Posts Tagged ‘fixed’

First Ride on the Fixed Bobby J

Right, then…

First, I’m typing this on the iPad as my MacBook died and I left my work MacBook at…well…work (don’t like taking that on a bike commute). So, if this is poorly punctuated, or spelled, you know why.

Anyway, maiden voyage on the Bob Jackson after I converted it to fixed.  What’s nice is that the FG muscle memory from 5 years ago (yes, it’s been that long) stuck around, so I picked it right back up, no problem.  As suspected, however, the 15T cog is geared crazy tall, so it was a push on all surfaces except the slight downhills.

Uphills are a thing…I mean, they alway were, but now I can’t drop down to a 34T cog and go for it. Also, did I mention I live on the side of a hill?  Nothing massive, but enough to that I have to stand on the pedals to get up them   Hell I have to stand on the pedals to get going from a stop while on the flats.  If there’s a stop sign going uphill, I check my 9, 12 and 3 and go for it.  Pisser with that is that I lose my moral high ground when it comes to other assholes that regularly blow stop signs.


Dig the groovy red seat.  Also, I realize that the derailleur cables are still there   Those are coming off, soon.

Also, I fitted a Wald medium basket to the front.  I noticed that when I have full panniers on the back, it gets light in the front, so now I have a way of balancing it out, a bit.  Small challenge was that the basket it just barely narrow enough to fit between the drops, but I was able to mount it low enough to make it work.  The few pounds up there do seem to make a difference, handling-wise.

So the verdict:  I like it!  I missed riding FG.  While I’m overgeared, I’m inclined to gut it out with this configuration in order to get in to shape.  Maybe after a while, I’ll either get a bigger cog or even one of those slick Surly dingle x cog things.



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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.

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.

A Teensy Bit of Progress

Right, then…

A couple of days ago I mentioned building up the Bob Jackson frame which would basically be a mash up of newly-acquired (but not necessarily new) parts, and parts from my two existing Dawes’ – the fixie will be stripped of parts and will be going out of commission/sold/donated; the touring bike will swap out some parts and be reincarnated as an upright townie bike.

Welp, I finally got off my ass and made a move – the FG has been torn down.  The BB is now on the Bob Jackson; the frame and the Dawes fork will be dropped off at Willow Glen Bicycles to have a headset installed (and have the steerer tube shortened and threaded).

The main purpose of this is due to the fact that I’m moving.  I already fell silly with five bikes (only two of which are in regular rotation; the other two are in occasional use and one (MTB) is hanging in the rafters).  I did not want to show up with six bikes, so I figured now would be a good time to start the project.

Also, the focus now is to see how cheaply I can build up the Bobby J, using existing and used parts.  Granted, some stuff will need to be new.  It’s more of a challenge for me, now.

The bad news is that I no longer have a fixie…sooner or later that vacuum will need to be filled…along with a Mixte and 17 thousand million other bikes.

A quiet evening at home

Right, then…

The ‘mates are out of the house and all is quiet.  I thought it’d be a good time to catch up on this.

Well, Good God, it’s been what?  about four weeks since I last posted?  Unconscionable.  OK, not that there was major things going on, but there were some things worth chatting about.

OK then, first off, the drinking.  The last post reported that I had quit drinking, and I am happy to say that I’m still quit drinking (or however you say that).  In short, still teetotal.  To be honest, it’s not like I’ve been put to any major test, but still it’s nice to know that I’ve been able to make it thus far.  I have noticed some interesting things like a mild sugar replacement (Trapper Joe’s Dark Chocolate and Clif Bars, mainly).  Also, I’ve noticed how pervasive booze is in society:  Magazine ads, billboards, television – it’s everywhere.  Further, I’ve started a list of things I can no longer do, now that I’m dry:  Scotch tasting is sort of a pointless exercise; bicycling home buzzed no longer is going to occur; body shots are also [sadly] out, though I still might be able to lick off  the salt.

I’ve also noted some automatic reactions that took me by surprise.  We had a Superbowl party for…well…The Superbowl, and I was making bratwurst in beer.  After pouring the beer in the pan, there was maybe two fingers worth left in the bottle, and I went to drink it…only to stop myself about 1/2 way up to my mouth.  It’s not that I wanted or needed the beer; it’s just that drinking the remnants is something I would have done lo these 20 years, so I went to do it again, automatically.

A few friends know now.  So far, they’re really good with it.  Then again, these are fairly introspective or relaxed folks, so I didn’t figure I’d have any hassle.  There are others, however, that have always known me to be a drinker that are not so open-minded; these are going to give me trouble.  I still don’t know how I’m going to handle my next trip to Fresno, it being it’s own reason to drink.

So, now that my most fave-rave hobby is done for, I’ve channeled that energy into bikes.  The first couple of weeks, I spent working on various bike projects:  Cleaning, repacking bearings, installing new brake levers, recabling.  The big project was turning the “other” Galaxy into a fixed gear.  This involved tearing the bike down to the frame, soaking the frame, fork, and other bits in Oxalic Acid to remove the rust, then reassembling sans shifters and derailleurs.  As the rear wheel on this was already a freewheel (vs. cassette), all I needed to do was buy a track cog (18T) and a new 1/8″ chain and I was ready to go.  Go furtively, but go, nonetheless.

The first time out was interesting.  Hell, subsequent times out are still interesting.  I’ve read that you don’t realize how much you typically coast when you’re riding:  Coming up to stops, adjusting in the saddle, looking behind you – so far, all of this has been true.  You go to stop pedaling and sure as shit, your foot is coming back around.  Tahn informed me rather succinctly:  “Keep pedaling.  You are the bike’s bitch.”  Sage words, those.

On the overall, I am happy to report that I do like riding fixed gear.  It’s still an interesting experience every time I ride.  Also – lest one thinks otherwise – the brakes are still in place, front and rear.  I’m told that I can get rid of the rear brake now (Sheldon Brown says that I never needed it in the first place) and that in time, I might remove all brakes from the bike.  I don’t know.  I mean, right now, I am able to come to a stop without brakes, but it’s a long stop.  I would not want to try and make an Oh Shit! stop relying on pedals alone.  I told Tahn that if some day I come tooling up on a fixie without brakes, I’ll be just as surprised as everyone else.  Besides, I don’t think the maintenance for brakes (or derailleurs or gears, for that matter) is really all that much to sweat.  The next change I think will be fitting it with lights and a rack so I can commute on it, when I get the urge.  That would be three commuter bikes, then.   I’ve clearly lost my shit with this bike thing.

Speaking of losing my shit, I’m down about 10 pounds since the beginning of the year.  Naturally, riding a lot helps, in addition to no more booze (or the in-situ and post-booze gorging that occurs on occasion).  I’m at around 217 or so, and I’d like to get down to 200 lbs this year.

Speaking of losing my shit, is it me, or does “Two-and-a-half Men” seem more and more like a documentary these days?

Speaking of losing my shit (this, by the way, is the real reason I was using this phrase; the prior two paragraphs were random thoughts that jumped in), I’ve signed up for the Moss Beach 200K Brevet, which is going to occur next Saturday.  200K; that’s 125 miles.  In this case, 125 somewhat hilly miles, with one big goddamn fucking hill on the front end (Hwy 1 to La Honda).  While I have been riding a lot, I haven’t been actually training, so I’m a little ambivalent about how I’ll do.  Then again, last year I rode 75 miles to Martinez and I was in not as good of shape as I am now.  Also, there’s the possibility of weather, so that might change my plans.  Mildly shitty weather I can deal with, but if there’s a pissing rainstorm then I’m going to take a pass and Santa Cruz Randonneurs can keep my $10.  I’ll get my medal another day.  I just checked and learned that it’s supposed to be 62F and Partly Cloudy which is better than Partly Sunny.  So I’ve got that going for me…which is nice.  What’s also nice is that Droo was gracious enough to offer up his services, should I decide to bag out and need a lift back to the truck.  Droo, for the record, is one of the awesome friends that did not give me any shit for quitting drinking (in fact, he was very understanding and supportive).  So again, I’m furtive:  I’m looking forward to this, but I’m a bit nervous, as well.

OK, enough of this…

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