Sunday, May 24, 2009

Juicy Singletrack

Taking advantage of the decent weather and Memorial Day weekend, I took the Juice out for a ride on the Wabash trail.

Of course, being a 29'er mountain bike, it immediately gravitated to the singletrack horse trails paralleling the main trail. Since I'd never been on these trails (they're just a bit too technical for the Quickbeam), I took it easy...for a while.

The Wabash initially starts out flat and fast, for the first mile or two. The single track is also fairly flat and more easily navigable on that portion of the trail. I cranked my speed up a couple of notches and had a big bunch of fun bombing down those portions of the trail. I had no idea what was coming next.

However, after the first mile or two the grade increases, along with the technical trail difficulty. Did I mention I had my Schwalbe Big Apples mounted? Great for the rail trail, not so good on the the steeper portions of the singletrack. I'd get up a good head of steam, then hit a decently steep hill and spin out. I ended up walking the bike up a good portion of hills I might have been able to climb if I had my Panaracer all terrains mounted.

There were several areas where I'd have a narrow trail, a steep drop off immediately to one side, and a barbed wire fence on the other. Throw a few loose rocks, stumps, low hanging branches, roots, bark and adjacent trees in there and things begin to get a bit challenging. There are several bridges over creeks where the trail would actually take me down under the bridge and over a narrow footbridge. Some of the approaches were, say, closer to the vertical than the horizontal...if you catch my drift. I ended up getting off the bike and walking one or two of these, and felt fortunate I didn't end up on my ass in the creek. No way I was going to even attempt to ride through, especially with smooth tires.

I ended up riding a pretty good portion of the Lewis Central trailhead to Mineola run on the singletrack, hopped back onto the rail trail for the rest, and rode the rail trail all the way back to the trailhead. I didn't want to be out there until midnight!

These pics don't do the more technical parts of the singletrack justice, but it'll give you some idea. I took a shot of Juicy prior to walking it up the hill had to be there to appreciate the steepness.

Great ride, but not set up for serious climbing or descending.

To the left of the bike and the trees is the rail trail, a nice steep 20ft drop down. Track straight!

To the left, down...

To the right, barbed wire fence...

Under one of the rail trail bridges

One of the wider footbridges I had to cross...several were just a couple of planks laying across the creek


Thursday, May 21, 2009

A bit here, a piece there...

Put in an order with Harris Cyclery for a few parts:

1- Shimano 3N72 dynamo hub 36 hole
1-Busch & Müller Lumotec 170NDi Headlight with Standlight for Hub Generators
1-Busch & Müller Lumotec Handlebar clamp -Long
2-Paul Components Gino Light Mount
1-Lumotec Replacement bulbs, 2.4 w
1-Busch & Müller Lumotec 3 W Replacement Bulb

Can you kinda sorta see where this build is going?

I looked at Schmidt SON dynohubs, but one hub would have cost more than this entire pile of parts. The only disadvantage is that I can't run two headlights with the Shimano hub. And the SON hub is sure nice and shiny...I'm sure it's the bees knees of dynohubs but for nearly 3 times the price of the Shimano? I'm a bit more pragmatic than flashy.

I'm certainly looking forward to the long weekend, and a couple of nice rides on several nice bikes. :>)


Monday, May 18, 2009

Hello Bleriot!

After a bit of drama (FedEx, again!), the Bleriot frame has arrived. Apparently, FedEx doesn't understand the meaning of 'hold package'. However, an understanding wife and a bit of patience managed to save the day!

Basically, I camped out in the FedEx terminal until the truck returned from its run. Apparently, even though I'd called to place a hold on my package so I could pick it up after work, FedEx decided to leave it on the truck and ship it anyway. So when I got to the terminal for pickup, the truck was still out. If you've been reading my blog, you'll remember the exact same thing happened with my Ramby. My lovely wife suggested going out to dinner and returning later, and when we returned an hour later the truck was still out. I decided to wait in the terminal, the package finally arriving after a half-hour wait.

Did I mind waiting? Check this out...

Nice, huh? This might look a bit more like a bike frame...

A bit fuzzy, but this next pic is more in focus

Oh yeah, now that's the ticket! A nice silver, pewterish color. Beautiful frame!

A headbadge and a foot. That's not my foot by the way...the toes are too pretty

The downtube decal

And the seat tube decal!


Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Bleriot is close...

Just looked at FedEx tracking and saw my Bleriot frame is in Council Bluffs! I called FedEx to have them hold it at the terminal so I can pick the frame up tomorrow.

I've decided to go with an internal gear hub on this build. Since this frame has vertical drop outs I'll have to use a chain tensioner, but it's no big deal. Being a randonneur style build I'm going to use a dynamo hub in front as well, and a front rack with mounted headlight. Fenders for sure, and I've been lusting over hammered Honjos. I know they're not cheap, but they're beautiful and I can't resist bike jewelry!

I've joined our Corporate Commuter Challenge at work. So far this week, I've put in 81 commute miles (3 trips). The challenge ends mid-August, and my personal goal is 1000 total miles of riding. I figured that equates to about 2.5 trips per week between now and then...doable. I had to work yesterday :>( but it gave me a chance to ride :>) and since I hadn't ridden the Double Cross in some time I took it out. Nothing against the Quickie Blue Fixie, but I should remember to use this bike on commutes more often!

- D

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fenders Required!

Why am I posting twice in one day?

I saw this on BikeSnob NYC's blog and shamelssly ripped it off...

My sentiments exactly!


Bike to Work Week and adding to the stable..!

My blogging buddy Gravelo has been riding multiple bikes to work!

I'm not nearly that ambitious, but I did ride the Quickie Blue Fixie to work Monday. Unfortunately, the rain put the kibosh on my ride today. I know, I know...but I'm not THAT hardcore. Hopefully, I can pull off a ride tomorrow and maybe Thursday.

BTW, I picked up a pristine custom 61cm Bleriot frame on E-bay Sunday night :>) Oh, happy happy joy joy! Pretty excited because I've always wanted to do a 650B bike and here's my chance. I bought my Schwinns with the idea of converting one of them but they worked so well the way they were I just couldn't bring myself to tear them apart.

This will be Rivendell #3. Yesssss! (virtual fist pump)

This bike will be different, and I'm already formulating ideas on components and what I want to do with it. Definitely a randonneur style build, for sure. And I'll be taking my time, since it's not a winter project and I have plenty of other bikes to ride. Expect fat tires, and fenders :>)

So, at least temporarily, I'll be calling this blog "My Bleriot Build"


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The power of approximation

It's funny how you can make something mundane sound impressive by simply stretching the truth a bit. Not really a lie, but an exaggeration. And maybe not really an exaggeration at all, but simply a rounding or approximation.

As an example, I'll pass on a recent work 'watercooler' conversation I overheard.

Man1: So, did you bike to work this morning?
Man2: (Dressed in cycling gear) Ummmm, yeah...
Man1: Do you bike to work much?
Man2: Only on Friday, sometimes when the weather's nice.
Man1: So how far do you commute?
Man2: 20 miles, one way
Man1: Does it take long?
Man2: Oh, takes me about an hour.

This made me think about my commute. Total distance from the trailhead to my work is about 13.5 miles. I usually get to the trailhead a bit after 6 a.m., by the time I get the bike unloaded, bags on bike, and geared up I'm probably off by 6:10 or so. I crank out my ride, get to the parking garage, lock up the bike, unload my stuff and carry it to the gym. It's around 7:30 at that point. So taking into account gearing up, loading, unloading, and walking to the fitness center I'd say actual riding time takes 'about an hour'.

If I round mileage up, I could say my ride is 14 or even 15 miles. Or I could round time down and say my ride takes 50 minutes or so. Even then, I'm still only riding a 15 m.p.h. pace at best, fully loaded. So when I hear 'Man 2' telling his pal about his 20 m.p.h commuting pace it makes me wonder:

-Which direction was he coming from?
-Did he have a tailwind?
-Is his work commute all downhill?
-Are there no stop lights or stop signs? No crosswalks? No traffic?
-Was he towed? Did he hitch a ride part of the way?
-Does he have an electric motor assist on his bike? Gasoline engine? His 'bike' is really a Moped?
-Huge thighs and quads? Massive 53 x 11 gear? Low rolling resistance tires? Aero bars?

I mean, it's not inconceivable a casual cyclist could run a 20 m.p.h average into work. Let's see, yeeeah, I ride all the way from my house to Omaha every day. Yeeeaah, that's about 35 miles or so and yeeeeah, I can do this all in about an hour and a half..including my shower. Yeeeah, that's the ticket!

Sounds impressive, doesn't it? All it takes is a bit of approximation :>)


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ride Report: Just toolin' around

Jeez, I think I've blogged about nearly every route I've ridden around here.

It was a super nice day today. Sunny, 60's, low wind. The Quickie Blue Fixie has been getting the vast majority of ride time, since I nearly exclusively use it for my 'partial' commute, and early spring weather here has been cold, wet and generally crappy for the most part.

Time to break out the Quickbeam. It's been still for quite some time, since I didn't want to drag it out into the weather and I'm certainly not ready to use it for commuter trips. Pumped up the tires, and out the door!

Today it was North through Persia (gateway to the Loess Hills) and Porstmouth, east on 44 towards Harlan, turn South on county road through Tennant (favorite wide spot in the road), Shelby, then back West towards Minden. The run is flat through Portsmouth, the rest is rolling hills. Of course I detour on the Old Stone Arch Trail through Shelby, which is a nice diversion and I always stop at the end where I cross over a trestle bridge into a picnic area...good place to stop, rest, water up, and water the grass :>)

I did take a couple of pics of the Quickbeam, the bridge, etc. It's not like you haven't seen them before, plus I'm feeling a bit lazy and I haven't downloaded them off my phone. I did send them via airwaves and cell phone tower to my wife and daughter...hey guys, wish you were here. My kid always tells me "Nice bike, Dad!"

A few more horns than usual. Probably because it was a nice day, busier Saturday traffic as opposed to Sunday, and maybe I was moving a bit slower than usual. Most times, I do a pretty good job of pacing the traffic at highway speeds :>) I always give honking drivers a big wave, and yes, I use all my fingers. Hah!

Got a bit of sun today, on my face and legs. Starting to work on that biker tan. You know, face, neck, arms from the wrists (riding gloves, you know) up to the sleeve, legs below the shorts and above the socks.

I've been trying to commute at least a couple of times a week. I'm usually on the trail all by myself in the morning. I've seen maybe one or two other bikes on the trail, more runners in the morning than bikers and usually across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Me and QBF are really familar now, still a great commuter bike...reliable, steady, no surprises.

Best to take advantage of the weather whilst it's nice. Get out and ride!

And now, for a brief musical interlude...