This Space for Rent

May 31, 2014

Out on the line

Estacada Lake IGH project bike

I took the IGH project bike down to Estacada today, and made the discovery that I’m still far enough out of shape so the 44" low gear on the thing is not sufficient for climbing the steep ramp on Eaden Road. Ooops. Maybe I’ll fall back to flatter 100s for a while to build up my endurance before I take this machine out on something climby again.

May 30, 2014

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite pillow

Mavis found a new pillow

May 29, 2014

Design tweaks

7x7 rack with wraparound crown mount, #1

I’m putting rack mounts on a fork and making a 7×7 rack to go with it. The bicycle it’s going on is going to have caliper brakes so I didn’t want to attach the crown stay to the front of the crown, but I didn’t want a wide boxy wraparound. So I hand-bent a piece of ¼th" tubing to a 6" diameter semicircle and glued it into place instead.

It’s not quite a regular semicircle, but it does add some visual interest to the rack.

May 25, 2014

In the wild

12×15 rack & matched roll-rop porteur bag

I made a 12×15 rack + roll-top porteur bag for an acquaintance in Chicago, and he just sent me a photo of the rack + bag in use.

May 24, 2014

Out on the line

Reeder Road project bike

I took the IGH project bike out for a 100k this afternoon. Not a particularly fast 100k (mainly because I’m still out of shape) but a good shakedown ride for the thing nevertheless.

I find that, even when I’m tired, I tend to ride it as a single-speed with bailout gears – I rode ~70 miles today and only switched out of the +33% gear ratio when I was climbing the east approach to the Sauvie Island Bridge, the west approach to the Morrison Bridge, and the Powell Ave overpass + climb up 8th Ave in Brooklyn (a total of 69 miles in +33%, 1 mile in direct drive.) If I wasn’t sure that climbs like the Eaden Road ramp on the Estacada 100 (et al) will end up needing that -33% ratio I’d just replace the chainrings with a 50t one so I could get a 100 inch +33% gear.

The Electra saddle is worse on a bicycle with 13cm of saddle to bar drop than it was on the old project bike’s 6cm saddle to bar drop. Guess I’ll have to start shopping around for a used Berthoud again.

And speaking of a 13cm saddle to bar drop: holy goodness that’s a lot of drop! The first 10 miles of the loop I felt as if I was stretching to reach the bars and I didn’t start getting really comfortable until I was approaching the Sauvie Island Road turnaround. I hope I can drag myself back into shape soon because I’d really like to try and ride this thing on a 200k just to see how annoying that drop (plus the lack of gears) would get after the first 100 or so miles.

Railroad picture of the day

locomotives and the Ford Building

A UP freight passes in front of the Ford Building

May 23, 2014

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Bete Lukas mite

Dust Mite goes out for dinner.


Blasdel-style rack deck that I pulled out of my projects pile

I built a porteur rack for the IGH project bike as part of a batch of racks I’m trying to finish this week. Now I can ride the thing on shopping trips and brevets (as long as it’s sunny, because no fenders.)

May 18, 2014

Railroad picture of the day

The (late running) Coast Starlight on the final leg into Portland Union Station

I reached the railroad crossing at 12th & Clinton & Milwaukie & 11th just as the signals started ringing, so I stopped to take a picture of whatever might come by. Today it was a 2-hour-late Coast Starlight, with two Twinkies and a 8-32BWH as motive power.

May 17, 2014

Is there a market for this?


I’ve got to admit that pumpkin-flavored sparking water is not one of those things I would have ever imagined seeing in a store.

Out on the line

Unauthorized MLCM

Another loop out to Estacada, this time with the mlcm (and its tubular tires); about 40 minutes faster than last time. Was it the tubular tires (rougher riding on gravel than the Confréries, so I’ll have to bump them down to 60/70psi next time around) or just that by forcing myself to ride 100k every other day I’m getting back into shape? On Monday I’ll take the born-again Trek out to start a serious comparison test.

May 16, 2014

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite & mongrel 3-speed

The new incarnation of the project bike has reached the state of being a bicycle, even if it’s not a safe bicycle to ride due to a noticeable lack of brakes. But it’s safe enough for a Dust Mite to ride, because plush animals don’t shatter like humans do.

The bicycle? All parts from the basement, wrapped around a SE racing Draft Lite (rebadged as a Bike Gallery “Workhorse”) frame that I found in a recycle pile on the street. I’ll probably have to fab some sort of shifter mount (maybe a thumb shifter on the tops of the handlebar?) but the brakes + brake levers, et al, all exist in the basement waiting to be used.

May 15, 2014

Out on the line

A narcissistic permanent

I chose the Amtrak station as my Oregon City control point :-)

May 14, 2014

Tweaking the GT

A slightly more french GT

I made the GT look a little more french by putting a stronglight TS crankset (uses 3-bolt chainrings, which means that I’m dependent of salvage to find replacements) onto it in place of the Shimano one it used to have. And, oh my god, the TS crankset has a narrow tread – the inner surfaces of the crankarms are basically as wide apart as the chainstays are at the ends of the crank.

May 11, 2014

Ow ow ow ow ow

I [heart]ed my bike

Not riding my bicycle any reasonable distance for a month has done horrible things to my endurance. I took the born-again Trek out on a 100k today and it took me 5 f*cking hours to finish the thing, when I should be creeping down towards brevet minimums.


May 10, 2014

Cargo (3)


When I need to take the trek out shopping, I really need to take the trek out shopping.

May 09, 2014

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Three Speed Mite

Dust Mite helps me work on the next incarnation of the project bike.

Railroad picture of the day

The Portland section of the Empire Builder heads north towards (eventually) Spokane

Two trains at Portland Union Station.

May 08, 2014

Finished, after a considerable amount of time, one

ipad+camera bag and bagman clone, #1

The midlifecrisismobile models a mini-saddlebag and bagman clone rack that I made up for a customer out east. This one took a long time to finish, mainly because my production of bags has gotten really really slow. And even then the bag isn’t quite square :-(

But if you don’t look at it with my critical eye, it doesn’t look all that bad. It sits a bit low on the bagman clone rack, but that gives room to strap a spare tire/tube (depending on whether you’re stupid and run tubulars or not) and pump without cluttering up the bag.

The next handlebar bag I make for the midlifecrisismobile will be a throwback to my earliest bags; I’m not going to do the externally taped seams on it, but will put them on the inside instead and only tape the lid and rim of the bag. I’ll probably do the bag in black, too, if I can find a nice weatherproof black fabric that is not a historical reenactment material. (possibly xpac, but my rando companion cube is xpac and even at a tiny 7×7×7 it’s still a pretty floppy bag, so if I used that fabric on a 9×8×10 bag I’d have to put in a stout enough lining to keep it from flopping into itself, and that would end up defeating the weight advantage.)

May 07, 2014

Not the driest charcoal out there

Firing up the grill

I got a fairly spectacular lightshow when I fired the grill this evening.

May 06, 2014

Misuse of resources?

Pizza delivery wagon(2)

Sooner or later I’m going to take the midlifecrisismobile out on a brevet, but until then I’ll be riding errands on my spiffy Pave CG tubulars. Why, yes, they do make for a nice ride when I’m out shopping, why do you ask?

May 03, 2014

Railroad picture of the day

An EPT passenger train lays over just west of 17th Ave

I was running down to the Mill End Store to get some typically sedate fabric samples and I spotted the 1413s headlight as I crossed the railroad crossing at Ochoco St. So I had to stop and grab a couple of pictures. iPhone-only, I’m afraid (I’d really like to get a iPhone 4 or 5 so I can get a higher resolution camera, but that’s several hundred dollars I don’t have and even if I had it I’d use it to buy a lathe instead of a telephone) but I’ll take it.

May 02, 2014

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite & box-o-tubes

Dust Mite helps me collect and sort the vast array of tubes that are lying around the house.

New fender day!

New Fender Stay Day

Well, kinda new fender day; the fenders themselves are the same old pink Planet Bike Cascadias, but all of the flexy wire+strap iron have been replaced by stays fabricated from ⅛“ tubing (the front stays mount in different places, but the two rear stays are brazed together and attached to one mountpoint.) Coordinated color, too – the front stays are black like the fork & rack, and the rear stays are the rattlecan red ("claret”) that very closely matches the vendor paint on the frame.

Still no acorn nuts, but I mail-ordered a handful of them, and when they get here off will go the nylocks and on will go the more polished acorn nuts. And I need to get a handful of pink reflective stars to plaster all over the the rear fender where it says “PLANET BIKE”, but neither of those faults will stop me from riding it.

May 01, 2014

Reranking tires

Even though they aren’t designed for tubeless (and, I suspect, will need to be on 700d rims to keep from blowing off when inflated to anything > atmospheric pressure) I’ve decided that tubeless Hutchinson Confrérie des 650B tires are the most comfortable things I’ve ridden on, even better than my beloved Nomad 28s. The Nomads are (at least comparing 10k miles on them vs. 20 miles) a close second, tied with 27mm Vittoria Pave tubulars, and third place is (at least with 100 miles) Pacenti Pari-Motos.

Everything else sits a long ways down, with the lanterne rouge being held by the magnificently horrible Rivendell Nifty Swifty (there’s approximately 1100 th the selection of 650b tires vs 700c tires, but the bad 650b tires are spectacularly horrible. It’s the curse of being attracted to a vanity – I suspect that a large part of the American popularity of road 650b is that it’s French – tire size. A affectation that I can’t really understand, given the American fetish for the widest tires possible while the Confrérie des 650B commissioned Hutchinson to make a nice narrow(ish) 650b tire. A tire that I can’t really get in the USA unless I want to pay a kings ransom, so I have to mail order from France instead.)

I’m not really sure how my experiment with tubular tires is going to go. I’d like to experiment with tubeless Nomad 28s, but since they’re wire-bead it’s a real pain getting them to seat on no-TLR rims (I tried, but even with filling up the rim bed with layers of electrical tape I couldn’t get the silly tire to seat and seal) so instead I’ll run the tubulars until either the rims wear through or I have a catastrophic tire failure that tire sealant and/or inserting a boot, then sewing the rip in the tire back together can’t fix.

But now, in the department of ride quality×tire cost, it’s

  1. Hutchinson Confrérie des 650B
  2. Resist Nomad 28s
  3. Vittoria Pave Evo CG 28×27 tubulars
  4. Pacenti/Panaracer Pari-Moto
  5. Resist Nomad 35s
  6. Panaracer Col de la Vie (pumped up to at least 60psi to keep the tread from walking sideways on sharp turns)
  7. 28mm Clement Strada (actually 25mm, and nice riding tires, but with a spectacularly quick failure curve after they start wearing down.)
  8. Kenda Volare 28×23 tubulars (only tried because I got a used pair. They ride as well as the Pave Evos do, except that since they’re 23mm they bottom out really fast on rough and unimproved roads. If I had to pay $100/tire for them, there’s no way in hell they ever would have been glued onto the midlifecrisismobile)
  9. 28mm Schwalbe Ultremo ZX (also tried because I got a used pair. At $80/pair new they’re too rich for my blood.)

If money was no object, the Vittoria Paves would be tied with the Nomad 28s, but neither of them compare to the “like floating on a very speedy cloud” feeling of tubeless Confréries.

When I replace the frame of the project bike (I found a SE racing “draft lite” frame that’s almost the same size as the born-again Trek in a junkpile, so I’m going to throw out the Crisscross frame and replace it with the finest in carbon steel. Or braze up my own frame out of one of the frame kits in the basement) it’s going to get Nomad 28s, and then I’ll be able to do head-to-head comparisons of Nomads vs. Vittorias vs. Confréries.

Oh, and the worst tires I’ve ridden?

  1. Rivendell Nifty Swifties (“This is a tyre with a message in, and the message is ‘beware’. This is not a tyre for randonneuring, this is a tyre for laying down and avoiding.”)
  2. Vittoria Randonneur (I didn’t mind them at the time, but they compared really unfavorably to…)
  3. Rivendell Ruffy Tuffy (The first pair seemed really nice, but when I got a second pair after the Clements wore through they were slow and didn’t ride very well.)
  4. Grand Bois Hetre (amazingly wandery unless I load down the bicycle with 20+ pounds of cargo.)
  5. Grand Bois Cypres (just dead. Not actively terrible, but it sort of sits sullenly on the rim.)
  6. Some random 650A tires I got as emergency spares for the born-again Trek after I lost a Confrérie to a flat on a gravel road (I hit a rock hard, which pinched the tube – when the air shed its container the rim slammed down on the ground and tore a 2" gash at the bead which I could not boot properly for love or money. So I put down $12 for a pair of bargain tires, which rode very sluggishly at 30psi, but blew off the rims at 35 psi. They weren’t sluggish enough to risk brevet minimums, but they were still very uninspired.)

If I had to pick two tires with cost being no object I’d pick Confréries and Nomad 28s. Thank goodness they’re the cheapest tires on my most desirable tire list. I don’t know if I’d want to use Confréries on my xtracycle, but Nomad 28s are just as good for a cargobike as they are for a fast randonneuse.


May Day

may day