Monday, September 28, 2015

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Obviously, I can't write about everything I've done for the past 3+ years, but I can share some neat stuff I saw while I was on vacation with my family this summer.

We went to Washington DC, which to me means

That's right - the charcuterie at RFD Washington. This was as tasty as it looks, with some Vermont Duck, Washington Salami, cheese, and etc. 

Until this trip I had never been to DC, and that trip was truly the other part of getting me back into cycling; at rush hour, the bikes were weaving in and out of traffic, and it reminded me how much fun bikes were. I didn't really see any "good" bikes chained up in DC the way I did in Ft Collins Colorado last summer. This VanMoof was chained up in Ft Collins on a random Thursday night. 

I didn't see much of that in Washington DC, but I did see bikes everywhere - and people riding them. I guess those bikes fanned the embers of my former bike obsession. I even took photos of some of the bikes in the Smithsonian.

This Tiffany bicycle was incredible. This was in the Museum of American History.

Or this very rare Wright Brothers built bicycle in the Air and Space Museum.

You don't know how badly I wanted to straighten those cranks out. 

So even though I still wasn't riding in June, I wanted to. Sort of. Even though I knew it would hurt, I could feel the ache in my legs, telling me to spin some pedals. I would wait a while longer to actually make it happen, but I was starting to feel that ember glow again. 

Bad news though - it's still unsure if I am dead after my Friday ride - I actually wrote and scheduled this post at the same time I scheduled my pre-ride post. That means that I could still be deceased from my Friday ride, but because I am relentlessly efficient and wrote this in advance, you will have to wait to see if I never show up again. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

I'm Riding Home on Friday Afternoon

Woah, woah - strike up the band. I'm going to ride home this afternoon. Last time I posted a photo of my Univega in the office, set up in the trainer. It's here because I have storage issues, of a sort; I have a lot of bikes. As of this writing, here are the bikes in my garage, some of which I have pictures of; 

1968 (?) Falcon San Remo Single Speed
1968 Schwinn Twinn single Speed
1973 Raliegh International

1974 Schwinn Suburban

1978 Peugeot Super Competition

1986 (?) Ross Mount Whitney with a Nu-Vinci CVT hub

1986 (?) Suteki Mixte (My wife's) 

1992 Univega Ultraleggera

1999 GT Force

2010 Dahon internally geared 8 speed folder

Plus my daughter's two bicycles, and my tools, and my 1901 Oldsmobile Replica. 

As I said before, I took on a car hobby as I fell out of bikes; cars move under their own power and I can be relatively lazy. 

Back to the beginning of this entry though - Friday, I am riding my Univega Home. I posted my Peugeot snag on Bikeforums, and one of the members contacted me to see if I could get my bike to Southwest Frameworks here in Dallas so they could match the color, as he is restoring the same model.  I talked to David from Southwest today, and we are going to hook up next week so he can take a color match. In the meantime, I need to get my Peugeot up here, and take the Univega home. I hate to haul bikes on the back of my car, because it is hell on my paint, so I'm going to ride the Univega home and then ride the Peugeot up here on Saturday. David is going to come here and take me and the bike to his shop one day in the next couple of weeks. I've met David before at some of the "retro picnics" he throws, and I am looking forward to seeing some of the bikes he is working on in his shop. I will report back here with plenty of photos. 

I'm writing this entry in advance of my ride, so if it is published and I never show up again, there is a good chance that I expired on my ride home, or just got lazy and gave up cycling again. Or maybe just gave up blogging. Or went blind. Actually, I guess you can't jump to any conclusions if I never show up agian, because there are many things that could happen to me that could prevent me from making my next entry. 

Cold comfort, indeed. Let's hope I make another entry soon. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Indoor Training

It's awful. Every year, I pull out my trainer (a 1 UP USA sent to me by the company for review - which you can read here) and set the bike up, pretending I'm going to ride it. There was a time when I did so, when I was at my lightest, in my best shape. It was all of one season, for maybe six weeks.

I actually brought my trainer up to the office, again pretending that I was going to do some riding at lunchtime, but as of yet, I have managed all of five minutes. Maybe ten minutes, but that's being generous.

Why is it so hard to ride inside? When I got my bikes out, cleaned them up, and did some longer rides of labor day weekend, I was able to knock out 25 miles without being too beat, even after a 3+ year break.

I plan to get some real riding in this weekend, and I guess I will take the Univega off of the trainer - and actually put my gear on and go for a lunchtime ride instead of trying to sweat it out in my office. There is a path at the end of the street my office is on that runs quite a ways, so 30 min won't be too bad. I'm hoping to work back up to commuting soon. Since I stopped commuting, the cycling landscape around Dallas has changed considerably, and I may have a much more direct route to the office, which would be a really good thing. This Saturday I plan to do a mock route to both see how much time it will take me, and what the best, most direct route is. I love riding paths, and I believe Richardson has built a few more paths along my route so I don't have to ride so far out of the way anymore. I used to have to cross 75 twice during my ride (both on dedicated paths) but it put my miles out of my way - I will report next week with the new route findings, and regale you with tales of adventure.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Where The Hell Has The Time Gone?

So here we are. The second post in nearly four years, thank you very much.

It's good to be relatively back. Both on two wheels and on the bloggiverse, here.

I guess we should do some catch up, you and I. What have I been up to? Lots. I have been working hard over at my Pro  gig, taversing the USA in the hot rod milk truck my brother and I put together. We do a lot of classic auto insurance, and we go to lots of classic car shows, so we thought it'd be best to do it in something supercool.

This photo was taken on our first trip in the truck - this was in the New Mexico mountains. It was an amazing drive, and at the time of writing this we have driven our DIVCO Lightning to California, Colorado many times, Kansas, Missouri, and all over Texas. As we have been doing that, we have been building a team to make our company great. Frankly, that's been the hardest part. I stopped riding because I hurt my hand a couple of years ago, and the habit of riding fell to the wayside. I did hang a bike in my office to remind me what I was supposed to do, but all of my bikes just hung in the garage gathering dust.

It also got hard to find good bikes worth repairing on craigslist - everything was going for way too much money - nothing was $50-75 anymore, and those that were were just cheapie mountain bikes from Wal Mart - disposable goods, never meant to be kept for a long time. So things got dark in the garage, and I moved on to cars, as you see above.

Then I found my Peugeot, and everything in me came alive again. I had flirted with the idea of selling some bikes for a while, as I have way too many. After the Peugeot purchase, I sold a bike to a friend who contacted me looking for something good, as he was going to a car free lifestyle. I dug around in my stock and decided to sell him Hubbard's Schwinn World Voyaguer. I love the bike, but with the acquisition of the Peugeot, it didn't make sense to have that many drop bar 1970's roadies. Plus, I knew Brandon would take care of it and appreciate it. So on down the road it went.

I have, since finding the Peugeot, actually gone on some rides - lots of path rides, as I am in a great city with many miles of paths very close. I even got out my GT Roadie, my old commuter, and took it for a 20 mile spin. I forgot how good it rode.

So I'm back, in a way - I have made some grandiose plans for 2017, but I'm going to keep those under my hat for now, but unlike my Tour de BBQ days, I don't have to raise money to do it.

As they say on the street, I'm "back in the cut" - see you soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

We Peek Out Our Head

Should I start up again? I have started riding again, not because I want to get back in shape, but because I found this. Much like my Raliegh International, I found this bike under someone who was just using it for transportation - I have heard them called "hobo bikes" before.

This is a 1978 Peugeot Super Competition. When I was a kid, my first "real" bike was a Peugeot - not a Super Competition, a lower model. It was "real" enough that it had downtube shifters, though, and I rode it all over Rowlett and Garland. When I got into old bikes, I put a Peugeot on my list - and to find this one was incredible, especially considering the condition it's in. I had to tune it and clean the hell out of it, but it's beautiful and rides wonderfully - though the fat old engine pushing it doesn't help.

I know that I will at least do another post about the bike, but I dont' know when. I am in the process of liquidating some of my old collection, because I love this bike so much (and my garage is full of dusty bikes.

I will be back - probably not regularly, but I will try to post again. I lost my way a few years ago, and have literally not ridden much more than a few miles for the past couple of (3!) years. It's good to see you again, and hopefully, I can regain your trust as a mediocre bike blogger.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bikecharge Installation And Review

I was recently riding my bicycle, listening to Howard Stern and using my speedo to track how slowly I was moving, and I saw this.

Now, the last thing I want to see is that I have a low battery, because it means no tunes and no tracking for the rest of the ride. (It also means that Mrs. The Plano Cyclist can't call me and ask when I will be home, so it's a bit of a mixed bag.) When I saw the notification, I mentally kicked myself, because I had a dynamo system sitting on my workbench, waiting to be installed on the bloggipede.

Even though it was waiting patiently, it took another incident to get me to install the Bikecharge. I had received a notice about a recall on my Light and Motion 180 for a circuit board problem; the light I had was in a batch that had problems with the light turning off unexpectedly. "Pshaw", I said, "this is a great light, and I don't think it will be a problem." And it wasn't - until one night at about 6:45. Once you are used to having plenty of light, it is hard to adjust to having none. I usually carry a blinky in my bag, but on the night the lights went out in Plano I didn't have it with me, of course. It was a dark ride home, and the whole time I was thinking about that Bikecharge dynamo, just sitting on the PC workbench.

Having been given two reasons to install the Bikecharge, I went ahead and did it. I had been avoiding installing the unit because I read the instructions, and I had to replace one of the hub nuts with an included narrower nut. That may sound funny from a guy who has no problem stretching a frame, but hubs are my one stopper. Despite having plenty of tools and abilities, I hate dealing with them. It is a weird hang up I have, and one that I suspect is actually slowing down the tandem rebuild.

Despite having to deal with my irrational hub mental block, the install was a snap - remove the wheel, replace the outer nut with the thinner nut (simple) and then put your wheel back on. I use a nutted front hub on the bloggipede, so once it was tightened, I did some adjusting and got everything pointed the right way. Install took all of ten minutes, and I wish I had scheduled the staff photographer that day, because it was impossible for me to do it and take photos at the same time.

Remote on/off switch

Once the unit was installed, I connected the remote "on" switch and strung it up to the handlebars. This part took longer than the actual generator installation, to be honest.
USB Plug

After that, I installed the USB cable, strung it up, and was done. The Bikecharge comes with little clips to facilitate the stringing of the wires, and I have no worries that the wires are going anywhere.
After the installation, it was time to test this baby out. The wide silver part gathers up the generated energy via the little tab shown below. Here it is engaged.

And disengaged - there is a slider so that when you don't need juice/don't want the drag on your wheel, you can reverse the tab and disengage the generator. I'm sure some of your ears perked up when I said "drag", so I will address it directly.

Yes, there is some drag. I haven't got a way to measure, but there is a perceptible amount of drag on the front wheel with this system. I have an older bike with a bottle type generator light system, and I will say that it drags much more than the Bikecharge. I don't know how the Bikecharge drag compares to a generator hub, because I don't have one. It doesn't matter, because to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs. You can't generate power without some drag.

Rear of unit, with taillight and usb and control wires

And does this thing generate power! I am impressed by the amount of light that it puts out. I have been spoiled by the Urban 180 light output; I would say that the Bikecharge puts out almost as much. It's certainly brighter than every other light I have tried, and a ton brighter than the bottle generator light. One of the nicer features of the Bikecharge is that it stores a small amount of energy, so that when you are stopped the light stays on. That way I don't suddenly disappear when I stop moving. The USB charge feature works very well, and I was able to recharge my half full iPhone on an hour ride, while still using the Bikebrain app and listening to Harry Nilsson.

The Bikecharge is $99, and a great investment for a commuter. Pair it with a phone mount on your handlebars, and you are all set to enjoy the day on two wheels from dawn until dusk.

All of the above was written when I originally installed the light in February - and I have ridden in extensively since then. Sadly, the tiny little screws in the engagement tab worked themselves out after a few rides, rendering the Bikecharge useless. I have contacted the company to see if they can send me replacement screws, so I can continue to test it. I'm sure they will, and I assume that my unit was an outlier. I will let you all know what kind of response I get from the company.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Frankly, I've Been Putting This Off For A While

I know I said that I was taking some time off in February to write some "posts" for this "blog", but then real life intruded and I became busy; we moved office space, we hired someone else, and I just got flat out too busy. That's not an excuse, because I hate excuses. Rather, it's just me being honest with you all, and asking you to forgive me. I really should have looked back on the past few years of log posts and noticed that I do have a pretty big production drop off in the beginning of the year, when things start to pick up at work. Remember, I do have a real job, and the piper must be paid. It can't all be cotton candy and vintage bicycles.

If you are curious about what it is I have been doing, you can feel free to read some of my "work" blogs HERE, HERE, and HERE. Oddly enough, in my work life I cater to automobile fetishists, but in my real life I could care less about most cars. Unless they are trying to squash me, in which case I care a great deal.

I'm not going to come back here and make great pronouncements about how many posts I'm going to do, and what about. Instead I am going to tell you where today finds me. When we left off, I said I was going to be losing weight and weighing myself on the regular. That was a lie (though I didn't know it at the time), and as most people do, I lost the weight loss momentum about the time I stopped writing new stuff back in February. I am about the same weight as when I stopped, but I am not the same shape. If you remember, the desire for weight loss was brought on my the purchase of a bunch of pants that were just a little too small for me - but I am wearing a pair now, as I type this. I have been working out, and I have been riding, but I haven't kept track of eating. I will make this pronouncement; I will not bother you with my weight loss goals again. If you want to see that, go to my friend Jared's blog, The Chili's Diet. He is busy with an interesting undertaking, and his blog is worth a perusal.

I do have a couple of things coming up; I had some products that I was sent for review that never got published. I do owe them a few articles, and I'm writing them now. I have also acquired an incredible bike in a trade with Hubbard, and that is going to prompt an article about it, as well as what three of the bikes I have represent. It might be the most interesting article this year, or it might be an incredible bust; with me you never know.

Look for some stuff here over the next few weeks as I begin to fill my funnel again. I had a habit of early morning writing, but I fell out of it, especially since it had become real work having to write product reviews.
I am early morning writing again, and that should bring something in here sooner rather than later.

Thanks for reading (and presumably coming back), and if you enjoy this, you can again look forward to being entertained(?) by my writing again. In the meantime, keep the rubber side down, and your eyes on the horizon.