Monday, September 20, 2010

haven't had anything to post

this blog is as much about me writing about cycling and sharing my love for it with my kids, but I've come to the realization that it takes a lot of effort and time to teach kids how to ride, and then finding the time to take them out.
living in the city doesn't allow for unsupervised rides around the block without a parent. perhaps I was spoiled by my childhood (but of course wouldn't of thought that when I was a kid) but I lived on a dead-end street that was full of kids riding around all day. we never thought of any potential dangers (in fact, there really weren't any. it was a time when you COULD allow your kids to go down the block and not worry about them).
but my kids for better or worse don't have that luxury. our street is a busy hill w/ frequent traffic, so our bike rides are by necessity, planned events. when it was 2 kids, we were able to put the bikes in the back of the car, go to a park or bike path and enjoy a ride. add a third kid to the mix and the dynamics are all  skewed. a bike rack for the car (or even a utility trailer!) will soon be an unavoidable purchase.
but we've made SOME progress. the little guy likes his bike seat (even falling asleep once, a sure sign of contentment), the middle one loves the trailer bike, and the oldest, well, riding is not his favorite pasttime. although he is a good bike handler, he invents fears as excuses not to want to ride (we're too close to the canal, what if i fall in, there's too many cars, etc)
hopefully we'll get out once or twice more before it gets too cold.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Railroad Bridge Over Canal

This is one of many interesting views from the Lehigh Canal path. If you like that sort of thing.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hidden waterfall

We managed to get out as a family today on a bike ride! Not an easy task. With the hills and traffic, it's not safe for the 10 year old, who is the only one to ride by himself; the 7 year old is on a trailer bike with me, and the baby is in a child seat with mom.
So me and the 7 year old rode down to the trailhead, and Mom brought the rest in the car.
Anyway, this is a waterfall/drainage from the Lehigh Canal into the Lehigh River. There is an ill-maintained paved trail running along it and you can see all kinds of ruins left over from Easton's canal and manufacturing days. Some of the canal has been restored, and there is a canal boat ride and locktenders house.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I believe it is DONE

You can see my new Salsa stem, 90 degree 11cm deal, I played with the spacers, raised it a little higher than I thought I would, but initial impressions is it's GREAT! The bike 'feels' fast (of course, it'll feel faster then when I'm towing) and it feels right.
I took this picture today in front of my friend's city brownstone downtown, and the lens on my blackberry was clean so it came out alright.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

this is our rig!

The little girl and I went for a good long ride tonight, on 'the rig'. It's really funny, these things- trailer bikes- have been around for YEARS, but most everyone has never seen one before (maybe since Wal*Mart doesn't have them?) so wherever we go, we literally stop traffic. We count how many "that's cool!" we get (tonight was more than 6).
I've had this trailerbike since my first child was about five, and now my second in 7 so it's her turn. In a few years, child #3 will have his turn, so I've really gotten my use out of it.
I'm trying to convince child #1 to follow us on his bike, but so far in his life he's only ridden on paths in the park, and it's no longer possible to pack everything up in the car to take them to the park. So he's going to have to overcome his fear of riding on the road and come with us.
Since he didn't go riding with us, he had to go for a walk with his Mom and baby brother (I think we had more fun).
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

the Surly Pacer is getting there!

Surly Pacer with flat bar
Surly flat bar detail
I have ordered the longer Salsa stem I wanted, a 90 degree 11cm steel unit. Should put my arms out where they need to be.
I took it out for a ride last night, and it is great! No hand or palm pain, the bike handles very well, and brakes are great with those levers! Now, I know I said earlier that there was some twitchy steering issues, but I think a lot of that is/was due to the trailer bike. I'm really liking this setup and am excited again about riding.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Free Spirit Ten Speed restoration project

I got this bike from someone in the community we had worked with getting some things done. He had it in college and hadn't ridden it in some time; I figure it's from the early '70s, America's First Bike Boom.
Free Spirit was the line of bikes marketed by Sears; they didn't make them; rather, like most everything else at Sears, was a rebadged item from someone else. In this case, this generation of bicycle was made in Austria by Puch. Not a high end frame, but a well built, industrial style (read: not clean welds) frame with alloy Shimano brakes, Suntour gears, and a forged Sugino crank. Good stuff.
This is going to be my vehicle to tow the trailer bike. Got some new tires on it now, and a new chain. Just need cables and we are good to go!
Suntour GT changer and Shimano 5 speed freewheel
Free Spirit bars

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

so who is the secret follower???

Noticed that my blogger dashboard says 2 followers, but only one is showing. Blogger quirk? or is there a lurker here?

Stem is Too Short

I mentioned ealier that I think the 9cm Salsa road stem I've been using with the mustache bar would be too short with a straight bar.
I was right.
It's not so apparent just cruising around, but it is a real concern going down hill and braking; I got the distinct feeling of falling over the front of the bicycle! The bars are too tucked in under me and my arm angle is too acute, like 80 degrees I'd imagine.
Steering too is a bit quirky. A longer stem will slow that down a bit.
SO I'm planning on trying a 11cm Salsa 90 degree. I like the look of a 90 degree stem and this'll stretch me out a bit longer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

new handlebar setup sideview

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry, so that's why each picture is a separate post. Anyway, you'll see I'm running a Salsa road stem upside down to get it parallel with the top tube. The levers are the way I usually set them up, at about 45 degrees. I still have a few spacers over the stem, since it allows me to play with the height (measure twice, cut once!)

view from the top

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry, hence the crappy picture. It's not that appranent, but the handlebar ends flare forwards, which (I think) will put my hands in a more natural position. We'll see; easy enough to change. Cables are long right now, until I get the position all settled.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Cockpit

Pictures soon to follow.
Got my new setup installed, cables still need to be cut and brakes fine tuned, but initial impressions seem good. stem is short, yes, but the angle of my arms and back seems correct. remember the bar is a vintage Answer hyperlite. its a 3 degree version; I actually mounted it reversed. the reason being it more closely matches how my wrists are angled normally. looks a little odd, but comfort is the plan here, aesthetics second.
I removed the trailer bike hitch mount from the seatpost as well. I won't be using this bike anymore for trailering duties. we have a new to me vintage early 90's Diamondback mountain bike for that. I ripped off the derailluers and am running it singlespeed (budget version, kept the 6 speed freewheel and triple crank) and installed some fat Electra townie tires.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Making Some Changes

bicycle mechanics are an odd lot. They have very specific ideas about what they want in a bike, what is good and what is not, and what they will ride themselves. They like real steel, Brooks saddles, and friction shifters. More often than not, they will attempt to arrive at cycling nirvana: The Bicycle That Does Everything.
This is my (latest) attempt:
This is my Surly Pacer. You can read about it here. My setup is a little vintage, a good bit practical and very capable. The wheels are cyclocross inspired, w/ a vintage black Deore XT front hub, and a parralax Deore LX rear hub that was rescued from the recycle bin. Same for the rear derailluer. Rims are Salsa Delgado X, spokes are DT, XL15 IIRC. I built them myself some years ago.
Crank is Campagnolo Veloce, front derailluer is a Suntour Cyclone. Suntour always made the best front changers I don't care what you say. Brakes are Campagnolo something; they are the same shape as the original Chrorus binders from the early '90's, but tricled down to a lower price point. They look cool.
Now for the changes. The handlebar in the picture is a Nitto Mustache, the original one that was spec'd for Bridgestone back in the day. Well, it has to go. I really like the IDEA of the non-standard bar choice, but my hands just aren't lovin it no more. I'm getting a pretty sever pain in my palms from riding lately, so instead of stopping riding, I'm going to try some different things. First try will be a straight bar. I have a vintage early '90's Answer Hyperlite bar that I ran on some mountain bikes back in the day. I ordered some Paul's Thumbies from Genesis Bicycles so I can run my Shimano bar end shifters on the straight bar, and some basic Shimano brake levers.
I might have to get a longer stem, since the Salsa I'm running w/ the Mustache is only a 9cm. But you have to start somewhere.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today was not a good day

That's the way my daughter, the seven year old Drama Queen, talks. Today's attempt at learnig how to ride her bicycle was punctuated by screaming, frustration, bike throwing and crying. And no, not from me.
She has a problem with the 'wobbling'. And she refuses to learn MY way (the way we all learned, by Dad holding us up and then gently pushing us on our way). She would rather push along herself, thinking she can then start pedaling.
Not working out so well.
Oh well, tomorrow's another day.

Should have started documenting this sooner

From my earliest memories I've always ridden a bicycle. Around five years old I remember trying to teach myself how to balance. I was in the garage, sitting on my bicycle, leaning against the wall. I think I pulled it off but the rest is fuzzy; I just know that I was soon riding up and down and all over our dead-end block.
Things seemed safer back then. you would ride and ride all day, jumping stuff, skidding (skids were ALWAYS a highlight of my cycling life) and only coming home when you heard your Dad's unmistakable whistle.
Bicycle riding, or cycling (I don't like the word 'biking', just sounds silly) is a wonderful catalyst for a memorable childhood. I remember, it seems, every experience I've ever had on two wheels.
It occurred to me to start writing about some of it while I'm in the midst of teaching my own children how to ride. Things so far haven't gone as smoothly as I planned or expected but it has been and continues to be an experience that I savor.
So come along as I explore my creative writing bit and save these ideas for when my own kids are raising their own wheels.