20140125

Lotta Honda

Bay Area cyclists know Old La Honda well.  It's considered a benchmark climb, one of those climbs that everyone knows their average time for, one that is often used to compare with just about any other climb in the area.  It's also said to be the best way to get up to Skyline, which leads to a whole slew of other routes along with some great views.  This isn't my map, but here's the steep section of Old La Honda if you're looking for an idea of just what you're up against.  With an average grade of 8% and certain sections that come in at 26%, it's a walk in the park for very few people, and I am not one of them.

Once you get to Skyline after a lot of swearing and gasping for breath on OLH, you have a few options: you can go either north or south on Skyline to complete a loop back, or you can continue straight as OLH descends west and eventually connects with highway 84.  From there you can go to the ocean, or enjoy a gradual climb back up to Skyline.  

The last time I attempted this climb was when I was on my hi-ten Nishiki Custom Sport Mixte.  I was a student and knew next to nothing about bikes, and the climb destroyed me.  I don't even think I made it to the top.  There was a lot of profanity.

Today I tried again for the first time in years, with much better luck.  I had to stop twice to wait for my arrhythmia to settle down, and even though I was slow I maintained a decent pace and made it to the top despite the fact I was pretty sure I was dying.  It was tough, but gorgeous, and descending down the other side of Skyline was totally worth the crazy climb.   

At the bottom of OLH, off 84, about to climb back to Skyline.
It's quite dark winding through the forest, so lights are a must!  
Unfortunately I had to cut back up to Skyline and cut my ride short since my heart was on the fritz, which is just something that happens every couple of rides.  Nonetheless, it was a great little ride and I got about 4000 feet of climbing in, so here's to hoping I'm a little faster next time!

20140121

Not Quite Winter

We're in some desperate need of rain out here, but that doesn't mean I won't enjoy the 70ish degree days we've been having lately.

Just perfect.  
There is a wonderful trail in my hometown that I frequently ride with my dad whenever I manage to get home for a day or two.  It winds through the town in such a way that you would think you're out in the country somewhere, not in your own backyard.  It's also a great demonstration of each season, and the winter berries were quite the contrast against such a warm day.

A great ride and the perfect end to a three day weekend.
Though it certainly makes for nice riding, I'd really like to get the cold back soon, at least for a little while.  Winter riding in itself is rather enjoyable for me, and there hasn't been too much of it lately!  Perhaps I'll have better luck in February, and better yet we'll get some rain so that summer doesn't end up being miserable.

20140116

Just Superbe

I will always have a soft spot for SunTour.

Don't get me wrong - Campy is timelessly classic and dresses up only the finest of bikes, with many a steel bike made into a piece of art by the addition of one of its gruppos.  Shimano always seemed to be a tad bolder and slightly more modern, trying new things with it's 10 Pitch and AX series, with the ever reliable Dura Ace being standard on various racing machines.  But my very first road bike came equipped with SunTour Seven, and I've rooted for the underdog ever since.

Truthfully, I started really vying for them when I did my research and learned about SunTour Superbe and Superbe Pro - the engineering that went into them, the reliability, and the eventual decline of SunTour that many agree came from Superbe Pro being offered at too low of a price point for anyone to think it was good.  

Certainly the advances in technology have changed groups and gruppos for the better, and my SRAM Red equipped bike still blows my mind.  But of everything classic that I have ridden, Superbe Pro has always been my favorite.


NOS with a BB to match.
Superbe Pro to me feels like it belongs on a specific type of bike - it's seen a lot on NJS track bikes, bikes that are every bit as technical as they are classy.  It's seen on novelties like the Black Lightning and Yongjiu, or sometimes on the elusive Level frames.  I certainly don't feel like it belongs on just any frame - it has to have the exact combination of technical and classy for it to feel right to me.  

You can imagine my pure and utter joy when I learned it was compatible for use on the Takhion's drivetrain.  

So, yes, this restoration will have a (mostly) full SunTour Superbe Pro group, with the exception being the downtube levers, brake calipers, and brake levers.  The seatpost, bottom bracket, both derailleurs, crankset, cassette, and hubs will be Superbe Pro.  It's gonna be good.

I can't wait to get this one built up!

20140114

BikeCad

When I was little, I had a giant Lego collection that I absolutely adored.  Hours were spent at my Lego table, with my mountain of various Lego pieces, and I'd build anything from robots to houses to vehicles only to tear it down and build something new the next day.  I loved trying to combine different sets and create the strangest things that I could, and fortunately I never lost that love of tinkering and building.

Currently there are no Legos in my apartment - but I do have my bikes and my love for working on them.  There are often a lot of things that I'd like to test or visualize somehow though - what would this look like with a sloping top tube?  How will this frame look built up?  What if I could redesign this bike entirely?

Enter, BikeCad.

Image via Bicycle Forest
I remember having discovered this nifty program some time ago, but it was brought forth again after my visit to the Yamaguchi Frame Building School.  BikeCad lets you design, visualize, tweak, and essentially build just about any kind of bike to your heart's content - and did I mention the online version is free?  

If you're looking to build a frame from absolute zero, this program probably won't do everything for you, but it's an excellent start and a great way to check measurements and get an idea of how you want things to look.  Plus, it's fun to think up and build various bikes.  Road, mountain, fixed gear, BMX, tandem...pretty much whatever you think of.  

I mean, if someone can use it to build a Takhion, what's not to love?

Image via BikeCad, model by Matteozolt
The Pro Version is available as an install for serious builders, and it has many more options than the free version. 
Happy designing! 

20140104

Happy (Belated) New Year!

Just because my holidays were a whirlwind doesn't mean that I didn't get the chance to do any work!

Not having to wake up early over this break meant I could do the adult, responsible thing and stay up until 3 AM working on bikes.  But since 3 AM is a terrible time to photograph anything in my apartment, I had to wait until this morning to get any progress photos.

Now with handlebars!
The headset has been regreased, cleaned up, and put back together (with fresh, new, non-paint filled bearings, and the crown race and headset cup were cleaned thoroughly and re-installed.  Handlebar clamps and screws were polished and de-gunked, and they were put on at the same time as the handlebars themselves to prevent damage to the new paint.  

Rear mounted brakes!  First time actually installing a new pair.  Too cool.
Brake calipers and downtube shifting levers were inspected, cleaned, and installed (though they were already in near perfect condition), and were then mounted.  Nothing is hooked up yet, of course, but all seem to be in good working condition! 

Finding adequate brake levers might be a challenge.
I'm still working on the bar end plugs needed for this bike, but aside from that I know exactly how I am going to build this bike up.  Next will most likely be the wheelset, of which I have the rear laced and just need to get spokes and nipples for the front.  This one will be a real beauty when it eventually comes together!  

One more photo of the beautiful downtube lever mounts before the levers were installed:

Amazing craftsmanship.
I'm off to tackle a few more shop related errands before the very last Tour de Christmas Lights.  Happy 2014 everyone!