Saturday, November 25, 2006

Critical Mass Take 2

Odo 2915.3

Well so as I said in my last post I was going to Critical Mass again. And I did. There were, as expected, only about 1/3 as many people as last month. This made a huge difference in the group. While there were still enough people for a fun, interesting, ride, and enough to get our point across, there was a lack of organization. First, and most important, the group was split up by a huge gap on more then one occasion as people in the front rode to fast and didn't wait. The problem with this is A) it's not as fun and B) you can't very well block traffic for the mass to get through if 1/2 of the mass is 1/4 mile away. Second of all Critical Mass always claims to have no leaders, so you never really know where you are going to ride, or end up. While this can be a good thing we at times ended up stopped with indecision. In the end the split up group kept breaking off in different directions until I was with like 8 people. At that point I dropped out. The highlight of the evening (for me anyway) was riding through Seattle Center, into and around the fountain, even though I fell and skinned up my knee. I love the look of wonder and awe on people's faces as 50-100 bicycles come riding out of nowhere hooting and hollering. Still next month will be around Christmas and I won't ride unless one of my friends wants to go. I'll wait until spring brings the numbers back up.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Weather, Turkey Day, Critical Mass

Odo 2875.3

Commute to work - Rain, Hail, Lightning?!? Thanksgiving is on Thursday. Critical Mass is on Friday. With Thanksgiving and the weather like it is I'm thinking the turnout is going to be much much less then last month before Halloween. However my internet weather forecast service says that there will only be a few showers on Friday and just clouds with a chance of rain Friday night. And since Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, what better time to hold Critical Mass? It's going to be cold though.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Must Heed the Weather Report

Odo 2860.8

The weather report today said rain, but at 12 noon it was sunny with blue skies. Still I packed my rain coat, pants but not my booties. I did my ride downtown, did some shopping and had a mocha with a friend. By that time it was raining. In fact the rain hit us before the clouds moved in. Well that's Seattle for ya. My feet were soaked by the time I got home. I guess after being gone for 2 years I forgot how quickly the weather changes.

An article in the Seattle Times stated that this could be the wettest month in history for Seattle. The wettest month in history here was December 1933, when 15.33 inches fell at the Federal Building in downtown Seattle, before the weather service set up its rain gauges at Sea-Tac. Since Sea-Tac has been the recording station, the wettest month was January 1953, with 12.92 inches. As of late wednesday the monthly total was 11.63 inches of rain. The news on the tube today said that almost 2/3 of an inch fell betweeen 3 and 5 pm (the time I was riding home). That pushes the total pretty close to record and we got 10 days left this month.

Update - This was a new record for total Seattle rainfall in one month. The end of the month total was 15.63 inches.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Proposition 1 'Bridging the Gap' Seattle

Odo 2772.7

My greatest speed ever on a bicycle, the same bicycle I have today, was 45 miles per hour. I did this riding down Admiral Way toward Avalon Way/Harbor Ave. I believe the speed limit there is 30 but what the hell? It's a good down hill stretch. Smooth asphalt, no side streets so no cars to stop/turn in front of you. Plenty room/time to slow down at the end. I tried it again yesterday. 37.5 mph. I rode back up and tried again. 38.5. Grrraah! Why can't I even hit 40? Was it my original tires? Was it the extra winter clothing? Was the weight and drag of my fenders, rack and pannier bags and my camera I had in them? Or was it just plain fear of petaling that hard at such a fast speed. 30 plus mph on a bike does scare me. Sometime soon I will have to strip the weight off and try again. Sometime when it is not raining.

On my morning commute to work today I realized that I've slowed down a little. I'm just riding. Which is ok to an extent. I realized this when 3 other bike commuters past me by. I'm not putting any effort into this. While it doesn't have to be a workout every day maybe it should be a few times a week. I raised the bar a little on my ride back home tonight.

The puncture resistant tires I now have and/or the tuffy strips I have between the tires and the tube are working well. On examining my tires I saw several tiny cuts. Most 1 or 2 millimeters in length. Upon probing I pulled about 20 pieces of glass from these cuts, between the 2 tires. A few weeks ago I did have a flat. I wasn't on the bike at the time. I just looked over at my bike and the tire was flat. The hole was on the rim side. I blame this on rim strip failure. The high pressure caused the tube to press to hard against one of the spoke nipples. It was a cheap, plastic rim strip and I replaced it with a nice cloth one. I bought a patch kit and fixed the tube. I normally just replace the tube with a new one but it seems like such a waste and the patches are so cheap.

And finally Proposition 1 passed here in Seattle. What this means for cyclists -
  • Nearly quadruple Seattle’s annual investment in Bicycle and Pedestrian programs.
  • Increased access and more biking options for the thousands of Seattle bike commuters and countless recreational riders.
  • Complete network of urban bike trails, including the Burke-Gilman, Mountains-to-Sound, Duwamish and Chief Sealth trails.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Park Tools and Ball Bearings

Odo 2758.0

I was in REI going crazy, again, the other day. Christine noticed that I was 'damp' even with my rain coat so she let me buy another one. Just for cycling. A Novara Stratos. Yellow. Pit zippers for ventilation, back pocket, fold down rain flap for extra protection in the riding stance. Waterproof, windproof, breathable. Expensive, but I'll use it, for sure. It's far more effective then my 6 year old Eddie Bauer, which I will still wear when I'm not on the bike.

Then I picked up Park Tools Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair. It's a good book but in some areas not as detailed as I'd like. In others, very much so. A few Park Tool wrenches and I find myself in the living room surrounded by tiny, loose ball bearings as I dismantle, clean, inspect, grease and reassemble my front hub. It worked again today for 18 miles so I guess I did it right. Well see what happens in a few hundred miles.

I noticed my stopping power is much less in the rain. That got me thinking, "Are there different types of brake pads?" The answer is yes. REI had a poor selection but the sales man told me to look for the salmon colored ones. Today at my neighborhood bicycle repair shop I found them. Managed to get them on the bike. Tested them. They don't squeek so I guess I got the 'toe in' set right. They feel good. We'll see in the next few days.

Yikes it's almost 1am! I got to get to bed.

Six years later and the Novara Stratos raincoat is still holding up well.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Torrential Rain

Odo 2705.2

The weather service I look at online called for Torrential Rain tonight. I don't know if I would classify what I rode home in as torrential. I've seen some serious late summer monsoon downpours in Arizona but I would agree that at times the rain was 'heavy'. It was a perfect chance to test out all my new rain gear. A few days ago I posted how my ride home in the rain left my feet soaked. My Bellwether Aqua No Booties took care of that. They slip on over your shoes and zip up the back. They have holes in the bottom for your cleats and fit over my mountain bike type shoes. Next my Pearl Izumi Gavia Gloves kept my hands quite warm and mostly dry. They are rated as AmFib so in the heavy rain your hands will get a little wet as mine did. I was in it for 40 minutes and I would say that after 20 is when they started getting wet. Lastly was a Sugoi Bosui stretch helmet cover. This cover has reflective panels for night and kept all the water out.

2003 Fuji Ace (Musette)

Odo 2698.0

Not that anyone cares but I was pondering what year I actually bought my bike so I did a little online research and came up with the complete specs. Some modifications I've made in red. It is a 2003.

BB Shell Width: 68mm English
BB Spindle Length: 116mm
Bicycle Type: road/sport
Bottom Bracket: sealed cartridge, 116mm spindle
Brake Levers: Shimano Sora STI Dual Control
Brakeset: Pro-Max Forged Road, Dual Pivot brakes, Shimano Sora STI Dual Control levers
Chain: Shimano CN-HG50, 1/2 x 3/32" Now a SRAM.
Chain Size: 1/2 x 3/32"
Chainrings: 30(28)/42/52
Chainstay Length: 42.0cm
Colors: Was - Olympic Red/Platinum. This bike is also highlighted with black and white. Now painted in "leather" brown. Handlebar tape was changed to shellac over cloth silver and black but now is brown and honey colored leather woven.
Component Group: Road Mix
Crankset: Cyclone Forged Road, 30(28)/42/52 teeth
Fork Brand & Model: Fuji
Fork Crown: aero
Fork Material: chromoly, aero crown
Fork Rake: 4.50cm
Frame Angles: 73.0 head, 73.0 seat
Frame Construction: TIG-welded
Frame Tubing Material: Elios 1 chome-moly
Front Brake: Pro-Max Forged Road, Dual Pivot
Front Brake Lever: Shimano Sora STI Dual Control
Front Derailleur: Shimano Sora Triple, bottom-pull/clamp-on 28.6mm
Front Derailleur Type: bottom-pull/clamp-on 28.6mm
Handlebar: aluminum drop bar
Handlebar Stem: Was - aluminum Fuji. Now a tall Nitto Technomic.
Head Tube Angle: 73.0
Headset: 1" threaded sealed mechanism
Headset Diameter: 1" threaded
Hub Front: aluminum, Q/R
Hub Rear: aluminum, Q/R
Hubs: aluminum, Q/R
Largest Rear Cog: Was - 26. Now is 28.
Num Rear Cogs: 7-speed
Pedals: Wellgo road w/clips and straps (Now Clipless)
Rear Brake: Pro-Max Forged Road, Dual Pivot
Rear Brake Lever: Shimano Sora STI Dual Control
Rear Cogs: 7-speed, Was - 13 - 26 teeth. Then 13 - 28 after I wore out and replaced the drive train at 4459 miles. Now 12 - 28 as this drive train is spent again and replaced at 7800 miles.
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Sora GS
Rim Front: Was - Alex RP-15, 32-hole. Now Campy hub and Mavic rim, 36 spoke, hand built wheel.
Rim Rear: Was - Alex RP-15, 32-hole Then - Torelli Master, 32-hole (Had to rebuild because the cheap spokes kept breaking.) Now 36 hole Velocity Fusion (Re-rebuilt because I bent the rim on a pothole)
Saddle: Was - Fuji Sport Anatomical. Then a Brooks B-17 N, now just a B-17.
Seat Post Diameter: 27.2mm
Seat Tube Angle: 73.0
Seatpost: aluminum micro-adjust, 27.2mm diameter
Shift Levers: Shimano Sora STI Dual Control
Sizes: 49cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm, 61cm, 64cm
Smallest Rear Cog: 13
Spoke Brand: stainless steel, 14ga. (2.0mm) straight gauge (And then - DT Spokes in back) (And now - Phil Wood Spokes in back)Spoke Gauge: 14ga. (2.0mm)
Spoke Holes: 32-hole (Now 36)
Spoke Material: stainless steel
Spoke Nipples: brass nipples (Now stainless steel nipples in back)Spoke Type: straight gauge
Sugg Retail: 519.00
Tires: Were- 700x 26c Kenda Kontender Now- Schwalbe, Marathon Plus 700 x 28c rear & 700 x 25c in front.
Top Tube Length: 55.0
Weight: 24.0 (Not with my rack, packs, lights, computer, and fenders. :) )
Wheelbase: 100.0cm

Thursday, November 02, 2006

It's a wet, wet, wet Seattle ride.

Odo 2665.1

I have to say the last 3 days have been very cold for Seattle. Lows in the 30's. On Musette I've been keeping an eye out for ice in the mornings. Well that all changed today. Overnight our weather went back to something more predictable and started raining. This brought our temperature back up into the 40's - 50's. The morning ride wasn't too bad. Drizzle turning to rain as I neared work. I remembered to ride slower and stop early as last month I almost skidded through a red light. The ride home was something else. Heavy rain. This has to be the wettest I've ever rode in. Some huge puddles to avoid. Or at least to avoid the splash of a passing car. My gloves were soaked in about 1/2 a mile. After about 2 miles I could feel water running off my rain pants and into my shoes. My feet were soaked soon after. At about 5 miles I could taste salt as water ran down my head and face. I always thought it was sort of silly seeing people wear shoe covers while cycling but I may pick some up tomorrow. I'm also thinking about a helmet cover and some new gloves. What was cool was how many people were still riding. Two people passed me since I'm still unsure about riding on wet surfaces. I stopped to see if one guy had everything to patch his tire. I presume these were fellow commuters as it was about 18:00.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Odo 2651

Now I'm going to explain what my last post was all about. The other day I rode over to the grocery store, locked up, went in. When I came out to the bike rack a lady was there locking up her bike. She had a Trek SU100, I believe. We said hello to each other and then she said, "Do you race on that thing?" Well I had to say with a smile, "No. I race to work, downtown, everyday." What followed was some short conversation where, as per her inquiry, I told her the best bike route to get downtown. But after I rode about a block I got to thinking what she said. I found myself talking to my bike. "Did you hear that? She called you a thing." Like Musette was some kind of wild bucking race horse or something. What later sunk in was that she asked me if I race. Musette is a low end, all steel Fuji Ace road bike of about 4 years in age, currently outfitted with fenders, a rack and panniers. To me this does not scream race bike. I see people riding road bikes all the time, everyday. It's a road bike, not race bike.  I guess what it all breaks down to is perception. Everyone's is different.