Friday, August 25, 2006

Janet's Cool Bike Stencils

Somebody who goes by the name of Janet Bike Girl has created a very nice archive of bicycle stencils. You can see and grab high res images of the stencils here:

Janet is obviously a very cool person and has made these stencils freely available under the Creative Commons NonCommercial-ShareAlike License, so people can freely use and modify the images for their own noncommercial purposes. I'm thinking I'll print out some of the stencils and use them to make a few T-shirts or maybe some "Bike Parking" signs.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

One More Bike

I'm pretty good at not buying things, but I have this tendency to adopt things. I'd adopted an aluminum bike that I named Al but I managed to pass Al on to a poor college student. I'm still trying to pass my old PX-10 onto someone and that bike has migrated down to the Bikestation and I know it'll end up with some messenger or urban hipster soon. So I should be making progress in terms of simplification.

And then an old steel mountain bike comes along. A little too small perhaps but maybe something fun to mess around with. Strip off the broken Gripshifts. OK, I'm only going to do this if it's a no money kind of thing. But I do have a big pile of parts. And tools. And time. And I do get this urge to putter.

Beth in Portland likes old stem shifters, maybe I will too. For now the gears will stay. A long seatpost and a Butt Buddy get the saddle high enough. Knobby tires get swapped for something slicker. Rough enough to wander, fast enough to be fast enough. I don't care much about the optimal but I'm fascinated by what is sufficient.

All my bikes wind up looking like my bikes. Brand names tend to get buried. Stickers tend to get cut-up and repurposed. Old campaign signs are made into fenders. All that really matters is where the bike hits my butt, my feet and my hands. The rest will be whatever it is. The Cowboy Junkies said it best, "the beautiful is not chosen, the chosen becomes beautiful."

This bike works for commuting or for exploring gravel roads or tiny trails. I could probably ride it to Inuvik or Patagonia or to the Safeway or the Starbucks. I don't know what I'll do with this. This morning I rode it along the Cedar River and I took some pictures. You can see them here:

Keep 'em rolling,


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Joe and the Joetator

Back in 1998 I wrote a series of articles for Recumbent Cyclist News. The story of Joe and the Joetator is the most memorable of those articles and Bob Bryant has generously given me the greenlight to put the tale up on the web. You can read it here:

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Road Not Taken

My plan for the weekend had been moderately ambitious. I would take Friday afternoon off, ride down toward Packwood, camp out Friday night, ride the SIR 3 Volcanoes 300K Saturday and then ride back home on Sunday. I told people I was doing this and I was looking forward to the trip. But my lovely wife has been going through a lot of turmoil at work and as things turned out, Friday was the day she was interviewing for the position of managing her tumultuous department. She'd didn't expect me to cancel my trip to be with her and in fact there was little I could do.

There was little I could do, but I could do one thing. I didn't ride to Packwood. I bought her a card and some dark chocolate and we went out to dinner Friday night. I heard about how the interview went. By the way, it's very hard to find a card to cover the possibilities of a) you got the job because you are skilled, talented and deserve it b) you didn't get the job because you work for morons or c) we don't know yet and the powers that be will decide at some future date. I settled on a card that said "In all the world, my favorite place is just being with you."

So, one less ride report for the blog. There will be other days and other roads.

But for the record, my wife doesn't work for morons. She is skilled and talented and is the new manager of the Dot Com department of the Issaquah Safeway.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Redline 925 Review in Dirt Rag

My review of the Redline 925 is in issue #122 of Dirt Rag and it's also available online here:

For those of you who wonder what happens to review bikes after the review is done, in this case my pal Dave wound up buying the bike from Redline.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cycling Expenses

While hunting around for something else, I found something I posted to the iBOB list a few years ago about expenses and cycling. Here it is in slightly edited and updated form:

Jeff Potter (the editor and publisher of a neat magazine called Out Your Backdoor) wrote:

I find that adopting anything as a lifestyle results in that thing causing you to be broke. Even if you're on a big team and get most of your stuff for free or half price.

It's not just the travel that makes racing "expensive." I think that hobbies are all designed to tap you out, no matter what you make. They take what you have to give. They inspire you to give all you have. If you're buying it all cheap, used, then you're nickel'n'dimed to death. Well, you're tapped out.

Now I count Jeff as one of the good guys in this world but I'm going to argue the other side of this issue here. But first, I'm going to agree with him that "hobbies" tap you out. Yes, for most people a hobby is something they choose to do. It's fun, they don't need to do it. They enjoy it. Once you've used some of your time for earning what you need for food, shelter and clothing you spend the rest of your time and money on what you enjoy. Call it entertainment. Call it a hobby.

But that hobby, even if it's just a hobby is something you enjoy. Maybe it becomes your passion, a key focus of your life. Guess what, where you spend your time, that is where your heart is. That is where your wealth is. Your life is your wealth, how are you spending it? Are you tapped out? Well, if you feel you are, then you are. But if you find joy in what you've chosen, if you don't begrudge the choices you've made, I'd argue that you aren't broke.

People could look at me and say I'm broke. I currently own two bikes, I haven't owned a car in about 20 years, I probably make less per hour than most people reading this note.

But I'm the richest man I know. I share my life with a wonderful woman who knows that wealth has very little to do with money and everything to do with being at home in the universe.

Sure the magazines and the business of cycling or fly fishing or whatever exist and thrive by selling dreams. If I had Reynolds wheels I'd have won that sprint, if I had that carbon flyrod I have landed that trout, etc. Yeah, whatever. If Reynolds wheels make you happy, go for it. But don't whine that they cost $2K a set. That's what they go for. You decide if they're worth whatever chunk of your life it takes to earn that $2K.

But I need them to be competitive in the Cat 2 races and it's so hard to be a Cat 2... is hard.

The Buddha tells us that life is suffering and when I saw the Buddha in Greenwich Village a few years ago he told me that "life is suffering, pal!" I read somewhere that when I meet the Buddha on the road I'm supposed to kill him but I was running late and had other things to do.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh, yeah. You can be hardcore into your thing without getting caught up in money. Yvon Chouinard lived out of his VW bug, forged climbing gear in the field and was basically a great climbing bum. The man was so broke he ate catfood but he did OK for himself.

Moitessier had great adventures and was one of the greatest sailors ever. Most of his adventures were done on budgets that wouldn't cover the insurance payments on a Hummer H2.

Enough rambling for now.

Have fun out there.

"Society is a system of lures, I'M THROUGH WITH IT."
-- Jack Keroauc, Some of the Dharma

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Lightweight Commuter Bike?

Let's just speak hypothetically here. Suppose a guy who tends to have pretty beefy, simple bikes (say something along the lines of a Redline Monocog or a Kogswell Model G) happens to possibly be in line to get an old (1990ish) Klein Rascal. Now I know the lugged steel crowd will cringe here but the Klein is aluminum. And it's a really ugly shade of purple. On the plus side it's got a steel fork and it is old school; no boingy bits and a seven speed XT drivetrain w rapid fire shifters. Still, not really my, uhm make that "this guy's", kind of bike.

But did I mention the bike is steekin' light? Wicked light. And it's got these odd, short little rear facing track ends. It could really be a dang light single-speed down the road but for starters it might be fun to keep it light and shifty.

Rattlecan paint it black. Trade the knobbies for street tires. But make a goal of this project to keep it light and fast.

Could it be a light, fast commuter bike?

If you had suck a project what would you do?

How would you deck out such a bike?

Could you keep the budget for this project at zero?

All hypothetically speaking, of course.