Friday, December 25, 2009

Shortest and longest ride

Two ride reports in one: As announced previously, there was the Tour de Solstice, the "shortest ride on the shortest day." It was cold, but not insanely so, the roads were mostly clear, and it was great fun to ride around Ithaca with 30 or so other cyclists. BikeIt, the co-organizers have posted a ride report with a bunch of pictures.

The next day my accomplice and her sister went to the spa and I thought I'd dial in a couple more kilometers for December. Following the Finger Lakes Cycling Club's Newfield/Odessa sunday ride with some modifications, I went on a 105 km ride. It was really cold (about -5 C and windy), but my outfit more or less worked in keeping me warm. I wore wool socks and a plastic bag in my cycling shoes and neoprene booties on my feet, bib tights, old men thrift store wool pants, bike jersey, hooded sweater, rain jacket, and a balaclava. As expected, my feet and the freezing water bottles were the weak spots. I had pre-warmed the water bottles and they lasted for about 1.5 hours before becoming all slushy and finally freezing after 2 hours or so. At my first rest stop, the Alpine Junction Dandy Mini Mart, I refilled them with warm water and some coffee. Second rest stop was at the Trumansburg Gimme!Coffee, with a tasty coffee and a vegan date bar. Total ride time was about 6.5 hours, moving time 5 hours, moving average 21.2 km/h, overall distance 106 km.

Last year, after a long and really miserable ride I had promised myself that I'd never do it again. But now, with improved equipment, I actually enjoyed the ride and would do it again.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tour de Solstice

Seems like I mounted my winter tires just in time. Next Sunday Ithaca's Tour de Solstice, the "Shortest Ride on the Shortest Day, a celebration of cycling and friendship, an affirmation that every day is a good day for a ride" will take place. I'll see y'all there!

I guess it's winter

We had quite a bit of snow during the last couple of days. This was a strong encouragement for me to finally replace Wolfgang's 700x28c Conti Gatorskin slicks with my 700x32c 'cross tires. I put them on yesterday (front) and today (back) and now should be ready for the coming snows of this season.

A related side note: This summer I had ordered the Crank Brothers Speed Lever. I tend to misplace traditional tire levers and my disappointing experience with the Quik Stik led me to test a new solution. I must say that I'm really happy with the Speed Lever. Only one piece instead of three and it does indeed work fast. The downside: for really tight tire-rim combinations you'll still need an additional lever to get the tire on and off.

Odo Wolfgang: 2748 km

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Quick ebay update: I'm now proud owner of a set of Dura Ace BR-7700 brakes. Still missing: Brifters, cassette, front derailleur. Frame scheduled for delivery tomorrow.


While browsing through my image library, I found this shot of yet another bike of mine, my Peugeot Ventoux. It's a nice, classic steel road bike from the early 90s and I keep it at my parents' place for whenever I'm in Germany. Not terribly light, a little small for me but I love my Peugeot anyway.

Mud Flap Pictures

Okay, here are the promised pictures of my DIY mud flap. Required skill level: only slightly above 0. Tools and material: box cutter, steel ruler, zip ties. It's a bit tricky to get straight cuts on the curved shampoo bottle; thus my mud flap ended up a bit smaller than intended. But, as I've said: it does work and it makes a big difference when riding in the rain.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Shower Power

Whereas US Mythbusters usually tend to blow up stuff or do alcohol-related experiments, the BBC's Bang goes the theory demonstrated how much energy an average British family consume per day by having 80 cyclists generate that energy. Unfortunately, you can't watch the whole program if you're not located in the UK, but here is a small snippet about one of the more evil devices, the electrically heated shower.

Friday, December 4, 2009


As mentioned yesterday, a lot of boxes with bike parts arrived. One Ultegra crankset, one FSA crankset, 105 rear derailleur, stem and handlebar, Mavic Cosmos rear wheel, a couple of tires, and a Selle Italia Flite Gel Flow saddle. Still no luck with brifters or brakes. Frame is scheduled for delivery on the eighth.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It has begun

According to my accomplice, ebayed bike parts have started to arrive at our place. Frame is scheduled for delivery on the eight! I'm quite excited.

Side note: Brifters are much more expensive than I imagined. Wolfgang, my Cross-Check, has bar-end shifters that I really like. But for Gunnar I think brifters are more appropriate (and bar-end shifters plus brake levers are somewhat pricey as well). I hope ebay will produce something affordable soon.

Odo Wolfgang: 2684 km

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mud flap

I made and installed a DIY mudflap, made out of an old shampoo bottle, yesterday. Instructions (in German, but you don't really need them anyway) can be found here. Of course, today it was raining, and therefore I can say: they do work. They look a little goofy because they're Fructis-green but finding a black shampoo bottle is not exactly easy. Function over form.

Pictures will follow shortly.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I'm a Roadie now

So I've already briefly mentioned my latest ebay purchase. Here are some more details: It's a 2002 62cm Gunnar Roadie frameset. The price was just under 400 dollars (including shipping) and this was as much as I was willing to pay. Right now--of course--I'm making plans on how to build it up. For lack of funds, I'll go the used-but-good  route and have already spent a large part of the day on ebay. Some decisions have been made: SPD pedals to match my current shoes. Shimano 105 or better for the drivetrain. I already have a front wheel and will build up the rear wheel with a used hub on a new Mavic Open Pro rim. But the rest is pretty much unclear still. 9 or 10 speed? Compact or triple? Saddle? Handlebars? Brakes? Brake/shift levers?? Lots of choices to make. But I'll go slow as I definitely have more time than money.

Riding through the night

I'm not a big fan of winter (especially of the kind of winter we have here in Upstate NY) but I must admit that riding in the winter does have its appeal. I went for a quick spin out to Trumansburg yesterday and worked for a while at Gimme. By the time I started my way, via Enfield, it was totally dark and riding through the night on quiet backroads is pretty cool. The experience is quite different from daytime riding because you focus almost exclusively on riding. Something I tested for the first time yesterday were chemical foot warmers. I have serious cold/numb foot problems and so I thought I'd try something new. The combo of wool socks, foot warmers, summer cycling shoes, and neoprene booties was pretty good. I still ended with numb feet but it was much better than usual. I might buy more.

On a different note: I bought a new frame on ebay! More on that later.

Odo bike 1: 2654 km

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Flat tire, or rather: flat tires

My first flat with the Conti GatorSkins. Last Tuesday I was riding to the Cornell Orchards and hit what probably was a little pebble. This was followed by a clearly audible hissing sound and to both me and a pedestrian standing nearby it was immediately clear what had happened. Pinch flat. Fortunately I always carry a spare tire and so this was not a big deal. I even made it to the orchards and back to a meeting in time.

Unfortunately, three days later I realized that my tire was somewhat flat again. I didn't have time to check it and just put in more air. So this morning I checked again, and yep: it was pretty flat. My immediate suspicion was that the first flat maybe hadn't been a pinch flat after all and that I had missed something in the tube. But the water test showed that this was not the case. Instead, the valve was slowly leaking air. This really sucks, as it was a brand new tube. I'm now down to no spare tube and will ride out to the LBS on Monday and see if they'll replace the tube and/or get new ones.

Odo bike 1: 2601 km

Starting anew: chain, lights, front wheel

I had set up this blog a year ago or so, thinking I'd blog about my riding and other bike-related stuff. Well, obviously it didn't happen. So this is a new start, with a more limited goal: keep track of my maintenance, new acquisitions for my bike, kilometrage.

My total kilometrage count is somewhat off because I accidentally cut off the wire of my bike computer and it took me a while to get the spare part. But now all is good an running.

Latest maintenance:
  • new chain (SRAM with PowerLock): 18 $ The old chain was getting to 0.75% elongation and I thought I'd better change early and do the switching technique to keep my cassette alive for longer. So I'll keep the old chain and put it back on once the current one has reached .75%.
  • installed BUMM Toplight Line Plus rear light (about 30 $). This light just was introduced at the last Eurobike and so far it looks very good. There have been rumors about a recall of faulty lights but no definitive info on this yet. I'll be really pissed if I have to exchange them. The installation on my Jandd rear rack required some improvisation. The Toplight has two horizontal mounting bolts, spaced 50 mm, whereas the rack only has two vertical holes in the center. Solution: I cut a strip of metal out of a bean can and drilled three holes into it. I'm not sure how durable this solution is but for now it works great. I had checked the local Lowe's for appropriate pieces of metal but the metric spacing makes it difficult to find anything. Yeah DIY.
  • truing and tensioning: A while ago I built up a new generator hub front wheel. Shimano DH3N-80, Mavic Open Pro 32 hole, DT Swiss 14 gauge spokes. Initially I didn't have truing stand and only used zip ties for truing. This worked more or less but I still got a truing stand and re-trued the wheels. This made them more true but I could clearly see that the spoke tension was rather uneven. Thus I decided to also invest in a Wheelsmith tensiometer (50 $ at LBS). Using the combo of truing stand and tensiometer was an interesting experience that taught me some things about proper wheel truing. Achieving both perfectly true wheels and even spoke tensions isn't possible but I think I've achieved a good compromise. I'll test the wheels again in 500 km or so and will see how they held up.