Friday, October 31, 2008

Wrenching again, for no pay even!

For the first time in over 10 years I was in a shop with somebody else's tools working on somebody else's bike.

On Wednesday evening, I went over to City Cycle with my Klein Rascal frame to have Drew take a look at the bottom bracket spindle and chain alignment before I started any real assembly of the bike. Drew gave the seal of approval to the bottom bracket, which is a bit out of line but should do fine so I'll roll with it. While I was there he asked me if I was going to stay for the bike building party. I said "huh?"

Drew is supporting a local non-profit called Jax Recycles, which collects abandoned bikes from all over, like apartment complexes and even curbside garbage, and then works with Drew's shop and volunteers which donate time and space to helping get the bikes back on the road so they can be redistributed by JR to folks who can't afford a bike...someone in a local shelter program or what have you.

We ate pizza, and wrenched on some old department store bikes and cruisers and such, cleaning them down and getting as many as possible back on the road. It was a good time! I haven't worked on Huffys and Murrays in forever, and it's always a blast to remember those days years ago when I had to do that to earn enough dough to eat my frozen peas and pasta. The younger bike crowd was in heavy attendance, with their fixies and skinny jeans and affinity for that Yuengling swill...funny bunch.

I guess there was some pay...there were three wheels that had either rims or a hub that I thought had value even after they were deemed irreparable. What goes in the garbage is up for grabs! Two Ritchey Vantage Cross Sport rims and an old UG Shimano Ultegra hub/Mavic MA40 wheel with a bunch of busted spokes. Maybe my work to reintroduce these wheel parts back into the rolling community will find them back in some similar volunteer program sometime 10 or so years from now.

Good times!

"Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little."
Gore Vidal


The bathroom is functionally back together...although now Big Momma has determined that the off-colored toilet needs to go. Ugh! The sink is a Decolav unit from Home Depot...made in China, which I'm not too happy about. The workmanship on the sink is nonexistent too...all warped and malformed, straight from the box. You can't see it while using it, and only I seem, to notice that kind of stuff, but the lines of the sink that are supposed to be straight aren't anywhere near it, and the curves are irregular. Again, a minor quibble for a sink costing less that 100 bucks and originating in China, but still...I wish you could get decent stuff easier....Damn Lowe's.
"Cost is what you pay, value is what you get."
-Warren Buffet

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008



are you tired of these yet?

From three fortune cookie fortunes that I have stuck on my monitors at work...

"Focus on the Journey, not the destination."

"A bargain is something you don't need at a price you can't resist."

"'Remind yourself, the lion while hunting doesn't roar."

There...Now go be a better person, Dammit.

VooDoo HooDoo!

My friend Travis has been a load of help in our many recent home repair projects. He helped me with my bathroom walls, with the demolition of the back porch, with the contractor for the replacement porch, and in general with just about every stupid question I could come up with! To repay him, I bought him a VooDoo HooDoo mountain bike frame from ebay, and then hooked him up with about 900 bucks work of components for cheap. Barter System, baby!

We had mounted the fork a while back, and this week I loaned him some bottom bracket tools (because really, the bottom bracket and headset are the only parts of a bicycle that require specialized tools to build) and he did the rest. The final product looks great, and most of the parts are new,and the ones that aren't are from the Cannondale Rush that I dismantled and sold, so they have maybe 200 miles on them. The Bike has Sram XO drive train, Avid BB7 discs, Race Face headset and a nice SDG seat. I'd value the bike new from a shop floor at somewhere around $1400-1500 or so, considering the components and frame and such. (we've got maybe $950 total in it...about $700 of that from Travis' pocket, $300 to me for parts and 200 for the fork and 200 for wheels and other ancillaries.) At that price point, only the suspension fork, a Rock Shox Tora (usually spec'd on bikes in the $1100-1200 range) could be considered the weak link. That's not very fair to the Tora though, because it is a fully adjustable coil sprung and dampened fork only hampered weight wise by steel stanchions instead of the lighter alloys found in the Recon, the next fork up in the RS line. Hardly anything to cry about, and something that you'll never feel on the trail. Actually, considering that my Revelation is such a noodle with its alloy stanchions, the Tora may actually feel more accurate and direct on the trail! (I'll be bummed if my Rev feels like a floppy puddle of snot in comparison, and Travis will probably never let me live it down.)
Travis is already talking smack about dusting me on the trails...We shall see...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Build Your Own Candidate!

If you can't find a suitable Maverick...Make One!

Just tragic.

QUOTE! Proverb day!

"Let him bear the Palm, he who has earned it."
-Roman Proverb

"If it stinks, put a lid on it!"
-Japanese Proverb

"In good times, decentralize and deregulate so I can stuff my britches with your hard earned cash when you aint lookin'. In bad times, bail it out with 700 Billion so I can keep my summer home in the Hamptons...on your dime!"
-Republican Proverb

From an email

My wife's grandfather, who lives on a farm of about 200 or so acres in central Michigan, sends us these funny emails every once in a while. He's a character about using the computer and going online and sending emails and stuff, pretty technologically astute for someone who's supposed to be "generationally challenged" when it comes to such things. People always assume that older folks have an idea of how things work and function up to a certain point in their lives and then I guess they're expected to just turn off their ability to assimilate and adapt. I say Hogwash! My mother, who's 20 years my grandfather-in-law's junior, is a similar animal. She always acts like she can't figure stuff out, but mostly I think she does that to either; A)...get a "Stupid Senior Citizen Discount" as she calls it, or B)...get either my brother or me to do it for her, or C)...ignore the decision until it's moot!..."Calculated Neglect"!

Anyway, Grandpa sent this along, and I think you guys will like it...both of you.

Fifty Dollars is FIFTY DOLLARS!

Morris and his wife Esther went to the state fair every year, and every year Morris would say, 'Esther, I'd like to ride in that helicopter.'
Esther always replied, 'I know Morris, but that helicopter ride is fifty dollars, and fifty dollars is fifty dollars.'
One year Esther and Morris went to the fair, and Morris said, 'Esther, I'm 85 years old. If I don't ride that helicopter, I might never get another chance.'
To this, Esther replied, 'Morris that helicopter ride is fifty dollars, and fifty dollars is fifty dollars.'
The pilot overheard the couple and said, 'Folks I'll make you a deal. I'll take the both of you for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say a word, I won't charge you! But if you say one word, it's fifty dollars.'
Morris and Esther agreed and up they went. The pilot did all kinds of fancy maneuvers, but not a word was heard. He did his daredevil tricks over and over again, but still not a word.
When they landed, the pilot turned to Morris and said, 'By golly, I did everything I could to get you to yell out, but you didn't. I'm impressed!'
Morris replied, 'Well, to tell you the truth, I almost said something when Esther fell out, but you know, fifty dollars is fifty dollars!'


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tsali!...and a QUOTE!

We're back home from our camping trip with the baby and things went very well. Baby slept like a rock on Friday and Saturday nights, and only stuttered a bit on Thursday night, when I think her little internal clock was all kerflooey from the drive. She would display similar wackiness on Sunday night when we were driving home, and then trying to get her in bed later that night. 10 hours in a car is enough to make anyone nutty, but when you're a dinky little kid stuck in a safety seat, crazy is just below the surface...

Trails in the campground were great! It rained just a bit on Friday morning, just enough to keep the dust down, and we got in three laps, Right, Left and then Right again (3rd lap was solo for me), for a total of about 36 miles or so. A good day's work. Saturday we did Thompson, Mouse, Thompson back to back to back before lunch, then I ate lunch, drank a Sweetwater 420, and hit the trail for another Thompson. Can't get enough of the Thompson downhill at Tsali, that and the Left loop are the nicest trails in the park. It's a fun place to visit with the bikes, and it's a much more recreational place than Pisgah, difficulty-wise, but then again, you'd be nuts to drink beer and ride Bennett Gap, whereas Tsali on beers is the way to go!

Fall leaves too! WHEEEEE!
"I don't know if I prefer Astroturf to grass...I've never smoked Astroturf!"
-Joe Namath


Walls done! Actually, the parts of the walls where Travis and I completely replastered and sanded the surface are better than the 50+ year old plaster elsewhere in the room!

Next up...sink!


Under-cabinet lighting that I got for Big Momma and didn't install because of the potential addition contemplation consideration...thing. Worked pretty well. I wouldn't use this simple plug-in halogen system in an expensive remodel, but for a little walk-thru kitchen like ours, where overhead lighting casts a bunch of shadows, and where the primary cook (me) favors a 10" Henckel chef as his chopper-of-choice, the light helps greatly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baby to the woods...and a QUOTE!

We'll be heading to NC for a bit of cycling and camping this weekend. First time Baby sleeps in the tent. This may be a very rewarding experience, or we may all wind up pulling out hair out and chopping ourselves into bits! We'll be in Tsali again, which while not the most challenging trail network in the area, truly is the social off-road cycling destination in the southeast. The picture is from last October's trip, and we hope to see fall colors similar to those in the pic.

"My heart and soul are firmly in the dirt"

- Dave Weins
Pro Cyclist...on dirt.

Monday, October 13, 2008

done been readin' again...and a QUOTE!

"To use a baseball analogy, America's most successful citizens were born on third and think they've hit a triple."

-Toby Young
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Yup...I finally got around to reading that book...the one mentioned above, the one I bought on a whim from a bargain bin because it seemed so connected to my own personal experience, as a joke anyway. I've always been a bit short tempered and crass, and my friends are typically pillars of patience for dealing with me, so when I saw that someone had actually written a book with a title that we had joked about as applying to me, you know I had to buy it. It sat on my desk in bookends for 3 years until I saw the movie preview, with Simon Pegg (who was bad ass in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


"Never Fear being vulgar, just boring, middle class or dull."

-Diana Vreeland
Fashion Columnist and Editor

See! All my life people kept telling me to shape up and not be such a iconoclastic pig. Who knew Vulgar was chic? HA!

Friday, October 10, 2008


"Get him out of here and get me another quarterback!!"

- Jon Gruden, Head Coach
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

City Cycle visit

Drew at City Cycle sent an email to our mayor asking for additional resources to be put toward bicycle network construction and a general increased promotion of bikes in these times of high gas prices. Even Jacksonville has seen an increase in the number of commuters who use bikes to get to their destination, an almost unheard of turn of events in a town in love with its King Ranch F350 Powerstrokes.

I took it upon myself to stop by to talk to Drew personally about the state of Bike Ped stuff. Drew had a couple very good ideas, and we brandied them about over vintage Deore LX cantilevers and old chain rings for about an hour and a half, and I think we can work some of his ideas and current efforts as a shop owner into the evolving grand scheme for Jacksonville's bike future. I let him know some of the things that I see as the next big steps for Jacksonville in our quest to truly become more bike friendly.

We need consolidation of effort from the stakeholders in the policy decision process. Each agency related to transportation and development seems to have their own master plan or model, and I'm not sure that the individual arms and legs of this beast know what the other limbs are doing. Teamwork in Policy is a good thing. Good work is all around, and we need to tell each other about it.

We need to recognize our strengths and successes and feel rejuvenated in our efforts to get to what we as cyclists would like or city to be. Jacksonville has a bit of an inferiority complex. We have a hard time getting past the nasty intersections that sit right at the start of our own commutes, and seeing the successes around our city and metropolitan area that are very real. Multiple Recreation paths coming on line in the last 5 or so years, additional links on the board for the near future, and policies in effect for requiring additional bike lanes to be added to new road projects and reconstruction projects where right-of-way changes are necessary. I think we get distracted by the 840 square miles and miss the seemingly diluted successes which are so much more readily apparent to cities not working under the designs of consolidated government.

We need people. Jacksonville has a good many cyclists, and there is a reasonably big bike club, but the inactivity of the residents in the processes of government as a whole (admittedly, an issue in many communities across the country) is a liability to promoting increased bike use and facility construction. At our Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, we've struggled for the 8 years I've been involved in the organization, to get and keep people interested in assisting in general manpower issues related to initiatives for improvement. Folks just can't seem to get to a meeting after work. Much like my mom who struggled when I was a kid to get me to little league on time on a work night...people who work for a living have a hard time finding the time to volunteer. I get it, and I know its real, but people have to get more involved, and they need to stay involved for a period of a few years to keep the ball of change rolling. Volunteers expect to have an opportunity to change the city in a meeting or two, but real change takes two years or more of pressing an issue, not two months.

From an existing facility perspective, we as Planners need to understand our city better. The data sets for existing sidewalks and bike lanes need to be more accurate, such that they can be used to truly project and identify immediate needs for additional pedestrian links. We've had the mandatory bike lane policy on the books for a good long time, and now its time to get an accurate picture of where the existing is, and where the future connections need to be.

That's it! Seems simple enough. Now I'm off to clone myself 3 times and petition God to add an 8th and 9th day to the week. Whew! Get busy people!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Curious George and the Bathroom Break!

The walls of the bathroom are finished, and I've spent the last three evenings priming and painting. They look pretty good, especially considering I have no formal experience in the art of drywall! Thanks to my friend Travis, it will look pretty good, I think, when finished. There are some spots that look a little rookie. I forgot to sand one spot where I buttered a screw head. The seam on the ceiling where it butts against the old ceiling isn't perfect, and I did a bad job of ensuring that the screw heads are all filled with mud, so every once in a while you see a small little pit. I think I can fill those a bit before final paint and that will fix it up, but otherwise I'm calling this project done. I have to remind myself that I'm not a pro, that this is a DIY project, and that I'm risking making it worse by monkeying with it.

Speaking of Monkeys...the baby has a new favorite book...Curious George and the Dinosaur. Funny kid.

Ebay 'Muppets'

The Retrobike guys call Ebay traders who manipulate the auction process for their own benefit, either through complete deception or just plain stupidity, as 'Muppets'. I love the term, and although I've gone nearly 4 years and almost 400 transactions with nothing but happy sellers and happy customers leaving me feedback, I think that is all about to grind to a halt.

I clearly have a bike addiction, anyone reading this blog can tell that. What that means is that I've got a hankerin' for everything that I don't have, and a need to dump everything that I do. Something is always on its way to me via the little man in the brown truck, or I've always got something that I need to drop at the shipper. In the last month I've done more than 30 transactions, all mostly sales.

The boondoggle concerns a seatpost that I recently sold. An early 90s vintage IRD (Interloc) post, which has been used for almost 10 years. I described it as "Good" and "straight" and as having "flaking powder coating" in the rail areas of the head, and as showing "cloudy white stains" on the shaft from where the raw aluminum is oxidizing in the atmosphere. My buyer asked me if the post was "Decent" which it is, and if it had been "sanded" which it has not, and if it had "gouges" in it, which there are none. He seemed pleased with my answers and bid accordingly.

Now, after getting the post, he has declared that he is unhappy with my "misleading" description of the post, and that it is unfit for his "Top Notch" bike restoration. What?! How did a "decent" seatpost with "flaking" and "cloudy white residue" from oxidation get even the faintest consideration for a "Top Notch Restoration"?!

His solution, which borders on petty extortion, I think, is to request a partial refund as he can only use the post for "parts", and that he'll have to have the head of the post re-powder coated anyway. What?!? Is this real? No thanks, pal.

Picture attached...picture from the be the judge.



"When a man's character is not clear to you, look to his friends."

-Japanese Proverb

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

from my inbox...

The Heaviest Element Known to Science

Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science.

The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of morons promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

- H. L. Mencken

Monday, October 6, 2008

Klein Rascal, the triumverate is complete!


I’ve been mountain biking since 1989, and I've had over 20 bikes over the years. Some were just awful (Purple GT Zaskar, Jamis Diablo 853) and some were mild let downs (Bridgestone MB-2, Rock Lobster Expert Taiwan POS) and some were just mass produced boring junk (Giant ATX-770, Stumpjumper M4).

Over the years I’ve had three bikes that really seemed to fit my style. I’m a guy that likes tight trails and I never, ever get air, unless it’s unintentional and closely followed by a trip into the weeds (last October, Left Loop, Gary calling out "What the hell were you trying to do?!?") For one reason or another, I’ve managed to sell off all three in a vain attempt at modernizing, or evolving, or maybe just as a means to exercise my urge to build new bikes up and sell off old stuff…who knows.

Well, I’ve managed to get all three of them back, in some form or another…The ’94 EWR back from Matt, My ’93 Viper Red Beast of the East M800 (although my old ’92 Beast was Orchid Blue), and Finally…my new Klein Rascal.

My old Rascal was a ’92, and the lettering was reverse taped into the paint, and the final color was a classic two color fade, charcoal to maroon, front to back. I wiped out on campus (getting air…I should have known better!) and badly damaged the seat stay on the drive side, and shortly thereafter traded the frame to Lou’s Bike Shop in St Pete (who would later sell me the Beast via ebay!...small world!) for a Manitou 4 for the white EWR. Then Trek came into the picture and I slit my wrists.

The Rascal was always the perfect Klein in my eyes, because it was the same frame as the Attitude with a 1" head tube and not the bizarre Klein MC stuff up front. Same big fat horizontal dropouts, oversized downtube and most importantly, the same geometry as both the Attitude and the Adroit! (which had very thin-walled tubes and was better suited to wall art duty) Rascal...different enough to be a Klein, but normal enough to get parts!

The new Rascal (which is actually used, but in better shape than even my Beast), a ’90 with the extended seat tube, is a one color paint job Klein, and the lettering is transfer decal under the clear, and a solid color, but the depth of the metallic finish is amazing. The bike has some chips around the rear drops, and the fork blades, and just a tiny amount of chain suck, but otherwise it’s perfect! Even has the internal cable guides in place…and as a final touch, I have someplace to put my Paul’s Blue Balls seat bolt! (I can hear you all sniggering...all 4 of you)

I've got a friend who is contemplating selling his first generation, Duralcan made, Specialized S-Works M2, a contemporary on many Bay Area rides to first my old Beast and then the Rascal. Gary, I still think you should keep your M2…and the 4 year search for a decent Rascal, in the right size for me, with something other that day-glow puke paint, is the reason. You have the means…keep it. If you want to sell it, then sell me the Cook Bros cranks first!