Friday, November 5, 2021

#coffeeneuring 2021 Ride 3: Errandonnee, and some details about my coffee setup

I took the day off from work and instead spent the morning cutting down a dying tree at our condo complex. The tree was sizable and I needed to take some of the wood over to a friend's place. So why not combine an errandonee with a coffeeneuring ride? After dropping off and stacking the wood, I continued west to Marshall Park, right at the border between Madison and Middleton. Riding my fixed gear bike with a trailer in tow made the hills a little challenging, but fortunately it wasn't far. 

Wood in the trailer; coffee stuff in the basket

Marshall Park is right on the shore of Lake Monona, providing great views. While windy, it was a gorgeous day for coffee outside, and I didn't even bother putting on the puffy jacket I had brought. When I posted about my previous ride, I received some questions about my coffee making setup, and so here is some more detail:

Coffee maker, windscreen, potstand, tent stakes, burner, fuel bottle

 The coffee maker itself is a 3-cup Bialetti Moka Express. For a burner I use a very small and lightweight alcohol jet burner that I built a couple years back. It is made out of 5.5 oz tomato juice cans and weighs only 0.3 oz (8 grams). The pot stand is made from a metal illy espresso can and two broken tent stakes. For additional wind protection (which was needed today!) I have cut a strip of aluminum flashing used for roofing. The stove, pot stand, windscreen, a Nalgene bottle for fuel, tent stakes and cup all fit neatly into each other. I highly recommend this setup.

All packed up

You'll be hard pressed to find a lighter stove


On the way back, I stopped by the UW marching band's practice field -- it's always fun to see all the players arrive by bikes, shouldering their instruments! 

Distance: 20 kilometers

Saturday, October 30, 2021

#coffeeneuring 2021 Ride 2: Coffee and 'cross in Sun Prairie

Today's ride was a bit of a repeat of a 2017 coffeeneuring adventure. The weekend before Halloween means it's time for the Cross Fire cyclocross race in Sun Prairie. Of course 'cross on Halloween means there are costumes involved, and so I figured this would be a good destination. I packed the #coffeeoutside kit, homemade ginger snaps, and my Sony A6000. On the way I checked out some new bike infrastructure and collected some new roads for my Wandrer account. 70 km total distance.

Ginger snaps had so much snap they'd warrant a Paul Hollywood handshake

Cool bike infrastructure

New bike path on the edge of Madison

The number of bike repair stations in the greater Madison area is astounding

Saturday, October 23, 2021

#coffeeneuring 2021 Ride 1: Brigham County Park

 First ride of this year's Coffeeneuring season for me. I had missed last year because of an injury, and so it's good to be back.


Ride 1 was #coffeeoutside at Brigham County Park, with Just Coffee Humdinger prepared in a Moka Express with a DIY alcohol stove. I felt (and was) slow, but it was warmer than expected, sunny, beautiful, and I got to visit the turtles. A little over 100k.


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Swift Campout with Black Saddle Bikes


"This way to the campout!"

 This year was the year: For the first time I joined the annual Swift Campout. Local shop Black Saddle Bikes had reserved sites at Brigham County Park. Me and the SO on our tandem, together with Grant and Jen, and Eric and Athena on their respective tandems joined the ride. Our tandem suffered some bad mechanical issues: Halfway on the way there, the chain got caught between the spokes and cassette, and then just a mile from our destination, the chain snapped and in the process badly bent the derailer. A chain tool, pliers, and very gentle riding fortunately got us back home. Aside from that it was a perfect camping trip, with great company, a beautiful camp site, and excellent weather! Enjoy the pics!

Obligatory tandem selfie

The two other tandems. A fourth tandem crew unfortunately had to cancel on short notice...

Extra long!

Pale moonlight

Grant and Jenn, and someone else's Puppie

Puppy had gotten a ride in the front basket

Happy stoker

Brigham County Park offers superb sunset views

Eric and Athena

Third stop on the route: Brix Cider in Mount Horeb

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Crust Canti Lightning Bolt: Build Notes


I bought a Crust Lightning Bolt frame (the cantilever brake version) and here are notes and photos from the build.

Frame and fork weight

It's always helpful to weigh the frame and fork before building a bike. My XL/61cm frame weighs 2.22 kg (4.9 lbs), the fork comes in at 0.89 kg (1.96 lbs).



When the production version of the Lightning Bolt came out I was very close to buying it right away, but the brown color really turned me off. On the box, it's called "Champagne Brown," which sounds ridiculous but actually makes some sense: Yes, it's brown, but a brown with a light sparkle to it. When I sent a photo of the bike to my mom, she responded, "Oh, a golden bike! How pretty!" I've come to the conclusion that the color is actually pretty nice and classy.


I went with a cheap-ish Tange-Seiki Levin headset for the build. Roller bearing headsets are hard to come by these days, and my low-trail Gunnar works fine with a regular headset. Reading other people's build reports, one thing that was mentioned that headset installation was difficult because of an oversized crown race seat. My own measurements showed that the diameter is almost 0.1 mm above spec. I tried getting the race on with my crappy DIY tool made from a PVC pipe, but it quickly became clear this wouldn't work. I took it to the LBS and they got it on no problem -- actually the mechanic complimented the "tone" of my fork when hammering it in. Uh huh. Pressing the cups also took a lot of effort and I was glad to have borrowed a friend's Park Tool headset press rather than relying on a DIY solution.



I haven't bought a new frame for over 10 years, and so I figured I may build it up with the nice parts from my stash. I had a NOS set of Dura Ace 7800 downtube shifters that I had been saving for years. This is the relatively rare 10-speed version that can be switched between friction and indexed shifting in the rear.



Transferring over the Velo Orange fenders from my SOMA was unproblematic. The distance from the fender to the seat/chainstay bridges appears to be slightly smaller than on the SOMA, meaning I didn't need as many washers. 

Cranks and Bottom Bracket

The chainstays on the Lightning Bolt are seriously shaped and crushed to maximize tire and crank clearance. I suspect I may be able to get use a shorter bottom bracket than on the SOMA and get a lower Q factor that way. The cranks are IRD Defiant subcompacts with 46/30 rings.

And indeed: With a 113 mm bottom bracket (IRD actually recommend a 118 mm), there is a lot of clearance:


A 110 mm bottom bracket would definitely work, and maybe a 107 mm would fit as well -- the limiting factor may be the small chainring clearance and possible derailleur issues.

Because of the shaped chain stays, I opted for shellacked twine as a chainstay protector. I ran out of twine and so it's a little short for now.

The prototype for this frame had a frame-mounted rear cable hanger. The production version does not, and so I used a Surly hanger. Space between the bolt and seat post is tight, and I filed down the hanger to make it work.


For the rear I transferred over an old Shimano STX RC, a mid-range 7-speed derailleur from the 1990s. In the front I installed a new Shimano CX-70 derailleur. I have this one on my Gunnar as well, as it was recommended as working well with sub-compact drivetrains. My own experience has been mixed -- there is a lot of trimming required to avoid chain rub. This seems to be the case on the Lightning Bolt as well, and I'll have to try fine tuning the positioning of the derailleur. It doesn't help that the big chainring has a small amount of wobble...


Shimano CX-70 derailleur and IRD 46/30 crankset


Brooks saddles often require seatposts with a large amount of setback. On the SOMA I had a very hammock-like Brooks B17 Imperial mounted on a Velo Orange Grand Cru long setback post. On the first ride my position felt very wrong, and this was mostly due to the seat being too far back. I have since replaced the VO seatpost with a Thomson Elite.

Thomson Elite setback post with an old WTB saddle that has titanium rails (yay) but isn't all that comfortable (boo)


The decaleur is the weakest link in the build at the moment. It's the cheap Velo Orange decaleur, which has worked surprisingly well on the SOMA. On this build, however, it ends up too low for my bag. Because the Lightning Bolt has less headtube extension than the SOMA, I can't get it up high enough with a bag as tall as mine. No decision yet on how to address this.

Velo Orange decaleur: Too low for my tall bag



Tektro CR-720s are my go to affordable cantilever brakes. I may eventually replace them with something more blingy, but they look nice and do their job.

Overall impressions

Transferring parts over from one bike to another made for a quick and fun build. The only obvious flaw of the Lightning Bolt is a lack of cable guides for my generator hub. Eventually I'll clean up the cable routing, but with a frame at this price point and aimed at long-distance riders, guides on the fork and frame would have been nice. I don't anticipate making any substantial changes to the build in the foreseeable future, except for the decaleur. Stay tuned for a separate post on ride impressions.