Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ride bikes every day.
Advice I need to follow.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Human error, continued

After much delay with my original plans to get the Lady Raleigh her new rear wheel, it finally seemed like it was going to happen yesterday.  The shop had ordered my new Sun CR-18 26 x 1-3/8" alloy rim (foreshadowing!), and I was excited to see the whole process.  (For anyone interested in reading about what's involved in wheel-building, Sheldon Brown can of course explain it better than I can.)

First, we had to free the Lady's Sturmey-Archer hub from the old wheel by snipping all the spokes with a heavy duty wire cutter.
Can you see the ones that I snipped?

Here's a close-up of some of the worst rust on this rim.  I bought the bike from a little old lady who said that she kept it up at her vacation house in Maine; now I wonder if I should have asked if that was on dry land or actually in the ocean...

Next, we pulled out all the remaining spoke bits and measured the hub so we could calculate the spoke lengths.

Once we had our spoke length (which I think was 190 mm?), we began to prepare the new spokes by dipping their ends in Spoke Prep, helpfully left over from a previous customer's expensive wheel build.

We then began lacing the rim to the hub, when (can you guess? can you guess?) we discovered that whoever placed the order had got a 36-hole rim instead of the 40 holes needed to match up to the mid-1960s Sturmey-Archer hub.  Sigh.

I really like Quad Bikes.  They're so nice and unassuming, they're a nonprofit business, and they  frequently don't charge me anything for the little jobs I stop in for.  The guy helping me was super embarrassed, since he was also the one who cut down my kickstand the day before.  But just a patch of bad luck.  A misjudgment here, a careless mouse click there; really, these things can happen to anyone.  I still like Quad Bikes.

So now I wait for a 40-hole rim, and the Lady Raleigh just waits.

Side note #1: Opinions on what color tires I should get for when all of this is done?  Stick with the gum wall (very mid-century)?  Jazz it up with white walls (which would pick up the white on the rear fender)?  Go for plain black, or black with reflex?  For whatever reason, cream tires just aren't speaking to me on this one.

Side note #2: On kickstands, instead of another Pletscher, we're trying the Porteur Double Kickstand from Velo Orange.

Adjustable legs mean no saws necessary, so hopefully there will be no problems this time...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sweat and setbacks

There's been a lot of human error in my bicycle dealings over the last week and a half.

First: Kickstand self-installation
Here is a picture of an environment that is not conducive to calm or joyful bicycle work:
not well thought out

What you can't see in the photo is how hot in was in my living room or the actual puddle of sweat that formed underneath my body.  The kickstand plate is in such an awkward little spot, and I didn't have an Allen key that was quite the right size or that could easily be maneuvered in the space.  I just couldn't get the kickstand to sit correctly, and things kept slipping out of place and keeping me from being able to properly screw everything together.  It was a frustrating attempt to do something that seemed like it was going to be incredibly simple, and it made me so angry that I didn't even want to look at the kickstand or think about anything bicycle-related for about a week.

Second: Bike shop installation
Once I stopped being mad, I took things over to Quad Bikes to let someone else take care of it for me.  I have to admit, I was a little bit pleased that even there, with the repair stand and all the right tools, it still took some wrangling to get the kickstand attached; but it did get attached.  Then came time to cut down the legs.  They had a nice little circular saw, and the kickstand had pre-marked notches for height adjustments, so this seemed like it would be straightforward.  We cut once, but it was still a little bit too tall.  Then we cut again, and it looked like the right side was a little bit taller than the left, so we needed to cut a little bit more off to even it out.  Then it still looked a little high.  Can you guess what happened next?  Of course, we cut again, and when we got the bike on the ground, it began to tip first to one side, then the other.  Too short.  Sigh.  Who knew this would be so difficult?  So the shop is ordering a new one, and fingers crossed, third time will be the charm.

Coming up: Part I of the Lady Raleigh's new wheel.  Here's a sneak peek:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What's do we have here?

Oh, hello!
Legs crossed, so demure. 
Now let's get your shoes on!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hello, yellow

Summer must be bringing out the yellow bicycles!  This one was just outside my window at work on Friday, and every time I caught a glimpse of these bright fenders, my day got a little bit sunnier.
I've gone back and forth on gum wall tires in the past, but with this particular reddy-yellow frame, they look just about perfect-- almost like the bike had its rims painted to match.  They tie in nicely with the handlebar grips as well, and then the black saddle picks up the black in the tires and the pedals.  Nice work, yellow bicycle!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Separation anxiety

I might be a little bit paranoid, but when I'm out and about, it's a million times easier for me to relax and enjoy what I'm doing if I can keep an eye on my bike.
The view was a lot better than the "savory bread pudding."

When I started riding in December, I could have my pick of the racks and signposts just about anywhere I went, and priority parking was pretty easy to come by.  With the onset of warmer weather, naturally, bicycle parking has become rather more difficult, and it's not often I get such a clear sight line to my Frida. 

I didn't realize just how much this would bother me until the other day when I was at another cafe, again sitting at a window counter but with my bike parked across the street.  It was almost completely hidden behind a Mini Cooper-- funny when you think about how gigantic Frida is for a bicycle and how tiny the Mini is for a car (unless of course you're in Italy, in which case a Mini Cooper will start to look like an SUV).  I was trying to read but found myself looking up every minute or two and straining to see if I could still make out a saddle through the Mini's windows.  As if this weird compulsion weren't bad enough on its own, about ten minutes after I sat down, this red truck double-parked just a few cars down, with a jumble of at least three bicycles tossed haphazardly in its bed.  Eep!  Why do you have so many bicycles back there?  And why are they all tangled up like that?  What are you doing?! 

It just sat there, idling, for the next 20 minutes, while I began to have visions of a team of organized bike thieves creeping up and down Mass Ave hidden behind a screen of parked cars, snapping U-locks and reporting back to the truck with their loot.  Perhaps I was extra jittery from the espresso, but even after the truck eventually pulled away, I wasn't too anxious to linger about while my bicycle was still out there all alone, potentially in danger!

Sigh.  I think if I have children someday, I might end up being one of those moms with the kid-leashes.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cats and bicycle accessories

My sister decided to go the Hello Kitty route for her new bicycle bell.  Appropriately, one of her cats decided to say hello.
I think kitty approves.

Also, I was very pleased to see her apartment now populated by bicycle-ish things like shellac and Wald folding baskets.  All very good; but melonaute, you had better have yourself a headlight by now, or else!!!