Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Vintage Bike, Vintage Ride, Vintage Rider

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Well this past weekend I thought it was about time to try a bit of a hilly ride since the stroke action. A few weeks ago it was a no go to even stand on the pedals (out of the saddle), couldn’t control the bike. A reasonable amount of big gear, flat land accelerations allowed some practice and it seemed to be paying off.

It had to be my favourite short course of the West Van ride out to Horseshoe Bay, a great 30km ride known for its short, semi steep little ramps that beg to be krieged up in a big gear…..but woe to you if you lose your momentum…you’ll stall out. I rode my new/old Masi seeing it was vintage me on a vintage ride (started doing that ride at 15) and the fact that it weighs about 7 pounds more than the new bike added a bit of stability.

After a light-headed departure, things started to feel sort of normal but the bike was still a bit wobbly (or should I say I was) whilst standing up climbing in the big ring. Then amazingly, the brain started to remember the signals it was supposed to send and by the time I was on the sixth, out of the saddle climb it started to feel way better. You have no idea what a relief that was….pas de spaz. I think from that point on, the basic lack of fitness was playing a bigger part than the fading handicap.

The way back I actually started to feel a bit sparky and tried to keep a (slightly) larger gear rolling up the grades. It was truly amazing how much better everything was feeling. I think loading up the body and making it suffer just a bit was a real good thing. It seemed to put everything into a balanced equilibrium……….something the brain has to start feeling. For the next couple of days, there were basically no light headed spells…pretty normal in fact. Cool stuff. Today’s AM session on the flat allowed a good, long no-hands stint so no doubt about it, it coming back.

Being crustier than ever, I again scratch and shake my head at the lack of jam in many of the younger “all  the gear, no idear” crowd. On the way out to HB, we saw no end of cyclists coming back. Two that stuck in my mind were two guys that were + – 30 coming up the hill towards Lighthouse Park. A ripping fit guy would do that hill in a 53 x 17 or even 16…..around an 85″ gear. Three months ago I could keep a 76″ going pretty good. Well these two guys looked pretty slim, had light bikes but you couldn’t help notice that their chains were pretty much towards the middle of their bikes….and they had compacts! Plus the cassettes had substantial sized big cogs. So figuring they were in a 34 x 23….or maybe even a 25, that’s a gear in the 30-40″ gear range….good for pulling stumps. Fer crying out loud…put some effort in. Even my senior years, with a ratched body and a heavy old bike, I managed a 42 x 17 (67″) on that hill that day. Maybe they were saving themselves for paddle boarding later that day. It only gets harder when you’re older kids. Better get tougher now.

Dreams and Nightmares

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Well who’d a thunk it?

The gossip is my local circles is that I have been knocked back with a brain stem stroke……….major weird or what? Just goes to show that even when you think you’re pretty fit, trim, eat well and all that, things can happen. I should listened to my mother 20 years ago (she was an RN) that I should take a low dose aspirin every day. I guess my blood was pretty thick, maybe the wrong kind of healthy? Anyway made me into a real spaz….couldn’t write, could hardly walk or talk, very weird. If I stood with my eyes closed, I fell over…WTH!

All the testing in the Big House showed no clots or blockages anywhere in me. The heart was pretty healthy with my low resting pulse of 44-46 (typical for an endurance athlete) initially freaking out the hospital staff. For 40 odd years it has amazed me that the mainstream medical types seem so unaware of this.

After six days in the ‘ward’ they let me out as my improvement was pretty rapid (fitness counts for something I guess). A couple days later a bunch of supporters came by and we went for a 20km ride…easy. I can tell you, I’ll never pick on the new, inexperienced riders again. I was so hard to even ride in a straight line! I could hardly take one hand off the bars and there’s no way I could stand on the pedals. Felt weird being too close to a wheel or the edge of the road…..I was a total victim. So many years being pretty adept on two wheels makes one realize how hard it must be for many new folks riding on the skinny tyres. I promise to have more patience in the future!

A few more rides and I’m immensely better, won’t be doing any hill attacks this week but one of these days……….

And this was all when a little strength and fitness was coming my way too. I had spent some of my time riding my new (to me) bike and was pretty psyched up too. Since I was 16 and saw an article on Merckx winning the 1970 Paris-Roubaix on his custom made, Faema painted Masi Special, I have longed for one of those bikes. I’ve only ever seen one and that was in 1971 and it would have been way too big for me anyway.

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Low and behold a couple of months ago my classic dream bike appeared on the world of Ebay. It became mine at probably 30 times its original price. Exactly my size too…in those days the made the top tubes a little longer so with a 13cm stem it fits great. The classic Cinelli 65’s were even included. Not the choice of Ed but his pal Patrick rode them on his Masi (as did his rival Roger d V on his Gios).

Its so classically cool with its 1967 Nuovo Record derailleur and cranks. Local classic man Fritz Durenberger made a new 7 speed 13-20 freewheel (I just couldn’t take only five gears) and we were ready to ride. At 22 pounds it takes a bit more effort to make it follow you up the hills but the Reynolds 531 tubes respond very well to big gear climbing. Lots of snap to put your energy into the wheel. Too bad it weighs 50% more than my other bike, but I ain’t racing anyway. Shows how fast and good the lads were back then, that’s for sure.

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Two classics with wheels

After 43 years, another dream has been fulfilled! Now back to getting the fitness back…………

 

Finally, a quiet moment…or two

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Even the agnostics and the athiests must enjoy the end result of Christ’s arrival and subsequent continued celebration (the reason for the season as is a de rigeur expression these days). Unless you’re one of those victims that line up in who-knows-what weather to save a bit of dough on something you likely don’t need and possibly dig even a deeper debt hole for yourself; you’ve probably kicked back a bit, seen some family and friends and sat around with a bit more time to think. I know I have.

One of the thoughts running around my chaotic cranium has been the appreciation I have of the fact that virtually all my bicycle customers are great folks………pas de morons! It gives me faith in this what seems an over-techno’d, brain dead society. My person of extreme significance and I were just across the street at one of the local burnt coffee dispensaries (yeh…….Starbucks) and shook our heads at many of the folks around us with their myopic eyes fixed upon some 2 x 4″ screen. We felt sorry for the poor little fellow at the next table, out for a drink with his dad. Papa Moron barely lifted his head from his handheld brain controller the whole time we were there, let alone speak with his little guy. They just don’t get it.

Indeed for me its been another year of people coming by the shop brimming with common sense, enthusiasm, willingness to learn and a desire to improve themselves. Some come by in need of a bike, which will become both their vehicle for self-improvement and their friend on that trip. Others to simply sort out what they have so its all a better ‘fit’. Its so great for me to watch their relationship with the physical bike, the activity of cycling well and their own potentials and improvements.

There’s one in particular who has been a customer (and certainly now a friend) for a number of years. He’s never raced and in fact didn’t even become an enthusiast until his late 30’s. The natural, easy flow found within a group of good bike riders is something that’s more difficult to learn and feel when you start at an older age……like music and languages I suppose. Riding in a large peleton that’s just ripping along with guys getting shelled out the back is the best way to learn safe survival, but how many late starters ever get that chance? Most that start as adults remain fairly nervous in a tight group situation. As well, as adults we tend not to listen as well either, making the process that much more difficult. Well, in the good doctor’s case, he’s been absorbing info and observing over the last couple of season’s and has now become what I would call a bike rider. One of the defining characteristics of that moniker to me is, when I can shut my brain off when riding 4-6″ from their wheel….even in a cross wind. VERY difficult to find. But such is my friend’s velo prowess that I happily told him after our last ride that my brain function went to basics……..and that’s good. Safe and efficient was he!

There are of course, others too that are on that path and it makes so thankful for the opportunity to do my bit in making, to parody the old USMC posters, ” A Few Good Riders”. I feel a lucky bloke.

When I get the next bit of time, I’m a gonna tell you how you can be a manly climber and flatten those hills, and give you proof that it works.

Best for the New Year!

Insane Year Again!!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

I’ll bet y’all done thought I’d evaporated or somethin’.

Well its actually just been the craziest, most project filled year of my life. No complaints though as its been a great time. Well, the only complaint was that my wonderful dog Norton passed away after fifteen + years of being my best pal.

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Norton, ‘The King of Cool’

He was an extraordinary guy with an endless list of fans and friends and I feel totally blessed to have shared his life. “See you again someday little man.”  The only upside to the sadness has been the introduction of Mr ‘Ballistic’ Benson to our lives. Acquired from Skagit Animal Rescue, he is totally full of beans and is psychotically loving.

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Benson the leapin’ lizard

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Havin’ a beer with Benny

Anyway, the crazy boat project continues to forward and since the last scribing I’ve had it out of the water and stripped the entire underside (with a torch and a belt sander) to bare wood….the first time in at least fifty years. Replaced some damaged planking, refilled nearly 4000 screw recesses etc etc. Mustn’t ask myself why or I might stop.

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Finally all Navy Gray

Then of course there are the car projects. The most exciting has to be the resurrection of one of my all time favourites, an earlier E Type coupe. Purchased as a Christmas prezzie for the love of my life, this previously Texas owned vehicle needed (and still needs) a bunch of sorting. As an interesting bit for the bicycle keeners, The front end of a Jag E type is a space frame design, like the race cars it was developed from. This entire front end assembly is built from Reynolds 531 tubing. In fact, one of the damaged tubes I had to replace was a standard sized top tube from a bicycle. The whole thing was apart but now its heading together again….maybe in time for this Christmas.

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Those 1″ rad support tubes are Reynolds 531 top tubes

But probably the most exciting thing is that Rob ‘The Wizard of all Things Carbon’ Mulder and myself have been cobbling up some pretty cool scratch-built carbon frames. Rob is known far and wide in these parts for his ability to produce some pretty wild carbon creations including some very well though out aero handlebar sets. His designed and built products have won medals in World Cup, World Championship and Olympic events. In the cycle world though, his biggest reputation comes from fixing/repairing hundreds of broken carbon bikes.

Being around his shop was something of an eye-opener to me. While many of the broken frames are products of a crash, a huge number are ones that ‘just broke’. These are all the big names too…and the expensive ones at that. Trek 6.whatevers, Looks, Cervelos by the score, Wiliers, Specialized….craziness. Many of the riders around here are thankful for his ability to keep their bikes out of the trash a bit longer.

Those that know me and/or my mindset with the modern cycle industry, know how disappointed I am with the lack of any real wide range of frame shape options for different shaped riders. Well now we can do it all. Not only tailoring the tube lengths and angles, but we also lay up different laminations to tune the frame characteristics to the rider’s needs and desires. As a further plus, while the vast majority of today’s carbon frames (carbon anything actually) are built with a 50/50 ration of carbon and resin, the carbon being the strength and the resin being the glue that keeps the carbon together, the carbon we use has a much higher carbon content. We heard that Enve composites in Utah were producing high end bicycle tubes made with hi temp, pre-preg carbon. These tubes end up being 70% carbon with 30% resin. A quick calculation shows that to be 40% more carbon per weight volume. Not only does this make for a much stronger frame, but the lesser amount of resin substantially reduces road shock. Its really weird actually. When Rob first tried the first road bike down the road, he though the tyres were nearly flat, such was the smoothness. The same comment has been repeated by all that have ridden these bikes now.

On the performance benefit side, the extra amount of carbon in the equation substantially adds to the ’snap’ of the frame. This would be the very quick response time when a frame snaps back after deflecting under hard pedal load (ie climbing, sprinting). Contrary to what current bicycle adverts/tests tell you, straight frame stiffness does not make for the fastest all around bike. Its the frames ability to ‘pump’ that energy into the back wheel like its spring loaded. Just ask any competitive sailor/sail boarder (carbon masts that deflect then snap back in gusts shooting the vessel ahead), or a pole vaulter that relies on a quick snap back of the pole to throw them higher in the air.

The frames are constructed with all tubes mitered against each other allowing for a very strong triangulation effect. All the joints are glued, then wrapped in whatever the lamination schedule calls for. Any joints that are to be ‘aero’ fillets, get special ultra light filleting foam shaped into the area then wrapped with more carbon.

In spite of the extra expense, we use only American made titanium BB shells and cable stops. Aluminum has been known to present problems when bonding with carbon and resin whereas titanium has no such tendencies. Nothing is riveted through the frame either. All frames thus far have used the fabulous Enve forks. Enve build their forks in a continuous, fully molded fashion. Even the front brake hole is molded in so as not to cut through the carbon weave as would be the case if it was drilled.

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Frame in the jig getting set up for initial resin tacking.

The only downside to this little project is the copious hours it takes to make one. When you add in the fact that the material cost alone is well over double what Pinarello pays Suk Wang and Wak Yu to make a Dogma…painted no less, it makes this look like a pretty dumb business decision. Especially when we sell these for about the same price. Nevertheless, its pretty cool to make stuff like this AND to get such marvelous feedback and results.

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Finished frame with ‘aeroized’ filleting and extra laminations.

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Some head tube detail