Saturday, August 30, 2008

Le Tour de Poo

I haven't been riding the Pugsley much lately as the weekends have been busy with family stuff and the weather has been so rotten. The first half of winter was dry but it seems like in the last three months it hasn't stopped raining. 

Today I had some rare time to myself so I went out for a ride along the beaches despite the wind, the cold and the threat of rain. 

I call this regular route the Tour de Poo because between each beach in the East Coast Bays of Auckland there is a sewer pipe that runs along the bottom of the sandstone cliffs. Makes sense from an engineering point of view to keep it at ground level around each headland but it's hardly a scenic asset. To lessen the visual impact most of it has been covered in coloured concrete shaped to look like natural rocks. At least it would look like rock if you were stumbling home from the pub with a skinful. I think most sober folk would realise that rocks don't run in such straight lines and sandstone doesn't have manhole covers.

On these beach rides I normally don't even need to put a foot down. Sand, streams, stairs, rocks and small children can be ridden over with minimal effort on a Pugsley. My recent lack of off-road riding was highlighted today as I managed to fall over executing a turn in soft sand at no more than 1 kph. Luckily the beach was deserted and no one saw me. How embarrassing.

Pugsley Tip #1:  Don't turn in a tight radius when you are in the soft stuff

There are sections between some bays where even at low tide you can't get around the coastline at sea level. There is a path up and over the cliffs but shouldering a Pugsley up hundreds of stairs is not an option for this weakling. I prefer to go inland slightly and ride on the roads. I love grunting up steep hills but the winter clothing I was wearing today was just too hot. It was fine on the beach in the wind but I was cooking buy the time I got to the tops of the climbs. I really need some sort of lightweight, windproof jacket instead of the thick polar-fleece I had on today. Another bike related purchase I'll add to the wish-list.

On the return leg the tide had come up very fast and I got a bit wet as the sea was really churning and it was hard to judge when the waves were going to break over the path. 
To top it off about ten seconds after I had taken the photo above a rogue wave broke over most of me and all of the Pug. The camera was dry but I got a good soaking and the Pug got a longer shower than usual when we got home.

I procrastinated for an hour before I got out the door today but as usual had a lot of fun riding in the stormy conditions. I think as long as you're warm it can be more enjoyable than in good weather. There are less people around and you don't over-heat. A bit like running in the rain.

Still, summer brings better visibility, girls in bikinis and icecream stops, so I will attempt not to enjoy these winter rides so much in the future ;^)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The eternal problem of getting your baguettes home on a bike in one piece has been solved.

Experimental Baguette Transportation Device outside the Baguette Dispensing Facility.

Baguette Obtainer Of The Year [BOOTY] in action.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ellsworth Ride Ride

I had the chance to go for a quick carpark test ride on this big-dollar Ellsworth Ride cruiser while buying some tyres and tubes for the Cross-Check at my LBS. I like cruisers but it's too hilly in my part of Auckland for this type of bike and I'm always too tall for them anyway. 

The bike has some interesting features like the integrated rear fender but it was the rear hub that caught my eye.

I was curious how the NuVinci "geared" hub would ride after reading good reports about them. You just twist the controller and the gearing changes in a completely linear fashion, no steps at all. It was super-smooth and seemed to have a wide enough gear range but you had to twist the controller more than once to go from the lowest to highest ratio. Either that or the grip on it was slipping.

I think these hubs have a big future on city bikes and if they can get the weight down they would be great on all bikes.

Midget photographer's assistant wanders into frame

I like the internal cable routing

One-piece carbon-fibre bar/fork

Monday, August 4, 2008

Shiny New Things

The Cross-Check project finally made some progress when my frame and wheel-set arrived last week from Christchurch after an agonizing two month wait. Life moves at a different pace in the South Island and I tried to be patient, but being from Auckland I wanted it Now, Now Now! 
In the south they call Aucklanders JAFAs (Just-Another-Fucking-Aucklander) and although it's a bit harsh, it's fairly accurate. You tend to get a lot of wankers in big cities.

I have been buying parts over the last year or so for what was going to be a Surly Big Dummy build but making sure I could use them on other bikes if that plan didn't eventuate. It didn't eventuate! I would still love a Dummy but I need a more versatile bike that can do long road rides, around town stuff and the obligatory commuting duties. 

In a couple of years when Carla can ride on the back I may still get a longtail of some sort. Maybe even an Xtracycle for the Nasty Evil Bike. The deciding factor was a Big Dummy would not be practical for riding to work as when I got there I would have to lug it up stairs, ride it through a busy factory, negotiate fire-doors, offices and desks that I have enough trouble with on my MTB, and then it would take up an awful lot of space in the studio. For one of the worlds most practical bikes that would just not be practical. A folding bike would be more appropriate for my commute.

Back to the Cross-Check. It's black, shiny and sexy but it will be some time before it hits the road as I have many more components to purchase and I have Champagne tastes on a beer budget. I want to do it properly so I'll buy stuff as I can afford it.

In the photo above I'm rust-proofing the frame with a locally made aerosol lanolin product. I used it when I put the Pugsley together and have no rust in that frame after two years of beach riding, so I think it will do the trick. Much cheaper than importing Frame-Saver from the States. How Kiwi is that - sheep oil in my bike!

Racer X rear - I ordered an MI5 and got sent this. Looks the same, but I think it's an older model

For the hubs I went with White Industries. I wanted a classic look with MTB strength and the polished finish will match the SON generator hub I plan to get further down the line. They are just plain beautiful and I think I will have to drink heavily before I can bring myself to cover them in mud. Maybe a few road miles first to wear them in first. They are certainly the nicest bike part I have ever owned and I probably went overboard, but I look after my stuff and will be using them for years to come. You only regret buying quality when you are paying off your credit card.

MI5 front

Salsa Delgado Cross 700c rims

I wanted really strong rims for riding off-road and future touring but there is not much available in silver with a braking surface. These Salsa's looked suitably old-fashioned and have been used on 29er mountain bikes for years. They should be tough enough built up with 36 double-butted DT Swiss spokes.

I need to get a headset, stem and skewers next so I can piece these bits together and have something resembling a bike to hang in the garage. I already have a saddle, seat post, rear derailleur, bar-end shifters and some drop handlebars ready to go on.