Monday, February 28, 2011

Misery Loves Company - Part 1

I wrote up this ride report last year after the Capital Forest 100. 

Committing. Misery loves company.  Well, at a very minimum, misery doesn’t like to be alone.  Which is why males often band together to do stupid things.  In fact, if someone else joins you, it automatically makes it less stupid, right?  After all, if two or more independently thinking individuals arrive at the same conclusion, it leads you to believe that it must be the correct answer, right?  In this case, however, we may have been asking the wrong question.

Here is the e-mail question that started things.  From - PW; To – GS, PK, CM, GJ – Time to man up.  Who wants to do the Capital Forest 100?  After a suitable period of ignoring PW, he followed up with, “I did it.  I signed up for the Capital Forest 100 on Sept. 11.  Anyone willing to join me?

The e-mail discussion continued, GS response, “Just what kind of dumb-ass are you?” 
PW, “I was feeling light-headed.”
GS, “What made you decide on the 100-miler instead of 50-miler.  I might have been talked into 50 miles.  Anyone else sign up with you yet?”
PW, “Simple, the 100 miles is double the fun!  No one else has signed up yet.”
GS, “Any interest in just doing 50?”
PW, “Course is 2x50 mile loop.  It will be a long day.”

I had previously thought that understatement was primarily an English trait, but it is clearly at work here.  A “long day” is a way to describe a lot of things, like maybe a tough day at the office as you pour another brewskie, but 11-14 hours on a mountain bike, basically from the first light of dawn until dusk is closing in, deserves a description greater than that.  How about, “It will be a long, miserable, tough, difficult day with numerous emotional ups and downs corresponding generally to the ups and downs of 12,000 vertical feet over 100 miles of single-track.”  Or how about, “It will be the kind of day that most normal people will do anything to avoid.”  Or maybe the most accurate, “It will be a long day that will sear a memory into your brain that you will still recall when you are sitting in a retirement home in a rocking chair spilling food on your lap blanket.”  After all, isn’t that one of the reasons that we proverbially make hay while the sun shines?  We may be well past our athletic prime, but if we are still young enough and fit enough to make our way around 100 miles of Olympic Forest single-track, shouldn’t we do that while we can?  Yes, yes we should; as long as someone will go along with us.  Because misery doesn’t like being alone. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Last Weekend

I went on a bike ride last weekend.  A road ride.  A long one.  At least long for this time of year.  I'm still tired.

It was cold that day.  Not as cold as today, but cold for bike riding.  And I was not, as they say, on my game.

In fact, I wasn't "in" the game at all in that I could have easily been left behind.  More than once.  Many times more than once.  In fact, it was my preference to be left behind a few times.

There were only eight of us to start.  We rolled away from the meeting point on the lower south hill, made our way through Vinegar Flats and started up Thorpe Road.  I was "there" at the bottom, and then I started drifting back.  I am well over the weight that I can keep up with fit guys on hills.  My best hope is to be the slowest guy in the fast group.  I have a ways to go to get there this year.

As we the inclined increased, my "power" was doing less for me and my "strength to weight" became the dominant factor.  I and one other guy trailed off.  For some reason I kept feeling like I couldn't get a full breath; like my lungs were stopping at 75% full.  It didn't help at all.

The other guy and I bobbed a bit and then dropped off.  I guess I was lucky in that I was close enough that I was in sight and could catch up whenever it leveled a bit.  The other guy trailed off far enough that he was completely out of sight down a road with a long sight line.  The etiquette in those situations is tough.  Some rides are clearly "no drop".  Others are clearly "every man for himself".  Some rides are big enough that the group naturally breaks up into a couple of groups with different expectations of distance and speed.  In this case, no one had said "no drop" but it was small enough that it leaned that way.  I was still huffing and puffing up to and into the group when the speed picked up again.  We were definitely close enough to town and lots of well-known roads that I think the collective wisdom was the the guy trailed off was okay on his own and it would just be disheartening to try to keep the group together with 5 miles down and 30 to go.  I wish I had realized better and just dropped off myself.

Instead I had a couple of friends who kept an eye on me and kept making sure that I was "with" the group.  When I did get my ass handed to me again and fell back, one or both of them would slow the group a bit, drift back, and draft me back to the pack.  I didn't know whether to be grateful or resentful a couple of times, but they kept helping, I kept trying and eventually I made it through a lot of wind, over Betz Road, into Cheney and held on for a very fast trip back to Spokane.

I know that it is those rides that will make it easier and more possible to keep up later in the year, but I was hurting.  And I'm still tired.  Five days later.
Single Speed Dad

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Riding

It is still early enough in the year that I am excited about getting outside to ride every time that I do.  This past weekend the boys and I got out for about 90 minutes on the bluff, aka south hill trails, aka High Drive trails.

Unlike the majority of folks who access them, we live below the bluff and we tend towards the south end of the bluff, including the trails that are nestled in behind Highland Park.  It is really nice to have access to these trails so close and readily.  If I have more time, I like to ride in Riverside State Park more, but you can't beat leaving the driveway and getting onto dirt in just a few minutes.

This trip was largely uneventful (unlike my prior trip with SSK2), so I suggested we make it a bit more interesting.  I suggested that it would be worthwhile to take the geared bikes we were riding and turn them into single speed bikes.  No, not really turn them into single speed bikes, but just pick a gear ratio and then leave them there no matter what may come.  It was a good way to preview the feeling of a single speed, including the concept of momentum, the need to stand on your pedals for more leverage as it gets steeper, the realistic need to climb off and walk sometimes, and the inevitable spinning out going downhill or on pavement (which you thought would not, could not ever happen since that damn gear was so large when you were going uphill).  So I proposed this to the guys to see their reaction.  They were game for it.

As we were sitting on the trail contemplating this process, it suddenly occurred to me that this might be a really, really bad idea.  Once the new bikes that are the focus of this blog so far were actually built and under us, I thought that the boys would a) love the new bikes and that would go a long way to making it all right no matter what; and b) I would drag them to places that were suitable for getting used to single speed bikes instead of dumping them onto good size hills.  Instead of that, I had the immediate sinking feeling that I was going to make single speed bikes a "bad" thing instead of a "good" thing in the month before we got them.  I had a vision of something like this, "Dad!  This is stupid.  I'm going to use my gears because I am going too slowly up hill or slowly down hill or . . . ", or maybe, "Why shouldn't I use the gears?  I'm just lugging them up/down this hill and why should I pretend they aren't there?"  You get the idea.

I am glad to report, however, that the kids took to it like ducks to water.  Like goose to goose shit.  Like mountain bikes to mud.  They dug it and they immediately got the way to make it work to their advantage and came away all the more excited about the prospect of their new bikes.  And that, as Martha would say, is a good thing.
Single Speed Dad

Monday, February 21, 2011

Time to Buy

The time is finally here.  We are ready to start laying cold hard cash on the counter at Steve's and start buying.  There are a couple of small items yet to be picked, like a seat for the boys' bikes and the specific stem length on all of the bikes, but other than that, let the ordering begin!  Here are some broad strokes of things we are buying.

Brakes - We are going with Avid Brakes on all of the bikes.  Elixir XO's on my bike and Elixir CR's on the boys.  After reading about a few of the brakes out there, we decided that Avid was extremely well regarded and priced well.  We did splurge on these, but in part because it was so much less to buy just these, rather than the brakes, shifters, derailleurs, etc.  Somehow that made sense when we were looking at them, but not so much when I write it.  Sue me.  Or actually, please don't, but you get the idea.  Why the difference between the bikes.  Again, not a great reason.  The CR's are a bit less, but the XO's weigh a bit less.  Frankly, I don't think there is a big difference, but thankfully, there isn't much difference in price.

One other note on brakes.  We did talk about hydraulic disc brakes versus mechanical disc brakes.  I did have a race ending cable problem with hydraulic brakes once, so I know that the range of solutions for "just get back home" is more limited with hydraulic, but it was also acknowledged widely that hydraulic offered better modulation and control.  And really, what more is there to life than modulation and control?

Wheelsets - This is another area where we are spending a bit more than necessary for the boys, but they will end up with very strong, very durable, reasonable weight, long-lasting wheelsets that should get them down the road for literally years to come (and yes, that does curse us to the taco-ing of wheel in the next three months through a freak accident).  We decided on a Shimano XT wheelset.  One riding buddy thinks that everyone should ride this wheelset - great combination of everything you want from wheels.  They are ready to go tubeless and the boys selected Continental Mountain King 2.4 tires.  The extra width of this tire, run tubeless with a bit less pressure, should help provide some cushion that will be lacking from the fixed fork.  Plus, SSK1 is totally jazzed about the graphics.  There should be some fun here, right?  I am using a wheelset from a prior bike with Industry Nine hubs and spokes.  I'm not crazy about the rim they are built to, but it will do the job for now and I love the loud, obnoxious click from the pawls in the I9 hub.

Major splurges - There are some parts on my bike that I just wanted.  There are a few things that I will readily recognize about these particular parts: 1) They are more expensive than many or most of their counterparts; 2) There are alternatives that would meet "most" or "almost all" of the qualities of these parts; and 3) I cannot clearly and specifically articulate multiple good reasons for wanting them over less expensive alternatives.  If I stipulate to these things, would you agree, however, that these parts are really, really nice; that they truly are engineered well; and that if you were honest and price weren't a consideration that you would want them also?  I think that is fair.  Here are the splurge parts - Chris King Headset, Thomson Seatpost and Thomson Stem.  So take that road riders everywhere - my splurges are all aluminum - not carbon fiber.  Ha!

We have made selection on most other things, and most of them aren't too exciting.  Race Face cranksets on the boys' bike, Truvative on mine, although final gear ratios have yet to be decided.  More on that later. 

One thing I thought the boys were unnecessarily excited about were the handlebar grips.  They selected a silicone grip called a "Chunky" grip from a company called Extreme Steering, Inc.  Once I heard the name, I was sold on them.  Besides, the boys liked the idea that I didn't know anything about them until they found them.  Who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?

Bottom line here - we will be ordering bike parts this week and then anxiously awaiting every stop from the UPS or FedEx guy at Steve's door until everything is ready to assemble.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Parts Selection - The boys and I finally settled down for the very fun work of making "final" selections of the parts on our single speed Niners.  I anticipated a few more conflicts, but it really went smoothly overall.  Being a semi-organized kind of person, the boys were forced to accept me doing a spreadsheet of the parts we needed and then getting the exact part numbers and information on each one.  We did this so we could get the lists to Steve to get his input on a few things, get prices on many things and then make the final choices and get parts on the way.  Even though this isn't my first bike, it is a lot of fun to be building up a new bike and the boys are clearly excited by the prospect.

My hope is that we will make final selections no later than next Monday and get parts ordered immediately.  More on the parts list and pricing coming up soon.

Shop visit - I dropped off the parts and question list to Steve on Monday.  His shop continues to look better as the pre-spring deluge of boxes has started to thin and more bikes are being built up. He has a bit of everything on the floor, so it is worth stopping in to take a look.

While I was there, a young lady stopped in to check on her bike purchase.  It was a cruiser-style bike and she was infectiously happy about visiting the bike.  Don't know the particulars, but it was fun to see someone grinning ear to ear with thoughts of a new bike out on the Spokane roads.

I couldn't help but notice another bike being built up in the shop.  Steve has two stands and appeared to have two projects going.  Don't know which he was working on when I came in, but there was a Seven Cycles Diamas SL, painted in a deep sparkly purple, being set up with Shimano Di2 and Lightweight Wheels.  I don't know who is getting that bike, but it is fully tricked out.  I had to grab a shop rag and wipe the drool off the wheelset.  I promised I didn't damage them.

So, one visit - three distinctly different customers being served in the shop.  One a yoga teacher getting a cruiser; one an absent buyer of a very high-zoot tricked out bike selling for an extraordinary multiple of the cruiser price; and one looking for parts for a father/son single-speed project.  I guess that's the beauty of a small shop.

Ghost Mower - If you are reading this blog, you are probably familiar with the Ghost Bike concept.  A community of cyclists paints and secures a bike painted all white near the site where a cyclist has been killed.  It is usually an inexpensive bike that is completely covered in white paint and chained to a utility pole or something nearby the scene of the accident.  It is a way of commemorating a cyclist killed on the road and warning both cyclists and drivers of the fatality in that location (I just realized there is no ghost bike at the corner of 4th and Lincoln - a very dangerous intersection).  In an interesting or maybe odd twist on this concept, on 2nd and Madison, a ghost mower has been chained to a pole in honor someone named Ron.  Don't know the story, but it is an interesting that there is no grass nearby and that whoever Ron is presumably didn't die on the street corner, but the ghost mower stands a silent reminder of someone who others wanted to honor.  Not sure what all I think of it.

World Peace - There is graffiti on the World Peace sign on Hatch Road.  I wish someone would clean it up, since I know that the man who painted and cared for it is now deceased.  Some blog posts on this local icon - World Peace Guy and Steve Osmonson.

More later.
Single Speed Dad

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Riding - Finally

There has been lots of discussion about buying bikes, but so far not much about riding bikes.  SSK2 and I finally got out together for a mountain bike ride this weekend.  With snow falling this morning, it may not happen again this coming weekend, so the memories will have to serve me for a few days.

We live near the bottom of the bluff that makes up the trails along the edge of Spokane's South Hill.  We normally access the trails by riding across the bridge onto the Qualchan Golf Course, but the golf course isn't open yet and they leave the gates closed and locked.  They want to limit the abuse the course takes from the reckless disregard of cross-country skiers, sledders and high school kids with half-racks of cheap beer, but it does make it a lot less convenient to get onto the surrounding hillsides when you start on the wrong side of the creek.

So, instead of riding up the paved road, along the service road and directly into the woods, we have to ride  along the highway and then across the golf course itself to get onto the bluff.  Now, I'm sure that this discourages most high school kids with half-racks, but most of the time I would prefer the "gate-open" route.  This weekend, however, we had a reason to get onto the course itself.  Last fall/early winter, the course had a series of dump trucks and large vehicles doing work along the area that encompasses the 1st, 2nd and 18th holes.  They created a churned-up, dirt road across the 2nd hole fairway, along the right side of the 1st fairway, and then along the creek and back up the right side of the 18th fairway.  Driving along Highway 195 it wasn't obvious where they were working or what they were doing, so I was curious and finally took the time to go check it out.


The first thing we discovered is that the dirt road they created was more like a super-deep mud bog created with special wheel-sucking capabilities.  In the road world, wheel-sucking is done when a rider in a race gets on the wheel of someone in front and refuses to take a turn in the wind, saving strength to win the sprint at the end.  In mountain biking, it is when the earth monsters grab hold of your wheel and starting pulling into the depths of Mordor.  That is what we experienced.  We shifted into our lowest gears and tried to pedal fast enough to maintain some amount of forward momentum but not pedal too fast so that there was no traction.  It was an interesting balancing act that resulted in a heart-pounding, multi-minute ride that literally would have been a few seconds on hard ground.  It also pointed out the benefit of having mountain bike shoes, rather than the multi-purpose sneakers that SSK2 had donned prior to our ride.

The next thing we discovered is that, as we suspected, they were strengthening the creek bank in places.  It appears they are putting down giant sand-filled green tubes along the banks.  Don't know the why or how of this process, but I will be interested in keeping an eye on it, just not after trenching a 6" deep tunnel through gloppy sticky mud.

From there, continuing to be respectful of the course by only riding where trucks have gone and on the paths, we made our way eventually to the driving range and entered the trails from there.  My thought was to go up the path a ways, find the flatter trails under the power lines, loop back towards home and come down off the trails behind the 10th green/11th tee box area.  I thought this would be a little stretch of the legs, we could find out how ride-able or not the trails were and get back home before the light gave out on us.

Good plan.  Poor execution.

Instead the ride as a whole turned into the hardest 6-10 miles and 90 minutes of riding I can remember outside of a cyclocross race.

What we found was that I didn't remember the trail connections as well as I should, couldn't recall just which trails lead to which other trails, and couldn't recall which trails had some of the steep pitches and which didn't.  Interestingly, on the same day that the Dean of Spokane Cycle Blogging deemed the upper trails exceedingly ride-able, we found the lower trails very soggy and ice-covered in places.  In order to maintain the good spirits of SSK2, who had been dragged along with less intention than mine, I took turns helping to push his bike up some of the gnarliest trail sections, but that involved me getting my bike up the pitches and then running down, getting SSK2's bike and then running up the section with his bike.

He was a good sport all along, but I was getting worried as it was getting darker and I knew that we had to ride somewhere between a 1/4 and 1/2 mile along the highway to get home and neither of us had lights.

It was interesting to think about the sense of responsibility when you drag a 13 year old into the woods for a ride versus meeting "the guys" for a ride.  I do feel bad when a guy crashes, has a bad day or something.  It's not that I lack empathy; it's just that I don't feel responsible.  On this ride, I was feeling distinctly responsible as the light dimmed and the riding got harder.  I almost held my breath along the highway just willing us past this distinctly stupid bit of cycling.  The kind where drivers look at us and make comments to passengers about what dumb-asses cyclists are.  I try to not be that guy, but sure was last weekend.

Anyway, we accomplished a few goals.  We got outside to ride our bikes; we checked out the work we had spotted from the highway but couldn't see without closer inspection; we checked out the lower bluff trails; and most importantly, after having some fun we got home safely.  Makes me look forward to more.
Single Speed Dad

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bling

Among my confessions, I have to confess to watching an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress".  (Oh, also one of Hoarders, but that is a topic for another day.)  On the episode of Say Yes to the Dress that I watched (with both of my boys), this perfectly awful mother of the bride looks at her daughter in a tasteful multi-thousand dollar dress, turns her nose up at it and says in a nasally new yorker accent, "Don't ja want something more bling-ee?"  And remember to say the "g" in "bling-ee" just to get the full effect.  She then goes on to say the word "blingy" repeatedly as if as a secret taste talisman. 

Should could not have been more wrong.

Nonetheless, Single Speed Kid 1, Single Speed Kid 2 and I, Single Speed Dad, have all agreed to make our bikes at least a little bit bling-ee, by considering the purchase of some of these parts that are available in multiple colors:

  • Handlebar grips
  • Handlebars (yes, they come in 20 colors)
  • Stems
  • Brakeset levers/accents (yes, some brakes come with different color options)
  • Cable Housing
  • Disc Brake Rotors
  • Bottom Brackets
  • Chain Rings
  • Bottle cages
  • Seatposts
  • Seatpost collars
  • Saddles
  • Cogs
  • Chains
  • Pedals
So, yes, on a single speed bike, the only thing that I haven't found in multiple color options is a crankset, although you can choose between materials with different colors and chain guards/bashers in different colors.  Frankly, I had no idea that so many of these parts had so many options.  I'm surprised there isn't a whole group of people devoted just to the Victorian Painted Lady concept of bikes.  Why are there Tall Bike Clubs, but no Painted Lady Bike and Tattoo Clubs?  I would think tattoos and garishly mixed colors on bike parts would attract at least 352 people across America, which is exactly the minimum required to start an internet thing.

Anyway, I had the idea that putting a couple of red parts on my raw aluminum and raw carbon fiber fork bike would add some color and "style", but I didn't realize that I could buy virtually every part for the bike that way.  And I didn't realize that doing all of it would be as easy as saying to Steve, "Hey, I want a red ____" and he would pick one up out of a cabinet or show it to me in a catalog inside of 60 seconds.  Who knew?

Not me.

Single Speed Dad

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Shopping Process

Quick update.  Or at least I have a short amount of time, but when I get typing, it is hard to know exactly what will come out.  For instance, I just had thoughts about the Ruler of Zorblef and his intergalactic out-of-body experience, but that isn't really our topic for the day.

Our topic of the day is single speed bikes and parts for those bikes and the selection thereof.  Each of the Single Speed Kids has been scoping out parts, imagining their bikes built up, finding fantastic selections of interesting and not-all expensive parts and generally wanting to get on with the process.  SSK1 has a moondust grey bike and has decided to buy some blue parts to trick out his bike.  I thought this was a surprisingly tasteful considering some of his fashion choices.  Similarly surprising to me was the choice of SSK2 to want a kermit green bike, since he normally wears more sedate colors.  I am also pleased, however, that SSK2 has not decided to do a kaleidoscope of colors and will be selecting grey and/or black parts to go with his electric green bike.  My bike is raw aluminum, or more specifically scandium, which is a fancy aluminum derivative, so I have decided to pimp it out a bit with some red accents.  We'll see just how this goes when we start mixing and matching pieces.

One thing I have steered the kids away from, literally and figuratively, as you will see, is a bunch of the carbon parts that are available for bikes.  I do enjoy watching the process of them looking at ads, reading websites or looking at reviews.  You get the impression from these sources that everyone in the world has a $10,000 bike and carbon everything.  For my money, however, most carbon parts are better suited to 1) road riding, where the stresses on parts tends to be more linear and predictable, and 2) bigger pocketbooks, since there is a premium on most carbon.  It is interesting to me that there are lots of areas where aluminum is lighter and stronger than carbon, and often costs less.  Not the high-style points maybe, but I will just keep that in mind for the next time P Diddy needs my bike buying advice.  Even the professional riders who can get parts replaced easily and at no cost are not flocking to carbon stems and carbon handlebars.  Of course, now that I am pondering it, it is funny that stems and handlebars are eschewed in carbon, but lots of us use carbon seat posts and carbon rims.

I had a carbon bar on a bike a couple of years ago and after a "crinkle" at the stem, it was replaced under warranty and I took the opportunity to trade the new bar for an aluminum one.  I value the safety of the aluminum, but it is hard to forget the extraordinary feel of the carbon bar.  It absorbs vibration in a way that nothing else does, which I only appreciate after I replaced them, but I still think it is the right thing to do.

Anyway, we have together ruled out carbon stems, carbon handlebars, carbon seatposts and carbon rims as not practical or cost-effective.  Now, when it is time for my next road bike, which assuredly should be a 14-pound, $10,000 wunder-bike . . .

But I digress again.
Single Speed Dad

Friday, February 4, 2011

Shopping Day

Knowing that we have three bikes to build, two young men who are eager to ask 4,000 questions each, and that Steve’s on Cannon Street is mostly running as a one-man shop, I made a plan with Steve to come to the shop first thing when he opened last Saturday morning.  A quick Top Gear Top Tip, breakfast at Italia Trattoria across the street from Steve’s bike shop is an excellent way to get fueled for serious bike buying.  So we ate a wonderful brunch and kept an eye on the door of the bike shop across the street to assault Steve the moment he hit the door step.  Well, not literally assault him, but you get the idea.

The guys had done their research and came equipped with lists of the each of the parts they wanted to buy or ask about.  Unlike building a road bike, where often the choice is limited to which “gruppo” you want, which then comes with many of the pieces needed to finish off the bike, mountain biking and, even more so, single speed bikes, are more of the “one from column A, one from Column B” variety.  There is no reason not to, or even social stigma suggesting otherwise, stopping you from picking brakes from one company and derailleurs from another.  Of course, we aren’t fussing with derailleurs, but you get the point.

Those of you who know me probably also know that I have a hard time standing in the back and being quiet sometimes.  But this was one of those days that I was really interested to hear what questions the boys had and to see how they wanted to go about making decisions.  Both of the guys are somewhat detail oriented and they have definitely shown a lot of interest in every single piece on these bikes.  I was interested to hear though, when the questions started, their first questions were about the pieces of the bike with which they have the most contact.  In other words, they wanted to talk saddles, grips, handlebars, pedals.  I was more interested personally in crankarms and wheelsets, since I know these are the more expensive pieces and can have a big impact on how a big feels, but I should have realized myself how important the seat and grips are to literally how the big feels to the rider.

The biggest help in all of it, though, was the process of working with Steve.  First, regardless of age, background or experience, Steve is used to working through questions with people of every level of exposure to cycling.  He has top level athletes that trust his judgment and he has complete newbies that don’t know a mountain bike from a lifestyle bike (it’s funny that is a category, isn’t it?), and he has been in the business long enough to know how to deal with all of them.  As the questions started, Steve asked if they had a choice or idea and then he offered his opinions.  Most of the time, frankly, it didn’t take very long to make a decision.  I thought there would be more hemming and hawing, but between the master and the students, they quickly resolved part after part.  Sometimes with reference to an item in inventory, sometimes a picture in a catalog or on the internet, but one by one the decisions got made.

After about an hour, Single Speed Kid 1 & 2 were ready to digest a bit and make final decisions.  I was happy that they didn’t immediately ask to order everything they had selected, but that day is coming soon.  I’m hoping that in the next week we finalize the list and get buying.  Spring riding is just around the corner and we don’t want to miss any of it.
Single Speed Dad

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SSK1 - Let's get started!

Now that you have had my brother’s and my father’s take it is time for me to pick up the proverbial pen again and journal some of my single-speed related adventures.  On Christmas Day, or as some like to call it, Non-denominational Winter Solstice Holiday, I was waiting for the rest of my extended family to arrive at my grandparent’s house, so I decided to cruise the internet to look for ideas for parts to my new bike. 

Starting at the top, I decided to look for grips first.  Also, I did this because that was the first thing that I saw on the web-site.  As I scrolled through the options, a few particular grips caught my eye.  There were a couple of ergonomic grips which were similar to classic round grips, so instead of the ones with the ledge on the end they were slightly sculpted so they were still “ergo” but they were more versatile than their brothers.  I was also intrigued by “Chunky Grips” which were made by a company called “Extreme Steering”.  If nothing else, I like the name “Extreme Steering” for bike grips.

Being known around the family for being indecisive at times, I decided to ask the opinion of one of my parents.  In this case, it was not my mom because she is not a bike fanatic.  Don’t get me wrong, she likes riding her bike, however she is no where near the fanatic stage which the rest of her household has reached.  Single-Speed Dad was busy watching a movie called “Christmas in Connecticut” which was, in my humble opinion, rather strange but good.  However it’s “goodness” did not hold a candle to the “goodness” of shopping for bike parts so I ignored it until Single-Speed Kid Two kicked me off the computer so he could look at bike parts.  Unfortunately for me, Single-Speed Dad was interested in watching the movie and so refused to interrupt even one single second of it.  How could he turn down a conversation about bike parts for a black and white Christmas movie that isn’t even about Christmas? 

Anyway, I also looked at many other things on Christmas because I was tired of waiting for Single-Speed Dad to answer my questions about grips.  The only other thing which I looked at that day were wheels; I fancied the Industry 9 wheel-set, however, Single-Speed Dad said absolutely not because a) he likes telling me “no” and b) because they were too expensive and not really in line with the idea he has about the long-term use of the bike, like being a commuter bike at college, blah blah blah.  I actually think it is because they did not want me to have wheels which were that awesome. 

A few days after Christmas mom and I went down to Steve’s On Cannon Street at closing time and were loaned a couple of bike catalogues overnight.  I promptly got in the car and buried myself in them.  Even though Single-Speed Dad dismissed it as “marketing”, I determined that I was a “snake” for saddles according to Fi'zi:k.  I started putting together a long list of stuff I need/want including seat posts, tires, chains, bottom bracket, headset, etc.  I hadn’t ever thought about how many individual pieces it takes to build up a bike, but I am loving every minute of this process.  Now I just want to start buying and building.
Single Speed Kid One