Thursday, May 21, 2015

reasonable request

Seems like a reasonable request to me. At least they're not asking that we make all that stink.

From today's Oddman.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

getting better

Almost a month after my crash (I can't bring myself to call it an accident), I wrote that I couldn't do pushups, which are (were?) part of my morning exercise routine. The pain from the injury to my wrists and hands, (from putting my arms out to break my fall) made them impossible.

Well, at this point, if I use a folded towel as a pad, I can do some pushups. But with six weeks of pushup idleness, I could only do about 3/4 of my prior number earlier this week, and, even now, I'm only up to about 7/8 of what used to be my regular total. The saying goes, "If you don't use it, you lose it." I had no idea that it went that quickly.

(I wouldn't mind losing these couple-of-pounds I've put on over the past few months, either.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

rosenbach library images from bike to work day

Professor Jack L, husband of Laura OLPH, does the 21st century better than anyone I can think of: he uses Facebook more than anyone I know and is not too shabby with the occasional guitar lick, but he does not drive (and lives in suburban NJ!) and uses fountain pens almost exclusively. (And besides, his eponym, "Professor Jack L," has such a great rhythm that if you say it more than twice, you might wind up dancing to it.)

He sent me this link of images from the Rosenbach Library, which was posted for Bike to Work Day on May 15, which I completely missed.

I love the dandy-horse look, and the terrified grimace on the face of the rider; it would appear that disdain for cyclists is not a new phenomenon (no, of course it's not, and maybe I need to do a post about that, too).

There are other images at the link, mostly with similar early-19th-century irreverence, but also one of a staff member actually parking a bike after riding to work! (An anomaly, I know...)

I could imagine Professor Jack on a bike, but it would be one of those English three-speeds with the Sturmey-Archer hub, the graceful-but-not-gaudy lugs, and probably the odd pinstripe. A Brooks saddle, of course; one of the ornate ones with the springs...

... and he would need somewhere to actually GO on it, which is lacking in our drive-to-everywhere suburban sprawl.

Thanks for the forward, Professor.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

high points ride and nbbx no-drop ride

I didn't post yesterday due to domestic disturbances, undifferentiated type (yes, The Excellent Wife [TEW] and I are getting along fine, and no, you don't get any more info than that for now), so this post includes info about all the weekend rides.

Friday, I was off; I took the Krakow Monster to do some grocery shopping, and, in the evening, TEW asked about doing a canal towpath ride, so we did about 12 miles on the towpath. It was a lovely night, but the bugs in the air forced me to pay attention to my breathing in order to avoid inhaling some entomology.

So for Saturday: Tom H, who wrote the book about riding in New Jersey, is planning to do rides to hit all the highest points in every county in NJ. He's already done at least two of 'em, but this past Saturday's was the first one on which I could go. Tom invited me to do some extra miles from his home to the start (and it was a reasonable alternative to doing another century - it would have been my second in two weeks - with Laura OLPH). I missed some communications with Tom, but we got it together, and rode down to Bruno's bikes to the start.

... where we met a number of others, many of whom had also ridden in. Some of them I've not seen for a long time (Mary, Mike M, Herb, Jackie), and I spent some of the ride thinking about absent friends, and about keeping in contact, and how I don't do it very well and need to do more.

Now, this was theoretically a high-points ride, but the total elevation of both points together is probably less than 300 feet. So it was a flat ride. (My GPS is still dodgy; you can use the Garmin page for the elevation, and the RideWithGPS page for everything else.) We rode past the highest point in Ocean, and I completely missed it (although Laura said she saw a watershed sign), but we stopped at the Speedway a bit further on for the obligatory pictures.

We stopped at a Wawa, where I had another of those huge apple fritters, and I completely missed Snakehead Ed's hint that he wanted a piece (and after he's been so generous; I need to get my cranium away from the vicinity of my coccyx). But more pics, of course, including the bikes pic that's always one of my favorites:

There was either a 30% or 40% chance of rain, and we caught it after the stop. It was just enough to wet us and the roads, and dirty up our gear (I was wearing a long-sleeve layer under my jersey, and I was glad I had it). Rule 9 describes people who ride in bad weather, so I guess the honorific in the rule applies to us.

But then we got around to the Burlington high point, which we pass frequently. The house across the street has a windmill on the lawn, so Tom got us in front of that for his picture... but I got a picture from in the group:

and one of Tom taking the picture:

(How meta!)

And then back to Bruno's. Jim's got a bike-shop-and-candy-emporium (can you think of a better idea?), where we restored ourselves a bit.

Tom had been making noises about wanting someone to pull him home, and Laura was looking for a route to add enough miles to make her total over 100, so we rode together for some of the distance (but Tom no more needed someone to pull him home than he needs someone t ghost-write for him), and I went home to rest my poor legs and go out on a date with TEW.

Today was one of my friendly, no-drop rides for the New Brunswick Bike Exchange. Although there were 20-odd signed up on the Facebook page, we started out with seven, until John S left us at Amwell Road. As earlier, here's the Garmin link and the RideWithGPS link for the ride.

Ed thinks the route is dangerous, and it is. The first turn onto Plum Street is demanding, as are the turns onto and off of Middlebush Road and the exit from the Better World Market. But I like that the route starts from the Bike Exchange (we've left from Johnson Park and from Six Mile/Blackwells Mills, and each of these has detractions), and I like to stop at the Better World Market. The ride goes through some suburbia in Franklin, and then along both Bennett's Lane and Skillman Lane, where the speedsters can burn up some sugar while I'm keeping track of the folks in the back of the pack. Here's Dan just before Middlebush Road:

I like that one. Here's some of the others:

Here we are at Better World Market. There was some discussion about whether to buy lunch, and Ed got a pass-around size of gelato.

(Of COURSE there's a bikes picture.)

Nelson (in the very cool red-and-black argyle jersey) was a student in my recent bike maintenance course. He had a slight wobble in his head tube, which (it turned out) was caused by his steerer being cut just a little too long for the other parts of his headset setup. We were able to fix it by taking a spacer off my bike and using it to allow for the extra height we needed, so for a $1.00 part, I was able to maintain my reputation as a decent bike mechanic. Whew! (Besides, I got a box of odd spacers in the garage. What am I gonna do with 'em?)

Friday, May 15, 2015

geo-orbital electric bike wheel

I don't understand why I think this might be a good idea. I don't understand why I'm not ranting and raving against this thing.

According to this article on DigBoston.Com, these guys have developed a bike wheel that puts a motor and battery pack where the hub and spokes are on a standard front wheel. The tire and rim spin around what is essentially a huge hub.

It's supposed to get up to 25mph (which you can increase by pedaling), they expect a range (without pedaling) of 20 miles, it'll cost about $500... and it will quick-release into your existing 700c fork (and they're looking at making a 26-inch version that would fit into mountain bike frames). There is a one-time installation of a controller, but if you want your road bike back...

...says Burtov. 'When I want to bike for fun or exercise, I take the front wheel off, put my regular wheel back on, and in 30 seconds I get back my 100-percent manual bike.'

It doesn't require all-new hardware? And their they're* asking what I think is a reasonable price?

It might get more cyclists on the road, which, by making cycling more common, would make drivers more likely to look for cyclists (which would be a help to drivers as well as riders).

If you check out the video, you'll hear some blather about, "You could put anything in there." I suppose you could, but I hope they won't.

They're available for preorder now. No, I don't want one... but I wish them every success.

Thanks to Laura OLPH for the link.

*Edit May 17: D'OH!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I was looking at Dave Moulton's blog today (there's been a link over there on the right for ages), and noticed his links page. There were a few of the usual suspects there (BikeSnobNYC, Fat Cyclist [who's hardly fat anymore, eh?]), and I noticed a link called Retrogrouch.

Well, especially after one of my recent posts, I'm thinkin' I'm fairly retrogrouchy myself, so I checked it out. Of the first four posts I saw, three included a post on a hub making ludicrous (and ungrammatical) claims to increase efficiency, a eulogy on the passing of Jobst Brandt (one of the no-nonsense voices in the bike world; if you think I'm intolerant of new technology, you should read him.... he didn't think you needed more than a six-speed cassette), and a skewering of a theoretically-strong-but-poor-in-practice bottom-bracket technology from Campagnolo (let's face it: Campagnolo is a religion, not unlike Catholicism: people adhere to both for reasons beyond the demonstrable truth of either).

I'm smitten. I'm like a seventh-grader, wanting to pass a note asking, "Do you like me? Check YES or NO". I'm adding his link on the right, and I'm definitely goin' back to his blog.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

family needs

My wife's mother was admitted to ICU today. We are cutting short a planned trip to Canada, and may have to cancel entirely.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

damp, thoughtful century

Laura OLPH had planned to do a ride Sunday, and emailed a few of us about doing a ride to Belmar - either 100 miles from near her place, or about 85 miles from Mercer Park, or about 67 miles from Etra Park. But Sunday is Mother's Day, and it's also the day that The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I get together with The Excellent In-Laws to celebrate my birthday (earlier this month) and my brother-in-law's birthday (the next day; for one day each year we are the same age). Others, of course, had similar commitments, so Laura decided to move her ride from tomorrow to today.

Well, of course I was in for that, especially to prove that I could do it after my crash a few weeks ago. Every now and then, I feel the need to do a 100-mile ride, partly to prove I have it in me, and partly to remind myself that my real favorite distance to ride is about 60-65 miles. The day was predicted cloudy, with only 20% chance of rain (if there were a soundtrack to this blog, music of impending doom would be playing now).

Snakehead Ed and I met Laura at the start. Snakehead's pur 700x28 tires on his road bike; there is BARELY enough clearance for them; the picture below doesn't do justice to the closeness:

The tire rubs on the drive-side chainstay.  We had a discussion about possible fixes; I think the best is to tighten the non-drive-side spokes about a half a jottle, but Ed's reluctant to take a spoke wrench to the wheel.

So we left the start and headed to Mercer Park, at which we picked up Marco:

... and then to Etra, where Jeff X was waiting.

We took off into the fog, which became a mist... and before long, the rain that wasn't predicted was falling. I did fine until the first stop, in (I guess) Jackson:

Even (or perhaps especially) in the grey light, the colors on Laura's bike, Kermit, were poppin'.

But when we started up again after the stop, I was chilled and could not get warm; I kept my gearing down and my cadence up all the way to Belmar to get some body heat going. Ed and I shared a cheese steak sandwich, which was a risk: I was half afraid it would return for another appearance... but I was a bit warmer after the stop.

The obligatory all-of-the-bikes shot:

On the way back, Laura and I got to talking about somebody with whom we've both had disagreements; I thought he'd trolled one of our blogs, but he's been a lot of help to people since, and, although I still find him hard to take, I must admit he's not been as troublesome. I've had to think about how I deal with people like that - for example, at what point is my avoiding that person appropriate, and when does it become self-serving and cranky. (One of the advantages of a long ride like this is that it's good for time and focus for such meditations.)

And then about mile 67 or so, I got a flat. Through my rain-covered glasses,, I couldn't see it at first, but Laura caught the sound, and soon it was unmistakeable. Where I stopped, there was some poison ivy. I was grateful to the rest of the ride, especially Marco, who helped me avoid the poison ivy and change the tire. I had two bad bouts with poison ivy by the time I was 26 or so, and I'd rather not repeat the pleasure.

Later, Jeff passed me going up a hill as if I were stopped. He'd been an olympic hopeful, and is stronger and faster than I; I started to chase, but finally decided not to. I'm not good at this, but TEW helps to remind me that there are always going to be people who are faster than I, and they won't always be younger.

We kept going. We went by Etra, to drop off Jeff, and then by Mercer Park, before which Marco went off. And then I started feeling shaky. I'd been eating and drinking at the stops, but it felt like a sugar drop; I had the tremor that I associate wit that (although I almost always have some level of benign essential tremor these days). I had the last of a bag of maple jelly beans, which I had gotten from Cheryl M because they were too sweet for her. I have the sweet tooth of a four-year-old; I tried to eat 'em while I was riding, but I just couldn't. I found a stretch of road where I would be visible, pulled over, and finished 'em off. By the time Laura and Ed came back to me, I was ready to go.

There's some dispute about the results. My Garmin showed 101.6 miles, but Laura had about 104. Also, my average in the device, at 15.7, was almost a mile per hour lower than hers. As an experiment, I uploaded my results to both the Garmin site and to RideWithGPS. As you can see, the average on RideWithGPS corresponds with Laura's... but (as is often the case with that site) the elevation data is much higher than the Garmin site (I've heard that complaint from other riders). I've decided I'm going with the speed from the RideWithGPS site (since it's similar to Laura's), and the elevation on the Garmin site.

And for tomorrow, I'll be cleaning the road grime off my bike, my glasses, my bottles...

Friday, May 8, 2015

twitter spelling test

The Twitter Spelling Test

Not really fair, of course; I went to grammar school in the 1960's, when such stuff was actually taught.

Created by Oatmeal

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

links and homework for bike maintenance class april-may 2015

At the fourth session of my bike maintenance class, my students asked if I'd set up a page with links to the homeworks and sources. So, herewith (you can probably bookmark by right-clicking on the title above):

  • Sheldon Brown's main bicycle articles page, and his page of articles for new cyclists, which includes a link to his useful page on pain. Brown died in 2008, and his pages are kept up by a number of his friends and associates. Sheldon Brown was the authority on matters bike-related; if it was around before he died, he had useful stuff to say about it. He's been referred to as a "guru", and he deserved it.
  • Jim Langley's main page, his repair and maintenance page, and his bicycle-related tips and tricks page. His nearly-exhaustive page on noises, what they mean, and fixing them is hidden under "Basic Repairs and Procedures" on the maintenance page... but since there's now a link to it here, you won't need to remember that. D'OH! Langley also has great articles and links about bike culture; if you find yourself with time to kill, you could do worse that whiling away a few hours at his site. (Well, I, for one, do that, but normal people may want to spend time with their lives and families...)
  • Grant Peterson is the founder of Rivendell Bikes. I think he's completely lost his mind recently, but years ago he had lovely lugged bikes and frames for sale (they're still lovely... but, really, double top tubes? And NO standard road bikes?). His site is notable for two things: it's a good source for specialty parts, and for information about bikes and riding (all the bold links on that page link to collections of other articles). Over at BikeReader, Peterson has an article about Riding a Bike Forever, which all of you should read.... and reread, every time you think about buying a new bike. Peterson's book, Just Ride, is a screed about how bike racing has ruined bicycling for the rider who doesn't want to be a racer. It's worth reading (as is much of his stuff) just so you understand why you don't always agree with him (unless you do agree with him, of course...).
  • I didn't get a chance to assign it as regular homework, but you might want to check out Bike Snob NYC. He's rude, profane, opinionated, and entertaining.
There are also some vendors you should know about:
  • Bike Nashbar is owned by the same folks that run the Performance Bike site and stores. Nashbar sometimes has stuff at incredibly low prices, but you've got to comparison-shop. Nashbar has an excellent return policy, and has return- and factory-second stores. They don't always have a wide selection.
  • Jenson USA is probably where I spend most of my online money, partly because you get free shipping for a $50.00 order. They used to have stupid low prices on my favorite tires. Alas...
  • Universal Cycles. HUGE selection, decent prices.If they don't got it, you might not need it. (There are other huge vendors, but the search feature on the Universal site is the one I find most useful: results are broken down into categories, for example.)
There are others, of course, and, if you know exactly what you're looking for, Ebay can be your friend. Locally, I shop at Kim's. Mention my name to Dave or Benny, or the Latino guys in the back, Francisco and Vincencio.

Addendum 5/7: I promised I'd add the link to the spoke length calculator. (I buy most of my wheel parts from BikeHubStore.)

To my students: Thank you all for being in my first course. I'm writing this before I get your course evaluations back, so I may regret this last paragraph, but all of you have taught me about how to teach what I do; I'm sure I got at least as much out of having you all in class as you got from hearing me. I hope you'll keep in touch - perhaps you'll come to volunteer at the Bike Exchange!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

carbon wood bike: works as art, not as bike

I stumbled on this bike today, and I couldn't let it pass uncommented-upon.

From the article (with some spelling corrections, but otherwise I will not spare you the richness of the translation):

This bike comes from the idea of Daniele Quintaba, an Italian industrial design student, and his father, who is an expert wood craftsman.
   Their project for the Carbon Wood Bike combines an ancient material – wood – with a contemporary one – carbon fiber. This combination allows them to give the bike a smart looking design and at the same to make it lightweight and strong.
   The production is strictly artisanal and small scaled, no complex machines are used, only the manual ability of the artisan gives birth to these bikes – which weights is around 9 kilograms – by using ash and mahogany bent layers in combination with carbon fiber ones; as well as the handlebar and the saddle which are carved from a sandwich of that woods, the frame is very lightweight and strong.

First, no seat tube? There's gonna be flex in that open frame every pedal stroke.

Second, there's NO adjusting the height of that seatpost.

Third, just thinking about sitting on that saddle causes a pain in my taint.

It's a beautiful construction. It's a piece of art. But it's no more a bicycle than a ceremonial halberd is a useful weapon.

takin' the monster up coppermine

On yesterday's ride, we got to talking about hill riding; I was concerned about taking on hills with the Krakow Monster, since it has downtube friction shifters (Dave C, who's been around bikes for decades, said "What? You mean shifters?", reminding me that for decades, riders had been using friction shifters for all their riding), and another rider talked about wanting a light bike in the hills.

Discussions of bikes and weight make me irrational. So today, before breakfast, after forty-odd miles yesterday and bein' on my feet much of the rest of the day at the party, I took the Monster on this ride.

Some facts about the Monster:
  • It weighs 30.5 lbs., plus water bottles;
  • It has flat pedals, not "clipless";
  • It has downtube friction shifters, as noted;
  • The tires are 30mm, inflated 70psi front and 75psi rear.
With all that, today's ride compares favorably with this ride and this one on the Yellow Maserati, the "fast bike". No, not as fast, but the difference is as likely to be tiredness, no breakfast, and bigger, softer tires as it is to be bike weight.

So before you drop $3,500.00 or more to be faster on a new bike just because it's lighter*, be sure that you've taken care of some other stuff first:
  • Make sure you're in good physical shape;
  • Make sure your bike fits (you don't have to go to Hart's for a Guru fit, but everybody who's done it has been impressed with their results); and
  • Make sure you've honed your riding technique.
And don't expect me to be rational when you talk about lighter bikes. (grrrr.)

*The proper reason to buy a new bike, as far as I'm concerned, is "because you love it." 'Nuff said.