Friday, September 19, 2008

Age Old Question: White After Labor Day?

I've lived by two fashion mottos in my life: 1) according to GQ, you CAN wear blue and black together, as long as you mean to, and 2) no white after Labor Day. Ok, I really haven't followed the white thing....and the blue and black thing I just found to help cover some fashion faux pas I apparently made.

However, this year, I'm breaking the white after Labor Day rule. My summer project has been to build up a complete road bike from frame up. I didn't want to mess with my main Torelli, but did want to learn a little bit more about how to build and maintain a fully geared road bike. I started out building up a couple single speeds, but those are relatively easy to keep from messing up. Building something with gears, derailleurs and just more stuff in general, seemed a little daunting, but I wanted to tackle it. I can now say that I've completed my summer project.That's my new Cinelli Spirit, put together by...well, me! The white tubing is Columbus Spirit tubing, and the black stays, seat tube, and fork are carbon fiber...which has been scary for a big guy like me. I've seen some ugly pictures on the interweb of the results of CF catostrophic failures. I picked up the frame on a screaming good ebay deal for a fraction of it's retail cost. The Campy Mirage group (cranks, derailleur, brakes, levers, chain) seat, bars, wheels and tires came off a used Bianchi Eros I bought. I had to purchase a new bottom bracket, integrated headset, front derailleur clamp, seat clamp, seat post...and for good measure I bought a new Campy cable/housing kit. Before doing all the work, I started with just this:

My first time working with CF, but I am proud to say I cut the steering tube by myself, although I was a tad nervous. I just went out and got a 32T blade for my hacksaw, used masking tape for a guide and to help with splintering, gently held it in my bench vise wrapped in an old tube, and rotated the tube after cutting down a bit on each side. Then took an emory cloth and polished it down. It wasn't too much more work than cutting a steel tube, just a little more tedious.

Big props also to Tori at Gracie's Wrench. They have bike classes and also do consulting for businesses in all things that have to do with cycling. I took what was essentially a Derailleur 101 and 102 class while wrapping up this bike. I felt like I *could* have knocked it out on my own, but having a pro help point out all the little gotchas allowed me to feel like it actually got done the right way. If you're in need of bike classes, I can recommend them wholeheartedly. As a bonus, GW is located in the shop at Vanilla Cycles, so I got to see some of their gorgeous frames up close as well! I'd be tempted to order one...but the current wait time is 5 YEARS to get one built....yes, I said YEEEEEAAAAAARRRRSSSSSSS........

In the midst of the Torelli 20th madness that happened, this little guy sat waiting, and so I finally got to take it out for a ride on Tuesday, and I was pleasantly surprised. The CF stuff almost feels a little *plasticlike* compared to my all steel bikes, but after a few miles I got used to it. The bike is light, and like the Torelli, climbs pretty well. I threw on some cheap pedals and cages, so I'm looking forward to trying it with some actual clipless pedals and cleats for comparison.

It's both a scary and exciting feeling to wind up a bike to normal speed, clicking through the gears, working the brakes, cutting into corners, and knowing that you put together every part on the bike to make it work that way. Very fulfilling, and a proud moment in my short cycling career so far - riding the bike I put together in my garage. Will it be one of my lifelong bikes that I keep forever....not sure. It could actually be for sale sooner than later, but it'll be fun riding it in the meantime, and looking forward to the next project.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dang. What A Day.

I should have known the day would be wacky when we walked out to the car to head to school and found 4 of Keizer's Finest patrol cars screeching to a halt to snag a bad-guy-on-foot down at the end of our street. Course, nothing says "I'm Local" like standing there in my jammies, coffee cup in hand, baseball cap covering my Bob Wiley hair, watching the action.

After getting back from playing Mr. Mom Taxi Driver (two movies that should never really be referenced together) I put on our new Share The Road plates that have needed to find their way onto the Honda. Since the Mrs was headed out of town, and I'm pretty sure the temp plate expired, I figured it was a good day to get it done. I'm pretty pumped to see the little cyclist fella on the car, and it's especially ironic since our eldest is learning to drive on this car...but won't set any part of her body remotely near a bike. One bad experience on a dusty trail in LaGrande, and that was the end of the interest in bikes. Sigh.

After lunch I spent some time at South Salem Cycleworks checking into the stuff I'd need for the overhaul of the 20th Anniversary Torelli I've been pouring over in the previous couple posts. After settling on a direction, I headed back to the office, with a quick drive through pit-stop for an iced skinny latte to help get through the afternoon. So far, so good.

Shortly after getting back, we heard the sound of police sirens, and before long we had a whole gang of our office team on the sidewalk that borders our office property looking at this scene:

For those of you familiar with Salem, that's Commercial Street in the background, heading into downtown, just before Applebees. That Neon is parked on Tryon, a little side street that runs alongside our parking lot. Note the smashed windshield, dent in the drivers side fender, and missing hubcap on the front wheel. According to the StatesmanJoural, that's what happened with the driver ran the stop sign at the cross street, and the cyclist you see laying on the ground in the photo ran into her while riding down Commercial. And since the question will come up, no, he wasn't wearing a helmet.

We didn't see the accident, just the aftermath. The cyclist was coherent, and obviously in a lot of pain from his loud groans and screams. I'm happy to read that he appears to be ok, aside from a possible broken leg. His bike was rested up against the stop sign, and the rear wheel was toasted, but hopefully that will all be covered under insurance.

That's the second accident 'in the hood' in this past week. My personal feeling is that Salem is nowhere near a bike friendly town like Portland or other larger areas where more bikes are present, and I often feel like I am taking a little bit of my life into my hands when I ride around here in traffic. Seeing this one today reminded me that as a recreational cyclist who also spends a great deal of time behind the wheel of a car, that I need to be extra careful every time I head out on the road. Please do the same when you head out.....remember, I'm often out there on two wheels and no airbags to protect me!