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 helps us develop 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.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

So why not?

          Since I have forsaken the use of my car around town, I  get caught up in all kinds of  conversations about it.  Most people express some admiration for my "dedication," environmental consciousness, frugality and health.  Never do they consider that I just like to ride my bike.  Invariably, they (especially club cyclists) tell me they wish they could.  Then comes a list of excuses, most of the excuses revolve around clothing.  They have to change at work, there are no showers at work, and of course they need to change shoes at work.   Most don't understand that riding 5 miles through traffic to work requires a more measured and leisurely pace than their weekly pretend race.  They don't know they won't have to shower since they won't be totally exhausted and sweaty.  They don't understand they don't have to wear a team kit to make their bike operate or that clipless pedals are only marginally better than platforms, if at all.  Consequently they don't understand they can walk comfortably after dismounting their bike.
They would be much more likely to go to the mall, a theater, restaurant
 or grocery store if they didn't look like a pretentious weekend warrior. 
          The worst excuse I hear is "I ride a road bike, I can't leave that outside."  Now there's a problem.  They have my sympathy for riding a modern road bike anyway but the idea that they can't lock it up outside speaks volumes.  Apparently the bike is more important than the ride to these people, but they are right.  It would be dangerous to lock a modern CF bike to a post or, god forbid, a bike rack, somebody might bump it and break the damn thing.  The amazing thing is that most of the critters who scamper around the countryside over the same route at the same time on the same day each week have never actually gone anywhere on their vehicle.  Most don't haveone which was made to go anywhere but back to their car.
           Ironically Lycra, clipless pedals and carbon fiber are commonly considered by the "experts" as three of the most important advances in cycling, but they are the three most frequent excuses to not ride a bike.  Let's face it, if people had a comfortable aluminum or steel framed bike with platform pedals, they would be able to ride more often.   It won't help them with their Strava score, but who's gonna tell?


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dipping my toe into the morass of the future

       It's pretty obvious to everybody that I have trouble letting go.  Most people think I am just an irrational retro grouch who simply won't accept innovation.  Well I am here to tell you that I installed a threadless headset once.  So there, I know what this modern stuff is about.  I just like to see that the things I do are somewhat practical.  After all, I use my bikes to go somewhere different than my car and I'm not afraid to ride alone without some bizarre social network attached.  Let's face it, most of the improvements in cycling revolve around competition.  If it ain't your interest there is no reason to buy all the carbon fiber underwear, electronic brifters and personal heart rate powermeters to compare your metabolism with your Facebook buddies.  I just ride my bike and wonder if index shifting is another fad.  
         Occasionally the commercial world brings something that hits home--no flats.  I mean shit!  It has to make you think.  As little as I do, I wrenched my head around the idea of tubeless tires.   Enough people are talking about them and changing over that there might be something like a derailer at the bottom of this.
         Videos like this from a confirmed, sadistic tire beater excited me even more.
If I could only abuse my tires in such manner without disturbing the quiet reverie of my afternoon communions with clouds, blackbirds and roadkill, I would like it.   I need new tires for the Hillborne so I bought what I needed to make the conversion.  

My first attempt failed rather predictably.  According to internet legend, just about any tire and rim can be converted, but a powerful air compressor is usually necessary to force the tire to seat on the rim without a tube.  I tried a CO2 cylinder but there just wasn't enough mojo there to make the tire behave.  I searched for alternatives with the most reliable documentation I could find--
You Tube.  

    There I found a few examples of DIY compressors which would fill the gap.   I'm not brave enough nor poor enough to take the risk of building one by myself so I bought a Specialized Air Blast from a friendly e-tailer.
The sturdy metal container was much more reassuring than a Coke bottle and duct tape.  It's a well manufactured gizmo which can be charged up with pressurized air from a normal floor pump and is made specifically to zap the tires onto a tubeless setup or conversion.
Taking the old tape off and putting on the new rim tape is a simple exercise.  The valve is just molded into a giant rubber band.  It's like a cut out part of a tube, but fits tighter.
           After installing one bead of the tire and partially installing the other, I dribbled in the requisite 2 ounces (1/4 cup)  of Stan's Sealant into the tire, twirled the tire around and mounted the rest of the tire bead.  It was fun, I pumped up the AirBlast all excited for this new adventure in a flatless cycling career.  I was both disappointed and amused.  Yes it looked like the casting room for bike porn (I had to get that out of the way).  Now matter how I turned the wheel, or what position the valve was in the bead would not budge, the tire would not hold air or the amusing ooze.
              I suppose that a tire with a more rigid bead and sidewall would be more likely to convert, my studded snow tires are candidates.   Unfortunately, I like the Pasela tire with supple sidewalls and reasonable price tag, I just want flats to go away.  Looking through the Schwalbe, Panasonic and Continental websites, I found no reference to tubeless mounting on any tire I would like to use.  There are a few 23mm road tires, lots of MTB racing tires and one "gravel racing" tire which might be usable on a future build I have in mind.  Once again the industry is patronizing racing, creating products to benefit the high priced impractical market and leaving us with a product that amounts to snake oil for any practical application.  Right now I'll take the more passive approach and inject some sealant into the tubes and hope for the best.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

It's all in the details.

It made me feel like a kid!
So maybe jumping curbs is not a good idea.
 I really thought I had a broken spoke at first.  I never expected this to happen. I suppose once you develop a doesn't really heal. Maybe JBWeld and Gorilla Tape ain't going to get this done. 
  So I took it to the LBS to get the sage advice of their legendary wheel guy who, of course, told me that common sense should prevail and a stock wheel out of QBP's catalog would be the best way to go.  Couldn't argue with that so he picked a bit of an upgrade on the rim and away I went, confident to have the Hillbourne on the road again in a few days.  It came in, they called me,
I picked up nothing I expected.
The perspective is deceiving, they are the same diameter.
      How many other things are wrong with this picture.  Remember, this "expert" wheel guy was holding my damaged wheel (the one in back) in his hand while he searched for the right match.  Let's see, oh the whole damn thing is black while the original is silver.   When I picked it up the kid at the shop laughed and said "The brake track is silver!"  Now I'm not saying I wouldn't build a $3,000 bicycle from mismatched components (it might be fun), but I didn't.   One might expect an "expert" wheelman to ask about little details like, 32 or 36 spoke, 9 or 11 speed freehub, or the rim width, all of which were wrong but he also ordered all black components while looking at silver!  
This is why the LBS' of the world complain about the internet.  the incident reminds me of the time I wanted to upgrade the drive train on my my '87 Trek.  I went to a different LBS, told the guy what I wanted to do, he told me nobody made parts that would work, the derailers, shifters, rear wheel and bottom bracket would all have to be changed and instead I should look at their "latest greatest bike ever" at $2500.  I went home ordered what I wanted for $125 and have ridden happily ever after.  Then there was the time  I was looking for a touring bike at a shop which advertised both Trek and Surly brands.  When I told the owner I was looking for a touring bike, he immediately started talking about a custom titanium because "nobody makes touring bikes anymore."   The internet is where we get whatever we want rather than get sold what they want us to have.  
        That's what I did.  I turned right around, ordered a wheel much closer to what I want from the web page of a distant e-tailer.  While I was at it, I ordered some tires I have learned to order since no LBS carries them and they invariably try to sell me their favorite brand.  I also took a leap into the future with tubeless tires. I'm keeping the black wheel, I'll be able to use it on a future project I have in mind, I just wasn't expecting to buy it yet.
I am certainly not putting it on this bike.

Friday, February 17, 2017

EL NINO strikes down winter again

      Things are just getting good around here.  It's mid February in Michigan, the snow is gone (along with local skiing) the temps promise to be in the forties for the next week, I took the Hillborne out with regular tires yesterday.  Maybe Phil from wherever-I-can't-pronounce was wrong.  We know it's not global warming because that stopped on January 20th, but  warm weather crawls over the snow squeezing it out until the only ice left is near the snow mountains at the edge of the parking lots.  So I am going to switch out the studs on the Hunq and start really riding to work. 
   The fact that we have riding conditions at an odd time of year had not deterred the advocacy season from marching forward.  Renee and John (right and left) from out local bike club awarded our Mayor Hopewell (a cyclist himself) and the City Commission with the Annual "Friend of Cycling" award 
for approving the 5ft passing law.We all expected it to be difficult
 but the Commission passed it with a 100% vote.   
Along with that,  KATS, the area transportation study which dispenses federal funds,
held a Q&A opportunity for the public to provide comment and suggestions over their proposals.  I got there at the end but the crowd had been large during the day and suggestions for development of active transport throughout the area proved to thoughtful as well as various.
But despite it all we have run into this glitch, where a neighborhood in the student ghetto has stopped  the city's initiative to widen walkways and add bike lanes.  Ostensibly, they got upset to know that some trees were being removed, but there is a tavern owner who is worried about losing a few parking spaces for a few weeks.  They will probably go around in circles for a month or two before that work resumes.  Ultimately trees will grow back and more pedestrians and cyclists will spend more money than motorists driving past.