Saturday, February 28, 2015

when the cat's away...

The Excellent Wife is away for two weeks at a Polish-language immersion experience at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. (Just finding that link was nearly impossible for your monolingual correspondent!*) She had not even left the house before I had turned the dining room into a wheelbuilding shop.

By next week, I expect to have the bikestand in there. I promise to put down a dropcloth.


*Back in the 90's, when I was working at Muhlenberg Medical Center in Plainfield (back when there WAS a Muhlenberg Medical Center in Plainfield), one of the psychiatry techs told me the following joke, which has more than a nickel's worth of truth in it: he said, "A person who speaks two languages is called bilingual, and a person who speaks many languages is called a polyglot, but a person who speaks only one language is called an American."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

net neutrality passes

I feel like justice has triumphed for the first time since 1980. The FCC has voted to reclassify broadband internet as a utility, meaning that ISP's won't be able to preferentially supply their favorite content over content from other sources.

The open standard means more freedom, and (probably) more innovation.

In the earliest days of computing, when standards were wide open, computers suddenly got sound, video, telephony, and magic. Now that there are so many competing standards, I can't remember the last computer innovation that impressed me.

With the open standard of the internet, though, I'm ready to be impressed.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

applying the frame saver

Weigle Frame Saver is some sort of (undoubtedly toxic) liquid that gets sprayed inside a steel bike frame to ward off rust. Once there, the liquid turns into some kind of (undoubtedly toxic) sludge that coats the insides of the tubes. Today is expected to be the only day warm enough to apply it before I plan to start the build, so I did.

It's a simple process; I'm linking the video below instead of explaining it myself.

Besides, he's way better-looking than I.

Anyway, the frame and fork are out on the back patio, where the toxic sludge is outgassing.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


I haven't taken a math course since 1972, when I nearly failed the New York State Regents Examination for trigonometry and algebra.

But to figure out the stem length and angle for the new bike project, I needed to use trig. The stem can be imagined as the hypotenuse of a right triangle, with the level extension from the steering tube as one side (the "adjacent", if you remember your trigonometry), and the rise (the difference of the stem height at the steering tube and at the stem's far end) as the other (in trig terms, the "opposite").

I know I want a slightly more relaxed position on this bike than I have on the Yellow Maserati, my titanium bike. I don't want any more extension (the distance my hands are from my hips), and I'd like a little more rise (the distance my hands are above the ground).

I know that the top of the head tube on the project bike is about 19mm lower than the top of the head tube on the Yellow Maserati (the head tube is shorter, but the fork is longer). I can get a stem with a 17º rise (instead of the 6º rise of the stem on the Yellow Maserati), but how will that change the rise and extension?

Well, with a little help from DuckDuckGo (I'm reducing my use of Google in the interests of preserving some privacy), I found this site, where I was able to get enough of a refresher on trig to figure the missing numbers in my imaginary triangle. It turns out I'll want about 40-45mm in spacers above the headset, and the 110mm stem length will bring my hands up about 2cm and back about 4mm (which I can nearly ignore). A 120mm stem would bring my hands higher, but the extension would actually be longer than the Yellow Maserati's, and I purposely bought a shorter stem for that bike because I felt too "drawn out". So the 110 stem it will be.

The name of the linked site where I got the math refresher is Math is Fun. I'm not sure I believe that, but it is useful, if you can get your brains around it. I'm making this a "stuff that works"page... because it did.

lacing a wheel

We have weather awfulness predicted for later, so an evening dinner date with friends was moved to a lunch date. I don't want to get the house dirty, and I had some enforced idleness this morning, so I decided to lace up the rear wheel for the Crosscheck project.

The garage is 32ºF (0º in the civilized world), even with the new insulated door, and, although I oiled the hub and spokes correctly, and started the lacing OK, when it came time to twist the hub, I twisted the wrong way. This would have placed two spokes crossing just above the valve, making it difficult to get a pump head on. The way I lace a wheel (the Musson method) is by putting all the trailing spokes on first, then all the leading spokes on one side, then the other. I saw the error when I had half the leading spokes on, so I undid them, turned the whole business the correct way, and tied 'em up again, before putting the leading spokes on the other side.

I'm blaming the cold garage. I did the fix in the warm bedroom, while The Excellent Wife (TEW) wasn't looking.

Below, a picture of the partly-laced rear wheel.

That was just after I fixed the error, and before I put the last spokes on. It's laced now, and in the garage awaiting tightening and truing (that's one process; I tried tightening first, and then truing, on the first wheel I built. It was Bohr-ing.)

(That's an inside joke. Niels Bohr, a physicist, is quoted as having said something like, "An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field." I've made a lotta mistakes in my bike wrenching, so I must be approaching expertise.)

The picture is to silence the one critic who complained about my first wheel build that I didn't post pics of the project to prove I did it... but can you imagine anything less interesting than pictures of a wheel each with a few more spokes?

Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer, but wet. I hope to put the rustproofing into the frame, and maybe I'll lace up the front wheel.

Edit 5:37pm: Front wheel is laced, too. This one went more smoothly than the first, although I did set a few spokes in the wrong rim holes, and had to backtrack. But the lacing is about 20% of the job; the proof is in the truing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

delivery from local bike shop (lbs)

I got an email this week that the parts I ordered from my LBS (local bike shop), Kim's, were in. They open at 11; I got there shortly after and had a chat with the excellent Bennie. After hacking out the financial details and making sure everything was there (except for a brake noodle, but see below), Bennie loaded the parts into the back of my Prius (in this 14ºF weather! That's -10º in the civilized world!), and home I went.

The frame, below, had the headset and bottom bracket installed. I asked for the headset installation; the headset-setter is a $130 tool you use once per frame (and I know you can dummy one up out of threaded rod and washers, but if you don't get the headset in perfectly straight, you can have real problems). I removed the bottom bracket when I got home; it would have gotten in the way of putting in the anti-rust Weigle Frame Saver I intend to use.

Above, the frame and fork, still in the travel wrapping (when the weather warms up, I promise to clean up the garage, at least a little). In the boxes, the vee-brakes and the cyclocross bar-top levers I intend to install on the beautiful Nitto B115 lever I'm robbing from the hybrid. You can see these parts better in the pic below:

On the right, one of the bar-top cross levers. The cable can pass through this from the drop-bar lever, so I can brake from either position (my first road bike came with this setup, and I like it so much that I've set up The Excellent Wife's [TEW's] bike with it as well.) On the left, one of the sets of vee-brakes. In the accompanying plastic bag, two noodles for these brakes (included!): one with the slightly-less-than 90º angle for the conventional front brake cabling, and the other with the slightly-more-than 90º angle usually needed in the rear... but I'll use that in the front, too: I cable my bikes so that the right hand controls the front brake (instead of the more-common left-hand-front-brake arrangement), and I'll need that extra angle for the cabling to work smoothly.

TEW is off to Poland next week, as I've said, and I'll start building the wheels and assembling the bike when she's away; I can bring the doings indoors without disrupting her life. (I promise I'll protect the floors!)

Lots of black in this bike, huh?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

more parts for the cross check

I got another box of parts that are going into the Cross Check that I'm building. Some of 'em are below:

At top: Who knew? You can buy brake and cable housing in bulk, at about $1 per foot! Those are 25-30' rolls, enough to hold me through several rebuilds of all the bikes. (I asked at Kim's, but Bennie was incredulous that I could get it for that price.)

Bottom right: J. P. Weigle frame saver, for spraying inside and keeping inside rust at bay. The can will do 3-4 bikes, so if somebody's doing a build, I may have some left over.

Bottom left, more bling: polished aluminum skewers from Velo Orange, my favorite neo-retro vendor. (No, my favorite isn't Rivendell Bike, despite the fact that Grant Petersen has been in these posts far more often than Chris at Velo Orange. Petersen is more vocal and colorful a character than Chris, but Chris has lovely stuff; I've spent more money there than at Riv.)

The pic below shows the "VO" logo in the lever end of the skewer.

I like it.

The frame and other parts from Kim's are supposed to be in this week (I have no doubt this dratted snow is interfering). Then, when The Excellent Wife goes off to Poland, I'll build up the wheels and start the bike assembly. It is supposed to keep me out of trouble while she's gone.

Monday, February 16, 2015

how to do everything podcast

I have so had it with being stuck in the house; I'm actually ready to go back to work - but up to six inches of snow are predicted for tonight into tomorrow, and I may not even be able to do that.

When I exercise, I listen to podcasts. Now, NPR has taken to adding a promo to the beginning of each podcast about another podcast that they are promoting, and this morning, I heard a promo for How To Do Everything. It sounded interesting. I downloaded two, and now I'm binge-listening.

It's run by two guys, Mike & Ian, who are tech guys on another NPR show. They take interesting or stupid topics, and get "experts" to offer opinions (for example, they had the lead singer for the group Smashing Pumpkins talk about making pumpkin pie, before going to Paula Deen to get actual useful information). They also have a recurring topic on interesting toilets, and music to listen to while you do whatever you're doing while you listen to the podcast (a woman who counts rings in the bones in fish ears got a few seconds of "Put A Ring On It").

"How To Do Everything" is taking the curse off my enforced idleness. You can put this link in your podcatcher to get it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

crosscheck project: parts

Over the past month, I've made a couple of references to a project I intend to build up, and I ordered some of the parts last week.

The parts are starting to arrive. Below, for the wheels build:

H-plus-Son TB14 rims, F125 front hub, SL210 rear hub, spokes, nipples, and other parts from Brandon at BikeHubStore.Com. Brandon runs a small shop, and I think he runs the help chat from his cell phone because he's been available and helpful days and evenings. I especially like that he doesn't label things; the only labels on any of that stuff is a small one around the valve hole on the rims (and yes, they do come with that fetching lingerie cover).

Below, a couple of other deliveries.:

Lower right, some bling: an IRD crank with old-style flutings. I've had my eye on this for a while. Lower left, some stop-washers from Rivendell, so I can back-engineer the bar-end friction shifters on my current commuter to be downtube shifters. Above them, some anti-bling: an inexpensive Shimano Altus rear derailleur (see the link for the too-long description of why this might be a good idea). It will happily do nine speeds with the friction shifting I'm going to use.

The frame will be a Surly Cross-Check, which I've ordered from the excellent Dave Kim at Kim's Bikes (yes, I know some folks have had trouble with one of the staff there, but you don't have to deal with that person, and everybody there treats me like the rich uncle who leaves Franklins on the table when he leaves, including the Spanish-speaking mechanics in the back). He's collecting some other parts for me, too. The handlebar and brake levers will be ported over from the set I built up on the commuter: a Nitto B115, with drop-bar levers that will work vee-brakes (don't use your regular brifters for these, they don't pull enough cable).

Further developments as they arise.

why cycling is notable

One of my secret shames is that I occasionally visit Facebook, partly because the Princeton Freewheelers club page has info that doesn't appear anywhere else, and partly to see Ed Kanitra's Bicycle New Jersey page.

On the latter page, in the comments to a link to an article on Why Cycling Makes Us Happy, a fellow member with the excellent screen name of Pete Jr Leather said this:

Bicycling, (for Transportation, Sport, or Exercise) is notable for these basic things:
  1. You get to sit down.
  2. The scenery changes.
  3. like all 'technology derived hobbies', it satisfies the 'Human 'need' for gadgets'.

That is next door to perfect. I wish I'd said it.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

final on cycling glasses

Six months ago (sheesh!), I wrote a post on getting cycling glasses. At the time, I thought it might be a "stuff that works" post, and it's turned out that way, but it took some doing.

I wrote that I'd decided to go with the Serfas Gladiator glasses.

They showed up for Christmas, but before they did, I sent the prescription inserts off to LensesRx to get bifocal lenses installed. (In that earlier post, I wrote how nobody local wanted to do the job, ether at all, or for what I thought was reasonable.) I got the bifocal-lensed inserts back, and, for distance, they were a great improvement over the glasses I had been using.

For close-up, though, they really didn't work. The bifocals were set for focus about twelve to sixteen inches (30-40cm) from my face, but my GPS is farther than that, and I couldn't see it well. I went back to the LensesRx site, and saw I could get progressives for only a little bit more than the bifocals.

I ordered another prescription insert from Serfas on December 29. When I hadn't received evidence that it had shipped by January 8, I called; evidently, some of those post-Christmas orders had been dropped behind a water cooler, or something, so it only went out after my call. While I was waiting for the insert, I paid for the lenses to be installed (there was a great sale at the holidays), but I didn't pay for expedited service. The service was much slower than the first time I'd gotten the lenses.

But they've finally come, and they're great. The distance vision is right, and I can see the GPS on the bike. I can't see the real close stuff... but I don't need that when I'm riding (I can certainly see well enough to do road repairs).

I can recommend the Serfas glasses and the LensesRx lenses, with some caveats:
  1. Don't order from Serfas when they're recovering from the holiday party;
  2. Go for the progressive lenses; and
  3. Pop for expedited service at LensesRx.

Monday, February 9, 2015

light enough for ya?

That might not be too heavy. (I make no warranty about road-worthiness, reliability, or long life.)

I have so had it with weight-weenies.

Original from today's Oddman.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

no-so-hilly ride with ed & rick

It's not clear whether it was because Snakehead Ed was tired from riding yesterday (he was on an old steel bike, with a narrow gear range, and had no cleats in the bottom of his snow boots)...

... or whether it was because there was still ice on the roads, and we were afraid of hitting a patch of ice on a speedy descent (that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it)...

...or whether we decided we didn't want to hassle with the traffic changes caused by the closing of 514/Amwell Rd in Millstone...

...but we decided to do a flatter ride than usual today. Just three of us came out; Rick W joined Ed and me to do this route. That includes my ride from home, as well as a ride to the Better World Market for some junk, and my ride from there home.

We went up through the Weston Causeway (open again; it seems like it was closed forever), taking advantage of the little traffic on 514 due to the closure, then down into Hillsborough, and towards Rocky Hill. We stopped at the Kaufman Center in Skillman for a quick break (Ed was feelin' a banana deficiency), and we heard some band or other practicing; they had left some drums an other paraphernalia out in the parking lot:

Snakehead and Rick enjoying (?) the music:

From there, we went down to 518. Rick suggested no break, so we zipped back to Six Mile Run/Blackwells Mills, where we started. I figured I'd earned some junk calories by that time, so I told 'em I was riding to Better World Market, and Ed met me there; we settled some family matters, explored the relative merits of old and new bicycle technology, and otherwise wasted some time before leaving.

I took my circuitous way back to avoid the construction at the dip on Route 27 below Cozzens Lane, and as I came out, I discovered a flat in my rear tire; I wasn't two miles from home. It was filthy, wet, and cold; the only break I caught was that when I took the tire off the rim, the tube was stuck where a huge construction staple had punctured both; I decided I didn't have to look any further for the hole (although my rear tire is beat up and gashed, possibly from riding over sharp salt crystals; it may need early replacement). I got home after the tire change without incident... but, all in all, I would have happily given up that bit of drama.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

gotta get out ride

Even though it was expected to be colder than I like, I decided to go out on Laura OLPH's ride for today (I think The Excellent Wife [TEW] was glad for me to go out; my mood's been a bit cranky recently), especially given the description:

Saturday's forecast is for cloudy skies and temperatures hovering around freezing.  Screw it. Let's try to get out on the road anyway... We'll stick to the flatlands, where the roads are wider and sunnier than up on our mountain. We'll aim for something in the 40-mile neighborhood at a slow B pace.

Y'know what? Seven others, besides Laura and I, also thought it was too good to miss. We did this route (Laura had emailed me the link the night before, but it confused Mr. Garmin; I may need to get him seen to).

It was a good ride; not fast, but social (which is a lot of the reason I ride with Laura and the people who come out with her). This early in the season, some of us were out of shape, and if we ride tomorrow, some of us may be complaining (even moreso than usual!).

Riders included Barry, Chris C, Dave C, John K, Marco, Ed C, and Ron S, whom I haven't seen since I can't remember when; it was especially good to see him. Here's hoping we see more of him. Below: he rode in from home.

Below: it was cold enough that Barry decided to wait in the car!

More at the start:

We stopped at the Stonebridge Bagels in Allentown, one of my favorite stops (they treat us like folks, and the kids behind the counter show me a deference I definitely don't deserve):

Below: Ed was riding that wonderful old steel Trek, with a real freewheel. He has his eye on a cross bike with disk brakes, but this one catches my eye every time.

(...but my poor bike SO needs a cleaning, to get the salt and road grit off. I need a warm weekend to give it a good overhaul!)

In other news, the parts came in to build the wheels for the Surly bike. Expect more pics early next month.

Friday, February 6, 2015


A few weeks ago, I said I had a "maybe" project. Well, The Excellent Wife (TEW) is going to be away for a couple weeks next month, and I'm going to use that time to start on the building of my cyclocross/local chores/take-it-easy bike; the one I expect to take on rides with TEW and the one I'll ride when I lead the Bike Exchange rides. I just put in an order for most of the parts at Kim's. I got the rims delivered this week, and the rest of the wheel parts are coming. Some of the other parts are being ported over from my hybrid.

Plan on seeing some posts about the build.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

... and throw away the key

From the Washington Post:

‘Revenge porn’ Web site creator convicted; he victimized thousands of women

From the linked article:
Kevin Bollaert, a 28-year-old Web developer from San Diego, created in December 2012. The site occupied one of the Internet’s seediest niches, inviting men to submit naked images of their former lovers as “revenge” for a breakup. By the time it was taken down the following year, the site included photos of more than 10,000 people, mostly women. The images were often accompanied by identifying personal information and links to the subject’s social media accounts....
Bollaert used a second site,, to demand money from the women whose pictures were posted in exchange for taking them down. Prosecutors said he charged up to $350 per person and made tens of thousands of dollars from the site.

More here.

I don't believe in the death penalty, but it's not because I believe it's cruel. It's not. Decades of imprisonment is much more cruel. (And there's always the risk that the executed person will become a martyr.)

For some people, no cruelty is too much.

Monday, February 2, 2015

tour de franklin registration

It's a bit dodgy to find - at this writing, the link from the Franklin Food Bank site is "404 not found" - but the registration for the Tour de Franklin is open. (Kudos to friend Dave C, who pointed it out.)

For the past few years, I've led a team of Freewheelers on the 60-mile ride at a "B-ish" pace. I intend to do so again, if the weather holds. I'm registering now; Dave tells me that they are limiting the ride to 660 participants (HAH! I'll bet that's an artificial number to create a false sense of scarcity; I'll bet they got a bit over 600 last year, and figured in a 10% increase. But I digress...)

I'll put up a post on the Freewheeler page about it. If Freewheelers want to do one of the other rides, I'd be grateful if you join my online team anyway; I'll have instructions on how to do that. I've just sent in my registration and the team is not set up yet.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

small chainring ride

Between the snow last week and the snow that's expected for tonight & tomorrow, there was a brief caesura today, so after doin' the taxes I got out on a short ride (some of my friends were doing a ride in Philly, but it sounded like an hour in the car out and another back for 20 minutes of riding, so I decided to give it a pass). I have a huge, thick, warm pair of gloves from my motorcycle days, so I decided to try them today.

It turns out that I lose so much dexterity with the clunky gloves that I could barely shift the rear, and shifting the front took more forethought and planning than I was happy with (there's a major bridge closure on 514, and some of the overflow traffic uses roads I like to ride on; these drivers are already angry and disoriented, so an old guy on a bike is not a welcome sight on these snowy roads with no usable shoulders). I did the whole ride, almost, in the small ring.

Except for the traffic, it was a relaxing ride. On the part of the cogset I use with the small ring, the gearing is close, so I was able to keep my cadence steady, and got home less wiped out than I sometimes do (I haven't needed a nap today). Here's the results.

Bike needs a wash; it's all grit and road salt. Here's hoping for an opportunity to do that soon.

One of my unofficial goals is to ride in each calendar month; for 2015, I'm 2/2.