Monday, March 30, 2009

Two Thousand Hits

The hit counter today is at 2008.

2008 hits since last August. That equates to 251 hits per month, 57 hits per week, 8 hits per day...yeah, about 1 hit every 3 hours.

That seems alright. I mean, I never expected a huge readership (Hi Patrick! Hey, Gravel Dude :>)) but it's nice to see someone (or some search engine) is hitting my blog. I'm not super-intellectual, deep, controversial, funny, or even very interesting at times. I do try to be relevant and stay true to the subject at hand (bikes), but sometimes I tend to stray (The Gene Chizik debacle). That's fine, the occasional rant is expected. And I tend to use parenthesis, emoticons and ellipsis...(to an extreme) :>)

I suppose I could drop some key words into my blog so I could get more search engine hits. I figure "Rambouillet" would be a good one, at least for all the Rivendell fans out there. Maybe if I started dropping words and phrases like "American Idol", "Twitter", "Aristotlean foundations of left-Rastafarianism" ,"Obama", "bailout", "Madonna adoption", "recession", or "huge jugs" maybe I'd get more hits or at least a few lewd comments. Might spice things up a bit.

Right now, the bike thing is good enough. Plus, I've met several interesting folks through my blogging and posting and there's nothing wrong with that either.

Weather permitting, we should all get out and ride!

-Thanks! - D

Saturday, March 28, 2009

There are no words...

I listened to the radio 'skit' MP3 link on this blog...totally flabbergasted. The station is WJJO 94.1 FM, Madison Wisconsin

If you want to write or e-mail the station, here's a link to their website:

Here's a link to another blog with more contact information, including specific people and specific sponsors.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Dropped like a Leadville balloon

I received a letter from the nice folks who organize the Leadville 100. You know about the Leadville 100, right? Killer MTB race, Rocky Mountains, Leadville Colorado. The highest incorporated city in the U.S., somewhere around 10,000 or so feet in elevation. If you remember, I attempted to join in this insanity by putting in my application. Here's the reply:

It's a bit difficult to read here (my old flatbed scanner doesn't have the highest resolution), but when a letter starts out with "We sincerely apologize and deeply regret we were unable to accept your application..." then it's not too promising.

I didn't know whether to be disappointed or relieved.

After I sent in my application, I continued to do research on the race. Various blogs talked about altitude sickness, Diamox medication, month-long acclimation periods, not even being able to walk very far at that altitude without being winded, special diets, grueling training, extreme pain, rapidly changing weather, rotten terrain, rutted roads, rain, hypothermia, broken equipment, broken bones, blood...

Had I bitten off more than I could chew? Pedaling my wheezing, fat old ass 100 miles up the side of a mountain over 10,000 feet? And the weather here hasn't yet been conducive to a lot of training. Here we are at the end of March and it's still below freezing. Yeek.

Just as I had written this one off as a 'good try', I read the third paragraph:

We hope you will consider entering the awesome 50 mile "Silver Rush" on July 25. It's a tough, demanding and incredibly beautiful ride in Leadville's historic east side mining district. A silver bracelet awaits all finishers and will forever serve as proof of your athletic skill and testimony to your grit, guts, and determination that day.

50 miles, huh? That doesn't sound quite as daunting. Plus, they'll take entries up until the day before the race.

Welllll........maybe I oughta sleep on this one a bit.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A quick inventory

Someone asked me how many bikes I had the other day, and I had to pause a second.

When you don't remember how many bikes you have stuffed in your garage or rec room, it's time to take a quick inventory. My lovely wife says this means it's time to quit buying bikes.


Silly wife. So here goes the inventory:

Three Schwinns (lugged steel frame, lugged steel frame, and yes, lugged steel frame):

1 - 62 cm blue fixed gear, or the Quickie Blue Fixie. Late 70's frame, bullhorn bars, zip-tied clip on fenders, fake Pletscher rack, MKS touring pedals, German mirror, dirty, mud splattered beater. Just bought a bright new rechargeable light for commuting, and it's installed on this bike.

1-62 cm champagne colored (beige-ish) 1988 LeTour, which I call Pepe LeTour. 52-42 Biopace chainrings, wider range 6 speed cassette, downtube shifters, Suntour Blaze drivetrain components, Araya rims, Ruffy Tuffy 700x28 tires with barely enough clearance.

1 - 62 cm turquoise and white Tempo, late 80's or early 90's vintage, 52-42 Biopace chainrings, 7 speed 12 - 23 cassette, downtube shifters, Shimano 105 drivetrain components, mixed bag of hubs (Joytech in the front, not sure about the rear), different rims front and rear. 700 x 25 Conti Gatorskins for the tires, no room for fenders, a road bike fer sure.

Two Rivendells (all lugged steel, always will be):

1- 62 cm Rivendell Quickbeam, orange. Flip flip rear hub, currently set up for fixed gear. 40-32 Sugino double crank (yes, it could be considered a four-speed!), Nitto Noodle bars and stem, Brooks Honey Champion saddle, Nitto rear rack, fancy Soma taillight. Sugino hubs, Mavic Open Sport rims with 700 x 35 Panaracer Pasela Speedblend tires.

1-62 cm Rivendell Rambouillet, blue with white headtube. Bought the frame used and built this one up with Shimano Ultegra hubs, Sun CR18 36 spoke rims shorn with 700 x 28 Schwalbe Marathons. Sugino 50 x 39 crank, Shimano 12 - 27 rear cassette. Dura Ace front and rear derailers (Sheldon sp.) Silver downtube shifters, Shimano sidepull brakes. Nitto bars and stem, Ultegra headset. No fenders. No computer. No rack. Honey Champion Brooks saddle. Ugly blue bar tape which did not match the bike so I shellacked it amber, so now it's kind of a funky greenish-blue. Works for now.

Two Somas (both tigged steel)

1 - Soma Double Cross, 62 cm. Used to have a Giant OCR road bike, and had all the components stripped from it and installed on this frame. Went a bit wacky and had a Chris King headset and Phil Wood bottom bracket installed. All the road bike pieces, including STI shifters, bars, brakes, wheels, crank, cassette, etc were installed on this frame. Then I installed a Tubus Cargo Rack, Big Ass German-Made Taillight, and Soma fenders. It's kind of a bastard. I need to press it into multi-geared commuter service, once I get a battery mount for my new headlight.

1-Soma Juice MTB, 29'er. Built this bike from the frame up, and built the wheels from scratch. WTB LazerDisc rims, Shimano XT hubs, DT Swiss double-butted spokes (32 per). SRAM x7 drivetrain, trigger shifters. FSA Hollowtech crank. WTB seat, Easton seatpost and hi-rise Easton Monkey Bars. Two sets of tires...I started out with Panaracer All-Terrain MTB and recently switched to some nice smooth Schwalbe Big Apples for the pavement. Boing! Boing!

And One Bakfietsen... (not steel, aluminum)
Actually, this is my old Diamondback 26" wheeled mountain bike. I bought a Wald Wire basket for my wife's bike and she said it rattled too much, so I stuck it on this wretched, tortured piece. I use it for trips to the store for milk, eggs, and barley pops. I have beaten this thing to death.

That brings the total to eight, which doesn't include my lovely wife's Giant Hybrid. This bike is only ridden when the temps are between 75 - 80 degrees, no wind, flat short route. Maybe once or twice a year, usually on the Wabash, usually to the Mineola Steakhouse and back.

Don't forget a Giant OCR frame (also aluminum) hanging in the garage. I consider that maybe 1/2 bike, at most.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Turquoise Tempo

Yesterday was beautiful, so I pulled the Turquoise Tempo out of the stable and ran it through Persia, Portsmouth, Tennant, Shelby, then back to Minden.

One of my 'detours' on this trip is the Rock Island Old Stone Arch Nature Trail (that's a mouthful). See the link here:

At the end of the 4-ish mile trail is a bridge over a small creek, leading into a wooded area. There's a clearing with a picnic table including a 1/2 mile walking trail through the woods. I stopped here to take a few pics of yet another Schwinn in my stable.

Late 80's - early 90's vintage, 62 cm lugged steel frame, Shimano components (except for the Campy headset), 52-42 Biopace double chainrings, 7 speed 12 - 23 cassette, no clearance for fenders, arse punishing seat. This is definitely a road bike.

Got some 700x25 Gatorskins on this bike. Not super-skinny, but for my fat arse they're the minimum width I'd want to ride. I'm thinking about hub, wheel and drivetrain upgrades but everything works so well as is I've left it alone. The only concern I have is I've broken a spoke nipple on the rear (which I replaced, including the spoke), but the nipples appear to be aluminum. As I was truing the wheel I broke two others, which leads me to believe they're all brittle. So far, so good but I might need to replace rims, spokes, and upgrade to brass spoke nipples. The front and rear hubs appear to be in good shape.

This is a great ride, for nice sunny dry days. It's fun to get it out and zip along!


Friday, March 20, 2009

A Shameless Plug

Spring has sprung, along with numerous bike tours, rides, cruises, trips, commutes, shuttles, jumps, and stunts.

One of the rides I participate in each year is the Nebraska MS 150. It's a great ride, and it benefits a great cause.

So to all my reader(s) out there, I'd be happier than a pig in slop if you'd be interested in throwing a few bucks my way. How many bikes can I ride in two days?

Just click on this link, it's a piece o'cake:

Gotta credit card? Whip it out! Whip it out!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Inflated, but limp?

Put some new tires, tubes and rim tape on the QBF last night, and it was about time. Tires and tubes were old, crusty, and generally worn out. Rim tape was, well, electrical tape on the rear and recycled inner tube in the front. I'm surprised I got by this far with no flats at all.

As I was ordering the tires (Panaracer Pasela TourGuard 700x32), I found some QBike 'thorn resistant' tubes. According to the description, the tubes were slightly thicker in the tread area for enhanced puncture resistance.

When I first saw the boxes the tubes were packaged in, I thought there were two tubes in the box...this box was long and at least twice as large as I would normally expect. Maybe they sent me two extra tubes, a bonus!

Come to find out, there was actually only one tube in the box...a fat, thick one. The tube was so thick you couldn't roll it up, it had to be folded over and stuffed in. I picked up a tube and a tire and I'm almost certain the tube weighs more! I think I could actually inflate the tube, glue it to the rim (like a tubular tire), and ride on it.

Since I haven't yet ridden on them, I'm wondering how these stiff, thick tubes will affect the ride. Coupled with the hard, vintage, non-ergonomic Bontrager seat makes me think numbnuts!


Monday, March 9, 2009

Dirty Blue Fixie

Last week, I was able to pull of three whole days of good commuting (snow and mud notwithstanding).
I had to snap a few pics of QBF after my commuting adventure...she was looking a bit grimy.
One drivetrain, extra helping of mud please...

Crusty brake calipers. Are those aluminum shavings? I may need to clean these brake pads.

I cleaned the driveside seatstay enough to install this Cateye red blinkie light. I kept clipping these lights onto my seatbag, and kept losing them. So this one is 'permanently' attached.

My dual-headlight setup. Not super sophisticated, but it throws enough light for dark early morning commutes.

Why so dirty? Most of my ride is pavement, except for one small portion where the trail runs under the South Omaha Bridge Road. This part of the trail is not paved, and there's a huge amount of runoff through that underpass. This makes for a sticky, sloppy mess. Even though I walk the bike through it, I still pick up a huge amount of mud on my tires (and shoes). I'm still looking for a detour around this part of the trail...I can go around the overpass, but I still have to walk through mud and cross a busy road as well. Hopefully, the city has plans to pave or re-gravel this part of the trail.

In the meantime, I'll hope for warmer and drier days!


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Stuntin' the trail, ski-doo style

It IS March, isn't it?

Temp are going to hit the 50's for the next couple of days, then the weather turns south again for the weekend. Great opportunity for a couple of commutes, right?

That's what I thought this morning...and everything looked hunky dory at the trailhead. Hopped on QBF and bombed up the street, past the Lewis Central HS bus barn to the beginning of my trek. Since it had recently snowed a few inches over the weekend, I should have anticipated a little snow. However, we had a nice day yesterday and I figured that most of the snow would have melted off the trail.

I couldn't have BEEN more wrong.

A nice pile of snow awaited me as I started down the trail, a good 50 yard strip of halfway melted and refrozen goodness. This should have tipped me off...turn around, ride back to the truck, and drive in.

Didn't I talk about that good old American male DNA? Naaaah, this is nothin'. Piece of cake. I'll plow right through this stuff, it's just powder. This will only last for a bit, the rest of the trail must be clear. So I buckled up my machismo and soldiered on, supremely confident. Shit.

About every 50 yards, I ran into this crap. Piles of snow. Even better, it had melted and refrozen. White ice, black ice, blacktop, ice ridges, snow ridges, drifts, footprints, wheel tracks, all mixed together, alternating and weaving in a maddening mix of frozen precipitation. I was on the bike, I was wobbling on the bike, I was sliding on the bike, I was off the bike, I was pushing the bike, I was cursing the bike. I knew I was going to fall on my ass.

Actually, I was doing OK. Some parts of the trail had been plowed with what it looked like an ATV and a blade. In some spots, there was a nice 3 foot wide clear strip I could ride through. Other parts of the trail weren't so great. But where I couldn't ride, I'd get off and walk. I managed to get to the trail detour, which funnels off onto surface streets onto a mobile home park. The streets there had to be plowed and clear, right? I'd managed to get behind a school bus, alternately stopping and starting to pick up kids. As the school bus made it's final stop, I put a little backpressure on the pedals to slow down and whoooops, the rear wheel went right out from under me. I actually did fall on my ass, right behind a school bus full of kids. I quickly set myself and bike upright, expecting to see kids pointing and laughing. Luckily, they were all half-asleep and didn't notice me following them.

I crossed at the light and got back on trail. Of course, it was more of the same. Once I got through the park heading towards the casinos the trail was much better, and I managed to make it to work. I figured I was way late, but it was only 7:45..must be faster than I thought!

Hopefully, the return trip would be better. And it was...I like splashing through puddles!

:>) - Dwight

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lighter, faster, better?

Buycycling magazine is telling me I need a new bike this year. Preferably something in carbon, super light, hence super fast.

"Why You Need a New Bike This Year" the cover proclaims, below a carbon fiber wunderbike on the cover. Why indeed? "Bikes sure are expensive these days", grumps Mr. Crankypants with his 1988 Kestrel 4000 with white Shimano Sante components and quarter-zip Shaversport jersey. "Bikes are even better, Mr Curmudgeon Crankypants!" Buycycling rebuts. (p. 115, April 2009) Why, for a mere $5000 you could buy the new Tarmac Pro SL SRAM, featuring a lighter, stiffer sub 1000 gram FACT 10r full carbon frame with oversize BB30 bottom bracket and tapered steering tube with oversize headset bearing, a 20 speed SRAM Red/Force group and superlight Mavic Kysrium SL wheels, 150 grams lighter than seven years ago. And, Buycycling asserts that you can resort to ridicule while you drop Mr. Crankypants on your sub 15-lb rig "Hey, Kevin Costner called and he wants his jersey back!"

In other words, if you don't run out and buy the latest and greatest carbon fiber wunderbike you're an old fogey, a dinosaur, a loser. So if you don't podium, you're a pussy? Throw that nasty old heavy-metal Panasonic in the recycling bin, whip out your plastic and join the 21st century, for chrissake!

I have a little tale to tell.

I'm not a fantastic bike racer. Hell, I'm not a racer by any stretch of the imagination. I'm a fat- assed middle-aged touring/commuter cyclist. But when the gauntlet is thrown, you just have to crank it up a notch or two. It's in our DNA. You know, you're sitting at the red light in an old Chevelle and the pimply faced teenage guy in the hot little tuner sport import next to you revs his just gotta hit the gas.

There were a couple of nice days last week, which I took full advantage of by doing my pseudo-commute (drive some, ride some). I pulled out the Quickie Blue Fixie, the main commuter bike. You know the bike, old 70's vintage Schwinn frame, fixed gear, mismatched bald tires, clip on-fenders and knock off Pletscher rack. Add a lunch bag and 15 lbs of clothes, tools, lights, reflectors and miscellaneous gear in a Carradice Longflap bag and you get the general idea. Sign me up for the Tour!

I happened to be pedaling my way home from work when out of the corner of my eye I happened to notice a roadie. Not just someone out for a leisurely ride but someone who appeared to be out for some serious speed exercise, dressed in roadie clothes, riding a fast-fancy-carbon-looking roadie bike. Normally, someone like this might have just breezed by me, but he appeared to be pacing me. Now I don't move super fast, but I don't dawdle either. I could see him moving closer and he appeared to be reeling me in.

For some odd reason, that good old classic American male DNA kicked in. I jumped on the pedals and quickened my pace. OK, go ahead and pass me but you'll have to work for it. I figured he would overtake me and I glanced back to see him pumping away. I cranked and puffed away, buzzing through intersections I'd normally slow down for (of course, making sure they were clear of traffic), leaning a bit more in the turns, accelerating a bit harder out of them.

I may have surprised him a bit. Like I said, I'm not bike racer by any stretch of the imagination but I looked back and he wasn't nearly as close to me as he was before. I'd slow down for some turns and he'd pull in closer to me, but I'd hop back on the pedals and crank away and sure enough, he'd fall back some.

Maybe he was just playing with me, but I just kept hammering away. I knew at one point I'd have to stop for a crosswalk and a light, and there was absolutely no way I was going to blow through that one...I don't have a death wish! I figured he'd just burn past me and that would be that.

I stopped at the light and hit the crosswalk button, panting like a dog. I looked behind me expecting to see a blur zoom past me.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. No one behind me. When the light turned, I putted through the crosswalk and loped down the road. I figured my shadow would have caught up to me now but no sign of another cyclist behind me anywhere.

Most likely, he went off in another direction or he just stopped somewhere. But I'd like to think even with all the hot-rod super-light carbon cycling technology, some old guy on a rusty, muddy old Schwinn can still drop a guy on his fancy expensive carbon road bike.

As Lance once wrote, "It's not about the bike", it's about the motor. So keep on motorin' :>)