Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another nice old Trek


For the money, you just really, really can't beat a late 80s Trek. They are just great riding, light, attractive (and still made in the USA) lovely steel bikes. This 1988 Trek 360 that I fixed up for a friend has a nice Suntour 12-speed setup with indexed shifting. I swapped out the bars/levers for something a little more upright. Eric, if you're reading this, I take back the aspersions I cast at the Sturmey Archer brake levers, they look very nice and are terrific levers to boot. Thanks!

This bike was gotten for a mere $230 in gorgeous perject working order and after another hundred-ish dollars in persnickety parts swapping, it's a fleet 21 lb. city bike. What does $350 get you new these days? A decent saddle and a set of cheaper STI levers maybe. Certainly not much of a whole bicycle.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

dark lord day and other delights


Went to Three Floyds Brewery's much discussed "Dark Lord Day" a few weeks back. Missed it last year due to I-can't-remember-what, but I DO remember realizing during whatever it was I ended up doing that the weather was a bucket of sh*t around the time folks would be riding their bikes back. I mean, ripping winds, temperature dropping 20+ degrees and very, very cold rain style. In other words, a typical Chicago Spring day!

Well, my buddy Arman was up for it again in spite of the brutal beatdown he took on that one. I think he was also in charge of leading a rather mixed crew of riders in terms of amounts of stops per trip and such, so I believe it came as a relief when only a couple of people sounded like they were going to turn up this year to ride down. The weather was looking pretty bad this year too, but he scoped out a METRA ride home option for this year, riding the 10-ish miles over to Flossmor and catching the train, so I guess one way in some potential rain seemed doable.

We met up on the Lakeshore path across from Buckingham fountain at the 9am hour and while sitting there up rode Jay and Alex, some friends of his, who were heading down too so they decided to join up. Then up rode about 25 other people asking if we were heading to Three Floyds. When we said yup one guy started getting in his bag and asking us to sign in and such. After a moment of confusion in which one of our little gang just signed up (weird what you can get if you just ask!) I asked a few questions and found out this was the (forgive me if I've got this wrong) Chicago Cycling Club official ride down group and we quickly cleared up that we were just heading that way on our own, which I think snapped Arman out of some flashbacks from last year's perhaps overly Keystone Kops-ish experience. He looked relieved anyway. We ended up running across that lot later during the ride, but they had some different instructions so it didn't last more than about a mile or two.

With the late arrival of Tiber, we set off. It was a pretty gloomy overcast morning but no rain, so all was well. Rode down the path and on down S. South Shore drive and continued on what turned out to be a really nicely sorted out route (click here for a PDF of the map)
. Just took a largely neighborhoody and pathy/parky way most of the way down. Got my first ride on the Burnham Greenway, which was just like any other bike path except that it had a dozens and dozens of covered up graffiti spots on it (along with a few fresh examples!). Got my first flat on my year plus old Schwalbe Marathons, found out I can still do a roadside tube change (it's been a while), and with a couple of quick stops, we made it down it something like 2.5 hours (37.5 miles or so).

Some crazy biz, this Dark Lord Day. I forsee it not being in it's current location for much longer as trying to squish about 8000 drunk broheims into the 1/4 mile street of a small office/industrial park doesn't seem like the way to keep up neighborly relations. It was a pretty good scene though. I ate about a year and a half of my normal meat intake. Something like 5 sausages, a brisket taco, some more brisket and probably another thing or two I'm forgetting. Not a very veggie friendly event. Tasted some very tasty brews. Followed my buddy Andrew and his rather large posse through the Dark Lord Russian IPA buying line and helped to portage the beers safely back to the car (I got to buy in on 2 bottles for my trouble). There were some heavy bands playing in the brewery, but the overall drunky far-from-home vibe made me eventually want to head back to the cozy confines of home.

After hanging out for about 2.5 hours, it still hadn't rained and I was feeling like going to the METRA was just going to be a pain (apparently wasn't, but I felt like riding more anyway). I decided to go it alone on the bike back up into town. A couple of pounds of meat and the equivalent of maybe 4 hefty brews made this a different sort of "sport" than the way down. I did quite respectably thank-you-very-much, but was DEFINITELY feeling a bit knackered by the time I hit the Lakeshore path back in town. The map worked pretty well on the way back (Arman guided down so I didn't really have to pay much attention), but I did get off at one point and end up going through some unknown southside zone. Pretty mellow altogether, though I did get a few garbled SOMETHING-UNINTELLIGIBLE-WHITE-BOY! comments cutting through the wind. Guess it's not a well road-biked area in a few spots down there.

Anyway, a fun new trip out of town. I feel a little less intimidated by getting into Indiana on a bike now. You can really just slip right into Hammond by the back door and even in a few spots were we had to brave a bit of heavy-ish traffic, I found Indiana drivers to be pretty courteous and chilled out, at least on that particular day.


Our Gang

Burnham Greenway with blacked out graffito

A VERY slow moving train in Hammond. Note awesome mid-century madness on the 2nd Baptist parking garage behind.

That's some lineup (to buy expensive beer!). Several hours long.

A swamp of party bros.

An expensive litter display.

Glad to have biked. These were ALL OVER, only set off by the occasional
"PARK HERE $40" signs.

A ridiculously undetailed version of the route thanks to the crappy GPS of iPhione 3G.

In other news:

I rode to Milwaukee again today, my first completion since last Summer's aborted attempt (3 flats and a wifely pickup). It was pretty fun, only occasionally grueling. Light to moderate headwind almost the entire way and pretty chilly (low 40s in the morning up to 50-ish by the afternoon).

I can do the whole thing with only a very occasional map consultation. Actually, I might not have had to at all had part of the Wisco bike trail not been closed, but that put me back on the road sooner which speeded things up nicely anway. That gravel is SLOW!

Anyway, home to just shy of downtown, 94 miles, in a total of 6 hours 4 minutes. Probably stopped for a total of about 15 minutes en route, so riding time was about 5 hours 50. Between the gravel and some headwinds and no one to draft on, that ride is some good exercise!

Tried to tune in the Giro when I got home, but managed to just catch the exact spoiler ending 20 seconds. Groan! Anyway, Tyler Farrar finally got some.

Looks like my trusty Look KG381 and I are parting ways. There's a new (to me) frame coming down the line here in a week or so. It's been real, but I like to keep things interesting (
I am bike curious after all) and I have to sell to help mitigate the costs of the new steed.