Category Archives: Bicycle Parts

Vegans Rule

Sticking with the theme of sharing old news (does it sound better if I call it aged or vintage?), I just finished watching the Food Network Challenge Donut Edition and Sara Beth Russert from Mighty-O took home the prize!  Not surprised in the least.  Those folks know what they are doing.  I always pick up a couple when I am in Seattle.  It has officially been way too long.

This reminds me that Chloe Coscarelli brought home the win for team vegan in the 2010 Cupcake Wars.  A positive trend.  Can’t wait until they do a chocolate challenge and invite Lagusta or a macaroon challenge and invite Samantha and Ian.  Love to see our team win two more!  Go vegan!

Rollers this morning.  It had been weeks since I have turned a pedal so I worked in my easiest gear and was happy to make the pins spin for 30 minutes.  Quick shower then a dog walk.  Hating that winter temps are here (only 18 degrees just now).

Wanted to warm up so I cranked the oven to 450 and tossed in an eggplant and garlic cloves and ended up with a great baba ganouj from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.  Nice roasty and lemony flavors.  I’ve mentioned this cookbook before, but it bears repeating.  No funny business in this one.  Donna Klein includes only reliable recipes that are historically vegan.  All I have tried are impressive.

While the eggplant was roasting, and knowing that the food processor was going to get dirty, I whipped up a batch of mushroom paté from Veganomicon.  Discovered this a few months back and I’m already on my fourth or fifth batch. The stuff just rocks.  Brought the last batch to my inlaws (Brooklyn Jews) and they went nuts for it (I pitched it as mock chopped liver).  They hadn’t had the liver version in years and said the mock version they grew up with was made with green beans.  No reason that couldn’t be good, but I am happy to have discovered the recipe with mushrooms, walnuts and onions.  We ate half and as we were leaving I asked if they wanted to keep the leftovers (they usually send home with us everything vegan they bought for us and everything we brought).  ABSOLUTELY!  Now that’s a compliment.  Thanks Veganomicon!  Might be a little depressing if I served these two together, so I won’t.  One gray mushy element on a plate is enough.

Of course the last parts needed to make the Rivendell Road rideable arrive today (the first day of the year with a high temp lower than the lowest temp at which I voluntarily pedal).  Should be nicer my Thursday, though.  Anticipation!


Just OverDo It

I’ve been in love with bicycles all of my life.  I was born at a time when kids were allowed to pedal all over creation (without helmets) and I did just that on my Schwinn Bantam.  Always bugged me that it was a step through bike with a bolt on top tube.  Was I riding a “girl’s bike?”  I didn’t have to worry about it too long, though, as it was stolen from school one day.  

In elementary school I’d pedal to the homes of friends or to the woods to fly off of dirt ramps on my Redline Proline with Bullseye hubs, Redline Vee Bars and a Tuff Neck stem (which was supposed to be red but I begrudgingly accepted in blue and regretted it every time I caught a glimpse of it under the red pad).  I’m skipping over the Ashtabula BMXer.  No pictures of that reliable tank.  

In junior high I’d pedal in the country and once, over the summer between  junior high and high school, I pedaled with a friend to a local lake and spent the night on my Schwinn Super Le Tour II.  That’s me in front with the Bell Biker helmet.  My friend’s mom took that shot from her porch.  How many parents would let this happen today?  I was so lucky to be born when I was.

In high school I’d ride all over town and the local countryside.  Summer were so hot I’d wait until midnight to ride downtown and do laps around the one ways pretending I was a criterium racer.  I had a fixed gear wheel built for me and often rode brakeless on the green frame in the foreground.  Found that frame in the garbage.  Maker unknown.  The shed was my work shop.  I’d sometimes sleep in there during nice weather.  

In college I’d pedal to school through the winter, snow and ice be damned, on my still trusty Cannondale SM 600.  Road stem placed the bars a little lower than the saddle, but I was young and flexible and thought it looked so cool!

During law school I’d pedal to a park on my Faggin racer and do one, two or three six-mile laps for exercise.  How many kids shipped their Park repair stand to school?

During law school I saved a Rollfast from the garbage and brought it into my small dorm room bringing my collection to three.  It needed only tires, a stem and bars, but I needed frequent breaks from the tedium of reading cases.  I rode it over the Williamsburg Bridge once.  Passed it along by riding it in circles in Washington Square Park with a sign asking for $40.  An Italian couple bought it within 30 minutes.

Next came a decade of putting my Bridgestone XO-1 on my car to travel to rail to trail routes on the weekends.  Easily the worst haircut of my life, but I was doing my best to hide my true self from my colleagues in the law office.

Now I am in a decade of transportation bicycling.  Transportation in a broad sense–from grocery getting to getting out of the city.  I ride too many different bicycles to list but from time to time talk about them here.

All the while I have been staring at bicycles.  Just yesterday Lacey found me sitting on a bench staring at the Rivendell Road.  I was there for nearly 30 minutes before she shook me out of the trance.  I almost always find something that is out of adjustment or alignment.  When bicycles are mine or I am given permission, I pick up a tool and try to right what is wrong.  I started collecting proper bicycle tools and parts in high school and get a couple more each year.  A Park three way hex wrench was my first and I still use it more days than not.  When everything is just right, I can relax and enjoy their beauty.  I think about the hands that touched the frame and parts to bring them into being and into my care.

I read everything I can find about bicycling.  Transcontinental explorers, racers, trick riders, equipment designers and manufacturers, safety experts and anything else with the word bicycle in it draws me in.  My google page gives me all the news stories containing the word bicycle.  My Tivo records all programs with the word bicycle in the description.

I collect bicycles and parts.  Some days I feel like a preservationist.  Other days a hoarder.  North of 30 complete bicycles and boxes of parts fill a room of our home.  I want to have less but I rarely take steps to make that happen.  It isn’t really a problem.  The bicycles and parts are all well cared for and stored safely and in an orderly fashion, but I will never forget a bit from the documentary I Am–that certain native Americans called it mental illness to keep more than you need.  I agree and want to shake the sickness.

Against this background, and here finally is the point of this post, I am surprised at how little I pedal.  That is what bicycles are all about, and I am surrounded by wonderful well-tuned examples, but I can go for days without throwing a leg over one.  Might be work getting in the way.  It might be weather.  Whatever.

Even when I pedal every day, I don’t pedal far.  These days I pick routes and destinations that take me to my goals (shopping, banking, shipping or socializing) and back safely and more or less directly.  When I pedal in the country for fun or fitness, the rides rarely exceed 15 miles.  Just once since I have lived in our current home city I pedaled 75 miles in a day (to Saratoga Springs and back–to a Bright Eyes concert).  Before that my longest ride was in high school.  I recalled it was 75 miles as well, but I just mapped it and it was closer to 100 miles.  I am surprised.  I honestly thought 75 miles was the furthest I had ever gone in a go.

Why so many bicyclists, even those new to the sport, pile on huge miles has always been a mystery to me.  How do they enjoy doing one thing for so many hours?  Don’t they have other things they also want or need to do?  Don’t they worry about wearing out their joints?  Don’t they worry about increasing their exposure to the dangers of the road?  Do they ever consider that most really long rides are voluntary and that the production, distribution and preparation of the food they need to make it happen has an impact on our planet?  Does media and peer pressure have anything to do with it?  Are Americans especially good at overdoing things?

Am I the only one who asks these questions?  Obviously we have different bodies, schedules, goals and concerns, and of course we are all free to do what we will, but sometimes I feel like the only bicycle fanatic that values and practices moderation when it comes to time in the saddle.  Am I alone?

I love rolling in the country and sometimes pushing hard on the pedals.  Balancing on two wheels makes me laugh each time I notice it happening.   Taking in lungfuls of clean air feels terrific.  Endorphin highs are as good as any other (and better than most).  Experiencing new things from atop a bicycle is a joy without equal.  Still, I love my family and they don’t often want to pedal as much as I might.  They let me pedal without them, and I do, but I always want to get back.

I have a job that affords me food, shelter and recreation and I need and want to be available to my clients.  As such, I think about the dangers of the road.  I accept the risks of some time on the road, but why push my luck?

Then I worry about my parts.  As much as I marvel at and care for well made bicycle parts, I marvel at and care for my parts.  I think about my knees, hips and nerves in my hands and between my legs.  I’d like to finish this life long journey on my bike with my original parts in good working order.  Unlike bicycle parts, our parts can sometimes repair themselves if given time.  Overuse makes this less likely.  Some folks can hammer hard their entire lives without ill-effects.  Good genes.  I am not one of these people.  I feel aches and pains when I use my parts too much or push them to hard.  Lighten the load and the pains go away (for now, anyway).

Then there is veganism.  I have no idea what a decade of veganism has done for or to my life as a bicyclist.  I can’t compare how I feel today to how I felt a decade ago.  Not only do I not remember, I am aging.  All I know is I feel good.  My weight is reasonable.  I have muscles and energy enough for pedaling to get groceries and mowing my lawn.  I read blog posts about pedaling and diet and feel more alone than ever.  Seems to be either meat, meat and more meat or vegetarians pushing themselves past epic and back.  In the end, it sounds like a whole lot of  eating animals and/or plants to fuel rides to nowhere.  I wonder if running that much fuel through a body is tough on it.  Do cells get tired of processing energy?  Where does all the food come from?  Where does all the extra poop go?  All I can do is drop a comment that maybe one could consider pedaling less.  The comment is ignored.  Isolating, I tell you.

I am not preaching.  I might want to, some, if my hands were clean, but they are not.  I drive cars.  I fly on planes.  I overeat.  I digitally beckon bicycles and parts and other things from all over the world to show up at my door  and show up they do.  Way in excess of what I need or even want.

I have only a vague and ever changing idea of how I might properly live life and I sometimes do the other thing.  I won’t pretend to know what is right for you.  I watched a documentary last night about Epicurus and his recipe for a good life.  His ingredients included friends, self-sufficiency and introspection.  Sounds pretty good.

Bicycling has given me friends, something close to self-sufficiency (moreso than my cars and past motorbikes, anyway) and time to introspect, but I still go off-course.  Would more miles on my bicycles give me more happiness?  Maybe I should give it a try, but I probably won’t.  Just now I am fixed on my idea that pealing in moderation is the right thing for me, for now.  Again, am I alone on this one?

Time for breakfast.

Making Do

The hoods on the Superbe Pro brake levers on the Rivendell Road are badly dried and ripping.  A nasty tear is visible in the first picture here.  The rips on the sides of each hood come together some when they are removed (surprised they came off without tearing all the way through), but clearly their best days are behind them.

I wish I could use them until they disintegrated, but they look out of place on the shiny new to me bicycle.  They gotta go!

Replacement hoods are not easy to find.  SunTour doesn’t make them (SunTour isn’t really SunTour these days–it is just a name bought and used by a conglomerate and slapped on strange mountain bike parts).  No aftermarket makers produce a hood for this lever.  If I were patient, a NOS pair would show up on eBay, but they’d be pricey (around $100), they’d be as dry as the ones I am replacing and they might not survive installation intact.

What to do?  I ordered a pair of Dia Compe 287 hoods.  

Pluses–they are readily available, affordable and the rubber is soft and new.  Minuses–they are longer than the Superbe Pro hoods.  When a hood is longer than the body of the lever, the hood rides forward and up a bit leaving a space between the front of the lever and the inside of the hood.  They look and feel sloppy.  I am happy to report that the minuses are easily erased by trimming the back opening of the longer hoods to match the length and shape of the original hoods. 

I used a small pair of scissors from a first aid kit.  The short blades made turns easy to negotiate.  I had little faith this project would come out well, so I worked more quickly than I should have.  Start to finish in about an hour.  If I had known this could work, I would have taken more time.  As it is, the modified new hoods look pretty good.   They certainly feel nicer in my hands.

The cap over the peak of the lever is a little loose.  If I removed a bit more material I could pull them back some and snug that up, but I am satisfied for now.

The side view is solid.  These straight cuts were easy as the hoods have very little material on the sides.  I achieved nice arced cuts on the bottoms of the hoods, too.  Again, this was easy as the hoods are thin there as well.

Unfortunately, the least attractive cut (shown above) is the one I see as I pedal.  There is a bunch of rubber inside the hood on top (to help form a transition ramp and provide cushion) so it was pretty tough to make the arced cuts necessary to follow the circumference of the bar.

If you want replacement hoods for SunTour Superbe Pro aero levers, I’d heartily recommend using modified Dia Compe 287 hoods.  The Dia Compe hoods might work on other aero levers, too.  There seems to be an abundance of vintage aero levers on eBay, but very few have nice hoods.  Even more are offered naked (without hoods).  The levers with rough hoods sell cheaply and the naked levers sell for less.  Add modified Dia Compe 287 hoods to a set of naked vintage levers and you end up with well made and attractive levers for very little money.

I undertook another project yesterday necessitated by receiving a bill for a credit card account I didn’t open.  $450 big ones.  I spent three hours speaking with the billing company, every other financial institution I do business with, the credit bureaus, the local police (they sent an officer to my home!) and the FTC.  Things are locked down tightly now, but I suspect I haven’t seen the last of this little game.  Crazy world we live in.

Not crazy?  How happy I am about 2011.  Lacey and Frida are doing great.  I love them with all my heart and they give me buckets-full of love in return.  Our families are doing well, too.  They support us in so many meaningful ways.  We also have a group of wonderful friends, each of whom makes huge contributions to our happiness and growth.  My work is back after a couple of very slow years.  It didn’t come back so quickly as to crush me, but it wasn’t easy to fire up long-dormant engines.   I couldn’t have done it without my colleagues, clients, developers and financing team members.  Then this blog.  I’ve enjoyed writing 315 posts over three years and have received so much wonderful feedback from readers.  Altogether hundreds of people deserving thanks.  Luckily, gratitude is a limitless  resource.  I give it all to all of you.  You make my life worth living!  Have a great new year.  Have fun, do good and be happy.  Bye!

The Best

The best thing in the world happened today.  I was walking with Frida along a four lane main drag and I see a corgi booking at us.  

No two legged companion in sight.  Corgi stops to say hey to Frida and I scoop her up, took her home and called the City of Albany license bureau (the number was on her tag).  

Office worker called the owner, the owner called me and I gave him my address.  He was here in a flash, all happy and thankful.  I was so pleased to be able to help.    I know how crazy I’d be if Frida wasn’t where she was supposed to be.

Apparently this corgi thinks sit means lay down, because lay down is what she did every time I asked her to sit for a picture.  Wait.  I guess she is sitting in the picture above.  Kinda hard to tell (her rear end only lowers an inch or so when she bends her shorty rear legs–cute)!  I guess getting her picture taken wasn’t sufficient reward for sitting, so every time thereafter she laid down.  Oh, her name is Jenny.  I love dogs with people names.

Very glad Lacey didn’t get to meet Jenny.  Lacey loves her some corgis.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she pulled out a pocket knife and dug out the chip so she could keep little Jenny.  Obviously joking, but she would have made the owner hang around for an hour or so while she pretended Jenny was hers and could stay forever.  I have to admit I enjoyed her company.  Kinda wish the owner had been at work so I could have enjoyed an afternoon with her and Frida.  Oh well.  The sooner the better when returning lost dogs.

Got my new frame and fork.  So beautiful!  I’ll take pictures when it is together.  It is mostly together now, but for the brakes and the front derailleur.  I can’t use the Superbe Pro brakes (too short), but I have vintage Shimano 600s that will work.  I need a couple of these to install the nutted Shimano brakes in the fork and brake bridge, both of which were designed for brakes secured with recessed allen nuts.  I also need an adaptor clamp so I can use my Superbe Pro front derailleur which was made to be used on a frame with a braze-on.   This frame lacks the braze-on.  I’ve ordered both parts.  Should be here in early 2012.  Anticipation!

Hope you are well.  Bye.


Yesterday the scratchy throat thing started.  This morning it bloomed into a robust cold.  Can’t miss work (too busy just now), so I’ve spent the day in bed, sleeping and drinking various health tonics Lacey has purchased or concocted.  She is such a caring nurse.  I feel a better already.

Yesterday I respaced the Suntour Superbe Pro rear hub for my new to me bike project.  Wanted to wait until the frame arrived, but the new axle and spacers appeared and I could not resist.  This box of spacers gets me more excited than it probably should.  Precision and organization have always tripped my trigger.

For now, I’ve added 4.5 mm of spacers to each side to avoid redishing the wheel.  I’ll see how moving the cluster inward a bit impacts chain line and shifting.  Should be fine, but the easiest way to tell is to set it up and shift through the gears.

Feeling better about the cluster.  Doesn’t seem like the grease I injected into it will be too heavy.  Again, I will just have exercise care on the first ride.

I wrote the seller of the frame to get the seatpost diameter.  27.2mm was his answer, so I dug through my collection of posts and found a nice example from Avocet.

I boughta pair of Rivendell Roll-y Pol-y tires, but resisted the urge to mount them.  Better to wait–if I rearrange the spacers on the rear hub and redish it, I want the tire off to make sure the spokes aren’t showing up in the space where the tube lives.

I was traveling for work last week and haven’t been on the rollers since.  I’ve been more or less careful about what I eat and drink, though, so I don’t think I’ve replaced the weight I was so happy to lose.  The rollers will be there when work quiets down.  Looking forward to it.  The Diacompe stem I installed on the Specialized Allez is just the right height.  At minimum insertion, the bars are nearly level with the saddle, but I can drop them down a bit if I ever feel the urge.  I replaced the aero levers with the original cable up levers and I spent a fair amount of time getting the length of the housing just so.  I still haven’t wrapped the bars.  First time I have been able to wait.  I will ride the bike and adjust the lever position and make sure I like the bars I have on there.  Only when everything is dialed in will I wrap and twine the bars.  Pictures to follow.  The stem is really pretty in person, so I am excited to share images with you.

Take care!

Don’t Read This Post

Saturday I awoke at 5:15 am.  Sunday 5:50.  Good trend after the 4:30 business for a week or so.  Monday, back to 4:30.  Rollers each of those days.  I am really starting to enjoy it.  Can’t last.  It should be boring, but the Tivo helps.  Today I awoke at 5:50.  No rollers.  I’ve dropped the “extra” weight and now I will ride the rollers every other day to reduce wear on my joints.

I brought an armload of kale from the garden and made a really excellent soup.  I don’t share recipes I get from cookbooks (instead I share the name of the cookbook in the hopes that you’ll buy it–gotta support authors!), but this came from my head.  No measurements, though.  It is a soup.  You can do it!  In the bottom of my pressure cooker I sauteed in olive oil onions, then garlic, carrots, celery, sweet potato, jalapenos, ginger, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black pepper and tumeric.  To that I added water, chopped kale, dried split yellow peas and a dollop of canned pumpkin left over from the pumpkin biscuits (sorry, Lagusta–does it help to know that I bought the canned pumpkin for Frida and then stopped giving it to her and needed to use it up?).  Pressure cooked the overly full pot for 20 minutes, pureed it with a hand mixer, added salt, garam masala and apple cider vinegar.  Dark green appearance, like saag from a north Indian joint, but a soup.  Five quarts!  I am a tough critic of my own cooking but this soup impressed me.  Make it!

Yesterday I bought a bike frame and fork.  Oops!  Feel bad about it but I was powerless.  It is a really special piece at a fair buy it now price.  I was probably one of the first people to see the auction (east coast early riser advantage) and I couldn’t let it go.  I intend to populate the frame with Suntour Superbe Pro and Nitto parts from the Bridgestone 3000 (that is too big for me) and then sell that frame.  So I won’t end up with more bikes.  Still.  I really want to sell bikes without replacing them.  I want fewer bikes.  It isn’t easy.  It would help if I cancelled the new listing notices on eBay.  I keep them by telling myself I want to keep track of the market.  Why do I need that information if I am not selling?  Why do I need it if I am selling?  Just toss the bike up there for a dollar and see what happens, right?  Working on it.  In my head.  Not much progress.  Sigh.

The vintage Suntour parts should work on the frame, but I just need to have a little patience.  It will be easiest to wait until the frame comes and just try.  I do know that the rear hub needs to be respaced.  It has an over lock nut dimension of 126mm and the frame is set up for 135.  I ordered a longer axle (146mm) and a box of spacers in sizes from 0.5mm to 5mm.  It would be easiest to add 4.5mm to each side (so that I don’t have to redish the wheel.  The right answer, though, is to add 9mm of spacers on the left and then redish the wheel (loosen the spokes on the right (drive) side and tighten the spokes on the left to move the rim to the left so that it is centered in the frame).  That’s the right approach because it will lessen the dish that is almost always present in rear wheels with external gear clusters.  Dish?  Right spokes are shorter than the left so that the wheel, while centered in the frame, isn’t centered between the hub flanges.  The wheel is strongest when the rim is centered between the flanges and the right and left side  spokes are equal length and equal tension.   A dished wheel is less strong.   Even though adding the spacers on the left and redishing the wheel will make it stronger, I am considering adding spacers evenly on both sides because the seven speed freewheel comes terribly close to the lock nut.  I’ve had set ups where the chain rubs on the right drop out (or maybe I should call it a fork end–I forget when drop out is inappropriate and simply use drop out).  Might have been on a hub set up for a six speed freewheel, but a seven speed was used.  Anyway, this hub is made for seven speed freewheels but the seven speed freewheel is still super close.  Third possibility is adding 2mm to the right and seven to the left.  That will make the wheel a little stronger and still move the cluster away from the drop out.  I ran all three possibilities through a spoke calculator to confirm that none of the scenarios would result in me needing to use different length spokes.  The most dramatic change (adding all the spacers to the left), only results in changes in spoke length of less than 1mm (the left shorter and the right longer).  Not enough to worry about, though (assuming the wheel was built with the right spokes to begin with).

Then the brakes.  The bike is pictured with nutted brakes and my Suntour Superbe Pros have recessed nuts.  The seller thinks he filled the recessed nut holes with nylon washers for support when using his  nutted brakes, but he is confirming this.  It is a high end custom frame from 2001, so I would be shocked to learn it wasn’t set up for use with recessed bolts.  Nuts aside, I will need to see if my calipers are long enough.  The Superbe Pros are pretty racy numbers so there is a chance the arms are too short.  They are older, though, so maybe they will work.  Patience!

I set up a Sachs freewheel for the new frame yesterday.  Cleaned and moved newer and bigger cogs from a seized body to a really nice body.  When I had it apart, I found a grease port in the body.  Since I had my new grease gun with Phil Wood grease, I pumped grease through the hole until clean grease was coming out of the seals.  I immediately worried that the grease was too heavy for this application, but what is done is done.  It is a little stiff, but I can still hear the palls clicking into place.  If the palls stop catching and I freewheel forward to injury or death, I will know to use lighter grease (when working on freewheels in the hospital or heaven).  Have any experience with this?  If so, please share.  I can always push out the Phil Wood with lighter grease if need be.  Just need to find lighter grease in the right size tube.

Then I wonder about the the Superbe Pro derailleur.  It is designed to handle 23 teeth max.  I have the cluster set up with 26 teeth on top.  I need all the help I can get with the Superbe Pro small ring at 42 teeth.  We’ll see.  I’d love to keep the groupo together, but it may just bee too racy for this frame and my intentions.  Might need to set this one up as a mutt with mixed parts.  A pretty fancy mutt, mind you.

That’s enough of that.  As you can see, I am excited to have a project!  Check back for updates.  Should be fun.


Cast Aways Found

Phil Wood pedals!  US Mail delivered these machined aluminum treasures from Ashland, Oregon into my appreciative hands.  

Not NOS, but very lightly used.  The nicest I have seen, anyway.

The CHP mark indicates the pedals were approved by the California Highway Patrol.  Phil Wood & Co. says they were the first pedals approved by the CHP.  Having never seen the mark on anything other than official department equipment, I wonder what else the CHP was in the business of approving?  And does the mark mean anything to anyone? I’d rather have them signed by Ponch and John, or even stamped NJS, but I suppose it is historically interesting as it is.  

I love the slit into which toe clips are slipped and the hidden bolts for securing the same.  Very nicely done.

I doubt I will toss them on a bicycle anytime soon.  They are a little too dear for that.  And then the sun came out, allowing for a little shadow play.

Sad to put them away in a drawer, but I can always change my mind.   I also enjoy the thought of someone decades from now getting to make the same decision.  

On a bicycle with a freewheel, I could enjoy them with little risk of pedal strike.  One small bite already on leading edge of the right pedal (which is the pedal on the right in the picture below).

The pedal tops would be pretty easily scratched, too.  A stone in the tread of a tennis shoe could make a mess of the smooth surface in a single ride.  The surfaces are already lightly marred, but I’d hate to make them worse.

Serviceable?  Not that I would use them enough to wear them out, but it isn’t obvious how to access the sealed bearings.  The dust cap on the end is pressed in and I find no accommodation for slipping a tool behind for prying.  If you know how to get to the bearings, please share.  I’m curious.  I’ve written to Phil Wood & Co. and will let you know if they have anything to say on the matter.

Update from the good folks at Phil Wood:  “The Phil pedals are not “field (user) serviceable” nor can they be sent to us for servicing as we no longer manufacture or stock any of the parts required for service.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  Thank you, [Name Redacted], Phil Wood & Co.”  OK then!  Looks like a super business opportunity for someone.  Think the Maytag Man is lonely?  You might want to have a good library at hand to fill the time while you wait for one of the handful of super durable pedals to show up requiring new bearings.

More goodies on the way, but nothing as special as this pair.  Other news?  Again with the 4:30 am awakening.  No alarm.  I just open my eyes, stand up, put on glasses and the clock says 4:30 am (give or take 5 minutes).  Again with the rolling on rollers.  Still enjoying it.  The hands free skills are back.  I sit up during commercials (lately I have been watching sitcoms on TIVO and don’t keep the remote at hand so I can’t skip the commercials) to give my hands a break.  I also pedal out of the saddle to give my seat a break.  It is all good.  Not so sure about the hour, though.  Maybe I need to stay up later than 9:30.

Please enjoy your day.

Early Efforts

I awoke at 4:30 am this morning.  I pedaled on the rollers for 25 minutes, showered and made Peanut Ginger cookies all before Lacey woke up.  Someday I will envy Lacey’s ability to sleep until the alarm, but for now getting up early is fun.  Only problem–it is raining out (has been for 24 hours) and I finished all of my indoor activities.  There is always work work, but in between emails and calls I enjoy having little things to do.  One can only play so many games of Scrabble in a day (five is about my limit).

I did some holiday shopping for  my Specialized Allez.  Bikes need gifts and this one is on my mind as I have been riding it on the rollers.  The 54 cm frame is too small for me and the Cinelli stem is too short to get the bars even close to the height of the seat.  As such, I am pretty bent over and a fair amount of pressure is placed on my hands.  Might not be a problem on the road (where I could ride hands free for a moment or just steer with my finger tips to rest my paws), but on rollers like to keep my hands firmly on the bars.

A taller stem is in order, but which one?  I want as much as 12 cm above minimum insertion (“AMI”) to get the bars level with the saddle, but I don’t want a stem that is so long I can’t lower it when I tire of looking like a dork with a high rise stem (precious ego).  I went to Ben’s and looked at Nitto stems first, but there isn’t anything that fills the bill.  The oh-so-tall Nitto Technomic is too tall.  If I buried it in the fork steerer I’d have 12 cm showing, but I couldn’t lower it more (before hitting the brake bolt).  I’d be stuck in dork land.  The Nitto Deluxe isn’t tall enough (with just 10 cm AMI, it is only 2 cm taller than the Cinelli (8 cm AMI) and only 1 cm taller than a Nitto I have on hand (9 cm AMI)).  Probably not worth spending money (and rewrapping and twining the bars) to gain two centimeters.  I also looked at a new to me stem–the Dia-Compe Grand Compe ENE–but that is way too short (a total length of 13 cm–subtract the minimum insertion and I’d guess it would give less than 8 cm AMI).

I was about to give up, but I remembered Velo Orange.  I was happy to find that their version of the Dia-Compe Grand Compe ENE is longer than the one carried by Ben’s.  With a total length of 18 cm and 11.5 cm AMI, it is my goldilocks stem (for frames 2 to 3 cm too small for me).  I will be able to get the bars almost perfectly level with the saddle for super comfortable riding on the rollers but still drop them down a few centimeters when I want the bike to look closer to right.  The clamp is 26 mm (too small for my old Cinelli bars with their 26.4 mm diameter), but I can shim a pair of Nitto bars I have on hand to bring them up from 25.4 to 26.  Done.

The cookies?  I highly recommend the Veganomicon recipe for Peanut Ginger Sesame cookies.  I tweaked the recipe, though, and I suggest you incorporate my tweaks as the cookies came out beautifully.  They are chewy and taste great.  I didn’t have shortening (don’t keep it on hand–I think it is kind of weird and mostly avoid it).  I could have used coconut oil, but it is in the fridge and would have needed some time to come up to a workable temp.  Instead, I just upped the peanut butter from 1/2 cup to one cup and went merrily on my way.  I also blew off the sesame seeds.  The cookies are supposed to be rolled in them.  Pretty, sure, but a mess during baking and eating (I’ve done it before–they stay on the cookie only until they clear the plate at which point half the seeds parachute to safety before you can open your mouth).  Forgetaboutem!  Don’t skip the crystalized ginger, though.  Mixing it in is good, but I think the one plop on top presentation is better.  Without the sesame seeds, the ginger gives a little window dressing to an otherwise drab looking cookie.  Do it!

I’ve been buying a few bicycle tidbits on eBay and will share them with you as they arrive.  One thing, or pair, is pretty special.  Amplifier is still elsewhere.  Sad to be without it on a rainy hifi kind of day.

That’s that!  Be well.

Well I’ll Be!

Pedaled the black ANT Light Roadster to the bank to deposit a check.  Quite a machine for such a mundane task, but I never grow tired of the silent gliding along that this bicycle tirelessly dishes out day after day after day.

The teller asked if I wanted to take advantage of a special limited-time rate on CDs.  How special?  Well, a one-year CD, $500 minimum, yields 0.55%.  Time isn’t the only thing that is limited.  I said no thank you and remarked that if I gave her $500, at the end of the year I’d probably not have a return sufficient to buy a box of cereal (my bank branch is in a grocery–tres swank).  She said I could invest more.  How kind.   We laughed and shrugged it off.  No fries with my deposit, thank you.  As I walked the isles looking for graham crackers, I ran the numbers in my head.  I came up with $2.50 return on $500 invested for a year (I rounded the rate down to 0.5%).  The real return would be $2.75.  Not enough to buy a box of cereal.  Rates have been pushed down and kept down for years now in an effort by the feds to stimulate growth in the economy.  Inflation will need to become a threat before rates will be raised.  Might be years.  Tough if you are on a fixed income and want to keep your money in a low risk investment.  No return whatsoever.

When I got home, the mailman rang the bell and handed me a big blue bag.  I thought maybe something had come apart in transit, but he said it was from England.  Must be some kind of customs bag.  Then I remembered the book.    

I cut the security tag and spread out the packaging.  Woven plastic burlap with four plastic eyelets sewn on.  “Royal Mail.”  A crown!  Rest assured I did not order a book from the royal library.  I guess it is good to have an address, any address, in England.

Seems like quite a lot of bother for the small box inside which contained an even smaller book.

Magnus Mills’ latest–Screwtop Thompson.  Signed first edition (signature removed for posting).  

My father-in-law taught me that.  Before you buy a book, check for signed first editions.  Unless the book is wildly popular, you may find a signed first edition for close to the price of new.  A signed first edition is more likely to hold its value and maybe one in a hundred will appreciate nicely.  I haven’t followed his advice often (I prefer to check out books from the library), but for Magnus Mills I make an exception.  Obviously, if investment return is your goal, don’t order a book from England.  The $20 shipping will tack on another 20 years until I can resell the book for what I paid for it (unless Magnus Mills becomes wildly collectable).    

The Bullseye pulleys I couldn’t resist arrived, too.  I went with a subdued color (my other set, in use, is anodized red).  I’ll stash these away for a special project in the future.  

What else?  Not much.  Frida has the right idea.  I’d love to join her, but I have a bit more work.  Soon enough, however, the weekend will arrive.  Lovely!



I haven’t pedaled since I injured my paw.  At this point I could (and probably will today), but I will have to pay special attention to my hand while using it for steering, braking and shifting.  If I had this system, though, I could give my hand a break from shifting duty.  What do you think?  Combine that system with the electronic braking discussed here, and all I would have to do with my hands is steer.  Why not move steering into the eSystem, too?  While you are at it, toss the cranks and add in a motor controlled by thought.  I could just sit at home and send my bicycle out for a ride.  Affix a camera and mic and I could stream the experience to my monitor.  I wouldn’t even need to watch it in real time.  Tivo it for viewing later (and fast forwarding through the red lights).  

Humbug, I say.  While I am able, I’ll use my mind to control my limbs to operate the mechanical controls on my bicycle.  This is bicycling for me (and I hope it will always be).  That said, I’ll welcome the gadgetry when my limbs give up.  I imagine a recumbent trike with two wheels in front, a motor, solar panels and full eControls.  All in, under a hundred pounds.    Aboard my high tech, high speed wheelchair, I’ll jet noiselessly around the hood, feeling the sun on my face, watching the scenery and collecting a few groceries.  I’ll drive the damn thing right into the store (that’s why it is better than a car–it is right sized).  

Why not today?  For me, there is something about using a tool that has no more to it than the essential.  For example, Swiss Army knives are great in a pinch but few grab them at home when a screwdriver or chef’s knife is at hand.  Single purpose tools generally work better and are more satisfying to use.  The brain powered shifting and the electronic braking will find their place, to be sure, but not on my bicycle today.  I’ll reserve judgment as to tomorrow.

Be well.