31 January 2012

Notes from Paris

I've just spent a couple of days in Paris. Impulsive express mini vacation. Seeing sights, eating food, getting ripped off by hoodlums,.. the usual tourist experience.

I saw a whole bunch of sweet bikes down there, when we were out walking around. A lot of girls on fairly classy mixtes. Classic constructeur type touring/city bikes. A couple of your usual big city fixed gear bikes. A couple of older mountain bikes. They always seem to age the worst. Even a trials bike with rider showing off right next to the Eiffel Tower.

But it's odd how diverse styles of bikes were in Europe some years ago, before they all began squirting out of the same aluminium plant in the east. The French bikes seem so sophisticated compared to the bikes we had in Denmark. Our bikes were just practical I guess. Nothing fancy.

At a flee market right outside our hotel in Paris, I saw this old Eddy Merckx in mint condition. Had it been a Danish bike of equal age, it would have been so rusty. I don't know what price he was asking. I'm also not sure of what steel it's made from etc. Judging by the cover plate on the fork crown, I imagine it's cheapish. I'd still have bought it, if I could have had it in my suitcase.

One mans rubbish?

27 January 2012

General Roundup

Assorted things that I can't turn into their own separate things:

-Steve Garro at Coconino Cycles has a couple entries up detailing his processes for building a frame. I love stuff like this. Part 1. Part 2. Generally a good blog to follow.

Getting going on framebuilding is one of my resolutions for this year, and I've been trying to gather everything I need to get practicing at brazing. This has led me to spending ages mindlessly looking through tool supply websites and whatnot, which has led to me agonizing over the realization that I'll likely never be able to afford a place with a garage or basement for a workshop in Vancouver's insane market. Urgh.

-Does anyone else think that these Magura road brakes remind them of the Campagnolo Delta brakes?

-A while back, Rivendell posted an entry that, among other things ("indian" talk notwithstanding), speaks at great length about the departure of an employee.

This is illustrative of a lot of what I like so much about RBW as a company, reinforcing even more what I felt when I stopped in when I was in San Francisco in September: They come across as a group of folks that are there because they're really excited about what they're doing, and genuinely like working there and working together. When I visited, I had a really long, wide-ranging conversation with - I believe - Scott, a teacher that works there on weekends if I remember correctly. We talked about all kinds of things, some of which were even bike related.  He offered - without any request on my part - to quickly show me around the place, to send me out on test rides on whatever bikes I wanted even though it was clear that I was just dropping by to look around, gave me a handful of the readily-available Readers that he could track down, and was just genuinely friendly all around. It seemed like a perfect example of what happens when you treat the people that work for you like people that work with you. 

Anyhow, it turns out that Jay, the departing RBW employee, is the guy responsible for one of my favourite bike web edits:

This video always makes me want to drop everything I'm doing and go ride my bike off into the hills.

-Other assorted things going on lately:

  • A couple weeks back, I fell really hard on my knee and it swelled up the size of a softball. I decided to avoid the bike until things went back to normal (also it snowed and stuff, and Vancouver drivers are absurdly dangerous when it snows), so I'm just now getting riding again. So much for that resolution so far. 
  • I have this older Nishiki Rally frame that my wonderful girlfriend found in an alley and dragged home because she knew I'd want it. It's more-or-less my size-ish. I have a 2-speed kickback hub that I built into a 700c wheel a while back. I'm thinking 2-speed errand bike with a big ol' front rack. Probably re-raking the fork to make it work better with said big ol' front rack. Possibly re-paint it because why not, right? This will be done on the cheap, so it will probably be a hilarious bike. I look forward to it. 
  • Cobbled together a couple tools last week to help with wheelbuilding stuff. As luck would have it, I've got a couple wheels to build on Tuesday when I'm back at work. 
  • The VO rides so well. I'm very pleased. 

25 January 2012

Todays view

Went on a shorter ride through the local woods today.

Nice view, smooth singletrack.

23 January 2012

Darkness, photos, lights out

I went on a nice ride tonight. I went out at 16:30, so the sun was gone. I just went sorta into the blue (black?)... no particular plans, other than riding past a few scenic spots (there are so many here). It was close to 0 degrees. I saw ice in places when I returned to the city again. I kept fairly warm though. I've had trouble keeping my toes warm. I ride flat pedals and it's hard to find some warm shoes with a proper sole. I usually just wear bmx shoes. Today I took the loose insole out of my Orchids, which gave space enough for a bit of movement and air, surrounding my foot clad in thick wool socks with windproof socks over them. Worked nicely. I'm happy about that.

I bought a Carradice saddlebag a couple of weeks ago. It's the Zipped Roll. I've been wanting to bring my camera on rides for so long, but have lacked something good to put it in. I can fit so much stuff in this bag; pump, patches, tools, camera, small tripod and room to spare. It's sweet. Seems very sturdy in it's construction, and doesn't dangle around. Don't feel it when standing up in the pedals.

Here are some photos:

In the woods. It got pretty muddy later on.

My city in the distance. Listen to the silence...

Back in the city, a lot of rescue people were searching the water... I don't know the story yet.

So about halfway, just after getting out of the forest in the photo above, my front light decides to switch off. Just like that. "Click". It could at least have warned me, but no no. I could off course also have made sure it was charged, but I can't be expected to think of everything. Anyway, the only other white light I had was the flashlight App in my phone. So I rode 5km with that in my hand. It actually worked quit well, apart from the ergonomics. Stopped by a supermarket and bought a cheap LED light, so I could ride the remaining 10km or so in comfort. I will need to bring a couple of those in the future,.. just to be safe.

Edit: They weren't searching for anyone or anything n the photo above. Apparently there was a slight oil spill.

13 January 2012

Assorted bad photos from the last little bit

Just have to get that tape a bit grubby.
This is the Basso with the weirdo headset issue. The bike was originally a full-on road bike (a really awesome one), but that's not the customer's thing so much anymore, and he was feeling stretched out too much on it and wanted a simple bike for getting around. Singlespeed was appealing, but there was concern over versatility. The two-speed keeps things clean, as it's aesthetically not really any different than a singlespeed, but gives a bit of a bailout gear. Shorter, higher stem and moustache bars to get the position a bit less aggressive, while still giving multiple handholds. The pedals will be changed eventually.

The wrong-sized DA headset was replaced with a right-sized BBB unit which is still nice and shiny silver, and, as a bonus, actually works. Nitto moustache bars and an older Nitto stem replace a Cinelli bar and stem. A Sturmey Archer S2 takes the place of the old Dura Ace rear hub, while the front wheel remains DA/Wolber. DA 7400 cranks (possibly the nicest-looking crankset ever, IMO) and brakes. This thing is really fun to ride. It's giving me a bit of a shove towards finally getting around to building up the bike I built my own kickback wheel for, which has been hanging in the shop for six months now.

 Just using a coke bottle lid to get out a sheared BB cup.

Martin is curious.
I need to get my footwear and pedal situation sorted, ASAP. Probably going to avoid road pedals/shoes, as I like to do some wandering on rides. I'm leaning towards eggbeaters and MTB shoes, as they seem to get reasonably positive reviews in road situations. Hope to implement this sometime before March. Bike gear is way too expensive.

Sorry for making a mess out of your cranks, Tom.
It's gross out almost all the time. The new bike definitely helps keep the motivation up, although the levels are still not all that high. It doesn't help that most riding around here seems to involve slogging along in traffic. I think I could handle the weather a lot better if I had some mainly-deserted backroads. Actually, I think I could handle everything better if I had some mainly-deserted backroads.