Sunday, July 31, 2016

the krakow monster, accessories, and rule 9

A couple of years ago, when The Excellent Wife (TEW) was in Krakow on a language-immersion experience, I built up a Surly Crosscheck frame into a bike I call the Krakow Monster (well, TEW was in Krakow, see?). (For the ridiculously curious: parts, lacing the wheel (complete with dumb mistake), turning the dining room into a bike shop, the front end, fitting the cranks and cassette, completing the drivetrain, and finishing up.) It's the most versatile bike we own, and it may be the most versatile bike I've ever seen: I've taken it on Hill Slug and other club rides, I've led slow rides with it, and I've taken it for chores. It has a compact 50x34 in the front, and the big cog in the back is a 34, which means I've got a 1:1 low gear (sometime Hill Slug Peter G calls that "tricycle mode", and looks on it with disdain).

It's now sporting fenders and a rain-resistant pannier. I took it out this morning in the weather (initially drizzle, later real rain) for the three-mile-or-so round trip to the local post office (we actually live close to the post office in a neighboring town); the pannier kept the mail dry, and the fenders kept me dry - well, dryer anyway than if I hadn't had them. (I learned years ago that the real wet from riding in a gentle rain comes not from the water from above, but from the water splashed up from below by the tires, complete with road grit and other filth too gruesome to mention.)

Fenders notwithstanding, I'm claiming Rule 9 for this ride: "If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period." I see that a number of scheduled rides were cancelled. I was out. Granted, it was short, but I got pedaling in.

(By the way, if you're on the fence about fenders for one of your bikes, remember that they also help to keep the rider behind you dry. If you're in a paceline on a wet day, you'll get a face full of the aforementioned road grit and other filth. The control of this disease vector is surely a corporal work of mercy, doncha think?)

(Oh, go look it up.)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

back to kim's

Can it really be six weeks since I've been on a ride out of Kim's?

Well, that had to be remedied, so even though one of my favorite Princeton Freewheeler leaders was leading a ride today, I resolved to go out with the Kim's group. I did my usual ride-to-the-ride, stopping at the usual Wawa, where I ran into Wendell. whom I rode with on my ill-fated ride with the Major Taylors. He was out on a solo, and I told him about the open nature of the Kim's ride, and invited him to come.

I was early, of course, and potted around New Brunswick for a bit, before rolling up to Kim's. Neil was there:

We had a few words about feeling old and outclassed in this younger, faster crowd, but Neil acquitted himself admirably.

A few others showed up:

And then John came in; he told us that the others would be waiting for us on the route.

So, with a few others in tow (I didn't get names), off we went to Johnson Park... where we found folks waiting, not just for us, but for a couple of others; one had had a shoes/pedals crisis and had had to change out pedals. I heard they were riding in.

It turned out they were riding in, but in a car; they got the bikes off the rack, and off we went.

There's construction along River Road, and some of the traffic was NOT happy to see us, but you wouldn't know it from these pictures.

We got out of there as soon as we could and went through Bound Brook and picked up Elizabeth Ave, where I saw Señor Francisco and Señor Miguel (hey, they call me Mr Jim; I think the turnaround is only fair!). We chatted about my being missing for a while, and other topics.

After the turn into Colonial Park, one of the fast boys fell back; he thought he'd had a proble, but he hadn't... but I did when I went to catch up with the rest of the gang. I didn't get my breath back until we stopped at Six Mile/Blackwells Mills.

Off we went to Coppermine.

Did I mention it was humid? I see I didn't. It was humid; John, above, and I were remarking on how wet it was, and hard to breathe. Partway up Coppermine, I had to pull off and wring out my headband; it was so saturated that sweat was running down my face and obscuring my vision (and dripping into my glasses). John and I brought up the rear of the going-up-Coppermine contingent. Oh, the shame. Oh, the ignominy.

Screw it. I'm 61; I'm old enough to be the grandfather of some of these kids.

On the way back, a few of us stopped at the Wawa for a Gatorade break, and then we finished at Kim's. I rode back home at my usual into-the-headwind pace (after all, Princeton blows and New Brunswick sucks). Got close to 50 miles in; not bad! (Of course, that includes my pre-ride meandering and my ride home.)

And now I'm home, waiting for the dryer to finish and listening to the thunder. Glad I'm not out in it now!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

rider down

On today's ride, club member Andrew A went down due to unknown circumstances. He had road rash; I am not aware of other injuries. My thoughts are with him.

My thanks to the Lumberton Rescue Squad and Police, whose staff responded quickly and professionally.

And here's an out-of-focus picture of a bug that caught its demise on one of Chris Cook's spokes today.

Friday, July 15, 2016

the right universe

Chris Cook gets credit for this one.

I've been having way too much trouble with the front derailleur on the Yellow Maserati; if I could get it to shift onto the big ring from the larger cogs, I'd get chaindrops in front when I shifted to the big ring from the smaller cogs. But If I adjusted to avoid the chaindrops, the chain wouldn't go onto the big ring from the lower-gear cogs.

I mentioned this to Chris, and he said (uncharacteristically quietly for him), "Make sure you're in the right universe."


After some further explanation (at more predictable volumes), it turned out that he meant to be sure that all the OTHER adjustments were correct before you go nuts on that last one. And he was right; the front derailleur cage was out-of-alignment with the plane of the chainrings (the cage also needed some subtle reshaping, but that would not have helped by itself).

Now, I would have said it the way I did in the last paragraph, and it would have been completely unmemorable. But "Make sure you're in the right universe" is just odd enough (and, I submit, poetic enough) to stick in my head. So now, when I do adjustments, I remember to make sure I'm in the right universe, to remind me to look at the OTHER parts of the system, as well.

(Chris insists that he was the originator of the practice of changing routes mid-ride on group rides to drop the pace-pushers who were off the front, a practice that has been associated with Don Sprague, and which is now called "Spraguing" in the club. I have no idea if that's true, although "Cooking" the pace-pushers is a better moniker for the practice. In any case, I wanted to make sure Chris got credit for this.)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

joe rides to the sea

Laura OLPH (who's already got her post up) likes to make long rides into centuries. I don't; a 60-to-70-mile-ride is just what I want to do most of the time, so when Joe M dropped a hint last weekend that he was gonna do his ride to Belmar today, I opened up the time and kept an eye on the weather. The time and the weather looked good, so off I went this morning to Etra for the start.

I got there at about 7:45 for the 8:30 start, and the gates were locked, so I went around the corner to make sure that an adjustment to my front derailleur was holding (and let this remind me that I need to do a post about Chris Cook and making sure you're in the right universe). It was, and by the time I got back, the gates were open, and riders for three rides (Mary F's, Gary W's, and Joe's) were all assembling in the lot.

It's been a while since I've seen Ira.

Of the folks who came, nine of us headed for Belmar. Joe's route is largely downhill and tailwind on the way in. One of the riders had a chain drop, early on, and shorty thereafter, the front derailleur hanger gave up the ghost, but she had a triple, so we popped the chain on the middle ring, and she did most of the ride like that. Below, the careful eye will note the missing front derailleur.

Some folks go to Belmar to see the water, but I like to see all the people showing off for each other.

But that gets weird after a while (everybody's so much younger than I), so I went back to hanging around with the bikers.

The ride back is uphill (well, DUH. Belmar's at sea level, right?) and into the wind. We started getting spread out, and the last of us hobble into the second stop, about fifteen miles from Etra.

We took turns shepherding the folks on the back, and made it back to Etra, more-or-less together but not really. Thanks, Joe, for the invite and the lead.

Oh, yeah, two more things: Ride page, and bike pics.

Above, Jen's got a new-generation Selle Anatomica saddle. I might need to rethink my disdain.

We don't need no stinking front derailleur!

Above: White Specialized logo on white bike. Immensely cool.

That Lezyne pump on Joe's bike is nearly jewelry. My other bike, the Krakow Monster, might need one.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

on-call weekend

'S just not fair that my lot falls to have the weekend on-call for both Memorial Day weekend AND Fourth of July weekend, so my boss has arranged to take over on-call tonight. Still, on-call means I'm expected to check the computer for new cases several times a day, and I can't be away from a computer for more than about a half-hour at a time.

So no long rides, or other big plans to be away from home for the weekend. I got this ride in yesterday without incident.

I knew I was going to be stuck at home, so I got the parts to build a new wheel to replace the one that's been creaking. As I said in the linked post, my hypothesis is that the rim causes the creak, so I decided to try this rim, that's a little beefier and (with the "semi aero" shape) should be a bit stiffer. (Link goes to Brandon Hunziker's Bike Hub Store; he's been real helpful, and has good stuff for not too much $$.)

I built the wheel up between July 1 & 2, and it went together much more easily than the wheels with the other rim; that may be because I'm getting to be a better wheelbuilder, but I suspect it's because the stiffer rim resisted a certain amount of falling-out-of-true. In any case, I popped it on the Yellow Maserati today, and it rides nice. No creaks... but it's early days yet; it takes time for them to appear.

The ride I did today was this one. As I mentioned, I keep the ride to about an hour so that I'm no more than a half-hour from home at any point in the ride if the phone should go off. Wouldn't you know it did, just about at the furthest point; I had just made the turn in Colonial Park when I heard the dratted Apple ringtone. One of the programs had a client who was to be stepped down today, and they wanted authorization. I got to speak with the staffer, and I was impressed; he had his t's crossed and his i's dotted, and all the right checkboxes were filled. I gave him the verbal on the phone, and said I'd have the formal auth in the computer in about an hour... and beat that poor horse to get home in time to do it!

I made it in time, and got the computer stuff done; I've done a little maintenance on the bike, cleaned up the garage a bit (as much as Jacob would let me), and now I'm waiting for The Excellent Wife (TEW) to get back from HER ride so I can do a laundry.

I feel like this block-of-text post needs a picture, so here's the top pic that came up when I searched for "dumb bike pic" today:

Friday, July 1, 2016

back pain

I've had some wicked back pain the past few weeks; it's interfered with my sleep and my sitting. Recently, it's moved to my right hip; I can' stand for very long, and I sometimes limp when I walk. About the only thing it hasn't interfered with is biking.

The pain in the hip reminded me of the story of Jacob at the Jabbok creek, from Genesis 32:

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.

I've decided to call the back pain "Jacob". Jacob's not too intrusive right now, but he REALLY didn't like the humidity the other day.