Friday, March 27, 2009

Broken Collar Bone - Hanging on a Cross - I Don't Think So!

Did that title get your attention? Let me explain. I will playing Jesus in my church's Easter drama this weekend.

Being true to the Easter story, I will be crucified. At the end of rehearsal last weekend, the Director was encouraging the cast to get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, take care of ourselves and not get hurt. She got me to thinking about riding. I can count on one hand the number of crashes I've had in the last 20 years of riding - so the risks, in my estimation, are extremely low. That being said - the risks are not zero - I have crashed. A common injury in bike crashes is a broken collar bone. Hmmmm - suppose I crash this week - suppose I brake my collar bone - how will I hang on a cross? The answer - I wouldn't! Two months of rehearsals - two months of growing out my hair and beard - all for naught. Furthermore - this isn't a big production so I don't have a stand-in. An injury this week would not only jeopardize my hard work, but that of a lot of other folks as well.

I was torn - do I risk it and ride or do I sacrifice the ride to portray the "greatest sacrifice"? I decided on the latter. Two things occurred this week that confirmed I made the right decision. 1st - Lance Armstrong crashed and broke his collar bone. 2nd - It rained most of the week and I wouldn't have been able to ride much anyway.

The closest I came to commuting is portrayed below:

This was the view looking over my handlebars.

Doesn't that look like fun? I did a "virtual commute" to work on my stationary trainer 4 days this week. I have to admit - I hate riding the stationary training - it's too much like real life - you pedal your butt off, sweat like a pig, but don't get anywhere. That's OK though. My Easter morning this year will be this upcoming Monday - The beard will be gone - the hair will be buzzed - the stone will be rolled away - the tomb will be empty - I'll be back on my Fixed Gear riding to work.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Building a Bike - Part 2 - Components

They don't look like much now, but this assortment of parts will one day coalesce into a beautiful and functional "light roadster". I was able to scour my garage and come up with some of the components to get me started: frame, stem, hubs, crank arms, seat post and derailleur. For the rest I had to scour the Internet and in the process found some pretty neat places to shop and some good deals to boot:
Niagara Cycle Works sold through I found some North Road style handlebars (very reasonably priced), Weinmann LP-18 rims and Pyramid steel touring brake levers (these bad boys are a little on the heavy side, being steel and all - but they look old fashioned - I like that).

I got this Brooks Flyer from Lickbike. This is the first Brooks Saddle I've ever owned or ridden on. I've heard so much about them over the years. My butt is giddy over the prospect of finally sitting on one. This is the purchase I'm most proud of. I am a bell person - in fact to get an idea of my affection for bells - I recommend you go back and read one of earlier posts entitled "I Lost My Bell Today". I got this jewel from Calhoun Cyclery. It's a Suzu brass bell. I have to tell you this bell not only looks great, but it has a beautiful sound that resonates for a looooong time. I ordered two (one for the Roadster and one for my wife's bike). I'm thinking of ordering a 2 or 3 more and outfitting all my bikes with them.

From Harris Cyclery I found all kinds of cools stuff including a 44 tooth chainring, single stack chainring bolts, SKS P-45 fenders, repro Raleigh type grips and MKS black rubber pedals (these booggers are heavy too, but again old and classic looking).
In total - I spent $346.49 on the components. I'll need a few more miscellaneous items like cables, housings and rim tape. I'll also need to get my wheels built. I'll get all this at local shops. I'm hoping to get by with spending about $500.00 in total. Not a bad price when you consider all the hours of joy I will get riding this beauty.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Foghorn Anyone?

Foghorn - that's exactly what I needed this morning on my ride to work. When I got up this morning at 4:30, made a cup of coffee and logged into iGoogle, the weather alert flashed but one word "Fog". I scarcely gave it a fleeting thought until I walked out the house at 6:15 am. I looked around and the lights reflecting off a dense fog was eerie.

I wasn't a quarter mile from the house when I was forced to make my first stop. The fog was so thick and wet that it was like rain suspended in mid air. My riding glasses (clear lens) were covered with mist and I could scarcely make out where I was going. I stopped briefly, took them off and stuffed them in my pocket. I continued riding in the darkness and fog as the moisture collected on my clothes, beard, eyebrows and eyelashes.

I mentioned in a recent post that I liked riding in the dark because it made my world small. Riding the the dark, in the fog made my world next to minuscule. My 10 watt headlight, though fully charged , emitted but a miserable excuse for illumination. I was taking the short route to work - a route that I have ridden a thousand times if I've ridden it once. Yet this morning I got lost. I couldn't read the street signs, they were enveloped in fog and my light was overwhelmed just trying to illuminate a dim spot 10 feet in front of me. I turned left on what I thought was the same road I am accustomed to turning on, only to be met by surroundings that sounded not a shred of familiarity. I quickly realized that I had obviously turned too soon, so I improvised, adjusted my route and got back on track.

I continued on and eventually made it to the entrance of the shipyard's north yard parking lot. On all my previous commutes, at this point I am met by the blaring lights that illuminate a shipyard that never sleeps. Yet this morning, as I gazed into the direction of the yard, I was met with total darkness. Had the shipyard slipped into the James River? Was it experiencing a major power outage? Given the scene that met my eyes at that moment, one would never have imagined that I was barely a stones throw away from the biggest shipyard in the United States. I was surrounded by a darkness and fog so deep it could be felt. I was transported to my youth, growing up in rural Southwest Louisiana. Surrounded by swamps, fog was as much a part of life as sunrises. Of course, back then I had enough sense not to ride in the dark or the fog. So the sensation this morning was a new one all together.

I eventually made it to work without incident. I was cold and wet - but I felt good. The ride was spooky - disconcerting - risky - but it was exhilarating. I got lost - but discovered something new. I rode slower - but arrived too soon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Building a Bike - Part 1 - Intro

I am starting to build another bike and since I now have a blog, I thought I would take you with me. In the description of my blog I refer to it as "looking over my handlebars and telling you what I see." Well - this series of blogs will be more like "looking over my workbench..." I will be building what I call a modified "Light Roadster". Sheldon Brown, in an article on The Golden Age of 3 Speeds describes this style of bike as:

"Roadsters were the old-fashioned style of bicycle popular in the countryside. They usually had 635 mm (28 x 1 1/2) wheels with westwood rims, long cranks and long wheel bases, and very shallow frame angles (68 degrees or less.) Roadsters used "roller-lever" brakes operated by rods, instead of cables. The typical roadster would also be equipped with a"gear case", a chainguard that completely enclosed the "chain".

Sports or "light roadster" bicycles were the basic transportation of the urban working class. They feature 590 mm (26 x 1 3/8) wheels with Endrick or Raleigh-pattern rims, full steel fenders (or "mudguards" to the British) "North Road" upright handlebars, and cable-operated brakes. Sports bicycles had rather more nimble frame geometry, typically with 72 degree frame angles. These bicycles were faster and lighter than roadsters. The vast majority of English bicycles that made it to the United States fall into this category.

I found this picture of a 1970's model Raleigh sports roadster in Wikipedia.
My version of the "Light Roadster" will be similar to the classic version with a with a few twists. I will be using an old Bianchi steel frame (that I will be repainting). Similar to the traditional "Light Roadster", it will have fenders, North Road handlebars, three speed style grips, pedals and a leather saddle. However, instead of a three speed hub, I am opting for an 8 speed cassette and rear derailleur. I'll also be using 32 spoke, 700 mm aluminum rims.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as this bike becomes a reality.

Riding in the Dark

Thanks to moving the clocks forward an hour last weekend - I'm back to riding in the dark on my morning commute. I don't mind really - principally for two reasons. Number one - this means that it gets darker later, which gives me more time to ride when I get home. Secondly - I generally like riding in the dark. For me it's peaceful and quiet. It's relaxing.

The dark envelops me and I feel like I'm in my own little world - a world no larger than that illuminated by my headlight.

The dark slows the world down which make me feel like I am going faster.

The dark silences the world - a silence I bask in - a silence that is too sacred to break.

When riding in the dark - minus the distractions of the light - I ride with my thoughts.

The days are getting longer. Soon the darkness will give way to light. For me - to be perfectly honest - I am torn. While I relish the long, hot days of summer - I lack not an appreciation for the cold, dark days of winter. I am left with but one choice - ride on!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Bike - My Love

I fell in love again this weekend. After a long winter of poking at the edges to see what else lie out there - I am now back in the bosom of my true love.

This winter I have embraced swimming. This winter I have snuggled up close with running. While these affairs have kept me trim - they have been woefully inadequate in capturing my heart - my passion!

As I rode to work Friday morning - I battled a brisk headwind. Were I to blog about that ride - I think I would entitle it, "Headwinds - Hooray!" It would merit such a title because a headwind in my morning commute could mean but one thing - warmer weather was on the way.

This weekend brought absolutely amazing weather - copious amounts of sunshine and temps well into the 70's. I rode nigh on 50 miles Saturday and 32 today. I am intoxicated with love. How could I even think that swimming would bring such joy. How could I imagine - even in my wildest dreams - that running would bring such fulfillment.

I have been unfaithful! I am a dog! The shame is indescribable! Even as I indulged myself in temporal pleasure (running and swimming) - my bikes hung faithfully in the garage. They knew not my embrace. They grew dusty and weary from my neglect. Yet - they hung there all the same - braving the cold - enduring the dark. Their hope sprung eternal that I would come to my senses and realize that they are all I need. They are all I desire. They are all I want.

Mere words of mine cannot begin to capture the shame I feel. No amount of weeping and wailing can begin to make up for my adultery. How could I have been so blind?

While I cannot erase the past or soon soothe the scars I have caused. I vow this: I will ride! I will ride far!! I will ride often!!! I will kiss and tell!!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

February Recap - New Years Resolutions

OK - month number 2 is behind me. Time to review my New Year Resolutions:

1. Drive my truck to work less than 25% of the time. (GRADE = A+)

Year to Date:
Bike = 30
Bus = 6
Truck = 2

Truck driven to work only 5% of the time. I'm still da man!!!!

2. Complete a Triathlon. (GRADE = C)

Still waiting for warmer weather. Although I have to admit - my training suffered a bit in February. I still did some swimming and running, but nothing like January. Life has been kinda getting in the way.

3. Ride at least 3 centuries. (GRADE = N/A)

Still waiting for warmer weather. Targeting first century in May. Time to start getting serious. The month of March will be dedicated to base miles.

4. Start blogging and create a web site for "". (GRADE = B)

The blogging has been going pretty good. I averaged 1 post per week during February. I made quite a bit of progress with the website earlier in February, but haven't looked at it in weeks. Again - its that life thing getting in the way.

Rough Week for Riding

The title says it all. between starting the week out sick and ending the week with steady rain - I was only able to ride to work twice this past week. The good news - I still didn't take the truck - but rode the bus.

Unfortunately - the week ahead doesn't look to start out very promising. The forecast is calling for snow starting tonight through midday tomorrow. Not only will this threaten my commute for tomorrow, but it could impact it for at least the first half of the week. You see - living in Southeast VA, we don't get much snow; Therefore, the city doesn't have the equipment, nor any particular inclination to clear the roads (especially the backstreets that I traverse). We basically have to wait for the snow to melt in its own sweet time. With the temps forcasted to stay below freezing until Wednesday - this could take a while.