Thursday, May 31, 2012

Past Projects: 1976 and 1977 Schwinn Varsities

The first 'vintage' bikes I ever bought were these old Schwinn Varsities.  If I remember correctly, the mens' machine was manufactured in 1976, while the ladies' step-through model was made in 1977.  I picked them up from a guy in St. Louis for a very good price - especially considering they were more or less road-ready when I brought them home.  Initially, they were given a quick tune-up and Ginger and I were pretty much immediately riding them around town.  But eventually I decided that they would look really swift with a thorough cleaning.  And while I had the bikes apart, I decided to try my hand at overhauling them as well.

The bikes got new wheels (aluminum for Ginger's step-through, steel for mine), along with rubber and tubes.  I wrapped Ginger's bars in black and mine in blue.  I ripped out the ancient cables and housing and ran some shiny chrome-colored housing, which looked awesome with the rich red color of the frame.  And the headsets and bottom brackets were overhauled.  This was my first experience with ashtabula cranks in my adult life, and I can say with certainty that they suck.  I also took the derailleurs apart and cleaned and regreased them piece-by-piece.  This was actually not such a good idea, as it took a lot of time for very little reward.  Since then, I've found that scrubbing the shit out of the still-assembled derailleur with some diluted cleaner makes it look just as nice, and a few sprays of Tri-Flow will get the pulleys spinning just as freely.

Since this was my first real restoration project, it took a long time to get the bikes back together.  It seems like I spent most of my time gawking at the computer screen, sifting through various bicycle repair websites, scratching my head with a grease-stained finger and wondering where I went wrong.  But eventually, I got them reassembled.  And they ended up looking really nice.

One warning I would give to anyone considering buying a Schwinn Varsity, though:  they are extremely heavy.  The full bike easily weighs over 30 lbs.  So as our little fleet of bicycles grew, we set the Varsities aside and spent more time on notably lighter bikes.  At some point it became clear that we weren't giving the old Schwinns the respect that they deserved, so I sold them.  I wanted to sell them as a pair, but it just didn't happen.  The step-through model sold first, to some college student who knew nothing about bikes.  She just wanted something to ride on the trail for exercise, and I grudgingly let her peel the bike out of my anxious grip.  I don't even want to think about how badly that beautiful machine is probably being neglected right now.  The mens' model sold soon after, and it went to another college student who was really super excited about riding around on a good-looking vintage road bike.  I was happy to see it go to an appreciative new owner.  In fact, I saw that old Varsity just a few weeks afterwards, racing down Hitt Street, drawing envious second glances from passersby - myself included.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I shopped my friend's closet

I have an impeccably-styled friend named Liz. Over the weekend she decided to set aside some things she didn't wear so often anymore, and she let me pick a few things out that caught my eye. A lot of things caught my eye so everything cute you see me in this summer will have come from Liz's closet. She's an avid cyclist as well, and we've been talking for months about having her do a guest post for us. Probably you'll see something from her sooner rather than later.

In other topics, let's talk about breakfast. I don't have time to sit down and eat a regular meal because I'm a very slow eater and I treat every meal like a total dining experience, complete with either literary or televised entertainment.

Since the little dude will not tolerate any such thing, I have to improvise. For months now I've been drinking a breakfast smoothie, and it has proven to be the single most filling and long-lasting breakfast I've ever had, plus I can put it in my reusable Starbucks cup and take it with me everywhere. Here's my breakfast smoothie recipe.

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Smoothie

1/2 banana, frozen
5 ice cubes
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
Huge scoop of Jif
1/2 packet of Carnation Instant Breakfast, sugar-free, vanilla
1 tablespoon ground flax

Blend it together and voila! Breakfast!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The May Joyride

We really thought it would be just us Stringers out for the Sunday Joyride. With the Pedaler's Jamboree on Saturday and the Memorial Day weekend we figured everybody would be either too tired or out of town for our little recreational spin around town.

Boy, were we wrong.

Holli, Quinn and Neil met up with us over at the Flat Branch Park playground. Here we are just leaving the park (the only time we rode on the sidewalk).
They are more familiar with interesting routes between Flat Branch Park and Stephens Lake Park so we let them take the lead. The huge fire at the Brookside Apartments construction site prevented us from taking our pretty direct, planned route so instead we took a lot of side streets and even went over one of Columbia's more uncomfortable brick streets.

Mercifully it was only for half a block and we took it really slow so it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be.

We also dismounted and walked our rides over the pedestrian bridge at Stephens College, where we got a good look at the remains of the fire site. Let me say here that I never would have thought to take this route, but I'm so glad they did. I love finding new ways to get around town.

From the college it seemed like it was mostly down hill to the park, where we found our friends Liz and Kyle hanging out under a shade tree waiting to meet up with us.

Holli, Quinn and Neil caught their breath and rehydrated before heading home a little early.

Pretty soon my buddies from work Caroline and Justin showed up with some new friends, Liz and Colin. I later found out they had been waiting for us by the Flat Branch Park gazebo instead of the playground and I had no idea because I left my phone at home and missed all their texts and tweets. Sorry, guys!

Anyway, my boy put on the adorability show to keep them entertained. He rolled around on the grass and then learned how to take self portraits.

Then we were off again! This time, since we were in Kyle's neck of the woods, he led us.

We took a spin around the roundabout as we rode by Boone Hospital. This was all under construction two years ago when our little dude was born. The improvement was indescribable.

I find that we tend to clump together at stop lights, all ride through together and then straighten out along the right side of the lane once we're through the intersection. Seems like something like that would take some ahead-of-time planning, but that's just how it happens. I think it's nice.

Anyway, we made it over to Flat Branch for some deliciousness before heading back. It was so hot out and we had just ridden up some hills and we were thirsty. The APA there has never tasted so good. Really. It's a seasonal brew so get over there and drink one before it's gone.

This is Kyle's We Made It pose.

We had a fantastic time over bikes, brews and food. Then we all parted ways and headed home.

On the way back Cody did the best photo bomb ever.

And when I got home I realized I had some gnarly chain grease all over my leg. I loved it so much I didn't wash it off right away. This might even make a great tattoo, right? Right?

Many thanks to Neil, Holli, Quinn, Kyle, Liz, Caroline, Justin, Colin and Liz for making this ride so much fun. Hope to see you next time!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sunday Funday!

If you're not out on the trail for the Pedaler's Jamboree, come join us for a Sunday Joyride.  As usual, we're going to get together at the Flat Branch Park playground at 2:00 pm this Sunday, May 27th.  Once assembled, we're going to cruise across downtown and head over to Stephens Lake Park.  We'll take a few minutes to hang loose at Stephens Lake before heading back to Flat Branch Park.  From there, the plan is to lock up the bikes and head up to the brewery to take in some air conditioning and adult beverages.

The forecast for Sunday includes unseasonably warm temperatures, but other than that, it's going to be a beautiful day.  Throw bikes and beer into the mix, and it doesn't get much better.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vintage Bike Ride?

I read via Bikeville that there was a vintage bike ride in Brooklawn, NJ last weekend.  Ralph also posted some cool pics of some of the bikes that were ridden in the vintage ride.  As a purveyor of vintage bicycles, I thought this idea was awesome.  And my first though was, could we pull this off in CoMo?

The event in New Jersey also held a judging, and there were strict rules as to what bikes were eligible for the awards.  You can read over the requirements here.  I thought their rules were a little stiff, but I can definitely see the advantage of having them; you've got to have some way to keep such an event vintagey.   I think if we were to host a ride like this in Columbia, there would need to be some guidelines, but they could be deemed 'recommended'.  Making the rules 'recommended' and not 'required' would not exclude anyone who wanted to come, which is good.  And it would give potential attendees a better idea of what, exactly, the hosts of the ride mean by 'vintage.'  There would probably need to be an age cutoff.  Something along the lines of, say, bicycles built before1987 preferred .  Perhaps also some other brifters, no mountain bikes, and only steel frames, etc. 

There's no way I could do something like this on my own.  I don't know many local folks who build and/or ride vintage machines, so it would be difficult for me to reach out to that community without help.  And I definitely don't have the time that would be necessary to organize and run the thing.  But maybe I can coerce some of the local pros to come on board.  I'm thinking specifically of Karl and his crew at Klunk Cycles.  But I also think the guys over at Walt's might be down.  Anyways, I'm really just thinking out loud here.  If you have any thoughts on whether we could get a vintage bike ride together, shoot me an email or leave a comment or something.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hooray for a new route!

I work with a delightful group of people who bike to work religiously. We often talk to each other about what's been happening out on the roads, who we've seen, cool bikes out there and other local bike-related happenings.

One of these coworkers lives in the same neighborhood as Cody and I do. He once mentioned a shortcut he takes that allows him to avoid a busy intersection and a left-hand turn. This alley runs from First to Fourth Streets between Walnut and Ash, which pretty much delivers me directly to my employer's bike racks.

I took this shortcut for the first time this afternoon. Probably I'll never go the old way again. Thanks for the tip, Steve! Great find.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How my Grammy helped me with my hair

It has been just over two months since my grandma died. She was 92. She and my grandpa were married in 1943, and raised eight kids in a tiny pink stucco house in Pueblo, Co., where they both died, he on Christmas Day 2010, she on March 11. Their lifetime of devotion to each other and their family has had a deep and lasting impact on me. She was beautiful, a devoted wife, an excellent mother, a doting grandmother and she made the best tortillas.

Sadly, I wasn't able to make it out to Colorado for her service so I was really, really touched when my mom sent me a Mother's Day package full of things that belonged to my grandma. I got a vintage cami, a peasant skirt a straw pocketbook and several scarves.  These things I will always treasure.

This scarf is one of them.

I was having a bad hair day so I just fixed my bangs, made a bun and tied Grammy's scarf around the whole shebang. It fit under my helmet, required no fussing and was easy to do.

Thanks, Grammy.

The Worst Is Over

I don't know how the hell the nut and washer came off of Ginger's front brake assembly, but that's definitely what happened.  I should've known that they were getting loose.  Her front brake suddenly developed a loud squeak that was progressively becoming both more pronounced and lower of pitch.  But whatever; the bike is fixed now.  The squeak is gone and the brakes are working properly.  And to make sure that they stay that way, I used a split lock washer with a nylon-insert locknut to bolt the brake back on the fork.  It's not going anywhere any time soon.  Unfortunately, the bent brake bolt went back on the bike, as that seems to be a particularly difficult piece of hardware to replace.

On a related note, for the past few years, I've been putting Grey Matter brake pads on all of our road bikes.  I think these particular pads are made by Dia Compe.  I buy them because they're very cheap - usually around $2.50 apiece at my LBS.  But when I put new brakes on my Peugeot, they came with two sets of Nashbar road shoes/pads.  I couldn't believe the difference in stopping power.  Now, I can't totally blame the higher quality road pads for the enhanced braking performance; after all, the bike also had brand new calipers and NOS levers.  But I was literally skid-stopping at every stop sign I came to until I got used to the more subtle touch that was required of the new brakes.  I can easily stop my bike with one finger on each lever, which is something that I was never able to do with my Raleigh.  What's more, I have also had repeated troubles with squealing brakes, which is probably due to the softer pad compound of the Grey Matters.

For right now, the machines that have the Grey Matter pads will probably keep them.  But when tune-up time comes around, I'm thinking I'll start swapping out the old pads with some higher quality road shoes/pads.  Then I can compare any difference in braking performance a little more directly.  And besides, a quick browse through some of my favorite online retailers tells me that I can get some harder-compound road pads for around the same price that I've been paying for the Grey Matter pads.   So there's always that.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bike to work day

Hooray for Bike To Work Day! I saw six bikes on the rack at work today. Not a record, but it's a solid turnout. I also saw a whole lot of other cyclists out on the road today and absolutely zero d-baggery between motorists and cyclists. In fact, I had a minor chain mishap and a coworker happened by in his Jeep and helped me out. This, I thought, was exceptionally kind (thanks Brennan!).

I also saw a free bike out on somebody's yard over on West Worley. Didn't get a good look at it, but it seemed like a clean rig. All in all, I thought it was a lovely Bike, Walk and Wheel Week. There's a free and untimed walk/bike ride tomorrow. I don't think we'll make it, but it sounds like a whole lot of fun.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The worst

I love this skirt. It's light and roomy, it has pockets, it's surprisingly versatile. And it just makes me feel so pretty! So, at least I was feeling great when a horrible screeching sound started coming from the front of my bike and then this happened...
My front brake fell off my bike. Above, you see the spacer that I picked up off the street. Below you see where the whole thing is supposed to be attached. I have no idea where washer and nut are that should be there. I may have been riding around without them for quite some time. We can't figure out how this could have happened.
Actually, now that I think about it I probably have been riding around with some falling-apart brakes for a while. When Cody took the screw out he found it was bent. This makes us both sad.
I guess we all know what Cody will be working on this weekend in the Tinkery.

Past Projects: 1973 Raleigh Record

Working on old bikes, there are times that you want to just take the damn thing to the top of the tallest parking garage in town and throw it off.  Other times, the planets seem to align and it's almost as if the bike rebuilds itself.  When I look back at the restoration of this 1973 Raleigh Record road bike, it's hard to believe how quickly, easily, and inexpensively this bike went from a beat-up old barn find to an immaculate eye-catcher.  What's more, I even had the wherewithal to take some before-and-after pictures to document the bicycle's transformation.  I've put these pictures side-by-side to better illustrate the difference.

My uncle gifted me this bike in the fall of 2010, right around the same time that my cousin Zac told me that he was wanting a bike for his commute to and from work.  What a fortunate coincidence, I thought.  So I loaded it up, brought it home, and took it apart.  I decided to rebuild this bike the same way that I had my 1972 Raleigh Record.  This included conversion of the cotter-based bottom bracket to a square-taper cartridge, which had been a major expense on my old '72 Record, as I had to use a costly press-fit bottom bracket.  For this project, however, I was able to use an inexpensive threaded Shimano cartridge.  And I picked up a sexy Sugino crankset off of eBay to replace the old cotter cranks.  Next came a new aluminum wheelset with a new freewheel, rubber, and tubes.  Then the bike got a new saddle, bar tape, cables and housing, and chain.  As usual, everything got a thorough cleaning and degreasing before the components went back onto the frame.

I took the 'before' pictures of this bike on the 5th of August, and took the 'after' pictures 11 days later.  Pretty astonishingly quick project, considering that I was working on my doctorate dissertation at the time and also had a month-old baby boy as an audience/distraction.  In fact, I brought him out to the shop with me so that he could watch me work.  I explained all of the steps to him while I went along as if I were training him.  Good stuff.

Zac tells me that he still rides this rig to work on a regular basis, and also takes it out for recreational trips.  It's been nearly two years since I finished this project and delivered the bike to him, and yet I just recently had a mutual friend of ours tell me how impressed he was with this machine.  I'm definitely proud of how the bike turned out, but I'm even happier that the bike is appreciated, well cared for, and ridden regularly.  But then, I've been riding with Zac most of my life, so I knew it would be.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tinkernation: Let the Fun Begin

My first Tinkernation post is online!  I'm pretty stoked about it.  Also, now that the cat's out of the bag, I can unveil the project that I'll be working on for this 3-part series:  rehabbing an old Columbia Twosome tandem.  My first post is pretty short and sweet; I just wanted to introduce the project bike and say a few things about my humble background as an amateur bicycle mechanic and blogger.  Though I think all of my posts will be pretty brief.  I don't want to seem long-winded, and I'm not a very skilled photographer, so I'll only be including the images necessary to illustrate the main points of each post.

For loyal readers of this blog, here's a little inside scoop to accompany the Tinkernation post.  First off, when I started searching out a tandem, an upright, cruiser-style bike is not what I had in mind.  I was more interested in finding an old Burley mountain tandem or something along those lines.  But one thing I learned very quickly is that tandems are expensive.  Plus, I was working on a bit of a deadline with the launch of Tinkernation looming.  I found this Columbia Twosome on CraigsList, and after exchanging a few emails with the owner, decided that I was getting a good deal on a great-looking bike.

Astute observers may have noticed that the tandem has a rear fender, but is missing the front fender.  Funny story; I tore that front fender off trying to get the bike loaded onto my car to bring it home.  I decided to take the front wheel off before throwing the bike on top of my car.  But the washer that should've been between the axle nut and the fender strut, which allows the axle nut to turn freely, was instead between the fender strut and the hub.  So when I turned the axle nut, the fender strut turned as well, bending it until the axle nut finally broke free.  By that time, the fender struts were ruined.  So when I got the bike home, I just threw the damn thing in the trash.  Inevitably, this was the case with the rear fender was well, so it took a trip to curb on trash day too.

My next Tinkernation post should be posted in about a month or so.  Again, I'll be sure and link to the post on this blog when it goes up.  Until then, I'll be continuing with regular updates of the non-tandem-related variety.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Helloooo CoMo!

I don't often change clothes for the bike ride, but some days I just have to wear a narrow skirt, but want to ride my bike anyway. It's the easiest thing in the world to roll a pencil skirt around a pair of pumps and shove the bundle in my pocketbook. it's even easier to roll up a pair of tights and sandals for the work day.

It wasn't so easy to keep my shirt closed for my commute, though. Halfway through my ride in I looked down and found myself displaying an obscene amount of cleavage. Breezy? Yes. Distracting? Absolutely.

There was nothing I could do to fix that mid-ride, but before I left for my evening commute I grabbed a paper clip from my desk and closed the top of my shirt for a worry-free ride home.

Thoughts On My Cardiff Cornwall Saddle

When I was putting together my Peugeot over the winter, I decided that a leather saddle would be the way to go.  I eyed a few Brooks models, and also considered going with VeloOrange.  But in the end, I decided to save 30 bones by going with a Cardiff Cornwall (as I noted previously).  I did some research on this saddle before buying and I was a little concerned by the number of online reviews that ranged from tepid to scathing.  I forged ahead anyways, though, since it's so often only the people who are dissatisfied with their product who are motivated to write a review.  Since clamping this saddle onto my bike earlier this year, I've put a few hundred miles on it and I feel that I'm ready to share a few thoughts about it.

My first thought is that the saddle looks pretty cherry.  It ended up matching my Salsa bar tape perfectly, which is always a plus.  The color maybe isn't as rich as I would have liked, but it looks pretty superb on my old Peugeot nonetheless; and a couple applications of leather conditioner have made it look a lot better.  I've recently noticed the emergence of light-colored lateral striations running across the saddle that have really been enhanced by the conditioner.  This may be some sort of defect.  Most likely it's evidence that the leather was not cut with the grain running along the length of the saddle, which is not a good thing.  Either way, it's probably an indication that this is not the highest quality saddle and that you get what you pay for.  I have to admit, though, that I think the striations look pretty cool - like tiger stripes - and add a bit of character to the saddle.

I should also point out a few things about how this saddle feels.  A disclaimer:  I rarely put more than 10 miles on this bike at a time, so if you're a touring cyclist who's considering buying a Cornwall, I can't speak to the comfort of this saddle for long distance riding.  With that said, when I first rode this saddle, I couldn't believe how hard it was.  After a couple weeks of arriving at work with sore spots at my sit bones and numbness in my nether regions, I decided that drastic measures were needed.  So I loosened the tensioner by about a half turn, which gave the top of the saddle a very slight give when I pushed down on it with all my weight.  The next morning I no longer had soreness or numbness at the end of my ride.  And despite loosening the tensioner a bit, I haven't noticed any observable depressions in the saddle.  In fact, the saddle is quickly becoming more comfortable than any other saddle I've ridden.  So in the end, while the Cornwall may not give me the total mileage that a Brooks might, I've been very pleased with it for the first few hundred miles.  And not only would I recommend this saddle to a friend, but I would also very likely buy another.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My picks for Bike, Walk and Wheel Week

Bike, Walk and Wheel Week officially kicked off Saturday with a number of safety classes, but it'll kick into high gear next week with some truly excellent-sounding events. You can see all of the week's goings-on here, but here are the cant-miss happenings:

  • Monday: Walking Public Art Tour— 6 pm, Flat Branch Park, Chris Stephens of the Office of Cultural Affairs will lead  a walking tour of the many pieces of public art throughout downtown Columbia.
  • Tuesday: Secret Access Trail Ride — 6-8 pm, Flat Branch Park Gazebo, On this fifteen-mile round trip ride along the MKT , Ride leaders will stop during the ride and reveal various access points along the trail. I'm the first to admit I don't know enough about our local trail system. This, I think, is going to be the week's most educational event for me. Plus, 15 miles in two hours? That's a lot farther than I'm used to biking at one time. They require you to wear a helmet for this one.
  • Wednesday: Brown Bag Lunch Session “I Would Bike/Walk to Work, But…” — 12-12:45 pm, Walton Building, Prepare to have your excuses banished. The PedNet Coalition will provide strategies to help you put activity into your commute to work no matter how far away you live, what the weather may be, or how busy your schedule. I recommend this session to anyone thinking of trying to bike to work. Probably you'll find it to be easier than it seems. 
  • Thursday: Bike Shop Workshop — 6:30-7:45 pm, Walt’s Bicycle Fitness & Wilderness Co, Learn basic bike maintenance, like how to repair or replace a tire tube or make cable and brake adjustments. I don't have to worry too much about maintaining my own machines (Cody is the Master Tinkerer), but if you'd like to be able to take care of some of the little things yourself without hauling your rig to your local bike shop, get your ass to this class.
  • Friday: Breakfast Station Day ~ National Bike to Work Day — National Bike to Work Day! YAAAAY! Plus free breakfast for pedestrians and cyclists from 7-9. Breakfast stations are at the MKT Trailhead at Forum, the ARC, Lions-Stephens Park, Flat Branch Park and Fire Station 9 at Blue Ridge and Providence. 
  • Saturday: Trails Day; 5K Walk/Run & 10K Bike Event — 9-10 am, MKT Trail AccessIf you aren't pooped from the week's activities there's a free, no-registration-required bike/walk/run on the MKT. It's not timed, and you get a free t-shirt.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Look what my Mom got!

My mom's twin brother got this bike from an old man at their church 30 years ago. He kept it all this time, and just unearthed it and gave it to her. It's this lovely Schwinn 3-speed thing with a rear rack, fenders, a chain guard and a lovely color scheme. They texted these pictures to me. The dog belongs to my Tia, and her name is Chloe — the dog, not my aunt. My aunt's name is Priscilla.

Mom lives in Colorado Springs, where there's a lively cycling community, and a great many hills. I hope she finds a good bike mechanic to tune it up. If she brought that thing to the Tinkery for Cody to look at I would steal that rig without shame.What a beautiful ride.

Also, there are a couple of other items around the Internet that might interest you. Momentum Magazine's new issue just came out (you can even flip through the digital edition if you like). Loyal reader Kim gave me the heads-up about this Ride It Forward contest Terry Precision Cycling is looking for the most dedicated cyclist. I entered. The winner will be determined by popular vote, and the voting period begins on June 11. Vote for me if you like, or enter yourself! I'd love to see a CoMoian win. Terry Precision Cycling  has many adorable bike-specific garments, by the way. I would kill for this dress or this one or these boots with "generous calf space." Check 'em out.

And then there's this. My friend, coworker and fellow bike enthusiast Charlie alerted me to this delightful little gem.

Giving the Sunday Joyride a Haircut

We always enjoy our Sunday Joyrides.  Hanging out with friends, riding bicycles, and eating and drinking are fun activities.  However, planning and executing the Joyrides has become more of a hassle than a treat over the past few weeks.  As you've noticed, we've had to cancel several outings.  And we've had busy weekends in which the Joyride was difficult to plan our other responsibilities around.

To keep our Joyrides...erm, joyous, we've decided to pare them down to once a month.  This will give us some off-weekends to get chores and errands done and also allow us to do a better job of planning the rides.  Due to the lack of upcoming holidays falling on potential Joyride days and to make the date somewhat easy to remember, we propose scheduling the Joyrides for the last Sunday of each month.  That means that our next ride will be Sunday, May 27th.  As always, we'll meet up at around 2:00 pm.  I'm not sure yet where we will begin; we'll be sure to post an update here at least a few days in advance to let everyone know where to meet up.

Speaking of Joyride scheduling, Ginger and I are in the process of making some changes to the blog that may or may not include a widget that will provide details about the next Joyride.  A visit to any page of the blog would then give you at-a-glance information on an upcoming Joyride, negating the need to search out a particular post.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

KP Bought a Saddle

Some folks had been giving KP shit about how ugly the saddle on his '86 Uni was (I didn't think it was that bad).  He said it was also a bit uncomfortable.  So he ditched the old saddle and picked up a black Brooks B17.  He rides a B17 on his other rig as well, so once the new saddle is broken in, he should be able to switch bikes without notable discomfort.  Plus, the Brooks just looks super cherry.  Check the link above to see what the bike looked like with the old saddle.  And check the picture below to see how it looks now.

Aww yeah!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My New Interest in Flat Squirrels

I ran across an article on Wired Science titled "Count Roadkill From Your Bike for Science."  Obviously, I'm a big fan of bikes.  Otherwise I wouldn't be coauthoring a blog about bicycles.  But I'm also a big fan of science.  So when you combine the two, I get a little giddy.  This is one such instance.  It's not the most glamorous marriage of bicycling and science, given that the goal is to track roadkill.  But this project is a hands-on way for cyclists to help record observations that could potentially make our roadways safer for vehicles of all kinds, as well as for wildlife.

To participate, just go to ASC's Roadkill Project site and click on 'Enter a Roadkill Observation.'  If you haven't already, you'll need to register.  Then you'll be prompted to enter your data for the observation.  As with any scientific observation, the more descriptive an observer can be, the better the observation.  The species of the flattened creature, the time/date that you observed it, the specific location (which can be selected by finding the location on a hi-res map), a photo, and any other pertinent details can be entered into the data collection fields and submitted to ASC for this project.

I'm definitely going to start noting my roadkill observations and entering them into the site.  If you're out on the road a lot - either for recreation or for commuting - this is a great way to get involved in a cool conservation project.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thank goodness for bike shorts

This is a wrap dress. It's super easy to wear, and probably among the more flattering items in my closet. But there's this danged waist-high slit to deal with. If you're concerned at all about keeping the color of your undies a secret, but attempt to bike in your work dresses anyway you've probably commuted with some part of your mind on whether or not you're revealing more than you intend.

This sucks.

Also, it's sort of dangerous. If I have to share the road with two-ton vehicles I want to be completely focused on what exactly I'm doing and the other people on the road. This is why I've taken to wearing to bike shorts underneath any garment I'm iffy about on the bike.

What a feeling!

It feels vaguely naughty because I just stop concerning myself with what my skirt is doing. And probably because I am showing my underpants (or would that be undershorts?). I'm better able to concentrate on my commute. And since this is something I find myself doing every year, I can say I always surprise myself with how much I'm not showing. At the end of the hot weather season I feel completely comfortable biking in most everything in my closet, even without bike shorts.

But they are a nice sort of security blanket at the beginning of the season.

Monday, May 7, 2012

KP Bought a Bike

So KP, my partner in crime and general shenanigans, bought a bike last week.  For the last year or so he's been riding a beat up old Schwinn road bike that he converted to a 12-speed trail bike/commuter with bullhorn bars.  It's a fun rig, and it's got a hell of a lot of character, but a late model Univega that was for sale locally on Craigslist caught his eye.  Actually, it caught my eye too, but the last thing I needed was yet another bike in the garage.  I joined up with him when he went to take a look at it and I was pretty impressed.  It's a 1986 Univega Viva Sport that's in good shape and was being sold for a fair price.  And after a quick test ride and a trip to the ATM, we made our way to Shakespeare's to have a beer and celebrate his new acquisition.

I snatched the above image from the Craigslist ad right after KP bought the bike.  It had the ugliest bar tape I've ever seen, ancient cables and housing, tires with hardly any rubber left, and some sort of small sail attached to the seat tube bosses.  So the next day, we threw it up on the stand in the Tinkery and went to work on it.  It got a thorough cleaning and a full tune-up.  It got new tubes and some bitchin' new white and black tires.  We threw out the small plastic pie plate and whatever the hell that thing was on the seat tube.  To top it off, KP wrapped the bars with two-tone black and white bar tape.  And now it looks like this:

I stole that image from KP's Facebook page.  Too lazy to take my own pictures, evidently.  I meant to get some shots of him working on the bike last week, but once we started in on the bike, I totally forgot.  Anyway, this machine now looks fantastic and is going to be a real head-turner when he's speeding around town on it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Reminder: Sunday's Joyride is Cancelled

As I mentioned last week, we have some family-related business going on this weekend.  Therefore, the Sunday Joyride for this weekend (May 6) has been cancelled.  By all means, you're still welcome to go for a bicycle ride; we just won't be there to join you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The story of the yellow dress

This is my sister with my little dude.
This dress didn't always look like this. It used to be a tunic I bought it on a whim while on a shopping trip with my sister, who is 11 years younger than I am. She's really cute, and can pull off pretty much any trend. She has shaved her head (to raise money for cancer research), pierced her nose and has the kind of figure I can only dream about. To top it all off when her hair grew back in it came back in the most adorable sort of pixie 'do. If she wasn't so outstandingly sweet, it would almost make you want to hate her. This is impossible, though. You couldn't hate her even if you wanted to.

So it's easy for me to get caught up when I'm out shopping with her. I tend to pick up things that are too young or too revealing for a lady of my years. And then she very kindly tells me I look amazing in everything I try on. And then I end up with something I have no idea to style, like this.

Unfortunate, right?

Well, I got a sewing machine a few months ago, bought a couple yards of jersey knit, deconstructed the tunic and came out on the other side with a new dress and a new miniskirt that I'm much more comfortable in.