20130930

Something Wacky

Things have been hectic recently, so to compensate a bit for my lack of posting here's an interesting bike that was sent my way.  Anyone who has a source - I'd appreciate it!

It seems as if that Cinelli stem is attached to part of the steer tube that's coming through the fork, which is pretty clever.  Not sure that brake is doing anything though.

That handlebar setup....
I like it.  It's different and wacky, and if it works for the owner and they enjoy it, then right on.  Not sure it's going anywhere without a chain, though.

20130926

Takhion Alert

Just popped up on eBay:

Mystery Takhion?
EDIT:  Here is the painting process, but unfortunately there's no photo of it prior to being primed.

This one is tricky: there's no cutout on the BB shell, and it's drilled for a rear brake, but the lugwork and BB shell itself looks fairly spot on (at least from what I can see of the photos).  I kind of wonder if maybe someone made modifications to the frame and filled the BB/drilled a brake.  Until I know for sure it's still unverified, but if any of you have any insight I'd love to know.

20130922

A Social Observation

Whizzing by me on my way home, I don't start to worry until the truck slows down after passing me.  As I get closer all the possible scenarios run through my mind - will they yell?  Throw something?  I'm in the bike lane, I haven't broken any laws - did I maybe wrong them somehow?  

Their window is already down when I pull up next to them, and I look over ready to defend myself, bracing for the worst.

"I love your style!" A burly, bearded man shouts enthusiastically, "GO GIANTS!!" 

I smile and give him a thumbs up, yelling "Thanks!" as he waves and drives away.  

While I'm happy that there was no altercation - no anger or road rage, I'm mostly perplexed by this interesting social phenomenon that I've been noticing more and more lately.  I'm no Giants fan, by any means - I really have no loyalty to sports in any way, save for cycling (which I'm still pretty bad at "supporting"), but the camaraderie among sports fans around here is especially interesting when I'm on my commuter:


It certainly stands out.
I get way more comments with this bike than I do with any of my others, and many of those are along the lines of "GIANTS WOOHOO!"  Recently though I've been wearing a hi-viz long sleeve jersey since it's getting cooler, and events like this (as well as the comments) have increased.  Throw in my newfound appreciation of cycling caps, and lately I've been riding around a lot looking like this...


I have no shame.
This isn't actually the first time I've noticed that appearances change the way people treat you on a bike.  Once I was riding in a dress coming home from fancy occasion at work - it was the nicest ride I've ever had in terms of how others behaved on the road around me.  Everyone passed at a safe distance, used their blinkers, made eye contact with me, and even waved.  I take that same route every day, and that ride will always stand out in my mind because of how strangely nice it was.  

Here's where it starts to get interesting - now that my bike and my apparel make me look like a Giants fan, I'm noticing that my rides are a bit nicer, and incidents like the one I mentioned are a bit more common.  Though I have had a few people that honked before shouting their fandom out the window at me, which is always a bit startling.  I feel like a bit of an imposter, but at the same time I enjoy that people are being nicer because I'm suddenly someone that they can relate to.  Personally I'm rocking my jersey because it's really, really visible, but I'll take what I can get.   

Scientifically, if I really wanted to test this I could get a bike with Oakland As colors and gear that matches, then record my results.  Then I'd have to go to the East Bay and test both groups of team colors...and with peoples' loyalty to teams around here, I'd probably end up dead in a ditch somewhere.

But since I don't have a bike with As colors, or Sharks colors, or 49ers colors...for now I'll just continue to observe my experiences as a pseudo Giants fan and hopefully keep having pleasant experiences on the road. 

20130919

The CLAW

While fumbling for my keys, I looked up and noticed this creepy silhouette:

Urban legend, or bike part?
It looks like something out of an old timey horror flick, but it's actually just my brake lever.  Certainly fitting for the autumnal fall nights I've been enjoying recently!  

Not gonna lie, I'd totally watch a bad horror film about a killer bicycle.

20130917

Five More Minutes

I always look forward to when the days slowly start to become more and more autumnal.  Crisp mornings and leaves crunching under my wheels as I take my early foggy rides to work are some of my favorite days all year, and combine it with fall colors and pumpkin everything and it's pure bliss. 

Ready for my morning voyage!
While this is my favorite time of year, the one aspect of the seasonal change that makes it bit rough is the darkening morning hours.  In the midst of summer I'd sometimes wake up to natural light well before my alarm went off, but lately dawn hasn't even begun before I need to get up and leave.  It's tough some days to get motivated and head out into the dark and chilly mornings, so I developed a bit of a system to help me get going when all I want to do is stay in bed.  

I'm a total night owl.  I'll stay up all hours of the night given the chance, and then sleep until two in the afternoon.  Even if I do force myself to get to bed at say, eight in the evening, I'll still sleep until noon.  So what do I do to keep myself motivated when it starts getting harder and harder to get up?  

Lay everything out the night before.  Keeping all of my cycling clothes next to my bed keeps me from having to face the cold and hunt around in the morning.  

Don't go to bed hungry.  Getting home late makes it tough sometimes to have a decent dinner, but even if just have a bowl of cereal or a banana it's better than nothing.  No one likes to wake up hungry and having to ride to work - your body will thank you.  

Get thee some adequate gear.  Good cold weather and rain gear is expensive, but anyone who rides in these conditions frequently knows it's well worth it.  If you're not comfortable on your rides, you won't want to keep doing them!  

Light the way.  Along with gear, you need good lights for those dark mornings (and evenings!) and you need a way to power them.  There are lots of USB chargeable lights these days, but use whatever works for you, makes you visible, and lets you see.  

Change it up.  Maybe you feel unsafe on your ride.  Maybe it's starting to get a bit old.  If you can, try taking a different route - even if it will add on a few miles.  An exciting, safe route that you look forward to is a big factor to getting out of bed in the morning.

Seek out a bit of friendly competition.  "If I don't ride today, so-and-so will give me crap!" It might seem petty, but having a friend to either ride with or otherwise push you can be a great motivator for some of us (especially those of us with a competitive streak).  A riding buddy is ideal, but even a coworker or friend who can give you some good-humored motivation does wonders.  

If it breaks, fix it.  Keep up with maintenance.  Get a fitting.  Upgrade parts if you need to.  Make sure your bike is something you want to ride, and you'll look forward to riding it no matter what time of day.

Have a good attitude.  "Man, I *have* to get up early tomorrow" will put you in a negative mindset.  "I get to ride my bike tomorrow morning!" is much better, as cheesy as it sounds.  

Put yourself in someone else's shoes.  There are people that have to ride much further than you.  There are people who have to ride much further than you who maybe are missing a leg, or an arm.  There are people who wish they could ride a bike.  Appreciate that you can ride! 

Don't kill yourself.  If something is hurting, or you have to take care of your family, or you're not feeling your greatest, take a day off.  It's okay to miss a day every so often to catch up on sleep or let your body heal, if that's what you need.  And if you have joint pain, get a proper bike fitting!  

This is what has been working for me, but everyone is different.  And while I am still sleepy getting on the bike in the morning, watching the seasons change and looking forward to a few months of fall colors during my commute is worth it.  

20130912

Trek District Discontinued

Looks like the legendary belt driven district will no longer be offered by Trek.  The chain based District S is still offered, but without the split frame to upgrade to a belt.  Since I know quite a few people that own (and love the crap out of) these bikes, and many more who had a hard time finding a shop that had them in stock when they were searching for one to buy, I'm wondering why the District was discontinued...along with what looks like all of Trek's belt driven bikes.  Not to mention all of Specialized's belt driven bikes as well - while, like Trek, all the chain version of the models are still offered, the belt driven bikes no longer are.

Perhaps Gates had a deal and has some future plans?  

There are still many belt driven bikes to choose from, so don't fret.  Plus, Districts pop up on Craigslist and eBay every now and then, but if you're searching for one and see one stocked in a store...might be a good idea to pick it up sooner rather than later.  

For anyone searching for a good belt compatible frame to build up, check out Speedhound.


Love the matching stem and cranks.
These lovely frames are made with interchangeable dropouts.  You can go vertical, horizontal, have a derailleur hanger, etc.  The geometry is CX specific, so if you want a slightly more aggressive build, these guys are your go-to.  Lots of colors, absolutely beautiful steel frames, and a versatile frame that can change as fast as your mind can.  Pretty cool - I'd love to build one of these into a SSCX belt driven machine.  

I wonder if we'll see any new belt driven bikes or belt components this coming year.  I'd love to see more companies offer a dedicated belt driven fixed gear at a decent price!

Edit:  According to Trek the District is being "shelved for a while."  Perhaps it's not the end for these bikes.

20130911

Wrap Job

I had a bit of bar tape malfunction, so when I partially re-wrapped them yesterday I decided to play around with some ideas from this thread and mix electrical tape colors.  I'm pretty terrible at wrapping bars (and these are certainly no exception), but I like the addition of a bit of grey tape.

There was already a lot of orange, so I went with grey.
 Some of the wrap jobs in that thread are ridiculous, like this Harlequin pattern that I'd love to try at some point:

Image from this thread.
There's a tutorial here, and a two-tone wrap job doesn't look too difficult to do, just time consuming.  

Wrapping bars nicely is a real art, and while you can easily throw some tape on them, it's difficult to get them looking perfect (and having both sides matching, to boot).  It's a small thing, but something that I'm going to really start practicing on and working to improve.  

20130908

Rossin Alert

This beauty is up for sale here.

If I could, I would.
Stunning beauty with an early kevlar rear wheel.  Way over my budget, but damn.

Image from the eBay listing.

Image from the eBay listing.
If you're going after it, best of luck!

Shoes

It's hard to believe that four years ago I decided to make the switch to clipless pedals.  It's also pretty crazy that my Shimano shoes (the cheapest I could get at the time) lasted me four years, thousands of miles, a few storms and muddy rides, coffee getting poured in them (happens far too often in my house) and multiple sprints on the Caltrain platform.  

When I bought my first pair of road shoes, I had no idea what I was doing.  I was a student at the time, and I was still fairly new to the technical side of bicycling - the main reason that I ended up getting road shoes was because of a foot injury, in which my doctor told me that if I was going to be riding more than fifty miles a week I needed either cycling specific shoes or something with a hard sole or I'd injure myself again.  Hence, I found the only downside to constantly wearing Vibram Five Fingers and had a legit reason to invest in real grown-up cycling shoes.  

Since then I've learned a lot about shoes - which kinds last the longest, which kinds have the best reputation, how to make sure they fit properly, and the problems that you have when they don't.  Sometime during this learning process I learned that my lovely shoes were the wrong size, causing my feet to go numb on long rides.  

Thus, today was New Shoes Day.

They won't stay this clean for long.
Mostly I was jaunting around running errands, but so far I love the way these feel, and tomorrow on my ride to work I'll give them a decent beating to make sure things aren't going numb, the cleats are straight, and everything else is working as it should be.  

Also, man are these comfy.  Everyone that told me Sidis just fit like a glove was right - straight out of the box and they're awesome.  

20130905

"I've got the black lung, pop"

I haven't ridden my bike for two days.

My lungs have the maintenance level of a small dog - something that people carry in purses and that yaps a lot and breaks if you breathe on it.  Cigarette smoke renders me useless in about thirty seconds flat, and once I walked into a hookah bar and then turned around and walked right back out so that I wouldn't die.

With wildfires still raging and the air quality pretty crappy where I happened to be staying last weekend, I developed a gnarly, phlegmy, quite attractive sounding smokers' cough over the weekend after leaving the window open all night and, well, breathing.  Sometime during my ride in to work on Tuesday morning when I was wheezing and feeling like I was inhaling Jello, I figured that I needed to maybe take it easy until I wasn't keeping myself up all night with my newly acquired black lung disease.

The point of all this is that it's amazing how much of a drastically better day I have when I ride, and how it really turns me into (more of) a terrible person when I don't.  I could have the exact same scenario day to day, and whether or not I ride determines how I concentrate and do good work or feel like crawling into a little ball under my desk sometime after lunch.  Riding to work improves my attitude, my concentration, the way I approach tasks, and makes me not feel tired throughout the day.  Even a little ride just from the train station makes a huge difference - and granted, I absolutely love my job, but it is very mentally taxing, so whatever it is that riding does to make my mind clearer, I'll take it! 

Do you find riding improves your day and changes your attitude?  Or that not riding makes you a grump?

If only my lungs had the strength of my stomach, as I've apparently been eating recalled yogurt for the past few weeks with no ill effects.  I thought it was a bit tangy...

20130903

As of September

Since I'm always working on something but have made progress with my Yamaguchi School Bike, the belt driven fixed gear, and learning the art, here's an update to the project docket in the coming months. 

September: The Takhion Temp fork is being sent off to be repaired by the experts!  Awesome news, since I've been trying to get this fork fixed for almost two years now.  Depending on how well the October project goes, this frame might also go in for a restorative paint job, as it could definitely use it. 



October: The manhandled and sad looking (but structurally sound) Takhion Aero is going in for a full restoration.  My goal will be to build it up with as many correct parts as I can, but for now It's just going to get stripped and properly repainted with shiny new decals.  The bars are a bit beat up, but I'll clean them up and wrap them nicely.  Thankfully the chrome on the handlebar clamps is in good shape, so those I won't have to worry about, though it's also missing its headset cap, which leads me to...


November: Remember the Takhion headset caps and handlebar plugs that I was working on?  Still working, but getting an alternative file type for pvc injection molding is starting to be a little bit of a pain.  Hopefully I can find some open source software that converts an obj to an igs file, and then I'll get everything converted and sent off to be done in time for Christmas. If not...maybe I'll try my hand at DIY injection molding.  So far my prototypes have been pretty good, so I'm really close on this one and would like to get these done!


Winterish:  I'd love to get my little frame shop up and running, but most likely this one will have to wait until sometime next year.  Unfortunately, much of what I need is very expensive and takes up a lot of room, so I need a decent workspace before I can get large equipment, but renting a workspace means less money for that equipment.  I'll win eventually. 

I wish I had something like this.  Mr. Yamaguchi's shop.
Next Year Entirely:  I have a few other parts to seek out for bikes that are in the works, and most likely I'll be spending next spring searching for said components and getting a few framesets I have back to their original (or as close as I can) glory.  I really need to get the bikes and frames that I currently have built up with permanent components before I take on any new build ideas, but I'll end up eating those words anyway, I'm certain.

Just for fun I do kind of want to experiment with dual transmissions and bamboo as a building material, so if I get the chance maybe I'll combine these two ideas into something wacky.  Dual transmission belt driven bamboo bike, anyone? 

Along with all of this, I'll be aiming to ride even more than usual.  I'm no racer, but I enjoy pushing my limits and improving my fitness and riding technique.  I need to work on climbing and would like to better my endurance over longer rides, which is something that I've started to focus on more with my new road bike.  

At some point, I should organize the shop too.

Nah.