I am the Champions!

20 December 2011

Early in the year, I decided that I wanted to do more in 2011 than 2010. I also wanted to keep doing a lot of different kinds of riding and make the most of my bike collection. Hence my 5 grand goal – 1000 miles on 5 different bikes. One bike to look pretty and have hard to replace components, one to carry all sort of stuff, one bike to not have anything stolen off it, one to ride on anything, and a last bike to ride anything with a single gear.

Can you guess which is which (note: I snapped a frame this year)

Well I did it today. I am super proud to make this happen and possibly more on that later. More importantly, a New Years Eve day extravaganza of my favorite SF rides is in the works – likely culminating in a butter lap with my panniers full of beer (at least to start). Come join me.

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Five Grand in 2011

19 May 2011

In 2010, I owned 4 bikes. Through a bit of random luck and a last second push to get in a few miles before new years, I managed to ride over 800 miles on each of my bikes. I liked this a lot, and it largely happened on accident. I have 5 bikes now and decided I might as well try to ride at least 1,000 miles on each in 2011. Here’s how I’m doing:

The gray line is how much I should be riding if everything were consistent year round. Obviously, they’re not. I’m behind schedule for now, but the prime riding months are here. For the benefit of who ever reads this I’ll occasionally update my progress to enable proper heckling.

Heckle Away!


Oh my God, we’re all going to die

29 August 2009

This morning’s ride was a bit interesting. It all starts with the fact I left the bar at last call yesterday and woke up with around 7 because I left the shades drawn. Sleep deprived and dehydrated always a good start to the day.

Originally I had planned doing paradise loop, but I did not realize my own strength and snapped the cable to the front derailleur when it wasn’t shifting and I tried to “help” it along. So I decide to divert to headlands. Everything is fine, i get to the top of the climb no issues… It’s beautiful (also crap phone camera):

I start down the descent and get outside my comfort zone very quickly. Basically I’m not a fast descender anyway and the majesty of whether the delta brakes will fully function is still in the back of my mind. So I turn back and notice that the front brake is rubbing against the tire. Apparently in the 20 seconds down the steep way the brake had shifted its way down (something I had noticed during last ride and adjusted for before this one). I guess the shear of braking just pulls on it enough to get it to shift down. So I’ve got a cable to replace and an urgent need to make that front delta brake stay put.

Then the last bit of fun is my attempt to go through Lands End past the Legion of Honor to the cliff house, but the small road shown on google maps is part a road and part a gravel/dirt path. Road bikes (and me riding one) aren’t too fond of such things. I ended up cutting up on a path that led to the VA hospital and just giving up and heading home. Still managed 20-ish miles. Alright.


The Maiden Voyage

23 August 2009

As per the standard, the blog is prepetually behind. The G-star has been complete and ridable since mid-July. And what a beauty:

A close up of the chromed out drive train.

The first outing was to the July 19th Sunday streets in the mission, which was basically a cluster of people and riding a bike was almost impossible (although the caravan of Xtracycles transporting the portable dance party was pretty phenomenal). The second outing was a short loop around town to work, to show off the bike, and across the bridge.

The first proper ride was yesterday. I had originally planned to do a ride of the headlands loop and paradise loop, but when I ran into Danno and all the Mission Cycling folks waiting to depart at the bridge, and I was convinced to do their ride: SF to the Cheese Factory. About 80 miles all told.

I definitely wasn’t the fastest rider, but there weren’t too many climbs where I was the last to make it to the top. With that, a picture courtesy of Danno at the Cheese Factory:

Some nice vintage steel — an Eddie Merckx, a Colnago, and a Guerciotti. Steel is real. Beautiful.

Also, spandex:

Here’s the line of mission cyclers on our way back. I’m the jerk in the back without the cycling jersey and the backpack full of random tools in case something on the G-star decides to explode.


Enter Phil Wood

15 July 2009
Installing a bottom bracket is an interesting process of trial and error. It all comes down to aligning the chainline. The basic idea being you want to center the freewheel in the back with the crank in the front. It’s easy to measure the alignment of the freewheel in the back, so it’s just a matter of getting the crank to line up.
The Procedure:
  1. Screw on the bottom bracket cups and roughly center the bottom bracket
  2. Put the crank on
  3. Measure the chainline, if it’s all lined up, go to step 7
  4. If it’s not where it’s supposed to be, take the crank off
  5. Adjust the bottom bracket cups to improve the alignment
  6. Go back to step 2 and repeat
  7. Things are properly aligned, so measure how far the threads are exposed on each side
  8. Take it all apart
  9. Generously apply Loctite to threads of the BB cups.
  10. Thread it back in using the measurement from step 7 to get the alignment right.
  11. Pray to God that the Phil Wood logo lines up in the star cut out of the frame because that would look awesome
  12. Jump up and down in victory
  13. Attach the cranks
Rejoice:
Didn’t get a good picture until a bit later and a few more components were installed. Oops.
The italian frame adds an extra kink – both sides of the bottom bracket are threaded right-handed. As a result, the left side has a tendency to unscrew itself. Less than ideal if you find yourself on a long ride. Best you can do is crank it down during the install and put Loctite on the threads.

Making it yours…

13 July 2009

Why build bicycle wheels… Mostly pride, some necessity, but really mostly pride. When it comes down to it, why pay a professional to do it properly when you could screw it up yourself? Basically the motto of my life.

With lots of experience fixing a pair of finicky wheels on a bike kitchen salvaged bike (The Green Monster), eventually I decided it was time to just start from scratch. Which resulted in the first pair of wheels I (re)built. The result wasn’t great, but here’s my analogy: if even the greatest carpenter (Jesus) builds a house out of balsa wood, it’s probably still going to be pretty flimsy.

Learning to build wheels is pretty fun, if not challenging and infuriating at times. Sheldon Brown describes it all, although I’ve recently gotten my hands on Jobst Brandt’s “The Bicycle Wheel”, which is also a great reference. Between the two, lacing and building a “3-cross” wheel is a piece of cake. By piece of cake, I mean you will probably insert and remove the first and/or second rounds of spokes about 5 times until you actually do it the way it’s properly described.

Rear Wheel
Since the rear wheel will take the brunt of my brunt-filled bike riding, 3-cross makes the most sense, so I won’t go into details, other than to say – pretty:

Front Wheel
And with that, onto the fun, where all the real action is – up front. Here’s what we want the final product to look like:

Standard protocol is to start with trailing spokes on the right side of the bike. The only thing you really care about at this point is getting the oil port on the hub (opposite the logo) on the side opposite the valve hole. From what I understand, traditionally this is for pro cyclists that lube their hubs with a lighter oil when they have an important race or are trying to set best times. This alignment helps keep oil from dripping all over the valve hole.

That means you want to align the first round of spokes like so:

Where the two dots correspond to the valve stem and oil port. Or in real life

Now onto the trailing spokes on the opposite side

It took a few attempts to figure out the which spokes should be crossed, but with moments later

And the finished front wheel

(apologies for the contrast difference, but the flash really brings out the lacing pattern)

Tensioning and Truing
One of the many following aspects I didn’t do a particularly good job documenting… mostly because nothing too interesting happens. I can only stress, nothing will teach you how to true wheels better than having a useless pair that continuously needs truing. Beyond the advice in Sheldon’s article, I can’t say I have too many secrets on this. Possibly more on this if the wheels are really good or bad at staying in true.


The blog is back!

13 July 2009

The much delayed return of the blog. So much has happened undocumented…

  • Wheels have been trued
  • Stem and handlebars attached
  • Bottom bracket installed
  • Cranks tightened on
  • Shifters and derailleurs made functional
  • Crazy delta brakes bolted down and much later actually working

Oh the details to come…