landscape
with great depth created by the aggressive and brutal brush strokes.
 "Clothes without an Emporer" was another neurotic vision,
and the event would not be complete without pop idolatry.
Somehow childhood games became an important
theme for a series of surrealistic oils
as well as a confusingly pointless collage.
There were cyclists,
and cycles
and more child's bikes.  
Back in the real bike world I found a new twist on the bike share epidemic.
These require no special stations, just a phone app and a debit card.  
I guess you just choose the bike from a rack, ride it to another and lock it up again when you are done.  Simple, inexpensive to produce and, hey, they aren't blue and won't create a bunch of controversy among wannabe actresses and media moguls.
It was another productive piece of entertainment.  I avoided the crowds and was again impressed with the continued improvement in the quality of the work.  I doubt that I previewed any of the winners here, but my taste has proven different than the public's.  The ride home was downwind and GR has developed a passable series of bike routes which make the journey from downtown a pleasurable way to commute.  Hopefully the natives will learn to use their cars less.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Country Bike Rally

     Sitting back now and relaxing in a worn chair, the most recent cold beer in front of me, I have a chance to reflect on all the toil of the past 9 months.  A  couple of years ago, several people I have met at bike rallies  asked me to have one in Michigan.  There are plenty of things to do in Michigan, but the coasts are like living cliches.  I thought the local and recently famous Barry Roubaix  gravel racecourse would be an attraction.  I labored for about 15 minutes, posting the idea on a couple of bike forums and another 10 mapping out a course on Map My Ride.  I used to live just off the course for 15 years and these are the routes I rode to Wal Mart and my son used to commute to his first two years of college.  So I kinda know the area.  After a few weeks, twenty people had chimed in to tell me they intended to come.  Inspired, I waited, expecting most people to let concerns like their jobs and family to somehow interfere with cycling.  .
      Five of us were unencumbered.  There was me (mystery man behind the camera) , Mike Line from Vermontville,  Jeffrey Marco from Oakland Mi, Jay Case from the Toledo area and Jim Hall from E. Leroy.
Mike rode his breathtaking A. Homer Hilson.  Fortunately it was too large for me to ride. 
After building two Riv's in one year my recovery had been going well. 
Just gaping at it I could feel relapse  tugging on my wallet.
    Jim is an admitted spandex hamster who was all in for the weekend borrowing Mike's Hunqapillar and wearing hiking shoes.   I have to admit the green paint on the new Hunq's is really attractive in person, none of the photos do it justice.  He was also using the Little Ben tires and their 36mm actual size really demonstrates the massive clearance available on the Hunq.
Jeffrey commuted 60 miles from Lansing with camping gear for the weekend.  
His Atlantis was geared up and I am sure he learned a lot on his first overnight.

 Jay was the only one riding a more contemporary Giant carbon mountain bike, which we didn't hold against him personally.  It was the lugs that made them faster on the hills Jay.  
We all know the lugs make us faster!
Once we got off the beaten asphalt and out into the real forest a couple of questions arose;
"Aren't there any people out here?"
"We were supposed to turn at which oak tree?"
Most of the roads and intersections are well marked and, since the weather had been so dry lately,
the roads were pretty smooth,  As gravel goes that is.
There were still some eye rattling climbs,
 although mostly short, they can be intense
This is forestland, protected marsh and farmland.  
Homes are few, far between and any service is more rare.
Climbing hills does have it's reward and the descents can prove to be intense as well.
After twenty miles or so we took a break for lunch at Walldorff's Brew Pub in Hastings.
The weather was perfect all weekend.  
We were even rewarded with an Easterly breeze to help us home in the afternoon.
After lunch the 20 miles back is more relaxed terrain until reaching the climb of the day.
  I managed to modify the route from the regular Barry Roubaix and dumbed it down from Cat 4 to Cat 5.  Funny, nobody complained.  The glory of the ride is the last 5 miles which is virtually coasting, down a Cat 5.  There is nothing to complain about there.
The only mechanical issue we suffered all day was an uncooperative shift cable on Jeffrey's Atlantis.  Mike and Jim turned it into a group mission and made sure it was corrected for his ride home.  Later in the evening, Jay, Jeffrey and myself  were invited to party with a group who had come over from Detroit  to enjoy the MTB trails in Yankee Springs.
Beers were had of course and stories of the bikes were passed on all sides.  
 Jokes of our obsession were passed along as well.
Everybody involved came away with memories of a great weekend, new friends
and I gained a couple more headbadges
for my digital collection collage.
All in all it was a...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pedaling through euphoria.

The weather around here has been euphoric to say the least.  It is the type of late summer that makes people dream of Michigan.   It's just plain Goldilocks perfect.  Not too cold, not too warm, sunny with gentle breezes tickling across the arms.  Even sitting at a stop light (what was I thinking?  I didn't run right through it!)  makes me breath easier and relax to enjoy the lack of sweat and feeling of desperation that heat forces through us.  When I talk of heat I mean we are serious wimps about it.  Up here we get acclimated to 55/75 temperature ranges most of the year and 80 makes us melt and whine.  Right now it's ranging about 5 degrees cooler and that makes for perfect pedaling and great sleeping.
Our local club has taken advantage of it.  This week they held a training session for group cyclists to 
help eliminate some of the dangerous behavior they have seen on weekly rides.
About 20 people showed up for what is intended to be the first of a series.
Hopefully this can help eliminate some of the complaints from motorists as well.
The sunlight was so blinding at the annual anniversary ride on Sunday that I went black and white.
Actually, I haven't figured out how to use a phone (the classes didn't help) and I got the camera function screwed up.  Dya'ever notice the camera and the phone functions on these new gadgets are the hardest things to use?  
We all soaked up the euphoric weather together riding around to our cars and then stood around and ate...a lot!  I may not look a pizza in the pepperoni for a while but it was nice
taking pictures of all of us trying to take pictures of each other on the phone.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Catching up for impending changes

Last week slipped away even faster than the summer is and I have been all wrapped up with personal crap since returning from the coast.   It's so annoying that life exists beyond cycling.
 I spent a couple of days camping trip on the shore of Lake Michigan.
I beat the rush of last minute escapee's from the city and enjoyed two perfect 
(did I really experience that? Yes!!) days of cycling.  After the past few weeks the temperature 
felt like a cooling towel wrapped around me with little to no wind to fight.
The hazy sunshine muted the water. with wispy silhouettes of sails flying across the horizon. 
A few leaves are beginning to turn and remind us the equinox will be upon us and the skies will clear to let the summer's heat escape.  It was the last overnight ride of the year.
Now it's time to overhaul the Hunq.  I'm stripping it down early because of an up coming event and while I do, I am changing a few things.
In a Bike Forums discussion I ran across a nifty way to clean up the wiring for my lights.
By using Shoe Goo to attach 1/8" shrink tubes to the frame, I was able to create 
a series of discreet conduits to channel the wire smoothly from the dyno to the headlight.
Two of them under the top tube and one on the seat stay  keeps the wiring under control 
and,for the most part, out of sight.

Just a couple of turns around the brake cable housing at each end keeps it anchored and provides enough play that turning doesn't disrupt anything.  If the conduits get knocked loose for some reason, the silicone glue will just peel off the tubing and new glue can be applied.

A sad thing happened on the trip.  I lost one of the rubber covers for the the "stoker knobs" I had been using on the Bosco bars.  After an extensive internet search, I concluded that Dia-Compe is no longer making them.  The knobs are still available from Ben's Cycle in Milwaukee but I don't want the whole unit, just replacement covers.  The covers are nowhere to be found and neither are listed on the Dia Compe website.  No wrap or tape I used was comfortable so I decided to go without and re wrap the bars with the harlequin pattern I had tried.

This time I put a layer of tape under the final wrap to thicken it and provide a cushier feel. 
I did a little better job on the diamond pattern although the backside is a bit embarrassing.
Who looks under the bike anyway?
After several coats of clear shellac I kinda like them.   I hope they will stay reasonably clean and only require the shellac to be refreshed on an occasional basis.   I think they may hold up well,
if not, I'll just wrap 'em in leather and forget it.  Hopefully, I won't miss the stoker knobs too badly.
Of course the drivetrain got a thorough cleansing and I checked the bottom bracket shell and
re-greased it for the coming winter season.  After freshening up the fenders with a coat of paint,
He got a bath and wax job.

The Hunq gets pissed if he's not dirty, so I gotta take him out for a ride now.