Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The four stages in a bike riding career

1) No other cyclist is allowed to pass you or even to linger in your slipstream. All are vanquished.

2) You can confidently hang with anyone else you see on the road, as long as they don't mind your drafting off of them

3) You realize the innate value in finding and maintaining your own personal pace on rides

4) Cyclists no longer blow past with an "on your left", but rather, slow down to say, "it's so nice that you still manage to ride!"

Friday, June 23, 2017

Smiling down on us from tube heaven

I installed this tube on my front wheel 2012 and during its 18,000 mile life, I invested an entire patch kit in it.  It was hard to say goodbye to it this morning when the valve stem tore open.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

And with luck there will still be some for my kids to inherit

Phil Wood grease, purchased from Ann Arbor Cyclery in about 1978.

I couldn't have imagined then that this mundane purchase, one of a thousand or so similarly forgettable items I must've also bought that year, would follow me around for 35 years and that in 2013 I'd still be using it to lube pedal threads.  (A bit less remarkably, I still have the Campagnolo Nuovo Record low-flange front hub that I got that same day, but it hasn't been ridden in years.  Lots more use out of the grease.)

I don't rebuild many hubs or headsets nowadays, so I don't pull this out of the tool bag very often and there's a good chance it will last me the rest of my life.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The King is dead! Long live the King!

Top photo:  Brooks B-17 Special saddle.  Installed March 1999, retired July 2013 (terminal tear in the metal nose).  36,500+ miles over 14 years of near-daily use.

Bottom photo:  Brooks B-17 Special saddle, installed July 2013.  (It's a good 3/4" shorter than the older saddle, which had stretched out over the years.)  Check back in 2027 for a performance comparison.

(I may yet try to have the original repaired.  The leather was still supple and strong.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Moscow bikesharing

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Moscow - which seems like a pretty treacherous city for cyclists - has a bike rental system.  This sign translates roughly to, "Map of parking locations", "Bike rental network of Moscow".

 The rack was well stocked -

but prospective customers might find the twisted metal to be a little off-putting -

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Stanley 1913 One-Hand Vacuum Insulation Bike Mug – first impressions of a thermos (finally!) made for bicycle water cages

Sometimes I find myself on ride that is only one cup of hot coffee short of perfection – maybe a sunny, cold, dry winter commute, or a fall neighborhood tour with the kids.  In pursuit of the elusive Perfect Ride I’ve been casting about on and off for years for a thermos that fits a standard water bottle cage.  It’s not an easy thing!  Most everything I encountered required either a custom cage, a handlebar mount, a lot of duct tape, or some other ugly jury-rigged compromise.  But recently I stumbled across the Stanley 1913 One-hand Vacuum Insulation Bike Mug.  I bought one and got my hands on it yesterday.  Here are my first impressions:

First off, it’s indented at just the right spot, and snaps into the bottle cage easily and firmly – no adjustments necessary.  The thermos body is all metal and quite durable, and looks as though it will be easy to clean.   (Which apparently you have to do by hand – “not dishwasher safe”.)  I expect that the smooth metal exterior will quickly become scratched and discolored by the cage, but I don’t mind a well-used look on a well-used thing.

The lid isn’t quite as finely tailored to a cyclist’s needs, though in fairness Stanley did seem to try, and I’m not sure they could have done better.  My favorite travel mugs have a little a reservoir in the lid that holds a bit of the hot coffee and lets you sip from it as it cools.  This lid has only a narrow opening that’s triggered by a pushbutton in the rear.  It’s – well, okay having to push the button.  The problem is that the narrow spout concentrates the hot liquid on one small spot on your lips and, if the coffee’s still hot from brewing, it’s painful. I don’t much care for this design but I get why Stanley did it this way – these thermoses are made to be used by moving cyclists, and a “dead-man’s lid” with no reservoir makes a certain sense.  When the bottle’s in the cage, it won’t leak at all.  And hot liquid won’t get spattered all about if a cyclist hits a bump or loses his grip on the thermos while drinking from it.

After 20 minutes the coffee’s probably cool enough to drink easily anyhow.

Finally, Stanley included a little “mud guard” on the lid, a little piece of plastic that covers the opening and keeps grit away.  To drink, you rotate it over to one side.  I’ll probably just leave this piece at home –  I’m not going to be taking the thermos off-road as it is, plus the piece is held to the lid by its own tension and it’s much too easy to imagine trying to twist it and instead causing it to pop off and spring away in an unknowable direction.

The thermos comes in three colors – black, silver and a weird bright blue they call “cobalt”.  You can find it on Amazon for $25-30.  I’ll report more on it after I’ve used it a bit.