Friday, November 25, 2011


After serving me for 18 years, my Kestrel's frameset now hangs in my living room.  Retired, but seen and appreciated every day.

Definitely a guy's apartment.  But it's not this monochromatic or dark most of the time.

All for now,


Last of the Season?

Today I installed a computer on the Colnago, threw on the wool long sleeved jersey I bought at Rivendell when I was there in August, pulled a pair of Hot Chilis ski tights over my riding shorts, capped it off with my rain jacket and fingered gloves, and put 19 miles on my new bike.  It really is a nice ride, and I'm enjoying it immensely.  I was slooooooow today, though, which isn't really surprising, given that I haven't ridden much since the weather turned and since I sprained my right ankle.  It felt good to get out, though, and the ankle didn't hold me back much, if at all.

And!  I managed to do a good deed while I was out there:  A woman en route from Boston to Worcester had a slow leak and was struggling with reinstalling her rear wheel after an apparently aborted attempt to change it out.  I pulled the tube, failed to find a leak, swapped it, reinstalled it, the tire and the wheel, and gave her a couple of stick-on patches to use when she arrived in Worcester and had access to a sink to find the leak.  I finished my ride with filthy hands (she's evidently been riding that Specialized in the rain), but my gloves kept the Colnago's white bar tape mercifully clean.

I might be able to get out again on Sunday, but I have the girls with me this weekend, and I'm guessing it'll be a short ride, if a ride at all.  So today's loop may prove to be the last one of the season.  If so, it was nothing to complain about.  A nice ride on a beautiful day on a lovely new bike, capping off a decent season of riding mostly the Motobecane, including in my first Pan-Mass Challenge.

As for the Colnago, it could use a coat of wax, and I'm kicking myself for not having done that before I (impatiently) assembled it.  And during the ride, the seatpost slipped down a bit, even though it was snugged all the way.  Which told me that the seatpost is still a little undersized.  Some fooling around with a screwdriver allowed me to spread the seatpost binder clamp a bit, and (finally) allow me to slip the 27.2 post from the Kestrel into place.  This one should be the actual correct size, and is a much nicer post than the cheapy Kalloy I'd been using, anyway.  The bars need to come up a bit as well, but the stem is at its limit already.  I'm still thinking about pedals, too -- but not for today.

My rollers stand ready in my office, here, and I'm guessing my next intense ride will be on those, rather than out in the world.  The cold weather gear kept me plenty warm, though, so I may be able to eke out one or two more before I give it up until April.  Maybe by then I'll have resolved what to do with the Motobecane.  Then again, maybe not...

All for now,


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Done Lovely

Not much to say about it today, but the Colnago build is done -- finished this morning in the gorgeous autumn sunshine, while a pair of hawks wheeled and cried out overhead.

It's a lovely bike with not such a lovely backdrop.  White Cinelli cork wrap, braided stainless V-O cable kits, stainless cages, MKS track pedals with MKS toe clips and V-O leather straps (black to match the Selle San Marco Regal), Nitto Dynamic stem and Nitto B115 handlebars in the classic square-shouldered, round-drop bend, held in by a Nitto Dynamic stem that I wish had just a tad more quill length (but I wanted a Dynamic, not a Technomic, on this bike).

Easily the prettiest bike I've owned.

All for now,


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Am I Serious?

I like to think of myself as pretty seriously into bikes and riding.  I love to ride, though I don't get out as much as I'd like to.  And I work on my own bikes like few others I know do.  I build bikes for my kids, and experiment with my own setups and gear.  Then there's this blog...  Pretty serious, all told.

Even so, I've had a bit of an internal struggle with the build of the Colnago -- particularly with the pedals.

As I walked Jake tonight, there was just a hint of ache in my left knee.  An ache that started probably 15 years ago, now, on a benefit ride.  In truth, it was my own fault -- I'd just been dumb.  Rather than having cleats installed professionally, I swapped a new set onto my shoes a few days before that ride, and weakened the cartilege in my left knee, riding while twisting my foot against spring tension over the 200 mile weekend.  I ended up with a tear in the meniscus that was snipped away by an orthopedic surgeon within a year, but my knee has never been really pain-free since.

I've figured out that I need a narrow Q-factor to avoid the pain.  And I removed all of the Look pedals from my fleet to ensure that I can always move my feet to a position that feels right on the knees.  I still have a pair of Looks, though -- the first set I ever bought.  And I've been tempted to install them on the Colnago, buy a new set of shoes, and use those this winter and next season.  Or get a set of Speedplays and a new set of shoes.  This, in lieu of the toe clips and straps I've used happily on the Motobecane the past year or so.

Why though?  On the PMC this year, I suffered no nerve damage in my toes from undue pressure on my feet, riding in running shoes and toe clips.  The toe clips offered great support under the balls of my feet, and voila!  No turned-off toes at the finish.  Every other benefit ride I've done has left me with middle toes numb for literally months.  And I doubt I was materially slower on the ride for my choice of pedals.

The thing is, though, there's a part of me -- maybe a part of every enthusiast, and maybe not so small -- that wants to be seen (by myself and by others) as serious about my sport.  Serious enough to understand the pros and cons of different pieces of equipment, and spring for the things that will help me be a stronger rider.  And that same part of me, or one really close by, doesn't want to be seen as a bumpkin, riding some quaint old thing.  To some extent, that's the reason I have the Colnago in the first place -- the Motobecane is very much a quaint old thing, no matter how much I love it or how well it performed on the PMC.  It's vanity, I know.  The same thing that's kept me away from hearing aids for the past decade or so.

As I look at the Colnago, with its downtube shifters and track pedals, I really can't help but contemplate an upgrade to Shimano brifters and a pair of Speedplays.  I'm holding off for now.  I ordered a set of MKS clips and Velo-Orange straps tonight, in fact.  But the vain/serious cyclist in me keeps surfing bike porn on the Web, looking for a deal.  Looking for serious.

All for now,