Friday, August 31, 2007

Fixie Heaven

Well, it is basically done. I stopped by Recycled Cycles yesterday afternoon and picked up a St.Etienne handlebar and Shimano Deore mountain bike brake handle (left side) with the cables. I stripped off the old handlebars, brake cables and back brake block. With the new handlebar, I measured off the distance and cut off the "ram horn" ends, flipped it and its a set up bull horns! Got it all mounted and ready to go. My only misstep was thinking I could re-use the handlebar tape. No go, it shredded when I took it off.

So, I rode in to work today with bare bars. The bike looks like Twiggy! So spare and minimal - it's beautiful. I'm planning on riding in to Gregg's Cycle this afternoon and picking up some bar tape and a longer bolt to hold on the brake handle. This handlebar is a bit wider than the mountain bars the brake handle was made for.

Riding a fixie is going to take some time to get used to. I chickened out last weekend and didn't ride the whole of Mercer Island for fear I couldn't make it. I'll spend next week riding and build up to it. The bike is so light without all the stuff on it

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Finally, a fixie

Well, I finally made the jump to a fixed gear! Here is the story...

I have had a Faggin Tre Tubi from 1985 for many years. The bike has been through a number of moves and had to be turned into Frankenbike a couple years back when I had a chain disaster that sheared off the spokes on the back wheel. I was contemplating turning it into a fixie back then but the cost was too much. The new derailluer and cluster were very finaicky and the bike would drop out of gear at the drop of a hat, especially when pushing hard up a hill... BAD. I finally sickened of it.

The thing that turned it was when I got a Trek 8000 from a neighbor and turned it and a few spare parts from the Faggin into $90 at Recycled Cycles. I also sold a couple bikes from the PBs garage for $100 on craigslist. This basically meant that I could "fixify" the Faggin for about $20 out of pocket. Well worth it!

So... the Faggin has a "flipflop" hub on the back now with a fixed 40/16 and lockring on one side and a freewheel 40/17 on the other side. It is a bolt on setup, and I need to carry a wrench to actually change it out.

I pounded up Mercerwood the other day with the 40/16 fixed. I was huffing pretty hard at the top, but I made it!! So I know it can be done. The fixie only attempted to buck me off once when I forgot I was riding fixed. All in all a pleasant experience, but I need to ride more to get used to it.

Long time...

Well, the summer has basically passed, it seems. Much has happened and biking has been the only common thread running through it all...

I came to the realization that I am NOT a long distance "event" rider... I am a commuter. Not that I wouldn't like to do this, I just don't have a life that will allow me to do it. These "event" rides require that you train consistently and I just don't have the time to do that and keep up with everything else. "Let some things go" you might think... well one of those "things" is my marriage, so I don't think THAT is going to happen!! I commute. I can fit that in.

SO here is to commuting!! Nothing wrong with being an avid cyclist... on the way in and from work.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Glorious days ahead!

OK, so it's been a whole month of Sundays since the last post, but let me assure you, February in Seattle is nothing to write home about as far as cycling goes. I logged a measly 56 miles all month due to bad weather and the fact that I have been on the road. New Orleans for a whole week. I was very tempted to ship a bike down and ride, but I'm glad I didn't as my time was pretty much consumed by working and being sick.... no not like THAT! I got the flu down there. Nothing worse than being sick on the road. Literally.

Back to cycling stuff. Hats off to Michael at Velographics. The decals for my Mercier Bordeaux-Paris arrived a few days ago. It was really a breeze to put them on. While they look awesome, if I had to do it again, I'd place them a little "higher" on the tube. I centered them on the tubes, but since you are usually standing over the bike, it looks like they are underneath it in places. Still, they make the bike look brand new. It is going to be very difficult to part with this girl. It is basically done now so the time is coming to hit Craigslist. I rode her in this morning as it is going to be another great afternoon. Ran perfect. I was a bit rough shifting in spots due to inexperience with this bike, but otherwise flawless. One thing I love about this bike is that it is almost silent when free wheeling. No clicking.

Cascade Bike Club is holding an expo this weekend at Magnuson Park that I will be attending. I'm going to see if I can take in the Mercier to the vintage area and show it. Should be fun regardless.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Ah the rain again!

Back to the good old way that Seattle is supposed to look and feel. Cool and damp. Rode in fog all the way into work today but it sure felt good. Short of having to wipe down my glasses time and again, there was NO ICE.

I was kind of bummed after a trip to Elliot Bay cycles a few days back. I left work a bit early to swing the Mercier over there and get their take on making it a fixie. After I got home to pick it up, I had second thoughts about bastardizing it so I took the Faggin "franken-bike" down there thinking it might make a good fixed gear bike. Turns out that converting a bike to fixed gear requires a few things.. First, the rear wheel needs to be a non-cassette, threaded wheel. This was a real bummer because the old wheel I had on the Faggin was threaded and I had them convert it to a cassette. New wheel from Elliott Bay was $180 and up. The second thing is refitting the chain to a shorter length. This means removing the front and rear shifters, cables and levers too. Finally, you remove the outer chain ring and move the inner one to the outer section of the crank and use some longer nuts to tie it all together. Bottom lione was estimated to be around $200 with the new wheel. That was a bit more than I hoped for. So my new mission is finding a double threaded track wheel on eBay for it...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Still cold

Well, I've only logged a pathetic 59 miles this month. But as I look out my office window to a parking lot covered with ice, I guess it's better to be safe than all messed up. My last trip in by bike was yesterday.. the hoar frost was so thick in places I could hear this high pitched shhhhhhhhh as the tires cut through it. The only thought running through my head was "I hope I don't have to stop or turn anytime soon..."

Yesterday was also the first ride in on the Mercier. I did notice that there was a small "tinging" sound coming from the front wheel - Loose spoke? It kind of came and went. The bike is pretty fast though. After some adjustments to the front changer, I was able to get it to ride quiet in all gears. The only truly negative thing about white handlebar tape is that it is going to get pretty dirty with constant riding. So this bike will be a show-thing until I figure out what I'm going to do with it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

2nd ride of the year - already Jan 19

The snow finally melted enough for me to hop on the ol' Univega and spin into work. For the most part, the ride was uneventful. I drove the route yesterday looking for ice patches. I only hit a couple this morning, but that was spooky enough. There is a section of trail south of the South Bellevue Park and Ride where the ice has lingered. Luckily I hit it while I was going pretty slow, so I was able to just crunch through it...

My bike partner from last year was in the office yesterday and we were talking about summer rides coming up. I am going to be registering for the Flying Wheels Summer Century again. Last year was pretty disappointing for me and organized rides. I think the problem was starting training too late in the year (May) and pushing mileage high right from the start. I had to travel for work a bit and would go stretches of no riding at all then pull half centuries for a couple days. The old knees just couldn't take that.

This year, my training is starting now. Once the ice clears, I'm committing to at least three rides a week to work - rain or shine and a Saturday AM Mercer Island ride.. Let's see that would be around 55 miles per week - a good starting point for February!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Temperatures under freezing suck... when you are an avid cyclist. We have had a week of snow and sub-freezing temps over the last week here in Seattle. I have been feeling sluggier and sluggier because I have not been able to get outside.

I have had to focus on building out my latest project bike. I came across a mid-1980's Mercier road bike at the thrift store and I have been getting her cleaned up. French electric blue with white handlebar tape, brake cable housing and brake hoods. Going to be a real looker when I get it done. She's got Campy brakes and shifters, Nervar cranks. The wheels use Maillard Helico-matic hubs with Mavic rims. The frame is a Columbus Tre-Tubi Cro-MO.

It has been a real trick finding some of this stuff. The cable housings just took a little calling around here in town. Elliott Bay bicycles had the white housing. The brake hoods were a little trickier. I had to get them from a guy in England who sent them along a couple days ago. The original hoods were gum, but these are a milky white, which actually looks better with the other white treatments. The decals have been trashed. There were a number of white lettering graphics that have been scratched off pretty bad. The one on the top tube read "Bordeaux Paris" and the one on the down tube reads "Le Velo de Mercier." I have been in contact with the guy at Velo Graphics to get a bid on re-doing the decals.

I am still a bit uncertain what to do with this beauty. I'm torn between turning her into a fixie and keeping it and just fixing it up and selling it. I have not seen a bike like it on eBay or Craigslist, but other Mercier's seem to go for a pretty penny ($300-450 typically). I could use the cash to fund my other habit... guitar playing!