Sunday, April 26, 2009

bike curious tour 2 preview, horse trading


Have to link to this video I came across on the great "slow your roll" blog. He titles the post "speechless" and there's really nothing more to say:

How is that possible? It's like bicycle parcour.

What else? I'm doing some bike curious tour again. This time it's what I'm claiming (though many don't believe me) will be my last tour with The Shins (not just with them, but with anyone!). I have a new career to attend to now and I don't want to end up as the deaf crazy soundguy. But anyway, I'm taking my bike!! I got a nice used Polaris case and I'm putting that baby on Southwest Airlines and hoping for the best. I'll be in Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, the Bay Area and LA, so I'll have some pics coming soon.

Which reminds me, there have been some changes in my stable over the last few weeks. Here's what happened:

I decided to try and get a move on sending my Paramount off the the beauty shop in Waterford. I also decided that I'd rather have a winter rideable road bike than the Surly Steamroller I was rocking. That thing was a bit too small too. So, I (at least in my opinion) caught the ebay masses sleeping and got a REALLY nice used Surly Pacer 60cm frame for $150, just under $200 shipped. Put all the Paramount stuff on it and it's a fun ride. Probably a pound heavier than the Paramount (hell, maybe even a pound and a half, clocking in at 23.5), but it's a pretty nimble ride all the same. I found out I need to wait until the off-season to save $100 on my Paramount paint job though (and seeing as there's a little rust, etc. stuff that is probably going to add to the tally a little, I could use the savings). So I'll be on this thing for a while.

I also had a little fit of bike curiousity and decided to sell off the Orbea and have a new project. After listing it in a few spots for a couple weeks, I sold it to a suburban gentleman who was moving up from a 30 year old Nishiki. He seemed a bit shy in the height dept. for a 60, but who am I to decide!? He rode it around a bit. At any rate, I got my parts money back and I'm sure he can too if he comes to his senses, but maybe he's been on a too large bike forever. He did come with some measurements on a post-it note and a tape measure, so caveat emptor I reckon. It's a fine steed at any rate. I also sold off a couple funky project bikes out of the garage, so I've got a little scratch to play with.

Not sure what's coming down the pike. I was planning on flipping that cash right around for a 62cm Serotta Classique Ti bike, but the guy sold it THE DAY AFTER I SOLD THIS THING! We'd been corresponding for about 3 weeks on it and I told him I just had to sell this bike and it was a done deal, but I guess that's the dog eat dog world we are living in. Plus you can't compete with local pickup! It's just too easy. No hard feelings Andrew.

I've got my eye on a Look KG381i frame/fork. Waiting to see if my meager offer is accepted. I think I want to scour up some Campy stuff and see what all the fuss is about (will definitely have to bargain shop for that stuff!).

bike curious on tour y'all!


Last week was one of my very last rock and roll soundguy excursions to the 2009 Coachella Festival in Indio, CA. My old pals Superchunk were kind enough to bring me out for one single show. It's like a family reunion as I toured with these old friends for about 6 years (and we go back far, far beyond that). Anyway, the desert was a nice break from the maddening "spring" weather of Chicago (more like the worst Texas winter to me).

I hoped I would have time for a little bike riding and I poked around on the interwebs and found a local Palm Desert shop called Tri-A-Bike that had some smoking prices on bike rentals. $30/day for a pretty nice roadbike. Have you ever priced bike rentals? They are often not cheap! I'm talking $80-$150/day for a decent roadbike. So anyway, that was good stuff!

We were staying in this ridiculous luxury house rental on the "Big Horn Country Club" property, a crazy weird gated golf course "community." It was up a 4 mile steady sloped foothill at the base of some pretty big-assed mountain.

Jim from the band, who has been doing some pretty decent daily bike riding on his wife's mountain bike (Jim! Now you know...), was kind enough to come along and the guy at the bike shop told him he needed a road bike. He got a nice Giant and I got a Cannondale CAAD7 and off we went for a pretty great ride. I REALLY wish I had some hills to ride on, terrain that is not flat roads really adds some interest! We didn't do a terribly long ride, probably only 10 miles, but it was fun! Jim remarked that his bike "rides itself" and did not have a problem keeping up on about 5 miles of steady climbing. The Cannondale was nice, kind of a weird tick each crank turn, but maybe that's normal with the featherweight aluminum bikes? It was all Ultegra and Mavic Kyrisiums or something, pretty fancy for a grand total of $12!

The climb was followed by a nice mellow descent, steep enough to go 30-35, but not so steep you couldn't keep up a nice medium cadence in the big ring. About a half mile from the bottom of the hill we had our buzz killed by a coterie of emergency vehicles attending what turned out to be a fallen biker. A very guilty looking car was parked sheepishly in the entrance to some strip mall. I think the guy must have been reasonably not close to death since the whole thing broke up pretty quickly and did not end up with some crime scene tape or something.

Here are a few pics from the top of our ride (it turned into a straight up mountain where we got off. I saw a fit looking dude climbing well up the mountain on a red Time whilst driving up to the crest earlier in the morning. Was jealous, but the traffic up that mountain was pretty busy and fast and 2 lane).


View from the top:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

riding on the early spring streets of Chicago....priceless


I took the picture below some 2 months ago, but finally remembered to post it as I saw 4 guys who had blocked this entire street to the point I couldn't even get a bike by them taking their sweet time filling this baby up. I dont' know if the scale translates in the photo, but if your car tire went in this, you would have had the bottom of your car on the pavement and would not be going anywhere. It lived for a few months with nothing more than the top half of a traffic cone sticking out of it. I blew a tire clean out on my car last year in a similar hole. That one was there for several weeks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

SXSW 09 - Austin, TX


Also, a couple of weeks back, the missus and myself packed up and went down to SXSW. I hadn't been during that questionable event since 2000, and I thought my wife would get a kick out of it.

It has certainly continued to expand that fest. It is HUGE! It's all over the east side of town now too.

I neglected to take the bike pics I should have. On Friday in particular, it was a veritable biker's paradise downtown. There were just hilarious amounts of bikes locked to every conceivable object. They REALLY need a bike valet down there. That's one page that should be taken from the Chicago playbook (just one!....). Seems like Austin is also always putting in new little bike bits here and there. I was shown a new nice little bike/ped bridge over the river (Town Lake) near Barton Springs that I never knew was there, it's still got that new concrete smell.

My Felt 85 continued to have flatting problems. I had brought down a new tube and installed it on my rear wheel as soon as I got up in the morning after arrival, we then rode down to the east side and I had a flat by the time we got where we were going. At that point, I decided to just deal with the real problem, which was these old Continental tires on this thing. They really felt as soft as rubber gloves. I knew there must be at least one bike shop within a few blocks of where I was, so I went up to a local hipster unlocking his fixie and asked and he began looking back towards the west side and pondering. I was thinking, NO NO dude, there's got to be something over here. Suddenly a guy standing nearby about to get on his MOTORCYCLE, said to me "You're looking for a bike shop? There's one at the opposite corner of this block" and pointed to the building on the corner. Well, he was right (Thanks my 2-wheeled internal combustion cousin)! I rolled down the way and found East Side Pedal Pushers bike shop. They did not have a HUGE selection of tires, but they had a few pairs of nice ones and I ended up splurging and getting a set of Continental Gator Skins. They rock! I have the same ones at 700x28 on my Surly here, but I got the 700x23 ones for the Felt.

Here are some pics of East Side Pedal Pushers. They were having a busy day with many flats, etc. I just changed my own tires on their floor as it seemed like it would have taken some time to have it done, and I was already over my budget just buying them!

Here's a piece of work. I spotted these interesting bars downtown and snapped a pic:

And just for the hell of it here are a couple of bonus pics:

My good friend Jonathan Toubin on the wheels of steel at a very popular party we were lucky enough to be on the short list for:

and your humble writer at the janky midi keys with Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkeybirds

I built this!

Lots of news to catch up on. Some weeks ago, I came across a listing in the Serotta forums classifieds for a UBER huge 66cm custom Serotta frame for sale at an incredible price. I had been talking with my 6'6" stepdad about building up a new bike for him for some months and I just knew this was not likely to happen again anytime soon. Serottas are expensive man! This thing was well below $500 for frame and fork (I would guess it cost whomever comissioned it around maybe $2k or more). I spoke with him about it and he told me to go for it. What a beauty! I got it in and then spent the next 2 weeks poking around for parts for it. I had a few choice items in house already and it all came together in a simply lovely fashion. I fixed it up with a mixture of Shimano Ultegra (hubs, rear derailleur, cassette, chain), Dura Ace (STI levers and front derailleur) with Tiagra brakes (sorry parts snobs! They work good though) parts along with a nice Truvativ compact crankset.

The test ride I took it on was really, really dreamy. I now officially lust for a steel Serotta! It was literally the smoothest and most comfy ride I've ever had, but it still blasted off when you stood up on the pedals. Maybe it was the size, but all was right in the world on this thing.

Here are some pics!

windy city indeed!

This is not an April Fool's post (at least it's not a funny one if it is). I went on a nice ride today in honor of the temperatures in the 50s and no rain or snow. Left work at 2pm and rode downtown to the lake. It was windy as all get out! I had it to my back on the way downtown so everything seemed great. I was on my Orbea cruising down Grand Ave. at about 22 mph, feeling pretty cocky. I got down to the lakefont path and headed south into the wind and then realized I was about to work!

I also realized then that something weird had happened with my STI levers / rear derailleur, i.e. the cable slipped or something and I could not shift down below 3rd gear on the cassette. This got progressively worse so that a few miles later, I could not get below about 6th gear (on a 10-speed). I ended up having to spend the rest of the ride dropping in between the middle and the small ring up front and using 6th and 7th in the back with the blasting wind. It's always something!

I ended up riding all the way to the end of the path (for the first time no less). It ends in a very non-dramatic fashion right around 70th Street or so. I rode a few more blocks in that neighborhood, but I got in some weird vortex where the wind was LITERALLY almost blowing over. Like it looked like someone had puppet strings tied to me jerking me sideways, so I bailed at that point and headed back.

I began to feel a cracking coming on around mile 27 and by mile 28 I had to stop and take a breather (more like a gasper really). I rested about 5 minutes and then just sort of limped home straight into the wind (felt like something between 6 and 12 mph the whole way home). I ended up having a 36 mile ride in, 40 if I count going to work in the morning. Sorted out (hopefully) my derailleur issue once I got home. Still don't know if the cable just slipped or what, nothing else looked amiss.

Supposed to rain and/or snow all day tomorrow, so that was a nice way to spend an afternoon.