cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

November 2005
« Oct   Dec »
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 12:12 pm

Since I’m on about every bicycle oriented mailing list that exists, it
didn’t suprise me that BuyCycling started sending me unrequested copies
of their magazine a few months back.  I must admit, upon receiving
editions like this in the mail, it was pretty easy to resist the
subscription come-on letter:

Until this last month’s edition.  Clearly they have identified the crux of
why I find cycling so compelling.  Such enticing imagery. 
Obviously, this is full of information and resources which I had not
considered before today.

Now, where did I put my checkbook?

Maybe if I hang onto them, I can put together a “flip-book” from the covers….

Grumps & Good-on-ya’s
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:08 am

Felt the sky getting a bit damp last night here in Nor-Cal, and sure enough the ground was wet enough to  be awakened by the sound of car tires spraying through puddles.  Wet enough that the big-eared dog (at right) didn’t really want to get soggy feet out back.  In short a perfect morning for a post-Thanksgiving ride on the cross bike.  But, the Poprad mocks me from the other room - crankless and waiting for the fine folks at Ritchey USA to decide that I wasn’t fibbing about them slipping and/or not lining up.  And, it’s been a couple weeks - well a bit more, actually, as they received it back on the 4th. I’ve been pressing my luck a bit by keeping the cross bike inside, as we’ve agreed upon a two-bikes-inside-the-house rule, unless I want to clear out the corner area and install another two-bike wall hook.

As the dog and I wander back into the house, I realize that the minor scale infestation on the back porch orchids has spread significantly across to a couple more plants - through my own laziness in not giving them the the superfine oil regimen.  Way out back, the weird and wacky weather has the cymbidiums popping out flower spikes already - I  guess having decided that the last rain we had a few weeks back was winter and the t-shirt and shorts warmth we’ve enjoyed means that spring had arrived. They are in for a rude and brutal shock when the real winter* hits.

*Yes.  I realize that Northern California does not get “real winters”, and I’m a bit embarrassed to even use that phrase in describing it.  But, it’s more of a “from the plant point of view”…

On the other side of the balance, I had reached the “giddit dun dammit” phase on the Zeus and it’s regained momentum nicely. Took a long lunch on Wednesday and wandered over to Mt Tam Bikes, where they kindly, quickly and cost-effectively installed the headset and fork crown race. The modeling enamal paint is not pretty, but at least it covers the worst of the rusted spots. The wrench was kind enough to ask what type of frame it actually was, as I still had all the decals masked and wrapped from when I’d planned on spraying it.

Got a good pre-Thanksgiving ride in on the singlespeed - having crawled up into the rafters to get one of my backup front wheels and re-rigged things. I don’t know where I got this - certainly I didn’t build it up - possibly someone just gave it to me. This is one I’ve never ridden, with a large diameter White Brothers hub lashed to an old Mavic 217 rim by purple nipples.  It was perfectly true, but there was loose “click” sound that came from the seam area. I poked a thin wrench up through one of the nipple holes and felt something slide slightly.  Then it was dead quiet.   I’m not sure if I convinced myself that it was stiffer, but the front end felt a tad different on the downhills.  Aside from that, I grunted and portaged my way up to the ridge, gave thanks that I could do that (and many other things that too often get taken for granted) and coursed through the trails before heading home to help cook.

More good - the western skies have blued up some, and although the clearing seems to be pushed by noticeable wind, it may dry up enough to squeeze in an after-lunch ride. Just need to avoid the parade of deal-chasing shoppers…

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Trailside Attitude Adjustment
Filed under: general, rides
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 7:18 pm

Had the singlespeed out on on Sunday.  Though normally I like to get off the trails by 10 or 11 am, things happened had happened slowly and I ended up beginning my ride about then. We’ve been enjoying ridiculously good weather recently and the warmth on my back felt great. Hit the trailhead and got the off-road muscles warmed up with a little around-the-campground loop. Started climbing and even though I felt a bit tired from a full commute week and road ride from Saturday, things felt pretty good.  Momentum blessed me and climbing continued well - until I kicked a thick stick directly up into my front wheel.  A quick “ping” and loose “clackity-clackity” made it pretty clear that I’d done damage. Sure enough, the spoke had been quickly severed at the threads and flopped loosely. Drat. Just what had I been paying attention to other than not riding over the end of that stick? 

Limped up to the next wide spot and general gathering place to find a threesome working on the the derailleur of one of their group - some shifting issue they seemed to have their collective wit around. We joked a little that this was the “shop” section of the trail.  I assessed the wobble of the front wheel (pretty much a full stop every revolution), tied down the loose spoke (which I certainly could have removed, but for some reason that didn’t occur to me - too used to popping drive-side spokes, I guess) and immediately rounded off the first nipple I tried to loosen.  Ok.  Drat again. Took a deep breath and made sure that I used the proper spoke tool on the trail widget, and seated it very carefully before loosening. The front wheel on the singlespeed (a rigid Bridgestone MB-1) hadn’t needed any type of serious stand work before, and I really didn’t know how fused everything had become.

Luckily, the  other nipples moved alright, and I found the right balance of slack tension to keep things in line. Backing of the adjuster on the brake lever and a quick adjustment of the brake pad put things good enough for flight and I headed onto the trail again.  Made me darned glad to still be running canti’s, and I don’t think v-brakes could have been so adaptable. Rolling upward, I mentally rescaled the planned ride - with the front wheel in less-than-stellar condition, it was not a day to attempt the more tortuous downhills.

Before too long, I ran up behind a group from the Trips for Kids outing - it provided an interesting insight as to a new rider’s perspective on trails and obstacles. I ended up between a few young riders, so I could hear their cries of success and horror as they rolled over rocks and irregular bits. It was fun to hear their disbelief at conquering various loose sections.  The speed was seriously glacial, and I found that it was really tricky to maintain stability at that velocity. It’s funny how you get used to a reasonably tenuous grip on the trails, and maintain control more by flow and correction than by steering and preparation.

Slipped by the rest of them as they collected at the next wide spot and enjoyed the rest of the trails network.  Backtracked here and there on some fireroads and rerode a couple sections of the narrow stuff.  Just concentrated on riding light and stomping when visibility allowed.  The trails felt good, and I actually felt like I had some power. So, despite the inauspicious beginning, it ended a wonderful warm late November ride.

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bikelist.org takes five
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 6:45 pm

When my email downloaded in seconds I figured something goofy was going on, and when no iBob posts appeared, that clinched it.

A quick visit to the bikelist.org search/archive page provided this info:

At about 9pm PST on 11/17/2005 the main bikelist.org email server and webserver had a catestrophic failure. I’m bringing it back online as fast as I can, but it may be a couple of days before things are online again. I’ll put updates on this page when I have them. At the current time I have no email access.

Friday 9:45am - It looks like we have not lost any data. I’m moving everything over to new disks now and recovering. The server is with me at work, so the earliest possible online time will be sometime this evening or tonight. -alex (running on 3.5 hours of sleep)

Friday 3:28pm - The motherboard won’t boot from IDE drives anymore. Buying a new machine this evening (hope not to blow the budget), good chance of being online tomorrow.

Friday 6:22pm - I think I figured out a solution without buying a new computer. Still looking at late tonight or tomorrow to be online.

alex wetmore (awetmore at gmail dot com, not reading it much)

It’s interesting to realize how much those lists and banter punctuate my day - no matter what drivel and such happens in work or elsewhere, the individuals and characters of the various bikelist.org lists help to take my mind out of the mundane and center it. 

It also helps to realize that alex wetmore runs the whole danged thing pretty much on his own, and without advertising tacked onto every post. So, I’d like to point out that this would be an excellent time to make a donation to help offset the costs (not to mention the time and effort spent). Unless it has changed, you should be able to paypal him a donation to alex@phred.org

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Wrath of the Post-Its©
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:21 pm

I need a better mnemonic system… As it is with such things, topics and thoughts occur to me when I’m working on, um, work. So, I fish out a Post-It© Note (or, is it Post-It Note©?) and jot down whatever little shard seems to have been chipped off the rapidly dulling flint of my brain. Luckily, I am not afraid to dispose of these jems. But, I still end up with several little one-liner notes, many of which don’t make quite that much sense when held up to the good light. Or maybe my chops are just too darned rusty to turn those things into something interesting to read.

Like last weekend, when the phrase “The Women Run on Sunday” occurred to me as I passed some early miles on the fixed through the more residential neighborhoods. I kept seeing all these women out at 7:30 or 8 am, striding along the roads and walkways. My brain conjured up some vision of men sleeping in, getting ready to watch the NFL games. Somehow that drive to keep themselves healthy as the bulk of my gender chose a more passive and snack-food oriented path struck me as a key example of what, in general makes most women smarter than most men. There were some further thoughts, but they got bogged down and deleted when I first tried to outline them in words. The whole thing still doesn’t really go anywhere, and I’m still not writing it with the clarity of the images I had then. Maybe that’s what keeps me writing.

This morning, as I realized the clocks had again jumped ahead by a half hour or so, hastening my exit, the idea “Regionalism is Good” got scrawled on the happy, yellow 3 inch square. It came from seeing the Wal*Mart Movie* over the weekend. It seems conspicuously trite now, but then again, it’s the sort of simple truth which warrants some inspection. When my wife and I travelled around the country a number of years back, we normally tried to find unique places for food, entertainment and what have you. It was reasonably hard back in the mid-90’s. The thing that frustrated and saddened us both was that most people seemed to like the consistency of the various fast-food spots, convenience stores and discount retailers. The exact how and why of that is beyond my brain tonight. Maybe there’s a metaphor in animal (and arguably royal) blood lines - how they tend to narrow over time and eventually bring out the best of inbreeding. If you are raising goats or dogs, it means they are reasonably susceptible to the certain maladies and diseases. What does it mean for a culture?

*“Wal*Mart - The High Cost of Low Prices” mini-review: Good film, with a bit of restatement of obvious facts - kind of like “Supersize Me” in that sense. I mean “fast food is bad for you” is about the equivilent of “large corporations really don’t care about you and will do everything they can to leverage their advantages of scale”. Unless you’ve been sucked in by the bouncing happy face

(..and let me digress for a second to say that from a marketing message POV, those are frigging perfect ads. Why? Because the image that you walk away with is that all the prices are always dropping. Compare that to a supermarket ad where they list potatoes at 5 pounds for 5 bucks and hope that the grocery store down the street doesn’t run 5 for $4. They sidestep the whole price issue on specific items entirely and have people coming in convinced they have the lowest price…)

and have ignored books, news reports and such, it’s hard to be suprised that such a large and discount oriented retailer would source cheaply, underpay employees and cut a wide swath. Nevertheless, it was stunning to hear specifics of using public-assistance programs as health care for their work force, for example. The whole film could’ve been trimmed a bit - it felt like there was some repetitions of things and interview sections which weren’t that sharp. But, a number of folks seemed genuinely suprised by the scope of their deeds. It does have the potential to shake people up enough that they may question their actions.

I gotta get to bed. There’s another Post-It© over here, but that one says “Saturday - Noon - Haircut”, so I’m pretty sure that’s not a writing topic…

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“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash…”
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 8:34 am

A couple of well-placed movie trailers have me now recalling Johnny Cash. It’s funny how if you hang out long enough, everything comes back around. When I was pretty young, the first non-nursery-rhyme LP’s which I had were “Johnny Cash Live at San Quentin” and “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison.” My friends had the Partridge Family Album and the Monkees. I don’t exactly recollect how this came to be, but one could argue that it put me on the path to reasonably non-mainstream musics. ...I'm Johnny CashI remember specifically one of my 7 or 8 year old friends telling me he didn’t want to listen to it anymore - didn’t like the “…I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die” imagery of “Folsom Prison Blues”. It was pretty wild stuff - Johnny Cash even cursed on the records - and I’m sure there was the excitement of getting away with something at that age.

But those songs which really never left my head - “Long Black Veil”, “Orange Blossom Special”, “Cocaine Blues”, “I Walk the Line” and of course “Boy Named Sue” all rattled around there for years - still burbling up as the occasional Head Music. If the pending movie doesn’t take too many dalliances from the truth, it will be interesting to see the legacy of the Man in Black passed on to a new generation.

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Cross Bike Minor Victories
Filed under: general, bike tech
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:37 pm

The quest for parts for the cross bike proceeded with frightening simplicity. Headed over to one of the county’s “real” shops - Sunshine Bicycles - and lo and behold, they had 1″ silver threaded spacers, a 1″ to 1 1/8″ shim that was tall enough and even manifested an actual Chris King top cap. In short, painfree. Not only that, but right next to the register, they had a couple of baskets of fresh baked goods for sale. I could smell the pumpkin muffin through the plastic wrap, but opted for a slightly higher caloric density brownie with walnuts. I’d skipped lunch, y’see.

Lugged Stem & Noodle BarsWith all parts in hand on Friday evening, I slid everything into place and just stood there, dumbly looking at an entirely different look for the front end of the Poprad. The slight sweep of the top seemed as perfect a fit as I could remember, and it finally lost the reasonbaly industrial look of the Titec stem. As I was getting ready to ride the next morning, the early light caught it, and created the clear thought that I really didn’t even want to put the brake levers back on. It was, in short, a thing of beauty.

The helpful person over at Sunshine had not known about the lugged stem, but did smile when I mentioned Nitto. “They make nice stuff,” he said. Yep, that they do.

Since the photo was taken, I’ve worked a bit of the the Flitz metal polish on the dull finish of the spacers. They still come nowhere near to the stem in terms of finish, but they at least give a more graduated appearance than they did here.

While all this was going on, I was flushing several years worth of grunge out of the Shimano 600 8 speed STI levers. Started with a bit of the Pedro’s, and created quite a nice little dark brown soup out of the runoff. It was still a little crinkly afterwards, so I may go back through with some more caustic spray.  I’ll probably need to lube it somehow, but want to use a reasonably dry and/or pinpoint application.  Might try some graphite goop I have hidden here somewhere. Definitely lack the nerve to dissassemble the buggers.

I also ended up trashing all of the cables and most of the housing. It seems that the most recent rag-doll toss put a few kinks into them, and it would be nice to start this bar and stem with fresh gear. Other than that, we’ll have to see what will occur with the crankset.

Friday’s Commute Head Tunes:
“Wilderness” Joy Division

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Dark Commutes, Spacers, Shims & Entropy
Filed under: general, rides, bike tech
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:16 pm

Rode home tonight in the first “full dark” commute.  I’d been cutting out early last week, and although  the lights were on, it was more dusky than dark.  Nothing horrifying to report - in fact it was one of those rides where you find youself bettering the speed of traffic while heading up hill.  The lack of light did make me think seriously about building up a generator hub lighting system. The  little cateye on the front is really a “visibility” light more than anything which can illuminate when you suddenly run out of streetlamps - which I suddenly remembered happens just when cresting the last hill and beginning to head down at a decent speed. Pretty danged dark all at once. I need to have something in the meantime - the old NiteRider is toast, but I do have some of the VistaLite stuff in the closet.  Better charge that up for tomorrow…

As I wait for the cranks to be passed through the innards of Ritchey, I’ve begun resetting the bars and stem on the Cross Bike.  Back in September, I’d received one of the lugged threadless stems from the fine folks at RBW and had them send me a noodle bar as well, which matched the width of the “ergo” Cinelli which had been used on the initial build.  I’d been wanting to get rid of the big honkin’ Titec stem which had been the only thing lying around when the build began.  Part of the problem was that it has a 1″ steerer (OK - I don’t think that is a problem, per se.  It just has effects now that the industry has decided I needed an inch and an eighth head tube diameter).  The lugged threadless stem was built for the larger diameter - which I’d kind  of forgotten until I pulled the old one out. Now I need to find some shim stock (or a shim kit) which will take up the 3 mm difference.  Since the height of the stem where it attaches to the steerer is shorter, I need some more spacers.  Everything I have in the parts bin is for the wider steerer tube on my mtb.  Of course, my headset cap won’t fit any longer either, as it is too narrow, and drops down into the center of the stem. Since the front end of the bike is getting classed up by stem (and more graceful curve of the bars), all of a sudden the black spacers I had originally used and the the black canti hanger look pretty wrong.

I do enjoy the process, but sometimes you just have to laugh at how the little details conspire against you…in this case it should be a much more direct fix than trying  to match the paint on the Zeus.

Kind of poked at the iBob list tonight after realizing I don’t have the parts I need, but couldn’t get too enthused at responding.  Everyone seems to be a bit cranky about onshore/offshore production and it just didn’t catch my interest.  Hope  those OT threads finally wind down. 

Commute Head Tunes:
“Sweet Emotion” version by Phish and Leo Kottke
“Regyption Strut” by Frank Zappa

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Weekend Spillage
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 2:16 pm

Couple of nice rides yesterday and today. On Saturday under cool but clearing skies, I rolled down over the GG Bridge and back on the fixed Panasonic and got an early spin on the CCamp trails this morning. Wind-driven mist at one end of the trails and intermittent sun poking through the fog at the other. Just enough dampness to keep dust from rising, and it was a curiously silent morning. Stopped a couple times and just held my breath. No gunshots from the bay, so it seemed a good day for the ducks as well.

I’ve been biting off sections of “The Dancing Chain” by Frank Berto. Of course, it has struck me as a trifle odd that I’m reading about the history of derailleurs while riding bicycles with either fixed gears or single speeds.

Got a chance to see “Good Night and Good Luck” last night. Well acted and nicely written. Journalists with integrity at a time when you actually got the impression they may have read Shakespeare.

11/5 Fixed Ride Head Tunes:
“Sky Pilot” The Animals (?)
(mostly on climbs…
how high can you fly? You’ll never (Never, NEVER) reach the sky…”)
“Taking Care of Business” Bachman Turner Overdrive
which kept sequeing into
“Fun, Fun, Fun (’til Daddy takes her T-Bird Away)” Beach Boys
and back again…
Oy. Finally the fatigue from the ride stripped everything away until I could only hear the slow martial snare drum from the serious end of some movie I can’t place (probably several…)
“tap - tap - tap - tap - tap - tap - taptaptap” (repeat).

and a few from the end of the week…

11/4 Commute Head Tunes:
Minutemen snippets

11/3 Commute Head Tunes:
“Surrender” Cheap Trick
“Cannonball” The Breeders
“Well You Needn’t” Thelonius Monk

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Cranks, Paint & Packaging
Filed under: general, bike tech
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:15 am

After a minimum of back-and-forth, the Cross Cranks came off the Poprad and are now headed back to Ritchey. Without extensive digression, the non-drive stripped out, was replaced under warranty and upon remounting, they either (a) slip slightly on the spindle or (b) don’t line up correctly. Ritchey Cross CranksEither way, the result is a set of cranks which are off by about 7 or 8 degrees. For some reason, the Poprad has had cursed cranks - two sets of Profile Carbon cranks cracking and now this. Nevertheless, confidence is high and the folks at Ritchey have seemed concerned. But, the naked bottom bracket spindle mocks me when I look at it. Now that my hip is feeling better, I’ve got no cross bike…

This week also marks the cessation of “quest for spray paint” on the Zeus 650B project. The frame & fork can be seen above. It seems that I’m now the proud owner of a vast palette of “not the right green” aerosol spray cans (also in the above photo), which aggravates me on two levels - first, having to buy them and second, not knowing what the heck to do with them now that I have them. After some talks with Ray at Hyper-Formance, he talked me out of buying “Campus Green” - a Schwinn Kandy color which looks remarkably like the Zeus green. It seems that if the guy trying to sell you something is doing his best to talk you out of it, it probably makes sense to listen. His short rap was that it would look crappy, no matter what. If I was going to pursue repainting, I was best off stripping the frame completely. So, I’m back to model store paint, and the resultant measles effect. In the movie “Day for Night”, there’s a telling quote where Francois Truffaut admits that there’s a point in every film where he just wants to finish it. That’s pretty much where I am now, and the paint was the hangup.

So, with the numerous cans of spray paint sitting on the shelf, I head down to the only bike shop that would be open at 8 pm (you figger it out…) to get a bottle of Pedro’s Bio Cleaner to get the gunk off of the Cross Cranks. Find myself shaking my head as the only way I can purchase it is either in an aerosol spray can or in a $20 blister packed “Cleaning Kit” which has a small bottle of Ice Wax (which I use) and big honking bottle of frame wax (which I don’t.) I’m half tempted to pop the blister pack, swap the spray can for the bottle and see if the UPC will scan up at the register. Does it make sense to have a “Bio” cleaner in an aerosol can? Why is it so tough to have a big bottle of the liquid? I don’t have anything back home that will work except maybe some Windex. Since I want to get the danged cranks shipped out ASAP, I give in, buy the danged spray cans and spend the rest of the evening outside muttering while cleaning.

Commute Head Tunes:
“My Generation” The Who
“Black Horse & the Cherry Tree”(?) K.T. Tunstall

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