Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Break

This weekend and most of next week, I'll have my kids with me here at the house.  And as a special project with each of them, we're going to finish a major stage of each of their bike projects.

For Juli, that'll mean taking the derailleurs and control levers off the Fuji, mounting them on her Schwinn, cabling the bike up, installing a chain, and wrapping the bars.  If we have time, we'll move over the bell, trim the kickstand an inch or so to get the right lean, modify a Pletscher rack to fit this frame properly, and install the handlebar water bottle cage mount.  And with that, her 650B Schwinn conversion will be ready for a ride.  There's snow on the ground right now in Boston, but it may vanish before next week is up.  If so, she may get a test ride in before the new year begins!  I'll write up a summary of the conversion when it's done, including the couple of interesting-to-me challenges in building up this frame.

For Ava, the task is a little simpler -- to tear everything that's left on the Fuji off, and assemble a build kit in a box for next winter.  And also to get a spec sheet together for a frame builder to make a few modifications, as well as officially choose a color.  This last is sure to send Juli up in smoke, so I'm going to do that with Ava on a night she'll be at a sleepover party.  At the moment, I'm thinking like this:
  • Braze on a derailleur hanger on the right rear dropout, so I can ditch the adapter claws (which I needed on both sides to make the rear QR clamp properly)
  • Braze on a pair of water bottle cages on the down tube, so I can ditch the paint scratching clamps
  • Braze on a pair of cable stops on down tube, again so I can ditch a clamp-on stop
  • Braze on a piece of half-inch bar stock over the brake bridge to serve as a mounting point for the Pletscher rack, so I can ditch the clamps
You will notice a pattern on these last three.  If I'm going to get the bike repainted, I'd rather not clamp a bunch of stuff onto the fresh, expensive paint job and mess it all up.  I'd rather spend a bit more for proper bosses for all of these things.

Then the rest will be simple -- strip it to bare metal, pull off the head badge, degrease, paint the desired powder blue and reinstall the head badge.  This is all sure to cost way more than is sensible to spend, but that's OK -- she's my baby.  Ava, not the Fuji.

The build kit for that bike is pretty much all set, too.  I need to reclaim the Shogun from my friend who borrowed it, take the 105SC front and rear derailleurs off of it, pick up a pair of chainrings for a 160mm crankset I have, and voila!  C'est tout.  Oh, plus cables and eventually whatever color housing and bar tape Ava wants.  But that'll be it, for sure.  I've even picked up a kickstand for that bike, and will cut it short, to fit.

I'd like to put 40 miles on the rollers this weekend, too -- we'll see how I do with that goal.

Happy holidays everyone.  And here's hoping for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011!

All for now,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Defeat is temporary -- or it isn't.  Apart from mortal combat situations, which way this swings really depends on how you respond to defeat.

Defeat -- loss by another word -- can be awful.  It can tear at your soul, your self-esteem, and your heart.  And if you've been hit by loss after loss, it can be hard to keep perspective, or know when the free-fall will stop.  But the bottom will come if you let it -- if you let each defeat weigh upon you only temporarily.  If you study each to figure out what went wrong.  If you learn a new rule each time, or what to do next time.  Or not do.

Or you can cling to each defeat as an emblem of your failure, and make it part of yourself.  You can take that path.  But if you do, the free-fall will be longer, and the losses will keep coming -- possibly until you have nothing left to lose.

Better to take from each loss what you can, then let it go.  And ultimately easier.

All for now,


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I'm adding no new wisdom to the world by delcaring it here, but there's really no going back, in life -- only forward.

Back is a tempting place.  Back was known.  It may have been safe.  But trust me, it's gone, and can't be recaptured.  The important questions don't relate to how to get back to something that was, but rather how to go forward.  What to forge -- what new reality to create?  With whom?  And when?

Scary stuff, going forward -- lots of unknowns.  But standing still isn't living, and there's no going back.

You knew all that.  But sometimes I forget.

All for now,


Sunday, December 5, 2010

How much is this hobby costing me?

I was just reading the comments on one of Velouria's recent posts over at Lovely Bicycle. The topic was budget bicycles and whether it's better to buy something cheap or something used.  That got me thinking about my bike projects and how much they've cost me, and honestly, those are numbers that are best not thought about.  I probably have $1500 into my Schwinn's build, for example, and it's worth maybe $500 on eBay, if I'm lucky.  The Motobecane was a gift from my friend Steven, but I've probably got $500 into that in components and accessories.  Probably more.

Then there are the girls' bikes.  Juli had three bar/stem/lever setups on her Fuji in the two seasons she rode it.  Two of these required new parts, each to the tune of $150 or so.  Then the bike itself cost $300 or so, shipped, and there are cages and the rack and the saddle bag and her Brooks saddle to consider, not to mention the upgraded front derailleur, brakes, tires and tubes, cables and housing, and the cranks and pedals.  $1000 all-in wouldn't surprise me.  Two seasons!  Now, it's true that Ava will be on that bike for a couple of seasons, herself (maybe even 3), but it's going to cost me $5-600 to get it ready for her, once I'm done cannibalizing it for Juli's Schwinn, and getting it repainted.

Then there's Juli's Schwinn.  The frame was cheap, and the fork was, too -- $200 total, I think, with shipping.  The cranks, derailleurs, shifters and brakes were all on-hand or cannibalized from the Fuji.  The headset, stem and bars were new for this build -- that's $100 or so.  The wheelset cost me $200 for the parts and $250 for the class!  And I've got another $300 in miscellaneous components in there, too -- 650B tires and tubes, kickstand, cable stops, hangers, the brake pulley thingy, etc...  I'm guesstimating here, but that one is quickly inching towards a thou as well, even without the wheelbuilding class costs factored in.

On the other hand, I'm not exactly cutting corners on any of these bikes.  My taste in components and accessories tends towards the expensive, and I always seem to end up paying way more on eBay than I can sell the same parts for when I move onto something new.  And the only money I spent on my Schwinn this year was for a new wheelset (crash) and the fenders and saddle bag I bought for my trip to Italy.  So apart from the crash and two purchases for a specific purpose, I pretty much just rode it.  All it needs right now is a replacement big ring, to replace the one ovaled by baggage handlers.  Likewise, the Motobecane got a little spend early this season, as I sorted it out for its intended role, but very little over the summer (bar tape).  It shouldn't need anything to get me through next season -- maybe tires, depending on how much the rollers chew those up this winter.

Anyway, I guess the answer is that as hobbies go, this one hasn't been particularly inexpensive for me, and that most of that spend is impulsive on my part -- discretionary, not mandatory.  I think one of my New Year's resolutions will be to spend no more than $100 each on the Schwinn and Motobecane in 2011.  I'm sure it's possible -- the question is whether I have the discipline to stick to it.

Juli's Schwinn is looking more and more like a bicycle, by the way.  I'll write more another time, but it has wheels and tires installed, and is awaiting transplant of the drivetrain and control levers.  This is good fodder for the coming Christmas school vacation.  Then we can cable and tape it, and it'll be roadworthy, and ready for a test ride and its final accessories!

All for now,