Wednesday night I saw my favourite band from Japan: The Pillows. They have this odd animated video featuring a bicycle; the song was on a single released in January. Besides performing at SxSW, they are finishing up the Delicious Bump Tour with female rock-trio noodles from Yokohama. It was also the last set for local act The Stereo Future. It was a great show, but I feel a little lame that we didn’t ride to there. But it was raining…and we had a lot of sake.
“In my experience there’s no such thing as luck.” - Obi-Wan Kenobi
I remember old Ben’s advice well, but I also remember how he caught the wrong end of a light sabre the next day. Lady Luck is a fickle bitch. Take today for instance. I finally get a chance to ride my new frame, but I figure that I should evaluate how the new bike feels on a set of wheels that I know well. Besides, it was windy, so those super-tall rims of my new Mavic Cosmics wouldn’t be a wise choice, would they?
Oh, I would be regretting that decision.
Last night’s sake-drinking and rock show didn’t exactly prepare me for a great ride, but I really wanted to ride that bike. Plummeting off Capitol Hill into a crosswind, I said to myself, “I sure am glad I’m not on the Cosmics.”
But somewhere near the north end of Lake Washington, I felt something pop and suddenly the bike had a wiggle at the rear end. I snapped a spoke on my trusty wheels. It didn’t even pop at at the elbow like normal…it broke smack-dab in the middle. Dumb luck. I felt like an oracle examining bird entrails…is this some sort of bad omen?
So now the wheel won’t turn in the frame without aggressively rubbing the chainstay. If this were my rain bike, I’d just ride that bitch all the way home…fuck it. But my rain bike isn’t carbon fibre. I didn’t shell out all that money for a brand new carbon bike just to belt-sand 3K-weave layers off the stay on the first ride. And anyways, maybe I should be a little more gentle with my second-string stuff, since I broke my rain bike 3 weeks ago. Where do you think I got those trusty wheels from?
“Why the hell didn’t I ride the Cosmics? They’re brand new…they definitely wouldn’t have broken a spoke.”
The thing to do would be let off the tension of the spokes opposite the broken one. That would require a spoke wrench…which, of course, I don’t have. And neither did 6 other cyclists who passed by. Looking at my predicament, the last guy seemed determined to have one the next time he rode. But it looks like I’m shit out of luck. Time to start walking with the bike on my shoulder. This is going to kill the whole afternoon.
Then what could happen next?. A silver SUV stops at the next cross street before me. It turns out that it’s Ed Brewer from Two Wheel Revolution, the Seattle mobile bike mechanic service. He’s like a doctor for quality bikes, and this doctor makes house calls. He just happened to be on his way to a gig when he saw me. What are the odds?
Ed loaned me a spoke wrench, and I backed the opposite spokes down. The wheel was reasonably true but now with a distinct hop. Whatever, I can deal with that until I can get to my own shop to replace the spoke. (Thanks again, Ed)
In the end, I got home. I’m kinda superstitious about equipment, so I’m a little uneasy about the new bike. Maybe if I ride long tomorrow, I can squeeze out all the bad luck from the bike and then start building karma on it. Yeah, that’s it. But I’m not taking any chances…tomorrow I’m gonna burn some incense and ride those Cosmics…no matter how much wind there is.
Quick reminder: RideCivil is coming up this Friday, 5:30 PM at Westlake Center. Now’s your chance to participate in a ride focusing on positive interactions between pedestrians, motorists and cyclists in Seattle. Should be a great first Spring ride, I’m planning on bringing along some tunes. If you’ve got suggestions for the playlist please post a note in the comments section.
Sorta like when your shifting starts banging around, then stops, then maybe again, and definitely not when you pop into a bike shop for a wrench to check it … there’s some periodic funk going down on our site. On the backend, we’re working on adding 33% more hugganess, so no worries, it’ll all work itself out. Like this one time, I was traveling and my front wheel arrived tweaked and rubbing the brake. I was like, “oh well, ” and just rode it. Back home, I unpacked the wheel, and it was true again! I dubbed that wheel the “self-truing” wheel and have cherished it ever since.
The drivers didn’t care, much like the driver in this photo from Market street in San Francisco, and kept right on with their day. I don’t know the current status of sharrows, if they’re considered a success or not, but I’m still recommending to cyclist to get out into traffic, make sure they see you, and stay away from the car doors.
During the Stone Way uproar, I thought that street is the least of our problems. Western is a major bikeway as is Alaskan Way, and Mercer is the worst, most dangerous intersection in the city, possibly the the country. I ride right down the middle of the lane going north and sidewalk it going south.
Seattle isn’t unique in dealing with the right hook or car/bike solutions, in Brooklyn, they’re considering Door Zones and in Portland, they’ve started painting bike boxes.
I’ve been using the Bull Frog tail light($28) by Knog for a couple months already. Like all of the Knog lighting products, the LED/battery case is encapsulated and affixed to a bike by means of a flexible silicon body. Most readers have seen the diminutive Frog lights, now available in a variety of body colours. I like them, but the Frog’s single LED and CR2032 batteries don’t make for long-lasting brilliance. What I wanted was a commuter tail light.
I present the Bull Frog.
With 3 AAA batteries powering 5 LEDs, the light provides ample if not superlative illumination. However, the Bull Frog’s ease and versatility in attachment are what really sell this light. Strap this light to seat stays, seat posts or wherever…without tools and within seconds. Plus the narrow cross-section keeps the Bull Frog out of the way.
So here it is: my girlfriend’s Kappa. It started out as a retro-style BMX frame with modern geometry and tubing diameters, and then with Jeremy Sycip’s help I devolved the bike back into BMX’s genesis, the Schwinn Stingray. Everyone who sees knows it’s something cool, but they don’t know what it is exactly.
I stripped the best components off of my discarded BMX bike and put them on her bike. Now it has Shimano DXR hubs and brake lever, XTR M952 v-brake, and a Dura-Ace bottom bracket. The crank is actually the Tiagra triple road crank that I used on my travel bike when I toured Japan last summer. I put an old school Shimano BMX 44-tooth chainring on, the only real vintage part on the bike. Rather than being four decades old, the Apple Krate saddle is actually a Schwinn factory repro, but it really makes the bike visually pop. Now that the bike has braze-ons for the sissy bar, the seat is secured a bit better.
The last touch is the Dimension “star” grips and a chainring guard that I made by griding off the teeth from a 53 tooth Vuelta road ring.
I’m not entirely happy with the fork. Someday I might send it to Sycip to have brake bosses brazed on to it and then powdercoated to match the frame, but that’ll have to wait. I told my girlfriend she needs to ride it a lot first, then we can talk about more mods. So far, she’s been riding everyday to work with it.