Thursday, December 31, 2009

This time tomorrow. Where will we be?

I said I'd ride today, and I did. We are going to the Dallas World Aquarium with my sister, mother, grandmother and the little girls this morning, and I had a few things I needed to take care of before I shut it down for the year. It was a cold, damp, fairly solitary ride this morning, and I like that. New Year's Eve is a time that I really do some navel gazing, and I like it to be kind of nasty when I am particularly introspective.


Train station. 7:18 AM


Fairly empty train approaching Citiplace.


Up the escalators. I'll see you in a few minutes, Whataburger worker.


Citiplace in the grey sky. I had a friend that used to come to Texas to be depressed and live on my couch, and he once wrote a great song called "North Texas Grey". I had a copy for a very long time, but it didn't survive the switch to digital music. This is what that song looks like.

I'll be off to the aquarium in a few minutes, but I look forward to sharing more rides on the train, and whatever other rides we take together. See you in 2010 -wow, that sounds even more science fictiony, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year resolutions

Like most people, I try to use this time of year to make goals and plan for the upcoming year. More than anything else, it is also a time to stand on the scale and say "two twenty? Jesus." and immediately begin berating myself for not sticking to part of last years goals and resolutions. Sometimes, however, my resolutions stick. I'm very proud to say that I have not smoked cigarettes for a little over two years now. So in the spirit of some of these sticking, here are my New Year's resolutions.

1. No more fast food. I hate it but I love it so. I try to eat it "well" - in that I only have a burger and no fries, or a kids order of nuggets - but still I eat too often. I'm going to allow myself one double cheeseburger a year. At the core, this is a resolution to pack my lunch.

2. I have already started one of my resolutions, which is to keep my house cleaner. I have taken over the kitchen cleaning duties, and I plan to devote a couple of hours a week to the rest of the house too.

3. Ride the train at least once a week. This is kind of a biggie for the blog. I'll admit that while I do ride my bikes (though too little in the nasty cold; hence 220) I have not been getting on the train. As that is the premise for the blog, I guess I need to deliver.

4. Blog likewise. As work gets busier, it's harder for me to find time to do this - but then again, I always seem to find time to do other stuff. Therefore I will post once a week. I may do more, but there will be something new here at least that often. I will do my best to make train stories, but it may be something else. However, it will be 2 wheel related, at least. Probably.

5. Enter and complete at least two "real" bicycle rides - like an MS 150, or a century. I'd like to do 2 this year. That means longer weekend rides to train for whatever ride. I'll keep you posted.

I could really do this all day, but I think those are the ones that I'm going to write down. If I keep going, it'll just end up a "to-do" list and I'll be asking you guys to come help me move my washer and dryer.

My Falcon frame is home, and stickers and lug lining are applied. The lug lining looks ok from a few feet, but terrible up close. The stickers went on very well, and the frame looks fantastic. I'm going to strip off the lining tonight and start disassembling the donor Fuji. IF anyone reading this is an artist, or does pinstripes, I'd be interested in talking to you. I'd love to have the lugs lined, but I think that it's beyond my abilities as an artist.

I was out getting some small parts the other day, and I found a shop quality repair stand for a ridiculous price. The build should be much easier as a result, and much more photogenic, so look froward to a couple of photo heavy posts about that.

I hope to write one more entry tomorrow, weather permitting. Otherwise, I hope you have a happy and prosperous 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How to build a bicycle.

I have been teasing this for a little bit, but the wheels are finally in motion on my Falcon bicycle refurbish, so it's time to start showing you what is going on.

This summer I bought a Falcon San Remo bicycle off of Craigslist. The bike was a nicer bike in its day (probably 1968-69) with highish end components and a very nice hand brazed Reynolds 531 steel frame. While the bike was all there, it (and the components) had all seen better days. There was no real damage, but the frame looked as if it had spent at least a few summers out in the Texas sun, with some spots faded almost to the bare metal. I suspect the paint in the sixties wasn't all that fantastic to start with, and the years had not been kind.


This isn't a great picture, but it's the only one I have of the bike in its original build. It was a wierd mishmash of Campagnolo and Shimano parts, with a no name cottered crankset (that was super wobbly) and sew up tires. I tuned it and rode it for a week or so, but I don't care for downtube shifters, so I decided to take all of the shifting gear off and run the bike as a fixed gear. While it was set up as a fixed gear, I rode the bike just about every morning in the summer and grew to love the way it rode.

I agonized for a little bit about keeping it original and putting it back together as it was built, but then I realized that life is short, I like this frame, and it's just a bicycle for Chrissake. I decided to modernize the frame by refurbishing the frame itself and putting on a modern STI group. If you aren't a cyclist (or haven't ridden in a long time) you are probably unaware of modern shifting - the shift levers on your downtube are gone, replaced by levers integrated in the brake levers. When riding with STI, you don't need to remove your hands from your handlebars to shift. I'm late to the party, but it really is fantastic.

I ordered my replacement stickers from a guy in New Zealand who makes restoration stickers for all of us bicycle nerds and started dissasembling the bicycle. Once stripped, I documented where the stickers were on the frame, cold set the droputs to accomodate the new drivetrain, and sent it off to the powdercoaters.
I just got photos back and the color is almost an exact match to the original.
Unfortunately, in the process of taking these photos, the powdercoater managed to chip the frame coat.Since he is out of that color, I will have to wait another week to have the frame in my hands to start the next steps. In the meantime I'll wait for Santa to bring me my new buffer so I can polish some of the pieces that are going back on the frame.

Here are the photos of the freshly coated frame.
Entire frame

Headtube w/ lug detail.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

To all the girls I've loved before.

Here are some photos of bikes I have built over the past 12 months - just about every bike was purchased from Craigslist, and I taught myself how to build, fix, and paint. If you see just part of a bike, just click on the picture and you can see the whole thing.
1987 Schwinn High Sierra - this was the top of the line mountain bike for Schwinn in 1987. The finish on the frame is a gorgeous "black chrome" that is really eye catching. I bought this one as a frame only, and built it up with mostly new old stock parts.

A 1980's Suteki Japanese frame - it no longer looks like this, as it is now a fixed gear. A great bike, one that I put several hundred miles on this year. I bought this as a complete bike that was caked in grime; I dont' think any part of the bike had been wiped down in at least 10 years. All Shimano 600 group.

A 1974 Schwinn Suburban. This is my go to grocery bike - my great neighbor gave this one to me, and I love it. Sometimes it pays to be the old bike guy. All I did to this one was adjust the cables and oil the chain - I plan to clean it up this winter and have it shining by spring.

This is a 1970 Ross Central park 3 speed cruiser. I found this one at an estate sale, bought it for $20, put another $30 in parts into it, and ended up selling it for $160. I liked this bike, but it was just too small for me. The guy who bought it was height challenged, and it fit him perfectly. The 3 speed stick shifter was pretty sweet.

This was probably an eighties Huffy Monterey cruiser. I kind of bought this one by accident for $60, painted it and put tires on it, and ended up selling it for $120. I still see this one around sometimes, as I sold it to someone in my work neighborhood. This is a good solid bike, but just not to my taste. The girl who bought it thought it was super cool, so we were both happy. I painted this one with BBQ paint, so if her house ever burns down, the finish on the bike should be fine.

This was the first bike that I bought when I returned to cycling after my long hiatus. This is a 5 speed Dahon Boardwalk. I paid $100 for this one, rode the heck out of it, and ended up selling it for $175. I also used this bike to learn how to work on bikes - I had to repack all bearings and replace tires, tubes and cables. Truly, $100 wasn't much of a deal.

This is the bike that replaced the folder above. This is the ultimate commuting bike - built in pump (in the seatpost), 7 speed internally geared hub, chainguard, rack, and fenders - and it folds. I sold my Kia sedan in order to buy this bike - at $700 this is certainly the most expensive bike in the stable, but it is probably the most fun as well. Those little wheels make it very flickable. Sometimes when I barbeque, I'll ride this bike around my driveway.

I have a couple more bikes, but I don't have photos on this computer - when I get them, I'll put them up here as well so you can see exactly how crazy I am.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This blog has had 400 views.

And only about 375 of them are mine... pretty good.
In celebration of this milestone, Please enjoy these photos.

A pair of giant thrift store underwear. The hand is an adult male hand, placed there for size comparison. Price? $1.48

A woman waiting for the train with her dog. Dogs are not allowed on trains.

This guy held that cigarette butt in his mouth for the entire time he was on the train. There are what, 2 drags left? Throw it out man.

My hipster riding gloves. I think they are cool, but deep down inside I know they are very nerdy.

My brother on my clown bike.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All aboard! All aboard!

We are kind of train obsessed around my house; we live close to downtown Plano, which is right on the DART line, so when we go downtown to eat, we see the train, and Anna loves to say "Hi Train! Here it comes!" while waving frantically. We also watch a lot of a PBS show called "Dinosaur Train" around the house. I originally thought that the show was a documentary, but once I got a couple of episodes in, I realized that it was historical fiction and was able to deal with some of the inconsistencies presented by the storylines.

Anna is just about two, and not too long ago we got to actually go on the train; as a family we took advantage of Dart's new green line and rode down to the State Fair of Texas, leaving our car parked comfortably at home. Anna was very excited, especially when we first boarded the train. Luckily, we were able to secure a seat, and I was able to get a couple of pictures of her. We went at snacktime, so she does have food on the train. Anna is a rebel, and I explained to her that you must live within the rules if you want to succeed - but she ate her cheddar bunnies in defiance of the no food sign.


She spent a lot of the trip into Dallas looking out the window and standing up on the seat, but once we got into downtown Dallas, the trains got much more crowded, and she went into her stroller for safety. The fair was obviously very exciting for her but we didn't stay long, as it was the last day and it was very very very very crowded, and it was really no fun. We left around 8pm, after Anna got to go to the petting zoo and watch some pig races.

Getting on the train for the ride home was brutal. Obviously since we had a stroller we were at a disadvantage, but a DART employee saw us at the station and put us in the right spot to get on the low floor train car. We thought that standing right in front was the key, but we were surprised to find ourselves being edged out as the train approached the station; someone even stepped right in front of the stroller. Being tired, and since it was the end of a long day, I asked her not so politely to stop jostling the stroller, and wait her turn. I may have offered to push her under the train, on that I'm not clear. She moved, we boarded (luckily we ended up on the red line, which took us directly to Plano) and were on the way. Anna got her second wind and stood up in the seat next to me the entire way, looking out the window and hollering "All aboard" at every stop, just like they do on the Dinosaur Train. It was a fun ride home with our little conductor, and she got lots of waves and smiles from her passengers as they entered and exited the train.

Sargeant Shultz

I have seen nothing! I have ridden miles to nowhere.

Twenty minutes on the trainer feels like an infinity. I said I would be on the trainer three times this week, and last night was the first of 3. I had to smoke a brisket for my lodge holiday meal, so I was puttering around in the garage getting my smoker ready, and when the meat went in I remembered my promise to my faithful reader(s) and decided to roll up my pants leg and get to work.

I slipped off my Texas Rangers Crocs (double Idiocracy!), rolled up my right pants leg, slipped on my riding shoes, and off I went. I was smart in that I placed my trainer setup right next to my beer fridge, so I was properly hydrated for the entire ride, at least. I rode in silence, with only the whirring of the trainer and the hickory smoke drifting in from outside to keep me company. I feel like I got a reasonable warm up workout in, but I realize that 3 x 20 minutes a week is going to do approximately nothing for me, other than burn through my beer supply. I'm going to stick to these goals, but I'll up my sessions a little. Next week I'll shoot for a night and morning workout.

My Falcon is at the powdercoater, getting a candy red 2 step paint job. I spread the rear drops to 130 to accomodate the modern hub I'm going to be using with the STI brifters I'll be installing. I hope to have the frame back from the guy by Sunday, and then I'll be ready to put the stickers on the bike and start putting it together. The Suteki is coming together as a fixed gear, but I need to lube the chain and do some part polishing before it goes too much further. I have a neat lugged stem that I'm putting on, but it needs some polish, as does the SR seapost I have. I also need to get a freewheel for the other side of my flip/flop hub, so that I can run the bike on the paths around my house. I wouldn't want to run a fixed gear on the paths, becasue you never know what's coming around the corner - though I wouldn't think the paths are quite as busy when it's this cold outside.

I have a couple of leftover photos I'll put up from my train riding days very shortly. I had a couple of posts in the hopper when I had to alter my plans - though I promise I will ride at least once before the end of the year, and I will post a train blog when I do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I will make a resolution to decide to think about riding a bicycle again. Maybe.

It's the coldest day of the year, and I have been very lax, driving to work every day. I am currently in the midst of a couple of winter bicycle related projects; I'm rebuilding my fixed gear Falcon classic frame into a full modern sti geared road bicycle, and my Suteki is getting all of the fixed gear gear bolted onto it. I am adding a freeweheel as well, so I can also throw some pedals on and cruise around the neighborhood, should I feel the least bit athletic. My Mom loaned me her indoor trainer, and I have used it a couple of times, but I'll tell you that 4:15 in a very cold garage is no place and no way to ride a bicycle. I'm doing wuss intervals, just trying to build back some fitness. It's supposed to be nice next week, so I will get in the garage at least 3 mornings.

My bicycle projects and indoor training are really the only bike related things going on now. I do have a new tiny bike, and I will leave you with that and a couple of other photos until I come back again. I haven't forgotten this blog, I've just been trying to figure out what to do with it. At the very least, check in every once in a while.

Here is a photo of the Falcon ans I brought it home. The bike is getting a complete repaint and new decals. It's a very nice frame, built in the late 60's in England.
I've currently got everything but the crankset and bottom bracket removed, in anticipation of getting the frame set to accomodate a modern drivetrain, and getting the paint put on.

Here is a nice photo from an afternoon hooky ride in the fall.
The wheels and drivetrain are coming off of this bike and going on the above frame.

I don't have much more to share with you - my mileage is pitifully low, as is my fitness level.

Until next time.