Moon Book
Thursday February 25th 2010, 7:37 am
Filed under: News

The other day I got an unexpected gift in the mail from my friend James, so excited I was I tore open the envelope to reveal a copy of Yehuda Moon & the Kickstand Cyclery (July 1, 2008 – January 2, 2009). This is a compendium of sorts of the daily comics chronicling the happenings of Yehuda, Joe, Thistle and all the other characters surrounding the Kickstand Cyclery bike shop. A book like this immediately earns a position in my bike library.

I do enjoy this comic, I make sure to check the action everyday and am usually pretty amused. Having it in print is the next best thing to having Yehuda himself visit me in person. Now I’m going to have to get my hands on the first edition. Evidently the author, Rick Smith visited the shop where James works and was signing copies—icing on the cake.

So make sure to check out this daily online comic, it’s a good one for sure; and pretty relatable if you work in a shop I think. Also to find out more info on its creator, here’s a little interview I did with him a couple of years ago—I bet he’s been up to some new and exciting stuff since then, but nonetheless….

And James, thanks for the great gift. Cottered cranks indeed!



Richmond
Tuesday February 23rd 2010, 11:02 pm
Filed under: News

This weekend is the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show. I’ve attended the last two years in Portland, OR; and Indianapolis, IN; for some reason to me that seems like a big deal. This will be the first year it’s not exactly geographically convenient for me to attend, but I am attending nonetheless. Ol’ Drew and I are making the trip crack of dawn hoping to make the show on it’s first day. Richmond, VA is probably a cool town, I’ve not been there in who knows how long, but I’m meeting some of my family there to show them what all this insanity for bikes is all about that I’ve developed. I’m expecting a dashingly good time; I’ve also just gotten a new digital camera (rumour has it, they’ve stopped even manufacturing film cameras!) so I’ll have, I’m sure, a ton of unique photos of beautiful bikes, components, and other cycling accoutrements.

Here are a couple pics from year’s past:

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Pegoretti @ Portland, OR

Handbuilt photos in 2008

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Velo Orange @ Indianapolis, IN

Handbuilt photos in 2009



Hubday
Wednesday February 03rd 2010, 8:52 pm
Filed under: News

Resistance training. I’ve been doing a lot of it lately. Is that an actual name for a style of training regimen? My version works like this: ride a cross bike all the time, heavy traction tires, with a bag full of whatever, and a set of sluggish hubs. Lately I’ve also topped it off with thicker than recommended chain lube in the winter. Fight through that and you’ve gotta be building strength, right?

Salty. Maybe this Yehuda Moon put it together for me, but don’t we have a lot of salt on our roads? My lips are not only dry, but they’re actually salty from them it seems. How’s that for the crops? My bike has seen better—less desiccated—days.

Today’s ride home however, was a champ-fest. Rocketing across and off the 2nd street bridge was exhilarating, just pushing it! Laying it down. Where was the competition? Apart from the slavish motorists, all in my head. This is my training, remember! The ride home had one further point of awesomeness to it. No hat, first time in a long time I’ve gotten to ride with nothing under my helmet! Is it happening? Probably too early, especially considering that flea-bag Phil, I’ll take Chuck’s forecast this year.

I’ve just been loaned a book. The Wonderful Ride, the “true journal of Mr. George T. Loher who in 1895 cycled from coast to coast on his Yellow Fellow Wheel”. Sounds pretty cool, might inspire me to take that first step to ride some god-awful distance this spring I’ve been thinking about. We’ll just have to see how Mr. Loher fares.

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I love those little Campy part labels

My good buddy Drew over at On Your Left suggested a good idea to me that I am real excited about. I’ve sold the wheels the CAAD9 came with and was planning on, but reluctant to, buying a set of MAVIC Ksyriums. Good wheels to have, no doubt, but I’m a fan of hand-built wheels—preferably my own. There was also a financial issue buying a new set of wheels. Settling that debate was Drew’s suggestion of the brilliance of Campagnolo—or more accurately, he suggested trying a Fulcrum freehub body on my Campy rear hub. Enter the assumed Campagnolo part number 1011225. This will allow me to keep the wheels rolling I built for my recently demised Coppi. Centaur hubs on Aeroheads; thirty-two hole spectacularness!

Oh, and I’ve got a birthday coming up, was the AARP invitation I got in the mail the other day some kind of joke? WTF?



Worlds
Friday January 29th 2010, 3:32 pm
Filed under: News

Awesome news here locally. Most here locally have already heard, but for those who haven’t: the Cyclocross World Championships will be held here in Louisville in 2013.

That’s cool news right? I’m happy to hear it, but must admit it seems like a slightly unlikely choice. What’s New England think of that decision? Or New Jersey and Oregon?

Hey, it’s still the here in the ‘States, right? First time it will not be in Europe What would top that for me personally, is if I was sent to Europe for the first time ever.



Built
Sunday January 24th 2010, 11:49 am
Filed under: News

Last night I built my new * Cannondale CAAD9. Had a good time hanging out with Drew and a few Fat Tires (glad I live near a state that sells that fine beer; god forbid the state I live in allow it, right?) I took my time, it was just about hanging out to me, no rush putting it together really. I found out some of the minor limitations and inefficiencies of the workstand I’ve got at home, all things I suspected of course, but pragmatically discovered last night. It’s great for most repairs still though.

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Creature of the night (15" exposure)

As far as the C-dale goes, I’m keeping it mostly stock at this point, but I have already come to the conclusion myself what most people already told me, and that is the brakes suck. Sometimes I like to come to my own opinions though: the brakes suck. And I haven’t even ridden them yet. I’ll see how they operate soon enough, however, it’ll be hard to clear my mind of the already subjective mushiness I feel in the calipers. But it’s all part of the process of what I said: forming my own opinion. Keeping it stock. The wheels have also been deemed “junk” from several third parties, I honestly don’t care for how they look on the bike, but they seem acceptable for the moment, I’ll ride them soon enough to really lay judgement—personally I like my hand-built wheels best.

It looks pretty sweet on the whole though; what’s not stock on it is the Thomson stem and seatpost. Many of you will know I’m not a fan of carbon, and that stock Cannondale seatpost was carbon—and heavy. The stem to match is really just necessary aesthetics and class. I was sorely tempted to run it with Force instead of Rival, but that upgrade at the moment is cost prohibitive for me. For what it’s worth, the tape isn’t stock; I can’t roll white tape, especially factory generic tape. White was replaced by fi’zi:k Microtex, color grey. Looks good I think, feels great too. Soft and suede-y. Beyond that, the saddle will likely not stay stock either, the Prologo Kappa Pas looks good, feels good, but I’ve learned to like another and am not sure I’m ready to test a new saddle line.

All of this however is for nought, as the celebration that a inaugural ride on a spanking new bike is diminished in a sense when the roads are wet and the sky is dark with rain. It’s supposed to clear up though. I’m always a little saddened for a customer when they come to pick up their new bike on a rainy day. Is that silly? Perhaps. I know that I’m going to ride that new bike in the rain some day, and I’m alright with that, but it’s first ride should be bluebird. (Freshly paved streets is likely asking too much of course.) Clear skies and a comfortable temperature for a maiden voyage just seems like the way it should be. It’s only right for the bicycle gods to deliver a sudden 70˚ and dry afternoon.

* (Mileage on the Coppi’s computer: 1,093.7, for those unaware, the CAAD9 described above is a replacement for the Coppi’s demise.)



BBBBBB30
Tuesday January 19th 2010, 8:44 am
Filed under: News

I’m getting a bicycle tomorrow* and suspect to be riding it this weekend. It’s a Cannondale CAAD9 4, it comes stock with Rival shifting and Cannondale’s BB30 bottom bracket standard (with SRAM Force cranks). I’m looking forward to it, especially the part of learning more about BB30: what it rides like, what it’s durability is like, what it’s maintenance is all about.

I don’t anticipate this standard will wipe away any opinions I have about good ol’ square tapers, but I do think it will surprise me for the positive. Checking out the several I’ve worked on at the shop the past few months has impressed me a bit already. Installation, while blunt and ungraceful, seems like a piece of cake. Extraction, equally so.

I’ll be happy if it spins even half as smooth and fast as the UN54 that’s been neglected and un-inspected for four + years in my fixie. And I’ll surely be happy if it spins faster than the outboards on the ‘cross bikes in this household. We shall soon see.

* or rather it’s shipping tomorrow.



Block
Tuesday January 12th 2010, 7:17 am
Filed under: News

Have lately been conflicted with a bout of writer’s block. Just having trouble resigning myself to sitting in front of the computer lately. In need of some inspiration or something. Maybe the French class or the welding class will do that.

Will return soon.

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Ripped & Torn
Sunday December 27th 2009, 11:35 pm
Filed under: News,Photos

Yesterday I took a ride on the Coppi with my wife and a few other people, it was a nice leisure thirty miler. Recently I discovered a grinding noise in the—suspected—bottom bracket. So the night before, I removed the cranks and found that the Chorus sealed cartridge bearing was loose, happily finding the culprit of the noise, I reassembled and confidently took it out for Sunday’s ride with the plan of replacing the bearing during the overhaul I was intending on performing in the next few weeks. Fausto had plans of another sort for me though. On Sunday’s leisure ride, a different noise made itself apparent to me, it seemed located up near the stem or headset. During the ride, periodically I pushed down on the handlebars to recreate and emphasize the sound hoping to pinpoint it better. After the ride, as I was hanging it up, I decided it’s probably just the stem/bar interface and that I’d take care of it during the overhaul.

It was at this point the creaking sound that had been bothering me during the ride revealed itself visually. Hanging the bike up gave me a distinct view of the underside of the top tube—my stomach sank from what I saw: a hairline crack a quarter of the distance from the headset on the top tube, right at the front internal cable routing hole.

Seeing this, a whole slew of thoughts flashed across my mind. First was sadness and mild anger, disappointment across the board. Next was a series of questions, how? When? Who? Me? How and when did this happen? Someone must have sabotaged it, dropped it when they shouldn’t have even been looking at it. Ugh, it was too much to bear—but I overcame all that quicker than I’d imagined; I’m still calm about it too somehow. I love that bike, how it looks, how it rides, and it’s “heritage”. A brief sense of relief was also considered; relief that I didn’t have to get hospitalized at any point on that thirty mile ride. Images of the tube separating while riding, sending me painfully off the bike somehow made me thankful I noticed it visually on my storage rack rather than “physically” wondering what happened as I lay bleeding on the pavement.

Irony is telling me right now that I should have performed that overhaul I’d been planning much sooner. Especially the left side of the bike; this all makes me wonder how much the left side of a bike gets neglected. Who knows how long this crack has been progressing. There is a very small showing of rust on what I would assume the start of it would be; this is obscured however by the brake cable housing entering the port. I only wrecked once on this bike through the three years I’ve had it, and that over a year ago. A thorough inspection was performed afterwards, and nothing was found; perhaps, considering the location of the crack, the beginnings of it were overlooked, a small minuscule stress point that grew in time to the fully compromised crack that showed yesterday. It is nearly half the circumference of the tube, the crack itself looks like it’s literally tearing, probably increased every time I “stressed” the handlebars on the ride yesterday. Wanting to rip and separate completely.

This experience has made me question the integrity of steel for a minute. Especially such thin high-performance steel, like the Columbus Genius grade the Coppi was crafted from. Is it ill-advisable to ride such “vintage” steel like this? Fifteen years isn’t exactly vintage per se, but the question crosses my mind nonetheless. Historically, were internal routing ports like these prone to this type of cracking? Do they offer an easily developable point of stress? In other words, do they weaken the tube? This tubing is thin to be sure, thin and light. At least it didn’t suffer the same fate as my friend’s Coppi: so sad. But some explanation as to what exactly happened would be nice, only the bike knows. Had I jinxed the bike by having thoughts of upgrading/replacement, that’s definitely the only realistic explanation I can come up with.

One of the benefits of steel that I always tout to people is it’s repairability. This, I’m pretty sure, can be fixed. I can get a new replacement tube brazed in. I’d opt to get a new decal set and a pro paint job reapplied. However, just writing this sounds expensive; it’s likely going to be a far far back-burner project unfortunately. So a replacement frame is in order—I’ve begun looking already. Considering the bottom bracket needs replacing, the new frame doesn’t have to be threaded Italian—that’s a silver lining I guess. Maybe I don’t exactly need a crit bike either. Research to be done, decisions to be made.

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USGP Weekend
Monday October 26th 2009, 10:35 am
Filed under: News

I have been excited about this weekend since it happened last year! The US Grand Prix of Cyclocross. This was the event that sort of sparked the desire to race ‘cross to begin with. And I am pretty damn exhausted from it now that it’s over. It was a great time!

Saturday. Day One. Crack of dawn start, somewhere six rows back. I call it mid-pack. The pre-race jitters were at bay probably because of this start position: if I’m this far back, I can’t feel obligated to make the hole-shot and contend with the leaders. Not that that was an accurate perspective, but it seemed to be a good position for me mentally anyway. At the whistle, there was the usual carnage seen in a big Cat 4 field, I managed to steer clear of the majority of it, and got ahead of the massive group. The big thing I felt confident about was the ability to hammer past loads of riders who were determined to take the “obvious” good line. This turned out to be a great strategy, perhaps it was home-field advantage, but I frequently took the bad line through the straight-aways, the sandpits, and the mud trenches. I felt strong picking my way through the field. Somewhere in the final lap I found one of my target competitors, happily smoked him on the uphill exit from the long sandpit (derailleur grinding audibly) and kept him behind me the rest of the way to the finish line. Yowza!

I should have known something was going to go awry when the official at the finish line on Saturday asked me if I was third place. Isn’t that their job to track us, or are we tracking ourselves now? I couldn’t wait to find out the results though, I had to high-tail it to work. I only heard an hour or so later that I finished in fourth place; pretty satisfying result for me. The issues for my finishing results wouldn’t occur until the Sunday race though.

(more…)



A Change of BB’s
Thursday September 24th 2009, 11:02 am
Filed under: News

Sometimes it can just be a change of scenery that’s needed, other times if the environment isn’t changed 180˚, turned upside-down, and inside out, then it gets to the point where you get perilously close to exploding all over the people around you. I’m changing shops, and at this point, it seems like it’s going to be a good change.

So far, I’ve spent one day at the new digs and immediately the change was evident. The disparity was very interesting I thought. Here’s an example: that one day I was finally introduced to the newest bottom bracket standard, BB30, in person. Seemed pretty straight forward, I’ll admit I’m not a fan just yet, but I’ll give it more time. But the disparity came the next day when back at the old shop where I was faced with extracting a seized french threaded bottom bracket in a 70′s Gitane. A little bit of Liquid Wrench and a headset press reconfigured to act as a fixed cup remover and it was out; replaced by a Velo-Orange cartridge BB. One day BB30, and the next french threads.

I’m not saying one is better than the other, nothing about the old ways being better, rather I welcome both. I want to be knowledgeable with both, I don’t want to be limited by anything on a bike. All things bike is my focus, and admittedly, I’ve got a lot to learn. It’s been too long since I’ve been in a position to be able to learn, and I’ve heard if you’re not learning something everyday, you’re not living.