November 25, 2008
I had my first "post crash" ride into work on Friday. What a great feeling! Even though I have to take it slow and look extra carefully for bumps or potholes in the road. I wouldn't say that I was getting fat by not being allowed to ride like Jehuda at the Kickstand when he lost his bet with Joe and had to drive to work for a week: But I was definitely getting cranky...Oh yes, there's some serious crankiness going on, I don't only feel like an old man, I think I'm morphing into one. Old and bitter. I bitch at the television, people in traffic and at mostly innocent people in the service industry that the old man feels should rather work in dish washing or somewhere their stupidity is not forced upon the innocent public. So far this has not caused any serious collisions in my day to day life, but those close to me keep a safe distance, as ironic as that may sound. There's nothing on this earth that's more relaxing to me than a few hours of riding hard in the woods. Except for Morphine perhaps or other strong opiates, but we're talking legal and socially acceptable here. Anyway, without the bike riding, my mind goes bonkers and the mood turns sour. But now that I can at least ride Basil to work I feel much better. On a different note, I stumbled across this hub the other day on the internet and I have to say I'm quite excited about it. Three speed fixed seems like a fun idea, albeit not a new one. I'm going to try to get my hands on one of these when they'll be released and use it on the Bianchi. In the meantime I'm ordering a Surly flip flop hub and I'll be riding that whenever I'm feeling like I don't want to think about gears. This hub is a new version of the venerable ASC hub made by Sturmey Archer somewhere close to the middle of the last century. This one is made by SunRace/Sturmey-Archer, but SunRace bought the ailing Sturmey in 2001, I believe. The fact that Sturmey is now made by a Taiwanese company upsets some people, but it has been said that SunRace is creating better products than Sturmey was towards the end. The fact that they're bringing back such a unique hub is also encouraging and hopefully we'll see a lot of interesting stuff from SunRace/Sturmey in the future.
November 15, 2008
One of the strangest phenomenons that I come across in the cyclist's behaviour is the cyclist who rides around with his/her helmet somehow attached to the bike or their backpack, instead of riding with it on their head. In Victoria I see this all the time and I just can't for the life of me make any sense of it. It's kind of like remembering to bring a gun to a gunfight but insisting on fighting with a spoon or something. It's bizarre. Now I know there are people out there that will tell you that studies have shown it's actually safer to ride without a helmet than with one. I think what they're trying to convey with those studies is that a person driving a car will give a person that does not wear a helmet more room, and respect than they will give a rider in full kit. I'm sure this is true, since the driver probably reasons that a rider in full kit will sort of know what he is doing and therefore it's okay too speed by him with only inches to spare. This is nonsense of course, but I can see that this might be the case. Nevertheless, if you're riding around with a helmet in the first place, why not store it on your head? It's not only the most logical thing to do, but it also kind of helps out if you crash and hit your noggin and not to mention that helmets are super awkward and annoying to carry in other places than your brainpan. I'm the kind of rider who hates rattles and squeaks and unnecessary junk on my bike. I could not ride with a u-lock dangling from my handlebars. I can't really use racks and panniers either and I certainly cant ride with my helmet flapping on my handlebars. But even if I did not mind all these things and rode around on a squeaky, rattling hulk of a bike I'd still wear the helmet on my head. Not doing that is so stupid that it boggles the mind.
November 09, 2008
It's ironic that I injure myself just over a week after I write about commuting safely to work. It's the kind of thing I always worry about. I'll say things like, yeah I haven't had a fall in ages and then I have a yard sale on the next ride. Or I'll say that I don't get sick very often, and then I come down with pneumonia. I didn't think karma was after me since I had a spill on one of the night rides recently, but riding home after a few drinks with no front light is just stupid, and a prime example of what pushing your luck can bring you. Not only was I a bike ninja, but an inebriated one at that. This is very dangerous and I soon found out. A silver sedan cut me off two blocks away from home (he probably never even saw me), I slammed on the brakes, slid into the curb and flew over the handlebars. Half an hour later I was at the hospital.
I'd like to state here that I generally don't ride after a few drinks. In fact, I'm a bit bothered by the prevalence of posts and articles on the net that endorse that sort of thing. This time however, I took a risk, and paid the price. My excuse was that I needed the bike for the Cyclocross race on the following day, and that I did not want to go through the hassle of getting a cab and stuffing the bike in the trunk. Yeah well, instead I have to deal with the maddening hassle of missing the rest of the Cyclocross season and not being able to ride a bike for at least a month. Common sense sometimes abandons me in the times of need. It's a personality flaw.
Not all is bad though, and recently I acquired this elegant Raleigh that will be my commuter once I've healed up. It's a 1987 Raleigh Record that's actually made in Canada. Or so it says on a sticker on the frame anyway. Perhaps it means that it was assembled here, like is the case with so many of the Canadian brands. On a side note, Raleigh has seen better days as a bike company and nowadays they seem to be mostly making department store bikes which are soooo not worth the Raleigh badge. It's interesting to see that the Canadian and UK websites advertise themselves as junk mongers, whereas the US one seems to have a bit more ambition. But I degress, the bike is a nice old 10-speed, well not nice maybe since the Record was sort of the entry level road bike and as such, does not sport very nice components at all. However the frame is nice and it's barely been used at all. The guy I bought it from claims he bought it new in 1987 but never really rode it much. I'm inclined to believe him. The frame is ridiculously big at 65cm bb to top of seat tube, but not very long at 61cm c/c top tube. It rides nicely and I love the forgiving flex of steel on the road. I have an old 7 speed road gruppo that I think I'll throw on this one along with some aluminum rims, longer cranks, nicer hubs, wider bars and some full wrap plastic fenders instead of the heavy steel ones that are on there now. That should drop the weight a little bit and I'll have a nice winter commuter. It will be called Basil, as in Fawlty, and I look forward to fixing this one up. The Bianchi which coincidentally is also a 1987 model will get a different treatment as that one will receive the Sugino Messenger cranks I bought for a bottle of Crown Royal, and will be my singlespeed/fixed stupid fun bike.