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Archive for January, 2011

Errands Day

Right, then…

As the supremely cold “I pay extra to live in the Bay Area so I don’t have to deal with this shit” weather has subsided (for now), today was a rather nice day.  Did some work, then set out to run some errands on the Dawes.

The first stop was Willow Glen Bicycles to get the chain tensioner that I had Tahn order.  This is going on the Biscayne that I converted to single speed.  Currently, it works as I have the rear derailleur sort of forced in place by cutting the shift cable, giving it the correct amount of tension (to hold the derailleur in place) then wrapping the cable around the chainstay.  Okie engineering, it’s true, but it works.  That said, this bike is not only about having a cheap knock around bike but also having something that I can wrench on without fear of breaking one of the “good” bikes.

All that said, I flatted on the way to WGB at Park and Davis.  The last thing I remember was looking down and seeing a key on the ground, then pop.  Got the wheel off, swapped tubes – did not find anything sticking in the tire – then tried to air up…to no avail.  I was using the Crank Bros pump, which I’m never really sure works right.  It’s an ingenious design – compact shaft that lets the user select either high pressure or high volume.  You can also select whether you’re filling through a Presta or Schraeder valve.  The problem lies in making sure you have all your selections made and that the pump is set up to actually move air…

…but, I digress…

So, I switch over to the CO2 cartridge.  This I have a decent grip on how it works.  Again – some slight inflation, then I hear it seeping out.  Well, shit.  I remembered taking the patch kit out of the seat bag and putting it on the Raleigh, as I was doing a long ride; the plan was to pick up a few more tube kits at WGB (really – just dandy timing).  But for now, I was fucked.  I put the rig back together and – through the magic of Motorola – was able to determine that I was slightly closer to WGB than home.  Started out, then realized that Shaw’s Lightweight Cycles was somewhat nearby – the Droid said 0.7 miles, so off I went.

I’d guess that Shaw’s has been there for 35  years if not longer.  Not the cleanest or tidiest shop, mind you, nor does it have the newest items.  There were wool jerseys that I’d guess were from the 80’s and a few spandex-ish ones from the 90’s, I’d reckon.  They did have some new bibs, however.  I’m guessing that clothing is not their big money maker.  As for bikes, they had some Bianchi’s, a couple of brands I hadn’t heard of, and an old Dave Moulton.  It was sort of cool to see the DM, live and in person like that, with chrome lugs and all.  What was interesting was the frames they had hanging from the rafters – all different brands.  Makes me think that I should look a this place for a frame if I want to do a build up.

After about 1.5 hours of futzing about (another customer came in to pick up his Fuso (also built by Dave Moulton), which they just installed a new Campy groupset – they asked if I had time to wait, while he dealt with the customer, which I did), I was back on the road.  [As a bracketed aside, while the bike was on the stand, I noted how dirty it was – time for a good cleaning.  If nothing else, the greasy bits have 950 miles on them – might be time for a deep cleaning.]

It was probably the shortest stop to WGB ever – Tahn and them were in the back, and I was dealing with some guy I hadn’t met, yet.  Nice enough, but that was it.  He got my tensioner and a few other items (tube, 3 patch kits, energy bar) and back on the road to Target (out of Cafe Bustelo) and Trapper Joes (out of almonds).

All in all, a ~13 mile trip – not too bad, but not the 50 milers I’ve done, so far.

For 2011, my goal is to ride 3000 miles, aggregate, between all the bikes.  That works out to 58 miles/week, approximately.  Some weeks, I can see that being easy, but some are going to be harder as there is business travel coming up.

Going to try and ride tomorrow, then do some bicycle maintenance.

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First Impressions – 2011 Raleigh Record Ace

Right, then…

I’m a little late in posting this due to holidays and such, so I guess it’s time to do a first impression report on the Raleigh.

OK, to date I have 77 miles on her.  The first 26 was a shakedown ride.  The remaining 51 was more of a “real” ride.

Now, the bike.  But first, a warning:  I am not what society calls a “roadie”.  Yes, this is a road bike and I ride it, but that’s it.  I have not ridden any other type of road bike, so I cannot tell you the difference between Reynolds, Columbus or True Temper tubing.  Nor do I have first hand experience with aluminum, carbon or titanium frames, outside of the fact that the first is really stiff, the second can break at times, and the third is expensive.  My other bike (a Dawes Galaxy), while quite a nice bike, is a touring rig, so it is going to ride and handle much differently.  That said I feel that the Raleigh is somewhat light and crisp (relatively speaking – it is steel after all).  I’d reckon the weight to be 20 to 21 lbs.  The bike responds to inputs (steering, power) somewhat quickly.  I have not noticed any frame flex when I accelerate.  Steering is responsive without being twitchy.  While descending, it feels like the bike is in a groove – I can pick a line and hold it nicely.  I’ve heard some bike reviews use the phrase “laterally vertical, yet stiffly compliant” (or something like that).  I’d use that to describe this bike if I knew what the hell it meant.  Let’s just say that the frame is somewhat stiff, but does not chatter my teeth when going over rough road surfaces.

As for the drive train, the bike originally came with full Ultegra, but that included a 53/39 chain ring, which is just too tall for this dude.  I had the LBS install a 50/34 Sora that I pulled off of the Dawes.  Yes – blasphemy, I know.  Maybe someday component weight will become an issue and I’ll replace it with an Ultegra compact.  Overall, everything works well – it goes when I tell it to, with no chatter or missed shifts.

The Record Ace comes with Weinmann CR19 Double Wall rims, which are fine, I guess.  They’re round and mount nicely to the bike.  I believe they are 28-hole rims, which helps me in that I weigh ~225 lbs, so I’m not worrying about rim failure.  I did upgrade from the Vittoria 23’s to 25 Gatorskins, which I’m told helps with the ride, a bit.

I was originally concerned about the Brooks Swallow saddle.  It looked like it was called Swallow, because that’s what my ass was going to do to it, when I sat down.  Not so.  In fact, I find it’s more comfortable than the B17 I have on the Dawes.  Further, after 77 miles, the seat appears to have started breaking in (much to the amazement of the LBS that sold me the bike).

Then, there are the aesthetics.  At the risk of coming across as shallow, one of the things that attracted me to this bike was its looks:  The lugged frame, the pearlescent white paint, the brown saddle and bar tape – it all comes together in a very pretty package.  Admittedly, I would have liked to have seen a better job matching the bar tape to the saddle, but that’s me being a PITA.

Overall, I like this bike – a lot.  Further, I like the fact that I have about 40 more cycling years left in me and that – saving anything really bad happening – this bike will be around for all of them.  Mind you, if you’re looking for the fastest, lightest, bestest bike out there, this isn’t it.  If you want something that really really nice, and provides a sweet, comfortable, stylish ride, then this might be the bike for you.