Monday, November 26, 2012

Has anybody got any salmon?

I'm supposed to be doing something else, so it's clearly a good time to be writing on the internet about my bike. Again.

Somewhere back in the mists of time I lived in a teepee with an Irishman and made a bike frame. Since then the frame lay dormant for a year and then finally became a bike and went on some mountain adventures over the summer. Lately Kermit has finally found his intended purpose and is my used-every-day bike for getting around Vancouver. As I've just put some nice new brake pads on him, I thought I should take a few photos for the record. Internet, meet Kermit.

Sorry about the top-tube pad. I'm not a hipster, honest.

What makes the wheels go 'round? Well, a strange mix of old road and mountain bike stuff I gathered together over the past few years in OCB.

Half road, half mountain, all action. 

Here's where the fun really is. About 15 years after it was the exciting new thing to do, I am using the "hidden click" in a old Shimano 7 speed shifter to shift on an 8 speed cassette... using a 9 speed rear mech . It actually works too.

Kermit, standing rampant in our kitchen. 

Salmon? Sorted.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mud, glorious mud

One of the (many) things I missed while we were in China was the Mud Ride. There's been a change of venue now that Marc and Nikki aren't islanders any more, and the cast continues to evolve... but the mud was back in full force this year. Fortunately the temperature wasn't as numbing as some years, so we had a fun and squelchy time... followed by gobbling lots of nice food, including a highly flammable chocolate cake. I recommend flammable cakes.

A truckload of bikes
 We started the ride with eleven dry riders, one soggy rider, two dogs, and one plucky runner. Somewhere along the way we gained another rider (which was unexpected, for everyone including him) and ended the ride missing a couple of riders and a couple of dogs but were re-united again in time for beer, hot chocolate, and hosing ourselves down in the yard.

Pippa, a true poseur.

Really\ quite muddy.
Thank you to Marc and Nikki for keeping the dream alive for another year and thank you to all to showed up to get wet and muddy, or just drink beer and eat (flammable) cake. The tradition lives on.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's all in my head(set)

CAUTION: This post contains minute details of bicycles and is unlikely to be interesting unless you like, err, that sort of thing.

Head-tube angles are currently the new-favorite-argument on the bicycle internet forums that I read. Or is it wheel-size now? Hmm, I may have missed the boat. Anyway, I have chosen not to join any of these riveting discussions as I really didn't have anything to add. Now I do, and like a true coward I am going to write them on here where it is unlikely that anyone argumentative will ever read them, and they can't reply even if the wanted to. Ha.

Firstly, my Knolly got a new (to me) fork. The venerable 2007 Marzocchi 888 that I had on there was suffering a bit, and never really allowed me to go around corners. Before we went to China, Lina's "big" bike got a RockShox Domain (318 version with 115mm-160mm U-Turn) to replace the sadly-flawed Marzocchi 55 TST that came on it. The Domain was very cheap from a nice young man in Port Moody and seemed to get on with the job of holding the front end of Lina's bike off the ground without complaint once we got the spring right. While we were in China I spied a 180mm travel Domain for a similar bargain price, from a similar nice young man in Port Moody. Paul being a prolific bicycle-part-bargain-hunter himself agreed to secure the goods for me and they sat in his shed for months. 

A few weeks ago, having survived the ravages of apartment renovations and getting all my tools back from storage I set about attaching the Domain to the front of my bike. With some excellent bodging, namely creating a headset made from parts of three other headsets, the fork was attached and Knolly was rolling again. Having gone from a 200mm travel dual-crown fork to a 180mm travel single-crown changed... almost nothing. Same weight (heavy), same axle-to-crown length (long). What did change is the new absence of rattling noises and the ability to navigate corners tighter that a gently curve without having to stop and move the back wheel around with a forklift truck. The White Elephant bike is now even more white and just as elephanty as ever. It's great.

It's all white.

Between returning from China and fixing my Knolly I had solely been riding that old Blur 4X I told you about. I rode it so much that I figure I about equaled a year of my normal twice(ish) a week riding in two months. This resulted in the amusing destruction of one of those Chinese carbon rims I told you about. Still, it was nice while it lasted.

This is what happens when you use untested components for things they were never intended for. Who knew?
The point in all of that is that I'd got pretty used to riding bikes with slack head angles. Both Knolly and Blur are about 66 degrees... probably. I haven't measured them of course, because guessing is much more fun. Once I unearthed my favorite (Orange) bike from storage I was keen to get out and appreciate its zesty goodness. As soon as the trail turned downhill though, I realized something had changed. The hundreds of hours riding on choppered-out bike left me feeling a bit precarious on my normal(ish) geometry hardtail. The way I ride has changed a little over the past year thanks to a year spent descending on wet clay riding a Chinese touring bike, then a month of whizzing down endless swoopy singletrack on our Idaho (and beyond) road-trip. I've become more used to going faster, and riding on smooth but slippery surfaces. The orange bike just wasn't feeling eager to help me get my cornering lightsaber working.

And finally, we arrive at the point of all of this. I bought a new headset. It's a Works Components -1 degree angle headset which fits the quaint old 1 1/8" head-tube on the Orange Bike. The result of fitting this thing should be 1 degree of slackness in the front, a bit of steepness in the seat-tube angle (which was pretty steep anyway - we'll see how that works), and a smigdeon lower bottom-bracket height. I'm off for a wet and dark ride on the Shore tonight, which is a great place to test out fast and smooth cornering obviously. Ok, it's not... but we'll see how it goes.

Angle-dangle... oh, and check out my vice, it's a beauty.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


The playground in Deep Cove, looking a bit sinister the night before Halloween

Our pumpkin, looking at the torrential rain outside on Halloween night.