Thursday, September 29, 2011

Instant gratification...

I posted the above photo yesterday on Facebook. I was busy building a set of cross wheels for a friend and preparing the rims and tires with a layer of Vittoria Mastik. I thought the image of the fresh Challenge Grifo and the can of cement was a nice composition. Still do. My buddy Rob commented, "What is that can? Do they sell tape in a can now?" That comment got me thinking about instant gratification and doing something simply because it saves time.

Sure, I could have used tubular tape instead of glue. That would have saved considerable time, but not if I wanted to do it right. Sometimes doing something "right" means you need to spend more time on the process. Sometimes, the quick way out is okay. Sometimes not. Sometimes it's all about the process.

Rob's comment was interesting since we both came out of the same shop years ago. Chuck always taught us to do things properly. I'm reminded of Chuck every time I cut a steerer tube and pull out a file to manually deburr and clean up the cut on the steerer. I could easily just turn the grinder on and run the edge of the steerer on the grinding wheel to clean it up, but I don't. I clamp the steerer in the vise, pull our one of my files and clean up the rough edge with a nice chamfer, then I file smooth the top of the steerer, and then clean up the inside with the rounded edge of the file. It doesn't take much time and when I do this, the image of the old Pacific Coast Cycles and Chuck always fills my memory. It also gives me great pleasure to perform this manual task and have the outcome be perfect because I had perfect control of the file.

The same applies to making coffee. I could buy pre-ground beans and simply load the ground coffee into a filter basket, fill up a reservoir with water, flip a switch, and be drinking coffee five minutes later. Instead, the preparation of a cup of coffee is a process, a ritual. While the water is heating up on the stove, I grind my beans to the proper coarseness, load the coffee in the press, fill with hot water, stir the mixture, press the plunger listening to the water being pushed through the coffee into my cup, then enjoy the pureness of that first cup of coffee in the morning.

While my process of making coffee takes about the same amount of time as an automatic drip coffee maker, during that process, I am involved in every step of the action of making my coffee. Sure, I could have used double-sided tubular rim tape. It would have taken a fraction of the time to mount the tires, but I know with rim cement, it's done right. And there's something comforting about the ritual process of layering on rim cement on a brand new rim and tire, fitting the tire to the rim, seeing that the base tape is uniform around the rim, slipping the wheel in the truing stand, spinning, and seeing that the tire spins as true and round as the wheel it's mounted to.

(And my coffee maker - this little gem that yields the best cup of coffee I've had. Truly pure and grit free. You might think your coffee is grit free, but you probably don't drink down that last sip because of grit and sediment. With this, you get to drink the whole cup. I'll have a few of these in the shop soon.)

Peter's wheels

Peter's wheels

Peter's wheels

Peter's wheels

Peter's wheels

(What's playing: The Sadies The Trial)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


If Biketoberfest is in September, should it be called Biketemberfest? Regardless, this year's Biketoberfest will be happening this Sunday September 25 on Center Ave. in Fairfax. I'll be closed that day so that I can have a booth there and show some road and cross frames. There's going to be some great area builders there as well as a bunch of brewers. Advanced beer tasting tickets are on sale now at the Biketoberfest website. Hit the link and get all the details. In addition to being a good time, the event also benefits both the Marin County Bicycle Coalition and Access 4 Bikes.

My booth will be on the other side of the street, away from the food and beer tasting this year. Since it's just me, anyone who wants to ferry beverages and food over will be most welcome. Not that you wouldn't be anyway, but...

(What's playing: KWMR)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dino ride 2011...

In 2009, the Dino Ride rolled through Pt. Reyes Station stopping at the shop to have a broken spoke replaced. The owner of the Richard Sachs ,whose spoke broke, was also the organizer of the ride. In 2010, he invited me to participate on the ride, but I had other obligations. I also didn't feel very worth to be on a ride with such cycling greatness. I got the invite again for this year's ride and even though my credentials still paled dramatically compared to this years participants, I loaded up the car with bike and gear and made the 1/2 hour drive to Fairfax for the start of the 2011 Dino Ride yesterday.

There was a rumor that 3-time Tour de France winner, Greg Lemond, was going to show at the ride and, sure enough, a few minutes before the ride was to roll out, Greg did show up. A crowd gathered around him since a lot of these guys did race with him in his early days as a junior and then as a senior on the US racing scene and they were busy catching up.

However, the main purpose of the ride was to ride. And ride we did. There were a lot of steel bikes some vintage, some new. There were also a lot of riders who knew how to ride. Riding in a pack with these guys was truly a treat. Rock solid riders. We rolled out of Farifax, up White's Hill, through San Geronimo Valley and then up and over to Rancho Nicasio for the first stop/regrouping of the day - and group photos.

Leaving Rancho Nicasio, my buddy Gary B. had a rear flat so I stopped to help him repair it and get back on the road. By the time we got back on the road, the group was long gone so we gave chase up Pt. Reyes-Petaluma Rd. past the Cheese Factory and onto Hick's Valley Road. We finally caught on to the group soon after turning left on the Marshall-Petaluma Rd. where the pace was nice before hitting the base of the Marshall Wall. Boy, some of these guys (and gals) can sure climb fast! I hit the top of the wall with a few riders, including ride organizer, Tom Hardy and Peter Johnson. Came up on Joe Breeze on the descent as well.

After a stop at the Marshall Store to refill water bottles, we motored south into Point Reyes where I opened the shop for a few minutes to properly repair Gary B's flat tire before hitting the dirt Cross Marin Trail and I replaced the chain on another bike that had several twisted links. That done, it was chase mode again down to Olema and up and over the Bolinas Ridge down to the Cross Marin Trail. By the time we got on the dirt section we were coming up on the back of the group. At the end of the trail, one of the riders had a double flat so we stopped to repair that in the shade of a tree by the Inkwells swimming hole. Well, actually, there were several flats and one two bike tangle, but everyone was okay.

Back on Sir Francis Drake, the only thought was of the descent down White's Hill into Fairfax and food and beer at Iron Springs Pub and Brewery. Overall, it was a fantastic experience. I got to chat quite a bit with Joe Breeze and caught up with several other riders who knew about the shop or had been to the shop. Quite a great way to spend a glorious Sunday. And it happened on what is likely the best weather day of the summer to date.

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Staging in the morning at the Java Hut in Fairfax.

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Greg Lemond shows up.

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Rolling out of Fairfax.

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Heading towards White's Hill on Sir Francis Drake outside of Fairfax, CA.

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Approaching White's Hill, the group thins out a touch.

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Greg Lemond in the La Vie Claire jersey on the left.

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Greg Lemond takes a moment to pose for a photo with me.

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My buddy Gary B. A big inspiration for Black Mountain Cycles. He owned a shop in Ohio called Cycles Gaansari and developed their own line of steel frames branded Gaansari.

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Jock Boyer and Tom Ritchey.

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The group. There's a few folks I can name, but there's so many that I can't so, I'll leave them unnamed. And I'm horrible at remembering names.

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But I do know that that is Joe Breeze in the Mt. Tamalpais jersey (blue, yellow, green). Peter Johnson is in the all green jersey. Alex Osborn is in the blue Della Santa jersey. Otis Guy is the bald headed dude kneeling.

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Finally catching up to the group on the Marshall-Petaluma Rd. after some flat fixin'.

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Rolling through the valley on the Marshall-Petaluma Rd.

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Rolling through the valley on the Marshall-Petaluma Rd.

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Rolling through the valley on the Marshall-Petaluma Rd.

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Rolling through the valley on the Marshall-Petaluma Rd.

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Rolling through the valley on the Marshall-Petaluma Rd.

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Rolling through the valley on the Marshall-Petaluma Rd.

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There was a motocross event here with motos crossing the road. We came around the corner pretty fast and had to hit the brakes. Kind of a panic for me as I was sitting up taking a photo with hands off the bar.

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On top of the Marshall Wall on the Marshall-Petaluma Rd.

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Event organizer, Tom Hardy's Richard Sachs.

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The victim of the double flat. Larry "Swampdog" Swantner's modern Della Santa. Larry was on the '75 Pan-Am team and the '76 Olympic track team.

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Tom Hardy lending a hand to Larry (in Molteni jersey).

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Iron Springs Brewery & Pub fed us and hydrated us post ride. Greg Lemond holding court.

(What's playing: KWMR)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sunday ride...

Took some pics out on a ride last Sunday. I rarely do any digital working of the photos I take in the shop or on the road. I may occasionally crop a photo. Sometimes a photo looks like it would be better in black & white. When I do convert an image to b/w, I'll take advantage of the tools available and adjust the contrast and brightness. In b/w, I think it adds a bit of a drama to the shot. As for the color shots, I leave them as I shot them. I just don't have the time (or the energy or desire) to do any mods to the color shots and well, I'm just trying to show what things look like not create an art project. I see some photos folks tweak around and think they look great, but I just don't have the desire to do that for my own stuff.

So, here's some pics I took on a ride out to Kehoe Beach last Sunday. It was pretty overcast and wet with heavy drizzle out there. Color versions. Black & white versions. Whacha think? They work for me.

On top of Inverness Ridge looking towards what would be the Pacific Ocean on a clear day.
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2011-09-11 020 bw

Way out past H Ranch on the point. Probably should have cropped it to get rid of the shift cable in the upper left.
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The color version is really nothing to write home about, but I like the b/w version much better.
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2011-09-11 024 bw

Same with this one.
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And then just some bike shots that I think turned out pretty good.
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(What's playing: Johnny Darrell Willin')

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Homegrown community radio...

Alright, here's the deal. I love this local radio station, KWMR, we have and am honored that I host a couple of shows on it and get to sub for some fantastic folks and their great shows. This is the kind of station that everyone dreams about and it's in my own backyard. Tonight on Bakersfield & Beyond (6:30-8:30), we have Smelley Kelley from Red Meat on. We have a show goal of $1000. A $40 pledge gets you a KWMR pint glass. Pledge $40 during our show tonight and I'll also throw in a Black Mountain Cycles pint glass also. Any amount is welcome. Call 415-663-8273 or contribute online via paypal at

And if you are a fan of X or The Knitters, John Doe was in the studio last night and played an acoustic set. You can listen to the show here for two weeks. It was really great getting to meet him after enjoying his music for so many years. The ability to archive past shows and offer them up for listening was part of the previous pledge drive's goal that was achieved.


(What's playing: Billy Bragg St. Monday)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Potts and pans...

I recently built up a really sweet new Steve Potts 29"er with a Type II fork. While I was building it, another Potts 29"er single-speed with Type II fork was in the stand for work. It was super coincidental that the owner of the new Potts decided to order a frame from Steve after seeing the image of the Potts with the lt. blue Type II in this post from a year ago and that I was building his just finished bike at the same time the Potts SS was in the shop for some work. Small world. Smaller world in that the new owner was in town from overseas to pick up his bike at the same time his inspiration was in the shop.

The dusty Potts inspired the new owner of the Potts in the background to order it.
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The new one and the old one.
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And all finished and ready to ride.
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The Type II fork really lends itself to a 2-tone paint scheme.
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Ten-speed XTR: so smooth.
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White Industries VBC crankset.
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Point 1 Racing pedals: super low profile.
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Moots seat post.
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Good chain stay clearance with the 2.2 Maxxis Ikon tires.
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A little something that will be adorning the front end of the Potts single-speed. Hmmm...
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(What's playing: KWMR and Coast Highway Blues - if you love the blues, you should check this show out on Wednesdays from 8:30-10:30)