Saturday, April 28, 2012

Shut Up and Pedal

It didn't matter that I had probably lost any early season fitness previously gained by spending too much free time building this bike in April.  It didn't matter that I had a hectic, six-cities-in-four-days, trip to the west coast last week, and arrived home last night a little knackered.  It didn't matter that today's wind would quickly drain the energy from my legs.  I've got a new bike, a publicly stated goal to do some longer rides, and it was time to shut up and pedal.

Today, five hours was long.  The ride started directly south, and for almost two hours, the noise of the constant headwind was like the roar of a locomotive.  No-stripe, rural county roads guided me over small rolling hills, into more urban surroundings, and finally into the Denton square.  The annual jazz festival was in full swing.  It would have been nice to stay, but I had many more miles in front of me.  So I turned east and headed over to the southern limit of the Greenbelt trail to start the offroad portion of the outing.  It's butterfly season down on the Greenbelt Trail. Thousands of them would be lounging on the trail, until I'd get near.  Then they'd take flight, let me by, and (I think) land to continue their lounging.  It was as if I was being escorted, encased in a continuous wave of butterflies.  The trail ends at the eastern limit of the Lake Ray Roberts Dam.  I turned left to begin the westward portion of my circuit, and rode across the top of the dam. The late morning sun was beginning to turn up the heat, and the blue lake water was inviting, but my sights were on Sanger.  Gusty cross winds, with no rhythm, forced frequent steering adjustments, and fatigue joined my journey.  One more crossing of IH-35, one more patch of gravel, and one more short section of direct headwind, and the loop was completed. 

Today, a five-hour ride was long, but I want to change what "long" means.  Making that happen shouldn't be too hard if I'll just shut up and pedal. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Can Go

Like a child
 who balances on two wheels
 for the first time,

 I can go anywhere.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Five Point Five Hours of Fixie Fun

I spent 5.5 hours on the Kogswell fixed wheel bike this weekend.  It was either because I'm a poor bicycle mechanic, made a mistake, had to order one more part to finish the project bike build, and I'm highly frustrated because I have to wait even longer before I can ride my new bike.


My excursions into the country side on fixed wheel were a gesture of solidarity and celebration with my friend Steve A who is now the proud owner of a new fixed wheel bicycle, with 3 speeds.

Let's say it's the latter, because the first option makes me sound like an incompetent whiner.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Because He Asked

Because I figure "If I can do, it is highly likely that everyone else has already mastered it", I rarely ever post anything resembling a "how to" guide. But Doug asked this question in the comments of my last blog post...

So, what method do you use to get the labeling off the rear derailleur? I've been wanting to remove the "Ultegra" from my Ellis derailleur. Wasn't sure how to do it.

Well, Doug, I'm not sure how to do it either. I think I read somewhere about the stuff you see in the photo above, found it in a hardware store, and tried using it on something. It seems to be useful stuff for very light polishing. For example, I peeled the VO sticker off my fenders and a sticky residue was left over. I took the fuzzy stuff and polished it right off. When I marked my fenders with a Sharpie and had a few stray marks to clean up, the fuzzy stuff performed well again.

So why do I hesitate to answer Doug's question with authority? Shimano component logos seem to be much more stubborn. If you examine the final results of my "105" removal closely, you'd see that a vague "shadow" (I'll call it) is still slightly visible. You'd also see a difference in the finish in the area I did most of the rubbing as compared to the rest of the part. Maybe Shimano has some kind of clear coat finish on their shiney components or something. It took probably 20-30 minutes of consistent rubbing to get to what I deemed "done". A lot more work than the two examples provided above.

I'm not sure that I'd recommend using this same approach to everyone. But for me the results were satisfactory. From 5-6 feet away, it looks like a shiny label-less component. Since my bike is never again (Sorry, Mitch) going to look like a showpiece, that totally works for me. But it might not work for you. Anyone out there got any other suggestions to help me and Doug with future logo removal projects?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It Rolls

Still building and tweaking, but couldn't wait any longer to get a feel for the new ride. Not enough time in the saddle yet to analyze and report back. For now I'll just say a lot of grinning was going on.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

First Fender

Figuring fender fiddling might not be too frustrating, I finally finished the front half.

Bag just sitting on rack to get an idea of how things might look soon.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Not Much Progess

There hasn't been much progress on the rando bike project. At least not much you can see. I did close the deal on the A. Homer Hilsen frameset, and shipped it out this morning. The country bike from rural northwest Denton County, Texas is on his way to Brooklyn, New York. I reckon that'll be quite a change. I also made some refinements to my Berthoud handlebar bag so it will work better with Mitch's custom rack.

But I need a drivetrain. Due to a variety of reasons, some important parts haven't yet arrived. I'm waiting on a rear wheel, bottom bracket, and new 8-spd cassette. Oh yeah, and brakes from a bike my brother is borrowing. Hopefully, everything I need will be here next week.

In the meantime, I've been trying to strike what might be called a build balance. While waiting for parts, I want to get as much done as I can (to save time later), without having to disassemble something because I went out of sequence or I have stuff in the way. Normally, the water bottle cage is about the last thing I attach, but there it is (probably in the way).

I did a little more tinkering after the photo was taken. Since downtube shifters and both derailleurs are on, I added shift cables. Then I explored a couple of options for adding a little padding under my cloth outer layer bar tape (no, not yet wrapped). Finally, I polished off the "Shimano 105" label from my rear derailleur. Maybe I'll go out and take those stubborn decals off my front wheel.

I hope those last parts get here soon, before I cross the line between progress and problematic.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


For me, the key to simplification is integration. Until now, I couldn't bring myself to part with any of my bikes because they each have one or more attractive features I have been unwilling to sacrifice for space or simplicity. The reason at least two framesets (plus several parts) will be sold off this year is that I believe the newest frame includes most of my favorite features.

First, it is made of steel. All my current bikes are steel bikes. I've ridden aluminum, carbon, and titanium, but prefer the feel of a good steel frame. I've read that a skilled builder can make any material "feel" like a steel frame. Yeah, okay, maybe. I know I like steel so why not start there?

Next, it has lugs. This is a feature provided by my Trek 660, A. Homer Hilsen, and Quickbeam. I believe that welded steel frames are just as strong and light (arguably more so) as a lugged frame. But lugged frames look nicer to my eye. The MAP has simple, but elegant lugs.

The MAP frame is built with "traditional" standard diameter thin wall tubing. This is a feature provided by my Trek 660 and Kogswell P/R. Since I am relatively small and light, I find that oversized diameter tubes make the frame a little too stiff for me. I like the comfort and energetic springiness of more flexible frame. The MAP frame has very thin walls and is noticeably lighter than my other frames.

The new frame is built for 650b wheels. This is a feature provided by my A. Homer Hilsen and Kogswell P/R. I spend a significant percentage of my saddle time on gravel, or poorly maintained, county roads. The wider tire greatly enhances ride comfort and, with the Hetre, still rolls pretty fast. The MAP frame is designed for wide tires and fenders.

The new frame is designed for front loading. This is a feature that I enjoy about my Kogswell P/R. The low trail geometry allows for a front mounted bag without adversely impacting the steering. This geometry is also less susceptible to cross wind influence, and where I ride there is almost always wind. I like having a front bag and accessing it while riding. The MAP frame, with it's custom rack/decaleur looks to be a better solution than the Kogswell set-up.

Finally, the only the MAP has a level of craftsmanship that I've only seen on custom built frames. If I were to have Mitch make me a frame, it would be very similar to this one. It is a better fit and is anticipated to be a better performer for my weight and riding characteristics than any of my production bikes.

The frame is a beautiful creation of Mitch Pryor of MAP Bicycles. It was his personal bike, and a prototype for his annual "Randonneur Project". A photo of this frame built up the way Mitch had it is available on his Flickr Photostream. He included the custom front rack, the polished frame pump, and two front derailleurs (one each for double or triple crankset) in the sale. Lucky for me, it happens to be my size.

I thought about calling this bike "The Integrator" because it brings together so many features from my other bikes. I could call it "The Replacement" because it will free me up to let a significant amount of bikes and parts be sold. But I think I'll call it "Maynard" because, as I've started to add parts, it's beginning to look like Maynard to me.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Got this cool frame on the bike stand begging for build up.

But I'll be out of town all next week.

Planning, scheming, waiting...