Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fork mounted Supernova E3

Here is my latest bike tinkering little project. My Supernova E3 is the lefty mount version, which worked well for a handlebar hanger bracket. I recently considered the idea of a fork crown mount because I think lowering the light several inches gives a better beam on the road. The lefty mounting arm is not designed for fork crown mounting or any mounting with a hole that is in line with the light - the mounting arm is oriented perpendicular to the light. The even bigger issue is I have sidepull caliper brakes that occupy the hole to which most brackets would be attached.

My LBS suggested a B&M fork mounting bracket as a possible work around for the sidepull brake issue. The bracket is intended for use with Brompton folder bike. It is also designed to hold a light having a euro mounting tab, which the Supernova E3 lefty does not have (though there is a verision of the E3 light that is properly equipped). Despite these details , the bracket seemed adaptable and at $6 I thought I could afford experiment with it.

Miraculously, the light mounted without too much fuss after I found the right spacers. I'm happy to report that the bracket pairs solidly with the light. While the bracket is not intended for a light as substantial as the Supernova E3, the whole thing feels sturdy enough for me. At the theoretical risk of a cracking the bracket with the long term impact of low level vibrations, I am going to use it anyway.

There isn't a ton of extra room between the bracket and the headset crown race, but it's enough. The whole thing stays put without any disconcerting rattling or shaking. The on off switch is within reach. Most importantly, the light on the road from this new position is much better than the light available from a higher mounting position on the handlebars. There is a small wheel shadow right in front of the bike, but it hardly detracts from the performance of the light.
I am very happy with this setup, especially considering that it avoids the annoyance of mounting a front rack for the sole purpose of positioning a light. As you can see, the handlebars are also a bit less cluttered (please forgive the sloppy cabling), and the light is tucked neatly away ready when needed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

monster cross tires on my A Homer Hilsen

Tire clearance is a top ten discussion item with the Rivendell set. How big a tire can you fit on frame xyz? The recommended range for the A Homer Hilsen goes up to 43mm. My A Homer Hilsen is now wearing a pair of Ritchey Speedmax Comp 700x40 cyclocross tires. The actual measured width is more like 36mm on narrowish road rims. Still a lot of tire though. I don't know of a beefier cyclocross tire that is not a 29er tire...if only.

Even better, there is still room to keep the SKS P45 fenders on. This set up may not be for those who are fender worriers; those who lose sleep over thoughts of junk jamming the tire in the fender. I could probably adjust the fenders a bit to get more space, but it's just fine the way it is. Without fenders, the frame could easily swallow a much larger tire.

I wouldn't use these tires all the time because moderate slick tires are more than adequate for a wide range of conditions, but for commuting in the fall fat knobby tires make sense. Thick layers of leaves cover rocks and holes and make it difficult to avoid the nastier parts of roads and bike trails. Having a little more cushion and grip between me and the ground makes that difficulty quite manageable. I think they give the bike a nice sturdy appearance too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Liking the Traitor Crusade

Sometimes you discover a new bike-ish thing that is just what you been looking for. I'm feeling lucky lately.

I've been hoping someone would make a dedicated steel single speed cyclocross frame without those cheesy semi-horizontal dropouts with derailleur hangers... and downtube shifter bosses. I like a bike built to a single purpose rather than to many needs a la Cross Check. There are few or none out there in the steel single speed cx category. Could I have canti brakes and track ends please? Can I put an honest fat tire in there too? The current off-the-shelf options are either low quality or aluminum, no thanks. A custom could be anything you ask for, but that is a very expensive can of worms. The recent Kona Major One is ss - made of scandium. That's a step in the right direction, but I am holding out for steel. Think Gunnar Crosshairs with track ends or Rivendell Quickbeam with tighter geometry. I'm not the only one looking for this, right?
Now, finally I hear about the Traitor Crusade due out in early 2010. A good one-er cross bike, fat tires, canti's and just one cog. It's a committed single speeder. Bravo. Look at the tidy drop out situation, isn't that nice? Someone is paying attention to my wishes. My only complaint is that it has a carbon fork instead of a steel fork with a proper crown. I bet it rides nicely still. The mustard orange color is terrific, probably wears dirt well. Overall, I'm optimistic on this development since Traitor can make a decent bike. I'll be all ears for any news.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ergon BioKork Grips

Cork bicycle grips have have that nice vintage look, especially when shellac'd. They are comfortable to hold. They are cheap and not particularly heavy. What's not to like? The answer is glue. You must glue cork grips to the handlebars and with really tough glue like Gorilla Glue. There is no turning back once the grips are glued, and it's a messy chore.

It follows that I'm quite excited that Ergon, a fine grip maker, is coming out with the Ergon BioKork in 2010. As with other Ergon grips, they fasten to the bars with a simple clamp. They will also have that familiar shape that is so comfortable. If that's not enough, they are made of earth friendly materials and are notexpensive. Pinch me. My Rivy will definitely get a set of these.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

They made a deal

The dog and baby have been checking each other out for some time now. Even more than that, Rigby will give Claire some friendly licks and she happily watches his antics. They are getting along nicely.

Here is one interaction that I spied the other day. I generally think it's tacky to narrate pets' and babies' unspoken thoughts. I'm going to do it anyway, and I promise I won't do it again:

C - Hi dog, are you going to eat me today?
R - Perhaps, you have fattened up nicely and you taste better each day.

C - True. I'm delicious.
R - Maybe we can work something else out... Shake on it?

C - Deal. Let's keep this our little secret. Act cool.
R - Sigh.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Family of fix-its

I come from a family of fix-its. I recall that no one hired plumbers, landscapers, roofers or any other home-maintenance professional. It just wasn't done. The primary reason that any of our generation came into the world was to provide a more laboring hands. I was the sole grounds crew in the unfortunately vast grassy and featured yard surrounding a house always needing paint. Why bring in the pros or high powered tools when you have help that works for just food and shelter? Of course, the way things got done was through excessive complication. A task could only be complete if it required my father to construct some Dr. Seuss contraption. Building that contraption will always be more time consuming than the simple task at hand.

I too like to do a few things myself, but I am able temper the tendency only because I lack the time to do more. Though I am occasionally reminded that the do-it-yourself gene runs strong throughout the family tree. Cousin Adam's wedding occurred recently on a very rainy Saturday in the family barn and adjacent tent. That wasn't exactly the plan, but that's what they came up with when the skies opened up. It was very pretty.

We soon realized that the power supply in the barn could not handle the lights, the cookware, the DJ, and everything else. The circuit flipped every five minutes until....
Cousin Aaron jumped up from the table without a word and disappeared only to come back twenty minutes later announcing that the problem was solved and the lights were just fine.

He did not have to look far to find a readily available extension cord to run to the house...400ft away. And that wasn't even the long cord. Out from the tent, into the other barn window...

...neatly plugged in, amid the garden of redundant industrial grade tools and the tractor. Yes, the bride and groom did go for a hayride. Well done. Admittedly, running some extension cord is no engineering marvel, and it was not made more complicated in any way. The interesting observation is, however, that in any situation any of the family households would be well-equipped to fix whatever might fall on the occasion. Had the roof started leaking, it would be quickly patched, and patched in a way that no hurricane would ever dare challenge the quadruple strength reinforcement. Do it yourself, overbuild it, and make it complicated if at all possible. That is the way of things. Thankfully we didn't need to break out the chainsaws this time.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Some times you find really good stuff by the side of the road. I found this car by the bogs in Carlisle yesterday. Maybe stuff is not the right term for a whole automobile, especially an unusual vintage type.

Vintage cars are not my thing, but I think this an MG TD model from the early 1950's. I like the proportions of this car. The hood extends way out in front of the driver and tapers toward a tall chrome grill. The round head lights float at the front of the car. The driver sits practically on the rear axle in a minimal cockpit. What a neat looking car.

It turns out that style is the only thing this car has going for it. Tom and Ray from Car Talk describe it vividly. "The driving experience is frightening. So frightening, we recommend you wear brown pants whenever you set foot in this car." They go on to say that it's an all around terrible car - unrealiable, dangerous, noisy, hungry for oil and without practical comforts. It's is redeemed only in that it has classic looks and is somehow undeniably fun. It looks great standing still on a sunny fall day. I'm sure the owner, local no-doubt, had a nice drive yesterday.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cute baby photo of the week

A while back, Nicole and I made a paddling trip out in British Columbia. We were so impressed by, well, everything that we thought moving to Canada would be a really good idea. The people are more friendly, the trees are bigger, even the airlines run more efficiently. We even started singing "O Canada..." but we did not know the rest of the song beyond that first phrase.

We now have more evidence that this earlier notion of moving north is not entirely crazy. Seems our little peanut would meld nicely into the maple fabric. What's more, grandmom seems to see it too!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Old dog, new tricks

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Rigby isn't old, only four, but he's got the pace of an old dog. My wife calls him the most placid dog on the planet. At any rate, we've always had him ride in the way back of the car because it's a five-door and he has the tailgate area to fur-up as he sees fit. Now and again I get lazy and have him hop up to the shot-gun seat. He finds the seat awkward, always shifting in search of an elusive comfortable position. Unlike other dogs, he has no interest in sticking his head out the window. He's content to sit back and sniff the air that comes to him well inside the confines of the moving car, very lazy you see. I could not help but feel a little disappointed that Rigby is un-dog-like in his distaste for a more enthusiastic approach to car rides.

Today was different. He again sat beside me for a trip across town. This time he approached the open window and seemed satisfied to peek out a bit. As with his usual low-energy style he made use of the window sill for a chin rest lest he expend any unnecessary energy taking a look around. I think he likes it. Rigby still shifts trying to find that comfortable sitting spot, but the outside keeps his interest in a most dog-like manner.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good morning

There is just something so perfect about the early morning. It is far and away my favorite time of day. It would literally make my day to stop the clock at 9 o'clock and loop those first few waking hours over and over for the remainder of the day. Groggier folks may think this is lunacy, but other morning people know exactly what I'm talking about. Everything is quiet and fresh. No one is around and the world is yours alone; there are precisely two people and one dog that make good company at this hour. The air is pleasantly chilly. My sneakers get damp with dew at the toes when I bring the dog to park. Coffee is at it's best. The light is low and shines through the trees gently. It's simply the best time of day, and maybe this clip captures some that quality.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday sun

I zipped out for a sunny Sunday morning ride, one of those chilly fall morning days. Perfect.

The Weston town common was fluttering with flags in remembrance of each life lost on Sept 11.

The Battle Road trail near Concord was bright with yellow sunflowers leaning toward the morning light.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009


A few months back we received a gift of a very nice camera, a Sony DSC-HX1. Great pictures result with minimal effort; it's the bees knees. Here are a few pictures of flowers in the yard on a rainy morning. I was experimenting with the aperture settings on close up shots. These pictures aren't hot off the press because it took me nearly three months to upload them, but they still look great.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Adios Poprad

The Lemond Poprad is in transit to a new home. The new home will be in Portland Oregon. My brother in law moved there recently after graduating college and was in search of a serviceable bike for getting around and a bit of fun too. It struck me that I wasn't riding the Poprad much anymore, mainly because it didn't fit me very well and it never felt right. Luckily, Alex is about my size, or more specifically, his proportions are just enough different from mine such that the bike fits him perfectly. Furthermore, the Poprad is a cyclocross bike which translates well into a bike for both commuting and almost any other kind of riding except racing and technical single track - it's the kind of bike you'd want if you had just one. Alex took a look at the bike during a visit and was very happy with it. Perfect! Talk about an ideal transfer of gear.

I set about sprucing up the Poprad a bit with a good scrubbing and new cables, brake pads and bar tape. I rode it a bunch in the last few weeks just to reassure myself that the bike is sound. It survived some long road rides and rougher trail runs. In fact, the bike was terrific. I hate to brag, but I did a great job putting this bike back together. It works better than ever before; perhaps I have improved my tinkering skills over the years. I'm so pleased with it that I am a little sad to see it go, but I'm reassured in that it's new owner will ride it plenty.

List of likes and dislikes on this bike for posterity:
Likes: accommodates fat tires, fenders and a rack, climbs quickly, nice 853 tubing, good road feel, Vittoria Randonneur tires, Ritchey Biomax handlebars, cantilever brakes.
Dislikes: flexy around the bottom bracket which makes trimming the front derailleur a moving target, too short a top tube for my proportions, wimpy rack mounts, unicrown fork = ughhh, cantilever brakes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Right shoe road find

The strangest things are often laying at the side of the road - I've seen a few blog entries about such oddities (thanks for the idea). Shoes are not intrinsically odd, but a single shoe in the road is odd, and that is where I found this one. Why do I care? A shoe in the road invites speculation. How did it get there? Where is the left one? Is someone walking around with a bare foot? This shoe is quite close to the gym near my office, so it's possible that it leapt out of a gym bag, maybe from someone riding in a convertible. However, the shoe is really more of a boot - not the kind of footwear that you see in the gym. That undermines my initial theory. No, I didn't pick it up. A single boot is useless and a mysteriously found boot could be a little funky for my taste. Though I wonder if it will be there tomorrow.

Friday, September 4, 2009

GPS Ride in Cutler Park

I'm fortunate in that my office is located within spitting distance of Cutler Park. Therein lay miles of trails for riding. Once you get away from the main entrances, the trails become winding narrow single track with just a few technical challenges. There are a few long raised boardwalks and some rooted sections that break it up. One of my favorite things is that you can make a nice loop of 10 or 12 miles and probably more if you explore.

The other day we took a longish lunch to go out riding, and one of us had a GPS on board to document the route. We start from the Kendrick Street entrance in Cutler Park and followed the trails several miles back to the Needham Street side which I think is basically in Dedham. This loop would be counterclockwise in the above map starting in the upper left area. A few sections were overgrown but still quite passable. (Remember to pick the greenery out of you derailleur and watch the thorns!) In the interest of time we skipped all of the trails that meander to some otherwise worthwhile shorter adjoining loops. From that end we hopped over a sidewalk along several hundred yards of busy roads (route 109 and the VFW) and then picked up the return trail in Millenium Park in West Roxbury. The section in Millenium Park is fairly unremarkable going around the hill. But it leads you back into the woods in the abutting Brook Farm reserve. This next section of trail is wide and well maintained, but still wooded; we hauled through there heading back in the general direction of Wells Ave. This pops out right down the street from where we started - loop completed.

I've been over this loop a few times. I've noticed that there may be some silent stewarts maintaining some of the trickier sections with new boards traversing water sections or cutting back the bushy spots. Thank you to whoever you are. There are also some little kickers here and there which are fun. It's definitely a great local area to explore, especially with others who may know something new about it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Project: Old Trek MTB

A while back when we moved, there was a conversation on what to do with my wife's old mountain bike. This bike had been with her for a dozen years or more. The abuse of commuting to class wore harshly on it. The handlebars were not comfortable either. She bought a nice road bike a year or two ago, and at that point I thought this bike was on it's way out.

However, there are few things I like more than a bike project. This bike was actually pretty nice and had lots of potential. So I set to sprucing it up for a good around town bike - something a little less sporty for bumbling around the neighborhood or for a quick trip to the store.

Cleaning it up and replacing the rusty bits was the first order of business. There is something extremely satisfying about stripping crumbling cable housing and attaching new set of cables to bring the brakes and derailleurs back to life. The front skewer was also a mess, and seatpost binder bold was just plain ugly....both replaced.

To make the front end more comfortable and ergonomic, I added a set of On One Mary handlebars which have a very natural hand position that's a little higher and a bit closer to the saddle. They are indeed easy on the hands and wrists.

And last but not least, I replaced the broken pedals and rusty cargo rack with a spare rack and some spare MKS pedals. The bike turned out great. It is 100% better than the dusty rusty mess I started with. I'm really excited for my wife to take it for a spin. I think she'll really like it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


This explains about 99 of the 100 ways I've been busy lately. Claire was born June 15, 2009. I call her Peanut mostly. She's a good baby, but taking care of her is still a full time job. So far her tricks include smiling and sucking her fingers. It may be a while until she gets more clever than that. Below you can see that she got mom's family hair genes, and I'm making the most of it with a post-bath mohawk. I don't have a picture to show it, but Claire tends to be a quite surly when hungry. The apple fell very close to the tree on that one.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Welcome. Thanks for coming.

My head is full and needs emptying. Blogging took a backseat for a while because life has been very busy and exciting; there will be more on that later. I'm making a fresh start with this but only to a point. I generally liked the content of so that stuff stays, but I did not like the name and url so that gets left behind. Circling Bits sounds fitting in many ways. Try not to think about what it means because it's mostly nonsense. Maybe there are bits of life that aren't particularly related but seem interesting as a singular bit. Those bits are circling in my head, or maybe it's the merry-go-round of life that doesn't really have a discrete end or beginning. And surely there is some relation to cycling. Whatever the case, things are anew. Thanks for coming.

Friday, March 13, 2009

8-9-10 Y socket

The 8-9-10 Y socket is small but mighty. It's good for so many bike-
ish adjustments and feels just right. How did I ever tinker without

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More tracks

Yes, more snow. Winter is unusually wintry lately. I'm making the most of it. The woods are offering plenty of snow for a quick trip.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Perfect beautiful snow, it's a rare thing. For the record, not all snow is created equal. Most of the snow that falls around here is wet, heavy and dense. It's the stuff that we get when it's just barely cold enough to turn from snain (aka wintry mix) to snow. Heavy snow still provides for winter sports, but it's barely tolerable. Every once in a while we get a good dump of cold dry snow that piles up so gently with a magical weightlessness. Even less often does it stay cold enough after the storm to preserve the fluffiness long enough for me to enjoy it.

This weekend about 6 inches of the good stuff fell, and it's still cold and fluffy today. I skied around in the woods at lunch today. There is a pocket of winding wooded trails near the office with plenty of routes for a short romp. It was perfect. There were a good number of tracks on the ground - boots, paws, snowshoes, etc. It didn't really matter because the persistent loftiness of this snow remained there for me. Additionally, last week's baked cruddy snow shielded me from the rocky rooted trails underneath. Gliding through the cloudy layer was flawless. It was sunny also. There aren't many bluebird powder days around here, but I certainly won't miss any of them.