Archive

Archive for February, 2016

Because I am a masochist…

…I built up a fixed gear.

Right, then…

So, to be fair, fixed gear and masochism are not always linked.  Fixed gear and living on the side of a hill and cycle commuting with about 15 to 17 lbs of stuff, plus being on the heavier side anyway….that’s masochist.  Also, did I tell you that I’m running 42/15 for a sweet 2.8:1 gear ratio?  That’s great for the hills, no?  Because I’m not an idiot, I put an 18T freewheel on the other side.

To be fair to me, I set out to get something closer to a 16T rear cog.  But once I got to Walt’s, they were all out of 16’s (I guess that’s a popular size).  Channeling my inner Veruca Salt, I wanted it now, so I said “Screw it” and got the 15T that was on the peg.  Using the magical Sheldon Brown Gear Calculator I figure I got 75.6 gear inches with the 15T; 63 with the 18T freewheel.  I think I’m over geared.  But at least I have a fixed gear bike, again…though I might be pushing it up some parts…  They say that you gain fitness by riding fixed…I sure hope so, or I’m about to subject myself to some serious torture for no good reason at all…

I also have a basket on it, now.  I ordered one of those Wald medium baskets because when I put fairly loaded panniers on the back, the front gets light.  So maybe I can put some clothes and shoes or something up front to even out the load.  It’s a bitch as the handlebars are a little too narrow and they rub on the basket, but I think I mounted it low enough that I might be OK.  The bummer is that the clamps for the basket took up the little free bar space I had for a light and bell. Regardless, I look forward to trying to ride with a load on the front to see how differently the bike handles.

As for training, I’ve found a loop that takes me from the girlfriends house along a routed with varying hills for 22 to 25 miles, depending on if I turn or do an out-and-back.  Last Sunday, however, a friend and I did 32 miles through Woodside, primarily on Canada Rd. I was on the Raleigh, which has taller gearing than the touring bikes, so it was a decent workout.  One day, I might be good enough to do that on the fixed gear.

Also, members of the bike tour group signed up for the 100K Tierra Bella route at the end of April.  That’s going to be interesting, I think.  I figure that if we can complete the 62 miles, then we’re in pretty good shape for the bike tour.  I got 2 months to get in to shape. Oiy.

Advertisements

Updates, El Nino, This and That

Right, then…

So, since Christmas there have been some new developments:

As stated earlier, I bought a rigid Jamis Diablo frame with designs to build it up as an adventure bike/commuter/whatever.  That’s about 80% done.  I dropped the frame off at Bronson Silva and had a bunch of braze-on’s added (rear dropouts for racks, front drop outs and mid-fork for racks, bottle bracket underneath down tube and a couple of others that I don’t rightly remember).  I fairly gutted the FSR of all of it’s rotating equipment and bought some random parts (stem, handlebars, thumb shifters, etc…) from a place called Changing Gears Bicycles on Alameda.  Changing Gears is a charity place – they take in donated bikes and parts and have a community work shop area to train underprivileged kids skills about repair and such…so not only do they have stuff for cheap, but it’s for a good cause.  Anyway, it’s mostly built and I was out riding up and down the street last night….I have some things to dial in (shorten the chain and tweak the derailleurs) but I think it’s coming along.  Once I get it sorted, I’ll head back down to Tahn to talk about racks…then we’ll work on the powder coating.  I always thought of keeping it rattle can black, but my mind wants a metallic burnt orange…which, of course, will be too nice to fuck up, so I’ll be afraid to ride it.

Got the front wheel back on the Dawes and lemme tell you:  That new hub is the shit!  Something called and SP-8 – fairly new to the market, I think.  Fairly cheap – I think I paid $130 or so for it – and, most importantly, I can’t really detect any rolling resistance.  So, now not only do I have a full-time headlight, but it also now works great in the rain!

Speaking of rain…  So, I’m cycle commuting more (I’ll get to my reason, next).  Last Wednesday, I roll out in 60 degree weather, take the train to Palo Alto and then proceed my ride in to work.  I knew that there was a storm coming in that night, but the forecast showed some rain later so it didn’t seem that threatening.  As it was warm, I forgot my rain jacket.  The ride in was somewhat glorious – great weather, and Google Maps was routing me through these great neighborhoods in Palo Alto (not like there are bad neighborhoods in PA, but still).  So, work all day, and start to head out.  As I’m wheeling the bike out of the building, I get hit with a few drops and it’s windy.  No problem – a few drops is not a thing, so I head back to Mt View station.  About 2 blocks away, the rain gets heavier.  I remembered that I had stashed a backpacking poncho in my handlebar bag to try out, so no better time, right?  No.  I learned that a poncho in 15 to 20 mph wind works like a goddamn airbrake…so that came back off.  Now it’s windier and rainier and I’m just battering into it.  Normally, I like to ride to Mt View station so I can get a few more miles in, but on this particular occasion, temptation got the best of me and I gave up and went to the closer station in Sunnyvale.  Once I get to my home station, I was going to ride the final 2.5 miles home.  And it’s a pissing rainstorm with stronger winds.  Also, I live on the side of a hill.  Survey says:  Fuck that.  On the taxi line, there’s a minivan.  “Will you take me and the bike?”  “Can you fit it in?”  “I will”.  Best $18 I ever spent.

So, why am I riding so much, again?  Well, a friend is having a milestone birthday and to celebrate, we’re doing a Backroads Tour through Glacier National Park.  Each day is roughly 30 to 50 miles.  Day 2 is Going to the Sun Road, which is something like an average of 10% grade.  So, I gots to get in shape.  In addition to training rides on the weekends with others, I’m getting my legs back in shape by cycle commuting.  So there’s that.

To help with this, I’m building up a fixed gear bike.  This will be the Bob Jackson that I recently spent money on to get cabled up.  When I lived in Santa Clara, I had a fixed gear bike, but when I moved to hillier terrain, I tore it down.  Now, I’ve learned that fixed gear + hills = good fitness.  Having more money that I did when I built up the original FG, I’ve ordered a set of Sun CR18 rims with Formula hubs (which I’m told are just fine, despite not having snob appeal), the rear being flip flop.  So now, I’ll have the bailout option of a lower gear and freewheel, if needed.  Not sure what I’m going to be doing with the cranks as I’ve half a mind to do a 2×1 or 2×2 setup to give me more bail out options…time will tell on that one.

One final thing:  Sometimes the gods speak to us and we ignore them at our peril.  On Feb 15, I roll out to go in to work.  About 3/4 mile from home, I flatted.  Having the skills and materials, but not the time, I head back home to swap bikes.  Now, I make it all the way down to the train station.  While I’ve missed the earlier train, one should be expected in 15 minutes, or so.  I check to see when it will arrive and the website mentions a “Saturday Schedule in light of the holiday.”  Holiday?  Aw, shit – it’s President’s day.  The next train won’t be there for another hour.  Can’t hang out that long.  So back up the hill I go, shower change and drive in to work.  The gods were speaking to me when I flatted; I need to get better an listening to the gods.