Saturday, July 28, 2012

Clever decorations...

I'm not entirely certain what took my wife and I so long to make a visit to one of the area's SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza restaurants. I've always noticed that their restaurants are loaded with ample bicycle rack space, and my local bikey friends tend to frequent it a lot. I should have guessed that there was some kind of bicycle culture in the shops' DNA given the name. I did not expect to see gear clusters hanging from the ceiling, though. Also: darn fine pizza, salad and gelato!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fixing Frank. MOAR HACKS.

My boss gave me an early start to the weekend, so I rode to the library to return a book on Tarantulas I had borrowed, and I sat in the shade and enjoyed the lunch I thought I was going to be eating at work.

What was I doing with a book about taratulas?  Oh, right. Meet dd. You knew I had a thing for spiders, right?

Anyhow, when I got home, I figured it was really time to dig into Frank's rack and get to the bottom of why it fell apart. I'd only barely put the rack back together when it happened. I was meeting some of my fellow nerds at a (very) nearby coffee shop. I knew that one of the assemblies holding the seat stay braces had come apart, and on the other side, the bolt holding the seat stay brace to the seat stay came out. I knew I was missing some hardware, forever lost in the middle of the road somewhere, perhaps many miles ago.

Here, you can see what the seat stay brace attachment is supposed to look like. Two pieces of u-channel aluminum sandwiching two roundish pieces of tube type material around the seat stay brace. It's missing from the other side because those pieces fell off when the rack fell.

I apparently missed one of the half-tube-like pieces when I scurried around the road looking for bits of hardware.

I looked around for anything that could be used to replace the missing piece, and finally settled on an outer plate from a piece of old chain.

It wouldn't quite fit, so I had to bend the plate a little. Pliers were getting me nowhere, so I tried the chain cutter. Success.

The finished bracket:

After finding a few more allen-head screws in my bucket of bike stuff and putting everything back together tightly, it seems to work great. Time will tell, I suppose.

The SuperFlash was just a little scuffed up. The mounting bracket is fine and the light itself still works and snaps securely into the bracket. Good news all the way around.

Three before dawn

It was another dark-and-early morning for me, and I left in a bit of a haze. The short story is that I saw three other cyclists on Santa Fe Trail drive this morning, all which which looked like commuters in some way or another. The long story is... Oh heck, It's been forever since I put anything up here, hasn't it?  I probably need to provide some back-story.

This kind of started with the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride two weeks ago. I was once again called on for communications support on the hiking trail section of the event. I opted to take Frank this time, loaded him down with my Motorola GM300 radio. When I have panniers on the mountain bike, the Superflash does its best on the back of the rack.

Why am I telling you this? Because, all told, there was probably 30 pounds of crap on Frank's rack that night. Well, and I like to show off my nerdy bikeness. So what, though? 30 pounds seems like a lot, but I've loaded more than that before. I'm pretty sure that all that weight caused some screws to loosen up on the rack, though. I had a bit of an incident with the Rack last Satuday, where it became detached from my seat stays, pivoted on the remaining bolts near the rear drop outs, then dragged on the ground behind my bike, snapping my SuperFlash clean off the bike. I got off my bike and rescued the light. I think the light itself is okay, but the mounting bracket might be hosed. I lost the batteries from the light, and didn't bother scouring the roadway for them.

Oh, and I also depleted both my Blackburn Flea and my NiteRider Evolution headlight batteries on the Midnight Ride.

Now I can get on with my story this morning. So it's a bit past five in the morning and I have about half an hour to get to the office. This is when it strikes me that my helmet is drying on a clothes rack in my home office (I'd washed it in the shower a few days before) and that all of my usual lights are out of order or depleted.

I always have my 2xAA Mini Maglite with me, whether it's in my pockets, my panniers or my backpack, and I always keep the piece of cut-up inner tube in the bike's under-seat pouch that lets me rock the flashlight as a headlight in a pinch by strapping it to my handlebars.

So I used that silly trick again this morning. In my box of random bike crap (stored alongside the bikes in the garage) I found my old, hacked-up Blackburn Mars 3.0 tail light. I decided to tempt fate this morning without the helmet. I was running late. I finished off by tossing on the Vest Of Retina Destruction. Side note: one of the three other cyclists I saw this morning was wearing the exact same vest.

And for all the hackery I've done to make sure I had at least some kind of lighting, the fact that I ran across so many other people on bikes before the sun was up this morning was really the only remarkable thing.

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