Saturday, September 26, 2009

"My name is Pugsley and I am an alcoholic."

Pugsley was getting a little jealous with all the fussing over the new Surly in the family so I included a Niner YAWYD top-cap with the final mail-order of parts for the Cross-Check. 

The casual observer will now be more convinced than ever that I have a drinking problem. 

Y.A.W.Y.D. (You Are What You Drink). Until I can find a half-Danish, half-English beer brewed in NZ with a purple cap this will have to do.

Ahearne Spaceman Flask Holster. Got this for the NZ Singlespeed Champs last year.

Surly "Tuggnut" chain-tug and bottle opener was part of the original build. Heavy but works well. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Surly Cross-Check all but done

The longest bike build in history is almost complete. With the exchange rate being so good against the U.S. at the moment I purchased the last components I needed with money I don't have. 

This is the first time I've assembled a bike from scratch. I've just worked at it methodically at night and don't think I've stuffed anything up. The wheels were built for me and I had my LBS install the headset but I've done everything else myself. I don't particularly enjoy the wrenching part but there is a certain satisfaction to be had from it and I am saving money in the process. 

Only a few hiccups along the way: 

- The only front brake cable-hanger I could source in "silver" has no barrel adjuster so adjusting for cable-stretch will be a bit more fiddly. 

- I cut down the "long" brake cable inner when installing the front brake then was doubly stupid when I rushed out to the LBS to purchase another one when I had a spare in the bike cupboard that came with my secondhand bar-end shifters!

- I can't get the rear derailleur indexing properly. This is not the first time I have failed indexing school despite trawling the internet for how-to's. The gears work perfectly in "friction" mode so I will have another go later or visit the bike shop as a last resort.

My "work-stand". I'm sure when I get a proper bike workstand it will be one of those "why didn't I do this 15 years ago" moments like when I bought a track-pump for the first time. They are very expensive in NZ and impractical to mail-order so I am making-do for now.

Setting-up the drop-bars and controls. This was new territory for a mountainbiker and I won't tape the bars until I'm sure everything is in the right spot and comfortable.

The "shakedown" ride around the block and through a nearby park. Feels light and FAST.

The Cross-Check rides beautifully but I am a bit stretched-out and the bars are lower than I would have liked. I will see how I go but a post with no set-back will be in the next parts order. 

I kind of expected the bars to be a bit low as my legs are ridiculously long. Even on a big frame like this there is a lot of seat-post showing. Short of a custom frame there is not a lot I can do about this. If it had a threaded fork I could use a long quill stem but I like the strength and convenience of the threadless kind. I could extend the steerer with one of those clunky after-market bolt-ons (which I don't think I can buy locally) or I could buy a weird looking high-rise stem like they use on trials bikes. 

The riding position is fine on tarmac and not as much of a drop as on a modern road-bike. It's only when riding technical stuff off-road that it becomes a problem. The budget is used up for now anyway. Down the line I could always have a custom stem made with my exact measurements in mind. Fillet brazed steel with a built-in cable hanger sounds just right. 

So now I have a new road-bike, touring-bike, commuting-bike, city-bike, trailer-puller, cyclocross racer and geared-mountainbike and it's all the same bike ;^)

If it stops raining I'll get out there and ride it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Spring Sprang

The Road-Train arrives at Castor Bay

We are having some fantastic weather lately in Auckland. After a particularly wet winter it's nice to go for a ride on a fine day and leave the raincoats at home. 

Dresses herself - I am not responsible!

Today (for no other reason than it would be a crime to not go for a bike ride) the Midget Assassin and I went to the beach for a picnic morning-tea. We live 500 metres from a perfectly good beach but it's hardly worth harnessing-up the trailer for that, so we headed over the hill to Castor Bay instead. 

Only 16ÂșC today, but warm in the sun and perfect conditions for cycling.

On of the great things about living in New Zealand is there's hardly anyone here. Even in a city of one million we had the whole park, playground and beach to ourselves. Sitting in the sun looking out at the harbour, eating and drinking with your daughter - life is just too hard sometimes. 

I took the long way home so I could get a bit of a work-out on the hills and we stopped in at a local butcher to pick up some dinner. On days like this you feel very lucky to be out and about riding a bike. It makes a potential chore like shopping a pleasant experience.

My new (to me) Dinky Panniers

A friend of mine mentioned that a local Hospice opportunity shop had a pair of saddlebags for sale. I've been looking for a secondhand pannier on Trademe (NZ eBay equivalent) since I started commuting, but nothing decent at the right price has turned up yet. It's a bit hot in the morning for a backpack so I've been wrapping mine in my jacket (to keep the straps out of the spokes) and bungying it to the rack. This is a bit of a hassle and it's not practical to stop and get something out of the bundle if it starts to rain for example. 

The saddlebags turned out to be quite small but I bought them anyway as the price was right, it was for a good cause, and I don't need to carry much to work anyway. As it turned out a larger pannier would not work on this bike as I had to mount them at the rear of the rack to stop heal-strike on this compact MTB frame. 

They had their first proper outing today and it was very convenient having a handy place to stash all my stuff. These ones are semi-rigid like little oval hat boxes and the lids fit snugly with velcro holding them shut. Just what you need for diving in and out of without having to deal with straps and buckles. 

Of course I look like even more of a dork now, but at my age I'll take comfort and convenience over vanity anytime.