Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Variable gears are for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles rather than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft. Give me a fixed gear."
—Henri Desgrange, Founder of the Tour de France, 1903

I concur Monsieur.
Riding home last night I was bored. The weather was exponentially improving every second, and my ride was just a commute.
As I swung onto Talcott Notch to ascend the finally climb of the ride I dropped the chain onto the 39. I kept on dropping gears trying to find one I liked until I was on the 15. I swung onto Old Mountain Rd. and stood up.
It felt good.
39x15 is roughly the same as the 42x16 I use on my fixed gear, and now that I had my cast off there was no reason I shouldn't be riding it.
After cleaning up, I began the process of switch the Fun Machine back to a fixed gear from it's current touring bike mode.
Pulled the barcons, cable stops, derailleurs, chain, chainrings, and wheels, replacing the chain, wheels, and a single chainring.
Amazing how those changes effect the personality of the bike.
As a geared tourer, the Fun Machine is sort of a Cadillac of a ride. Long, low, plush, and sort of slow in handling. But set it up fixed, and it becomes light on it's wheels and perfectly neutral.
Makes no sense to me, but I love it.
I will miss the tubulars, but not enough to commute on the Not Race Wheels.
Thanks to Alex I had this stupid song in my head my whole ride home yesterday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Singular Sock Contest!

On Sunday I was able to activate my electric toothbrush with my injured thumb. Later that day, for a while at least if I concentrate, concentrate, concentrate, concentrate, echo, echo, echo, hello, hello, hello, now batting clean up for the Boston Red Sox, Charlie B...
Oops, where was I, oh yeah, if I concentrated I could activate the thumb shifter on my road bike from the drops. This only lasted about 40 minutes, and I really had to think about what I was doing to make it happen, but I was excited.
So to commemorate this auspicious occasion I thought I'd have a little contest.

Marty at The Prairie Peddler sent me a pair of Singular socks. Marty made the mistake of thinking just because I ride a grown-up size bike I would have grown up sized feet. I don't. So up for grabs is a beautifully stylish pair of Sock Guy Singular socks in size L/XL.

But here's the rub; you need to have the correct answer to the following:
What kind of hub and rim are on the rear of my Cannondale?
I want specifics.

They are Campagnolo, the hub was made in the time right before carbon became the material du jour. The rim in some ways commemorates Fabio Casartelli.
If you asked me I just made this real fucking easy.

Post your answer here, or better yet e.mail it to me at charlieridesabike at gmail dot com so you can include your mailing address.
First correct answer wins.
Please have big feet.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I dedicate this post

I dedicate this post to James Harmon, for I know it is a subject he dearly enjoys hearing about.

The best part of not having cast is wiping right handed.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Not Yet

Getting my cast off after only 3.5 weeks was terribly exciting. So much so that I prepped my Singular for hopefully my return to the trails.
I put an Ergon grip on the right side as in the basement that seemed more comfortable than a conventional grip. I also installed a huge Maxxis Ardent 2.4 on the front. At 20 psi, it still felt pretty firm. I lowered it until it felt a little squishy, but without risking bottoming.
Leaving the house this morning, the weather seemed perfect for commuting...too perfect.
At work, I was loving the mobility of cast-free-atude. But without the fiberglass support, the joint is still "tender". Weak is an another term that comes to mind. Lifting things like a pint of water, while much improved in the past few weeks is still difficult. Squeezing a bottle, whether water or catalyst remains a left handed operation.
But gripping the handle of a tool is pretty much pain free.
I was hoping the later would transfer to the mountain bike.
At first I thought it was going to be a success. The ergon was not ideal as my thumb is 1.5 time larger than usual, and I couldn't really get comfortable. I think a standard grip will work much better. But otherwise climbing up to the ridge was going well. If I could get comfortable, this might work.
Maybe racing on Sunday?
First time the trail turned downhill that illusion was shattered. I let some more air out of the tire, but still the vibrations that got to the bar were jarring.
Within 5 minutes I was heading for the trail head.
The fracture was/is minor, but the game keeper's thumb is still going to take some time.

Well, on the positive side, riding home from work without a cast was pure bliss yesterday. The lack of support, and resulting soreness were well worth being able to grasp the bars normally.
For that I am truly thankful.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


A little stiff and sore, but Dr. Somogyi says I should try and be "active".

Monday, June 21, 2010

Joys of Tubulars

"Charles, what are you spraying in the basement? What's that smell?"

Nothing honey.

After neglecting to scrape the glue off my rims one too many times, it was time to bring out the big guns.

Wire brush,
Vat of chemicals rammed into a truing stand,

After many spins through the vat, you start loosening it up with the wire brush, them you hit it with the half round file, occasionally spinning it, and finally using a rag to clean off the stray globs and the likes.
Squeaky clean with only minor brain damage.

I'm glad I still had a couple of rolls of gluing tape left, because I didn't have any tires prepped, so convenience wins out over cost.

Father's Day Failure

The old blog frequency has really dropped off since I broke my thumb; I guess I don't think writing about riding back and forth to work isn't very exciting. To compensate for the lack of content, I've given the blog a "fresh" new look.

Saturday I did a nice hilly loop through the Farmington Valley. Technically I don't know if it was actually the "Farmington Valley" but I did see the river two or three times, so that's good enough for me.

But for Sunday I had hatched this great plan; I'd ride down to the beach to see my Dad for Father's Day. Being Father's Day, I had carte blanche to do what ever ride I wanted, so this seemed like one hell of a plan.

I had some route ideas, but I consulted Google Maps to get a second opinion. They have this nifty feature where you can drag the route over to the roads you want, and it appeared "my route" was going to be a little longer than I wanted. So I chose a Google "bicycle" friendly route of about 50 miles.

Bad move. Google shot me through all sorts of residential, and commercial areas that I probably would have rather avoided. Then I miss one of Google's turns and ended up on an even crappier route. North of Middletown was all like this.

Once I got to Saybrook Rd. / Rt 154, I thought it would be smooth sailing, only it seemed years ago DOT tried a paving experiment that failed along the first stretch of road. The road was concrete and the shoulder was asphalt. The concrete had a sharp, defined edge, so you could either ride in the center of the lane pissing off motorists, or take your chances with the debris in the broken, neglected tarmac.
I chose the latter.
Not a lot of fun.

Finally out off Middletown and into Higganum, and Haddam the road starts improving. So does the scenery. Bucolic country roads. Nice. Making up for some wrong turns...


I get a flat!
A quarter inch gash that the sealant won't plug.

Normally no big deal, I'll just slap on my spare and continue on.
But I must have done the best job ever of gluing my tire on, as the base tape is sticking to the rim and the casing is pealing away from it.

Thumbs are helpful changing tubulars.

Now here's where I really blow it. While I'm trying to strip the stuck base tape off the rim, I loose track of what I'm doing and touch the rim to the ground. Now my glue has been effectively nullified.

I could meticulously scrap the debris from the rim with my mini-screwdriver, but looking at the time, and how far I am from my parents house, the towel is thrown in. Of course Kim's phone is off, so It's Mom to the rescue.

Got to see my parents, and got 40 miles in so I guess the glass really is more than half full.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Metric Interupted

Rode a little more than a metric today, but I took a break in the middle of it...a break if you call buffing sinks, and grinding samples a break.

Had an equipment break through too. Turns out the bars on the Sunday Princess are the most comfortable for a person in my "condition".
Shifting is somewhat awkward still; I have to employ an "under / over" technique.
For shifting to smaller cogs I have to shift from the top, as my cast won't let me have access to the button in the drops.

But, I can shift to bigger cogs from the drops (where I'd rather be), and from the hoods my cast makes shifting from the top uncomfortable.
Fortunately for me Rosedale Farm in East Weatogue has started making wine. The Farmington Valley used to be tobacco country, the few surviving farms have had to be creative with their crops as it is hard to compete with the world wide produce machine in such a season climate. Connecticut is still a dry state on Sundays, but vineyards can sell sell wine on Sundays. East Weatogue is far enough from Massachusetts to make it worthwhile to open on Sundays.
What does this have to do with me?
Well, since their open, they might as well sell cyclists ridiculously large oatmeal raisin cookies so they can take the really long way home from work.
Devoured half of it there, thinking "this thing is huge I'll never finish it", only to polish it off about 7 miles later.
It was good.
Things with my hand seem to be moving along; hopefully my MRI will confirm this. Strength seems to be improving, and other than some swelling, and numbness, today was pain free on the Princess. Something I can't say about the last couple days on the Fun Machine.

The weather is right for it and I'm going to enjoy decadence of commuting on my racing bike.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Good Sign

Now if only drivers would look up from their texting devices and read it...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Commuting is easy when you have the right motivation. Even after being in the freezer for 6 months, Mom's pumpkin bread still rules.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Plan B

On Thursday I put my biggest fattest tire on the front of BluSteel and crossed my fingers hoping the extra cush would soften the ride enough for my thumb to tolerate.
Unfortunately my cast prevented me from being able to grasp the handle bar at a reasonable angle, and I rode most of the less than 45 minutes resting my hand on top of the bars, or "cupping" the end of it.
When I did try to grab the bar, any bump was jarring.
Plan B.
I decided to put gears on the Fun Machine. In the basement the flare of the drops seemed to work better for me than the more traditional drop bars of the Sunday Princess, plus the Princess was already set up with Ergopower which requires a functional thumb.
I set it up using a Shimano 8 speed barcon in friction mode, with an older Ultegra 600 8 spd derailleur, a 105 front derailleur as a chain retainer, and a 9spd Campy rear wheel.
I cobbled together a 13-29 cassette with loose cogs, and kept my 42t chainring up front.
In the basement, it took a little coaxing to get the chain up to the 29, but eventually, it seemed to be dial.
Out on the road, there really isn't a comfortable way to grab the bars with a hand cast. There are tolerable positions, but nothing really comfortable. Changing positions often, seemed to be the way to go. At some points, I would just hang my hand at my side. Resting it on top of the brake wasn't bad either. Ironically, I put gears on the bike so I wouldn't have to stress my upperbody as much, but one of the most comfortable positions was climbing out of the saddle in the drops.
Any broken pavement was a sharp spike of pain, and with the rain, I seemed to hit every pot hole in the Farmington Valley.
It's good that climbing out of the saddle was working, because, the 29 wasn't. Even in friction mode, 8spd barcons just don't have 9 spd range out on the road.
So I went back to the basement and re-cobbled the cassette to 13-21. I'd rather have more top end and eliminating the 23, 26 and 29 let me add a 14 and have 1 tooth jumps from 13-19. I'd love to end it with 12, but I have 3 or 4 13t cogs, but no 12's in my bag of tricks. But honestly, I don't have much more speed on the flats than the 13 can provide; 100rpm's is over 40kph (that's all Euro-kool for over 25 mph).
Finally, I can't imagine how horrible my cast will stink after 6 weeks; just one week in and it's even offending me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

I went to the UCONN Medical Arts and Research building with this big awkward temporary cast thing

and left with this much more manageable "mini" cast.
Kind of looks like a bicycle glove.
I bet I can ride a bike with it!
I didn't have a bicycle handy, but it'll work on a moto...

True, I never actually asked my Doctor if I could ride a bike, but she never said I couldn't. The casting technician did ask me if I was going to ride, and I did reply honestly "as soon as I can".
Road bike should be no problem. Well actually the Sunday Princess will be a problem, but the Fun Machine should be good to go. If I "need" to ride a geared road bike I can put a barcon on in friction mode and use one of my Campy wheels (either the Sunday Princess, or the Fun Machine) .
Maybe Domnarski is still a possibility...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back to our regularly scheduled program

On Thursday a box from the Mothership arrived (not that Mothership, this Mothership).
Marty had shipped me the Maxxis Aspens I had ordered.
On first inspection they looked kinda small.
On inflation they were kinda small. For some reason I was expecting something more voluminous. I had pictured a full 2.1 casing with minimal knobs. Like a slightly smaller Race King.
It looks like they just took the casing of the Crossmark or Ignitor and put a minimal tread on it.

Too small for the front I thought, so I swapped it out for a Crossmark.

Since I never used a Crossmark up front I had to second guess myself.
What do I have that's bigger on hand?
I went to my box of tricks and pulled out a Geax Saguaro.

In the past I haven't been happy with Saguaros, but I figured that's because it was so wet last year.

I was wrong.
I hate them.
The sidewalls are too stiff, so there is such a fine line between too hard and too soft. Even in ideal conditions they merely perform adequately. They are big, dumb, and slow.
In the dry SW, with abundant goatheads, and thorns, those too stiff Aramid reinforced sidewalls might do some good, or under a more "full-sized" rider, but for me in the NE, they SUCK!
Now the Maxxis Aspen on the other hand, I didn't even think about. It disappeared underneath me doing it's job of propelling me forward. Even on loose sandy, gravelly climbs, hardly any wheel slip.
When I'm up and running again (hopefully soon!), I think I will try it up front as well; even at a smaller volume, it felt much more supple than the a fore mentioned piece of crap.

On a final note, I could care less about the general populations rise in obesity...until it effects me. I had to buy jeans as work pants, because I couldn't find any Dickies in my size. I doubt it's because there has been a run on my size, but more there is a call for giant sizes. Thanks a lot you fat fucks.