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.