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Coffeeneuring, Controle 1

Hello again, party people!  It’s been a while and there’s a lot I need to follow up on, like my month of Google-free-ness and the One Bike experiment.  But right now, it’s coffeeneuring time!  Head on over to Chasing Mailboxes to get the scoop.

The family and I rode down to the Conodoguinet and made coffee on a picnic table, taking advantage of the Coffee Shop Without Walls option.   Whenever I go on an S24O, I either bring along my trusty Esbit stove or my homemade Pepsi can alcohol burner.  Since I couldn’t find the Esbit, the alcohol stove got the nod.  I had just enough fuel to heat the water.  I poured it over Caribou Mahogany and drank it black.  Christie brought a vacuum flask full of ice and cream for hers.

Everything packs neatly into the pot.  The fuel flask has Mr. Yuck stickers on both sides, just so the lushes don’t get confused.

Pour-over coffee makes for easy clean-up.  No wasting water rinsing out a press.

Four bikes, coffee, and a water bottle wind screen.

The girls took a moment to get their feet wet in the Conodoguinet.

And then we headed home, back up the path toward civilization.

And that completes our first Coffeeneuring ride of the season.


The flash

A few years ago I purchased a Planet Bike Superflash taillight.  I still have it and it’s still going strong.  This was, quite possibly, one of my smartest bike accessory purchases.  Since then several other manufacturers have either copied the light or tried to improve upon it, and Planet Bike has responded with the Superflash Turbo.

The Avenir Panorama is one these copies.  As far as I can tell, it’s just about as bright as the Superflash.  The plastic feels a bit cheaper, but it’s $10, so I can’t really complain.

Kent Peterson says good things about the Radbot.

Brighter lights are available.  More durable lights are available.  But the Superflash set a standard for battery powered bike lights.  And this is really good for those of us who need them.  But the best part is that the Superflash, Turbo, Radbot, Avenir and a score of others all use the same mounting hardware.  That means we can all buy different lights at different times, get a handful of extra mounting brackets, and switch and swap between bikes as much as we’d like with absolutely no hassle.  I currently have a Superflash and a Panorama, and several brackets from both manufacturers.  I forget which brackets are which, because it just doesn’t matter.

This is the Avenir Panorama attached to my daughter’s Trek Lara with a Planet Bike rack mount bracket.

Here’s a Superflash attached to the grocery getter’s rack with the same kind of bracket.

After I took that last one, I grabbed the Panorama and carried it down to the wine cellar basement where I keep the other bikes. Here it is on the fixie’s seat post.

The Pacer’s seat stay.

And the MB-2’s seat post.

That right there is reason enough to get one, or several, of these lights. The fact that they’re bright means you get to eat the cake, too. If your local shop doesn’t carry PB mounting hardware (mine does), PB doesn’t charge for shipping on the small parts. Light it up, folks.


A couple months back I was on my way to lead a club ride, going downhill, exceeding the 25mph speed limit by 4 or 5mph, and taking the lane. Traffic wasn’t exactly light, but this particular side road wasn’t horribly busy, either. I noticed a car riding too close to my rear just before I got to a curve in the road, and an oncoming SUV. At this point, instinct might have told most people to get out of the way, to move over and make some room. Experience told me to hold my line, because if I got out of the way, the driver of that car was sure to try and squeeze around me on that curve, regardless of oncoming traffic. That would have been a dangerous situation. I’m sure you can imagine the possible consequences of a mishap while sharing a narrow lane with a 2 ton car in a curve at 30mph. So I held my line.

And the old bat pulled out to pass. I’ll reiterate. Speeding, both of us. Curve in the road. Oncoming traffic. The oncoming SUV swerved to its right. I braked hard and swerved to my right (where there was lots of room because I held my line). Crazy old lady in the Buick cut me off and hit her brakes, you know, so she could stop at the STOP SIGN just ahead of us.

This should have been the end of it. My little take-the-lane ploy sorta worked and no one got runned over. Crazy lady made it to her stop sign intact (because others were paying attention).

But it wasn’t the end of it. I was mad as hell and my anger got the best of me. There were no fingers, no words exchanged, no dirty looks. But I hopped in front of that Buick at the sign (I didn’t run it), and when it was my/her turn, I really took the lane and rode near the center line for the next 4 blocks at about 10mph, one man critical mass, until she turned off. I sure showed her. Or something.

The reality is that she probably hadn’t the first clue. “Why did he get back in front of me, and why is he going so slow now, and why won’t he let me pass?” I should be ashamed.

But I’m not.

It felt really good…

Double-boinger blubber bikes

The rumors started yesterday.  Salsa’s working on a double-suspension fat bike.  “Oh, goody,” thought I.  “Sheldon Brown’s not dead and it’s April 1st.  This is awesome on so many levels!”  As it turns out, I was only dreaming about waking from a bad dream.  Affix your dull stare here.  Seriously, how much squishy can one cyclist need?  A lot, apparently.  The cycloblogosphere is full of “OMG! Shiny!” today.

On a more serious note, I’ve always been a proponent of strong property rights.  In other words, it’s your money and you can spend it however you want.  However, HOWEVER, I do reserve full rights to point and laugh.

Maybe this will hit the market one day and someone will mount a Brooks B135 on it with a Thudbuster.  It’s only fitting.

Learning to Write from a TV Set

I sought him out because he had studied with John Gardner at SIU Carbondale.  He made us watch film adaptations of the shitty short stories they made me pretend to read in high school.  For three class meetings I stared at a television as he sat there and thumbed through his signed copy of “The Art of Fiction”.  There was no fourth, not for me.

Tried and liked…

Per the annual iBOB tradition, here’s my list of stuff I tried and liked during 2011.

  1. Warren Zevon.  OK, not really.  I’ve been a fan for years and years, but was only familiar with the regular radio stuff.  Over the last year I really dug in and digested everything I could get my hands on.  Good stuff.  Enjoy yer sammiches, folks.
  2. Road bikes.  I snagged a too big Peloton frame a few years ago and a Pacer last year, but only managed to build them up this year.  Lightweight tubes are nice.  Climbing in high gears is fun and something I never could do well on the MTBs and the Trucker.  Road bikes are super fun!  But the harsh ride of skinny tires combined with my fat butt led me to –
  3. 650b.  I’m all in on this one, so even if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t admit it.  Bought the wheels, tried converting two old bikes, bought a 650b-specific bike.  I’m currently running Col de la Vie tires, but hope to try some Hetres or Pari-Motos soon.
  4. Rawland rSogn.  This is my 650b all-rounder.  It’s a low-trail bike with clearance for  9.00/28/5-15 dragster tires.  Well, maybe not quite that wide, but definitely the fattest 650b tires currently available.  The rSogn was intended to replace both the Trucker and the road bike, and it looks like it will do just that quite nicely.  The only problem with the rSogn is that it has braze-ons all over the place and I’m not sure what to attach to them.  I’m paranoid about stuff like that.
  5. Bontrager Ion 2 headlight.  This is a AAA clip-on light which I purchased to replace a water-logged EL520.  It’s a surprisingly good light and I’ve recommended it to several people.  It has 3 modes – high, low and seizure.  The high beam is suitable for city streets and is a good “be seen” light for going slow on unlighted roads.  The low beam is good for when you don’t have any spare batteries and you’re two hours from home.  The flash mode is good for clicking past when you need to shut off the light.  Battery life is better than expected.  Overall, it’s a pretty good inexpensive battery light.

…and didn’t. No “tried and liked” list is complete without the equally opposite.

  1. Fat bikes.  Now, to be completely honest, I’m not one to blindly follow the crowd.  (But Sloth, fat bikes are a niche product!)  The evil LBS had one in stock.  I tried real hard to find the coolio in it, but all I could muster was a sigh and a head shake.  I know all the other bike bloggers are wetting their pants over the new Pugluklanders, and I’ll probably rub some of them the wrong way, but as best I can tell fat bikes are kinda like Kim Kardashian.

The way is shut

First day of school today. We rolled out right on time, no issues. When we got to the first intersection where there should be a crossing guard, there was no crossing guard. I thought this was strange, but chalked it up to the power outages and maybe he overslept. As we got closer to the school we noticed a surprising lack of other people approaching the school. A fireman walking a dog (how odd!) stopped us to say that school had been canceled due to the outages and downed trees. As we rode back home slowly, I knew that everyone else knew.

Sure enough, right there on the school’s web site, “School Closed”. I had given them my email address with the girls’ enrollment paperwork, but we got no email notification. I think I’ve looked at every page on their worthless site and there appears to be no way to sign up for such notifications. A local TV station, however, provides such a service and now we’re on the list.

I hate being the new guy.

Weight weenie

I am not a weight weenie. Never have been. If you’ve seen my bikes you might think my goal is to make them as heavy as possible. Racks, lights, fat tires, steel handlebars, GPS, panniers, saddle bags, frame pumps, 3 bottle cages, sprung saddles, steel fenders. Speed mo-sheen.

A few months ago I purchased a gently used Surly Pacer frame set and built it up a la English club bike. Down tube shifters, Nitto B115 bars, road gears, skinny tires and mudguards. This is not my typical bike build. I’ve actually argued against this sort of bike for practical purposes. But man, was it fun to ride!

That bike is currently undergoing a rather painful 650b conversion. (If you’ve never done a 650b conversion, and someone tells you that your frame is a good candidate, please understand that there are several definitions of “good”. In most 650b conversion cases “good” means that you can probably make it work if you hold your mouth right and wave a dead chicken over it.)

And this leaves me with most of the parts that used to make the Pacer fast and fun. What to do, what to do?

Road bike!

Specifically, a 1999 Schwinn Peloton, purchased a couple years ago from the Pedal Pusher in Harrisburg. These were among the last of pre-Pacific Schwinns. The Peloton has a few things in common with its big brother, the Paramount. The Paramount frames from 1998 through 2000 (or was it 2001) were designed and brazed at Match Cycles with 853 steel and hand-filed lugs. The Peloton used the same steel, the same geometry, the same curved stays, but was TIGged in Taiwan. Paramount-lite. This is a good, good frame (for more conventional definitions of “good”). I’ve built it up as a traditional road racing bike and will document the whole thing later, but right now I’m weighing saddles.

WTF are you smoking, Loveless?

In an effort to not spend money (Hi, Christie) I’ve decided to simply use the parts I have on hand. There were two saddles in the bin that aren’t completely inappropriate – a WTB Speed V and the infamous Velo Plush. The WTB set me back $10 from the take-off bin at the LBS a couple years ago. The Velo Plush came with the Long Haul Trucker. No one really ever understood why Surly spec’d this hatchet on a touring bike, but they did for a few years. Most people regarded it as a test ride saddle and swapped it for something functional before the bike ever left the shop. According to my opinion, it’s not that bad, so long as you don’t need to ride farther than 5 or 10 miles. But it’s skinny and light and looks like it belongs on a road bike, so that’s where it went.

From Instant Upload

See that? 345 grams. Not too terribly heavy for a cheapie take-off. But not too terribly comfy, either. After last night’s inaugural test ride the committee decided, unanimously, to find something else. Anything else. Please don’t make us sit on that damn thing any more. Ever. This morning I dug out the Speed V.

The Speed V is a “recreational” saddle. It has a plastic base, steel rails, gel something-or-other padding and a stitched leather cover. It’s actually not that bad. I’ve ridden 30 or 40 miles on it in one go without major discomfort. It’s wider, thicker and longer than the Velo Plush. It wasn’t my first choice because it was obviously heavier and road bikes need skinny and light. Compare.

From Instant Upload
From Instant Upload
From Instant Upload

See? Bigger, thicker, obeser. Right.

From Instant Upload

Scroll back up and look at the photo of the Plush on the scale.

Back to weight weenie-ism. From the urban dictionary.

1. weight weenie Road Bicycle enthusiast who becomes obsessed with subtracting weight from his bicycle at all costs, including overriding safety concerns and practicality. A Weight Weenie will always replace a 100 gram component with a 99 gram component regardless of all other factors, including cost, durability, and overall design and functionality. Materials that are commonly used in the pursuit of lightness include: aluminum, carbon fiber, composites, and titanium.

I am not a weight weenie. But when the chosen saddle is thicker, wider, longer (there’s some innuendo for you), more comfy and lighter, why not use it and revel in the fact that I shaved 15 grams from my road bike?

15 grams! And it didn’t cost me a dime. Take that, roadies.

Training errata

So in Tuesday’s post I claimed to be repeating my mileage Tuesday night.  I can’t read.  Here’s the deal – Monday, Wednesday and Friday are all the same mileage after the first week.  Friday is supposed to be a fast ride.  Saturdays are long rides.  Sundays are longer than weeknight rides, but shorter than Saturday rides.  Tuesdays are optional, Thursdays are “off”.  Got in 3.5 miscellaneous miles yesterday.  7 miles tonight.  Friday is supposed to be 9 miles, but we’re going out of town, so I’ll do them Thursday.  We’ll bring the bike along for the weekend so I can get in my rides in an exotic locale.

If anyone can make sense of what I just said, please let me know, because I’m hella confused.

Tuesday misc miles:  3.5
October training miles:  6
October total miles:  9.5  (starting the 13th)


So Thursday morning I awoke to the wonderful sensation of sore calves. Not sore-because-I-rode-the-bike-too-hard sore. And not sore-because-I-spent-the-last-two-days-roofing-the-house sore. This was the worst kind of sore ever. That nasty, septic, I’m-about-to-be-sick sore. By noon my hips and lower back were actively trying to kill me, my temperature had topped 100F, and the two little bundles of love were scraping their nails down the blackboard of my patience.

Very little sleep later, at about 5:30am Friday, my temperature had reached 103F. Christie agreed to stay home from work and let me mope. No change Saturday. I did manage to get in a little web MD and shoehorn my symptoms into Mononucleosis and then Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Gotta love the intarweb.

My diet for the past 3 days has consisted of water, green tea, plain oatmeal and beef-flavored Ramen noodles. Bonus! I’ve lost 6 pounds.

Today is better. The girls are only using one hand each on the blackboard, my temperature is below 100, and I’ve had just one bout of cold sweat since my shower. Life is good.