Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Madness Continues

A little while back, Wally World had the new Mongoose Dolomite fat bike in stock, for cheap, so I  snagged one. It is very similar to the Mongoose Beast which I had customized, earlier.

The Beast, you may recall, came as a single speed cruiser, with a coaster brake. Before I was done, I had added a cro-mo fork, disc brakes (front and rear), a five-speed freewheel, a triple crank and a front derailleur mounted on a bracket made from a 31.8mm-clamp stem. And, I also substituted decent tires and tubes for the crazy-heavy stock items, added a nicer seatpost and a Brooks saddle, and cool Surly bar on a threadless stem. I eventually bought new wheels, with a cassette hub in the rear, before it was all over.

When I got the ti frame, the wheels, tires brakes, bar and stem, along with the seat, all went onto it.


The remains of the Beast have languished in the shop building, since then.

When I got the Dolomite, I continued cannibalizing the poor old Beast, and swapped over the triple crank, and front derailleur setup. I also added anotherbar, similar to the Surly bar,  some shifters to go along with the new gear setup, and a Cardiff (Brooks-clone) saddle, plus some decent tires and tubes. I also transferred the rack and bag over, from the Beast.

As I told my friend, Danny Mc, the cheapest bikes have the prettiest paint.

This is going to become my commuter fat bike. I need to make a fender, for the front, and maybe one for the rear, as well. The rack acts as something of a fender, but enough water can get by it that I think it might be worth my while to extend the coverage a bit. Of course, it needs lights, as well.

Stay tuned for more ... Same Fat Time, same Fat Channel...

x

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Nice Day For A Ride!

As Brad and I left Denver, Friday evening, we drove into some heavy rain, and steadily dropping temperatures. By the time we got to his family cabin, we were discussing Plan B, in case it snowed on the pass, overnight.

Then, we got up to sunshine, and bright blue sky, punctuated by fluffy white clouds.


After a big breakfast, we took off, dressed for the cooler temperatures at the high elevation. A half mile into the ride, I stopped and peeled off my leg warmers, arm warmers and fleece vest. After strapping them to my CamelBak, we took off, again.

Brad, patiently waiting for me to get my clothes situated...

As we rode, the incline steadily increased, as we approached the head of the valley.


The trail conditions were primo, with tacky dirt and fantastic traction, due to the previous day's rain. Eventually, the trees beagan to thin, and we could see the ridge, above us


The road became rockier, as we ascended, as well.

 
Mine tailings? Scree? I don't know, but the trail sure was rocky, through here!

Trucks, on the ridge...

Looking back down the valley, from about halfway up the switchbacks...

 Steeper, and steeper...

 Eventually, we reached the top of Webster Pass, at 12103 feet above sea level

 and brewed up a cuppa.

 If you continue on, you end up in Keystone.


 Caffeinated Wheelmen at the top of the world...
 
 and a wee nip from the flask, in celebration of an excellent climb.


After we finished our coffee, we turned back toward the cabin, and headed down. Even on drop-barred, rigid bikes, we made pretty good time, on the downhill. We passed Jeeps, and ATVs, and had a good time flowing downhill, like water. Too soon, we got back to the cabin, and the adventure was over.



We sat on the deck of the cabin, and had a post-ride beer, before heading home. All we could talk about was how great the weather had been, and what an awesome ride we had.



The bikes performed flawlessly, and I was happier on this Trek than I have been on any mountain bike, for a while. Sort of a "back to basics" feeling, I guess.

I have had a few conversations with people about the bike, since I first started talking about doing this ride on the vintage steel. A lot of them followed the "I guess it's okay for moderate trail riding, but it wouldn't be too good for rough trails" theme. As I pointed out to Brad, telling him about these conversations, the laws of physics have not changed, since the advent of suspension forks, and 29-inch mountain bike wheels. These bikes are no less competent, now, than they were when they were new.

And when they were new, these bikes were high-end, serious mountain bikes. They are still fantastic rides, as this little jaunt proved.

x

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

I May Have Found My New Favorite Bicycle

 Sunrise at CDOT
I rode the drop-bar Trek 950 to work, this morning. I wore a backpack, both to carry my stuff and to simulate a CamelBak hydration pack, like I will use, this weekend. I wanted to see if the seating position, handlebar angle, leg extension, etc. was good for an actual ride. Up until today, the farthest I had ridden the bike was about 3 miles, as I took a short detour on my way home from the coffee shop, on Monday. It seemed like a good idea to check things out on a slightly longer ride.

I have to say that the bike is pretty much dialed in, for me. The handlebars are spot-on, and the bike is maybe even a little more comfortable than the Funk!

I often say that whatever bike I am riding at any given time is my favorite, at that point in time. And, I'm only half joking about that. But, there are always bikes that, given a choice, I will choose over the others; the "What if you could only have one bike?" bike. My go-to answer to that question, for the past few years, has been, "The titanium Funk."

Today, as I was riding home from work, I was considering that question, anew. I enjoyed the ride to and from work, so much, today, that it made me begin to consider that a bike might well take the "favorite" tag away from the Funk.  But, I doubt it, in the long run. I am still in the infatuation phase that we all go through with a new bike, on the Trek. And, honestly, if I had to dump all of the bikes but one, I would have the Funk parked outside of my cardboard box shelter, in the end.

Adios, Amigo

Speaking of moving bikes along, I sold the Miyata 310, over the weekend. One of the college kids who works at Kaladi Bros. needed a commuter bike, and he is the same height as me. I had him come over and check the Miyata out, and he left with it. As much as I liked it, and wanted to keep it, I knew it wouldn't get ridden much. I'm just happy that it's going to get put to good use.

I'm really looking forward to the Webster's Pass ride, this weekend. It has been ages since I've done a ride like that, on any bike, and i think it's going to be extra cool to do it on the vintage steel.

Stay tuned...

x

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Time Is Set and The Die Is Cast

Brad and I have decided to make our assault on Webster's Pass, this coming Saturday.

In addition, Brad sent me these pictures from our ride part-way up the pass, a few weeks ago.
 This is where we turned around, that day, due to time constraints, and the fact that we had just gone "out for a short ride", with no intention or preparation for riding to the top. If you look carefully, you can see the trail continuing up the wall behind us, to the summit. I can't wait to see the view from up there.

 This is Brad's 1988ish Bridgestone MB3. He stripped the paint from the frame, and clear coated it. It looks awesome.


Of course, that day, I was on the ti fatbike. This Saturday, I'll be riding this:


My 1992 Trek 950, recently reconfigured with drop bars. This should be a nice ride, and a bit of a nostalgic adventure, to take the vintage bikes up a trail such as this.

Both of us have been riding long enough to remember when these bikes were the pinnacle of development, and definitely the bikes of choice for this kind of ride. Having ridden through the development of the mountain bike, and become used to suspension forks, bigger tires, disc brakes, etc., it will be a bit of an entertaining chance to compare the abilities of these old bikes, with those of our newer rigs.

x

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bike Work Day, Including a New Stem For the Drop Bar Trek



I had today off, so I figured I'd do a little bike work. One of the kids who works down at Kaladi had dropped off his vintage 10-speed, last night, for new tires and adjustments. As I moved stuff around in the shop building (getting my drum set out to loan to Tony H., from work, so he and his grandson can play with it), I found a set of nice alloy 27" wheels. I decided to use them to replace the steel wheels which were on the bike.

 Here it is, with the new tires and hoops.

 It's a good looking bike, and has apparently been repainted. No sign of a brand name, anywhere on it.

 Decent-looking lugs, but nothing fancy.

Cottered cranks and steel wheels put it in the lower-end of price points, but it's still a pretty sweet ride (especially now, with the alloy rims and six-speed freewheel). I can't believe that he scored this bike for $20.00, at a yard sale! It's been a long time since I found a bike this nice, at that price.

As I was working on the 10-speed, the mail came. In it was my new 1-1/8" quill, dirt-drop stem for the Trek. Of course, it got installed, immediately.

 The new stem got the bars up high enough that I can ride in the drops, pretty much full-time, if I want. That is my preference, on a drop-bar mtb. This setup is very similar to the setup on the XO-2, which Carol has on a what amounts to a permanent loan...

Carol dropped it off, the other day, to get a broken spoke nipple replaced, so it was handy for comparison. With her seat position, the drops are almost as high as the seat, on the original Gary Bar (which is very similar to the Midge bar on the Trek). With the seat raised for me, they are a couple of inches below the seat. This worked for me for many, many miles, on-road and off, when I rode the bike. I think it will work just as well on the Trek.

The Bridgestone is a size too small for me, actually, and the Trek is a nice fit, so it will probably actually work better.


 The new stem is at it's minimum insertion, but it doesn't look too awkward, the way stems sometimes do. I think the black color might help it, a bit, in that instance.


 The two-bolt removable faceplate made the swap simple. The temporary stem had a similar faceplate, so it was not necessary to remove the bar wrap and brake lever.


The hoods are pretty useless as a hand position, but I wouldn't use them much, even if they were reachable. I can still use that position to climb, if I want, but I will be in the drops in any situation where I need brakes.

I had a couple of other projects to work on, but a sudden thunderstorm shut me down. That just leaves me something to post about, later...

x

Sunday, August 24, 2014

1992 Trek 950 Drop-Bar Conversion

I've had this Trek for quite a while, waiting for some inspiration. It originally had DX RapidFire shifters (which I hate), and someone had replaced the original rear derailleur with a crappy Alivio model, from the late 1990s.

I used one of the the shifters to repair a bike for a fellow, last year, then put the bike on the covered patio and kind of forgot about it.

Recently, Brad and I went for a ride on Webster's Pass, and he was riding the lugged Bridgestone frame I had traded to him, with drop bars and vintage drivetrain. As we rode, we talked about doing the whole pass, on vintage bikes, and a light bulb winked on, in my head.

The Trek is a lugged frame, but made of oversized mtb tubing, with a 1-1/8' steer tube fork. It's kind of odd that Trek had these lugs made, to fit the mtb tubing, rather than just tig-welding the frames, which would have been much more cost-efficient..


 Last night, I pulled the Trek out, and started to work. I used a 1" stem and a shim, to fit the 1-1/8" steer tube. I have a 1-1/8" dirt-drop-style stem on the way, in black. It has the removeable face plate, as well, so I'll be able to swap it out without unwrapping the bar.


 The stem is holding an On-One Midge bar, which I bought, on sale, a while back, in case I found a good use for it.


 Random Dia-Compe brake levers, and the 7-speed bar-end shifters from the RockCombo complete the cockpit.


 I used the wider retro Tektro cantis on the front...

...and the lower profile model on the rear, for ankle clearance. These cantis use modern, V-brake style pads, and will actually stop you (unlike a lot of the vintage cantis).


I had these early-90s pedals in my parts stash.

New  cables, tubes and tires, a Deore rear derailleur, and a black leather saddle completed the build. I rode it down to the hardware store, and back, today as a small shakedown cruise. Everything seems good.

Eventually, I'll remove the reflectors from the wheels. I find it hard to believe that they are still on there!

So, now it's time for a retro mountain bike assault on Webster's...


x

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Took A Little Motorbike Ride, This Week

 I took Thursday and Friday off, this week, in order to finally get a motorbike trip in. This year marks 40 years of motorcycling, for me, so I couldn't have a repeat of last year, when I never got out of town on the bike.

 I needed a rack, to support the portion of the tent and sleeping bag which overhang the seat. The rack I once had broke, so I spent about 20 minutes, Wednesday night, fabricating one which attaches to the backrest mount on the Corbin seat. It held up fine, so I think I'll take some time and make a prettier version to use, for the long-term.

As I worked, this guy supervised, from his perch under my sun-shade. It's hard to tell, but he's about an inch and a half long!


 Filled up with fuel, on the way out of town. That's my official starting mileage (although the bike has another 2400+ miles on it, which I rode before I swapped speedometers...).

 Stopped off at Kaladi Bros., on the way out of town. Had to fuel myself up, as well as the bike.

 First gas stop, and also a hot-fudge sundae stop, in Poncha Springs, about 135 miles out of Denver.

 The tunnel, on the way up Wolf Creek Pass.

 Continental Divide crossing #1.

 Scenic overlook, on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass. I met an Aussie husband and wife team, on a big rental BMW, here, and had a nice 10-minute chat.

 Another lady offered to snap my picture for me, so here's the bike with someone on it, for once. I don't take a lot of selfies. When I do, I'm slightly embarrassed, as if I've been caught looking in the mirror for too long. For some reason, having someone else take the picture seems okay, though.

 Obviously, since I had the tent and sleeping bag, I had planned on camping. A combination of what the tv weather guy called "unseasonably cool" weather and rain prompted me to stay in a motel, once I reached Durango.

The weather had been clear, all day, but I could see a large rainstorm, north of town, as I pulled in. I really didn't want to have to deal with a wet tent,when I got up, so I bagged the camping idea.


 Plus, I have wanted to stay at this particular motel, for years. It's next door to the Residence Inn that we stay in, on the CDOT lab inspection trips. But, everyone else wants the free breakfast and Happy Hour.

 The view from my room door, showing the common area and swingset.


The Wapiti Lodge comes highly recommended by me. I don't need a free breakfast, since one of the reasons I stayed in Durango, in the first place, was to eat breakfast at the Durango Diner.




Thursday evening, I had dinner at the Balcony Bar and Grill (which, oddly enough, is on a balcony overlooking Main Street), as a guitar player/singer and a stand-up bass player played bluegrass on the little corner stage. I then went back to the Wapiti Lodge, had a nightcap from the flask, and hit the hay.


 After a fantastic Diner breakfast, I headed north out of town, to ride the Million Dollar Highway over Molas Pass and Red Mountain Pass. The clouds were hanging low, and it rained, off and on, as I rode. I had on my snowboard pants, over my jeans, and a rain shell over my jacket, with shoe covers keeping my boots dry. Everything was good, except for my hands. My gloves just weren't cutting it.



 Heading up Molas Pass...


 At the summit of Molas...

 Heading down into Silverton, which you can see in the background.


In Silverton, I got the best cup of coffee I've ever had at the coffee shop, then went across the street and bought some winter gloves. I wore those gloves for the rest of the trip.

 This is the CDOT Memorial, at the top of Red Mountain Pass. It is a treacherous road to maintain.


 Here is a view down the box canyon, toward Ouray, on Red Mountain. The stretch of road on the right hand side of the photo was one-lane for about 7 months, after a rock slide obliterated it, last Thanksgiving. It took us that long to stabilize the slope above the road. (That is an uninterrupted fall of about 300 feet, to the side of the road, by the way.)

 Looking back up the canyon, to the spot where the last photo was taken. I had a long conversation about my bike, with a guy from Florida. He and his 13 year old son were touring the mountains in a borrowed Mustang convertible, which belonged to his sister who lives in Littleton. I have a lot of conversations about the bike, when I'm out on the road...



 This is the waterfall, which runs under the highway bridge next to the scenic overlook. I didn't test it out, but I'd be willing to bet that the water at the bottom is quite chilly.





 Some views of Ouray, from atop the Ouray Brewing Company pub, where I stopped for a beer. I was still full, from breakfast, so I didn't eat. But, I wanted to stop and hang out for a while. With all of the stops I was making, I averaged about 20 miles per hour for the first 100 miles, on Friday!


 My bike, from the rooftop balcony. I tried to get a good shot of the Colorado flag, with the bike, as it blew in the wind. This was the best I could manage.

 As I rode out of Ouray, I saw all of these vintage diesel trucks parked on the side of the road. I turned around, and got some photos.




 I would love to have this International with a camper built onto it!

 Sweet looking Mack!


 These are from a roadside business, just south of Montrose, whose sign promises "Fun Stuff". They delivered.

The guy in charge was an old biker, named Buck. We swapped motorcycle stories for about half an hour, before I toured the lot. It's a good thing I was on the bike, or I might have spent some money there!


I turned east, at Montrose, onto Highway 50, and headed for Gunnison. This stretch of road was a great motorbike ride. I passed this sign, on the section of highway which follows the lake shore, and turned around to go back and get a picture. I really wasn't sure I had read it correctly, until I stopped.

 In Gunnison, I took a room at the ABC Motel. I was not the only motorcyclist there. Except for my my bike, a Yamaha Star, and a Triumph Daytona, these are all Harleys.

 This morning, it was 48 degrees, and spitting rain, when I got up.

 "Grimy" is the new black.

 Having my coffee, outside of my room. The ACW cup is courtesy of Brad Click.


 All throughout the trip, I took notes and wrote down observations in my black duct-tape-covered Moleskine Cahier.


I am an analog guy, in a digital world. It gives me pleasure to revisit trips, later, with a physical representation of the trip in hand. If you are interested in a more detailed version of this story, let me know. I plan to produce a physical trip report, with extra photos and such, as a souvenir for myself. If you want a copy, I'll send you one.

 From Gunnison, I continued east on Hwy. 50, and recrossed the Divide on Monarch Pass.


 Looking down the east side of Monarch.

I basically stayed on the bike, except for a gas stop in Buena Vista, until I rolled into Denver at noon.

 Of course, I stopped at Kaladi Bros., on the way by, to close the circle. Here, I stripped off all of my cold-weather gear (the rain shell came off in Buena Vista), since it was 81 degrees and sunny.



In my driveway, at home. I rode 717 miles, on 13 gallons of fuel, in about 50 hours, saw some gorgeous scenery, did some thinking, and met a bunch of nice folks along the way. Not a bad way to play hookey from work, for a couple of days!

x