Half-Assing it to the Halfway Point

I got on the scale this morning, and discovered I was down 25.6 pounds for the year. I did a little victory dance in the bathroom. My plan was to lose 1 pound per week this year, for a total of 52 pounds for the year. It’s only April, and I’m just a hair shy of the halfway mark. Hooray!

I haven’t even been following the cave-man-diet thing very well. It seems to work OK, even if you half-ass it like I am.

I took the Cross-Check out for a 20 mile ride on a local Rail Trail yesterday. One thing I noticed is that with the 5-speed sturmey hub, sometimes the ideal gear just isn’t available. If the gear I’m in is too high, the next one down is way too low, and you just sort of have to pedal a gear slightly higher than you want. Hopefully, this will make my legs a little stronger. I’d like to attack both the numerator and denominator of my strength-to-weight ratio.

Blurry Cell-phone pic of my CC on the LVRT

The other thing I noticed (or rather, didn’t notice) is that my butt didn’t hurt. Normally, I end my rides not because I’m too tired and just can’t go on, but because my butt hurts and/or my junk falls asleep. The Brooks B.190 I’m rocking on the Cross-Check gave me NO TROUBLES the whole ride. Yeah, it weighs like 5 pounds, and costs a fortune, but I think it may have made me faster, because I didn’t have to get off every 5 miles to let the blood flow return to my nethers.

I’ve only put maybe 35 miles on this saddle so far, so it isn’t even broken in yet. I can only assume it will get even better in the future.

Brooks B.190

It looks silly, I’ll admit, with all its springs and whatnot, but who cares? It makes my butt happy. It soaks up the bumps like nobody’s business, too. All those springs serve a purpose. I’m almost tempted to get one for my road bike, too.

I also figured out a route that’s pretty much the longest possible ride from my house without having to deal with too much crazy traffic. It’s about 13 miles long, with a nice climb, and I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be able to ride it at least 2 or three times a week. At least that’s what I’m going to shoot for. The weather is finally starting to get spring-ish, the days are now long enough that after-dinner rides won’t be in the dark. It’s time to get my shit together and start riding again.

No more dick-monkeying around!

Down the Rabbit Hole: A Cautionary Tale

Having extra bicycle parts lying around your garage is a dangerous business.

Longtime readers of this blog may remember that once upon a time, I had an old Diamondback hybrid bicycle with Albatross bars on it.

Diamondback with Albatross bars

I got rid of that bike shortly after this photo was taken, but I kept the bars in my big box o’ bike parts.

The idea of those bars kind of stuck in my mind, and I kept wanting to build up a bike around them. I originally planned to build up a Cross-Check frame, as I had a number of parts that would fit. Those plans were ultimately scuttled, however, due to an overeager reading of certain other bike blogs.

After seeing too many pictures of attractive young ladies on old-timey city bikes, the association between desirable ladies and undesirable bicycles must have slipped past my my neocortex and wedged itself into my prehistoric alligator brain, where the desires co-mingled, and I ended up with a burning desire for an old-timey city bike.

I briefly considered nice, high-end city bikes. I came close to ordering a Pashley Roadster, but decided against it because it was outlandishly expensive. Instead, I took the cheaper way out, and ordered a made-in-India replica; The Eastman Roadster.

Eastman Roadster

The idiocy of this purchase should have been immediately obvious, but I stubbornly tried to make it work. After all, I had those Albatross bars I wanted to use.

The Roadster had rod-operated brakes with brake levers inseparable from the handlebars. Using my Albatross bars would require new brakes (and levers). The frame did not have drillings for calipers, so I ended up having Hiawatha build me up a wheelset with Sturmey-Archer drum brake hubs. I think this is about where I crossed the thousand-dollar mark for this project. It already would have been cheaper to buy the Pashley.

The Eastman came with 28″ (635mm) wheels, and the new wheels I had built up were 700c. So, I needed a new pair of tires. The Roadster had huge clearance for big tires, and with the chaincase and all, I wanted something pretty much flat-proof, so I sprang for a pair of nice, cushy Marathons.

47mm Tires

So, I finally had my old-timey city bike and got to use my Albatross bars. We had a few rides together; totaling maybe 50 miles. I had problems with it almost immediately. I went through a number of seat posts and seat post clamps. Evidently, the quality control at the factory was lacking a bit, and the seat tube was a few thousandths bigger than 25.4mm it was supposed to be.

Roadster

I also noticed that under hard braking, the fork would flex to a frightening degree. I am a big, heavy person, and I guess the metallurgy in the construction did not take into account someone of my size. In retrospect, I should have realized this from the extreme ease with which I was able to cold-set the frame.

A stiff breeze would have been able re-spaced the drop outs for me.

I finally had to admit defeat. I traded the frame away for a collection of parts, and ordered the cross check frame I originally wanted.

I kept the wheels, tires, and (of course) the Albatross bars that started me down this whole path to lunacy.

One of the items I got in trade for the Eastman was a pair of lovely 48mm Velo-Orange fenders. I couldn’t get them to fit around the massive tires. So I put those fenders on my road bike, and ordered a pair of the same fenders, in size 52mm. I had reason to believe that these would work, since they fit Doug’s Cross-Check (albeit, with thinner tires).

Sadly, these didn’t fit either. It seems my tire casings have stretched since I first mounted them, from 41mm to about 44mm. So, now it looks like I’m going to need another set of tires – or simply ride fenderless.

So, after all this nonsense, I finally have the Cross Check (with Albatross bars!) that I originally wanted almost two years and two thousand dollars ago.

The Moral of the Story:

  1. Don’t be a cheap skate — Trying to save a few bucks by buying shitty things, will only cost you more in the long run.
  2. Don’t let yourself be influenced into buying a product you don’t want, just because you’ve seen pictures of the product next to a pretty lady.
  3. Don’t leave spare bicycle parts laying around. They will call to you in your sleep and demand to be assembled into a new bicycle
    • Corollary: If you build such a bicycle, you will end up with more spare parts than you started with, and you will never be free from their treachery.

In any event, this story does have a happy ending. I took the bike out for its first ride today. We did 10 miles on the Conewago Trail, and had a lovely time.

My new 2011 Cross Check