A lot of little threads and thoughts today. Some of which will probably be edited out in the interests of coherency.
Got a decent ride in yesterday, after weeks and weeks of too-short, too-fast commute rides. Rolled out on a gorgeous, sunny Saturday - the kind of mid-November SF Bay Area weather which we who live here get very quiet about as our cycling brothers and sisters are discussing winter gloves and studded tires. First ride in memory where I didn’t have my bag strapped to my back, and things felt light and smooth. Steered the Quickbeam over road and trail, enjoyed a freshly paved section of Paradise Drive, felt cosmically blessed when the surface turned back to bumpy and cracked and ripply, and all the race-folks fell behind on their high pressure 23C tires.
As a general rule, it seems to cause some consternation when a single-geared bicycle with tweed fender flaps goes past them over a rough and broken surface. Perhaps it’s the head-slap enlightenment. Just one of the many services we offer.
Just realized that I didn’t make a mileage post for the meager October tally. (tap, tap, tappity, tap) There. Or rather here.
Finally upgraded my phone (the Razr that wouldn’t die), which means that I spent a couple evenings dinking around at the app store, up too late distracted by mostly less-than-useful technology. Was reasonably impressed by Pandora radio, which immediately knew about a couple of less-than-popular bands that I thought of. Only downside with them is the commercials. But, hey, nothing is “free”… Other than that there have been a few things, but I think I’m going to keep things reasonably austere for a while. (Maybe some folks will make some suggestions - so far the Photoshop, Sketchbook, Hipstamatic, StarWalk, Dragon Dictation and Evernote apps are all aboard and being used. Oh, and RedLaser, which is pretty much the end of retail as we know it. The one time waster I’ve allowed myself is Labyrinth.) None of which has to do with cycling.
For the past 30 days or so, rides have been of a different flavor. Busy times at the day job, more auditions now that I’ve got representation for voiceover work, and a few gigs have had me trying to compress more stuff into less time, and I often end up blasting home on the commute - curiously enough, often in time to get to yoga. Which must be some sort of a zen koan.
The whole practice of screaming homeward on a tallish, non-coastable gear seems to be paying off. On yesterday’s loop, there was a little lapse at about an hour, I suspect as that’s been the upper end of most of my rides of late, but then things started to notch into place. My legs and hips decided that they weren’t going anywhere, and decided to help out for a bit longer, and the back and arms started to relax and act like springs rather than shock absorbers. And when I felt like ratcheting up the pressure a bit, it actually felt like there was some latent speed in there. I don’t think I’m ready for the BASPS this year, but at least things aren’t feeling entirely monovelocic.
It’s also the time of year when everything suddenly gets darker an hour earlier. Which isn’t all that bad, as it takes my home commute out of the time of dusk, when people don’t seem to see anything and places it squarely in the night, when bright LED’s and USCG-approved reflective tape seems to catch their eyes. Indeed - the worst event riding recently was coming back from a noontime sandwich run, in broad, bright daylight, when someone entering from a side street decided they didn’t need to stop at the sign and tried to slide through it. Luckily my “HEY” horn seems to have appropriate volume and “cut through”…
Speaking of unaware drivers, I finally got a check from the insurance company to settle up property damage and expenses from the accident last June. It was a lesson in polite and helpful responses leading to no actual results, and a steadily stream of “oh, you know, we don’t have a copy of …. ” which had me re-faxing, re-emailing, and re-requesting medical clearances. For those of you keeping score at home, that was 15 months from the day of the accident. Just to clarify, this was the driver’s insurance company who redefined methodical slowness - my auto insurance was spot on, helpful, going to bat for me and quick to point out what I should do (get copies of police report, photograph damages, etc.). CSAA really rocked, and this year was one of the few times that I re-upped with them that I was actually happy about it. Of course, I’ve been with for freakin’ ever. But, in this day of online comparative pricing, and racing to the cheapest possible solution, I do wonder what the response would have been if I’d changed companies annually.
And, I am still of the opinion that it’s not a good idea to arrest the forward motion of a bicycle by sticking your index finger between your brake lever and a truck door. Just in case there’s any question about that.
Finally, I’m looking forward to today’s ride - we’re getting together with some friends who have a very energetic son who has been itching to go bike riding with us. Certainly, H.G. Wells observed
“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”
…but it’s always great to remind the next generation.
Last Friday wound down a reasonably hectic week. It was the first week back from a vacation, which tends to lump up all kinds of things that would never have been so important if I hadn’t been unreachable for 6 days. But, things returned to a relatively even keel by Thursday, so I was able to scoot away early and head to the east bay.
Ulterior motives abounded, of course. First and foremost, Beth H was heading through town with her sweetie and had planned to drop by Rivendell for a bit. She’s an avid blogger, was one of the first people to share images of their bikes via the Cyclofiend.com Current Classics Gallery (her Rivendell Longlow being bicycle #11), and someone I’ve nattered on with via email about singlespeeds (y’know, her newest one is still in the queue and that’s entirely my fault!) and cyclocross. So, I finally got a chance to hang out and meet in person someone I’d only known through the interwebs. It was cool to meet in person, grab some food and get to know each other better. Guess I gotta head up to Portland now. I hear they race cross bikes up there in the winter…
Of course, the secondary benefit was bopping around the RBWHQ&L, seeing what prototypes could be spied and enjoyed. Alas, the newest version of the Hunqapiller was wheel-less, but Keven took the time to talk about the special mid-tube lugs they’d had made for the “splayed” (my phrase, not theirs) tube arrangement.
As noted in the flickr image, there will be bottle braze-ons with the final version, but I think the geometry and most of the hard-wiring is mostly in place now. The Hunqapillar is truly a versatile and sturdy beast. The fork braze-ons alone are, shall we say, extensive. I’m pretty sure that this bicycle could handle anything most folks could throw at it. I think it will also balance better once they set up the left side drive.
The stuff behind the Hunqa-proto (Proto-Hunq?) got me focused a bit on luggage and bags.
Now, in case I’ve never mentioned it before, I’m kind of a bag junkie. Well, maybe “junkie” is a bit strong. I have some pretty firm tastes and requirements, actually, formed through a few years of working as a buyer of such things. For me, a bag has to be well sewn, useful in design without being overly specific, and should work quietly for a long time. If it turns out to do one or two things not originally envisioned, even better.
The work that has gone into the Brand V bags (Vegan, “Holier Than Cow” as the logo says) is pretty considerable. The Brand V BoxyBarBag is a pretty simple, bar-mounted squarish handlebar bag, which mounts without hardware to the bars. With the strap support system, it locks down pretty danged well. I didn’t have the opportunity to bounce it around on the trails, but it certainly survived the bounce ‘n wiggle test on the showroom floor. For the amount and quality of the sewing (in the US!), it could easily cost more than the $75 they charge for it. Here, you’re looking at it from the front, without it being on a bike. Nice big flecto-patch, too.
There was also a set of the new BrandV Panniers set up on a Sam Hillborne. I played around with these for quite a while, trying to figure out how I could justify buying them. Simple, sturdy construction. Everything you need and nothing you don’t, as the saying goes. They also seemed to invite further modification, with a set of D-rings on the top mounting area. But, one real beauty of the design is the dust/water flap, which seems to lend itself well to separating the load, or handling over-stuffing.
It’s hard to tell from this image, but that darker olive bit is a goodly sized flap, which can be pulled up and out, like this: Again, excellent sewing work throughout. I really liked the shape (formway?) of the panniers as well. Heel-strike be damned!
The bag which really caught my eye and followed me home was the GrabSack, another in the BrandV line.
Just to complete the broken record* motif, the sewing was pretty much Filson quality. The folks who are constructing these know how to line up material and throw a line of stitching through it. It’s heavy cotton duck, and it feels like it break in sometime in the distant future. Unlike the old Timbuk2 that it will replace, I won’t lose the clip-on flecto-tabs, as they’ve sewn in a strip to reflect stuff. The wooden buttons (reminded me of an old Navy coat) can be one-handedly thrown through the big D-Rings, but they don’t seem to come out unintentionally. There’s a nice amount of overlap to the top and a good size to hold a book, journal a bit o’ gear and some odds and ends. There’s a single divider against the inside, which can organize things a bit. (Modeled below with my not-new RBW cap.)
The slick trick which Grant shared was to convert it from a shoulder strap to a waist pack setup. The strap can be shortened from both ends, so with a quick slide down and a two-handed cinch, it nestles easily into the small of your back or off one hip if you prefer. I’m not going to make a movie of that move. It’s something you can figure out pretty quickly if you mess around with it.
Anyway, US-constructed. Under $50. It’s kind of a ridiculously good deal.
Especially if you like bags. Which, as I mentioned, I do.
*For you youngsters out there: Broken Record = Repeating CD = Recursive MP3, i.e. something that says the same thing over and over.
I started this list a while ago, but just came across it doing a search for another document. Just wanted to append the updates before I forgot to do so. I’ve also put an asterisk (”*”) by those models which have been retired, or are no longer available.
I’ve pondered about this in a couple of places, but so far haven’t
heard too much from people - Been trying to block out a rough order and
timeline of Rivendell bicycle models. This is basically what I’ve come
Over on the RBW newsfeed, Grant had posted this link to a video with Tim Wright, a knifemaker who does not own a car -
I found it to be nicely thought-provoking and inspiring. Makes me want to support Tim. It’s encouraging to find the kind of quiet commitment that he demonstrates.
He also demonstrates a beautiful spin in a couple of side view shots. You don’t just hop on a bike one morning and move like that. It comes from years and miles of honing, gaining efficiency, finding the right balance. Just beautiful.
Finally had a good excuse to wander over to the RBWHQ&L* on Saturday. In this case, I was picking up the new rear wheel for the Quickbeam, efficiently crafted by Rich L. The original rim had failed reasonably impressively, and since the hub was acting more than tired, I went through the couch and found enough spare change to upgrade to a Phil Wood setup. With all the bicycles I’ve had over the years, it seems hard to believe that none have ever had a Phil hub (or bottom bracket), but there ya go. In the time between ordering and readiness, the real Phil Wood passed away, and it seemed appropriate that it worked out that way.
Besides, my cycling wrenching sensei handed me a wheel once. It was, he said, the first wheel he’d ever built. He rode it across the country, had seen countless miles, and still rolled out on a styling “lunch run” bike that he let me use. The hub rolled flawlessly after all those years. That made an impression on me.
Arriving at Riv, I got a chance to chat with Grant a bit, and he showed off the just-back-from-the-painter Hunqapillar frame - this time rendered in grey with orange contrasts. Like the grey with kidney bean version (seen here on the Bombadil back in December), it’s a head-cocker - one of those combinations is hard to believe works if someone just told you the colors, but does work when you see them. I’ve chatted about the Orange on the RBW group already, and there’s a more comprehensive pdf from Grant which can be found here. Suffice to say, both look great. Especially on the grey/burgundy, the lug edge lining really helps the dark/dark combination to pop. I’m not sure it would work as well without the lining.
But frames and color schemes have little to do with bike riding.
Maybe I need to get a bit of preamble out of the way. In recording some
impressions about these bicycles, my underlying belief is that Grant
designs a bike that fits me well and is comfortable, stable,
controllable and well-behaved. When I descend on my Hilsen or Quickbeam,
anytime I exit a corner, its always with the feeling that I was well
within the margin of safety. They are ridiculously confidence
building. That, to me, is the essence of the Rivendell design -
stability at speed under all manner of wacky conditions and simple
comfort while on the roads and trails. The following bikes gave no surprises on those counts. They all have that in their core.
When Grant is anywhere around, one thing that tends to happen very quickly when you arrive at RBWHQ&L is that a bicycle is eased your general direction and the saddle and bars get adjusted to fit. And before you know it, you’re rolling along on one of the Rivendell models. Which brings us to…
Sam Hillborne -rbw page I did ride one of the early prototypes of the Hillborne, back at the end of 2008, but hadn’t really ventured too far away from the loop around the building. This time, I got a chance to spend a little more time with the bicycle, and must say that it has been done right.
(Yes, if you look at the photo closely, there is a kickstand mounted. Hence, no need to use the post to lean it against for a side view image. Old habits really die hard.)
Over the past year, there’s been a bit of chatter on the various lists about the idea of Rivendell’s “expanded” frame designs. Certainly, there’s a benefit in having to order and stock a smaller number of sizes. But, the real question is whether it rides right.
First off, the six degree upslope doesn’t quite hit you as hard in person as when you stare
at side view images online or in the catalogs. If you are standing near the bike, looking down, it’s even less noticeable. Yeah, there’s an upslope
to the top tube, but a Giant TCR (or any number of new bikes) it ain’t.
Then, when you climb aboard, you don’t really notice it. Obviously, you are looking forward anyway. But, unlike those compact frame designs I’ve ridden, it just seems and feels “normal”, but with a tad more standover height. (One of the reasons that I don’t like riding my geared soft-nosed mountain bike is that when a “S”ertain company repla”S”ed the original frame under warranty, they had dropped the top tube (already angled significantly) another couple inches or so. When you look down, the first thing you think is “there’s one helluvalotta seat post sticking out…” I have also bruised my shins against the toptube in technical conditions.)
The Hillborne rode very nicely - might even feel a
touch more nimble than my Hilsen, but there were a lot of other
variables as far as bar height, saddle setup, lack of bags and racks,
etc., and for some reason, a bicycle you don’t own always feels a little snappier…
The bottom line is just that it rides like a Riv. And that is great
thing in my book. Solid at speed, corners like a demon and perfectly
balanced at slow speeds. It would be interesting to take one onto the
trails or up the mountain (i.e. treat it the way I do my Hilsen), but it definitely gets my thumbs up.
SOMA San Marcos / Amos -rbw page? This collaboration between Grant and the folks at SOMA popped out of the bag back in January (a blog post here, though it appears the “Amos” page is no longer on the RBW site.) This was the first prototype frame which had been photog’d back then, all built up with an orange fork. As of the end of March, they are anticipating delivery of a second prototype with pump peg and some other minor tweaks. But, this one is quite rideable.
Because this bicycle is SOMA-branded, it will be distributed more widely to shops. I envision this retail scenario playing out: “Hey, how was that test ride?” “Great! I thought you said this bike was made of steel.” “uh, yeah. It’s a steel fr..” “Noooo….not this bike!” “What do you mean?” “Steel’s heavy. Carbon is light. Even aluminum is light. But, steel is heavy. All the magazines and websites agree on that!” “Well…it is actually steel.” “Look, I’m going to buy the danged thing. Just tell me what it really is made of…”
In other words, this bike is going to cause some recalibration among those who were unaware of the properties of a well-designed sporty steel frame. For folks who understand what steel can be, it’s bound to cause sweaty palms of anticipation.
This may be one size small for me, but I had a goodly little jaunt on it. Slow speed agility tests. Big-ringed my way down and around the block a few times. Hammered it through a rough, downhill corner with some seriously sketchy pavement. During the little pauses here and there to catch my breath, I kept thinking, “Dang… this one’s done right.” Snappy and very responsive. I think they are going to sell a few of these.
Betty Foy -rbw page The black with cream accents Betty Foy is a joy to look at. I think GP may have once stated he wouldn’t make a black frame, and I am really, really glad he reconsidered. I thought they said this bicycle was also the 61 (which I actually don’t see listed on the site, so I may be incorrect), but the saddle dropped low enough for me (riding a 58/59 in the Riv sizing “old money” - not “expanded” frames) to be plenty comfortable. It was set up with Albatross Bars, angled slightly downward for a perfect wrist angle. Since I had just come off a few high-paced loops with the San Marcos, I was a bit revved up, and flew through the first couple of corners with a good bit of speed. Nary a squawk from Betty. It had the high volume cush from the 650B tires, but the did exactly what would be expected of a Riv. It would be fun to commute on this bike, and steam past folks on their repurposed open-wheeled racers. I would expect an extreme diversity in setups on this bicycle as well, as it lends itself to all manner of racks and bags, bars and saddles. My personal choice would be to run the setup just as seen here - there’s plenty of leverage with the Albatross bars for the hills on my commute route. I’ve run Col de la Vie tires on my Zeus 650B conversion, which sees commute duty, and they have never wanted for speed and comfort. With the even wider array of 650B/584 tires which have come out since, I don’t doubt you could tune for a variety of riding conditions.
Of particular note was the gearing - with an XD2 with guard affixed on the outermost side,
like a Quickbeam. But, then the small ring was a 24T (large was 40T),
which when paired with the wide range gearing in back (34?) let you
easily go from walking speed to fast-as-ya-need-to-go. Really a slick
I didn’t really know that I needed one of these, but after riding it…
well, you know. While it wouldn’t be the only bike I owned (at least for a couple decades), it would fit well into the lineup. The black finish was gorgeous, and I really liked the
gearing setup. Grant kind of chuckled when I brought it back. “Everyone needs a mixte,” he said.
Rivendell Roadeo -rbw page
Riding this bike was a monumentally bad idea. I had been safe back in December, as they only had a couple of 55cm prototypes hanging around the showroom. Y’know - too small, nothing to get all worked up about. But, this visit, the 59 was there, on the rack, calling out to me with its siren song.
To get at how this bicycle rides, I’ll use an obscure musical reference. Brian Eno was being interviewed once upon a time, and he was asked what his ideal band would be like - he answered that it would be a combination of Kraftwerk and Parliment. Now, arguably, he achieved that in the “Remain in Light” period of work with David Byrne and Talking Heads. But, it gets at the crux of the issue with this bicycle - a fast, quick, snappy bicycle that really loves to roll along on 33 1/3 mm Jack Brown tires. A Lamborghini with a Range Rover undercarriage.
The Hilsen is about clearance. I find myself daydreaming about finding the most massive tire that would fit, and rolling that bike over the nastiest, rockiest bits of trails in my region. With the Roadeo, the idea seemed to be to tighten things up the other way, to suck up the clearances until they did precisely what was necessary and no more. If the Hilsen is about “possibilities”, the Roadeo is more about “specificity.”
And, holy moley, pass the salt, it does that very well.
It hurtled through the sketchy corners, loved to climb into the big gear and in general was snappy and responsive as could be. The Roadeo rides as advertised.
This is definitely a bicycle I’m lusting for. Really a beautiful ride.
If you take a step back from the offerings, there is really a stunning array of designs being offered - huge kudos to Grant and the gang for bringing this range of models to fruition.
*Rivendell Bicycle Works Headquarters & La-ir, as always, said in your best Dr. Evil voice…
In winter, it doesn’t take too much to get the various bike-geek lists lit up (and I say that with love, since I admin one of them myself…).
A couple of days, a new image popped up on the SOMA fab Flickr feed - which was interesting enough by itself.
Then further photos emerged a day or so later, after an RBW Owner’s Bunch member espied a new frame at the RBWHQ&L - (You can view the slideshow of the images here.)
This was a bit more interesting, clearly showing that something of a collaborative nature was in the works. Could it be the rumored SOMAdell A. Homer BorneFoy Atlanticabombaluki Roaday-ay-ay-OH? Some felt that obviously it was, would be or could be. Others felt the fork was clearly a disappointment. It was instantly an internet star.
Following in the wake of such conjecture, both SOMA and Grant at Rivendell released clarifications on their various websites:
Since the RBW News column included a wide variety of other topics, here are the pertinent paragraphs:
“It’s what used to be called a road-sport bike. It has light tubing (by our standards — like the Rambouillet, A. Homer Hilsen), and accepts tires up to 28mm with a fender, or about 35mm without. It has two eyelets on the rear dropouts, one on the front, and hourglass mounts on the seat stays. It’s not for loaded touring, but fits a rear rack anyway, and you can use that as a saddlebag support, or put a trunk rack or some other light load on it. It probably won’t break-like-carbon if you load it up and head for the hills, but it’s really not built to do that fantastically well. The tubing is too light.
It has the same “expanded” kind of frame as the Bombadil and Sam Hillborne. The top tube slopes up about 6 degrees, so ultra classicists will barf, but the upslope forces you to be comfortable, and some people must be forced. It also means you’ll ride a frame that’s three to five cm smaller than what you’d ride in one of our bikes.
The fork is threaded, so you can use a quill stem. All the lugs, the crown, and the BB shell are the same ones we use on our own bikes. The rear dropouts are a stock model that have been used on lots of frames, but I didn’t pick them. They’re small, strong, and light.
The tubing is Tange Prestige (heat treated CrMo). Tange is a tubing maker; Prestige is it’s top, heat-treated CrMo tubing, and it’s plenty good for any frame.
The downtube says the opposite of SOMA, and the model nameSan Marcosis in small letters on the back of the seat tube.
I think it’s best and fairest to evaluate this frame in the context of the current bike shop selection, and the price, about $895. I want to say that, because if all you do is consider “lugs” and “steel” and “fork crown” and maybe even “Rivendell-designed” it’s a short step away from being compared to frames that cost a whole lot more.
Please DO compare it to any carbon frame and fork. Compare the clearance, the bar height and comfort, the tire and fender clearances, and the overall look. DON’T compare it to an A. Homer Hilsen, etc., and expect the same details. The fork won’t be as beautiful, but it’ll look a whole lot better (by certain standards) than any carbon fork, and it’ll be way safer, too.
This frame is perfect for anybody who wants a really nice, super comfortable, attractive, safe, and versatile bike for well under $2,000. It’s great for any road rides, centuries, and (with 35mm tires run soft), some smooth fire trails.
SOMA San Marcos
Sizes: Probably 51/650 or 700c (not sure); 55, 59, 63. Maybe a 47/650, too. It’s designed, but nobody ever buys small bikes, so I may suggest to Jim to nix it. It’ll be up to him, so don’t get mad at me….
Fitting: Go three to six cm smaller than your level-top tube frame.
Color: Not set, but maybe the light blue that’s on the table (and the ‘net)
Brake style: 55 reach, sidepull or centerpull, but there’s no cable hanger stop, so if you want to use a centerpull you’ll need the stops and hangers, and I’m sure Merry Sales will make them available to dealers.
Max tire with fender: 30mm. (Who makes a 30? But if you have one)
Max tire no fender: 37mm.
Braze-ons: Two bottles, two eyelets on rear drops, one on each front, plus the normal cable stops.
Designed for: Road riding, light loads. If you’re light or if you ride light (don’t smack things, pedal smoothly, unweight the bike over bumps, things like that), you can go glorious unpaved places on this bike, but the bottom line is: Road bike, not trail bike.
Loaded touring?: Nope. It won’t break, but it’s not touring-stout.
Rear spacing: 130mm
Fork type: Steel (CrMo) with Riv’s crown
Lugs, BB shell: Riv’s investment cast
Kinda tubes: Tange Prestige, with 0.8mm butts in the top and down tubes.
Seat post size: 27.2mm
Anything quirky, weird, or spooky that you’ll find out too late? No, it’s normal.
Frame weight: Shouldn’t ask, but a 55 will weigh about 4.4lb.
Available where: Bike dealers who opt to stock it, and Rivendell.
Available when: We aren’t going to rush it, and if all of the details aren’t nailed, it plain won’t happen at all. Right now the most optimistic guess is Fall, 2010. I bet it won’t land till Spring 2011, though.”
One of the really inspiring and gratifying things to come out of overseeing the Rivendell Owner’s Bunch list has been watching folks find one another and set up local rides. The SoCal Rivendell Riders have seemed particularly adept at gathering up and down the SoCal coast - I think they managed 12 or 14 monthly rides to date. I keep hoping to schedule a visit to my sister at an opportune time, so I can attend one of these rambles. Ok, there’s a resolution for the new year.
Up here in the SF Bay Area, we are perhaps a more clannish bunch, as those types of Riv-oriented get-togethers have not occurred with the same frequency. Though, given the geographics of region, maybe you are more likely just to run into another while out and about. (Granted, I did miss the ride back in October).
So, when SCRR riders Esteban and Aaron announced they’d be up in the region around the New Year, making the ride became a high priority. Couldn’t swing the mid-week ride, but cleared myself the Saturday just fine, which is why I found myself muttering minor curses at 8 am or so, realizing I’d left about 10 minutes late after a few last scattered tasks at the house.
All was not lost, however, as JimG checked back in via communicator to let me know that most folks had really just gathered, and one of the riders had to deal with a flat. When I rolled up to the Strauss statue at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge, it was pretty evident which group was mine.
Wool, steel, lugs, tweed, canvas, twined bits and big ol’ road tires. These were my people.
It was a fine group of six - Esteban and Aaron up from the southland, regular ride-buddy JimG, ZugsterBags Adam and Bradley on a Quickbeam and me on mine - evenly split between coastable many-geared bikes and those with proper drivetrains. Rivendell bikes held a slight majority, with a pair of Romulii (Aaron and Esteban) and two orange Ents (me and Bradley) versus a Kogswell P/R700 (JimG) and the Box Dog Bikes Pelican (Adam). Another statistical impossibility played out as there were actually three Zugster Rando Bags represented on one ride - a beatable record, but still pretty danged impressive. (Which made me very happy to have spent a few moments remounting mine before the ride.)
We introduced ourselves around, oohed and ahhed over one another’s bikes, and then headed north over the bridge. Fell into an easy rhythm with JimG, and we realized we’d not ridden together in waaaaaaay too long. In fact, I think there some rumors flitting about the tubernets that we were, in fact, the same person. While there has certainly been a preponderance of Jims about, it’s important to quell such rumors with periodic public appearances.
I’d been enjoying a mild tailwind assist when zipping down toward the bridge, and now it was clear that we needed to push a bit to head north. Despite some happy talk on the forecast to the contrary, the weather had not yet cooperated, and things remained resolutely overcast as we dropped down into Sausalito. Still on Bridgeway, I managed to be looking at a car edging in us, rather than the gang ahead of me at one point, and may have put a brake-lever-shaped bruise into Bradley’s buttock when I had to shoot into a slim gap as a traffic light caught us. Hopefully, he will someday see fit to forgive me…
The clouds dropped lower as he hit the Camino Alto climb, with visible mist in the air. The flat gremlins chose this moment to bite into Aaron’s front tire again, and he was again forced to change tubes. At first he took this as a sign to head home, but we talked him out of it after taking a tube and patch kit count among the rest of us (more than some small bike shops). We hung out as the mist came down, watch a few packs of all-logo-all-the-time groups go upwards on the hill. Other than a single Pinarello tacked onto the back of one gang, they were all devotees of the Church of Carbonium. They also had Occultorotaphobia - fear of the covered wheel.
Back when were gathering at the statue, I’d asked Esteban if he knew what Latin was for “covered wheel.” He allowed as how though he was a professor, he was not a Latin professor, and the question remained unanswered (until I started writing this and looked it up). I nattered on for a while about the consistent parade of folks I’d seen on the way down who were fenderless, until it occurred to me that the only folks who where not running fenders our group were Esteban and Aaron. Since I didn’t want to be a flippant host, I tried to let the subject drop.
I think there are four main regions of fender culture in this country - (1) The Pacific Northwest, where fenders are assumed, and if you don’t have an extended fender with flap that scrapes the ground, no one will ride with you (2) Most of the rest of it, where if you want to roll out the door every day to ride with a minimum of fuss, fenders (or at least a fendered bike) is a good idea, (3) the SF Bay Area (and a goodly chunk of California), where fenders go on in November and off in March, and (4) SoCal, where fenders are simply not necessary. In short, Esteban and Aaron are totally off the hook with respect to need for fenders, which really do complicate things when trying to pack a bike for travel, anyways.
But, it cracks me up when I see local folks out on road rides, tattooing themselves with reverse skunk-stripes courtesy of the road grit flung upwards from their 23 mm tires. Mind you, I’ve done it myself many once upon a times, and there’s nothing like starting out into the rain and sensing that first feeling of damp cold seeping into the back of your shorts - a feeling you know will not leave until the ride ends. Of the many, many bikes that went past, a mere handful had even a spray guard, and I think only one (a mtb-ish Cannondale sporting drop bars heading south) had a proper rigged set of fenders. I mean, it wasn’t like the day had started out sunny or anything.
Aaron rejoined us and we pressed onwards. It was still holding air in Larkspur as we rolled past the Village Peddler, but by the time we made the left turn towards Shady Lane in Ross, he was running about half pressure. He took that as a further sign - unfortunately the old “third time’s not a charm” - peeled back towards Breaking Away Bicycles in Ross Commons, and bid us to continue on without him. This time we honored his wish.
We paused for a damp refueling at the Java Hut in Fairfax. One of the things I appreciate about riding in Marin County is the opportunity for glimpsing cycling royalty*, and in this case, Otis Guy was hanging out under the awning with a couple of friends, clearly having just finished off a ride. He commented a bit on our setups as we settled in and pounded down some calories and caffeine. White’s Hill and thickening fog beckoned to the west.
*It should be noted that said glimpses involve those folks actually riding their bikes.
As we hit the initial incline, “Oh-you-know-I-haven’t-really-been-riding” Adam rocketed forward on his fixed Pelican. At first it seemed he was going to leave us in the dust, but then he pulled over and set up for some excellent climbing images. My eyes crossed a bit as I tried to keep up with JimG and Esteban, who kindly pulled up near the summit for a regroup in the fog.
At this point, Bradley decided to head back to the City, as he had to connect with a friend. If I caught it right, it was his first time that far north of the GG Bridge, and hopefully I’ll see more of him on the roadways now and again.
Still maintaining drivetrain parity, we pressed on into San Geronimo Valley. Encouraged by gravity during the decline, I got that good feeling and pressed onward through towards Lagunitas. I don’t know if it’s having the White’s Hill behind us, but for some reason things often feel strong for me there. Esteban connected up, and we buzzed along, skirting sharp rocks and trash cans until the road narrowed before the turns began. We caucused briefly, and decided to stick to the pavement of Sir Francis Drake - probably one of the oldest stretches of oddly improved roadway left in the county - rather than veer onto the unpaved section of the Cross-Marin Trail. The old concrete of the road has been reconfigured and patched, but once inside Samuel P. Taylor Park boundaries, it remains an esoteric reminder of driving along the river in your 1947 Hudson. Depending upon the attitude of the autos, it can be a wee bit sketchy, but a fair amount of rain had fallen here on New Year’s Day, and things felt even more damp in this narrower and more wooded section. Rather than splatter mud over all of us unnecessarily, we went straight at Inkwells Bridge, did a little coffee shifting at SP Park and caught the paved section of the Cross Marin Path.
Here we were able to spread out a bit and chat, snap excellent photos of one another and enjoy the first inklings of sunlight we’d seen all day. We chugged our way up the soul-crushing incline to Bolinas Ridge and dropped down to Olema.
At this point, I must admit that I was becoming a little fixated on food. The Sirens on the rocks at Bovine Bakery sang so loudly that I neglected waiting at either the Ridge or at the stop sign in Olema. So, it was with some embarrassment that I realized no one else was near me on Highway One.
It felt good to stretch a bit at this point, but it did little but underscore my poor host-y-ness. Esteban, Adam and JimG rolled up, the latter not sure if we’d taken the Bear Valley Road option. Luckily, he’s ridden with me enough to know my beeline-to-Bovine tendancies, and had chosen wisely.
As we unsaddled and tethered our mounts in town, it suddenly dawned on me that the already seated rider who had said “Howdy” was indeed One Happy Cog. It was indeed a day for Flickr-interactions, as we’ve chatted and commented through that medium for a while. I’d met him once before, back at the Marin Century, and we enjoyed pizza, baked goods, real sunshine and each other’s company for a while. And of course, more bike-geeking, as he had ridden his Eddy Merckx, which we had to enjoy.
About the time we realized that we still had to ride back, Aaron suddenly appeared on the roadway. When he stopped in the bike shop back in Ross, he and the wrench went through the front tire with a dental pick and magnifying glass, removing all errant shards of glass before wrapping things up and sending him on his way. Reinvigorated, he decided to set off after us. Despite the fact it threw the balance back in favor of coastable, many-geared bicycles, it was great to see him again. We regrouped briefly at the public facilities and headed out, JimG going one way and me the other.
JimG’s routing proved to be the superior option, and we scaled the pitch out of town and grabbed the Pt. Reyes - Petaluma road for a while.
We cut back towards the Cross-Marin Trail again, enjoying the greening hills and rural landscapes. There have been enough rains to reinvigorate a bit of growth, without making things excessively sloppy. Once on the trail, opted to slog through the unpaved bits rather than duke it out with the vehicular traffic returning from the coast. The worst part was the first half mile or so, with sloppier mud and more leaves. As we continued onward, the terrain firmed up again and I realized why Aaron had caught up to us - the man could move his bike pretty danged well. We ended up on the Inkwells Bridge awaiting the rest of the gang. I was a little worried they’d hate me forever for dragging them (figuratively) through the muck, but there were mud-flecked smiles all around when the rest of the gang rolled up.
Back on the roadway, we retraced our path of earlier in the day. By now, the clouds had moved off, and the light played beautifully in the San Geronimo valley. Esteban, Aaron and I rolled along just fine for a while, and then I heard a couple of knocks from the pistons and they eased away.
It was definitely one of those “keep pedaling, things will get better” moments. Shifting up around on the saddle into the climb seemed to help a bit, and we regrouped again at the top of White’s Hill, collected the rest of the gang and then plunged downward. The descent can be a little hairy, but we timed it pretty well against the cars and everyone swooped back towards Fairfax. After a short mixup as to the whereabouts of Adam, we all gathered once again at the Java Hut, this time in the waning sunlight. Double-E’s all around (well, I think Adam had something more fluffy) and then I decided that it was late in the day enough for me to vector homeward rather than tagging along to the bridge once more. Adam had connected with his wife who was nearby and planned to take advantage of the conveyance.
JimG agreed to ferry them onward through the rapidly increasing dusk, and after a round of “Great riding with you’s”, we went our separate ways. By the time I hit home, I’d notched about 82 miles.
Now, that was a great way to greet the New Year. Here’s to MMX!
(Still having bloglogon issues at home, so this is a little tardy of a writeup - sorry for the delay. Perhaps it should be retitled “A Previous Weekend’s Fixed-Gear Get-Together”…)
Although we awoke today (12/7) to snow levels as low as 800′ or thereabouts, and I’m fretting tonight about my lemon tree and cymbidiums dealing with projected sub-freezing temps, it was certainly a fine weekend for riding.
Ron L. had been agitating for a fixed gear ride up in Marin, and since it is my home turf, I was looking forward to the opportunity. He picked last Saturday for the date, and announced it on the RBW group. It hit on a good (i.e. no classes or plans) weekend for me, and a few other list denizens answered in the affirmative as well.
I’d been feeling pretty good in the week leading up to the ride, and planned on honoring momentum if I could get up and out on time. I’d done a little tech tweaking, waxed up my Keven’s bag which had been awaiting it’s first use since I received it as a birthday gift and laid out the riding gear in order.
Things flowed well the next morning, and before I knew it, I’d slipped out the door into a brisk day and headed south to the meeting spot at the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a beautiful time of day to be out, with bright sun for most of the way. The only mishap was a bloated group ride which forgot to remember that the Mill Valley Bike Path was actually a two-way route. It’s important to remember that just because you are following a few wheels, not to turn off your brain. C’mon kids.. Y’see, if everyone fades slightly out to their left, then you end up spread across the pavement. Yeah. So. Anyway.
Rolled up to the meeting point at the south end of the GGBridge, and when I saw a Quickbeam on a double-legged kickstand, I knew I was in the right place. Said hey to Ray, and finally met Jim and Tom in person. Ron pulled up a few minutes later and we coalesced into a moving group. As I’d mentioned, the plan had been for a fixed-gear ride, but none of us was going to kick anyone out who wanted to attend. As it was, Ray was running his Quickbeam in coastable mode, and Mike showed up with a full array of gearing options, as well as one of those chain-bending-shifty things to help him choose between him.
Of course, the fact that Mike was running his multi-geared coastable setup on a repainted FUSO didn’t hurt a bit. That was really a fine looking ride. Actually, every bike on the this adventure was pretty gorgeous. Tom runs a “low-key” Della Santa that is just beautiful to behold, even under the plain-wrap paint choice. The-other-Jim had his Gazelle out for a run, and it has seen some miles, but wore it quite well. Of course, you probably know I’m biased about Quickbeams, and it was nice to have 2/3rds of the stock color spectrum represented. Ron rolled along on his Bilenky, which had a “bent” seat tube and curly chainstays. Between the metal work and the rich paint job, it was a stunner. The last rider (whose name I just totally drew a blank on…) had a Steve Rex track bike, which showed off the stunningly smooth fillet-brazed finish work that Rex is known for.
As we went across the bridge, the sea breezes bit in noticeably, and it was a hunker-down-until-the-warmth-builds-up period to be sure. Unfortunately, as we reached the north tower, the-other-Jim’s chain started acting up a bit. This continued to plague us as we dropped down into Sausalito, and we limped a bit until we decided to lose a link from his setup.
Rule One on a Fixed-Gear Ride: Always have a chain tool and at least 4 extra links to the chain you are running.
Luckily, I did have mine, and since we were shortening rather than replacing a bum link, it went smoothly.
At some point, though, we lost Ray. I mean, we didn’t try to ditch him or anything, but he’d gone ahead on a natural break while we were messing with the chain mid-Sausalito, and I thought he’d rejoined us when we finally paused to let Jim-who-I’m-gonna-hafta-give-an-initial-to flip into coastable mode. Then when we turned right at the end of the MV path towards Tiburon, I realized we only had 6 riders. Drat.
Ray-less, we continued onward towards the former rail-spur industrial port turned upscale bedroom community, planning to assault the Paradise drive loop in a counter-clockwise direction. This meant rolling down the Tiburon bike path, which was luckily pretty under-utilized, and then around towards Belvedere, entering downtown Tiburon via Ark Row.
At that point, the siren call of coffee and calories could be heard, so we stopped near the waterfront and refueled. For some reason, I missed the bread pudding that everyone else attacked. Not sure I’m a fan - can’t really recall every having any. As we got to know one another over sustenance, Ray rolled into view. He’d headed out Trestle Glen (the cutoff road mid-Paradise loop) and then backtracked towards the point, figuring that we’d cross paths.
However, our sloth on the road combined with gastronomic necessity meant that he’d had to go all the way down into town. Still, he was refreshed upon finding us, and joined us for some of the chatting and eating.
Now together, we gathered to go, taking time to poke and prod at a gentleman’s orange Bertin with fenders, rear rack, lights and chainguard. He showed up as we were enjoying his bicycle, and said it had been sitting under his house for the past 20 years. He’d just oiled it up and was really enjoying having it out again. I think he got a kick of our excitement at such a practical bicycle, and I’m kicking myself for not nabbing an image of it.
Once on the road again, the wind still had a bit of a bite, and as the group stretched a bit (the Rex track bike seemed to have some speed…) I ended up pulling off to the side and digging my wool gloves back out. Just couldn’t get my hands to warm up. Rejoining the ride, I came up on Ray and (I hereby dub thee) JimM. Ray was spinning out a bit, still running the smaller chainrings he’d rigged up for a planned camping tour. JimM was arguing with his gearing as well, only his was the other direction - I think he called it his “California Blvd” gear and it stacked a goodly 77″ against him, in coastable format.
I slugged along feeling pretty good. Just due to my schedule for the past few months, it had been a while since I’d ridden with other people. Our direction reminded me why I usually like to take Paradise loop in a clockwise direction - in addition to the swooping down into town bit that always reminds me of the finish to Milan-San Remo, there always seems to be some longer stretches of slight decline. I’m certain that the geometrically inclined among you have played ahead, and realized that means a slight incline when heading the other direction.
The faster kids waited for us to collect by Trestle Glen, and then we buzzed the banked 180 and tried to keep the momentum going for a while, finally getting caught up by the first traffic light since we’d left Tiburon.
You do come to appreciate traffic lights when you are riding fixed. After a steady and longish stint of action, not pedaling for a moment is a sublime pleasure.
Rolling up into Corte Madera, Ray and JimM were thinking about vectoring home via the Meadowsweet Dairy. Actually, they were going to roll up Meadowsweet Ave, which has a kinder, gentler grade than the anticipated climb over Camino Alto. At my suggestion, they stayed with us for a bit and I showed them the super-secret-local’s route over Chapman.
Now, our plan here was to enjoy the easier incline of Chapman, then regroup with the others at the summit. I’ve always thought that this alternate route was a bit longer than the traditional Camino Alto climb from the Corte Madera side of things, but thanks to the somewhat suspect mapping feature (the thing that catches my eye is the two “descents” that show up in the elevation profile - I’ve never been able to coast up that particular hill…) of Bikely.com, it seems to be exactly the same distance. Which meant that we figured the fast kids would reach the summit before us.
So, when we popped out into a few gathered groups (it’s a very popular spot for regrouping, for some reason) and saw a sea of coastable many-geared riders, we figured that the others had continued down the other side. We’d circled around a bit first, and tried to get a look down the road to see if anyone was climbing and cursing their way upward. Convinced that we were the laggards, we dropped our way down to the Mill Valley side. At this point, the route options were increasing slightly, so, nudged along by a slight tailwind, we decided to head for the bridge.
And a short while later, we all were standing back where we’d started. At this point, under significantly sunnier conditions. Ray noted that the flags above the parking lot were lying limp, which you can see by looking at the water in the background. Whatever else the Golden Gate of San Francisco is noted for, low winds and clear skies is not necessarily way up there on the list. (Of course, the fall/winter can be a lot nicer than summer months.) (Dang - I’m giving away all the local knowledge today…)
We dispersed shortly thereafter, JimM and I heading north (he had parked in the lot at the north end of the GG Bridge), and just as we picked up speed on the decline of the bridge, saw Ron, Tom, Michael and RexRider coming towards us. Hollering “hey”, we continued past one another. Definitely felt badly at getting separated, and I think I’ll need to work on being more specific about a meeti-up place, should we vector differently in the future.
A little more news on the St. Paul, MN stolen Rivendell Glorius which belongs to Grant Peterson’s daughter. It seems that it’s not a particularly good idea to surround and pounce on the first person you see riding one, especially if his name is “Karl” and it seems to fit him particularly well.
Or, if you don’t want to click through, here’s a version, slightly edited for brevity:
“But here’s a twist: We have a customer named Karl who has a red Glorious and also lives in St. Paul. I’m feeling bad now, because the seach for my daughter’s bike makes it hard for him to ride his. His name is Karl, and if you’re in the area and see a red Glorius ridden by a guy, and you call out “hey, Karl!” and he doesn’t say hi or something, maybe it’s the bad guy. Or, maybe Karl didn’t hear you. We’ve painted three or four red. Wouldn’t you know–two in Saint Paul. Karl hasn’t complained-in fact, he sent a sympathetic note—-but this makes it awkward for him to ride his…
Anyway, I want to thank everybody for their kind words and wishes. I can see straight, still. I know that this world and country has bigger problems than this, and in the big picture this is nothing.
Now…if you see Karl, don’t pounce on him! Thanks…”
Normally, I don’t post alerts for stuff out of my geographic area, but this one bit a little close to the bone - Grant Peterson’s daughter’s bike (and her friend’s bike) got heisted in St. Paul. Now, the Glorius is certainly a noticeable frame - even if they paint it over with roofing tar it would stick out - so if you live in that area, keep your eyes peeled and notify the proper authorities -
a daughter’s bike gets stolen, a dad a couple of thousand miles away
does what he can do to help get it back, and this is that. My
daughter is a student there, and her red Glorius (mixte) with cream
head tubes was stolen from a rusty fence (it was U-locked to it, and
they uprooted the fence-section) on Portland and Saratoga Aves.
Brooks saddle, Schwalbe Marathons…Albatross
bars…but basically, if you see a red Glorious around there, a 52,
that’s it. I don’t know how to go about getting it back, but I want to
do what I can, and Put the Word Out seems to be the extent of my
A reward, too. I buy bikes, too–they don’t come free
to me–and she rode the bike all last year and so far this year, and
she liked the bike a lot, and it’s just a bummer.
Keep an eye out for it. Maybe it’ll show up on eBay or Craigslist.
know, on one hand, it’s better that she lose her Glorius than maybe a
bike-poorer person. But she got attached to it, and she wants it back,
so I’m asking for help locating it. There will be a reward, sure. I
don’t know. Something.
The same day one of my daughter’s
roomates also got her bike stolen. It was a dark olive green All-Pro
(brand) non-mixte with upright bars, black saddle, white grips. Maybe
the same guys (sexist but statistically probable assumption) took it,
Anyway, it’s not tragic, but it is sad, and it is my
daughter and it is her friend, and I think we can all relate. Thanks
for any help. Grant
Had that realization last week as I rode home from work - it wasn’t that late and the sun wasn’t hitting the roadway any longer. Time to bring the aged NiteRider out of the closet and make sure that it still works. Then the other morning, as the dog and I worked our way around the block, came the breeze with a bit of bite. In other words, the first true breath of fall.
Which is not a bad thing, certainly. Despite the layers of HVAC climate-controlled workplaces and the fact we seem able to buy spring fruit year round, the seasons still manage to create the urgency that stems from far simpler times. The nights edge out a little longer and we realize what a gift warm sunlight actually is.
It also means that otherwise normal - ok, that may be a bit of a stretch - people are donning dresses and tearing around the trails in preparation for cyclocross season. This is as much a sign of the season as anything. Dried, brown grass, dust in the air and sparkly feathered boas… such is Fall in the SF Bay Area.
But, one of the cooler things manifested quickly yesterday on the RBW Owners Bunch List - a Rivendell and Friends Ride to take place on Sunday, October 18th. The specifics can be found here. Event: NorCal™ Rivendell Ride Date: Sunday, October 18
Start: Golden Gate bridge, south toll plaza lot Time: 9:00am Distance: 75 miles or so
Description: See the cue sheet and map, which contains an elevation profile. It’s an out-and-back, so if you don’t want to do the whole thing, it’s easy to turn back at any point. Nicely maintained gravel is an option for a small bit of this ride.
This, of course is taking place the day after the Lion of Fairfax, which it seems my schedule will allow this year. Yay! So, I plan on being good and sore for at least the beginning and end of the Rivendell Ride.
Well, things have continued to move along on that front, and while I’m cursing a schedule that prevents me from dropping everything and rushing over to the RBWHQ&L in Walnut Creek today (or tomorrow…) to see this bicycle model in person, Grant Peterson was kind enough to share some info. His words follow:
We got the first prototype Roadeo yesterday, and Mark built it up and rode it, likes it a lot. We’ll have something on the site on it tomorrow or Saturday, probably saturday… Here are some AFAQ:
1. Why does it look so unRivendellish? a. It IS steel, it IS lugged, it HAS a fork crown and a nice fork rake. You CAN fit a 35mm tire. It has longish (by race bike standards) chainstays, and a lowISH bottom bracket. It has a clamp-on front derailer. All quite in keeping with all of our bikes.
2. Threadless? a. Done it before, with the Legolas. The Roadeo will be available threaded or threadless, same price, your choice.
3. That price? a. $2,000 frame and fork. And we’ll have some package options—likely a club-rider-racerish package with a road double and SRAM brifters for around $4,200; and a country-ish version, probably with a triple….for $3,600. Specs to be determined, but one racey, one normal….with mixitup flexibility, whatever one likes.
3. Who makes it? a. ‘ford. (ed - that’d be “Waterford”)
4. Colors? a. white with red; white with blue; any color you like except white or cream, with cream.
5. Tubing? a. Mix of Reynolds 725 and TrueTemp OX Plat. As thin as I/Grant could stand to go. (0.65 butts in the tt and dt, with 0.45 bellies)
6. Frame weight? a. Well, man, the prototype frame here weighs 4lb 3oz, in a 55cm. Now, there are ways to trim another half pound off it, but not without getting super ridiculous. We’re shooting for 3.9999999999999xinfinity pounds, and think we can get there by trimming a lug, using a narrower crown, monkeying around with the chainstay brake bridge, possibly using a different bb shell and seat tube. But that’s it! Then it’ll weigh what it weighs, and it’s over.
7. Whole bike? a. as shown, 20.7. with four ounces off the frame, three off the fork (we can do this easily on a threadless), and something else, we can get it to 19.9999999999999 pounds with Jack Brown greens.
Some spec notes: The best brakes for it are the Tektro Bigmouth 57s. They’re super light, and allow 35mm+ tires, releasable without deflating. The photo shows a SRAM crank–Mark picked all the parts for it–but we may go with a D/A compact. It’s all up to Mark (I just designed the frame).
Geometry: Eventually the particulars will go onto our site, but I hate taking about decimal metric numbers as though the decimals matter and the numbers reveal the essence of the frame. I don’t like stubby chainstay even a little, but I don’t want my preference for 44.5+cm chainstays to smite this bike before it leaves the gates, and in the big pic 43/43/5 is plenty fine, and if it works for Mark, it’ll work for anybody. The rest of the numbers are right down the middle of our lane, with a slight Mark-’fluence, because Mark has that ‘fluence, and he knows. I may get a 59, so I jogged a little with the numbers for the 59, designing it just for me, but it’ll be fine for anybody who fits it. I think the bb is a few mm lower than the 57 and the 61—77 or 78 instead of 75. Not significant, but it’ll allow me the clearance I want with the fatties I’ll ride on it.
Who the bike is for: Club riders who weigh under 210l bs and who aren’t looking to load it up or ride it on trails. We have other bikes for that, and the Roadeo is for road riding with minimal gear. There are no rack eyelets (reinforces the message) but there are fender eyelets on the dropouts.
ANYBODY is welcome to come by and ride it, and we should have another prototype in a month or so. Maybe another Mark’s size, or maybe mine, not sure.
It is every bit as zippy as any road bike, and a lot more useful, comfy, safe…and lower priced than a lot of them..
Not much update yet on things - still haven’t really felt like pulling the bits off my bike to check things. Mostly this is because I’m trying to catch up on a less-than-productive work week last week, combined with the start of a couple of classes this week.
This “time” you speak of, she is an elusive creature, no?
But, there are some good things to report on the meat-bits front, I reckon. Last night, I could actually see folds at my knuckle when I straighten the finger out, so it seems like the swelling is going down a bit. I’ll spare you images this time around, as now it really just looks like a sewing project gone horribly awry. The doc is pretty sure that I sprained my Teres Minor, as I have some strength and motion in certain directions and pain in other specific angles. My neck is clicking and popping a bit, but in a good way so far - more dropping into better alignment as swelling reduces. Will probably get to see my chiropractor pretty soon since he won’t be working against the tissuue quite so much. Ice has continued to be my friend.
I’m really happy that the general antibiotic course is over with. That stuff was making me a bit dopey, which didn’t assist in the whole trying-to-work efforts of last week. Actually have had a few moments of sharpness this week, which never should be taken for granted.
Hopefully, the grumpy/funky mood of not riding will not infect me. The yoga (still very light and careful) is helping, certainly, but the “Not-Riding-Jim” is potentially a Kilkenny cat and so I’m watching him very carefully…
In nothing else, it would be nice to get a light ride in so I can change the beeriffic photo that has remained my most recent on Flickr since last week. Not quite sure what angle will be comfortable… Zeus with the moustache bars? Singlespeed mtb? Get the cables rigged on the Hilsen? Sounds like Saturday’s project.
Meanwhile, a pretty cool bicycle model (or two) has been announced by GP over at Rivendell Bicycle Works: The Roadeo. Announced first over on the RBW “Knothole” journal, he clarified and elaborated on some points after it kicked up two vigorous threads on the iBob list and over on the RBW Owners’ Bunch list. (While I’m thinking about it, do kids grow up reading about Bronco Nagurski anymore? Of course, I read a lot more about football players back then.)
The announcement is pretty exciting - having refined the larger clearance for bigger tire models with the Saluki/A. Homer Hilsen/Sam Hillborne, they created a model at the other end of the spectrum. The Rambouillet had previously been their “lighter” road model, but if you read through the description, it was always thought of as a versatile road bike that wanted to see trails and trickier topography. The limit really was brake reach, which got solved first through the use of a 650B tire size (Saluki/584) and then with the advent of the Silver Long Reach brakes (A. Homer Hilsen).
This meant that while the Rambouillet had a lot of attractive features and fans, it was in reality pretty close to the Hilsen - perhaps more change of emphasis than of the basic design.
But, a lot of folks have continued to ask for the Rambouillet and openly lament its disappearance from the Rivendell line. However, the Roadeo seems to offer a lot of the Rambouillet’s zippiness in a lighter framed model. It freakin’ sounds fast… (and you should just read through GP’s description, if you hadn’t by now.)
The other thing which gets mentioned in that post is a newer, leaner, meaner version of the Quickbeam. Which, if you haven’t figured out by now, is pretty much the bike I use for every type of riding. There’s something about that aesthetic of using a limited system to find a certain richness of experience.
Which, quite honestly, I’m looking forward to getting back to.
After peeling my muddy, soaked gear off and slipping into something at least dry, I wandered out to find the gang. JimG had brought brownies, and between those and a quick slug of strong and hot coffee from the thermos, I continued to feel pretty warm and upbeat. The folks up in Santa Rosa put on a right fine and homey show. At one tent, bags of free pretzels were in attendance. Others had food, beer and coffee offerings. Fundraising raffles and the BikeMonkey magazine folks. An exuberant marching band (the Hubbub Club) arrived to regale us with tunes. A couple of beautiful weimaraners and a puppy or two hung out, wondering both about all the complex smells about and the sanity of their owners for bringing them along on a sloppy day.
It felt like I was surfing a bit of the post-race elation, but as the capillaries began to constrict again, the cold and damp seeped in a little bit. After a quick facilities check, it seemed to make sense to sit for a spell and see if there was any reason to think that racing again was a good idea. I regained the motor vehicle, wrapped some jackets over myself and sipped my way through the Clif electrolyte beverage. When mixing it that morning, I realized that I had bought a “Hot Apple Cider” which the instructions specifically said was to be made hot - the implication of a glowingly warm drink being a friendly recharge. Ignoring those instructions, I had made it with cold water - it isn’t like I had a large enough thermos to maintain another hot beverage anyway. Still, it was pretty good, and the chemical compounds seemed to do their thing.
Somewhere out on the other side of the front windshield, the women’s wave went off. A few of the fast folks I recognized from the BASP races moved out to the front, the thickening mud making progress iffy and soiling the pink-and-flowereed Sheila Moon racing kits that were in attendance. Singlespeeds, A’s and B’s were all out in a 45 minute race. Whoever was off the front moved through the conditions with an amazing momentum and fluidity. But, her dark jersey quickly became mud-sodden, so by the time she went by, I couldn’t pick out any logos (and as of right now, they still haven’t posted results on the Bikemonkey.net site).
By this point, I had maybe an hour and half until the Old Guy Geared race at 2:30. I had two thoughts on the subject. One, I didn’t feel totally torched by the first race, and in fact had felt a little better towards the end of it. Two, I have a pathological dislike for racing/riding for less time than it takes to get to the race/ride. At this point, I’d gone for about 15 minutes less than it took to get there (well, if you discount the warm-up riding).
Stepping back out into the day, I made my way down to the signup tent, and inquired what one had to do if one was so idiotic as to want to take the organizers up on the offer to engage in the free second race. Unfortunately, the Human Services Officer was down at the beer tent, heckling the women’s racers, so there was no one to engage in an intervention. Thus, the sign-up folks were all too happy to give me a second number, and transfer my information to the next start sheet. At the same time, I met a fellow who was also older and multi-geared. We chatted a bit, and I mentioned that I’d done the singlespeed race earlier. He said, “Oh man, I did that earlier this season. It was a great workout, but it hurt! “
Somewhere behind me, there was the of sound a large and heavy door swing shut on rusted ancient hinges, closing with a resonant echo that dissolved into eerie silence.
Since commitment to a stupid idea is often key, I decided to change back into a more cycling-oriented attire before completely losing my nerve. Luckily, I had a backup set of dry clothes, so there was not the chilling sensation of damp and muddy chamois contact. About this time, it struck me that the C. Xavier Hilsen was shod with my older, much more worn set of tires. If any course conditions cried for every bit of tire surface area and knibbly bite-ability, this was it. Conditions continued to degrade visibly as the other race laps continued.
This was during the women’s race -
Hemming and hawing a bit, time suddenly seemed much shorter, and the reappearance of JimG was highly fortuitous. He dove into the task of swapping my muddy front tire from the Quickbeam over to the Hilsen. Quicker than I could hand him levers and a pump, the newer tread was in place, and there was pretty much nothing left to do but race.
I pedaled around a little bit, found a Honey Stinger Gu-analog in my pocket and fired that down for whatever good it might do. Then lined up in the wave of guys who were old enough to know better. Putting my foot down as we waited for instructions, it seemed to set very deeply into the mud. There was no longer any grass left to speak of. When I picked my foot up for a second, the attached mud made it appreciably heavier. Of course, once you are out there with a number pinned to your side, you have pretty much traded away any opportunity to slink unnoticed back to the car.
An electric guitar version of the star-spangled banner played, and then the young pup B’s headed out. A minute or so later, we dug in and saddled up. Things felt a little clunky at the start, and it seemed as though my swapped-in-from-the-MB1 WTB saddle was a trifle too high. Beginner’s error, but no time to mess with it.
Actually. Honestly. The “beginner’s error” in this race was bothering to bring a bike with gears. For the next 45 minutes or so, there was no chance of spinning out the Quickbeam, and although the C. X. Hilsen would’ve gotten jealous, I think it secretly would have been very happy to stay in the back of the dry vehicle. Plus, there would have been a few less surfaces to pile on mud.
I suppose for the first 15 minutes or so, things didn’t really feel that bad. Slipped, slid and slogged a bit, to be sure, but nothing really horrible. Then I noticed that the mud seemed to be packing up a bit. Then a bit more. The bike began to get noticeably heavy. Then my body began to get noticeably heavy. The bicycle had an excuse, as it was adding mud that I couldn’t manage to shed through momentum, the odd bunny hop or simply dropping the bike hard after shouldering it. The race became a bit of a slog.
They say when you’re head is down, you’re in a bit of trouble. In the above photo, you’ll notice that if my head were any further down, it would start going up. I must point out though, in this small sized image of Gino’s photo, it appears as though my eyes are closed too. They weren’t. I mean, it wasn’t that bad.
The course continued to dish out its challenges. The intended directional input seemed to matter less and less with each lap. Each time down the creek dip brought with it new and interesting explorations of geometry. I think I manged to stay upright most of the times, but it wasn’t pretty and the tangential angle began earlier each time. The runups were, well…runups. In the singlespeed race, I’d managed to pedal up some of the time, but now the power had seeped out of my legs and it became a game of trying to ride the momentum to the moment of inertial loss, then hop off and try to find some angle of toe entry or foot splaying that would generate something resembling grip.
I think I cursed once. Well, I know I did. But, I did apologize.
However low optimism set in the west, somewhere through the mud-soaked haze I could hear Gino and JimG yelling. At some point, Gino ran alongside for a while (well, let’s be honest here - he trotted… Ok…he at least walked briskly…) barking encouragement and snapping a few photos. I don’t think I thanked him enough afterwards - it was actually quite helpful.
The short stair runup became a weird thing to fear each lap, but the tactile sensation became quite loathesome. As it was the one place to be shouldering the bike, I would grab the downtube. Each time, there was a thick, cold hunk of mud which would form into my glove, creating one of those weird, finger imprint shapes that was popular on golf club handles for a while.
The announcer took up some of the heckling as well, as I would generally go by with few, if any competitors around. At one point, I guess he figured out this was my second race, and offered the observation that it must’ve seemed like a good idea at the time. Only, he again mined that for all the humor it was worth.
Yep. Like I didn’t think of that, myself.
Anyway, it eventually ended.
I pedaled off into the sunset following the guy I never quite caught, chatted with him for a little bit while my breathing normalized. Then the gang caught up to me and the documentation ensued.
That, my friends, is one muddy bike. I guess it kinda gives away the fact that I didn’t use the big ring too much during the race. But, it was over.
We hung for a while watching the A’s go past. The rain which I’d prayed for during my race finally came. I used up 8 or 10 water bottles to try to knock off enough mud to load it onto the roof rack. JimG was kind enough to offer the use of the shower at his hotel room. Gino was resourceful enough to notice a stray hose outside the same hotel and I got to play euro-trash bike racer and hose everything off near the front entrance.
We rested a bit, and then headed up to Healdsburg, where aside from a tippy table dropping a pint or so of someone elsee’s beer onto my lap, it continued to be a great evening. Bear Republic serves a great root beer and ale, some darned fine polenta and one of the zippiest concoctions of garlic fries you are likely to come across.
The company was off-the-charts great, and it was wonderful to cross the streams - introducing the Bay Areans and Chico Hooligans forged friendships which should continue to grow in future rides and outings.
Rumor has it that we may all head to the next CX Nats up in Bend, Oregon in December. Word. (Um… do the kids still say that?)
As mentioned here a few times, the Chico Hooligans had planned an offensive to the south, and showed up in force minus one for the Last CX Race of Last Season, put on last Saturday (2/14/09) in Santa Rosa by the enterprising folks at BikeMonkey.net. I hadn’t toed the line or thought about time and place based racing since BASP #4 back in November. (Scheduling conflicts had prevented a full-season attendance, causing me to miss the race at Coyote Point.) But, as any cross-junkie will tell you, once you start thinking about barriers, run ups and lap cards, the twitch sets in and you’ve gotta get your fix.
The good stuff, y’know - the uncut, pure cyclocross fix - always has some weather mixed in.
Oh sure, we had a little residual mud down at the Candlestick Park race. But, for the most part, the most pressing question about the weather was where to toss your arm warmers before your race, so you could find them again afterwards.
It started raining mid-week or so. Big, heavy drops with serious intent. Our sump pump kicked on for the first time in months, it seemed. Then, it just kind of kept raining. And (for us) it was a relatively cold rain - snow levels were said to be below 2,000 feet. Though we probably wouldn’t see flurries, it would certainly be damp.
Chico Gino had come across a Vanilla Singlespeed CX bike through an incredibly serendipitous chain of events. So, he had entered in the B Singlespeed division. I decided that would be a fun way to spend the day, so on Friday night, I swapped, flipped and stripped the Quickbeam, and made it ready to race. The Hilsen was still in C. Xavier Hilsen mode, and since the second race was free, I brought it along just in case I was stupid enough to do the Geared, Old-Guys race.
On race day, my wife was feeling a little less-than-perfect, not buoyed by the possibility of either (A) standing in the rain watching us race or (B) sitting in the car trying to stay warm. Against her strong protestations, I made her sit this one out and headed north with a loaded car. Which should explain the dearth of photos for this event.
It rained most of the way to the Sonoma county border, then cleared to a low cloud cover, with some heavy dark clouds still threatening to the west. I got to turn off my wipers, but the steady hiss of tires on wet pavement continued to the race venue - Doyle Park in Santa Rosa. I’d never been to that particular park before, arrived at the wrong parking lot, corrected and pulled off a ridiculously fine bit of parking karma to snag a place facing the course. Exiting the vehicle, an orange and metal-fendered bicycle eased along at the edge of my vision. This turned out to be Claire, Gino’s wife, who had ridden over from the hotel and was tracking down the rest of the gang. They appeared quickly, and I met Paul P., Roy and Renée, who had previously existed only in photos by reputation. Gino was there, and kindly allowed me to fondle and parking lot ride the Vanilla, which was even lighter than I’d imagined and ridiculously nimble-feeling.
Back on the Quickbeam, I plodded around the course to find and deconstruct the tricky bits, figured conditions would degrade quickly once tires began removing the sod, and opted for trying to get my heart rate up on the paved roads around the park.
Before too long, we all lined up on the squishy wet grass and awaited the start. As B Singlespeeders, we were looking at a 30 minute race, and had to wait for the Men’s C wave to start before they released us. Someone had observed that the lawn had no idea what was about to happen to it.
Then we were racin’!
Gino hit the gas, his BMX-roots still vibrant and fertile. I slip-slopped a bit on the grass before beginning to thread my way through all manner of Junior B’s and C’s that started with us. They routed us on a “follow-the-concrete” parade lap to begin, and within a minute or two, we came upon a herd of brake-squealing, momentum-killing, oh-we-have-to-ride-this? folks in the C’s.
Now, I bear no animosity towards the C’s. And it wasn’t like a title or a jersey was on the line. And, to be blunt, it wasn’t like I was going to win or anything. And it isn’t like I haven’t hit the brakes at an inopportune moment and heard the gasp of exasperation from a faster rider who had been behind me. But, there were obviously four relatively tricky bits on the course, and I had at least made a plan on what I wanted to do.
Just to break with the race narrative briefly, here is some unsolicited advice to any new or novice cross (or mtb) riders -
Y’know that “perfect” line you rode during your practice lap? (You did ride a practice lap or two, right?) It will not exist for you. Sure, it’s nice to have a sense of where you’d like to be, but for the first lap or so, you need to realize that every other person in your group wants to ride the exact same slice of topography in pretty much the same way. This will lead to everyone in front of you hitting their brakes, and, in the most egregious circumstances, standing stock still astride their bikes until they get their chance to ride “their” line. Now, remember, the course exists from tape to tape, not just the smoothed line that you rode earlier. So, when you come across a tricky bit during the early parts of the race, assume two things: (A) someone will be stopped and standing right in the middle of where you planned on riding, and (B) someone will have fallen and will be lying directly in your exit line. In fact, it’s probably best to assume that you will need to get through the section by following The Worst Line Imaginable. Therefore, when you engage in your practice lap, see what alternatives you can find.
Oh, and during the race, it’s ok to pick your bike up and run past people who are just standing there. As long as you don’t hit them, hook bars with them or yell at them.
Dropped in, scrambled up, brought a tree with me, detached it and remounted. Then we were into the “intestine” section - multiple right/left switchbacks among trees with incredibly short straights between - a course feature which I really hate to encounter on a singlespeed, when you are among geared riders, as they are twiddling in too low of a gear and you end doing a fair amount of half-stroke, half-stroke, half-stroke then trackstand work. This was exacerbated by the quickly degrading surface of the grass, which began to turn into a chili-type mud beneath our tires.
Still Gino was nearby -
and I thought I saw the white Rock Lobster singlespeed that Paul was riding.
We worked our way out of the intestines (?!), found the only serious straightaway which led across a couple of curbs and into a broader set of switchbacks in front of the announcer and the tents. To keep interest up, the announcer was openly heckling us, and seemed to be mining the “keep-both-hands-on-that-Vanilla!” vein at Gino to humorous effect. Another switchback in front of the crowd, two barriers (a little higher than most and built to what appeared to be Mil-Spec) and another switchback, and we were heading towards the creek.
Gino shot by the other way, a vision of momentum and grace. I fell in with another group picking its way to the creek area. Luckily this batch had a little better sense of purpose, and we brought some speed into the drop in, which curved left and immediately climbed back up.
Well, theoretically. I found myself on a slide-for-life on a tangent to my preferred route. Slid for a while on shoulder and hip toward the water, came to a stop, got untangled and scrambled up the muddy bank. Dropped in on the next dip, came upon a bottleneck as the narrow trail constricted to a narrower set of concrete stairs. This was thoughtfully covered in sand, and had a 3″ steel pipe as a handrail at hip height, so you bang against it to constrain any course deviation. The sand, as it turned out, was a feature for the next ten or fifteen yards or so, bringing one of the endearing features of Dutch cyclocross to our fair lands.
We arched around the playground, found the sand once more and then bumped up a curb and down off some concrete edge to the creek again, looped around and came up. At this point, I realized my bars had been tweaked by the unscheduled landing, so I hopped off and twisted them back. The Quickbeam began to wonder just what it had done to deserve this kind of treatment. Back on again, we hit brief pavement, then headed to the fourth creek dip, which had been the first tricky bit on the first lap.
From here on, it was back to the maddeningly-slow-intestine-bit, followed by the why-don’t-I-have-any-power straight section, then the yeah-just-keep-heckling-monkey-boy bit, the sloppy running-the-barriers-is-supremely-uncomfortable -but-for-some-reason-it-feels-better-than-pushing-pedals part, before repeating the creek dips. After the first lap or two, I was feeling pretty crappy. The mud was thickening and momentum was fleeting.
Then it started raining. Which you might think was a bad thing. But, you’d be wrong.
First, I’m one of those people that actually enjoys riding in the rain. Second, it made things wet rather than just gloopy, and the mud stopped sticking. In fact, it was downright refreshing.
As further support for the Kent Peterson mantra “Keep pedaling, it will get better”, I did. It did. And I commenced to start catching people. There was a Legolas guy out there, and I nicked by Paul (though I had to resort to making clanky derailleur sounds to fake him out), and some other folks. I did have to wonder how much some of those full suspension mountain bikes were starting to weigh by the last couple laps.
The C race leader caught me in the last curve, and so I got a free pass on the last lap. The fast kids like Gino had to finish theirs out. This was a cause for much rejoicing.
Gino finished shortly thereafter, just off the podium. Nicked by someone who went on to win her “A” singlespeed race.
The singlespeed force is strong in this one…
I spent a little time trying to knock the big chunks of muck off the Quickbeam, then sat for a spell. I don’t know if it was the new-to-me Clif electrolyte drink that I quaffed, or just the exuberance of escaping from a shorter race with fingers, toes and teeth attached, but, while the more sensible folks were donning warmer clothing and enjoying the ambience…
… an altogether much less clever idea was forming in my brain.
My bar tape finishing habits have been bothering me for some time. They began back in my Cinelli cork splash days (oh, come one… we all did it at least once…) when the “Cinelli-Cinelli-Cinelli…” finish wrap tape snapped (again!) just as I applied what should have been an appropriate amount of pressure. The electrician’s tape roll hung on a nail by the shared workbench, and I’d watched my sensei use it quickly and efficiently numerous times, while he would silently shake his head as I snapped my way through the stuff that came in the box. Since the final breakage of the C-tape meant it no longer even made one complete orbit of the bars, I reached for large black roll.
It worked quite quickly, and you could put a boatload of pressure on it. The resulting snap-back of the tape tightened things up even further. From that day forward, it was three and a half wraps of black electrician’s tape. No more tape popping and unravelling from the stem area.
More recently, it just started to seem cheap and tawdry. I’d notice the way it would catch the light and look wrinkled and scrunched. I’d see the adhesive residue creeping out from underneath, and spend more time cleaning up the bars to remove the gunk.
Recently, as the white bar wrap on the Quickbeam became increasingly dishwater grey, I felt it was time to move on. Back when the Hilsen arrived, Mark at Rivendell had finished off the cork wrap with an exceptional twining job:
In the year or so since I’ve had that bike, I’ve realized that you spend a fair amount of time with that general area in your field of vision. The care put into the twined and shellacked wrap tended to bring about a smile.
Honestly, I’ve been shying away from the whole shellac thing. Twining the bar tape seemed a bit like a simple gateway drug. Adding shellac just seemed to change people. It seemed that fine and normal folks would start there, then start wrapping and shellacking all manner of things. Which, in and of itself is fine. But, where do you draw the line? Clearly, I needed some boundries. Or, at least a safe word. Maybe a lacquer-buddy… My wife was starting to work with oil paints again, so we volunteered to watch out for each other.
The twine turned out to be the easy part (although RBW just mentioned that their source may discontinue the product). I just put it on the same order that brought a new chainring recently. Me and 385 feet of hemp twine, hanging out. Cool.
But shellac? Not so simple. Seemed like it should be easy enough to pick up at the chain hardware store near work. Well, only if I wanted a gallon. Or an aerosol spray can.
Nope. I figured that there could be little more dangerous than me armed with propellant-powered shallac. I recently recaulked the tub, using one of those clicky-gun-things. It was ugly. I mean, did you know that you had to pierce another seal after you clipped the tip off of the caulk module?
Local hardware store? No. Another local hardware store? They kept steering me over to the varnish display, and asking rather pointedly why varnish wouldn’t work better, especially since it came in a wide variety of colors and finishes. I think they knew about the hemp. Struck out at the big craft store, a model & hobby shop and Sears. I’d actually peeled the bars over the weekend, and was riding around with gloves and near-naked bars for these errands. It began to recall the recent theme of “Quest for Salmon Canti Kool-Stop Pads“…
Finally, I thought to hit up Marin Color Service - a contractor-oriented paint retailer who always seemed to have lots of cans of stuff on the shelves. A phone call confirmed they had it - both clear and amber - in sizes as small as a half pint.
Turns out they lied, of course. But not badly. I honestly hadn’t expected the clerk to wander out onto the floor the check that they had the smaller sizes, especially since they claimed to stock it, which at least meant they could probably order it. His answer had been so decisive that I hadn’t confirmed that they actually had clear in the little can. So, I had no one to blame but myself upon finding myself staring at a gallon of clear, and many varieties of the amber.
My plan had not been to start with the hard stuff. A clear sheen on some twine might mean wax or some sealant, but not necessarily shellac. The rich roasted color of the amber was a definite sign that I was using, similar to the Mentats. There was no turning back. They also gave me a free paint can opener.
So, it began.
Despite knocking the twine ball off its perch, chasing it across the floor and then figuring I had plenty of twine already pulled out only to find myself two wraps short (not enough tag end to do the nifty whip finish), things came together pretty well. I could put the kind of pressure on the turns that I’d only dreamed of with tape. The whip finish worked perfectly. The twine wraps were not specifically symmetrical, but close enough not to be offensive, while being different enough to be interesting.
Because it was Saturday, the weather silly-gorgeous and definitely time to ride, I neglected the shellac step before heading out onto the roads. But, last night, I broke out the cheap brush, spread a little paper and put a couple coats on the wrap. Here it is in this morning’s light:
In fact, it got me excited enough that I decided to re-coat Mark’s original twining job on the Hilsen. Since the working theory is that the C. Xavier Hilsen will be out on the course this coming weekend, I wanted it to look its best.
As I considered the bar tape, the fraying at the corners of the ramps worried me a bit. Once that works through, the unravelling begins. Granted, next on the work manifest was the stem replacement on the Hilsen, but in the meantime, I didn’t want to be trailing bar tape. And the shellac was open. And the brush was already dirty. And I knew it would help seal things a bit to resist the wear. And once I started, it looked pretty cool…
Um.. ok.. It may be time for an intervention. Maybe it’s something in the laquer. Once you get that brush in your hand, it’s really, really hard to stop. Let this be a lesson to you all.
Had heavy-duty classes on Friday and Saturday, plus a last-minute houseguest starting Thursday, in addition to regular work stuff. So, when the friend headed off to the airport on midday Sunday, my working plan had been a leisurly ride, enjoying the silly-warm weather and comparative lack of traffic. Something about a sports event causing the latter. I was suprised that so many people were going to stay in and watch the Cyclocross Worlds, but maybe there’s hope for us afterall.
But, I could tell Saturday night that the week had taken its toll a bit. Wasn’t exactly fighting something, but my voice was off and head a little loopy. When I reevaluated things on Sunday - or more precisely, when I asked myself whether I wanted to ride and didn’t bounce around the house like a dog who sees the leash get taken down - it just made sense to underdo things a bit. Another Anti-Costanza workout.
And there was some real pressure to knuckle down and clean up the bikes. Or, at least one bike. As I’ve mentioned before, my “workspace” is basically in the art room, so if it involves cleaning, degreasing and other nasty byproducts, it’s banished out back. With the weather we’ve been having (or more appropriately, “not having”) this winter, it’s been tough to trade away a ride for some scrubbing. In fact, I ‘d rather don the raingear and boots and do the cleaning in the rain.
But, the “to-do” list on the Quickbeam had grown to a lengthy list - nasty-noisy drivetrain, road gunk, the dirty-dishwater-won’t-clean-up anymore bar tap, a
little hop in both the front and back wheels, dry pedal bearings, dry
spots on the saddle, a little “tick” sound out of the headset every once in a while, that embarrassing rear-brake squeal. Oh sure, it still looked good in the sun, but wasn’t ready for its close-up.
I actually had been trying to do this for a while, as the brake pad issue was reasonably egregious. For some reason, it had been very important to replace the OEM Shimano pads with some Kool Stop Salmon compound. Even the half and half would’ve been OK. The first set was easy enough to find - a little pop into A Bicycle Odyssey after class. But, they’d only had one set, and since new canti pad installation is a dish best served in four courses, I needed another set. Should’ve put more weight on the suprise of the staff that they’d had it.
Five other shops had only the standard compound. Another had no smooth post canti pads at all. Another stop in the Sausalito shop brought news that the next shipment had not arrived. Luckily, they took the extra retail step, checked an upcoming order and confirmed that they were coming.
In the meantime, I exfoliated enough of the trail grit and lube goop from the chainring to see that things were ugly. One of the curses of a simple drivetrain is that you don’t really assume things are wearing like they do on many-geared setups. So, you don’t flip the chainring. And, I’ve been running the same chainring since February of 2006, when the Quickbeam arrived. As mentioned above, it had developed a grindy sound that was not really part of my singlespeed asthetic.
The drivetrain kept catching my eye as well. On the “Fixed Up” ride a few weeks earlier, the position of the rear wheel seemed rather far aft. It seemed that a stretched chain and ground down ring might have that effect.
Parts accumulated with a small package of bits from Rivendell, another trip to the shop, and a bit of rooting around the parts pile (actually down to my last 8 speed chain). The warm Sunday afternoon tipped the cow… wait. Is that a phrase?
First step was a quick eval - with the gearing set in the 40/14 fixed mode, the effective chainstay length was 45.7 cm’s. The chain measured - I kid you not - 12 1/4″ for 24 links. The 40T chainring looked like breakers at the beach.
Got drivetrain noise?
Things mostly chugged right along - everything got scrubbed and no anomolies appeared, new chainring setup easily, pads went on quickly, a little adhesive residue from the bar tape. The only thing that didn’t get addressed was that I couldn’t budge the freewheel so I’ll have to use a big bench vise at some point. When things went back together, the chainstay measurement came in at 44.9 cm’s. (Insert Roger Rabbit-y rubbery headshake sproing noise here.) Yeah, almost a centimeter is a change.
It got me wondering about dropping another link out of the chain. It might be interesting to experiment with a slightly shorter wheelbase. Of course I need to make sure that the 18T freewheel setup wouldn’t bottom out (or, technically “front” out) on the fork end. Food for thought. Project for another day.
Got things mostly wrapped up and stowed in time to shower and zip out to see “Slumdog Millionaire”. Which is brilliant.
The Quickbeam is much happier now. And ready for its close-up…
I’ve pondered about this in a couple of places, but so far haven’t heard too much from people - Been trying to block out a rough order and timeline of Rivendell bicycle models. This is basically what I’ve come up with:
Rivendell Road (1st model, pre-ordered by folks as Rivendell Bicycle Works was created) My recollection was that this one was a semi-custom/build tuned to order by Grant Rivendell Road Standard Rivendell Mountain/Expedition Rivendell Longlow Rivendell All Rounder Rivendell Cyclocross (not the Legolas) Heron Road Heron Touring Rivendell Rambouillet Rivendell Atlantis Rivendell Romulus/Redwood Rivendell Custom (true custom order) Rivendell Quickbeam Rivendell Saluki Rivendell Glorius/Wilbury Rivendell Legolas Rivendell Bleriot Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen Rivendell Bombadil Rivendell Sam Hillborne Rivendell Betty Foy
That’s pretty much all I can come up with - for some reason I’ve misplaced my CD of the first Rivendell Readers, so I can’t confirm from that right now. Any recollections would be appreciated. Thanks!