Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Grew My Own

Here's a stone that should kill a coupla birds. First, most of my readers probably already know that I am indeed not the latin lover type, in spite of my online pseudonym. Mauricio was a mechanic at the banana plantation in Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. I am a standard-issue white boy. He was followed everywhere by a cloud of little yellow butterflies. I am swarmed by them only when I stick a cabbage plant in the ground.

Second, the photo above is my contribution to lowbrow cycling's facial hair fetish, best documented over on HTATBL and by Hurl. Other examples include Nano, Patch, Tarik, Tex and King Tony.

The balance of the Big Dummy review is coming, but I've been really busy and am waiting on a couple of parts. Soon, my pretties.

Friday, March 21, 2008

No I'm Not



Thanks Hurl.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Requiem for an Ugly Winter

Okay, I'm guessing we all know how to do it, but let's walk through the process just in case: put your thumbs in your ears, fully extend your fingers, pinch your eyes shut, wrinkle your nose and blow a raspberry with such slobbery force that a little air escapes from the nether region. So long, old man winter!

I have to say, I'm looking forward to a few things as spring arrives, like:

  • Being able to ride a bicycle without studded tires

  • Streets of normal width, allowing parked cars out of the lane of traffic

  • An outdoors with green stuff

  • Coats, hats and mittens that rest politely in the closet

  • Wearing only one pair of underwear and socks at a time (dare to dream)

  • Happy First Day of Spring!

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    A Very 'Sconny Shopping Trip

    So here it is, a Saturday morning, and I'm looking into my basket down at the market. Golly, that sure appears to be what the rest of America must think we eat all the time here in 'Sconsin. Yogurt from the Sugar River Dairy, whose production facility in Albany, Wisconsin was previously a three-car garage before being carefully converted to a Grade A Dairy; milk is from Crystal Ball Farm Organic Dairy up in Osceola, where the DeRosier family has about 100 Holstein cows and a state of the art bottling facility right on the farm; and a sixer of Spotted Cow from one of my two favorite breweries of all time, the New Glarus Brewing Company down in New Glarus.

    Then I stopped at the neighbor lady's on the way home and picked up our egg CSA share, along with a bonus liver sausage:

    The ol' Timbuktu bag was getting pretty heavy by then. The missus tells me that up in Sheboygan, they eat the liver sausage on toast with grape jelly. Guess I'll have to pick me up some grape jelly.

    But the best thing is that spring must be just around the corner—my favorite seasonal beer is back in stock:

    Lake Louie Milk Stout. Mmmmmm. Better wait until after noon to have one though...

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Take the Test

    C'mon, it only takes a couple of minutes!

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Big Dumb Parts List

    So Hasty! gave us a pretty good idea how he's building up his Big Dummy, so now it's my turn. Here it is:

    CranksetSuntour XC Pro triple 110/74 bcd square taper, 170mm arms; bashguard/38/24
    Bottom Bracket Shimano Sealed Cartridge
    (probably a BBUN-72)
    PedalsNashbar-badged Wellgo ATB Beartrap
    Front Derailleur Shimano top pull
    Shimano Deore XT Long cage 8 Speed
    ShiftersShimano Deore DX Thumbies
    Cassette11-32t 8 Speed
    ChainKMC tandem/recumbent 8 Speed
    HubsShimano Deore 36 spoke 6-bolt disc (M756)
    SpokesWheelsmith Stainless Steel 14/15
    RimsSyncros DP32 Aluminum Black Anodized
    Tires Schwalbe Big Apple 26 x 2.35
    BrakesHayes HFX Mag Hydraulic Disc with 203mm rotors
    Brake Levers Hayes HFX Mag
    HeadsetCane Creek S2
    HandlebarNitto Albatross CroMoly 56cm
    StemSalsa Aluminum
    SaddleBrooks B.17 or B.67
    Seatpost Syncros or Thompson Aluminum 27.2

    The two snags I know of at the moment are: a. whether I can find a Hayes brake line long enough to reach the rear brake (probably a 2500mm) and b. whether I have a decent top-pull front derailleur in stock with a 28.6 clamp. If any of you experts knows anything about the former, I'm open to suggestion.

    Meanwhile, I haven't gotten the frame back from the LYBS yet, but will soon. Spring's a coming, so I hafta get it in gear.

    Thursday, March 06, 2008

    Surly Big Dummy Review, Part 1

    The Dummy Has Landed

    Ever since the first time I looked at an Xtracycle Free Radical up close, I thought that a one-piece frame would really be the best way to build one. I told the folks at Xtracycle so back in July of 2005. (I knew they were already working on something, but I thought a little encouragement couldn't hurt.)

    So it took a while, but I got the call from Erik's today to pick up the manifestation of that idea, Surly's Big Dummy. I had really wanted to pull another cargo stunt and haul it home on the Xtrakoram, but street and path conditions are still terrible. So I drove. Just so anyone thinking of getting one of these things is forewarned, it comes in a really huge box—six by two by one feet. It is therefore expensive to ship and difficult to haul. Fortunately, it fit in our Subaru wagon, but only after folding down both back seats and sliding the passenger-side front seat most of the way forward.

    The fit and finish are workmanlike, as good or better than the other two Surly bikes I own. The TIG welds are clean and the powder coat is uniform. Cost-effective and durable. I'm going to have my localler LBS face the head tube and clean up the crown race on the fork, but that's probably about it. The bottom bracket threads are very clean, so I won't have them chased, and I probably won't have the shell faced since I'll be using a sealed cartridge bottom bracket. I have taps for the smaller threads, so I could chase those myself. Again, the powdercoating job is so neat, it doesn't look like I'll have to do much.

    I have to say, this thing has brazeons galore. It has stuff on it that I can't put a name to. Like here:

    Two seatstay bridges, upper and lower, I suppose. Now, on the one closer to the axle, the brazeon is for the fender bracket. But what's the brazeon for on the upper seatstay bridge? I'm not complaining, it's just new and different. Same goes for the brazeons on the forward v-rack sockets.

    Here are the rear dropouts. Semi-top routing and derailleur hanger on the drive side; ISO disk mounts, Rohloff tab on the non-drive side. The symmetrical eyelets are for fender stays.

    All of the cable guides are the cable-tie (Ziptie) compatible type. I'm not sure yet whether I'll like having full-length housings for the derailleurs, but it will probably be fine. I'll be using hydraulic brakes, and this is the only way to go for those. I like the routes Surly has chosen. More on that later.

    More on everything later....

    PS—I've been writing about the Big Dummy since it was first announced:

    Xtracycle's Big-Dummy 02-06-08
    Waiting for Dummies 01-05-08
    Early Big Dummy Reviews 09-30-07
    Clever Big Dummy 03-27-07
    New Dummy Photos 01-26-07
    The Big Dummy 11-26-07

    Update 05-21-2008 Part two.

    Let Us Ride Our Bicycles or We Won't Bear Your Children

    Faced with draconian new cycling laws and the effective criminalisation of their daily school run, [Japanese] mothers have unleashed their most powerful weapon. In a country already suffering the lowest birthrate in the developed world, young women are threatening to stop breeding beyond their first child if the tradition of sannin-nori — or “three-on-a-bike” — is outlawed.

    I love the smell of a revolt .