Not much posting for not a ton of riding lately. I have been out of town and just had all manner of heavy workload and too many extracurriculars going on lately to get much riding done.
I did get some bike building done though. About three weeks back I purchased this beautiful third-hand Bill Holland 60cm Ti frame with Reynolds fork and CK headset. It arrived in just gorgeous condition. Why I cannot keep a bike that nice for any length of time, I dunno (maybe being clumsy is one, city living too I guess). There is not a lot to find out about these bikes on the interwebs. A few forum threads, a reference to one being used in a quest to build the "lightest bike in the world" in Popular Mechanics. A few references in a Joe Bell interview as he shares a building with Holland and apparently came up under his tutelage somewhat in the (?) late 70s (I think it said). For some reason, that was enough to make me take a chance on this thing.
First impressions...let me start with the welds. They look like fillet brazing. I have become an instant Ti weld snob. There is some fairly gnarly environmental harshness from welding titanium, but I guess at least it lasts roughly forever. It's light. Very light. It even says so here:
A sense of humor to boot (sorry for the crappy photo)!
Building it up was pretty easy. I had to come up with a 1" stem, but I found a fellow parting with this nice Ibis 120mm 0 degree stem and snapped it up. Beyond that, I just moved all my Campy Centaur stuff over to it from the trusty old Look KG381. It came with it's own Ti seatpost. Here it is in progress:
And here is the finished build.
I've only ridden some 50-60 miles on it as of yet, but it is pretty amazing. It's about a half lb. lighter than the Look, coming in just right at 18 lbs. Really feels like it can just go 25-30 mph all day long. Rides similar to a steel bike in terms of road chatter, but feels almost like aluminum when you are out of the saddle. I have yet to climb anything on it, but am dying to! My original impetus to try something else was that the Look was a little on the creaky/flexy side when really out of the saddle on a climb. I think I've got that solved. More to come on all that.
Had a full head of steam to write something about the Landis doping stuff, but it seems like it's all been said better already. Here are a few things that are worth peeping:
Joe Lindsay's column had links to most of the good stuff and some pretty good writing himself.
Then you have to check in and get the BSNYC perspective.
I had actually just finished reading Paul Kimmage's "Rough Ride" about a week before all this came down and I was thinking that he was really just kind of a super downer (and for me to say that, you've gotta really be cramping some style!). Not that I doubted any of what he knew/alleged/suspected (he goes on at length in the 6 or 7 mega-epilogues about different doping scandals after the book was published up to Landis and the 2006 TDF. I was thinking "Geez man, maybe you are TOO suspicious!" but then this stuff all came to light.
In some way it's weird to draw the line at tweaking every tiny manner of aero-bike dweebery and skinsuits on your shoes and wind tunnels etc, but to think that tweaking your body chemistry is cheating. However, I tend to think the same thing. Part of it is perhaps that it's just so GROSS to be stashing away your blood in a fridge so you can pump it back in later and get all your stats to settle down after you've been making blood pudding in your veins for a few weeks or what have you. Estrogen, testosterone, corticoids, etc. etc. What ever happened to Clif Shots? That seemed gross to me for quite a while (I guess I'm more Paul Kimmage than I might like to think, he held out on caffeine tablets for quite some time).
Mostly though, I think it's that cycling is, more than other sports, really aspirational for a lot of the fans. Unlike maybe US football, for instance, where it's difficult to put on 50 to 100 lbs and get a giant kit of armor and play with large teams on a well-groomed field, it's feasible for many fans to get a decent bike and some fancy clothes and ride down the road like you are on a solo breakaway. It sucks to think that you aren't really doing it "like a pro" until you know how to get your microdosing program all sorted out. Training rides ain't gonna do it! Landis amusingly points out in one of his rambling screeds, correctly, that Amgen (of the Amgen Tour of California) is the manufacturer of EPO. Quelle irony! Those letters actually make me feel worst for Dr. Brent Kay, who spent years and years of his life (and one can only imagine piles and piles of money) defending Landis, starting his own procycling team to help Landis come back, etc. and seems to betray a woozy sense of defeat at finding out how much of his life has been misspent in these sad emails.
I think the thing about all this heavy duty, seriously gross, seriously complicated doping stuff that freaks me out the most is that all these dudes (and face it, most people are more or less normal as far as general personality traits, etc. go) had to learn to spend large portions of their adult lives being professional liars, going on and on and on about how clean the sport is or how they've never taken performance enhancing drugs etc. Imagine doing an interview and going on about unproven allegations against you and then heading on over to your flight to go "consult" with Dr. Ferrari and pick up your EPO vials. And so on. Ugh. I think my head would explode in short order. I don't even like little tiny white lies, let alone having to have an entire false narrative about your life (see Landis's now especially amusing book for an epic, epic example of this).
Anyway, I still enjoy watching racing, but what a giant pile of shit that stuff all is. Beware of professional sports is the overarching message for yours truly.
Time to get back to basics! Here are some quality freak bikes I have encountered lately. You ain't gonna attack the group on these things, just enjoy the ride my friends.
Spotted a few blocks from the U of M commencement (featuring our leader, B.H. Obama) which I attended last month:
Here are a couple of specimens from a house several blocks from me. I tend to swing by here now to see what's cooking. I think this house may be from whence issues a biker that could be described as my own modern-primitive lone wolf. Perhaps I'll post a shot of him someday.
Anyway, first here is a rare shot of two freak bikes entwined in the delicate act of making sweet freak bike love:
And here is a handmade cargo bike that puts the Surly Big Dummy to shame:
With that, I take my leave. Let's get out and ride!