Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Christmas in March

My new bikesdirect.com Motobecane Le Champion arrived on Monday. Getting a new bike is just like being ten-years-old on Christmas. I had to tell myself "Go slow. Unpack with love and respect. "
Even though UPS and BikesDirect said someone would have to sign for the package the driver left it on my porch. No one was home yet, so it was a good thing.
The box arrived in great shape. It hardly looked like it had been shipped.
I opened the top of the box and the bike lifted right out. Separate from the bike were the seat/seatpost combo and a box of small stuff. I was pleased to see how carefully it was packed. There was a lot of padding and a few special plastic parts to keep it safe. Just unwrapping it took a bit of time. I liked the look a lot, except for the cheeseball reflectors. Yikes, those will have to go right away! I wasn't nuts about the carbon cranks. They looked scuffed up, then I realized they're supposed to look like that. I felt a bit better when Joyce came over and commented that she really liked how they look.
Here it is with the seat/seatpost, stem, handlebars, front brake attached. I still need to add the pedals (they don't come with the bike) and hook up the front derailleur and front brake cables.

When that's done the bike will be "ready," but it won't be ready for me. I'll be changing out the 36-tooth chain ring, moving the front brake control to the right side, hooking up a Paul e-Lever to control the back brake, moving the left brake-shifter a lot, re-taping the bars, and likely changing the front caliper from the Cane Creek to the Dura Ace model I have on my other bike.
All in all, this seems like it's been a great deal so far. Now I just have to finish it and actually get on it!
Buy the way, all photos are clickable to see larger versions.

UPDATE: Paul Components hasn't shipped my brake lever yet. %#!$%?&

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Too legit

With one day (in theory) until the new bike is delivered I have all (or most) of my ducks in a row.
  1. New pedals here check
  2. 34- tooth chain ring ready to install check
  3. Brake lever on order check check
  4. Tools at the ready check
  5. Under 160 pounds check and double-check
And now, the final piece
I've made my 2000 miles.
UPDATE: UPS Tracking says bike delivery is still on schedule for Monday!
Still under consideration: bike computer, handlebar tape, seat bag, pump
Days since bike order: 7

More pieces

I came home Sunday to yet another package. This time: Shimano Ultegra pedals bought on eBay, but brand spankin' new. Yet another piece of the bicycle puzzle awaiting only a bicycle. It's so much fun to have a new Shimano box. I don't think I've ever had one before. The pedals themselves have the nicest sheen. It's true bike porn at it's most cool.
UPDATE: UPS Tracking says bike delivery is still on schedule for Monday!
Still under consideration: bike computer, handlebar tape, seat bag, pump
Days since bike order: 7

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fat ride on the American River

I'm at a journalism conference in Sacramento and I'm supposed to be working 24 hours a day. But I managed to sneak out every day and get in few miles along the American River Parkway trail. Jeeeezz, there's a zillion cyclists there. The place is packed with babes and too many guys with aero bars like they're time trialing at 13 mph. There are also lots of men in full team clothes that look painted on they are so tight. It might be cool if they didn't weigh 280 pounds. I'm pleased to see fat folks on bikes, after all, I'm a fat guy on a bike. We're out there getting healthy. But skin tight clothes? I mean skin tight as in every ripple showing off tight. Who lets them out of the house like that? Hey, large folks, a word for you: Baggy. Try it. You won't stretch the logos all out of shape. Reward yourself with that tight stuff when you get under 200.
UPDATE: UPS Tracking says bike delivery is still on schedule for Monday!
Days since bike order: 6

Friday, March 23, 2007

When the brake breaks

I'm still buying parts for the bike that isn't here yet. First it was Ultegra pedals, then the new chain ring. Now it's this Paul e-lever thingy. As you may know, I can't grip with my left hand. I've been using just the front brake for forever, but a recent conversation got me worried. What if that front brake has a problem when I'm zooming down Mt. Diablo? I'd be toast. So I'm going to add this on the right side to control the back brake, and I'll use it only if disaster strikes.
UPDATE: UPS Tracking says bike delivery is schedule for Monday!
Days since bike order: 5

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

First blood

The first piece of my new bike arrived. Because it comes with a compact crank 36-50 and I'm ... ah.. old, I ordered a 34 tooth chain ring. It arrived today. Now I'm just waiting for the bike to put it on.
I'm also starting to think about all the other junk I'll need. What computer will I need? Wireless? Cadence? I'll need a weird small brake lever (details to follow) , but which one? Will I need to change the cassette for an 11-23 to maybe 12-25, or 13-27? At this rate I'll be too old to ride by the time I get this bike ready.
UPDATE: Another BikeDirect.com email with tracking number. On schedule for Monday!
Days since bike order: 3

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Faster than...

Holy smokes, Batman. I'm so pumped up over ordering a bike that I set personal best on my commute. The first ever commute took 50 minutes. I've got it down to a hair under 40. Today: 34:50.
These are ride times, based on a bike computer that doesn't register when I stop. Still stops and restarts to add time. I hit most of the traffic well today and didn't have to stop and that helped lower my time, but still, a new record is born.
UPDATE: Bikesdirect.com emailed saying I can expect it on Monday
Days since bike order: still just 2

Books to read while waiting

I ordered my bike Sunday night. I guess I can't complain too much that it isn't here on Tuesday. But I want to. While I wait, I'm reading books about cycling. Most aren't well written, or very insightful, even if they tell a good story. The exception is Tim Krabbe's (bio) The Rider (Amazon link). Written in 1978 but only recently translated from Dutch, The Rider is a delight. It's a first person story of one race. That may sound dull, but it's a wonderful read. I understand Krabbe is a very popular Dutch writer, but being I live in the USA my chances of even finding out about non-English authors is pretty low. I'm glad I found this one.
Days since bike order: 2

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Excuses, rationalizations

I've gone and done it. I have excuses.
  1. Tricia said "Well, if you don't ride it until you have 2000 miles that would still count."
  2. I'm so very close to 2000 I'll make it before the thing even arrives.
  3. Spring break is coming up, and I'll better have time to assemble it then.
  4. It will be really nice to have it dialed in before that Wildflower Chico ride we're doing.
  5. What if they ran out before I ordered. Then where would I be?
  6. I just got a little freelance money, so.. yeah.
  7. I only had to hit 160 pounds, and I'm at 150, so if I can count one extra pound lost for 15 miles, I'm still in spec. Think of it as pound/mile averaging.
  8. All I had to do was click one little button on the internet. How wrong can that be?
It turns out the carbon bike I wanted didn't have compact cranks after all, so I ordered the Motobecane Le Champion , all 15.5 pounds (sans pedals) of it.
I promise to photograph, blog and record every step of everything.
I'm doin' it for the children.
UPDATE: Also ordered Shimano Ultegra Pedals from an eBay auction and a 34-tooth chainwheel from BikeTiresDirect.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Diablo. Still uphill.

Our friend Joyce rides lots, so she thinks we should too. She talked me into doing the Diablo loop: Up the North Gate, Down the South, back through Danville and Walnut Creek. 30 miles that starts with about a 2000 foot climb. I haven't done it since the 80s. It's still steep. My goal today was to survive, and I did. Thanks Joyce! (Joyce, single: possibly available for the highly qualified; For a good climb call...)
Where's my wife you ask? Apparently having a 16-year-old daughter going to the prom involves a lot more Mom than it did when I was in school, so she did pink stuff today. I'm in hiding.
Thanks also to Diablo Scott's Bike Blog for providing a bit of inspriation as well!

The commute

The weather has gone from cold to 80 in the afternoon. The sun is out, the shy is bright. The commute is a delight, thanks for asking. It must be time to remove the mudflap.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Miles per gallon

I just listened to the March 14 Scientific American podcast as I rode into work. Near the end they did a story on Nick Goddard, who figured out how many calories are in a gallon of gas, and how far he could ride on that energy. Then he did it. A bit over 633 miles it turns out, though he thinks his heart monitor was telling him he burned more than he did. He thinks the distance is really closer to 900 miles. I'm not sure this has even a little real world significance, but it's almost interesting.
I guess this is old news now, but it's new to me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Warning: Geeky technoid post. Skip if necessary
I'm thinking about gearing. Too much. I can't seem to stop. It's just that I want the perfect gears for me. I grew up on 52-42 and 14-28. Later 52-42 13-26, then I swapped the 42 for a 39 just because, heck, was I ever really going to race?
So here I am, using online calculators and shopping for a bike that comes with the right gears. I've rejected buying bikes that don't just because I don't want to shell out for a new chainring and cassette for a new bike.
I'm thinking compact drive, 50-34 and then an 11, 12 or 13-25. With a 10-speed cassette, that will give me a good low end and enough to pick from in between. Unless I'm wrong. Maybe I just need to get a life, and start thinking about computer video boards or something important.

Monday, March 12, 2007


OK. I've found the bike I want (at least this week.) Material, components, gearing. The whole thing. But I have to wait until July for it to ship. What's a mother to do? I was all set to order in a week or two. Now I have to figure: Do I wait until half the summer is over to get a bike? Advise me, oh turning spokes of the net, send me your wisdom. Check this puppy out.
UPDATE: Whoops... Didn't have compact cranks after all, so never mind.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Dear Road Bike

Dear Road Bike,
You know I love you. I've loved you since the day I first saw you in 1987. Your Cannondale Black Lightning body, your matching parts, your golden highlights set my heart afire as they always have. Didn't I ride you 100K this weekend? Don't I buy you new tires at the slightest hint?
But I know you are wondering where I am during the week.
I confess.
That Red Cannondale F500 mountain bike you room with? Lost a lotta weight recently, no? The light wheels, the 1" Tom Slicks, the new 12-23 cluster.
I'm sure you noticed the new chain too.
Well, I guess you know who bought the chain. I guess you know who I've been riding to work every day.
It's not that things between us have changed, it's just that I've gotten older. I like -- maybe need -- a little suspension in the morning, in a way I didn't twenty years ago.
So, yes damn it, I'm riding to work every day, from now on, with Red. A cushy, quick, practical ride with a back pack.
But we'll still have the weekends, won't we? It's just that I have so many miles to give.
I knew you'd understand.
Yours forever,

Friday, March 09, 2007

New wheels, gears

My new - new to me at least - eBay Mavic wheels arrived today. The cassette, chain and the tools I ordered arrived yesterday. I have way to much to do, so of course I immediately installed the whole mess.
Cassette: Easy.
Chain: Easy on. Whoops, missed threading it through a hidden part of the derailleur. Taking it off, re threading it and reattaching it was a pain. But it's all better now. It's shiny, quiet and shifts like a dream.
Now my Mountain bike is my fine commuter bike, at least in theory. Giddy up!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

It's just sad...

I walk past this wheel every day on my way to class. It's been there for two years, sadder every season. I always wonder who's bike it was connected to, who stole it and why. How did they take it away? Did they carry it or ride on one wheel? Will the police services folks ever cut it loose? Is that tire still any good? Don't those U-locks pop open with a Bic pen? Anyone I know need a wheel reflector? Too bad the skewer is gone...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

#!@^% Noise

My right pedal (Cannondale Coda) is not dancing well with my shoe. There's a creak I can't get rid of. I've greased the cleat inside, reset it. I yelled at it. The only thing that works so far is turning up the iPod. I'm going nuts. More grease inside where the cleat connects? Wax on the pedal? New pedals and cleats. Oh the humanity...
Please offer suggestions
Update Massive amounts of lithium grease and endless repositioning may be helping. Hard to say if it will stay. Film at 11.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Why I ride

Tricia on her bikeI was happy. Fat and happy. Then my wife Tricia started riding her mountain bike to school. Then she wanted - and bought - a nice road bike, and the next thing I knew I was riding to work too. It's turned out to be fun. The only thing really missing from my life (other than 30 pounds) is
  1. A bunch of money for bike parts
  2. A bit more money for bike tune up
  3. Cash for tires and tubes
  4. Money spent on bike clothes
  5. Money spent on smaller bike clothes
  6. Money spent on still smaller bike clothes
I guess all I really need now is a jersey for Tricia that says "Don't you wish your girlfriend could ride like me?"

Well. Maybe a new bike too.

I don't think bike commuting is saving me money

I commute on a Cannondale 500 Mtn. bike. I've added fenders, and lights. It's very geeky now. My last purchase was a set Ritchey Tom Slick MTB Tires. They're 1" slicks and a ton faster than my knobby Mtn. tires.
But more is never enough. I started thinking "Wouldn't it be nice to have a second set of wheels so I can swap mtn, and street tires painlessly?"
So I found a set of Mavic 517 rims with XT hubs (just like the ones on my bike) on EBAY.
But that's not enough. Oh no.
After consulting endless online gear calculators, and the amazing Sheldon Brown bicycle site I figured I knew how to kick things up a notch.
On EBAY I found (and purchased) a 12-23 cassette with a much "tighter" range than the 11-30 that's on the bike now. My hope is that this will make the perfect no-hills-involved commuting machine! Of course I had to order the installation tools as well, so even with the EBAY used part purchases the project is costing me money.
Pictures and installation reports to follow.

I promise myself a new bike

Here's the deal I made with myself: Get under 160 pounds and ride existing bikes 2000 miles and you are allowed to treat yourself to a new bike.
I'm now 155 (from over 190) and have about 500 miles to go to reach 2000.
I've started seriously shopping, and I think I'll roll the dice and get a BikeDirect.com bicycle.
If you want to read people going nuts, just say BikesDirect.com over at Bikeforum.net. They are either evil, or the answer to life. A waste of money, or the best deal in town. My plan: To find out, and blog it all here.
I'm looking really hard at the 2007 Motobecane Le Champion SL.
Along the way, I'll post about my commute experiences and other bikes. Let's see how it goes!