Saturday, September 19, 2009

You know it's Saturday at Black Mountain Cycles when...

...there's a blueberry scone from the Bovine Bakery on my work bench along with coffee. And if it's during the Pt. Reyes farmer's market, there will also be a plate full of papas con huevos y aguacate on top of a hand-made gordita from the great ladies who run a food stand featuring homemade Mexican food and incredible corn tortillas. Note use of Tapatio sauce. Wishing it was Cholula sauce, though.

Had a pretty good Saturday too. Finished up some work on the one and only Breezer Panorama tandem. It needed a new front derailleur, a B-tension spring tension increase, and new shift cables. When I had a chance, I worked on getting Noah's Cunningham back together. It did take some time to modify the lock nut to fully thread down on to the fork and allow room for the tapered stem expander to fit. Cunningham (and some old Potts) stems fit onto the forks via an interesting design. A tapered cone is redundant, but that's another story. Basically a tapered stub is brazed into the steerer tube, an aluminum wedge is pressed into the stem and the whole thing is held together with one bolt from the top. However, in order for it to work properly, the lock nut has to have the lip removed so it can be run completely down over the threads.

I figured that I would have to file the lip out of the WTB GG headset locknut, but needed to verify. A quick call to Charlie to confirm and I set about filing out the lip. And that's about all I was able to finish on the 'ham today. But that one thing is one of those flood-gate operations that once complete everything else nicely falls into place.

And in the category of DOH!, I needed to install a new rear brake able in the Breezer tandem so I pull out one of the tandem brake cables, cut off the road end and DOH!, it was a dedicated road tandem cable and not one of the double-ended road/mountain cables. I wasn't so upset that I just cut off the wrong end as I was about wasting a whole length of brake cable.
(What's playing: Celtic Universe on KWMR)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dino ride...

Last weekend was an interesting one. Saturday morning we were treated to a nice thunder and lightning storm with a bit of rain. Point Reyes Station was also on the route for the MS150 Waves to Wine ride that brought, by some estimates, a couple thousand riders through town on a two-day trip from San Francisco to Healdsburg. They passed through town when the roads were wet and for a three hour period, I had a rotating mass of bikes through the stand: sliced tires, shredded tires, simple flats, broken shift cables, wobbly wheels, broken cranks... I got every one back on the road except one who had a left pedal back out of a left side Ultegra triple crank. I didn't have a left crankarm for him, but I could have replaced the whole crank and bb. However, after a call to Andy at Sunshine Bikes, who confirmed they had the proper left arm, he was able to get to Fairfax with one of the ride's support vehicles and get back on the road.

I opened Sunday to the threat of rain and soon after opening was also met at the door by a big group of cyclists. As one of the riders came in with his bike, I noticed that the group of riders was not the typical Sunday fare using Point Reyes as the turnaround spot on their weekend loop. Nope, there was an abnormally high steel bike, wool jersey, hairnet helmet quotient. This was the Dino Ride - a group of guys who raced together in the 70's and 80's and who still to this day are obviously very fit and fond of pulling their vintage steeds out for a fun ride.

To a verified bike kook like me, only the task at hand (replacing a spoke in the rear wheel of an older Sachs frame) kept me from rushing out to check out all the bikes. Out in the parking lot there were more bikes from Della Santa, Masi, Sachs, DeRosa, Colnago... Inside, Joe Breeze was checking out his one and only Panorama tandem that was in for repairs. Otis Guy was checking out the OG mountain bike that I had on display. Both were riding frames with their names on the down tube.

When I think of what it means to ride for the sake of loving to ride, it's guys like these and rides like this. Lots of smiles, riding to keep the group together, nothing to prove because of the simple fact that some of these guys have been riding and racing for multiple decades. However, I'm sure there was some spirited climbing, riding in that "I'm trying to make it look like I'm not suffering by keeping my upper body still and maintaining a conversation" mode.

After replacing the spoke (I almost didn't have a spoke long enough to fit an older box section rim, small flange hub wheel, but using the longest spoke I have and a longer nipple, I got Tom back on the road within about 15 minutes), I stepped out in the parking lot to check out the bikes and riders as they remounted to race the rain back to Fairfax. One of the riders was the Breezer rider I rode with the week prior. And another rider was my buddy Gary B out on his Gaansari road bike (good to see you, Gary).

Thanks go to Tom Hardy for permission to link to his photo gallery (check out the full gallery of photos from the ride here) and for these photos. And thanks also to Tom for keeping me posted of future rides. I'm looking forward to taking a day off to ride with you guys.

The Dino Ride even heads off-road. Can't wait to attend one of these rides!Photos courtesy of Tom Hardy.

(What's playing: John Doe & The Sadies Are The Good Times Really Over For Good? Obviously, by virtue of these guys out on their old bikes, the good times haven't even gotten going.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Good problem to have...

I guess this is a good problem to have. However, one of the things in life that annoy me to no end is having to replace things as they run out. I hate grocery shopping for the daily staples. I have having to buy supplies for the shop as they run out. It's just, well, it just annoying and it consumes time I don't really want to dedicate.

One thing that is running out with greater frequency is my credit card processor receipt paper roll. I guess that means I'm running more and more transactions which is a good thing. I just hate having to buy more rolls of paper. So last time I was at the office supply store, I bought four packages of 10 rolls. I ain't runnin' out for a while.

(What's playing: The Barber of Seville featuring Maria Callas)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Yes, it's true, two posts in one day...

Like I mentioned, when I have something to say, I'll say it and after this mornings road ride there were two things that became clearly evident. One is riders of the pavement still don't know how to ride in a paceline and 28s just flat out rule.

I had reason to hit the road this morning having just finished a new road project build (more details forthcoming). The basics are steel and clearance for fat tires and that's all I'm a gonna say. However, to say I was a little bit excited to hit the road this morning is an understatement. I only had two hours and wanted to avoid Highway 1 on what was a busy Labor Day weekend. This meant a counter-clockwise loop of Pt. Reyes-Petaluma Rd, Platform Bridge Rd., Cross Marin Trail, Sir Francis Drake, Nicasio Valley Rd., Pt. Reyes-Petaluma Rd and back home. Nice loop with some rare wide shoulders and a bit of dirt.

As somewhat meaningless as the old no-hands test is, it always shows just how stable a bike is riding no hands. At higher speed, a bike should be able to be ridden fairly easily with no hands on the bars because the wheels, acting like gyroscopes, will want to remain upright and moving in a straight direction - assuming that the combination of head angle and fork offset isn't too far out of a certain range.

What is that range? In my many years of bike design and talking to other folks, one person whom I respect greatly, Lennard Zinn, has told me that he likes to keep the trail at about 65mm for a road bike. My latest bike has a head angle of 72 degrees and a fork offset of 45mm. I think that puts the trail very near 65mm. Whatever it does, the bike tracks straight as an arrow at 15mph and 25mph. It tracks straight at between 15-20mph on a hard-packed dirt road no handed too. Basically, the bike rode so well, and simply disappeared underneath me that I was quite pleased with its maiden voyage.

So, here I was riding up Nicasio Valley Rd. from Sir Francis Drake and I hear riders coming up behind me. I don't really want them to pass me on the climb so I simply dropped a gear while maintaining the same calm appearance on the bike. Don't want to let it on that I'm suffering. Make it over the top, hit the big ring, dump the gears in back, and move to the drops. Pretty soon they overtake me, almost every one hunched over the bars in an aero tuck worthy of a Euro pro descending a mountain pass. I give a "howdy," but to a one, nothing comes back to me. Oh well, I simply find the wheel of the last rider past and sit in.

Sitting in a paceline, it always becomes painfully evident that so many riders simply don't know how to ride in a paceline and make it work for the group. Instead of keeping a steady pace and having the lead rider simply pull off and fall back allowing the new lead rider maintain the same pace, it always happens that as soon as the lead rider pulls off to fall back, the new lead rider always increases the pace only to fracture the paceline until it comes together and when he finally pulls off, the cycle is repeated. I may not be as fit as I once was, but dangit, I can ride a paceline.

Tired of yo-yoing, I drift back to resume my morning ride solo. I can see the group up ahead pull off at Rancho Nicasio right as another group comes past me. And as per the first group, my "howdy" is met with nothing but the sound of tires on pavement. Okay. I'll just sit in here. Again with the yo-yo paceline. My mind is telling me to just go off the front and pull them all behind, but my legs aren't what they used to be and they tell me to just sit in.

I recognize one rider (on a nice old Breezer steel road bike) as someone who's been in my shop in the past. The other riders were a crazy mix. There was one strong looking guy on a Steelman cross bike, another big guy on a carbon Cervelo, another newish looking rider on a carbon Bianchi, an average looking guy on a Cannondale, and one cat on a ti Moots riding with his jersey tucked into his shorts. These guys were as unpredictable as a hummingbird in a maze of hummingbird feeders. As these guys were rotating through their paceline, the guys coming off the front were trying to fit into the paceline somewhere in the middle. And when the road tilted slightly upwards, it was as if they all hit their brakes at once.

We finally hit the Pt. Reyes-Petaluma Rd. and the squirrels went right and the Breezer rider and I went left into Pt. Reyes and we actually had a nice chat as we rode with our handlebars about 6" away each other. Two old guys on two steel road bikes riding side-by-side because we both know that the other knows how to ride that close.

Alright, got the paceline thing covered, what about 28s? At the stop sign at the bottom of Pt. Reyes Petaluma Rd./Platform Bridge Rd., I picked up a roofing tack in my front tire and it went flat fast. Besides the fact that a 700c x 28 tire inflated to 90psi is a great riding tire, the other benefit from a 28 is that inflating with a hand pump (Zefal HPX-4, naturally) getting the tire to only 60psi will still give you a nice firm tire that will get you through a ride. Try that with a 23.

I got my flat (first one on the road in over 2 years - knock on wood), pulled out the tack, peeled the tire off the rim sans tools, flat tube out and in my jersey pocket, new tube from seat back out, puff of air in the tube, tube in tire, 50 or 60 strokes with my handy frame pump, pump back on frame, wheel back in fork, and back on the road in less than 5 minutes. My riding partner even commented that that was fast. I've had a lot of practice, I mention.

End result, my new bike is absolutely fantastic. I can't wait to ride again tomorrow morning.

(What's playing: Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited)

What's been in the stand...

Sometimes I just don't feel like writing a blog post, so I don't. Probably should, but don't. I figure when the time is right, it will happen. The time's right.

There's actually been quite a bit of newsworthy stuff, but I'll dole it out in time. Today, I'll put up a few things that have been through the work stand. The first was a Mountain Goat Route 66 that needed a new front brake cable. The owner's dog gets the prime sitting position in the basket. This was a fun bike with some comfy town bars. It also had what may possibly be the shortest Salsa stem on record. Whatever works.

The photos below are of a wasp nest that was spun? formed? at the cross section of two spokes. It's long since hatched its occupants, but it shows if you leave your bike in one place long enough, someone will find a home or a nursery somewhere in the bike's recesses.
More to follow...

(What's playing: Chris Gaffney The Guitars of My Dead Friends)