Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Musical interlude...

In addition to this bike stuff, I also get to co-host a radio show out here in West Marin on KWMR. Bakersfield and Beyond: Music for Maverick, Outlaws, and Romantics is a show dedicated to the Bakersfield Sound. The Bakersfield Sound crosses many musical genres with the center being twangy country with a harder edge than the music that came out (is coming out) of Nashville.

My co-host (actually, I'm her co-host since she's the brains behind the operation), Amanda and I try to bring a widey diverse mix of music from artists who are associated with the Bakersfield Sound. We've had great fun delving into such artists as Homer Joy, Wanda Jackson - the Queen of Rock, Tim Hus - all of whom we have interviewed for the show.

We also started a blog for the radio show which can be checked out here: Bakersfield and Beyond. We post the playlist after each show and will post interviews once we (Amanda) figure out how to do it. We would like to at some point offer an entire podcast of the show, but there are licensing issues at hand.

Check out the blog, check out the show. It airs every other Thursday and it can be listened to over the air waves here in West Marin at 90.5 or 89.9 a bit further south or on-line at kwmr.org. The next show is May 28.

(What's playing: John Doe and The Sadies Fool Such As I)

Share the road, part II...

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, I got an e-mail from a bike industry friend of mine. He mentioned another thing cyclists can do that really goes a long way in the driver vs. cyclist relationship. At most intersections, the bike lane stripe becomes dashed. It is within this dashed section that the bike lane also becomes the right turn lane for autos. When my friend and I approach red lights, we both move to the left side of the line, next to the car in the right lane or just slightly in front and to the right of the car in the right lane. This allows space for a car to negotiate a right turn. Many cases, we've had drivers tell us "thanks."

It might seem dangerous to get in front of a right lane car at a light, but what this does is also signal to the car that the cyclist is visible and that driver sees that you are letting cars make right turns. This is a simple act of courteousness. All too often I see cyclists jamming up the right turn lane (it's not a bike lane at intersections) with drivers packed up behind them starting to fume. Cyclists - move to the left and let cars make right turns! I'm sure most cyclists who block right turn cars at intersections really have no idea what they are doing and once they know how to negotiate intersections like this, the world will truly be a better place.

The other thing I do at intersections where bike lanes are present and the light is green, is at the area where the bike lane stripe becomes dashed, I move to the left and put my bike just to the left of the stripped line. My moving out into traffic a bit, I am telling cars that I'm going straight and it reduces the possibility of being hooked by right turning cars.

Well, there you have it. Simple ways a cyclist can negotiate an intersection and have a driver think good thoughts about a cyclist. We cyclists don't want to become these guys:


(What's playing: KWMR)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Share the road...

We have quite a few "SHARE THE ROAD" signs out here in West Marin. There seems to be some confusion as to who that sign is directed. Is it a request for cars to share the road with cyclists or is it a request for cyclists to share the road with cars? Hopefully, it is seen as a request to both users of the road. However, it seems that many cyclists see it as their right to take the road and then cars have to figure out how to share the road with a group of cyclists riding two-abreast down a narrow road.
The sign above is on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. as is winds through Inverness. This is one of the rare spots in West Marin where there is a fairly substantial shoulder for cyclists to ride on. Most sections of road out here gives about a foot or less to the right of the fog line. Single file is hard enough for both cars and cyclists to share the road when combined with on-coming traffic. Riding two-abreast becomes just plain rude on sections of road like this - especially when the cyclists don't or won't revert to single-file when cars/trucks come up on them.

I've been wanting to write this for about a year. A recent post by Dave Moulton gave me the kick in the butt to put this up. About a year ago, a customer of mine came in and asked me what it is about cyclists that make them think they can take up the whole road and block traffic. Now this particular gentleman is in his 70's, rides his bike on the roads here for exercise, so he understands what it is like to be a cyclist on the road here. He came in on that particular day and asked me that question. I knew exactly what he was referring to. He told me as he was driving along a section of road where there was no more than one foot of road way to the right of the fog line, a group of cyclists were all riding 2 abreast, effectively blocking the road to cars coming up on them. Pretty rude actions. And actions that I just can't comprehend. Knowingly blocking traffic where you have the opportunity to be courteous, move into single-file and let cars pass. The act of being courteous is a noble act and a powerful act.

Riding two abreast on country roads is fine as long as you aren't holding up a line of traffic, letting drivers steam behind the wheel. Riding with your buddies and chatting it up while riding is great fun as long as your aren't an impediment to traffic behind you. Why knowingly make drivers get angry at cyclists? When I'm driving and cyclists block me and aren't courteous enough to allow room for me to pass safely, I get mad, thinking to myself, "what are they thinking?"

In Dave Moulton's blog post, he noted a revision to the Share The Road signs that instead of a sign that suggest an action, some states are passing a 3 foot law. This law mandates vehicles give at least 3 feet of space to cyclists as they pass. This would also only work if the cyclist provides the opportunity for the vehicle to give the cyclist 3 feet.




I also propose a new concept for roads that don't have an adequate shoulder. This shouldn't be a sign on the road, but an image that bicycle groups use to educate riders when riding on narrow, shoulder-less roads. After all, cars still aren't allowed to share one lane. It's also interesting that in order to operate a vehicle on the road, one needs to take a test and have a license. A cyclist can simply pull their bike out and hit the road. I think there has to be more education for the cyclist to understand their rights and privilege to use the roads.

This whole topic is a very slippery slope. The whole thing wouldn't even be necessary if there were more folks in the world who were just simply courteous and compassionate to others.

(What's playing: Hank Williams III Country Heroes)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Beyond busy...

I open at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays. This is due in part to riders being out early on the weekend and wanting to be available to service problems they might have with their bikes. Yesterday, I stopped at the Bovine Bakery for my usual Saturday morning blueberry scone, opened up did some organizing/cleaning and waited. The weather this weekend is spectacular. One of those weekends with blue sky, warm temps, light breeze - perfect cycling weather.

I didn't have to wait long as riders seemed to flood in to the shop with a host of problems. Most notable was a rider who's seat post had broken. A week or so ago, this same rider had been in the shop with a "broken" frame. He frame is steel with carbon seat stays. The carbon stays are held to the dropout by a small 5mm bolt. This bolt on the drive side was simply missing. Very odd since for the bolt to back out, it has to move into the cogset. Should have been very noticeable while riding. I checked to make sure the threads were okay, found an appropriate bolt, added some loctite to the threads and bolted his frame back together - good as new!

So he comes in yesterday. The frame is still fine. The bolt is holding tight. But his seat post is broken. The clamp that holds the seat rails has cracked. Should be simple to just remove the broken seat post and replace it with a new post since I don't have replacement parts for the unique clamp design. But no, this one's not simple. His carbon post is absolutely frozen into his steel seat tube. And without the ability to clamp the seat to the seat post to try to twist it out, it's even worse.

So far, in almost two years, I've never had someone come in with a problem so bad that they couldn't at least ride back to their car or back home. I'm determined not to have this be the first. The clamp is comprised of two pins that have bolts threaded into them which pull the saddle rails onto the bottom cradle. The forward pin broke in half. How I got him back on the road was to move the rear pin to the front and I fabricated a U shaped clamp out of a couple of pieces of steel strap which I then bolted on top of the seat rail. This made it so the rider could sit on the seat and it wouldn't tip backwards and the fabricated bracket kept the seat from shifting side to side or rocking forward under a light load. I sent him out to test it out. He came back with a thumbs up and after a monetary exchange, he was back out on the road.

After that one, all the other emergency repairs were a piece of cake. Two riders came in together, both with destroyed tires. The casings had failed somehow - sharp rocks/pothole... They both went back out with proper 25c Conti Ultra Gatorskins and extra tubes. Another rider had a sliced sidewall and he too went back out with a new 25c Ultra Gatorskin.

In keeping with the wheel problem theme, another rider had a broken nipple on his front wheel. Odd. But after finding out that the wheels are 5 years old, he rides along the coast, it broke while braking hard at the bottom of the Marshall Wall, and the nipples are aluminum, it made sense. New nipple and he was back on the road. Another wheel problem was a rear Reynolds wheel way out of true. Reynolds wheels with the nipple only accessible from inside the rim are a PITA to true, because tire/tube/rim strip have to come off. Not a fun task on the road, but not too bad in a shop. 15 minutes later, he was back on the road.

In between all of that was a new 10s chain install to replace a broke chain which also managed to tweak the cage of the Dura Ace front derailleur. Installation of new rear brake and derailleur cable and housing on a mountain bike. And then I managed to eat lunch at about 3:00. At 4:00 I closed up and took the dog for a nice bike ride while he ran up the mountain out of Inverness. It was hot and he was a panting, tired dog when we got back. But not too tired. He still wanted to play his favorite game, fetch, with his favorite ball when we got back to the house because that's what we do every evening and he is a creature of habit.

(What's on: The Giro d'Italia live on universalsports.com)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Redline Mono-9 15" frame size for sale...

Okay, here's the deal. I gotta sell this bike. It's a brand new 08 model year Redline Mono-9. Frame size is 15". If it fits you, it's a great deal - $850 shipped to anywhere in the lower 48 states. If you are in California, I've got to add tax to that. I've only got the one 15" size so it's first come, first served.

The parts spec on the bike is:
Shifter/derailleur: SRAM X9
Wheels: Redline sealed bearing hubset (single-speed cassette rear), WTB Laserdisc Trail rims, Maxxis Ignitor tires
Brakes: Avid BB5 disc w/ Avid brake levers
Cockpit parts: WTB Rocket V saddle, Ritchey Pro bar/stem/seat post (seat post is 400mm long)

Frame geometry is:
Seat tube = 15" center-to-top (this should fit folks between 5'2" tall and 5'6". I know it would fit someone 5'2" because my son fits on it and that's how tall he is, but he already has another bike.
Head Angle = 71°
Seat Angle = 72˚
Top Tube = 22.6”
Chain Stay = 17.5”
BB Height = 12.0”
Fork Offset = 1.85”
Wheel Base = 42.5”
Stand Over = 29.8”
Frame geometry measurements are taken from Redline's website.

Call me at 415-663-8125 during shop hours or e-mail me at the link above to the right to get this going (because you know you want it and if you're too tall for it, get it for your kid or wife or girlfriend).

All-in-one bikes...

The LA Times ran a story on "all-in-one" bikes yesterday. Pretty cool. These are the exact types of bikes that I love and that I want my shop to be known for. Out of the four bikes mentioned, I carry the Rawland, I can order the Diamondback, and Bruce Gordon is a great guy and great framebuilder who lives over the hill and visits the shop somewhat regularly. Everyone needs at least one bike like these in their bike stable.

I think out of most of the bike categories, these all-in-one bikes are by far the greenest bikes out there. For me, they virtually eliminate driving my car to go ride my bike. Most mountain bikes need to be driven to the trail-head. With these all-in-one bikes, you ride from your door out to your adventure of the day and ride back home. Perfect.

(What's playing: KWMR)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday post: Take the lane and a BSO...

Dave Moulton has a great post on his blog about taking the lane when riding in traffic. Check it out.

And to show Guitar Ted that I do actually get the occasional BSO in the shop, I offer the following photo.

(What's playing: Lone Justice Pass It On)