Tag Archive: “bike”

First Ride

I finished assembling my new touring bike on Monday night. I took it for a successful test ride this afternoon. Here’s what it looks like:

Post Shakedown Run

I have yet to install the handlebar grip tape, which is why the green electrical tape holding some cables in place is still visible on the handlebars. My impression is that wrapping bars is a bit of an esoteric art, so I wanted to make sure the cables and controls were well-positioned for riding before wrapping them.

Anyway, the bike rides great. I really like having secondary brake levers on the tops. I set the handlebar height relatively high compared to many road bikes; this results in a comfortable almost-upright posture when holding the tops, similar to my commuter. I figure I will appreciate this on long rides. Of course, with hands on the brake hoods or in the drops I’ll have new options for speedier cycling.


Here’s a close-up of the drivetrain. I selected a cassette with a pretty wide range (11 up to 34 teeth). The cogs with many teeth are the low gears, and I wanted to be able to climb and carry heavy loads with ease. The lowest available gear ratio is 1:1. On the other hand, the outer chainring has 50 teeth, which will drive those high gears to ludicrous speed (compared to my mountain bike-based experience, at least).

Posted on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011.

Touring Bike Component Showcase #3

Headset cups installed! (Had the local bike shop press them in.)

Headset Cups

That head tube is begging for a nice custom head badge. I’ll have to think about design ideas.

Posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011.

Touring Bike Component Showcase #2

Here’s a test fit of the new cockpit components. Inline brake levers. Headlight shared with Hooptie commuter bike, thanks to second mounting bracket. Speedometer. Crabon fibré stem.


Posted on Saturday, April 9th, 2011.

Touring Bike Component Showcase #1

As you may know, I’m building a new bike from parts. Most of the parts have arrived, but I’m still waiting on a few small items (and two big ones: the wheels). I’m going to wait until everything has arrived before assembling anything. So, until then, I will post a few photos of interesting parts for you to ogle.

Bar End Shifters

Aluminum drop bars with bar end shifters.

Posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011.

2011 (2)

Here’s an update on some of this year’s objectives.

1. Running

I resumed running in March. My intent was to run six days a week, but the weather and other circumstances dictated a few extra days off, so it was more like five days a week. Still, I logged about 110 miles over the course of the month. That works out to about 27 miles a week. To put things in perspective, a marathon is 26.2 miles. Later this year I intend to run in a few hours what I currently run in a few days.

Today I did an interval workout on the track with my friend and running mentor Pre. It was difficult, but fun to run fast. (Most of my daily runs have been at a pretty relaxed pace.) In post-run conversation, it was decided I will bump up my weekly mileage quite a bit in April.

The plan is to run this November marathon, not just survive it.

2. Brick Blueprint (LEGO instruction store)

All the technical pieces are in place for this endeavor. Now just I need to get my rear in gear if I want to make it happen!

In semi-related news, I placed my first Bricklink order today. It’s like eBay for LEGO. With prices for most elements in the couple-of-cents range, I see the temptation that leads some hobbyists from creativity to collection. Anyway, my order was actually inspired by a request I received to model a new part, similar to what I described in this section of my last update. Three bucks for a bunch of novelty parts.

3. Bikes

I pulled the trigger on parts for a new touring bike last week. I did consider some nice name-brand bikes (I looked at a 2009 Jamis Aurora Elite, a KHS TR-101, and a Cannondale T-2 locally, as well as many other models such as the Surly Long Haul Trucker online), but ultimately I decided to assemble something myself, mainly so that I can make the claim of “and I built it meself!” once I ride it somewhere. With a frugal mix of parts, I’m coming in under the cost of most commercial alternatives, too (but I will be paying higher in total once you factor in time and effort).

Of course, this was a bit of a gamble, especially since not every dimension is documented online as well as I might like (generally, though, the attention to detail among part vendors is high). Now that most of the parts have arrived, it turns out that I seem to have done my homework – everything fits good! Well, one thing doesn’t fit – the rear brake hangar – but that’s a $3 doodad. Also, the nice brake levers I got from Velo-Orange fit well, but I realize I would prefer to route the cables under the handlebar tape, for reasons to be documented in future updates, which requires a different lever housing design. I also forgot to order a headset (ironic, after learning all about them). So, back to the drawing board on a few fronts.

Some basic specs for any bike nerds in the audience: 56cm aluminum frame, green; hardy 36-spoke wheels; 2 x 9 speed drivetrain (ensuring those parts cooperate will have to wait until assembled); cantilever brakes; bar-end shifters; platform pedals. Progress photos will surely show up on Flickr once I start assembling things.

4. Career

Bit by bit, I’m studying and brushing up on some remote sensing topics with the intent to create a competitive portfolio of image analysis skills. Topics include DEM extraction, mosaicking, and land cover/vegetation classification. I have not yet collapsed the portfolio wave function to a single objective; conceptually, it still exists in a superposition of ecological interests (content focus) and commercial image acquisition/processing (technique focus).

I have a meeting this week to discuss Long Term Plans with the boss-man. My present position is potentially as good a launch pad as any for the first option, especially given the fledgling “urban ecology” focus in the biology department where I work. On the other hand, my interest in launch pads is not wholly metaphorical: I’m resigned to the fact that I probably won’t ever pilot my own starship – but imaging satellites are real!

Posted on Sunday, April 3rd, 2011.

Hooptie Utility Bike 2.0

Hooptie Utility Bike 2.0 first commute

I recently completed an overhaul of my primary ride. I replaced the original suspension fork with a sleek rigid fork better suited to the routes I ride. I also installed new brake calipers, for finer adjustment and modulation, as well as a pair of red-sidewalled winter tires, for sassy good looks. Learning about headset assembly was fun and rewarding!

Posted on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011.

2011 (1)

Here is a progress report on some of my 2011 objectives, roughly a month in to the year. (But don’t expect this to become a regular thing. What do you think this is – some kind of blog?)

1. Running

Like a million other people, I went for a run on New Year’s Day.

Unlike most of them, I’ve continued running, in hardy defiance of the Dark and the Cold and the Wet. I ran in two January Freeze 10ks – my first races at the 10k length. As reported elsewhere, I even sustained minor flesh wounds in the second race. I’ll spare you photos, but it was rad.

Three weeks in, I got a cold. I took about a week off from running to let my damage repair crews immune system restore full respiratory function. Went back out for a jog today to shake the kinks out. Felt good to rev the jets up above idle again! A week off really sets you back, though.

Fitting a run into the daily schedule can be hard, especially in winter. For me, the hardest part is not coping with the cold or negotiating snowy paths (hell, that’s the fun part; see e.g. here) but just crossing the threshold from indoors to out. I find that focusing on getting outdoors by just putting on some running clothes before I’m entirely out of workday/errand mode helps make that happen. A little attitude helps, too. (“Yeah, it’s 16˚F out and I’m running. You’re not. I win.”)

What’s in store for this month? There’s a 5k coming up in a week or two I’d like to do. Otherwise, just get in the habit of running and work on a modest base to launch from once spring hits. My friend and running mentor Pre promises me it’s gonna be brutal.

2. Brick Blueprint

I enjoy fiddling with LEGO and LDraw software. Most of the models I build these days are built with pieces from specific sets. I started a Flickr group called LEGO Remix for these sort of creations, and it seems to have caught on. I’ve thought about combining these interests with a little modest capitalism for a few years. Now I’m going to give it a shot.

Brick Blueprint is the working name for an online store where you will be able to buy affordable high quality instructions for new models you can build with the LEGO sets you already have.

There are already some great sources out there for awesome custom models, such as Brickmania. Two things set Brick Blueprint apart, and will, I think, make it appealing to a broad market:

There’s not much to report on the web site side of things, but a few pawns are in place. (Incidentally, the Brothers Brick posted an interview with four part resellers today – some of them full-time.)

If I’m going to design many models using parts from popular sets, I don’t want to be hung up by the absence of certain new or unusual parts in the LDraw part library. I’ll need to be able to draft them myself. Towards that end, I’ve modeled a newly-introduced canopy.

92579 progress

I used SketchUp to generate most of the shape, and a Ruby script based on Jim Foltz’ su2ldraw to export the SketchUp model to LDraw format. I intend to post my version of the script once I get a chance to clean it up a bit and add some more error handling.

More images documenting my part-authoring experiments are posted here. My canopy part is now in the library tracker and progressing towards certification. (That’s a lot of big talk for a digital model of a model toy, I know, but hey – geek cred where credit is due.)

3. Bicycles

Is announcing your intent to build something fun really much of a new year’s resolution? I guess this questions applies to objectives 2 and 3.

The goal of this project is to build a new bike for my stable. I already have a couple bikes, but I look forward to the process of picking out individual components and assembling a machine tailored for my needs and interests.

Earlier this week I was actually thinking about building two bikes – one city bike for errands and commuting, and one touring bike for trips and more recreational rides. Then I realized that duh, I already have a solid city bike. (Insert lesson about candy-shop greed here.)

A few repairs and additions (lighting and new brakes, for sure, and maybe a rebuilt/replaced rear hub) will bring the Schwinn up to the desired level of performance and reliability that lead me to think about a new city bike – for far less than the cost of a new bike. (When I say “city bike” I have the upright posture and relaxed handlebars of a cruiser in mind. It’s about comfort and everyday practicality.)

So, the new bike will fill the go-fast/go-far niche. It will be heavy by racing bike standards, but light and zippy compared to my cruiser or mountain-bike-hybrid-street-stomper. Its load-bearing capacity will rival the hybrid’s, with less of the Frankenstein’s monster look. Chances are good it will begin with a Nashbar touring frame, but I’ll have to have a look at some of the area bike shops that sell parts and used machines before committing to any components.

4. Occupation

SIGINT sources report low to no chatter on this channel.

Posted on Sunday, January 30th, 2011.


  1. Philadelphia Marathon.
    (Conditioning corollary: sub-5:00 mile, finally.)
  2. Brick Blueprints, a hobby venture.
  3. Build a bicycle. Tour some more.
  4. Career transition.

Further details as events warrant.

Posted on Friday, December 31st, 2010.

Snow Slicks

Snow Slicks

I don’t need no stinkin’ knobbies! (This is on a closed seasonal access road where sweet tailslides are an acceptable substitute for controlled stops. Roads with cars are clear and dry – otherwise, yes, I’d be riding winter treads.)

Update: Wow! Mattracks for mountain bikes: KtraK!

Posted on Tuesday, December 28th, 2010.

Why I Ride

Because bringing groceries home in a car isn’t half as much fun!

Why I Ride

That’s just one of many reasons. I was inspired to post something topical by all the wonderful entries in EcoVelo’s recent Why I Ride photo-essay contest. Take a few minutes to browse through the entries. Many of the photos and bicycles are attractive and interesting, but read the accompanying statements, too. Happiness and feelings of freedom are common themes.

Posted on Friday, November 5th, 2010.