Saturday, July 16, 2011

UPDATE: Non-Bucket List: 7-11-11 Celebration

I thought you all might be interested (most likely not) in the outcome of my NBL Celebration that the 7-11. It was my starter. But of course you can no longer replace a starter, you must take apart half the engine to get the thing out. So for a total of $495 I am now wishing that I had taken the free Slurpee.

I have decided that life is flying at me in $100 increments.

Friday, July 15, 2011

These shoes were made for chewing: preferably by me

The other day I spent $100 on some new dress shoes. The sad thing is $100 doesn't get you $100 worth of dress shoe. I wore them for three hours. I took them off and about one hour later Emily's new dog had chewed them up.

After resisting the urge to shoot the dog, I decided that I am not going to buy another pair. I have no requirement to have a pair. I wear boots to work and I have really shiny shoes to wear with my fancy uniform. I am assuming that God is pleased that I go to church so I am not sure that he is overly concerned with the fact that I am wearing Keen sandals with my khakis, white shirt, and tie.

I had to take a Dremel tool to the soles of these shoes to grind away a little more clearance for the pedals. That was even hard.

It then occurred to me that my old mountain bike shoes that I have been using for everything from road, mountain, and commuting have sat within chewing range of a puppy for over a month. Why can't the rest of the shoe industry make shoes like Specialized mountain bike shoes.
I bought them in 2007 on sale for about $75 and they refuse to die. Not that I am looking for a reason to spend $100 on a new pair of MTB shoes when the ones I have are functional, but I would rather spend $100 on a new pair of biking shoes than some cheap feeling/looking dress shoes.

The weak link in front of the cleat where the pedal rubs on the thin strip where the cleat bolts on.

These shoes are well constructed and the weak link is actually the result of pedal design, not shoe design.

I would like to see how long they will go but my fear is that when they do, it will be some catastrophic, Youtube worthy event, in which the shoe breaks where the pedal has worn through to sole. This of course would happen when applying the most cranking power and my body would become a tangled mess with the bike. I would then have to do the walk of shame for many miles.

I just wish I knew how many miles those shoes have seen.

Perma Dirt, I am sure if I scrub hard enough they would be blackish again. But why would I

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Single Speed: Why not?

When people walk into my house they see a family room full of bikes. The latest one doesn't really have a place on the wall. It sits on the floor below one on the wall. The Newbie has pulled it over on himself a couple of times, but I feel the house is mine and he needs to learn not to touch my stuff. I usually get a few questions regarding my bikes. Below are the top three.

1. Why?

2 Why?

and C. Why?

Each question is valid and I will explain them in detail.

1. Becuase.

2. Yes.

and C. Why Not?

That being said, it is something I enjoy, it is reasonably healthy (a matter of much debate based on some people who have been injured or died in the process of biking), and it gives me something to do instead of drinking, smoking, and kicking my dogs.

A few years ago, I bought a Salsa El Mariachi. I took a bonus from the "gubment" and figured it may land me in an exotic location with people that hate me, I might as well. It is steel, rigid, 1x9 gears, a pretty nice paint job, and really big tires. I really like fat tires. I have spent many quality hours on the bike and I have enjoyed it.

So when I bought a new Giant Anthem X 29er (I really love fat tires and Fox Suspension) I decided that I would transform the El Mariachi into a single speed. This answers one of the above questions, they are not all the same.

Salsa designed it with a Bushnell Eccentric Bottom Bracket so it could easily be run as a geared bike or fixed/single geared bike. Notice it says that when functioning properly it goes unnoticed. Well I can say I have noticed it before.

I also purchased a Surly singel speed spacer kit and a cog.

I ordered some Crank Brothers Cobalt grips of which I don't like the appearance, but they feel great.

Sadly, when I returned from Pakistan, I found that the face plate for Thomson Stem had cracked. Though it was an expensive stem, I got it as part of a recall for a defective stem made by Salsa. Thomson is a great company and they replaced it for me free of charge (even though it was probably my fault since my arm is not calibrated properly for specific torque specs).

I took some stuff apart. I found that the EBB lets a lot of sand and crap in through those little holes. I put some stuff together. Ignoring torque specs, I defaulted to 240 B/Lbs (Brent Pounds) of torque on everything.

I now have a very different bike. It has a clean cockpit with no shifters and extra cables. No deraillure or cables, and a very clean look.

I finally got the nerve to ride it (my work can be somewhat unreliable since I usually ignore instructions). I will write about that in the next post.

Non-Bucket List: Celebrating 7/11/11 at 7-11

For this post, I would like to tell you about another Non-Bucket List (NBL) achievement. For those of you not familiar with my Non-Bucket List, select the hypertext above. Basically, it is the list of things I have never wanted to do, but have had the opportunity to partake.

I am currently enjoying a bit of vacation following a long deployment without leave. I decided to run to my local bike shop (LBS) to knock out some of the various bike related tasks on my list. I needed to get some work done on a wheel that was "rubbed" out of true by Father Christmas a while ago. I also needed to get a replacement part for the roof rack on my car (I can only carry one bike right now and that makes it tough to decide what to take). After those tasks had been completed, I decided I would stop at a highly pretentious bike shop and look at stuff that I don't need when I passed a 7-11.

I am a big fan of 7-11, I wish they would resurrect their bike racing team. I needed gas and was thirsty since it was over 100 degrees and I was hot. I pumped gas and as I walked in I noticed that they were giving out free Slurpees in celebration of 7/11/11. The cups for the celebration were tiny and since this is probably one of the busiest 7-11s in the country (based on the following NBL observation), there was only one flavor that was somewhat frozen. I opted for a soda instead.

I pre-paid for my gas and my beverage and went out and watched how quickly $40 in gas was pumped. Here is where the non-bucket list celebration begins. I turned the key and got nothing. I turned the key again…..NBL 7-11-11 Celebration begins. I dug through my glove compartment for my all encompassing insurance/bank/motor club/California Home Psychic club card. Nothing but plastic fa├žades that used to be attached to certain adjustment levers on my car (I have been meaning to put them back on) and about one half of a lifetime worth of napkins. On a side note, I think I have an idea for a new business in which I will repackage and sell napkins to restaurants.

Did I mention that it was 100 degrees with who knows how much humidity?

So I called Emily for some SAG support…..nothing. I tried her cell……nothing. I called every 30 seconds for about 10 minutes. Did I mention it was 100 degrees? Finally Vance answered the phone; clearly the constant ringing interrupted his Wii video game time.


"Hey Vance."

"Hi daddy, where are you?"

"I am in Richmond, where is your mother?"

"Dad, what are you doing?"

"Nothing Vance, where is your mother?"

"When are you going to be home?"

"I don't know big man, where is your mother?"

"She is outside in the yard."

………Did I mention that it was 100 degrees?

"Vance please bring the phone to her!"

"Hey dad, I just beat Darth Maul in a lightsaber duel!"

"Great…just give the phone to your mother!!!"

Emily called the roadside service number and I got an automated message "assistance is expected to arrive at your location in about 40 minutes." Meanwhile I have watched about 50 cars come and go for gas and I feel a little bad that I am occupying a spot in front of the pump. Almost 40 minutes later a car shows up and hooks a battery booster thing to my battery and I crank it…..nothing. He hooks his car up and I crank it…..nothing. Before any words are exchanged he got in his car and drove off.

By that point I had been sitting at the pump for about an hour in the heat. I looked as if I just finished a marathon. I called Emily and told her I needed a tow. She called the roadside service number. About 10 minutes later I got a call "assistance is expected to arrive at your location in about 40 minutes."

I went inside and bought another cold drink and mentioned to the cashier that I was sorry I had been at the pump for over an hour. She said "Oh, I hadn't even noticed you." At that point I realized she was so busy dealing with people who were there for free slurpees that she didn't even care that I was sitting there.

At that point I went over and sat next to the sign that said "No Loitering!!!" and watched people. For those of you that are not familiar with the Carytown area of Richmond, I will do my best to describe it. It is a really trendy area that boarders a not so trendy, poor area of Richmond. Carytown has it all, poor people, rich people, trendy American Apparel wearing people, people who have a lot of money but dress like poor people, and tattoo covered people which fit into all of the previously mentioned categories of people. All of which came out of the woodwork to get a free Slurpee. I am glad to know that all walks of life can unite in a common cause.

I even got to ride in a tow truck for 30 miles. Believe it or not, that is also on my Non-Bucket List!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

I am back in the saddle again. After a year in Pakistan I am trying to get get my pedaling legs back. It doesn't help that the new wheels came stock with a different and painfully thin saddle. I knew it would take some getting used to and secretly I wanted to get the slightly more plush seat(slightly more comfy still means a lot less comfortable then....sitting on a couch). But I run into one small problem; it matches the bike and looks really great. 
That is the problem, bike vanity. A good set of biking shorts took the edge off, but it still took a while before I was walking around like I had not been roping cattle for a week.   On another note, it has been challenging for me to get distance in on my road bike (time and effort).  I used to be able to ride for hours, it seemed as though anything less than 20 miles was not a challenge. I can get about 10 miles at a time out of the mountain bike and about the same from the road (which is pathetic considering I have already signed up for a century in Iowa this September).  
The only thing that saved me from intense pain was the fact that Dan the Goose and I went to the gym just about every morning for a few months before I came home.   Full body conditioning is essential and thanks to that time spent cleaning up after others in the embassy weight room I found my neck, back, and arms have not had the same pain as my derriere.  While it is true that you never forget how to ride a bike, the body seems to forget how the bike rides.
I brought my Las Cruces to the beach, inspired by the Tour de France, I rode about 5 miles to the Krispy Kreme.  I felt great, not fully realizing that it was the nice tailwind helping me cruise down the road.  I think I actually burned off the entire donut fighting the head wind and the urge to drop into my granny gear (it is good to know I have a little dignity left).