Friday, November 30, 2007

Evel Lives !

Wow! I was shocked today to learn that Evel Knievel passed away. I can't believe it! He just settled a law suit with Kayne West (not Kim West) over a parody-gone-bad in the last couple of days. Now, dead. I know that some of you guys out there (30 - 40+) were as influenced by Evel as I was. Who among us didn't dream of jumping something outrageous every time they threw a leg over their top tube? As a boy of 5 or so, I used to ramp my bike in the neighborhood alleys with all of my buddies. Big Wally, Little Wally, Brian Weedman, Adam Weedman, Wilbs, Mike Doherty, Scott Jones, even the neighborhood "wimp" Timmy Sadler, used to jump our bikes all day, every day, in the alleys surrounding our neighborhood. Each ramp growing another brick higher as the record jump grew longer. Until we actually made a ramp that somebody brainstormed in their garage one day. We made a double angled take-off platform (first stage about 30 degrees and a second stage at about 45) with a cross braced support at the front, instead of bricks piled up. This thing launched us to ever increasing personal bests at each turn. We only jumped air, until the day Little Wally said he would jump the hedges in front of Scott Wilbur's house! Outrageous! But do-able with the new ramp. So we set up the ramp at what we thought was a good distance to clear the bushes, but not too close that it would be easy or a for- sure jump. So we're all sitting on our bikes and LW goes back to his starting point. Somebody started chanting, "EVEL EVEL EVEL..." and he starts down the sidewalk toward the ramp. In true Evel fashion he did a run-bye and then back to the start. And the crowd goes wild! Then a run-up to the lip of the ramp to "see" what he had to do and where to land. I think someone fained having to leave at that point because they couldn't take the drama! Back to the launching point one last time and he did it for real. I remember his orange Yamaha Motobike (single seat, not banana) sailing silently through the air, slightly crossed up, and landing perfectly, a huge J skid following, and he just turns to us all and smiles! Awesome! No helmets in those days, your tolerance for pain was your helmet. Knee pads? Gloves? No way.
When you think about it, Evel was not so much a skilled jumper as he was just a ballsy showman. Who jumps a Harley over anything? That's a recipe for disaster! If he had ever jumped a Yamaha YZ 250 with massive suspension and wide bars he would have made every jump he tried. Bring out a dozen more buses and get that landing ramp the hell out of there! Iconic, crazy, full of piss and fire! What a role model. We all owe him some debt of gratitude for offering up his health and well-being to give us the thrills and spills that made us copy him. When Evel was on, you stopped all life and watched, heart in your throat, to see him try the impossible. Half of you wanting him to clean it, half wanting to see him rag-doll in slow motion. He looked much older and haggard than the 69 years he lived, but all of those x-rays probably took a few layers off of his skin! So next time you ride, offer up some thanks for Evel Knievel and go jump something with your bike! Later!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Short Term Goals

I NEED to spend more time on the bike (anything counts at this point) so I have set up a couple of short term goals. First, I will try to ride to some destination on my day off (Tuesdays) no matter the miles. Miles are not the measure of a ride as some of us know. Others will arrive at this enlightened realization only after chasing miles for too long and forgetting what keeps an adult riding their bike in this world, FUN! Go out and ride Urban, or gravel if you don't usually, or just ride laps around your yard...make up reasons to go out. Make a BRUTOOB and go for a ride. Buy a thrift store dinosaur and just ravage it somewhere. Trust me, it is very therapeutic. You'll have to convince yourself NOT to get rid of it afterwords.
Another goal is to ride at least part of my measly 2-mile-each-way commute to work each day until the end of the year. I make no less than 4 trips per day- to, back home for lunch,back to, and home after. Add 2 additional trips on Monday and Thursday, and there are plenty of opportunities there to ride. If gas gets too much more crazy you couldn't pay me to drive it. Besides, it will give me more smiles than miles. Rode back from dinner tonight, it's a start.
Next is to keep a project bike in the basement at all times this winter. I have some older projects that have been shoved to the back of the garage it favor of the quicker fixer uppers. For instance, I bought an old Raleigh about 3 years ago that I just never did anything with. It's old steel, the right size for me, has internally routed cables, and I have all the parts I need to get it back on the go! And a bike from a brand that I can't find anything out about, Rolls. It has a license sticker from Fullerton, California, and is coated with some kind of green gunk. All of the chrome underneath this gunk is spotless, so I have hopes for this one to end up a nice fixed gear. I figure that I can get 4 or 5 bikes done this winter. Can't argue with that!
Another, to build up a good array of winter riding gear, and use it. I want some ski goggles, neoprene booties, and glove/mittens for starters. (By the way, check out bikesnobnyc for a fun read on this area.) If I get this ski-bike off the ground, and I soon will, I can go out with my sons and have a blast on any Sunday. Have to check with Joel about the technical requirements of the ski edges/lengths for taking it to 7 Oaks. I can't wait for snow!
So I guess that by posting some of these goals I can feel like I really have to do them now. If only there were fewer Saturday events, and more on Sunday, I would have mondo opportunities to ride. Actually, that wouldn't help too much because I will be teaching Sunday School with my wife for the rest of the year. Gotta pay your dues if you wanna play the blues, and you know it don't come easy. Later!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Performance

Another, yes it's true, dumpster-dived rescue. This one took some vision because it was just an ugly junker. Tires rotted out, stamped and riveted cranks, really odd wheelbase, etc. Since I felt like crap on Tuesday (my normal day off from work) I decided to just try to make it into something I could ride for the heck of it. So I took off all the junk, flipped the extra-wide riser bars and painted them right over the rust, shortened up the cables and housings, pulled the cranks, and stuck the wheels from my GT on there. From there I straightened out the chainline, slid on a 16 tooth, and re centered the brakes. Found a decent seat, slipped some WTB grips on, and whaddayaknow, it's a rideable bike! A little short in the reach, but I can put on a different stem to help there. And I have another set-back post that is the right diameter which should just about dial it in. I went out last night for a little urban riding and had a blast! There is a poured curb downtown that is about 150 feet long, on a slight incline/decline. 8" wide by 9" tall. I tried about 20 times to ride it from each direction. The closest I got was all but about 20 feet of it, on the uphill. Then went to the sweetest hill in town for wheelies. It is a stretch of Story Street that is three blocks long. All on a slight incline and just the right resistance for the one wheeled wonder! I managed to do two and a half blocks (blowing through a red light in the second block) but couldn't get the total length in one shot. Still, a 2+ block long wheelie is good. The bike seems to have a very long wheel base, and actually looks like it was made for 700c wheels. Also, the bottom bracket is very tall. It does have a sticker on the top tube which reads "400 cross" so I'm thinking that even though the brake studs are at 26" position it is probably a 700c frame. Makes sense that the manufacturer could make one set of tubes, then weld the studs at the correct position for a mtn or cross/hybrid frame. This reminds me, there was a bike on FGG that had these sweet adapters on it. They are made by Mavic and adapt the brake studs from a 26" frame to 700c position. Assuming that there is enough clearance on the fork, stay braces for the wheels you could actually do quite a bit with these. Speedgoat has them for $25.00 per wheel, I think I need some! Anyways, back to BOTW, I think I will put some miles on it on the gravel and keep it around for riding to work this winter. I actually only tried to do something with it because I love the green tires vs. the blue paint and green/white graphics. Now I think I like it enough to race it next year. Looks good with a number plate on it, as all bikes do! I need help! Later!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bike Of The Week: Westpoint Townie

I bought this bike at my church's annual rummage sale. For a dollar! What a deal. It was "anything you can fit in a bag for $1.00 day" and they made an exception for me. A friend and classmate of mine saw me on it at HyVee one day and told me that it was once his Grandpa's bike and that he used to ride it up and down the alley when we were kids. I thought that was cool. I offered to give it to him if he wanted it but he declined, thankfully. I have ridden it on BRR twice, pulling my oldest in the Burly. I blacked the rims out, pounded out a dent in the front fender and sprayed the supports, flipped the bars for a lower stance, and switched the plastic seat for something more civilized. I happened upon the rack at the annual DSM swap meet that used to be the second weekend in September. It matches the paint pretty damn close and will handle a twelve pack no problem. I just bought a pair of white Kendas from Nashbar about a month ago and they will no doubt add some contrast to the pea green and yellow. Headlight is for effect only but I may knock the reflector out and mount up a little L.E.D. flashlight in that baby! Later!

Monday, November 5, 2007

CYCAT: 'Clone For A Day

I can't remember how I found out about this event, but I am sure happy that I did. I think I followed a link off of DQ's blog? I had never done an alley cat race before and thought, "Might as well keep trying new cycling things, you ain't gettin' any younger!" At $5.00 it can't be any worse than the $30.00 that I threw out to ride two laps of Spooky Cross! Still, being a little gun shy about not knowing who might be there, I played it safe and rode up to the registration area to see if I knew any faces. I was relieved to see Alex Renner there and he waved me over to the sign up tables. Once there I signed up and entered in the singlespeed category. There was some discussion of what constitutes a fixed gear vs. a single. Someone said that if it is fixed but has brakes it's just a singlespeed. Others were of the opinion that fixed is fixed, bailout or no. Who should come along and lay down the authority but Steve Lauber! He pulled up on his fixie, "Fixed is fixed!", he said, done! So we were all hanging out, and I have to say there was a cool mix of cycling styles and people. Carney Bros. Inc. on a dirt jump bike and a sweeeeeeeet Sycip fixie, Alex's friend Mario on a LeMond cross bike, Laubers sweet Raleigh, (check out his brake lever actuated bell sometime, wicked cool) Alex on his stickered Trek fixed, an old Schwinn fix with extremely narrow bars, a fendered Raleigh fixie, a number of "campus bikes" (gets you to a bike rack somewhere close to class, might be there when you go back for it, no big if not) a killer Bianchi BASS, and others. I rode my bike of the week, Sentinel singlespeed. I forgot that my camera was in my car, grrrr! After hangin' for some time we got the goods handed out. Bryan Moritz and crew had set up a wild premise for this race and we were now going to find out the details. Credit to DQ for giving the idea to Bryan. Each rider was given a bingo type card with 24 numbers filled in and a free space. On the back of the sheet was a map of campus with about a dozen dots. Each dot represented a bike rack on campus that we were to ride to. In whatever order you wanted. At each rack was a series of three numbers written on the cement in different colored chalk (34 76 52 etc.) If you had the number on your card you wrote the color of the number in that space. Once you had bingo, or in this case CYCAT, you hauled ass back to the starting point. Sounded clear enough. I was wavering on wearing a helmet or not. No mention of it during the instructions, only a few people had them on, but Alex says, "You have kids don't you?" Strapped on the brain bucket and waited on the street for a neutral roll out to a traffic light. At the light we were waiting until it went to green, and like that we were off! I was rolling along with a grin and passed a few guys on the way to campus when Alex rips by on his Trek. I thought that I was going to get all competitive, but realized that this was more about fun, and also there would be a big luck factor with this format so I hopped a curb and grabbed a little air. Cut a few lines between some trees, and was wishing I had a back brake so I could skid around some turns! I found out quickly that there were some black chains strung between poles right in the best lines. Black is hard to see in shadows! I had decided that my strategy would be to get the numbers at central campus first, then work in a clockwise direction to pick up the rest. As I was heading to the first set, I cut through the grass to get a better line. Approaching the sidewalk I did a lunge wheelie to clear the sidewalk. My chain must have popped off and as my back wheel hit the sidewalk I shot forward. Hit the only brake I had out of habit(front brake/quick stop) and the next thing I know I'm sliding across the grass on my shoulder (instant thoughts of Varnum, Emily, helmet choice, shit I better not trash my Ralph shirt, wow this grass is really green,there goes my race, etc.) I stood up laughing and rolled the chain back on but could not find the numbers anyplace! Crap! so I carried out the strategy and wound up finding the last number I needed after returning to the flagpole for a last check. CYCAT! Hauling ass back to the park I thought that I would be way behind. I saw a campus cop as I flew by and thought I was going to get maced or something, but he just said Hi and kept walking. I could see Andrew Carney ahead of me and didn't think I could catch him. As I got closer I thought he was trying an aero tuck as he was sitting weird. Given that he was on a dirt jumping bike I thought that was the only riding position he could manage. I found out later that he had started with a broken and taped seat, and that he was sitting on the seat rails with the seat in his lap when I passed him! Awesome man! He cursed me as I went around him and I went on to finish 4th overall and first in singlespeed. I have to thank Bryan Moritz and the ISU cycling club for putting this event on. I hope they do it again, and I hope more people do it. Also major thanks to Steve Lauber and Bike World, "The Store That Supports The Sport!" I won a Surly flask and a Surly Singleator for my efforts, but also had a blast riding from the heart like a kid. Flat pedals and sneakers, jumping and bunny hopping, confusing and scaring pedestrians, laughing and crashing! Hope someone has pictures to post. Later!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Other Stuff I've Been Up To

Haven't been doing too much riding as of late, but still getting out there some. Rode out through Jordan and south to the county line last Tuesday. Around through Ledges and back. I couldn't believe it but I found another old country church East and South of Luther. Never would have had any idea it was out there if I hadn't decided on this route. And this one crept up on me so stealthily that I didn't see it until I was half a block away! It's like a message from Someone!
I made this all-purpose carrier the other day after realizing that a cold beer would be really tasty in the middle of a ride, DUH! So I took a $10.00 gift card that my sons gave me for my bday and went to Ace Hardware. Bought a small assemblage of PVC and some brass screws, nuts, and washers. In total a cost of $10.41. Assembled the ends to the tube, drilled out some holes to mount the strap, screw strap down (brass will hopefully not corrode) and add every sticker I've been hoarding for the last few years. What to call this new invention? I thought of BRUTOOB and Beer Quiver, but BRUTOOB won out. Now I haven't really tested this thing yet but it rests quite nicely on my back and is not very heavy at all. I used thinwall PVC to save some weight. It will hold 5 cans of beer and a 44oz. cup of ice, any bottle of wine and some bread or cheese, Most Whiskey bottles, and I'm sure some Fat Tire 22s would slide in there easily too. I could think of a hundred other uses for this thing and I bet I could sell them if I wanted to. I have a way of inventing things and sitting on them, only to see them marketed later and kicking myself for it! So I'm claiming the name "BRUTOOB" and the concept of a PVC carrier worn messenger bag style. Make your own if you want to, but you saw it here first.

Also, I am making this bike into a ski bike. I dumpster dived the bike from Bike World Ames and sat on it not knowing what I would do with it. I wanted to make a junker singlespeed, but it has a high forward pivot and I didn't think that would work for the chain tension. So I pumped up the tires and did some ghosters off of it! I haven't done that for 30 years! I quit after almost hitting my own car on the third one. Then it struck me to make a snow bike so I scrounged up some skis from a co-worker and am in the process of sourcing some free garage door hinges to mount on the skis and run an axle bolt through. I hope we actually get some snow this year so I can go out to Murder Hill and shred it! I will post a few after shots of the finished bike and maybe a few action shots. Better teach the kids how to run the camcorder so I can maybe win some money on AFHV or Country Fried Videos! Later! I think I am riding the CYCAT Sunday, anybody else?