A Bike with Purpose

Fishing around the ‘net and took a bead on this baby:

bike_cb4No doubt she’s tricked out for some serious bidnis, but I think the rifle is an accessory.  Cogburn Cycles.

I was pretty impressed when I saw the “fishing bikes” on the Stony Creek trail a few years back with PVC tubes for poles and cat litter buckets to haul bait in and fresh fish out.  I wonder if anyone makes a “moose trailer.”

Ride Report: 04.06.14

We’re being teased with nice weather every few days, but any time on the bike must compete with yard work, house work, and all the other facets of life that suck up our time.

After a productive day of house cleaning, raking out flower beds, cutting up fallen limbs, and cleaning up in general; I managed to get out for a few miles around the neighborhood.  I’ve learned that if riding briskly my core will heat up in almost exactly ten minutes.  So once past the initial chill, I can pretty much tolerate the dropping temperatures in the evening.

The rest of the week calls for either rain or volleyball, but at least I’ll get some weight workouts in.

Misc. Miles – 2

Distance – 6.2 miles  2014 – 28.4

Ride Report: 03.31.14

The weather has just been a complete mess.  After a full day of heavy rain, we get a front moving through that starts with wind and ends up dumping an inch of slush on the ground.  Finally we get a taste of spring with some warm temps, and when the wind dies down a little after dark, I take to the street.

Because my legs are really out of shape, I held back and just tootled for a few miles on the LHT.  The bike is so smooth, it’s hard not to overdo it and take off; but I managed.

When I got back I tightened up the bolt on the Brooks a few turns which improved the ride even more.  The bike needs a good spring cleaning, some lube, and a lot of miles.

I just finished reading Fast Exercise by Michael Mosely.  He had a few specials on the BBC last year, and I got turned on to intermittant fasting.  This book, in very simple terms, focuses on HIT, or High Intensity Training as the answer for getting in shape fast without a great time committment.  We used to call this interval training, however he is saying that you can do a lot less and still experience the benefits.

My plan is to continue to cruise, basically to build both an aerobic and a strength base in my legs, as well as condition my bumm; and then work in some short interval training on the bike.  Over the winter I did really well sticking to the weight training, but truly miss not having my rowing machine any more.  I might look for a replacement for next year.

Distance: 6 miles  2014: 22

Ride Report: 03.10.14

Took the X bike on a short shake down ride last night after dark.  My legs are really weak, and getting back on the saddle is long overdue.

When I got back I spent some time trying to true the rear wheel, which has a very slight wobble.  It’s a little better, but the eventual solution was to just increase the gap for the rear brake.

You can really feel the “cush” of the big tires.  It’s fun.

Distance: 7.3 miles  2014: 16.0

Ready to Rock

wpid-20140308_170236.jpg

Experience has shown that when I find myself staring at a bike for inordinate periods, change is on the way.  The X bike had been getting the evil eye for some time.  While it had been outfitted as a fast tourer for the better part of two years, and proved a comfortable and spritely ride, she just wasn’t getting the miles on her that a bike should.  So focusing on the build, mentally assembling parts, imagining ride qualities, and potential uses; the process had begun.

 

First and foremost with ensuring that a bike gets ridden: comfort.  Right from the start there was going to be a switch to upright bars.  My experience with the LHT has been too good not to spread the love to this bike.  Trekking bars, Jones Loop bars, VO Crazy bars…they all got over-analyzed and priced, but I decided to play it safe with what I knew was working.  The Soma Oxfords came in at half the price of the Albatross, yet are almost identical in shape.  The cockpit is a little tighter, but the bars are also a tad lower, so I’m still stretched out some, and the initial impressions are good.wpid-20140308_170040.jpg

 

The Oxford bars meant I could duplicate the LHT both in the cockpit with accessory mounts, and with V brakes.  It took two tries, but these Tektros have better stopping power than the cantis.  Sooner or later another pair of Kool Stops will show up and the bike will stop on a dime.

 

It’s a mystery, but this bike had to have big tires.  I fought it, I truly did.  The Vittoria Randoneurs are great tires and I’ve been very pleased with their ride.  Maybe it was the snow and my pre-occupation with fat bikes this winter.  The 42c knobbies were on the Marin, which my wife never rides, and they were just crying out to go back on this frame and create a badass look while we bounce over potholes and finally have rubber appropriate for the Stony Creek trail or the fire roads in Micheaux.  Even before I had made up my mind on this, I removed the fenders and started researching front derailleurs.  It was just going to happen.

 

Still, in my head, I needed to define the bike. It needs to have purpose.  I need to be able to put it into a category so I can call it something.  The LHT is easy – it’s a touring bike that I happen to use for all types of rides.  But how does my Teutonic need for order out of chaos categorize a cyclocross frame with cruiser bars with knobby 29” tires?wpid-20140308_170012.jpg

 

Put a basket on it.  As impractical as the mix of parts so far has been, a Wald basket is incredibly practical.  More old school, but I have a true need to be able to carry a load of books, a DVD or two, and a jacket one or two days a week.  Too tight for a Carradice, but perfect for a Wald basket.  Suddenly, we have an errand bike.  No need for panniers, just throw it in the basket.  Bungees for now, a cargo net in the future.

 

I hated having the front rack on the back just to hold a light; this was karma.  The tail light is now elegantly mounted to a chainstay using some cobbled together clamps, and maybe someday will end up on a rear rack even though I wanted to limit the stable to only one tank.  My bikes just have a way of gaining weight.  The Cyo got moved from the fork to the bars, and the basket is secured using zip ties.

 

So ultimately, the X bike has morphed into a kind of Rural Assault/Errand/Trail machine that can be modified quickly to take on panniers for an Adventure Tourer or swap out to the Vittorias for longer day rides.  There certainly is some overlap with the LHT, but I think the result will be more riding, which is a good thing.

 

Hmmm…

Interesting how much our office in baskets resemble Wald bike baskets…wpid-20140228_105123.jpg

Done? (not really)

Last night I put the finishing touches on routing and securing the wiring for the lights on the X bike and took some satisfaction from the project being done.  Then I laughed at myself, realizing that since getting into bicycling again nearly 7 years ago, none of my bike projects are truly done.

It may amount to no more than a small adjustment, or it may be a major change like this one, but experience has proven that I never really ever finish working on a bike.  I’m just a gearhead, and I’m fickle about finding the perfect setup for any particular bike, and how that bike fits into my mental plan for all of the bikes, even if it’s only two at this point.

So while the “current phase” of work on the X bike has come to a close, there are still a few issues remaining that I’m pining over:

The big one is the tires.  I like the 32c Vittorias on it now, but I’m thinking I might like the 42c Kenda knobbies better.  It would completely change the character of the bike from a sporty street machine to a more versatile multi-surface/pothole proof ride.  The tire swap is not a big deal, but making them fit is.  While the frame has enough clearance, the front derailleur is a high clamp, top swing Deore 600 off an old Cannondale.  Great piece of kit, but that top swing arm rubs against the 42c tire when shifting to the big ring.

But I think if I try a low clamp triple FD, it will provide the clearance, but I’m not sure.  So my challenge is to find an inexpensive low clamp unit and see how it works.  If it does, then the punch sheet for this project suddenly appears and some more work is in order.

I also found a 22 tooth granny gear in the parts bin and made a quick swap, giving this bike the same ultra-low gearing as the Trucker.  That should really help when grinding up some of the big passes in the region.  Great move, but when doing so I noticed that the big ring is looking a little worn.  So while it’s not a priority, I’m going to keep a lookout for a 46 or 44 tooth big ring, which will still provide adequate gear inches for blasting down some of those passes that I’ve just grinded up.

So riding in February has been a bust, with my schedule stacked on the one fairly warm day that we had.  Still, I’m hopeful that I’ll get a chance to get the bike out for some shake-down rides and some pics soon.