Archive for December, 2009

A little history, and the first ride

Before I get to the ride, some history.

Back when my job was The Suck, I lived in Fremont. The decision to move there was driven by the fact that I worked in Newark. When I started, I was commuting up from San Jose, but after losing 1.5 to 2 hrs a day in traffic, all I was doing was eating, driving, working and sleeping. Thus, the move. After I quit and started consulting, I was getting work back down in Santa Clara. I kept my place up there for a year, until November 2009, when I decided that if I want to continue my phony-baloney bullshit lifestyle, I need to cut costs. Started looking for rooms to rent, when I found that two friends that I work with were looking for a roommate…we sort of found each other.

Now, I live in Santa Clara. My old commute of 40 miles round trip has been cut down to less than 6.5 miles. Since Mid December, I’ve been biking to work. I figured out that I can jack up the pressure on the mountain bike tires, and do fairly decently on the streets. When I used to bitch about riding, now I like it – goes to show how mental state can affect activity.

So, now I have the new old bike. It’s shiny. It’s green. It’s retro. Retro to the point that, unlike modern bikes, it does not have index shifting. It actually has friction shifting that requires the operator to have a vague sense of what he’s doing. So I ride in, and without trying, notice that my commute was a few minutes faster. Showed the bike off with ooohs and ahhhs from my co workers, worked 1/2 day (it was day before NYE) and pedaled home. About a block before I hit El Camino Real, I noticed some chain chatter and was trying to trim it out by adjusting the shifters. Remember how I said with friction shifting the operator needs to have a vague sense of what he’s doing? Well unfortunately, friends and neighbors, that wasn’t me. In one fell swoop, I felt the back wheel lock up and heard clanking on the ground. In short, I managed to stuff the rear derailleur into the wheel and it, in response, exploded.

Now it’s back to WGB for some put it back togetherosity, and some advice on technique.

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How did I get here? Pt II

I, like most guys my age, rode bikes when I was a kid in the 70’s and 80’s – back when you can fall off your bike without a helmet and not wind up getting brained. This was back when Mongoose and Diamondback made killer BMX bikes, and not crap that you can now buy at Costco. Like most, as I got older, I got away from biking, mainly as I learned to drive. For about a year in 2001, I got into mountain biking, but that fizzled out. Fast forward to a couple of years ago, when some friends got into biking. After pedaling around on converted mountain bikes (basically, they put road tires on them), they jumped in with full-on Carbon fiber racing bikes. They were trying to get me into it, but during that stage of life, my job was The Suck and had not interest in that. This is such to the point that one afternoon, we rode on a trail near my house, and – while I was not verbally bitching – I was definitely telegraphing how much I’d rather be at home drinking beer and eating pizza.

Did I tell you that my job was The Suck? (As a parenthetical aside, this was my second Suck job in a row – a year earlier, I quit my job working at a chemical plant in New Jersey and ran back to CA – but that’s another story for another day).

Anyway, fast forward to late 2009. Life was vividly different. I was now consulting, working two to three days a week, exercising and losing weight. By this time, I had completed a 1/2 and a full marathon. As I got more in shape, I started looking at bikes.

My initial thought was to get a racing type bike – in this case, a Trek 2.3. Problem was that this was ‘spensive, and I did not know if I wanted to spend that much on something that I wasn’t sure I would like. My friend told me that her father had an old road bike in his garage that he bought 40 years ago…he rode it for 10 years, and it’s spent the last 30 in the rafters. Initially, I was nonplussed – it sounded like it would be heavy, creaky, clunky and just generally shitty. When I heard her bike mechanic go nusty coo coo after hearing about this bike (It’s a 1970-ish Dawes Galaxy), I decided to give it a go.

The bike, when I picked it up, was in a condition best described as piss-poor. The tires had gout, the chrome had cancer and the paint had VD. Also, I think it weighed about 75 lbs. I took it to the guy (Tahn at Willow Glen Bicycles) and a day later, after having all of the solid steel components stripped off of it, he handed me the frame. It wasn’t a 3lb racing frame, but it was surprisingly lighter. He then handed me the old cranks – they weighed as much as the frame – literally. A good start, this.

The faded shit-brown color, however, was a problem, so off to the powder coater, it went. Being that it was an English bike (Dawes are made in Birmingham, England), I felt it proper to paint it British Racing Green. Unfortunately, the powder coater (who, by the way, uses empty beer cans for color samples – how cool is that?) did not have anything titled BRG, so I went the closest I could find, which was called black and lime green metallic – sounds like hell, but looks outstanding. Back to WGB, where Tahn, pretty much replaced everything with new. Not the lightest, shiniest, bestest – but then again, I don’t need that. I have to lose about 50 lbs before I can even consider bitching about the weight of the bike (As Grant Peterson says, you’re the heaviest thing on the bike, so don’t worry about the components that much). What’s unfortunate is that the original engraved handlebars are too narrow for me – I was looking forward to showing those off. Tahn, however, threw some pinstripes on around the lugs on the frame – gold on dark green really looks good.

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