Gone Fishin'


I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!


Dads bike before.
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Bike Commuting: A Series of Unfortunate Events

This story begins three weeks ago, when a rim failure (which slashed my tube) on my commuter bike resulted in the need to lace a new rim on to my existing hub and spokes and, of course, install a new tube.

I got the new rim laced up and have been commuting on the bike for over a week now.  Of course, when I put the tire back on, I used the spare tube I had been carrying, making a mental note to buy a new spare tube, preferably one with a long-length valve stem next time, as the standard valves barely protrude from the rim enough to lock on a pump head.

Flash forward to this morning.  I'm halfway to work when the front tire goes soft. I pull over.  With no spare tube, it's going to have to be a patch job.  I've never had to look for a hole in a tube without the auditory element of running the tube past my ear, but with rush-hour traffic on the adjoining road, i had to do a visual inspection, which added several minutes to the repair. With the patched tube back in and the tire back on (and the wheel in the bike, since I cannot get my wheel between the brake calipers with a fully inflated tire) it was time to pump it up.  Did I say pump?

I didn't have a pump. I did have a CO2 cartridge however.  One cartridge, in my road bike kit, which I had dropped in my bag back when I had the blown rim and was commuting on the nice road bike.

Back to that short valve length.  I threaded the cartridge on to the air chuck and prepared to push it down on to the valve stem.  With a totally deflated tube, there wasn't much to push against, but I did my best.  The CO2 started flowing, the tire swelled, and i breathed a sigh of relief. Then with the tire barely inflated, the chuck slipped or the valve slipped, I lost my firm grip, and a frosty mix started to come out of the chuck around the valve stem.

That was it.  I was on the side of the road, with a repaired tire and all of 10 p.s.i. in it.  No pump, no spare cartridge.  Frantic phone calls home to Kate.  She came out with the car and the floor pump. I got a ride into the office and pumped up the tire, which is still holding air acceptably today.

Here are the lessons I learned:

1. Always carry a spare tube, even if you have a patch kit.  Patching a tire on the side of a busy road, in the rain with no way of listening for where the hole in the tube is is really challenging and takes much longer than simply installing a new tube.

2. Having only one CO2 cartridge is not much better than having  zero CO2 cartridges. If you blow the first attempt at inflating the tire, that's it. I'll probably carry three in the future if that's the only inflation method I'm counting on.

3. Valves that are barely long enough to get a pump head on to are not going to be your friend.  My choice to run 35c tires on deep-section rims means that I need to go out of my way to find large- volume, long-stem tubes and not just fudge it with normal-length valves like I did.

4. The puncture I had was minor, and a tougher tire or protective strip would have stopped it. I ordered up a couple of Slime strips this morning to rectify that.    

5. Flats are inevitable (but I've only had this one in the last 2.5 years), and a little preparation makes them a minor inconvenience.  A few holes in that preparation regime make flats a much bigger deal than they have to be.


Dan's CVT Road Bike IV- Wheel Woes and Tire Thoughts- Also the Sales Keep Rolling- It's Nashbar This Time

What a great Memorial Day Weekend- burgers, beers, a solid run on Sunday, lots of garden work...  Oh, and bike stuff.  I got the shop cleaned up and Dan's rig back in the stand.  I built up a wheel around the Nuvinci hub, but I'm not satisfied with it and probably going to do it again. More on that later.  The good news is that the wheel I built was nice and true and I was able to drop it into the bike and see that my frame stretching job was nice and symmetrical.  The chainline is not great, but is serviceable.  I might recommend a bottom bracket with a wider spindle at some point.

Dan had mentioned thinking about a fatter tire for the bike.  At this point I'm comfortable recommending a 28c touring/commuting tire, and think a 30c (if such a thing exists) would work acceptably well.  32's would be pushing it, but with a smooth tread they might make it.    

And on the subject of buying bike bits....

Not enough people must have bitten on the last event, so Nashbar's doing the big 20% off thing for the next couple of days. I don't see a bike exception on this one.   I'm pretty much good for bike stuff for a while at this point, so I'm just putting this one out there for anybody who might not see it otherwise.   

3 Days Only - Take an Additional 20% Off All Orders $75+ Shop Now
View this email online.
3 Days Only: May 26-28
Take an Additional 20% Off Orders $75+

"20% Off Orders $75 or more" Coupon Code SAVEBIG must be entered at time of purchase. Coupon cannot be applied to previous purchases, cannot be combined with other offers and is not valid for Gift Certificate or eGift Card purchases. Coupon good for one purchase only. Discount does not apply to shipping, handling or taxes. Offer expires 05/28/09.
Packs on Sale Warm Weather Accessories Clip in for Savings Maintain Your Ride


Dan's CVT Road Bike III: The Cobbler's Shoeless Children and a Video Interlude

I had to take back my work stand and work time for a couple of nights to get my commuterized Scattante XRL cross bike back in action.  It was a simple rim transplant, but had to be done.  Meanwhile, The good road bike needs a serious cleaning after being pressed into utility use for two consecutive weeks.  The shop is a mess, which is my own fault but is still a hindrance. Meanwhile my dad's "old enough to have a lugged frame" Trek 930 has rolled into the shop for a fork transplant. More on that later.  Anyway, with the cobbler's children shod for the time being, I can get back to the fun stuff, soon.

When I tell people about Dan's project, I get a lot of questions about the Nuvinci Hub.  Mostly, what is it, why would you want one, and how does it work?  So here goes:

What is it?
The Nuvinci hub is a rear hub for a bicycle that contains a transmission inside. Unlike all other internal-transmission hubs, though, the Nuvinci is constantly variable.  So, while hubs are available with three, five, eight nine and even fourteen (!) "speeds," the Nuvinci has an infinite number of gear ratios.

Why would you want one?
For a lot of the same reasons you might want any other internally geared hub.  It cleans up the look of the bicycle, there is no need for a chain tensioner, and since all the shifty bits are inside, they are not subject to wear from moisture, grit, and lubricant loss.  Internal hubs also allow you to shift the bike even when you are not pedaling.  Anybody who has stopped for a red light only to stomp and grind when it was time to go again because they forgot to shift before stopping knows why this might be an advantage.   With the Nuvinci, you get the added bonus of infinitely adjustable gear ratios, no "clicks" between "gears" and the all-important "coolness factor" of having something on your bike that almost nobody else has.

How does it work?
This is where I really falter in the conversation, usually I say something about large ball bearings, (It's all ball bearings these days...) angles, and viscous non-newtonian fluids and then people kind of go blank.  If only I had this video with me to help explain:

Well, next time I should have an update on the progress of our actual bike, so stay tuned, and have a great long weekend.


Performance Rolls Out the Big "20% off Everything" Event Today

Online retailer Performance is rolling out the "20% off any order over 100 bucks" deal on their site today.  This is how I picked up my Scattante frame, fork and headset for a super cheap price this time last year.  Looks like the only restriction of note is that it does not apply to complete bikes, but let's say you are a new cyclist (ahem, Ben) and need to pick up shoes, pedals, shorts, a seat bag, multi-tool and maybe a jersey or something- well, today's your day. 

I'm not trying to shill for Performance or anybody else here, this really is a good deal, and they usually only do it once or twice a year. 

Happy Shopping. 

Sorta Home Improvement: The Picnic Table Project

Our house came with a picnic table in the back yard.   More accurately, our house came with a bunch of black mold and rotting wood shaped like a picnic table.  When it got warm enough that the ground thawed and I could drag it out into the driveway, I had a look and determined that it might be worth saving.  I spent part of an afternoon scrubbing it with a solution of oxalic acid (wear your protective gear, this stuff is corrosive!).  That got most of the surface mold off, turning a blackened table into one that looked like it was made out of new wood.  But, there were still the legs, or more accurately, the feet.  The feet were totally rotted out after sitting in wet ground for years.

This is where I got ambitious.  A few weekends ago, I decided to epoxy the feet.  I flipped the table over and shimmed underneath it until it was reasonably level.  I then picked a point on each leg that was the same distance from the bottom of the table top, and masked each foot starting at that level. Then, I drove a screw into the bottom of each foot until the head of the screw was the same distance from the bottom of the masking tape.

I got my epoxy stuff ready...

And I filled up the feet.

Once it cured, I had a table with new, level, waterproof feet.

I stained the whole thing.  It took a quart of stain but I didn't get to soak in the end grain of the wood the way I wanted to.  One of these weekends, I'll get a second quart and finish the job.


Dan's CVT Road Bike- Hub and Spacing

One of the more major operations that has to happen for Dan's CVT bike project to work is that the rear dropouts need to be spaced to fit the 135mm spacing of the hub. As a single-speed bike, the Clockwork comes with 120mm spacing. There are two ways to space a frame that I am aware of- one involves a two-by four and the other involves a piece of all-thread, some washers and some nuts. I went for the latter:

The picture above shows the dropouts pushed to almost 180mm. I started with pushing them to 150mm, but that sprung back to 125mm, so I had to go further. Pushing the dropouts to 180 mm caused them to spring back to about 132 mm. It takes very little effort to push the dropouts apart the additional 3mm to get the hub in. I have not yet checked to see if they have been moved equally. If they have, I'll probably leave the spacing at 132mm. If not, I can move one chainstay the extra couple of millimeters to get things centered up. By my eyeball, I think they are pretty well aligned. As shown below, the frame has been "stretched" to about 132mm. (Although you can see the all-thread in the dropout in this picture, the nut on the other side has been loosened all the way.)

The hub fits easily into the dropouts:

And from the side, for scale:

I'll reserve most of my writing on the hub itself for another post. My first impression is that its weight is substantial (almost 8.4 pounds!!). It is clearly built to last, and is an impressive piece of machinery.


Dan's CVT Road Bike- The Donor Bike

The Donor Bike for Dan's CVT project arrived last night.  I decided to put it all together.  I'll be stripping the frame completely for this project, but a quick assembly is a great way to do a parts check and make sure everything looks good.   I also wanted to try out making a time lapse video, as you can see above.  My camera can do continuous shooting, but not with a flash, and once it gets dim enough that the camera thinks it needs a flash, the anti-shake warning comes on and stops the continuous shooting until you override the warning.  All that means is that the camera stopped working before I got to put the pedals on, but they are there.  

There is much back ond forth on the Internet about bikes from Bikesdirect, how Bikesdirect is killing local shops, how the quality suffers, etc.  Here are my initial obsevations of one of the cheapest bikes from Bikesdirect:

1. Packing- the bike was as well packed as any other bike I've pulled out of a box to assemble, including most major-name brands.

2. Assembly- this bike came 90% assembled, with the rear wheel installed with the chain at a proper tension.  The stem, bar, front brake, fornt wheel and pedals needed to be installed, as did the seatpost and saddle. The bars came taped and the taping job was solid.

3. Wheel truing.  Unlike Ben's Clockwork, which needed some truing (3-4mm wobble in the front wheel on arrival) this bike's wheels seem pretty true and pretty round right out of the box.  That won't stop me from retruing them, of course.

4. Grease- there seems to be a fair amount of grease or loctite on the threads of all of the installed parts.

5. Finish- the paint looks good.  I noticed on chip about 3mm across on the front of one of the fork blades.  A little cear nail polish to prevent rust there and that will be just fine.

Overall, I think a person with a bit of mechanical knowhow, a 15mm wrench, a set of allen wrenches and a tube of grease could probably get this bike together and rolling with no problem.

Next steps:

The CVT hub should be on its way soon, and then I need to figure out what length spokes will be be needed to lace it into the existing rear rim.  I'll also get all of the parts off of the frame so that I can stretch the rear dropout spacing from 120 mm to 135 mm. Stay tuned.


New Urbanism

Copenhagenize.com put up this nice new urbanist video about sprawl, density, and lots of the stuff I work with and care about. Nice intro for the non-planner type and the ubiquitous "what do you do for work, anyway?" question. If you have ever wondered why I got into planning, this is a pretty nice summary.

Sent to you by Matt via Google Reader:

Super cool video. My only beef is that they didn't mention bicycles.

Winner of The Congress for New Urbanism CNU 17 video contest. This short film explores the connection between New Urbanism and environmental issues.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Things you can do from here:


Weekend Notes

It was a standard-length 48-hour weekend, but we crammed a lot into it.  Since i don't have time to write it all down, here's a summary:


Kate picks me up at work. 

We buy a reel mower at the Home Despot. 

We head over to Gardener's Supply to pick up a few plants on order. I buy a bypass valve for our downspout in anticipation of putting in a rain barrel. 

We go home- I mow our lawn for the first time of the season while Kate plants stuff. Until dark. 


Up early. 

We make a run to the dump for trash and recycling.  Lots of old bikes starting to pile up at the swap shop.  

Onward to the yuppie food store for a little shopping. Card and wine for our morning/afternoon trip.

Down the road we go to Wolfeboro to visit Kate's great Aunt Ella and great Uncle George.

I realize that while there is absolutely no direct way to get from South Burlington to Wolfeboro, the way that Google Maps has selected for us is the long way, over bad roads. 

After several passes through Wolfeboro, I realize that I should trust my five-year old memory of going to George and Ella's one time before instead of Google Maps, which has the wrong street name to access their street. 

We arrive, late, but in time for a late lunch. 

We tour the gardens at George and Ella's. They have divided all sorts of things for us to take.  Astilbe, Autumn Sedum, Peonies. 

George and Ella have a canoe they want to get rid of.  It's a Mad River Canoe, Royalex, They don't use it anymore.  Here are some paddles, a copy of the AMC Guide to Vermont and New Hampshire rivers.  A compass, two PFDs.  I'm floored by their generosity. 

We have a drive around Wolfeboro.  Big houses on the lake, big unbuilt subdivisions where an airfield once stood. George shows us the history museum.  You can buy a brick.  He's bought 11 bricks, in memory of his WWII buddies.  He tells us about being in Paris on a three day pass, waiting top be shipped out to jump on Manchuria, when a man who spoke only French came in and said something about Hiroshima.  George went back home to start college and meet Ella instead of going to Manchuria. Ella chimes in.  There were almost no men in college here first year.  Then, they all came back, 21, 22 years old in their crisp khakis. 

Dinner. Ella's beet recipe- whole beets cut in half, four cans, heated up with a can of cranberry sauce.  Horseradish to finish.  Best I've ever had.   

We watch TV before bed, alternating between the Celtics-Bulls playoff game and a public access broadcast of a local musical performance George and ella went to recently.  A Piano virtuoso playing some amazing Chopin.  The Celts beat the Bulls- game seven. 


5:30, a knock at the bedroom door door and we are up. Ella makes coffee and french toast.  George serves pineapple- it has Bromeline, he says.  "They tested it on boxers and it speeds muscle recovery." 

Hugs all around and we are on the road.  This time we head south of the lake, but still, there is no direct way home.  We are off the highway at bethel and cut over to Route 100.  Kate leaves me at Lincoln Peak, Sugarbush.  Dad meets me in the parking lot.  It's the last weekend of the season. One trail open, all bumps and mud.  The ski patrol has to shovel the run-out to keep people moving all the way back to the chair. 

Dad and I get four runs before the fatigue kicks in.  We drive back to Monkton, then back to South Burlington. We find Kate planting stuff like crazy. 

Dad and I go for a four-mile run.  When we get back, Kate is still planting.  We get the canoe off of the Jeep.  Kate is still planting stuff when dad leaves.   We dig, divide, transplant and mulch until the shadows get long.  I fire up the grill and get a couple of fillets going.  20 minutes in the smoke and a quick sear on all sides at the end for a perfect medium rare. 

We finish planting, then stroll the yard to look at all our work, the remains of our dinner wine glasses in hand. All of the tools are away. 

We fire up a yoga DVD and stretch for 45 minutes.  I sure needed it. 

Bed and sleep. 


Last day of ski season. Nothing but steins open!
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