2010 Year in review, Resolutions, etc.

Well, this year pretty much sucked ass for me bicycle-wise.

I rode a whopping 460 miles all year. This has been, by far, my lowest mileage year since I started riding again back in 2004, when I started this blog.

Ass Suckage

I got hit by a car on my first commute this year. I was laid up for 2 months from that, and I never really got back into the groove. A few changes at work made commuting problematic for most of the summer. Excuses, Excuses.

The lack of bike riding has made me fat. I don’t have exact figures, but I’ve put on at least 20 pounds this year, and the extra weight makes biking less fun, especially going up hills, and I wasn’t exactly thin to begin with.

Every new year’s eve, I throw out some mileage number as a New Year’s Resolution. Usually it’s around 2000 miles. Then, when the end of the year comes, I act all surprised that I didn’t hit my number.

So, for 2011, I’m setting the bar low, and breaking the goal(s) into 52 pieces. I want to ride at least 35 miles a week, and lose at least 1 pound a week.

If I can manage that, by the end of the year, I’ll have ridden at least 1820 miles, and lost at least 52 pounds, and that will be nice.

To keep things on track, I’ll be reviving the long forgotten Weekly Summary Category of the blog, with a stupid weekly post that says “This week I rode X miles, and lost Y pounds.” Even if X =0 and Y = -10.

I think public humiliation is a great motivator.

Anyhow, 35 miles of bicycling is probably not going to be enough to burn off a pound of my flabby arse. So, I’m going on a diet also. The bicycle blogosphere has been burning up lately with people talking about the advantages of cave man style diets. Paleo Diet, The Primal Blueprint, the Jim Thill Meat-Rope Diet, whatever you call it, it’s all pretty much the same thing, and so that’s what I’m doing.

These diets are not very compatible with my vegetarianism, so I’m not going to be vegetarian anymore. Saving the environment and saving the animals is great and everything, but, well, I just don’t give a shit anymore. I want to be able to fit into my MUSA shorts again, and I want to make it up the big hill on my commute without having to get off to push. If a few cows get hurt in the process, so be it.

So, Tallyho, onward and upward, happy new year, and all that.

Bike Shop(s) for Sale

If any of you want to live out your Yehuda Moon fantasy, I heard this weekend that Big Earl’s bike shop in Mifflinburg is for sale.


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The shop has two locations, one on either end of the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail. The eastern location is about 3 blocks away from BikePA route V. The BVRT is scheduled to open in November 2011, so there’s potential for even more business in the not too distant future.

Big Earl’s is run by a Mennonite family, and the story I heard is that they have so much business, running the shop is starting to interfere with their agricultural activities, and so they want to sell it, so they can focus on farming.

You’d probably have a steady business of both the local Amish/Mennonite cyclists I talked about yesterday, and college students from Bucknell.

The only real competition would be Campus Cycles in Lewisburg, and anyone who’s had the… ahem… pleasure of dealing with them knows they wouldn’t be much competition at all.

I don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my entire body. Otherwise, I’d consider buying it myself.

Anyhow, just thought I’d put the word out.

Some Observations of the Bike Amish

I just spent a few days driving around visiting relatives in the bucolic agricultural areas around Mifflinburg, PA. Most of the farms in this area are operated by Amish and / or Mennonite families, and so I had a lot of opportunities to observe the way they set up their bicycles.

The Buggy-Only parking area at the local supermarket

The typical Amish person seems to ride a mid to low-end mountain bike, but I did see a few riding around with drop bars and I even saw one riding a high-zoot bike with a carbon fork and STI controls. It was somewhat bizarre seeing such a bike operated by a man in blue jeans wearing a wide-brimmed hat.

I didn’t see any suspension forks at all.

A typical Amish Bicycle

All the bikes (even the racy road bikes) have what appears to be a Pletscher rear rack, with a cardboard box attached by the spring-loaded arm.

I’m not sure about this, but it seems to me that if you’re Amish, you only ride a bicycle until you get married and have a family, and after that, you use a horse-drawn buggy for transport. I saw several buggies with what appeared to be parents and infant children inside, with the older children following the buggy on bicycles. Buggies seem to have a top speed of around 12mph, which the bicycles can easily match.

I also got the chance to drive my car on unlit farm roads at night, and I was able to check out how they equip their bikes for night-time travel.

All they do is put a red LED blinker on @the back, and what appeared to be a cateye EL-530 on the handlebars.

Cateye EL-530

Brightly colored clothing is taboo or whatever, and so they are damned hard to see at night, especially from behind.

I was also amazed at how much of a difference pedal reflectors make. I came up on bikes both with an without pedal reflectors, and I will never ride without them again. Pedal reflectors make a HUGE difference to a driver coming up from behind. Without them, a cyclist is a single point of red light; blinking away in the darkness. With them, it is obvious that the thing in front of you is a bicycle, and you get an immediate idea of how wide it is, how fast it’s moving, etc.

Pedal Reflectors. Get some.

Also kind of interesting is how groups of cyclists clump together. They ride two-abreast in a kind of peloton. People with headlights in the front, people with taillights in the back, and masses of unlit bikes in between.

Even though it is winter, nobody wore exotic, cold-weather bicycle clothing. The men were wearing the same Carhart-style jackets they probably wear to milk the cows in the morning, and the ladies wore sweatpants under their skirts (I make an effort to see what’s going on under Amish ladies’ skirts every chance I get.).

I got the distinct impression, that these are not the sort of people who spend endless hours debating the finer points of pneumatic trail, lugs versus TIG welds, “planing,” or any of the other endless sources of bullshit that bicycle people on the internet waste their time discussing. Noneless, they probably log more miles than any of us, and do so with significantly lower cash outlays.

They are “transportation cyclists” every bit as much as the fetishized residents of Copenhagen.

If it weren’t for their objections to being photographed (thou shalt not make graven images), I think an amishize.com or something similar would be a nice counterweight to the fashionista bakfiets brigade.

Indecisive Ponderings on Bicycles

People on the internet like to say that the correct number of bikes to have is n+1, where n equals the number of bikes you currently have. To me, this seems mildly idiotic, as it tends to lead to an infinite number of bicycles.

My current thinking is that the correct number is three. These should consist of:

  1. A road / touring / randonneuring style bike
  2. A mountain / fire trail / all terrain style bike
  3. A city / commuter / foul weather style bike

My current stable consists of a 1988 Trek 520, for category 1, a Surly Karate Monkey for category 2, and a ridiculous Eastman Roadster for style 3.

It is becoming obvious to me that my Eastman Roadster is not a suitable bike for my purposes. It’s just to small for me, and no amount to monkey business with funny stems and handlebars is going to make it work. So, I’m getting rid of it. (If you want it, lemme know. I’ll let it go for a case of good beer or equivalent).

Anyhow, this leaves me with a hole in my holy trinity of bicycles. Before I got the roadster, I was planning to build up a cross check with Sturmey Archer gearing and whatnot, but I spent too much time gawking at Dottie and Velouria, and I got all swept away with the romance of the old style city bikes, and ended up with the Roadster.

In any event, the most obvious option would be to pick up a cross check frame as I originally planned, and use the cross check with albatross bars and hub gears for my city bike.

The other option is to put the sturmey wheels on my Trek (which currently sports Albatross bars anyhow) and get a whole new bike for the category 1 road / touring / randonneuring bike.
But why would I want to turn my road bike into a dopey City bike anyhow? Well, I’m not sure exactly what, but something is different about it ever since I crashed it and had to replace the fork. I’m not sure if it’s the rake, or if it’s merely aesthetic, but something is different, and I just don’t feel the love on the Trek anymore the way I did when she looked like this:

My Trek (pre crash)

She looks like this at the moment.

Trek with Albatross Bars

Anyways, as I see it, if I’m going to get a new road bike, there are really only two legitimate options within my feeble budget. Either a Cross Check, or a Long Haul Trucker.

I’ve been spending the past few days reading frame geometry charts, stroking my beard, and being indecisive. I really like my Trek, except I with the top tube was a bit longer, and I wish it could take bigger tires. Either frame would do those things for me. Here is the geometry breakdown of both frames, compared to the Trek.

LHT Trek 520 CC
Seat Tube 620 647 620
Top Tube 620 589 610.1
Head Tube Angle 72 72 72
Seat Tube Angle 72 72.7 72
BB Drop 78 65 66
Chainstay 460 455 425
Wheelbase 1085.3 1081 1044.8

Rake 52 52 44

My Trek appears to occupy the middle ground between the full loaded touring manliness of the LHT, and the more roadish sportiness of the CC. But, the CC has the semi-horizontal dropouts that would make it work with my Sturmey Hub if this frame ends up as the City bike afterall, and the CC can take pretty seriously big tires. I have seen pictures on the internet of people running nanoraptors on one. I don’t plan to run nanoraptors, but it’s pretty cool that I could.

On the other hand, the LTH has thicker tubing, which might come in handy since I’m a big fat ass at the moment.

[…]

Actually, now that I’ve had to go back through my blog and dig out the old pictures of the Trek, I’ve had time to reminisce about all our lovely adventures together over the years, and I think I want to give her another chance to be my road bike, ugly fork and all. I think I need to put the drop bars back on her before I make any rash decisions.

Uhm. Nevermind.

Wikileaks Winkerdinks

About 5 years ago, the corporate overlords at my last job asked, me to look into a content management system for the information technology department to keep its documentation.

I proposed that we use a wiki.

The mahogany-row big-wigs laughed me out of their office, saying that “wiki” was a stupid name, that it sounded like “dickie,” and that nobody was going to ever use something with such a stupid name. Evidently, these guys had not yet heard of Wikipedia, despite their supposed “leadership” role in the information technology department of a fortune 500 company.

For the past several days, everyone in the news media has been falling all over themselves about the big wikileaks brouhaha.

I hear the word “wiki” mentioned on the radio, the TV news, and all over the Internet numerous times daily. Astonishingly, nobody seems to find the name all that silly, and none of the newscasters confuse wiki-style content management systems with male genitalia.

I would like to take this opportunity to point and laugh at my former bosses, extend a well-meaning middle finger, and shout “TOLD YOU SO!” at the top of my lungs.

In other news, tomorrow marks my four year anniversary with my current company, where I keep all the server and network documentation in MediaWiki, and nobody seems to find this strange or comical.