Monday, October 31, 2011

Putting It All Together

Image is everything.
Oh yes it is.
The way I figure, when it comes to a hand built frame, technically they're all the same.
I mean the builder is limited by the technical aspects of a bicycle.
Geometry, type of tubes, etc.
When choosing a custom frame builder, I think it would be nearly impossible to make a wrong choice.
So what's it all come down to?
Well in looking at the offerings of a bunch of builders, I think it comes down to aesthetics.
How it all looks when it's all put together.
For instance, I keep going back to look at them sexy seat stays over at Signal Cycles:

A few other builders do S bend stays, but no one does the Coke Bottle figure better.
I'm a bit particular about that Coke bottle shape, I use it in my own work and you gotta admit, it's a lot better than looking at some straight stays.
I like the stays on the thin side, the thicker stays for some reason just don't appeal to me.
Straight and thick.
Thin and curvy.
The finish also needs consideration.
I mean some folks just seem to do stuff right, like Dave Kirk and how he attaches the seat stays to the seat tube:

That's some signature work right there.
I mean I don't look down at the seat tube seat stay junction while I'm riding around, but it's pretty nice to know that it's there.
If you know what I mean.
Then there's all the extra blingness, stuff like Eric Estlund is doing over at Winter Bicycles:

The extra head tube work is done using what he calls bi-laminate construction.
Now that's what I call custom work!
Of course all this steel goodness does not come cheap.
More on this later.
The trick here, is to find someone who can put it all together.
I seem to want a little bit of this and a little bit of that to make my dream frame come together.
Or not.
I mean I'm not looking for some bicycle with like a GAGILLION hours of work in it.
In fact, I'm finding that my needs are running more on the subtle side.
We're talking about a bicycle here, not something to hang on my wall.
On the other hand, seeing what some of these folks out there can do with a frame is pretty amazing, elevating a craft to an art form.
Thing is, I'm not really sure I want to ride around on a piece of art.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Final

I tried.
Really I did.
I mean I went over there, and here, and somewhere and nowhere.
To no avail.
No SARATS tree here.
First I tried this:

No good.
All green.
How bout this:

Not as green but still sort of green.
Then I got a flat.
Which was good cause man I was a huffing and a puffing today!
I swear, not riding during the week is like slow death.
Death to my legs that is.
Seems like I'm very slowly losing whatever fitness I had built up.
I need to get out during the week.
So anyways, after I fixed my deflated tire, I went a looking.
Here, there, and everywhere.
That's a Beatles song.
There, everywhere and here I looked.
I did see this:

Maybe a bicycle covered with flowers is a sign that fall is upon us.
I mean it was completely covered all over with flowers!

Flower power!
It reminded me of tie dye and Jimi Hendrix.
I kept at it.
There must be a tree around here worthy of a SARATS entry.
I was getting tired so I just gave up.
All we got here is green.
It's like I live on a tropical island or something.

Sunday Early Edition

The March of Bowls(MOB) continues!
Sort of.
I mean I'm making forward progress.
Yesterday was one of those bad days on the potter's wheel.
Nothing seemed to be going right, mediocrity reigned supreme and although I made eleven bowls, only seven made it to completion.
That means four of them got trashed and recycled in someother configuration or had to be rebooted back to a bowl like shape.
This was a day when I just couldn't seem to get the hang of what I was doing and nothing I tried seemed to work.
Or maybe I was just trying the same thing over and over.
Sort of like those bad days you have on the bicycle when your legs seems out of whack and you feel like you should be doing something else.
Well okay, even on bad days riding a bicycle I'd still rather be riding a bicycle.
When I have these bad days making bowls, I should instead be out there riding a bicycle.
If you know what I mean.
Still I sucked it up and persevered!

No weenie am I!
I guess even on bad bowl days, my bowls are all right.
The thing about bowls is that it doesn't matter what the outsides look like, it's the insides that count.
If you think about it, when you use bowl, or plate for that matter, you only look at the inside part.
In the case of a bowl, a potter tries his best to get that inside curve as smooth as possible.
By smooth I mean a contiuous curve, no transitions or humps or ripples.
Something I had great difficulty in pulling off yesterday.
I think the problem is that I'm doing all kinds of different shapes.
If I stick to one size and shape, hopefully my mechanical groove will come back cause I don't remember this being all that hard.
I gotta say, I was getting sort of flustered with my bowl making hopelessness.
Sort of like walking around in circles I was.
So today, I must summon all my Jedi skilz and crush the soul of the clay!
Eight more bowls and I'll hit thirty, then I figure I'll take a break and make some other stuff, like maybe some covered jars.
Or maybe something goofy, just for fun.
Then comes the glazing.
I'm really looking forwards to that.
If you know what I mean.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

How Low?

Oh yeah.
I was feeling sort of low the other day as one of them crazy kids rode his bike into school.
Pedals barely off the ground, he pulled up in style:

Twisted metal chrome bling!
Sort of.
I mean the cranks looked to be about 100mm long; I'm not sure how many revs you could get.
Especially with your knees knocking on yer chest.
I'd probably take him in a sprint and crush his soul though he'd give me hard rubs for style points.
No Italian Alloy Goodness(IAG) here.
The springer front end looked really comfy:

Not too sure about them 140 spoke wheels though.
Seems to me you may as well go solid as they look like they are a pain to keep clean.
They were all nice and shiny though, so what can I say?
For a second there, and it was just a second, I wondered what they'd look like in a larger diameter.
Say 700c.
Just think how it would glisten and sparkle!
Okay, they might be a bit difficult to spool up and I'm not sure there would be any aero advantage.
I think I would have liked this better without the faux steering wheel:

It sort of breaks up the bicycle lines having that stick up over the top tube and I'm guessing it won't be pretty if you get into any kind of accident.
These kids though, take their bicycles just as serious as I do, judging by the gleam on the chrome bits and spotless paint on the frame.
Attention to detail is what it's all about and this bicycle was clean.
Check out the bell.
As it turns out, it was his girlfriend's bike!
Maybe the next step with these bikes is to add some hydraulics so that they can get that front tire bouncing off the ground.
Now that would rock!
You'd have to take it easy on the turns though.
If you know what I mean.

Friday, October 28, 2011


First of all lemme just say it.
Okay, someone out there in Bloggerland sent me an email, maybe legit maybe not, and I mistakenly deleted it forever.
All I remember is that your name started with an H and it started off with a "I was wondering..." before I Ooopsed it to digital oblivion.
I don't usually delete stuff before reading it, I mean some of those spammy thingys are sort of entertaining.
If you know what I mean.
The thing is, all I get is boat loads of spam and no one ever emails me so I usually just delete the whole lot.
Unless of course it starts off with like a "hello sir" cause anyone who calls me sir has my immediate attention.
Sort of.
I ignore some of them, especially the ones talking about monetary numbers not in a currency currently traded in Flat Tire Land.
Everyone knows we trade only in Italian Alloy Goodness(IAG) here.
Which comes out to something like $50 a gram.
Or so.
Wait for IAGs to hit the Exchange and you can trade it too.
Once in a while I also get spammy in the comments section, though it hasn't happened a lot.
I seem to get the ones linking to tire companies and such, go figure.
The other day, I got one that took me here.
Now I actually don't mind the ones linked to bicycle stuff, cause I like new blingy stuff and new is always better.
Well if you look at that there "new" quick release, go ahead, squint yer eyeballs, you may, like me, have a hard time seeing anything new.
Okay, there's like this extra thingy you have to grab to release your wheel, but my drop outs don't have like them recessed areas so my wheels would just fall off.
Isn't that the idea behind a quick release?
Undo the cam thing and your wheel comes off?
If you undo the cam and the wheel doesn't fall off, then it isn't exactly quick is it?
The other thing that doesn't impress me is that the design is of the common nekkid cam.
I prefer the other type, the covered cam like Shimano and of course Campagnolo:

I've found that the exposed cam can loosen up if it gets wet and the cam follower/grommet thingy gets old.
So to me, that new innovative system doesn't seem too innovative at all.
The website does imply that those new quick releases are OEM on a couple of different marques, so maybe there's something to it.
I just don't see it.
Then again, if my skewers become loose, without that extra locking ring, it becomes a rather large Ooops!
So if you're looking for an extra margin of safety, them newfangled quick releases may just be the thing for you.
Anyways, back to my original Ooops! if you, the emailer, was really wondering something and your name began with like the letter H, get back to me.
If it was or was not important, I may or may not reply.
If you know what I mean.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday Stuff

Sort of like going to the smorgasbord and choosing chow mien, roast beef, and spaghetti and meatballs.
There's just no rhyme or reason.
Anyways, during one of my interwebz excursions, I was looking up something about World War II and came across some interesting, at least to me, stuff.
Navy ships named after local places.
Of course we got the USS Honolulu, a nuclear sub, but not many folks know about the WWII cruiser also named USS Honolulu.
As it happens, there was also a USS Kailua, an auxiliary, a sort of do all ship.
Amazingly there was also a USS Lanikai.
I also found a book:

Quite an interesting story, mostly about the fall of the Far East and Philippines right after Pearl Harbor.
Also about this crazy journey these folks on USS Lanikai made down to Australia.
In like a wooden boat.
No really.
It seems the Navy commandeered this inter-island trader for some sort of secret WWII mission.
It's also a little glimpse into what it was like in that part of the world at that time in history.
Sort of reminds me of that movie The Wackiest Ship in the Army.
Today, I also got this:

Yes I know le Tour is long over, but when it was on I wanted to get to know more about it's history.
I haven't started into it yet but there are more pictures of folks with tires wrapped around their shoulders and gearing meant flipping over your rear wheel.
I gotta say, every time I see these pictures of riders with like two tires wrapped around their arms, I get an image of Steve A. doing his thing is DFW.
In the What Was I Thinking(WWIT) category, I also got me some of these:

I won't get into them now, but you can read about them here.
More on them later, like this weekend where you can read about them well, here.
Speaking of here, it will be a plate and platter weekend cause I got 50 lbs. of clay to go through.
Maybe some bowling too.
From clay to bicycle bling.
I should write a book.
I'm also working on a Flat Tire Investigative Report(FTIR) on my frame obsession which is now like 139 pages long so I'll have to post it up in parts.
Okay, not really.
About the 139 pages thing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beach in a Bottle

Boy, once in a while, something comes along that just blows me away.
I'm a simple sort of dude, satisfied by life's simple pleasures.
As long as it has something to with Italian Alloy Goodness(IAG) that is.
Then again, sometimes I find or am shown something that's so simple, it's lovely.
A co-worker went on vacation to the Continent and brought something back for me.
Well, okay it's not the stuff that was brought back, it was something that was collected and made.
I call it a Hawaiian Snow Globe(HSG):

A bottle, some sand, and some shells.
Or something!
The thing I dig about it is that you can shake it up and reset the "scene":

I swear this is like the coolest thing since sliced bread, and sliced bread is pretty cool!
There's just something zen like when you shake it up and this shell laden beach happens.
I mean you can look at it and look at it and look at it and when you're tired of looking at it you just shake it up and it changes!
Or something!
It's so freakin simple.
One of those "why didn't I think of that" thingys that I wished I had thought of.
It isn't too big or too small, it's just the right size to put on your desk and think about where you wished you were.
I can almost feel the waves and sun and smell the salt air.
If you know what I mean.
Boy I'm pretty stoked I got this.
I still goofing around with it trying to get that perfect composition.
I could do this all night!
I may!
Do this all night I mean.
Of course it's not a real Hawaiian Snow Globe unless it's got like real Hawaiian sand in it.
Authenticity don't you know.
Okay, it's seems sort of lame to have something like this when I live like ten minutes away from the beach, but hey! you can't take the beach home with you.
Until now.
Can you feel it?

Monday, October 24, 2011


So I've been reading up on bicycle frame material, mostly of the steel variety.
It's interesting to me that there are like a GAGILLION different types of tubes out there!
It's also interesting to note that everybody and their builders have their favorites.
Most builders in fact don't even use one particular type, building with a "blend" of different tubes to tune the bicycle to the rider.
Of course if you know what you want, builders will be more than happy to build to specs.
I for one have no clue and despite all the 'splaining out there, I remain well, clueless.
I mean it would seem easy enough: just build me a bicycle with the newest bestest steel available.
Easy it is not.
I've been taking a look at stainless steel, only because it's seems reasonable that living next to the ocean, stainless steel would be the way to go.
Excepting that it's like really expensive.
Like really, really, really expensive.
For me anyways.
The prices seem to rival that of titanium while the benefits of going one way or the other are not very clear.
Then you got like different kinds of stainless.
Columbus Xcr:

Deda T99:

Last but not least, Reynolds 953.
Which everyone seems to be using.
Now lemme make on thing clear.
I'm not in the market for a stainless steel frame.
There's something about stainless that just doesn't sit right with me, not for a bicycle anyways.
Besides the prohibitive cost, it's just a little too shiny.
I can't believe I just said that.
I also seem to remember that stainless has a very low carbon content and that carbon sort of gives steel it's springy quality and adding chromium tends to make it more brittle.
To say that I'm generalizing is probably a gross understatement.
I mean if stainless were stiff and brittle, no one would be using it, non?
Well after reading up on it there are some intriguing qualities about stainless that can't be overlooked.
Apparently Reynolds 953 is being heralded as the strongest lightest tubes available so out of strong, light and cheap, it's well, strong and light.
I'm guessing that's it's easier to work with than titanium, titanium being subject to weld contamination and the tubes need to be purged with an inert gas while being welded.
Okay, I lied.
Just a little as I am sort of interested in stainless steel if only because of a new player in the game.
KVA, a company that specializes in stainless steel has started to penetrate the stainless steel market.
They use some sort of newfangled process and it will be interesting to see how the market(prices) changes.
If at all.
Who knows, down the road, my feelings may change and a stainless steel bicycle may just be the pinnacle of all things acciaio.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Final

I went bowling today.
Boy, it's been a while since I've been bowling and it took me a while to get back into the groove.
No, not bowling with a bowling ball silly!
Though it's been a while since I've done that too.
This kind of bowling:

I gotta say, bowls are not my favorite form to make.
I mean it's like the first thing you learn to do on the wheel and once I learned to do it, I sort of went off and started to do other things.
The thing is, I sort of never bothered to learn to make them correctly.
To the non ceramic folks, bowls are sort of well, just bowls.
To a ceramic person though, a bowl is a true test of ability and skill; I could often tell who made a bowl just by looking at it.
One thing I don't like about bowls is that you sort of waste a lot of clay for you have to trim the bottoms to create your foot:

That's about ten bowls worth of trimmings there on the wheel, and that's how a bowl looks after it's done.
Technically, there's a lot of things going on when you make a bowl.
There's all kinds of stuff like shape, size, and weight, stuff that the maker thinks of but the end user takes for granted.
Between yesterday and today I managed to make sixteen bowls and out of that, there's maybe like one that I'm really happy with.
So after all that, I still haven't recovered my Jedi bowl skilz.
Which is why making them can get sort of frustrating.
They look deceptively easy to make, but trust me, they aren't.
I figured I'd start off by making all sorts of bowls, round bowls and vee shaped bowls, big bowls and small bowls.
To no avail.
I still suck at it.
As they say though, practice makes perfect so maybe by the time I hit bowl thirty I might start to get a feel for what I'm doing.
If not, it's going to be a long week:

I usually sell em for around ten to fifteen dollars so if I make like a two hundred of them, I'll be all set to make that call to Italy and talk to the frame folks!
Oh wait.
Somebody has to buy them first.
I forgot about that part.

Sunday Early Edition

On an island.
That's where I live.
Not the kind of island I'm talking about, but sort of.
Sorry, I had to get that in.
Anyways I managed to get in a few miles yesterday, as I waited for some clay things to dry out.
Which is sort of like watching cactus grow, so off I went.
In search of...
Okay, I wasn't really searching for anything.
Still I found something:

I saw this person way out there on the water sort of coasting on his paddle board.
Well, not really coasting, more like floating cause coasting in the water is sort of like coasting uphill: nature eventually takes it's course.
So I was watching this dude for a bit, remembering what it's like to just sort of float around out there far from shore, leaving it all behind.
Sort of like you're on your own little island.
I swear I could take like one of those inflatable mattresses and float out there like forever!
Okay, not forever for eventually I'd probably end up in California.
Or something.
When you're floating around out there, everything is in a different perspective.
For one thing, you're now in three dimensional space, not like when you're walking around on terra firma, for now you have to start worrying about what's below you.
If you know what I mean.
There's this feeling of isolation, of being far from reality, for the only reality is you, floating around in a rather large ocean.
Despite this isolation, you can't help but be aware, aware of everything around you, for what's around you has an effect on your survival.
How this adds up to a peacefulness and calm, I don't know.
Maybe it's something primal.
Well I was thinking, it's sort of how I feel when I'm riding around on my bicycle.
Like I'm riding around on my own little island.
Except me and my little Italian island keeps a look out for other folks' islands:

This only happens when it gets crowded and the other little islands sort of poke out into the path cause the parking lot is like right next to it.
It's sort of dangerous cause when I'm on my island, I'm usually looking ahead or down and not up and those long skinny islands are sort of popular around these parts.
At least put a red flag on it.
So anyways, I've had my own little island for like three years now and it's taken about that long to get back some of my old island riding skills.
As a small kid, when I had my banana seat bike, it seemed like I could make it do all sorts of cool things like wheelies and such that I can't do now.
Oh, every once in a while I try some of the old goofiness, you know, just for fun, but I seem to be lacking my old skill set.
Well one of them came back.
One of my old skill sets I mean.
I can finally let go of the bars:

Oh yeah!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Have a Plan

Since in recent times, I've been severely lacking in motivation to go out and ride, I have formulated an intricate plan to set me back on track.
Many hours of thoughtful introspection have gone into this plan, all sorts of soul searching and such.
You know, the hardest part is getting out the door, at least for me.
Then there's the weather, considering I'm a fair weather cyclist, I only go out when the sun is shining.
Any hint of clouds and I make for the couch.
Not a good thing.
I believe that my motivation for cycling, when I first started anyways, was that it was a challenge, a challenge to get my body into some kind of physical shape since I was terribly flabby.
I mean three miles and I was done!
As time went by, I got fitter and stronger and now, I'm sort of happy to be where I am.
I can go out and ride without any real discomfort, unless said discomfort is self induced, and just enjoy the ride and passing scenery.
So, after careful thought, I've decided to return to my roots!
Yes! Back to the olden days when I had goals!
Since it's so mentally difficult to get out the door, I'm going to make it physically difficult to get out the door!
I'm going to eat a frozen pizza a day until I can no longer fit through the doorway!

Hundreds of pizzas!
Stacked in the freezer awaiting microwave goodness!
Of course, one can only eat so much frozen pizza so I plan to add in some freshly baked pies too.
One cannot live on pizza alone, so when pizza is no longer appealing(never happened!), I have an alternate source of fatness:

That's right frozen food section fans!
Ice cream by the pint!
Many, many pints I might add.
Like hundreds.
Or thousands!
Of pints I mean.
Man, this is going to be some motivational excursion I'm taking.
I'm going to have to purchase new pants.
So anyways, I figure that if I gain like fifty pounds or so, enough to see a difference, and start looking at myself in the mirror, one day I might just say to myself, "you know, you really should go out and ride your bike."
That, my friends is what motivation is all about!
I mean no more excuses about the weather, I'm tired, or leaving right after Law & Order.
Once I start carrying that tire popping weight, I'll force myself to ride!
If I can get off the couch I mean.
Okay, okay, my plan may have a few flaws, but at least I have a plan.
If you know what I mean.

Filling in the Gaps

Hello, and welcome to the Flat Tire!
The newest most innovative site on Bloggerland!
In this, our collectible First Issue, we'll give you a little taste of what you, the reader can expect in forth coming posts.
We think you'll enjoy it.
The forth coming posts, I mean.
We'll start off with a day to day, hour to hour update on what's going on around here, Flat Tire Land.
Every second is filled with adventure and fun, intrigue and action!
So don't miss a minute!
Well on Thursday, nothing happened.
Actually something happened, but not much.
So little in fact that it mostly counts as nothing.
Yesterday though, something happened!
I left my camera in the car though, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
Anyways, I got invited to participate in a pumpkin carving contest.
Lemme tell you, I was sort of nervous for these sort of competitions can get crazy and I haven't carved a pumpkin in like fifteen years or so.
I'd actually rather eat them.
The pumpkins I mean.
My grandmother used to cook them with a teriyaki sauce that as they say around these parts would broke da mouth.
Luckily, someone had a camera so I'll be able to get the images later, but for now all I got is this:

Unfortunately I didn't bring home the gold, but I did get that nice apron.
Which I needed for the pumpkin rinds were flying all over the place!
It was a pumpkin massacre!
In a nice way I mean.
I was part of a team from school, there were like eight of us, and we had four pumpkins to carve/decorate in two hours.
I took along some of my clay tools in hopes they would work on that orangy substance, and it worked out okay:

I gotta go and soak the pumpkin off of them cause pumpkin is like well, orange glue.
When it dries I mean.
Again, I hope to have some pics later.
I need my tools pumpkin free cause it's that time of year again!
I got that craft fair thingy to do and I got nothing so I gotta head out to the gara-uh, studio to make some hopefully saleable items.
More scratch for the bicycle bling don't you know.
As for bicycle news well, there isn't any.
Except for that trainer, which I'm still trying to figure out.
More on this later.
So there you go!
The collectible Flat Tire First Edition(FTFE)!
Save it for it'll be worth like some big bucks in the future.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wait! There's More!

So I'm fooling around on that trainer thingy, testing my limits for pain and exhaustion when I decide to take a break and check the mail.
Well the ole mailman, he's on it and he's got this package for me, but I don't know what it is.
I mean I haven't ordered any bicycle stuff in a while so what could it be?
Ah yes!
The old/new novel I've been waiting for:

I think it's some scandalous story about Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello!
You know, from back in their Mousekateer days-
Hey wait just a minute!
What's up with the odd looking fellows on the cover?
This ain't about no Mickey Mouse Club!
Oh right, Dumas!
So if you've been following along at home you, the reader, know that I recently finished The Count of Monte Cristo so I'm sort of on a Dumas kick.
I figured The Three Musketeers would be a nice follow-
Hey wait just a minute!
This thing is like in a different language:

Oh boy.
It's in French.
The bookstore folks must have seen my Flat Tire zip code and figured I wanted it in French.
Seeing as how it's the second language around these parts.
Next to Italian and Campagnolo that is.
Talk about torture!
Reading in French is like well, torture!
I mean it's all different like!
Seriously, whomever invented French didn't have their thinking caps on!
Or maybe they got up on the wrong side of the bed.
Or something.
Well okay, French isn't all bad.
If you stick to simple stuff like "where's the post office" or "how much is the chicken" or "I'll catch you laters."
It's the stuff like "Il est difficile de comprende combien est grande la ressemblance et la difference qu'il y a entre tous les hommes" that makes my brain hurt.
If it wasn't for real I'd figure someone was just making this stuff up!
Why oh why out of all the languages in the world did I choose to tackle French?
Well okay, it's a good book so I guess I'll give it the ole college try, even if it makes my brain explode:

I swear reading French is like watching cactus grow.
Slow, and well, slow.
I mean I might as well read this stuff while I'm on the trainer!
Get a double dose of suffering don't you know.
For now, let me show you my little friend:


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Here Ye, Here Ye!

All citizens of Flat Tire Land in good standing!
In accordance with the written laws of Flat Tire Land,
a jury of peers have found the following statutes have been broken:

The accused was seen entering a local establishment and observed colluding with two wheeled machines of dubious origin.
The said bicycles, being of non Italian birth, are/were considered contraband in said Flat Tire Land and possession of said bicycles deserves punishment of the most severe type.

The accused was overheard extolling the virtues of two wheeled machines composed of material not of steel.
The only suitable material for bicycles, by order of the Emperor of Flat Tire Land, shall be steel and all other materials considered contraband and possession thereof is punishable by well, punishment.

Unauthorized use of high end two wheeled machine accessories, other wise known as Poseurness
The accused was caught in possession of high quality bicycle accessories with the intent to appear speedy.
The accused in not speedy in any sense of the word so use of said high quality two wheeled machine accessories is therefore prohibited and considered contraband and possession of such is punishable by extreme torture.

The Supreme Court of Flat Tire Land has heard the evidence and pronounced the accused guilty!
All those present shall bear witness to the punishment:

The Treasonous, Blasphemous, Poseurness one must turn revolutions on the Excruciating Torture Machine(ETM) until: One (1), the wheels fall off, Two (2), the Madonna del Ghisallo mercifully ends his pain by loss of consciousness, or Three (3), the end of the Law & Order marathon.
Here Ye! Here Ye!
All those who bear witness!
Let the punishment fit the crime!

Thanks Hoku.
I think.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Changes in Attitudes

Isn't that like a Jimmy Buffett song?

I saw him in concert once, way back in another life but I haven't tried his cheeseburgers yet.
Not what this is all about.
Not really.
Okay well, kinda sorta.
If you've been following along at home you, the reader, know that I went and stopped off at the local LBS yesterday.
I don't exactly know what took me there as I haven't bought anything bicycle related in a while.
Well, make that a while for me.
I guess I was kinda curious to see how the new bikes looked and more so to see if anything caught my attention.
It was just a year ago that I was on the same mission, looking at a possible new bicycle purchase.
New bicycles have that allure, that new bicycle smell that you just can't get with say like a used bicycle.
Nevermind about the smell part, you get my drift.
I mean they're all nice and shiny and blingy and the chain rings are like in pristine condition and the chain has that sticky stuff all over it.
You get a new bicycle so that you can take it home and make it yours.
If you're anything like me anyways.
Not like an older bicycle, where you have to worry about where it's been and how the previous owner took care of it and you gotta check for worn out parts and make sure nothing's broke.
It wasn't that long ago when I'd roam the aisles of the LBS, looking at all the newest carbon and aluminium goodness, dreaming of well, the bicycle of my dreams.
Not so much anymore.
Somewhere along the line, my eyeballs changed and they way I see them newfangled bicycles is now a bit different.
Okay, way different.
I'll be honest here and say it up front.
A bicycle is a status symbol.
Well not exactly a status symbol, more a symbol of individuality.
Some time between now and then, the bicycle became less of a tool and more of an expression of who I am what I want to be.
Is that a good thing?
Not sure.
I'm also not sure of why it changed.
Don't get me wrong here, a bicycle is still a bicycle and I wouldn't look down on anyone riding say a really cheap bicycle.
You ride, you rock.
I mean it doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you're riding.
So anyways, I went to the LBS to check out some bicycles at a certain price point, you know, to see just what kind of bicycle I would be able to afford.
I gotta say, after looking around, they all started to look the same.
Which got a little worried.
I mean some of them bicycles are really nice.
Just not for me.
Was I turning into a bike snob?
Had I regressed to the point where only a special bicycle will turn my head and everything else is just blah?
You know the type.
"That's a nice bicycle you got there."
Then you wait for it.
Please, please, please ask me what kind of bicycle I ride.

Okay, I haven't gotten to the point where I gotta fish for compliments.
For one thing, while I guess my bicycles are nice, they're really not anything to write home about.
See this change in attitude?
Where did it come from?
What does it mean?
What possesses me to seek out and obtain the unobtainable?
I mean its' a freaking bicycle, it's not like you can pull up to an expensive restaurant and valet park.
To most of the population you look goofy while riding it.
Just who exactly am I trying to impress?
It's like I'm strolling through the LBS and all the time I'm thinking "yeah, these bicycles are nice, but I ride an Italian bike."
I do believe I've morphed into something truly evil.
Either that or I've morphed into something truly Italian.
Italian. Frozen pizza. Get it?
You know like pizza is Italian and all that?
So anyways I'm feeling pretty guilty about having these elitist thoughts and ambitions.
Ashamed really.
So ashamed that I'm beginning to question this whole Italian/custom frame acquisition.
Okay, not really.
I'm still going to get a new frame.
Maybe I just need an attitude adjustment.
If you know what I mean.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Final

Not a good day.
On the bike I mean.
Other than that, it was a beautiful day!
Except for the traffic:

I swear, I just standing there(JST) and within like five minutes the once clear calm waters were suddenly crowded with yellow thingys!
In that flotilla I counted about 18 of them, not counting the red one and the outrigger canoe.
I thought I was going to see the outrigger Tbone on of them kayaks but the outrigger folks slowed and went around.
There were more of them on Flat Island:

Flat Island or Popoia Island is a bird sanctuary, the folks landing there can only walk around the perimeter as the rest of the island is off limits.
Sea birds nest on these little offshore islands and most of them are protected by laws.
I also started thinking that maybe Kailua/Lanikai has the greatest number of kayaks per capita in like the world!
Or something.
So anyways, I slogged my way around Kailua, my heart rate doing funky things, my legs slowing turning into noodles like pasta in boiling water.
Make that overcooked pasta.
Usually my mid ride cream soda gives me a boost, sort of like spinach and Popeye, but not today.
I left feeling sort of strange and bloated like and it wasn't until I burped four miles later that I realized why.
I swear, letting out a good burp has got to be one of the more pleasant things in life.
It was one of those days where I just couldn't get into a good rhythm, I kept going fast and slow, slow and fast until I just couldn't go at all.
So I stopped off at the LBS, you know, to take a look at all the new stuff.
Somehow I got it into my head that instead of some custom frame, a newfangled bicycle might be the way to go.
It's not.
One year ago today, more or less, I would have been perfectly happy to jump on some monocoque carbon goodness with or without some Zertz inserts and gone on my satisfied way.
Funny how things can change in a year.
More on this later.
Anyways, as soon as I knew I left my legs at home I started on a new mission, one that I've been thinking about but didn't really try.
I started to think about Mr. Rantwick and his tree contest thingy, so I went in search of my perfect tree.
More on this later too.
Lemme tell you, it wasn't easy but since my attention was now focused on trees, I sort of forgot about my forgotten legs and it turns out I had a pretty nice ride.
I gotta say before leaving the house today, I felt a sort of anticipation about getting back out on the road, something I haven't felt in a while.
It felt pretty good.
It also felt pretty good to come home and take a nap until The Dog needed to do this thing, but that's another more on this later too.
So, until later.

Sunday Early Edition

I need to get out.
In fact I'm getting out.
Today even.
There are signs that you know it's time to hit the road.
I keep my rides logged on a calendar, so when there's like too many blank spaces, that becomes a sign.
The other is this:

Okay, that may also be a sign that I need to do some ironing, but once my bicycle becomes some sort of household fixture, I know it's time.
It's pretty sad when your rims collect dust.
Only on one side.
I've also been thinking about where and how them bicycles are parked, there in my living room.
The arrangement is not optimal, for to get to one bike I usually got to move the other bike and it's also getting sort of crowded there in the corner and I can't get to my CDs and some of my books.
So I need to build me a rack.
I was going to do a wood rack, cause I can work wood over in the gara- uh, studio, but now that I got that welding class I'm sitting in, I can use the MIG to create something out of steel.
A nice little two bicycle rack to fit in that corner.
I'm still working on a design.
Nothing fancy, just something to hold my bicycles up.
I also took that old frame I had sitting around and gave it to some of the students in class, for them to fool around with:

I'm interested to see what they do with it, some wanted to start cutting it up, others want to try and fix it up.
The seat post and fork were like frozen on there, but we managed to get the headset loose so maybe they can actually do something with it.
That there is the "before" picture, I hope to have an "after" picture later.
Interesting watching these kids work, most have no clue about tools and how to use them. I mean I had to show them how to use a pipe wrench on the threaded headset as they looked sort of lost as how to go about it.
I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do.
Anyways, that's sort of my next project, the Flat Tire Bicycle Storage Solution(FTBSS), hopefully I can get that started this week.
Once I figure out exactly what I'm going to do.
Meanwhile I need to go and unstore my bicycle.
Before it becomes a permanent fixture.
If you know what I mean.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Handbuilt Frame

Do I need one?
Do I deserve one?
More importantly, will it make me faster?
Why are you, the reader, laughing?
Everyone knows that if you got a custom frame you gotta be fast!
Okay let's break this down.
By hand built, I mean tubes cut to size, not an off the rack build.
I mean you can get frames that are hand built to stock specifications, not exactly custom.
If you know what I mean.
So anyways, I've been reading that the only time you need a custom frame is when your body has some odd dimensions and stock geometry doesn't work.
Well I am of small stature but with massive thighs, but I don't know if that counts.
I don't study myself in the mirror and check my proportions, though maybe I should.
After all this fooling around on the two bicycles I have, it seems like I would fit a 49 or 50, but the top tubes still feel a bit long.
Using a short stem helps, but I don't want to start running anything shorter than 80mm. since the drops get awfully close to my knees.
Then there's the other thing.
Is a custom frame really worth it?
Of course it is, but is it really?
The frame sets I've been looking at run from about $2200 to $3500, and that's just for steel.
It also happens to be around the same price if I were to say order a stock size Italian frame set.
As you can see, I'm going for the Mother of All Frames here.
Wile E. Coyote Acme Frame set, guaranteed to run down pesky Roadrunners and little girls with pink bicycles.
Anyways, I'm having trouble justifying the cost of one of these custom frames.
I mean seriously, it's a bicycle frame.
On the other hand, I sell pottery and it's just well, pottery.
So I sort of know where these frame builders are coming from.
Besides the cost, I'm having trouble narrowing down a specific builder.
Again, it's just a bicycle frame so there's not too much extra frou-frous to add on and make it different.
So what it sort of comes down to is the name on the down tube.
Or in the case of Dave Kirk, some funky looking seat stays:

I gotta admit, when I first saw Kirk's Terraplane stays, I didn't like them.
Now, they are sort of growing on me despite the fact that there are only a few online reviews available.
Those stays alone are an additional $300 bucks, so they better do something.
Dave Kirk is on my very long short list, but his frames are like at the outer edge of what I want to spend.
I suppose if I part out the Ciocc I'll make some of that back, but lemme tell you, it's pretty extravagant even for me and I'm pretty extravagant.
If you know what I mean.
Maybe I just haven't found something I really like yet, though I do like what the folks at Signal are doing:

Those have to be the sexiest stays I've ever laid my eyeballs on!
The two guys who are Signal also happen to be artsy folks so they made my list too.
The thing is, I didn't think it would be that difficult to part ways with my hard earned cash on a bicycle frame.
If it was under a grand, I think I'd have no problem for that's sort of where I see the value of a frame, but when you're talking two large or more, that sort of gets me thinking.
We're only talking frame here, not even group and wheels yet so now the cha-chings don't sound so bright and friendly.
They sound sort of dark and hollow, like what my wallet is going to feel like.
Okay, I want a blingalicious bicycle, but since I ride at super sonic speeds, no one is going to be able to see it anyways.
Of course I'll know.
So what it's sort of coming down to is aesthetics since all of these frame builders know what they're doing and well, a frame is a frame is a frame.
Maybe it's knowing that I can only afford one of these beauties and it will be the only one for some time that's making the decision difficult.
Or maybe I'm just still wondering if it's all really worth it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Boy, I've been slacking lately.
I don't know why, but I just don't seem to have the energy for my midweek rides.
I've become a weekend warrior.
Couch potato.
I've lost my oomph!
Well, I was going to hit the road this afternoon except I remembered I had something to do so instead I went and got me a frozen pizza:

Okay that's not frozen.
Pop it in the gamma ray thingy for nine minutes and presto!
I mean voila!
I could eat a frozen pizza a day if it was healthy.
Even if it was unhealthy.
Anyways, I don't eat like the whole thing, I eat only the middle part and The Dog, he eats the crusts.
We got a sweetheart deal.
So anyways, instead of going out and burning some calories, I'm sitting here packing some on!
Whooo hoooo!
Sort of like the Anti-Ooomph!
Like Bizarro Superman.
Instead of being the Man of Steel, I'm like the Man of Bubble Wrap.
All soft and cushiony.
Or something.
While I was at the post office, the post office came to me and dropped this off:

Nothing beats a slice of pie and some good bicycle quotes.
Like this one:

"Never stop working on your weaknesses."
Mike McCarthy

Well, my weakness is pizza so lemme tell you, I'm training hard!
Damn! that slice made me work some muscle groups I didn't know existed!
I'm gonna be hurting tomorrow.
I swear though, right after I finish the last slice, I'm gonna rededicate myself to getting out there and rolling up some miles.
No really!
I need to get back some of my Oomph!
Powered by Pepperoni.
Don't you know.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bicycle Diaries

We're on a road to nowhere.
Sort of takes a different meaning after you read Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame.
More on this later.
First some background on Mr. Byrne.
The dude rides a bicycle.
Makes music too:

I didn't know exactly what to expect when I started reading.
David Byrne is a character, an intelligent character to say the least.
I knew of his bicycle stand designs that were used for a time in New York:

photo from The Scout

So I knew he was a bicycle rider, I just didn't know how much he rode.
Byrne is not a casual rider.
Seems he takes a folding bicycle where ever it's possible as he enjoys exploring on two wheels and he manages to go all over the world.
Which is what Bicycle Diaries is sort of about.
Okay, not really.
It's not really about riding a bicycle, but more about observations he makes while riding a bicycle.
In different parts of the world.
Which is interesting, cause Byrne is an art school drop out of sorts having spent some time at Rhode Island School of Design, so he sort of sees things a bit differently.
If you know what I mean.
Music apparently was his first love, parts of the book talk about the different kinds of music he is involved in; Latin music of all things.
The book is then broken into nine chapters on different cities across the globe and his experiences in them.
He does talk about how easy/difficult it is to navigate through these cities by bicycle, but mostly it's social commentary.
I found Byrne's narrative to be observant and philosophical.
Not preachy or anything as he tends to ask questions more than make statements, both engaging the reader to question why.
The why part gets into urban planning, sustainability, and of course the part the bicycle plays in the big picture.
The fact that he mentions Collapse by Jared Diamond should give you some idea of where he things we're going.
I found it a to be a good read, not what one would expect from an ex-rock star.
Well okay, maybe he is still a rock star, but you wouldn't know it except that he mentions meeting all his musical connections in all the cities he visits.
Okay, enough from me, just go and read it.
Or down load the audio book from here, something I plan to do, just so that I can hear him read it, along with some nice background music and sound effects.
Lemme just say that after reading this I've become a David Byrne fan. I was a Talking Heads fan but now I respect and appreciate the man more than the band.
I mean how can you not respect a dude in a really big suit?

photo courtesy here

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Been Thinking

Which is not always a good thing.
Trust me on this.
I been thinking that I need a mountain bike.
Which is not good for I just got rid of my mountain bike early this year.
I found it sort of difficult to actually ride on a mountain.
Geographically remember, these here islands are volcanic in origin.
All the mountains we got are old volcanoes, not exactly trail material.
These islands, in Earth time are also fairly young, maybe a couple of million years old.
Wind, rain and weather all do their thing to make the islands look like well, what they look like now.
Which is sort of different from places that are not islands.
First of all, we got the side of the island I live on.
These are the what the mountains for the most part, look like:

If I remember my geography correctly, it's because this whole windward area was formed when a big ole volcano collapsed forming what is now Kaneohe Bay and all that's left are the remnants of the crater.
So instead of mountains, we got more like volcanic walls.
That makes this side of the island look sort of different from the other side:

If you squint your eyeballs and look beyond the boats, you can see the drastic difference.
On the Honolulu side, the mountains, okay hills to some of you folks, look like well, hills.
That's because the volcanoes here are shield volcanoes, not tall peaked ones say like St. Helen's was or is.
Even though we got Mauna Kea on the Big Island, which is like 14,000 feet above sea level, the incline is not really drastic:

Squint your eyeballs really hard and you might see some world class telescopes up there.
Okay, not really.
I mean you probably can't see them, but they're there.
Getting back to this island, O'ahu, you can sort of see why having a mountain bike is not really for riding on any mountains.
For one thing, all the nice lands are occupied by houses, and all the nice trails are mostly hiking only.
You cannot really bicycle anyways, for it's mostly like rain forest, overhead canopy. It's also mostly watershed, so the ground stays wet and is susceptible to damage from overuse.
In short, I don't live in mountain bike country.
Okay, there are some trails here, in fact one within riding distance from Flat Tire Central, but it's not one you want to do when it's wet.
Which is all the time since it rains in them thar hills almost every day.
Which is why I got rid of my mountain bike and got a road bike.
Except now I sort of miss my mountain bike.
Even though we don't really have any mountains with trails.
Still, I been thinking.
Which is not always a good thing.
If you know what I mean.