Category Archives: Low trail

Utilitaire 12, Week 3, Controle 6

I’m cheating. Well, actually, I’m taking advantage of a technicality. The Utilitaire 12 rules state that only once can I hit two controls in one day. Since I hit the first control of the week yesterday and was unsure of today’s schedule, I waited until after midnight and went to the grocery store for control 6.

The scenic route afforded me 2.5 miles of wind and cold; a stark contrast to yesterday’s high of 50-something. Once again, I forgot to take the photo on my way out, but remembered before I left the parking lot. So I doubled back and snapped one, charged lights and all. Unfortunately, my phone’s camera crapped out again, and there’s no photo. This is getting old. On the plus side, my contract is up with T-Stationary (because there’s no service if I go anwywhere), so I should have a new one soonish.

Ride bike!

Utlilitaire 12, Week 3, Controle 5

We’re down to the last 2 days for week 3 of Utilitaire 12 and I hadn’t done any riding at all. Deciding to have Neato Burrito for dinner was easy. I’m always up for burritos. Riding there is kind of a prerequisite. Otherwise, I can’t justify the calories. We didn’t eat our lunch until after 4pm, so I’m calling this dinner for the purposes of filling out the control card. Also, a friend turned me onto Strava yesterday, so this is my first use of that service. Here’s the ride map.

So far, Strava is pretty cool. The Android app uses the GPS to track the ride and then automagically uploads everything to their site. In the past I’ve used either a dedicated GPS device or the My Tracks app, and then fiddled around with uploading a GPX file to a service like Ride with GPS or Daily Mile. This Strava thing is much easier.

As usual, the Sloth’s brain is running on the slow side, and I forgot to take a photo at Neato Burrito. So I took one at home just before unloading the basket. There are two burritos and two sodas in that bag.

The bag is one of those semi-reusable 99¢ shopping bags from the local supermarket.  I bought a few of these a couple years ago and they’re still holding together.  They each have a stiff plastic insert on the bottom, which helps it stand up when it’s full.  These things fit damn near perfectly in the bottom of my Wald basket.  I generally fold it down, lay the cable and lock on top, and then cover the top of the basket with a bungee net.  This setup is very handy, and ensures I can carry just about anything that fits in the basket.

Ooh!  I have to rant about bags.

Grant Petersen thinks my bag makes me look like a hobo.  My bag costs a buck and lasts at least 2 years.  His is $60.  I can get 120 years of cycling out mine for $60.  Who knows how long his will last?  I don’t care if someone steals mine, so I leave it on the bike all the time.  The $60 bag might grow legs if I left it outside.  Mine may make me look like a hobo, but his makes me look like I’m carrying a purse.

So there.

Ride bike!

Utilitaire 12, Week 2

Now that week 3 is drawing to a close, I figure it’s time to jabber about week 2. If you don’t know what a Utilitaire is, read my previous post or just go to the source at Chasing Mailboxes.

Controle 3 was the local True Value hardware store on February 9th.  It’s in the same strip mall nightmare as Isaac’s (from last week’s entry), and still not close enough to the lone bike rack, so I locked it to a downspout just in front of the hardware store.  This was, without a doubt, the most miserable ride of the year.  I was sick, it was cold, and I didn’t want to go.  There’s nothing like swollen sinuses and a bad attitude to make a bike ride last forever.  2.66 miles.  At night.

I’ve been working on a modified front rack for the rSogn, so I can start using my Ostrich handlebar bag, and needed some 1/4″ p-clamps.  They had some plastic clamps that will work for fitting and mock-up purposes, but I’ll soon have to find some in steel.

As you can probably tell, this ride was after sunset.  The rSogn’s lighting system consists of a Novatec hub dynamo wired to an IQ Fly N Plus headlight and a 4D Lite Plus taillight.  The headlight has its ups and down.  It’s certainly bright, and it has 3 detents for aiming the light.  This is an awesome feature that makes it easy to adjust the beam angle depending on conditions.  I’ll point it down it a bit on multi-user paths so as to not blind pedestrians, but aim it high on unlit rural roads to really light things up.  On the down side, it’s hideous and there are brighter options out there.  I’m please with it overall, and  have no plans to replace it.  The taillight is nothing special.  It’s not bad, and if you don’t have a rear rack it’s a good solution.  The B&M Toplight Line Plus is a far better taillight.  If I had a rear rack permanently mounted, that’s what I’d use.

My 4th controle was the supermarket 2 blocks away on the 12th.  I took the scenic route and made it an even 3 miles round trip.  This one was also at night.  Unfortunately, my phone’s camera dumped core just after I took the photo.  When I got home and tried to upload, there was no picture at all.  So you’ll have to imagine the next two days’ worth of groceries piled high in the front rack.

The rSogn has low trail front geometry.  What this means is that there’s a fairly steep head tube angle of 73°, coupled with a fork offset of 63mm.  This is a good combination for carrying loads above the front wheel.  My grocery run was probably the 2nd heaviest load so far and the handling was just fine.  Having a basket and a net, front or rear, is much easier than dealing with panniers.

Ride bike!

Tried and liked – 2010

Per the annual iBOB tradition, it’s the Tried-and-Liked list for 2010.

  1. Geocaching – The engineer got me into this.  It’s all his fault.  Then he went and gave me a premium membership.  And the wife gave me a snazzy new GPS device for Christmas with a handlebar mount.  It’s like they don’t want me to stay home.
  2. Low trail geometry – I’ve had front loads on bikes before.  I’ve had relatively heavy front loads on bikes.  Case of beer, etc.  I’ve wrestled poor handling bikes home from the liquor store.  Then I put a VO Porteur rack on a Nishiki International.  72 degree head angle and 63mm fork offset.  This translates to about 40mm of geometric trail, or whatever it’s called.  Heavy loads no longer require wrestling.
  3. Park TS-8 – This replaced a borrowed Performance truing stand.  The TS-8 only does one side of the wheel at a time, but it’s accurate and build quality is top notch.
  4. Bicycle Quarterly and “The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles”.  Jan Heine has outdone himself.  Bravo!
  5. Tree Fort Bikes.  They have, more or less, replaced Jenbar as my go-to online bike parts supplier.
  6. Motorcycling.  After a 5 year absence, I’m back, baby!  Hide your teenage daughters.
  7. Toplight Line Plus dynamo taillight.  This is, by far, the best taillight I’ve ever used.  Seriously, if you don’t have a dynamo lighting system, get one.  Batteries are for suckers.
  8. Schwalbe Delta Cruisers.  I haven’t really put too many miles on these yet, but who doesn’t like creme tires?

Not a bad year.  Nothing spectacular, but not bad.