cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

December 2008
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Quick Calendar Update
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 6:56 pm

Just a quick to those folks who had ordered calendars:

Promptly after posting to the iBob and RBW list that the calendars were about to arrive (going as I was from the email updates from the printer), they disappeared from the shipping company’s website for two days, finally showing up yesterday.  (They were claiming “adverse weather conditions”).  I got a few out before the post office closed on Christmas Eve, and will get the balance out this weekend.  (Got a bunch all packed up to go out tomorrow morning, but have to run out to family commitments right now…)

Anyway - just wanted everyone to know that it’s happening, just a few days later than what I’d said.

Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Sam and Betty For a Too-Quick Twenty
Filed under: general, bike tech, rivendelica
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 6:06 pm

I was over in the East Bay on Monday, and found myself at Rivendell Bicycle Works Headquarters and Lair (RBWHQ&L) with a little extra time on my hands. They weren’t technically open, and everyone was bustling around with phone calls or bike builds.  Managed to touch base with Keven and John, and meet a couple of new staff members.

Grant finished a phone call and immediately ferried me out to the prototype Sam Hillborne which (I think) belongs to Jay. Before I could even recall my saddle height, he had it adjusted and was pushing me off down the alleyway. The bicycle itself is a “56″ in the New Money - it uses the new “Expanded” frame design that Grant pursued with the Bombadil.  There are fewer sizes in the run, but it uses an upsloping top tube and I think a few tricks in seat tube angle and chainstay length to create a pretty interesting frame.  (GP actually made a post to the RBW List with some specifics which can be found here.)   I’m not quite sure which size would be good for me - a 59/58 cm is appropriate in the Hilsen/Quickbeam which I have - but the 56 didn’t feel too big, to be sure.  Usually I run bars and saddle pretty level, so I would’ve dropped the bars down a bit if trying it for a longer run, but it worked fine where they were.

The Hillborne was decked out exactly in the photos below -

Except the saddle had been lowered for me. The bag was also empty (or nearly so).

Also, you can see the new Nigel Smythe Big Box bag.  I must say, that
is one capacious vessel.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve paid for storage
units smaller than that bag.

I rolled off for the inter-urban local route which let me try a few basic tests of handling.  A little short big-ring section, a short slalom downhill and then some slow-to-no-speed maneuvering. The bike felt pretty familiar, maintaining the position that I like from my other two bikes. This size uses the 700C/622 wheel size, so the comparison was pretty straight across. (And I’m sure the sharp-eyed among you noticed that the front brake canti posts had been built for a 650B/584 wheelset, hence the use of the Paul Motolite brakeset on the fork.) It also had the really confidence-inspiring aspect in handling. I’m sure a bit had to do with the Jack Brown tires, but for me, there’s a beautifully balanced feeling that has a lot to do with Grant’s positioning of the bottom bracket and how he positions the rider in relation to that. It’s a geometry that has worked for me, and it is right there in this new style of frameset.

I stomped around a bit more, and the bike seemed quite happy to oblige. Just a really nice riding bicycle, I’d say.

Came back up to where Grant was hanging out, and told him that I thought he was really onto something with the new frame design. He pointed out some choices he’d made in terms of the tubing which made a heckuva lotta sense. It’s an interesting beast, in that it’s really neither an Atlantis nor a Hilsen.  Rather, it takes some of the really strong features of each and puts them into a unique frame. As I poked at the frame and looked closer at the details (those threaded bosses behind the front brake posts are for lowrider rack attachment points), He vanished again into the RBWHQ&L catacombs and reappeared with a painted up Betty Foy.

Now, this Betty Foy, she is a true beauty. The light blue paint just made it look wonderful, with some touches of deep red contrasts on the fork crown.  This bicycle was set up with Albatross bars, barend shifters and used the 650B/584 wheelsize.  The frame design is similar to the Hillborne, but uses a drop-bar/mixte layout. Tastful lugs, to be sure.

We wandered off together and I enjoyed the calmer postion that the upright bars allowed. It handled and behaved equally peppy when asked to do so, to be sure.  I found myself just smiling and appreciating the neighborhood a little more. Finally, it occurred to me to actually document things a bit - so I snapped this quickie pencam photo -

Which absolutely does no justice whatsoever to a beautiful bike.

Then I got all cranky with myself for not taking any shots of the Hillborne. I just get so danged excited sometimes…

It was interesting to ride the two - both of which seemed to embody the versatility of the Rivendell designs.  They’ve really created a couple of familiar frames with some new tricks. As I was getting ready to go Grant mentioned that they’d have some more “testers” coming in right after the first of the year. Definitley going to have to call in sick and put in a longer spin on one of those.  I could see rigging up the Hillborne in any number of ways - mostly knobby “29er” style because I’ve been thinking in trail and cyclocross terms for the past couple of months.  And with Betty… hmmm… it may be time to sell off my wife’s Milano and get her onto a cooler ride.

Before leaving, I managed to score a fresh-out-of-the-box-and-not-even-on-the-website-yet (well, it’s there now, but wasn’t then…) Rainy Peak wool cap.  Fits my narrow 7 1/2 ish melon - not an easy trick.  It’s even in a nice deep burned orange so it matches (by no plan of mine) the cool “More Cowbell” Cyclofiend Cyclocross t-shirts. 

And it contrasts nicely with the “I’ve Got Downtube Shifters…And Know How To Use Them” t-shirt as shown below.

Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve, so I gotta get some other stuff done.  Be safe tonight and may tomorrow dawn with all the warmth of the season for you and those who are dear to you..

Catching Up and Bracing Oneself
Filed under: general, photos
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 2:34 am

It’s holiday time.  Of course, you probably realize I’m speaking of the Solstice, which means that after this evening, the days will get longer.  The lowest note on the double-bass with a low-C extension.  Time to start working our way back up the fingerboard.

It’s been a wacky few weeks.  Feels like a lot of stuff yet undone, even as some projects have come to fruition. It’s life.  It’s painting the bridge - a phrase I latched onto many solstices ago upon coming across the factoid that when the painters on the Golden Gate Bridge “finished”, it was time to go back to the beginning and start painting again.

Which sounds kind of depressing as I type it, but really was not meant that way. It’s more the yin-yang, cycle of/circle of life meaning.  That we don’t ever really get “done” done, regardless of how many discrete “things” we accomplish.

Hmmm… wasn’t where I was planning on going this morning. Must be the (WONDERFUL!) cold pie that I took home from Friday’s class (thanks Chuck!) combined with Peets Holiday Blend leading me astray. 

As I woke up this morning, the beginning of today’s rain pittered a couple of drops on my head while the dog and I sniffed at the morning air out back.  I tucked her back into a warm spot on the bed, then pressed coffee, nibbled at some email and restoked the woodstove. There’s really something about starting the day’s warmth from the dormant-seaming coals of the previous evening.

Got things crackling a bit and then headed out to find a Sunday newspaper.  Took the Zeus for a little wet-road-errand-love.  I’ve been too long off of that bicycle recently and it needed to get a little fresh air in its nostrils.  Meandered a bit on the way to the local Kwikee-Mart, enjoying the zikking sound of the soft 650B tires on wet pavement.  Big leaves are finally hitting the ground, very late this year after the long tease of warm and dry weather.

Finally I pulled around to the parking lot.  It’s not a large market, and there were only a couple of cars parked this early in the day. Dead center in the lot was a car with a rear window sticker advertising the owner’s personal training business.  They even had a personalized license plate on the car, with a cutsey message reinforcing the window sticker. They were also parked in the only disabled slot in the lot, with the appropriate red (temporary) disabled placard displayed on their rear view mirror.

Pulling a copy of the paper from the rack, I queued up behind the only other person in the store who could have been the personal trainer - dressed for it, appropriately coiffed and in noticeably good physical shape. Buying two large bottles of Mountain Dew and a pack of cinnamon gum. Health food with a good caffeine burst.

Of course, I should talk - jacked up on strong coffee and day-old pie. So, I didn’t talk, didn’t comment.  Just found myself sort of smiling at the odd contrasts and tiny incongruities that make up all of our lives.  Although I’ve held some odd jobs in my time, I never had to be cheery and upbeat and any kind of a physical role model to anyone for 8 - or even 4 hours straight. If it takes you 40 ounces of sickly sweet soda to do that, more power to you.

I mean, my legs were pretty clunky and sore from the previous day’s fixed trail riding. And after I eased my way home, I was planning on some serious baking (sticky bun batch #2, carrot bread, trial batch of vegan pumpkin spice muffins) rather than any serious bike mileage.

So, I headed home, smiling a bit as the rain became heavier, enjoying it on my face and hearing it thrum gently against my wool jacket. It’s the holidays, and the days are going to start getting longer now.

Happy Winter Solstice!

K-nees a-K-nocking
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 1:37 pm

It’s that time of year when I just wonder about crackling joints.  Um, no… not those kind.  Gave that up a loooong time ago.

I was out walking the dog about a half hour ago - roughly high noon (hmm…another spliff reference!) - when a gaggle of riders eased past.  Of the 6 folks out enjoying their lunchtime loop, three of them were bare-kneed. I could almost hear the cartilage crackling with each pedal stroke. Those three all had newer bikes and their hardware had that showroom shine rather than gritty patina of use.

My back porch thermo reads a definitive 50 degrees right now, and that’s on the warm side of the house.  Last night, all the neighbors and I were throwing old sheets and blankets over their more delicate trees and plants.  While it certainly isn’t snowing in these parts, it’s cold enough to protect oneself. 

Maybe it’s the bike shops, who sold these folks all the right gear back in June or July and didn’t mention that the knee is a bodily hinge worth really protecting. Maybe it’s some hesitation on the part of a newer riders, who already feel that tight cycling shorts are a bit iffy, and using leg warmers nudges them that much closer to a walk-on roll in “Flashdance 3 - Cyclists Uprising!”

But, I must say, when I first started rigging up a singlespeed bike, one of the more curmudgeonly mechanics said something about how all these people riding fixies were going to be limping around with destroyed knees in a couple years.   That was, what? … ten, eleven years back. 

One of the things I religiously have done over that time is to keep my knees warm. Oh, I’m sure that I have some lucky genetic construction (knock wood!), and I’ve ridden bikes which were set up correctly for me. However, keeping a thin layer of wool or lycra around those damn-lucky-to-have-made-it-through-high-school-football joints has got to have helped.  Warm tendons and connective tissues are happy parts.

So, today, when those riders angled towards me, and I saw the flash of unprotected kneecaps, leading into 50 degree ambient temperature, cooled by the effective windchill of 17 mph progress, aided further by the convection cooling of sweat off of that leading edge, I just shuddered.

Y’gotta take care of your parts.  Be good to yourself, folks.

The Third Design Arrives!
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 6:09 pm

Whoo-hoo!  Just as I’m about to run out the door to class tonight, my surfing screenprinter showed up with the revised image for the short sleeve T-shirt.

And so, may I present to you for the first time anywhere -

“I’ve Got Downtube Shifters…  …And I Know How To Use Them!”

Ready to send out right now…um, er…well, as soon as I get back from tonight’s class.

Order info in place over here - check it out!

1 comment
GGP A/Singlespeed Cyclocrossing and Apre-CX wear
Filed under: cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 7:10 pm

First off, in between classes and projects last weekend, I finally cobbled together a finished video from the Golden Gate Park cyclocross race which took place on November 30th.  This is the footage from the Men’s A and Singlespeed race, which ran at the same time. Runs about 4:25 and has some music and folks yelling, so don’t get caught if you are checking it from work.

Golden Gate Park Cyclocross - Men’s A & Singlespeed - 11/30/08 from Cyclofiend on Vimeo.

Now - once the racing is over, I’m sure someone such as yourself must be asking the following question:

“Ok, Jim.  I’ve duked it out on the course and had a grand old time, but now I’ve changed out of my racing kit and just don’t know what to wear.  I feel a little badly because all I have is my “One Cog - Zero Excuses” T-shirt, but - forgive me for I have lapsed - I raced a multi-gear rig in my division.  Is there anything you know that might be soft and comfy, yet have the graphic trendiness I so highly desire?”

In fact, I do -
The brand-new-from-my-surfin’-screenprinter Cyclocross “More Cowbell” T-shirt.

The color is slightly off in these first photos - the ink is definitely black on both images, and the shirt color is a deep burnt brownish-orange. If you are interested, I’ve got size mediums through 2XL available right now. There’s more detailed images to be found here.

$20 plus $5.25 for Priority Mail Shipping. These can be combined with a calendar for the same shipping price.
(The combined shipping will be calculated/corrected manually until I get these things integrated.)

You can order your shirt by clicking this button, or pop me an email if you want to pay by check or money order.

                            Please                             Select a Size


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Cross Racing At GGP - pt 1
Filed under: cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:27 am

Here’s the footage from the Men’s B 35+/45+ race.  Managed to stay on the winner’s lap this time, which was a moral, if not specific victory.  Also bumped into Morgan in real life, which was fun. Especially since I recognized him after he’d made an unsolicited complimentary comment on the C. Xavier Hilsen.

Cyclocross at Golden Gate Park - 11/30/08 - Men’s B 35+/45+ from Cyclofiend on Vimeo.

Music is by the Stairwell Sisters and then Ry Cooder/Manuel Galban. More video to follow - there’s footage from the Men’s A  and Singlespeed race which I’m going through now. Photos are already posted at flickr, though there will be some more added once they are sliced out of the video.

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