Category Archives: Wife

One bike to rule them all…

…and in the something something.  I can’t think of anything catchy.

Over at Singularity there’s a little challenge to do some thinking and come up with one bike that would fit every possible need.  A mental exercise in minimalism without sacrificing functionality.  I can do this.  A while back I came to the conclusion that 3 bikes is plenty – just put different handlebars on each one.  Paring it down to one should be easy.  In theory.  Let’s take a look at the rules.  (My thoughts about each rule look like this.)

  1. One frame-set only.  We’ll save this one for last.
  2. Multiple wheel-sets are permitted.  This is what makes one bike possible.
  3. Multiples of a given component are permitted.  Not as necessary as #2, but awfully convenient.
  4. Cost is not a factor.  ORLY?
  5. As few variations as possible.  Not a problem.
  6. As little hassle as possible.  I really don’t ever try to build in hassle.  It just happens.
  7. Call your shot.
  8. Justify.  7 and 8 kinda go together.  e.g. I need a trailer hitch because I tow the kids around in the trailer.

Let’s get started with 8, shall we?

Let’s.

I do some utility riding.  A lot of this is stuff most people would do in their car.  We’re fortunate to live in a suburb with lots of services nearby.

Getting both kids to school is a 2.5 mile round trip.  3 miles if the little one isn’t ready to go and I have to come back after dropping off the big one.  The big one rides her own bike.  The little one can ride her own bike in the mornings, but traffic is too heavy after school.  When the weather is nice enough she rides an Adams Trail-a-bike.  When it’s not she lounges in a Wike trailer.  I need hitches for both of these.  I still haven’t found a really good way to get her bike home if she rides it in the morning.  A utility trailer with a bike rack would work.  Let’s add that to the list.

Let’s.

Stop that.

A grocery run is about 3 miles round trip.  I’ve used the Wike trailer for this, but typically a set of panniers gets the nod.  I only have touring bags.  They work in the sense that they can be stuffed full of groceries, but I usually end up re-bagging everything to make it all fit just right for the ride home.  I’ve had a Wald Giant Delivery Basket on a couple bikes at one time or another.  Simply dropping the grocery bags into it is super easy, but it’s big, heavy, and makes the bike steer for crap.  Grocery panniers might be nice.  Racks, of course, are a given.  Most of the grocery runs are at night.  I like dynamo lighting.  Battery lights are for suckers.  We’ll put a dynamo wheel on the list.

Currently, those are the two big utility requirements.  I’ll do local errands on the bike, too.  If I ever rejoin the ranks of the gainfully employed this bike will probably be put to use as a commuting machine at least some of the time.

Did you notice how I never said “unless it’s raining”?  Fenders are required.

Recreational rides include the local bike club, JRA, S24O and the occasional weekend “long” ride.  I did a mini-tour last year with Doc.  Three days.

Bike club rides are not of the pace-line variety.  Our club classifies the ride pace as A, B, C or D.  A-rides are generally treated as training rides for the racers and wannabe racers.  B-rides have pace-lines, too.  I go on the C and D rides, where the pace-line is less line and more amoeba.  And there’s no pace, either.  Any bike will work for these rides.

JRA means “just riding around”.  Any bike will work for JRA.  In bike shop jargon it also means “just riding along”.  This is a reference to numb skull customers who think the mechanic can’t tell how a fork got bent.  “I was just riding along and it bent back like that when I hit the brakes.”  

S240 means sub-24-hour-overnight.  This, by itself, is reason enough to ride a bike.  There are few activities as fun or as cheap as going bike camping.  “Cheap” is relative.  You gotta buy a bike and some camping gear.  But once those are accounted for it’s pretty close to free.  Food and maybe camping fees.  The bike needs some way to carry camping gear.  Racks, panniers, saddle bag, small front basket, etc.  Same stuff I’d use for grocery getting. These bits are also useful for the 3-day mini tour.  I’d just need to bring more food and a few extra changes of clothing.

I think that covers rule #8 and sorta touches on #7.  Let’s get more specific.

I really like 7-speed cassettes.  There’s nothing wrong with 8 or 9 or 15 cogs, but I like 7.  All the parts are less expensive and more durable.  Derailers and shifters are easier to keep in proper adjustment.  If an indexed shifter stops indexing, friction is perfectly usable.  I can get the range I want, from about 20 gear inches up to about 100, with readily available parts without having to fuss with silly things like half-step gearing or close range triples.  2 of my 6 bicycles are currently set up with a 7-speed cassette.  One of my bikes has a 7-speed freewheel.  One of those 3 even has indexed shifting.  7 is the sweet spot.  Everything since then has been good for racers and those strange people who want the latest and greatest.  The problem with 7 is that the currently available parts are on the low end of the quality spectrum.  This means that I’d have to track down high quality old stuff, or put up with the new cheap bits.  At this point, I believe that for my purposes either of those options is better than going with 9 or 10 or 11 speed cassettes.  So that’s how I’d build both of my rear wheels.  A 135mm hub with a 7-speed body could be nearly dishless.  One should have a K-cassette (13-34) and the other could be geared a little higher.  Maybe 11-28.  Add touring rims and 36 stainless spokes.

There should be two identical front wheels.  Both should have the same rims as the rear wheels, 36 stainless spokes and mid-range dynamo hubs.  I currently have an Alfine dynamo on one bike and a SRAM D7 on another.  Either of those would be fine.

I’ve had good luck with Alex Adventurer rims.  So those are cool.

Having two sets of identical wheels goes a long way toward rules 5 and 6.  Easy wheel swaps, simple redundancy.  Multiple wheel-sets make the one bike thing possible.  Wheel and tire damage is probably the number one reason a bike gets sidelined in favor of another.  “Got a flat, ride a different bike” becomes “put on the other wheel”.

I’d need 3 pairs of tires.  The first pair should be a bullet proof (ok, flat resistant), durable commuter/touring tire.  Schwalbe Marathon Supreme, 700c x 40.  These tires would be the daily use tires.  I don’t have time to fix flats when I’m taking the girls to school.  I don’t want to fix flats at 1am when it’s 20F outside and I’m on my way home with groceries.

The second pair of tires is the fun pair.  Panaracer Pasela.  At least 32mm wides, preferably 37mm.  These would live on the higher geared wheels and be used for club rides and JRA.  I’d move them to the low-geared wheels for S24O and touring.

The third pair would be studded.  Nokian A10 or something like that.  These would replace the Marathons from the first snowfall until the end of February.

Two saddles and two seat posts.  One saddle should be made of thick leather.  I like my Velo-Orange Model 1.  A Brooks Pro or a Berthoud would work, too.  The leather saddle should be attached to a really nice seat post, like a Nitto Crystal Fellow.  This is the fun ride/S24O/touring saddle.

The second saddle should be plastic and attached to a cheaper post, like a Kalloy.  The Trail-a-bike hitch goes with the second one.  This is the utility, all weather, day to day saddle.

7-speed bar-end shifters.  I have a pair of Shimano 600 shifters that index.  They’re ancient and they still work perfectly.  Rivendell Silver Shifters on bar-end pods are my second choice

Sugino XD-2 crank.  26/36/48.  SKF bottom bracket.  MKS RMX Sneaker pedals.

I’m indifferent about derailers.  Long cage for the rear and a road triple for the front.  Something mid-range or better.

A slightly flared drop bar.  I’m not entirely sure which one.  After trying quite a few I’ve found that I really like both the Nitto B115 and the Salsa Cowbell.  I do like some variety in handlebars.  Having a second, different bar with its own levers and cables would make the occasional swap fairly painless.  I’m undecided on the specific second handlebar.

Shimano Dura-Ace brake levers for the drop bars.  Update:  I’ve changed my mind.  Tektro or Cane Creek levers.  They have a quick release button that really helps open up the brakes.

Fenders.  Berthoud stainless or Planet Bike Cascadia.  No SKS, no VO, no Honjo.

Lights for the dynamo.  B&M has a new super bright headlight with a USB charging port.  It should be available soon.  I want one.  This would be great for keeping the GPS and phone charged while on an S24O or tour.  The Toplight Line Plus is the most perfect dynamo taillight ever designed.  Fact.  I’d like a switch to turn it off independent of the headlight, so as to not blind the little one while she’s being towed.

Nitto Big Back Rack and some sort of top rack for the front that can hold a basket or handlebar bag.

That pretty much covers all of the rules except #1 – the frame-set.  It has to take racks and handle a camping load.  It has to pull a trailer.  It need clearance for 40mm tires and fenders.  It must be steel.  I prefer vertical drop-outs.  There’s a big, big list of bikes that will do this.  I can already hear a bunch of you saying “don’t be an idiot, get a Long Haul Trucker!”

I want side-pull caliper brakes.

WTF, Sloth?

That narrowed the list down a bit, didn’t it?

As far as I know, there is only one non-janky long reach brake that will handle 40mm tires and a fender.  It’s made by Tektro.  R559.

The only production frame I’m aware of that will do all of this is the Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen.  So there it is.  My one bike to tow them all.

Coming back down to reality, I can’t afford an A. Homer Hilsen.  With the current price of $2, 000 (that’s just the frame and fork, folks) set to increase in a few days to $2,300, it’s way out of the budget.  I could have a TIG-welded custom made for less if I kept it simple. If any of you are aware of another current production bike, complete or frame-set, that meets the requirements listed above, lemme know, because this little exercise really has me thinking.  The wife-type probably wouldn’t be thrilled with the initial expenditure, but I bet she’d be ecstatic about the reduction in clutter.

Another update:  The current batch of Sam Hillborne bikes also meet my needs.  It turns out the old ones had cantilever brakes.  The new ones have calipers.  Whee!  Civia had a bike in 2011 called the Prospect.  Looking at the pictures it should be able to handle a 38mm tire with fenders.  If I could track down one of those it would be even more affordable than the Sam, leaving more cash for the wheels and other do-dads.

Yet another update:  The Civia Prospect has horizontal dropouts.  I’m not sure how I missed that, but it’s a deal killer.  So we’re back to the two bikes I can’t afford.

Peace out, yo, and go ride your bike.

Wintersday

Here we are at the end of a year, staring down the long, black barrel of another.  I hope 2012 didn’t take your feet out from under you too often.

The wife-type and I purchased (mortgaged to the hilt) a house last February.  That was stressful, but it happened more or less uneventfully.  We live on a dead-end street with, ahem, interesting neighbors.  Two of them are fairly sane.  One is bat poop crazy.  One has barking dogs.  They bark.  And bark and bark bark bark bark bark bark.  They really bark at the bike.  If I’m on a bike with a bell I try to start ringing it before I turn the corner.  That really gets them wound up.

Bike miles.  I put more miles on the bikes in 2012 than the previous two years combined.  My counting method varied from the GPS on the phone, to the DeLorme, to one of those computers that counts wheel revolutions, to don’t-give-a-fuck-let’s-just-ride.  In other words, I’m not entirely sure how far I went, but I’d guess it’s north of 1,500 miles.  July saw 540-something miles, including my first ever metric century.

Today is Christmas.  Christie gave me a Garmin Edge 200.  I’m going to track every last 2013 mile on it so that I can give the curious masses an accurate number a year from now.

Speaking of 2013, resolutions.

More S24O.  I think I did 3 during 2012.  This year the overnights will be themed.  Feel free to ride along.  Bring a tent; mine is too small to share.

  1. S24O on every bike I own at least once.  Right now I have the MB-2, High Plains, Collegiate, Pacer, 550 and I think something else maybe.  That’s at least 6 overnights.
  2. One should be a bikepacking adventure.  Gravel, single track, no racks, strap the crap right to the frame.
  3. Return to Pine Grove Furnace.  30-ish miles from home.  Doc discovered a super secret spot in the State Forest on the ridge east of the park.  It’s a bit of a climb, but coasting down the hill in the morning is a good way to wake up.  There are hiker showers near the lake.
  4. A fully loaded S24O.  Front and rear panniers.  Bring way too much stuff.  Go slow.
  5. Credit card S24O.  Ride one of the road bikes to a B&B.
  6. Not strictly S24O, but do another micro-tour.  2012’s was a big, fat winner.

Ride with the girls more.  I think the Megan is big enough to do an overnight on the bike.  The important part is just having time together.  They jabber.  Don’t believe me?  Find a kid you like and go for a ride.  They will talk your ear off.  It’s a blast and we don’t do it enough.

I’m sure there’s more, but I have bikes on the brain and can’t bring myself to bore you anymore.  Here’s hoping your 2013 brings you less bad and more good than 2012.  Peace, love and go ride your bike.

How far?

Yesterday, Christie and one of the troop’s co-leaders asked me if I’d go camping with the Girl Scouts this Spring.  There’s a wall tent with cots for the Dads to share, so I wouldn’t need to bring a tent.  “Cool,” I said.  “Maybe I’ll ride the bike.”
“Um, it’s out in the sticks,” says they.
“I know,” says me.  “That’s the point.  New roads, new scenery, it’ll be a fun ride.  How far is it?”
“It’s really far.”
“How far?”
“And there are at least two mountains you’d have to climb.”
“How far is it?”
Christie continues to protest.  “It takes over an hour to get there.”
“How.  Many.  Miles?”
“I don’t know.”  She looks at me like I’m retarded.  I can’t blame her.  She’s bailed me out before when I got too big for my chain ring.  The last thing she’ll want to do is rescue the wheezing fat guy and his bike from some Jeep trail when she’s trying to get her troop of Brownies to camp.  This conversation is rapidly approaching over.
“Would you please send me the address?”

It’s 30 miles away.  About 2000 feet of climbing.  I can do this.  But that’s not the point.  The point is I tried to get directions from my lovely wife that would apply to riding a bike.  She doesn’t really ride a bike much, and I shouldn’t expect her to automatically say something like, “It’s 30.3 miles if you take the fire road through the State Forest, but that adds another 500 feet.  If you go around the mountain it’s an extra 5 miles, but there’s no climbing and the Mom and Pop store on back road #7472273 pulls a really mean vanilla Coke.”

It’s all about perspective, I suppose.  Ken Kifer wrote about this.  A motorist doesn’t notice the little roads that turn off the main artery because he doesn’t care.  The big, fast highway is the best way to get the big, fast SUV from point A to B.  If  there’s anything in between that doesn’t sell gasoline, it’s quite possibly irrelevant.

On the other hand, the big, fast highway isn’t very suitable for cycling.  Or, at the very least, it’s not very comfortable for cycling.  Back roads with little traffic, little “gas stations” that haven’t sold gas in a decade, and lots of scenery are just what we need.  For those of us who live in town, these places are often more than a few miles away.  Which leads me to my point.

“Any distance is biking distance.” –Kent Peterson

The people around me sure have had some good reasons to doubt my ambitions.  Maybe if I live those 5 words I’ll give them a reason not to.

Karate Monkey

The little one is the real Karate Monkey.  Somebody tell Surly.

Quitter

The Pedal Pusher has been my LBS of choice for almost 2 years.  I haven’t kept track of the exact figures, but its probably safe to say that I could have bought a new bike or two by now if I hadn’t spent the money on parts and lube and tubes and tires and that Surly t-shirt that embarrasses Christie so much.  This past Saturday I went in to buy brake pads for the all-rounder, but just ’round the end of the road bike aisle I found a couple Long Haul Truckers and a Fuji Touring.  So I stood there for a while, shifting my gaze from one to the other.

“You’ve been drooling over a new tourer for 2 years.  Just put one on layaway.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

Layaway.  Who does that anymore?  Two years and I had no idea.

A little while later……

“So they have a layaway program at the bike shop.”

“So?”  She’s never impressed with bike shop stories.

“So I can put a new touring bike on layaway.”

“With what money?”  God, she’s really good at pooping all over the party.

“What if I quit smoking?”  WTF did I just say?  Crap.  “I could use my cancer stick money to pay for the bike.”

Christie was elated.  After careful consideration I downloaded some Surly wallpaper to keep me motivated.

Smoked the last one last night.  After everyone else was asleep, I grabbed a beer and sat down on the front porch.  It was almost like saying goodbye to an old friend.  You know?  That old friend with the knife in your back or the mistress who demands more and more money lest she tells your wife.  Gah!  I’m an idiot.  Please, if you value your sanity, don’t ever, EVER calculate how much money you’ve burned up.  And then, don’t try to figure out what else you could have done with it.

I’ve quit before.  Once for a couple years.  For the record, any time I’ve ever quit for more than a couple days I’ve done it “cold turkey”.  Patches and gum never worked for me, but that’s probably because I didn’t really want to quit.  I like smoking.  I like the way the smoke from the first one of the day makes my lungs tighten up.  I like the smell when I open a new pack.  I like the way it makes me look cool and the way my clothes smell in the morning and how my teeth are a nice shade of beige instead of boring old white.  Grrr.  But I always come back.  Because I like it.

Tangible.   Now there’s a new weapon in the arsenal.  It’s something real and fun and I want it.  I have motivation.  A goal.  New toys, man!  There has never been something tangible as my reward for stopping something I never shoulda started.  (“If you stop hitting your sister, you can have some chocolate.”  That works so well with kids.)  I hope it helps, because I really want that bike.  And trading something that will probably kill me after I give it all my money for something that might last a couple decades and make me healthier in the process doesn’t sound too bad.

So, yeah.   I’m a quitter and so far today sucks.

Bread

You wanna know what I hate?  I’ll tell you anyway.  I hate it when there are two bags of bread and someone ties them both together with the same twisty.  It would be rude to point fingers, so I won’t.  But if you’re reading this Christie, I’m talking to you.  😛

Cynical

Christie thinks I’m cynical. I think I’m realistic. So just to settle this once and for all, I took the test.


You Are 76% Cynical


You’re a full blown cynic… and probably even skeptical of these results.

You have your optimistic moments, but most likely you keep them to yourself.

How Cynical Are You?

 Doh!

Killing Trees for Baby Jesus

This morning we took our annual pilgrimage to the Christmas tree farm, so we could pretend we were walking in the neatly planted rows of the forest. We just happened to see several trees that were suitable. The first, which I pointed out to the Megan, was thick with branches from the ground up. But it had one fatal flaw.

“Do you like this one, Megan?”

“No. There’s no room for presents underneath.”

Alrighty then. I hacked down another small tree with the farm-supplied saw and dragged it back to the shed where they bundle them up with plastic netting, just like the kind you find in the forest, and tossed it up on top of the X. We drove home, looking forward to tangled strings of lights and broken glass ornaments. This is, in fact, my favorite of all the holidays.

Not.

I despise Christmas. Loved it when I was a kid, mostly for the presents. Today I tolerate it and try to look happy about it. Mostly for the benefit of my little girls. In reality it’s a headache. Traffic is bad, gas is expensive, we always end up traveling somewhere for something, and too much money is spent on gifts that aren’t needed or appreciated. It’s stressful and I’d rather just have some quiet time and a nap. Bah. Humbug. The girls take the edge off. Smiling, giggling, laughing, tearing open wrapping paper to unveil some coveted treasure beneath. That part is priceless and worth every penny we didn’t have but spent anyway on the toys and candy canes.

Thanksgiving is nice. The traveling, which we almost always undertake, sucks, but it’s otherwise low key. Good food, family and friends, no expectations of materialism. I have a lot to be thankful for and more holidays should be like Thanksgiving.

The tree is lighted. When the girls wake from their naps we’ll photograph the Megan placing the star on top and commence to decorating. The title of this entry is “Killing Trees for Baby Jesus”. I didn’t really go anywhere with it, but the words have been stuck in my head for a couple days. Today they morphed into “I don’t care if it rains or freezes, ‘long as I have my plastic Jesus….”

I leave you with this. (And the chords, so jam on.) Have a Holly Jolly.

“Plastic Jesus” by George Cromarty and Ed Rush

I don't care if it rains or freezes
'Long as I got my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Through my trials and tribulations
And my travels through the nations
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far

/ D - / G - / D - A - / 1st, 2nd / D A D - /

   Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
   Riding on the dashboard of my car
   I'm afraid He'll have to go
   His magnets ruin my radio
   And if I have a wreck He'll leave a scar

   / D - - - / - - A - / D - / G - / D A D - /

Riding down a thoroughfare
With His nose up in the air
A wreck may be ahead, but He don't mind
Trouble coming He don't see
He just keeps His eye on me
And any other thing that lies behind

   Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
   Riding on the dashboard of my car
   Though the sunshine on His back
   Make Him peel, chip and crack
   A little patching keeps Him up to par

When I'm in a traffic jam
He don't care if I say "damn"
I can let all my curses roll
Plastic Jesus doesn't hear
'Cause he has a plastic ear
The man who invented plastic saved my soul

   Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
   Riding on the dashboard of my car
   Once His robe was snowy white
   Now it isn't quite so bright
   Stained by the smoke of my cigar

If I weave around at night
And policemen think I'm tight
They never find my bottle, though they ask
Plastic Jesus shelters me
For His head comes off, you see
He's hollow, and I use Him for a flask

   Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
   Riding on the dashboard of my car
   Ride with me and have a dram
   Of the blood of the Lamb
   Plastic Jesus is a holy bar

Today’s IM with Christie

Christie: i got my mystery package from ups.
it is a flashlight/radio from redhat.

sdloveless: ah. nice.
does it run linux?

Two more idiots

Christie relates her very own idiot cyclist story this morning, via googletalk:

(08:24:33 AM) Christie Loveless: i have a new idiot cyclist story for you.
(08:31:09 AM) Scott Loveless: ok.
(08:31:41 AM) Christie Loveless: you know the intersection of 3rd (the street that is bridge in NC) and Market in Lemoyne?
(08:31:51 AM) Scott Loveless: yep
(08:32:04 AM) Christie Loveless: Two guys were on bicycles on that little island thing between the lanes.
(08:32:19 AM) Christie Loveless: My light was green, but they’re standing there like they’re going to cross.
(08:32:41 AM) Christie Loveless: the turning arrow was gone, so I had to wait for oncoming traffic, and they thought i was waiting for them.
(08:32:52 AM) Christie Loveless: so t hey proceed into the intersection, while there are cars coming.
(08:33:03 AM) Christie Loveless: the oncoming traffic stops to let them go.
(08:33:17 AM) Christie Loveless: So they get to the middle, and they fall down in the cross walk.
(08:33:26 AM) Scott Loveless: lmao
(08:33:26 AM) Christie Loveless: they were riding too close together and got tangled up.
(08:33:29 AM) Christie Loveless: idiots.
(08:33:34 AM) Scott Loveless: that’
(08:33:39 AM) Scott Loveless: that’s awesome.
(08:33:47 AM) Christie Loveless: then proceeded to ride down the sidewalk in lemoyne.
(08:33:48 AM) Christie Loveless: grr.
(08:33:59 AM) Christie Loveless: these are grown men we’re talking about, probably early 20’s.
(08:34:06 AM) Scott Loveless: lemme guess. they were on mountain bikes?
(08:34:12 AM) Christie Loveless: yup
(08:34:16 AM) Scott Loveless: great.

Fucking idiots.