Thursday, December 22, 2011

ROTD - Runway Runaway.

As I flew into Seattle a few weeks ago I noticed some neighborhoods near the runway and thought it might be interesting to watch planes land.  As it turns out you can get right up under the end of the runway, on a little road, with a bike lane and multi-use trail.  But it was pretty freaking cold.  It only got up to the low 40's.  There was frost in some of the long shadows.  I had to stop in a coffee shop just to warm up my toes.  At least it was sunny.  Happy Solstice.  Days only getting longer now.

Distance - 25.06 miles
Time - 2:28:31
Average Speed - 10.44 mph
Max Speed - 35.02
Odo - 4,483 (15,815) miles

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Studded Snow Tires

With La Nina coming back our chances are even greater of getting snow, again, this year.  I've been debating the idea of investing in some studded snow tires but always tossed it out because there only about 2 weeks of the year that I would actually use them.  This year I even went so far as to ask a LBS about some.  I'm running 32's right now with a nice comfortable amount of space between them and the fenders.  Almost all 700 size tires with snow studs are 35 and larger.  That's when the shop owner mentioned making my own.  Hmmmmmmmm.  I was running a 700x25 up front and a 28 in the back.  I still have thoooooose.  The smaller size would leave just enough space for the studs.

So I googled it.  Now the first thing I come across is the zip tie method.  OK this may be all fine and dandy if you have a fixed gear or a bike with disc brakes but I do not and my cantilevers are not going to work with those.

Second method uses sheet metal screws and I've seen two versions of this.  Version "A" involves inserting the screws from the inside of the tire so the sharp points are sticking out.  In version "B" the screws are hex head and installed from the outside.  This appears to work best if you have knobby tires.  The screws are driven into the knobs.  I rejected this because any piercing the inside of the tire had to be ground off.

The third method uses pop rivets.  I liked this method because the pop rivets look most like studs on commercially sold bicycle snow tires.  Holes  are drilled (<--What?!) and the rivets are inserted from the inside with a washer on the outside.  (Actually it is probably best to use an awl and pierce the tire between the cords as opposed to drilling through them.)  Something is still needed to prevent the rivets from wearing on the tube such as another tube or a tire liner.  I used the Mr Tuffy strips that I already own. 

I'm not riding with knobby tires and my tires worked fine for the amount of snow we get here.  It's the ice that gave me the most problems.  We'll see this winter if this works or not.  If it does, I just saved about $65.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Also another little note to self.  When installing brake cables do not put a ferrule (end cap) on the cable housing that is being inserted into the brake lever assembly.  According to the LBS the cable can work it's way out over time because of this.  I'm assuming they mean work it's way out of the ferrule.  I don't really see how that is possible but OK, next time I do this I'll leave the ferrule out.
The clicking noise came back in my right pedal.  It was nice and tight on the crank so I began to think it might be something inside.  So I went crazy and took it all apart.  Ball bearings, the works.  Shimano PD 324 Pedal Assembly.  Re-assembled and greased.  Now what I didn't know is that there is a lock nut that holds the cone nut in place and it's very difficult to hold the cone nut while tightening the lock nut.  I've seen a special tool that Shimano sells for this but it's more then the pedals themselves!!  The right pedal was fine but the left one kept tightening (cone nut kept tightening) while I rode.  I figure this is due to the rotation of the pedal on the left side being opposite of the right.  As I pedal the cone nut, not being locked down, is tightening against the bearings.  The right side only tightens against the lock nut.  So I rode down to my LBS, thinking they would have the tool, only to find out they claim there is no such tool and that you just need to jam a flat head screwdriver in there to hold the slightly larger cone nut while tightening the smaller lock nut with a socket.  Well, I had already tried that, but I don't have the nice vice to hold the pedal still in the process so I coughed up 20 bucks and had them do it.  I figure it's 20 bucks for a little more knowledge and I'm posting it here so I don't forget.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tire Liner Flat

I've been using tire liners like Mr Tuffy and Stop Flats for years.  About 5 years ago I was talking to an employee at a LBS and he mentioned that they don't like using tire liners because they tend to wear a hole in the tube where the liner ends overlap.  I never had a problem with this a thought it was complete BS until about two weeks ago when it actually happened to me.  Clearly you can see the wear, on the tube, in the shape of the overlapping tire liner end.  They, Mr Tuffy & Stop Flats, even have this problem listed on their FAQ's pages.  (FAQ's pages which happen to be almost identical which leads me to believe that they are, in fact, the same company.)  Quoted from their pages -
"Q  I've read in some reviews that STOP Flats will wear a hole in my tube where it overlaps. Is that true?
A  We've read that as well, and there is some evidence that it's possible. In the early days, STOP Flats2 tire liners were trimmed by hand. Once the volume of sales was measured in millions rather than hundreds, we had a special precision cutting machine developed that uniformly trims the liners to the exact size and shape needed for maximum effectiveness. It is unlikely that the overlap causes punctures using the current STOP Flats product. It is possible that another brand of tire liner. especially the hard plastic ones is the true culprits in many cases.

Dealers have told us that they grind or file down STOP Flats2's end edges and they apply talc to the inside of the tire before installation. This advice seems to make this particular problem disappear.
"  -Exactly the same on the Mr Tuffy site.  Just insert Mr Tuffy wherever you see STOP Flats.
Personally I believe this is a problem with lower pressure tires, like the one's I'm running now.  I never had this problem with the higher pressure/lower volume tires I used to run.  Is the lower pressure allowing the tire, liner and tube to flex more causing the rubbing/wearing on the tube?  I don't know for sure but my personal belief is yes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Clicking noise

This last week I had three morning shifts.  I've been noticing this little clicking noise for many months now.  I thought it was my crank arm just tapping the derailleur as it came around (my bottom bracket spindle could really stand to be a few mm wider).  However I recently observed that this is not the case.  The clicking noise would happen as my right pedal came up just past bottom dead center but only under slight load.  It would not make this noise up on the rack so the only time I could hear it was when I was riding which made it hard to pin point.  So each day, after I got home, I would tackle something new on the quest.

First day I put the bike up on the rack and noticed that if I flexed the aluminum fender slight to the right and left it made a clicking sound.  It's a sturdy fender and it has 5 attachments to the bike/rear rack including one bolt, down low near the bottom bracket.  "Could there be that much frame flex, under load so as to move the fender enough for this to be the problem?" thought I.  So I removed the rear wheel and kickstand, loosened the bolt, nut, and all the aluminum spacers, washers and leather washers I have in this area and re-tightened.  No noise upon flexing the fender.

Day 2, noise still there.  Grrr.  Upon this day I removed the cranks, made sure there was no grease where there was not supposed to be and grease where there IS supposed to be.  Got out the torque wrench and reinstalled to the correct torque.

Day 3, noise still there.  Gah!  OK, right hand crank coming off again.  All the tiny bolts coming off and the chain rings are coming apart, reassembled with removable threadlocker.  Crank reinstalled and torqued again.  Tried to remove the bottom bracket but it was in so tight and looked so good I held off.

Day 4, noise still there.  What the F?  Somewhere in my bicycle repair book I noticed a torque spec for the pedal to crank arms.  "Bing!"  Pulled out the pedal wrench and tightened the pedals.  This took all of TWO minutes.

PROBLEM SOLVED!!!  START WITH THE SIMPLE STUFF.  I had been switching pedals, off and on, throughout the winter depending on weather I felt like wearing warmer shoes or my clipless bike shoes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Cascade Bicycle Club

I joined Cascade Bicycle Club the other night after the incident with the Seattle Police officer.  I never really saw a reason to join before but now I want to support them in all their education and advocacy.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Replaced the chain today. 
Odo - 2,942 (14,274)

New Bar Wrap - Tsukamaki "Style"

Newbaum's cotton cloth bar tape, orange and white Tsukamaki style over blue base color. After about 8 coats of shellac. The orange is now almost a match for the bike and the white is a little darker then the Hillborne decals but I'm fine with it.
See more photos here -

Friday, May 27, 2011

Seattle Police Officer doesn't know the law.

On my way home last night I was pulled over by one of "Seattle's Finest".  I had just rode up a hill on Yancy and came to a stop at Avalon, ready to make a left.  Avalon is arterial and Yancy is a side street.  The speed here on Avalon is, at most 30 mph.
There is a stop sign for Yancy.  I came to a full stop.  I even put my foot down and waited for two cars, to my left, traveling Northbound on Avalon.  To my right was a line of widely spaced cars moving South on Avalon.  My goal is to make a left in one of those gaps.  All the cars to my left have passed and I start to move, slowly across the street, pausing slightly in the middle turn lane for my chance.  The car in front of the gap I'm shooting for slows down to make a right, thus closing the gap somewhat but I'm already committed, relying on the courtesy of the next driver, the fact that said driver has to also slow for the car making the turn, and that I'm in a crosswalk.  The next car happens to be a Seattle Police patrol.  I make my turn in front of him, so now we are traveling in the same direction but I'm pulled so far to the side of the road that you could fit another car in between us.  At this point the cop chirps his siren at me.  What the Frak?!  I look over and he's point for me to pull over.  OK, I pull over, on to the sidewalk.  He pulls over, next to me, and rolls down the window.

Cop - "Stop signs apply to you too."
Me - "I did stop!"  He was to far down the road to even see me when I was stopped!
Cop - "You need to yield to traffic.  I had to apply my brakes to let keep from hitting you."
A) He wouldn't have hit me even if he didn't apply his brakes.  He was only moving at about 25 mph and there was still plenty of space for me to get across.  I'm so sorry you had to slow down from 25 to 20.  Where's the courtesy?!
B) He had to apply his brakes in the first place to let the car in front of him turn right!
C) I'm in an unmarked crosswalk and he should have come to a complete stop, as well as the car in front of him, to let me pass anyway!
Me - "And I was in a crosswalk!"  Arm extended, pointing at the crosswalk.  There are even ramps here for wheelchairs to cross and little buckets with flags for pedestrians to carry while crossing.
Cop - "Crosswalk don't apply to you!"
Cop - "If you're riding in the street you need to abide by all the rules as motor traffic."  So are you telling me that if I had stopped, got off my bicycle and walked across the street regardless of how much traffic there was, you would have had to stop for me?
Me - "OKAY OFFICER"  In my gut I knew this wasn't right.
The cop then rolled up his window and rode away and I continued my ride home.  The same ride.  The same route I take everyday I work for five years now.

So I looked up the Seattle Department of Transportation Bicycle Code (SDOT Bicycle code) online and, as it turns out, this officer is wrong.  He either doesn't know the law or told me a flat out lie!
Section 11.44.100 RIGHT-OF-WAY IN CROSSWALK.  A person operating a bicycle across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances, . . .

Then I found this in the SDOT Pedestrian Laws -
RCW 46.04.160
"Crosswalk" means the portion of the roadway between the intersection area and a prolongation or connection of the farthest sidewalk line or in the event there are no sidewalks then between the intersection area and a line ten feet therefrom, except as modified by a marked crosswalk.

RCW 46.61.235
(1) The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this section "half of the roadway" means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

2800 (14,132) miles on the odometer.  Just 200 miles to attain my goal of 3000 for the year (3000 on the Hillborne) and 2 months left to do it.  That will be easy as I roll out 50+ miles a week just riding to work.  Nearly 1500 miles now on the wheels I hand built with no problems.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


On my way home today some people pulled up in a car next to me.  I heard the window roll down followed by an "Excuse me."  This used to always result in the next question being something like, "Do you know where blah blah blah is?" or "How do I get to blah blah?" which 50% of the time results in my reply of "I don't know."  Lately, however, I've been getting many more comments on the bike and quite often the bags.  Such was the case today.
Lady in car (passenger), "Those are beautiful bags.  Where did you get them?"
Me, "Thanks, I made them."
Passenger, "Oh great work!  Do you sell them?"
This has been a item running through my mind quite a bit lately.
Me, "Not yet."
Passenger, "Oh well you should!"
Has the light changed yet?  Has the bus in front of me started to move yet?  Nope.  Gears turning in my brain.  Look back.  Window is rolled up.  Hmm.  Window rolls down again.
Me, "If I could sew them up on a sewing machine I might.  I hand stitched these."  Hand stitching - very cool for personal hobbies, too time consuming to make money.
Passenger, "Did you do the raised pattern on them too?"
Me, Of course I did!  I just told you I made them.  I did it all.  I did it from scratch. "Yes."
Light green, bus moving, end of story.

I've posted many pictures of my bike and the bags on Flickr to share with friends and recently many of the bicycle groups.  There I've also received many comments on the bags.

Flickr Person A - These are the most gorgeous bag I've ever seen! 

Flickr Person B - gorgeous bag! where did you buy it?  
Me - I made it myself, thank you. 
Flickr Person B - excellent! do you sell them? I'd love to get one for my husband! 
Me - Sorry. At this point in time I'm not making them to sell. But if I ever do I'll let you know. Thanks again for the compliments.  
Flickr Person B - :^(  well, if and when you do, let me know! what a great present they would make for my husband :^) 

In addition many more people have bookmarked photos of my bags as favorites, on Flickr and yet another person, whom I just met while out riding, went so far as to blog about them -

Now the question remains, can I make enough money producing these bags to justify the time put into them plus supplies?  If I cut many of the details and produced them on a sewing machine I believe I could.  From what I recall supplies for my saddlebags (panniers) ran somewhere between $100 to $130.  That's leather, dye, and hardware.  This particular bag - is currently selling for $347.00.  It's close to the dimensions of 1/2 my saddlebags.  Here's a Brooks Challenge Tool Bag -  It currently sells for 60 English Pounds.  I've seen them.  There not much larger then an eyeglass case.  I could easily produce this with the scrap from the saddlebags. 

I have a friend, a co-worker and cycle buddy, who is currently in taking courses at the New York Fashion Academy here in Seattle.  In fact this Saturday is sort of a final for him, a fashion show with his work.  I may pick his brain a little about sewing machines and leather.  Also I know he was working on some clothing for cyclists and also produced a musette bag.  Who knows, maybe we'll start something together.  This is all just food for thought.  It might go somewhere with it and I might not.
Twenty four miles of riding today, all to and from work.

First was the ride in to work at 9am.  This was supposed to be a nice simple commute with the wind at my back but the truckers were pissing me off.  Not waiting at the bike crossings, cutting me off.  One driver totally rolled a stop making a left right in front of me. 
(Me) (Waving arm) "Hey H E L L O!!!"
(Truck driver) Finally makes eye contact with me and shows no sign of empathy/apology.
(Me) (Waving arm turns to middle finger) "Fuck you bitch!"

We were cut out from work for about two and a half hours between shifts so thus begins ride 2, home for an hour.  Uneventful.  Headwind but I can look forward to the next trip back to work with the wind at my back, riiiiiiiiiight?

Nope.  A storm blows in from the Northwest shifting the wind back into my face.  Then I had to sit and wait for a train.  Usually I ride up past the end of the tracks but today there is a construction detour routing me right across them.  Apparently this is the time everyone is commuting home by bike for there are cyclists everywhere.  One compliment on my "rig".

At 10pm, the fourth and final ride of the day is the best.  It's Wednesday night and there is little traffic.  The rain has stopped.  I'm warm enough even though I've been hearing about sightings of snow all day.  It's almost a dead calm.  I'm full of energy and I slip into a wonderful cadence and all around me is this dramatic soundtrack of distance sirens, train whistles, the purr of my drive train, and a slight sloppy sound of my tires on the wet asphalt.  But the best part was the lone guy playing, what sounded like an old western soundtrack, on the trumpet, under the viaduct.  That made my night.

Odo 2500 (13,832)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Leather Paint

I was at the leather store, picking up some grommets and I happened across some orange acrylic leather paint that is a near perfect match for the Sam Hillborne's paint so the trim on my leather bags got a little work.
See more -

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Tires

Finally wore out the Schwalbe's.  Tread worn down to the puncture resistant layer.  I only blew 30 bucks a tire this time.  Picked up a pair of Michelin City in 700 x 32.  That's only 5mm larger then my last set of tires but could it be that easy?  No.  Could I just switch out the tires?  No.  That 5mm was too much for the rear fender in it's current adjustment.  This means I had to walk over to the hardware store and pick up some smaller spacers and bolts.  A one hour job became 2-3.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Post Chilly Hilly 2011

I have been taking the bus to work since Chilly Hilly because of this damn cold but as a side note my knee feels completely normal already.  :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Chilly Hilly 2011

Well I made it again.  Chilly Hilly really lived up to it's name.  Freezing rain, sleet, snow, wind.  Fortunately this didn't really set in until the last 1/3 of the ride.  I'm glad I took the early (7:55) ferry.  Everyone loved my bike.  Not 10 minutes went by that someone didn't comment on it. I took this years Chilly Hilly nice and easy. 

The left knee started acting up again after only about 1/3 of the ride.  I just read over all my posts following last years Chilly Hilly up to and a little following STP and I believe the knee pain is due to lack of use.  I don't do a lot of long rides in the Winter.  Mostly just to work and back and the occasional 20 miler.  I'm 90% certain the knee needs to be conditioned to longer rides or hilly rides.  However this could also be because my cranks are 5mm longer now.  There's only one way to find out.  Start riding.  It looks like most of my pain resolved itself after about a month last year so I'll start easing in some 20 mile rides and then a 30 and a 40.  I'm not training for STP so I don't need to do as much.

On the down side I caught a nasty cold.  I had to work the night before Chilly Hilly so I only got about 6 hours of sleep, then got up and did the ride in the 30 degree weather, then headed over to Pyramid Brewery for my free beer, then home where I took a shower and a nap.  When I woke up I felt miserable.  I think I just beat up my immune system too much.

I don't know what my ride time for the actual route was since my new computer only has one tripodometer but I got the stats for the entire ride from my house and back.

Distance 44.78 miles
Average speed 10.58 mph
Time 4:13:56

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Deore/Mega range

I just upgraded from the 7 to the 8 speed rear cassette.  The rear cassette is a "Mega range" 11t-34t.  I can climb up walls with this thing.  Although the 34 tooth rear cog is to large for the old Sora derailleur so that was also upgraded.  My buddies at Velo Bike Shop suggested a Shimano Deore.  Looks good, works good.  Didn't break the bank.  Chain had to be lengthened. 

I also had Peter White ship a longer wire for my lights, specifically from the headlight to the tail.  Now it's routed the way I had originally planned, under the downtube, drive side chainstay and fenderstay.  Much cleaner look.

Chilly Hilly is the day after tomorrow. 

Odo - 2170 (13,502)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Grand Cru 50.4bcd Crankset

The new cranks came in yesterday.  This is the Grand Cru 50.4bcd Crankset from Velo Orange.  As stated on their website "Classic 50.4 BCD cranks, like the TA, Stronglight 49D, and others are still sought after by randonneurs and cyclo-tourists. These cranks offer tremendous versatility (chain rings from 26t to 62t fit). They are also light and have very narrow Q-factors, or tread.

While the new Grand Cru crank looks like the classics, we have made several important improvements. They are cold forged 7075 aluminum alloy. The rings are thicker so they don't flex as on classic cranks. The BB taper and all threading is common sizes, no need for special tools and BBs. The rings have modern shifting aids so shifting performance is much improved

The look is classic.  The shifting is nice.  The Q-factor is damn low.  I jumped up the bottom bracket from 116mm to 118 plus a spacer on the drive side.  I probably should have went with a bottom bracket around 122mm.  In the highest gear the chain ever so slightly rubs on the chain ring derailleur but I cannot adjust it anymore because the drive side crank arm just barely misses the derailleur.  But it all works and the chain line looks pretty good. 

The crank came with 46t and 30t rings.  I've dropped from a triple to a double thus my bike is now a 14 speed instead of a 21 speed.  I was having a problem where I could only use the two lowest gears, on the rear cassette, while in the small chain ring which was a 28t.  I suspect there wasn't enough tension on the chain due to the rear derailleur not being able to handle the range/take up the slack.  Now in the 30t I'm able to reach more of the middle gears (probably all the gears) with no problems.  It's likely that without the big 52t chain ring I can shorten up the chain.  But everything is working fine now so I'll cross that bridge when I replace the chain.  It's almost due. 

Also I jumped the crank length up from 170mm to 175.  I'm not sure if I notice any difference in this yet except for the fact that the seat needed to be lowered 5mm.

Soon I'll start looking at 8 speed rear cassettes turning this bike into a 16 speed, hill climbing beast.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Chilly Hilly 2011

Just signed up for Chilly Hilly again.  Toyed around with the idea of the High Pass Challenge but decided I'll give Flying Wheels a try first.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


I took a slightly different route to get my allergy shot today.  I followed a route recommended by google maps.  I don't know who at google thought that was a good bike route because there was a SERIOUS hill in the middle of it.  16% grade.  I liked it though and it was a great sunny day for it.
Here's the route -

Monday, January 31, 2011

Odo 1962 (13,294)

From now on I'm keeping track of my mileage in this format.  The first number being the total miles in the Sam Hillborne and the second being the total number of miles rode since I started keeping track.

Crank Length

According to this guy's formula - - I should be pushing 190mm cranks!  Check out his site.  What he's saying makes perfect sense.  Currently I'm running the bicycle "standard" 170mm.  It's pretty hard to find 190mm cranks, especially in a style crank you might like.  I've had my eye on the Grand Cru 50.4bcd Crankset from VO Imports for some time now, in fact my order just got shipped today.  A modern version of a classic crank.  I made the jump to 175mm, the largest size they come in.  As it is, with the bottom bracket on my Sam as low as it is, I cannot pedal through sharp corners or my pedal will bottom out on the pavement so I don't think a 190mm crank would be very beneficial anyway.  I'm very curious to see if 175mm makes my pedaling more efficient and affects my knees in any good or bad ways or if I even notice a difference.

I'm dropping from a triple to a double.  The large chain ring being a 46.  Currently my big ring is a 52 and my middle ring is a 46 so my top speed will be dropped a bit.  I really only use the 52 on steep downhills.  In the long run I may jump up the big ring to a 48.  The small chain ring is a 30 instead of a 28.  This is a very slight difference when it comes to my lowest gear, slightly harder, but again, eventually I will jump my rear cassette from a 7 speed 12 - 28 to a 8 speed in something like a 13 - 32/34 making it actually easier to hill climb.  Thus, in the long run, I should have a wider range of gears then I do now.  It might also mean the rear derailleur will have to be replaced to pick up the chain slack.  I will probably need a new bottom bracket to fit the new crank.   The current one has 13,000 miles on it anyway.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Seattle Rivendell Ride

Yesterday I got together with about 7 other Rivendell owners for a ride around Seattle.  Great group, great bikes, great weather (except for the cold, 30's).  I logged 41 miles in all.  My knees are sore.  The soreness like after the first day of STP.  I guess I need to ride more, get my legs back in shape. 

We rode past an interesting place along the South side of the ship canal, between the 15th Ave Bridge and the Ballard Locks.  I think it was called Fisherman's Terminal.  I've never seen so many fishing boats in one place.  With the noon sun and the reflections in the still water it looked like a great place for some photography so I'll have to get back there.