Monday, June 16, 2008

I've been relatively quiet lately...

Not that I've heard any complaints. But now it's time to catch up. This will be wordy. Eeh.

I actually found two broken spokes on Hybridzilla last Thursday, but had managed to twist some spoke nipples around (that just sounds kinky!) to get it to roll somewhat true. I took the bus Friday morning due to more storms, then rode back home all the way. On 62 spokes instead of 64.

At the brewery, I ran into Karen and just ahead of her was a brand-new bike commuter who's riding from northern Johnson County to summer classes up on Independence Ave. I talked to him for a while, and Friday was his first day. It's a nice 18-mile round trip. Unlike most "new" bike commuters I've seen lately, this one seemed much more in his element on a bicycle than average, but also seemed to be a bit out of his element commuting, wearing what had to be 30 pounds or more worth of books and gear in a backpack, and having trouble going up steeper hills with the setup.

I don't think this guy is a racer, but he's probably an experienced weekend recreational rider that's giving bike commuting a try. He looked at my rack and panniers with an expression that was either "what the heck is that stuff?" or "I gotta get me some of those" but never being one to tell someone that they're doing it wrong (unless it's plain illegal, like riding against traffic!), I figured I would let him ask me if he wanted more info on my setup. He never did. He either knows where to get the stuff, or he doesn't care. He followed Karen and I to Merriam and Lamar, where he said he lives. Maybe we'll see him again soon.

Later down the road (or MUP as it were), I spotted this tree that had almost all of its bark blown off. There were signs of insect infestation under the bark, but I'm inclined to think this tree was struck by lightning, as we'd just had a batch of ferocious thunderstorms. Days before, the tree wasn't in this condition. No other trees around it had the bark blown off, either.

Saturday, I picked up some reading material that'll keep me busy for a while. I'm almost done reading Bruce Schneier's latest book (and almost 5 years old): Beyond Fear -- a book that my buddy Dave is also reading. How odd. It's a great book. No Tech Hacking is going to be epic. I've taken a peek already, but I won't actually read it until I'm done with Beyond Fear. And Make Magazine is always a blast.

At the grocery store, I spotted this bag. They're starting to become really popular. There are several problems. First off, someone at the factory was color-blind, because this bag is most certainly not the color green.

And furthermore, this bag was manufactured from petroleum byproducts, then sent halfway around the world on an elaborate network of gas-guzzling cargo ships, road-rutting semi-tractors and perhaps a railcar or two. The railcars are probably the closest thing to "Green" that these bags have known.

Meanwhile, I had to drive to my parents' place for Father's Day. I say it like it was a chore, when in fact it was not. I love kicking it with the parents. But my thirsty Focus takes 91 Octane, which set me back close to $50. On a positive note, gasoline prices fell about a dime lately, maybe a bit more in some places. This was my first fill up in over a month. Maybe two. I don't remember nor do I care, really. I use gasoline like I use beer: so infrequently that I can afford to really splurge when I want some.

I further contributed to the fuel dependency and carbon pollution problem by grilling up some kebobs for Father's Day. Nom nom nom.

The balance of yesterday's daylight was spent wrenching, wrenching, and wrenching some more. I took the rolling stock off of The Goat which includes the cheap but apparently decent double-wall XC wheels I bought from JR. I took the knobbies off and replaced them with the Kenda All-Terrain-Bike tires that came with the wheels originally (also provided by JR). When Kenda calls these "All-Terrain-Bike" tires, what they mean is "Stay on the pavement, but these tires will get you through gravel spots, maybe".

I also went ahead and did the fender thing. Hybridzilla's bottom bracket is still smooth as butter after all the rain and grime I rode in last weekend, so the hefty application of boat-trailer axle grease in the BB must have done the trick.

The shakedown run was a pretty big load of groceries. I usually don't need to strap stuff to the top. I got some strange looks. At this point, the new tires felt pretty good. The fenders worked well, as we'd gotten a few quick showers and the pavement was soaked.

I'm considering the new tires a downgrade compared to the Forte Slick City ST tires I was using. The beads of those tires are worn to heck and the wire is showing in some places. I essentially went from an 85-PSI, 1.25"-wide 100% slick tire to a 45-PSI, 1.75" tire with light tread and a smooth center. A so-called "hybrid" mountain bike tire if you will. They were slow as hell this morning. I don't know how much longer I'll keep them around, but Hybridzilla's my only really functional bike right now.

I saw a torn-open trash bag of confetti-shredded paper right before my uphill slog into Downtown KCMO. I laughed.

This Graffiti has been present for at least six months. I'm betting that the minimum-wage grunts who are paid to paint over graffiti are in no hurry to cover it up.

All geared up at Starbucks. Whee.

So there you have it. You're in the loop once again. Hopefully your brain doesn't hurt now the way mine does. Oh, wait. That's from getting 3 hours of sleep last night.

Random Tunage:
A-Ha - Take On Me
Fat Boy Slim - Rockafeller Skank


Anonymous said...

Hi Noah,

Your picture of upside down bicycles undergoing surgery reminds me of how much more intimate bicyclist are with their machines than auto drivers are with theirs. Scalpel nurse!

Apertome said...

Glad to see you're back, I was beginning to worry a bit. Hybridzilla looks good with those fenders. I'm not surprised those "semi-slick" tires aren't working that well. I've heard they're not too good for street nor off-road riding, generally. That sucks though.

I sure like the look and functionality of those Axiom panniers. Being able to strap things to them so easily must be uber convenient.

Noah said...

John, I'm a gearhead by nature. I'm still learning about bikes, though. I find it funny that I can replace piston rings, lap valves, and check bearing clearances on an engine in my car, replace clutches, transmissions, and even whole engines. I can open up engine management firmware and use nothing more than some documentation to modify the timing and performance of my cars... but I can't for the life of me build a bicycle wheel. Yet. Just wait.

I'm definitely a little more hands-on in all of my endeavors than most. This stems from my incessant wrenching and tweaking on toys, cars, gadgets, locks, network firewalls and computer programs. Tinkering with bikes comes naturally. Unfortunately, I lack the experience and knowledge of bike techs. I'm getting there.

I do agree, though, that meticulous bicyclists often strive for a good understanding of their contraptions that allows them to make minor repairs on their own. Meanwhile, I'm slowly and surely amassing an entire bike shop's worth of tools as I encounter things I wish to do myself.

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