Thursday, September 17, 2009

Frame Switch

Over a year ago I moved from my old apartment and in with my future wife. At the time, I very lazily left my beater bike locked under the back stairs. Recently I needed a beater bike for the winter, so I decided to take a chance and go by the old place to see if it was still there. To my surprise it was.

So I was sitting there staring at my beater bike and something came to mind. My main commuter bike was too small for me. It was a 17" mountain bike frame, while I needed an 18.5" to 19" frame. My beater bike was a 20". Slightly too big for everyday use I thought. I decided, what the hell. I'm going to switch frames. So I did. Below you can see the finished work.

I was mistaken about it being too large. There are few times I notice the top tube being too high.

I took the opportunity to put on my new crank that has been sitting in a bag forever. I originally got it off Nashbar for $10. The downside being that the crank length is 145. Which I don't mind at all, so good deal. I needed a new seatpost and stem, all of which were easily gotten at West Town Bikes.

The frame has much more rake than my previous one. When I ride it feels like I'm driving a truck. I do enjoy this, it lets me imagine I'm riding a Long Haul Trucker. :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Touring Resources

For those that were interested in touring resources, I'll start by pointing you too a few sites. First is crazy guy on a bike, probably the biggest touring site featuring many videos and blogs. One can spend hours on this site. Most touring journals can be found on cgoab.

Next up is the touring forum on I like to keep up with the RSS feed. There can be a lot of repetition, usually over choosing equipment, but there can be some great conversations.

Next is BicycleTouringPro, this site can be a little to commercial, but it supports a tourist. He sounds like he knows what's up. His videos can be some of the best touring guides out there.

The final resource is the largest touring organization in North America, Adventure Cycling provides wonderful routes, maps, and tours.

Next I'd like to point you too some inspirational videos, the first is the Cross Canada project. This is over an hour long. It includes some of the best touring footage I've ever seen.

Then there is Bike2Oz. This is long, and full of information. My only issue is that the intro gets a little old.

If you want to follow a tour from basically the begining, check out The Path Less Pedaled.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bicycling on the Interstate

DC adds bike and pedestrian lane to interstate bridge


I see this being a big part of the future of bike transportation in America. Jerry Rigging it onto our past transportation mistakes.

What kind of Jerry Rigging do you think will happen in the future?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

LaHood sounds good

Now and again I check the blog for the Secretary of Transportation, Mr. Ray LaHood. Yesterday, on Earth Day, he decided to focus on bicycles. This excited me and reaffirms the words he said when addressing the bike summit.

Mr. LaHood is tending to focus on livable communities which hopefully will help with the goal shared by most cyclists.

The future is brighter.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Headwind is a killer.

Chicago is known as the windy city. Many people claim that this is because of the politics and not the weather. Riding a bike has shown otherwise though. Today I got to push directly against a nice 15 Mph headwind on the way home. This can make my otherwise half hour ride into a full hour ride.

In addition, I get the benefit of knee problems when I'm done pushing. My knees have been bothering me on and off for a while now. Today's issue is one that occurs when I push myself. My kneecaps sting a little bit when my knees are slightly bent. I can't find this anywhere online. So far it's a minor annoyance and haven't seen a doctor. I'm sure if I did see a doctor I would be told to lose weight, which I'm working on.

My weight. When I first started riding I was pushing 350. I'm proud to say I'm 323 as of this morning. What I'm not happy about is that I've been hovering around there for a few weeks. Conferences haven't helped. Them with their free snacks. Free food is something I have to work on saying no to.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The New York Times has a new regular feature on urban cycling called spokes.

Excelent News

AARP has decided to get on the ride a bike bandwagon. This is so big because AARP is a huge lobbying organization. One of the biggest in the country.

This development means much more political pressure for cycling infrastructure support.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Distance Cycling Video

This one is an hour long and is very well put together. It's about a man who cycles the whole length of Canada. The views are amazing. He gets across the feeling of being out on the open road alone.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Touring Videos

Today I was two amazing series of touring videos. The first and complete one is called Bike 2 Oz. Around 7 years ago a couple in the UK decided that the most sustainable way to get to OZ was by bike. It's about 13 episodes and is amazing. How people could spend a year and a half on the road cycling amazes and inspires me.

The second may be the more interesting story. Three young men started out from the UK with the plan to cycle around the world on expedition bikes. Seems like one has gone home and the other two split. They found ladies in the middle east and settled down. Later it seems they restarted their journey and are currently in India and Egypt respectively.

These world circling trips by bike are so surreal to think about.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First downed soldier

The first victim of the Chicago winter has hit. Earlier this week I noticed that my front tire was not holding pressure. A slow leak was my immediate thought, which was sad because the tires are Scwalbe Marathon Plus. These things are bullet proof. I've run them now for around seven months without a puncture. I've even pulled a staple out of them, it couldn't make it to the tube.

So I pull off the tire and look for a puncture, nothing. At this point I decide to do the water test. I notice that my Presta adapter won't come off the tube. The purpose of the adapter is to allow the smaller Presta valves to fit into a whole drilled out to the size of a Schraeder (the type on a car tire). The adapter is corroded. Sure enough, I stick the tube under the water and air bubles start coming from the valve.

I origionally got the Presa tubes because I was running my tire closer to 100, which is the limit on Schraeder valves. Honestly, they also looked cooler. I don't care these days though, and my current tires max out at 70Psi so I pulled out a Schraeder tube and used it. All is well now.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Oak Forest Gets It

It appears that Oak Forest is in the preliminary stages of adding bike lanes and routes in the near future. It's the opinion of the writer, and of me that people see the cities example and expect as such if they move to a suburb.

The suburbs of Chicago are the new fronter as far as I'm concern. There are many many people who drive short distances in the suburbs who could bike. The area is ripe for the activism.

Town in certain suburbs have town centers that are dense and bikeable, they also have less stop lights and signs. If one takes the lane, or finds low traffic areas, more distance can be covered.

It's the next step.

The Big Guys on Message

As he began outlining his ideas on the importance of transportation, he mentioned funding challenges. At that point, according to Blumenauer, Obama piped up with, “You mean, there’s not enough money for bikes?!”. “The big guy’s on message,” Blumenauer said with a grin

Via Bike Portland

Thursday, March 5, 2009

B-Cycle Bike Sharing

In a very exciting move, Humana, Trek, and Crispin Porter + Bogusky have started the B-Cycle sharing bicycle sharing program. Seems that they are rolling out in Denver soon.

It's a bike sharing program similar to the Velibs of Paris. I do hope that they are much tough on collecting costs from those that mishandle or steal the shared bikes. That seems to be the problem with Velib. Maybe someone could explain how so many bikes can go missing when you litterally have to check them out? Maybe the French are lienient. Personally I would say, "If you didn't lock the bike, you pay for it." Oh well.

I think bike sharing is an excellent thing to get people on wheels. It takes care of storing a bike at the end of a bus or train trip, which many people take. Having to store their own bike on the end of the line would be a pain. With sharing, that burden is gone and a bike is suddenly even more convenient than a car.

I hope to see this in Chicago soon. If you would like to see it in your city, go here to express your interest.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bicycling Tweeps

Found a big list of cyclists who tweet.

Some of my favorites so far:



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lock your bike


Paying closer attention the stolen bike database I'm seeing that many of the bikes listed as having a u-lock are in fact not locked when stolen. Seems people list the type of lock that they have, not how the bike was locked at the time of theft.


While perusing my bike blogs and feeds in Google Reader, I read yet another stolen bike report from Yet again, the lock in question is a combination cable lock. Why some people in the city of Chicago would spend over $500 on a bike, and put the crapiest lock they can buy at the store on it is beyond me.

A few seconds reading this comparison of locks will have you shaking in your SPD shoes over the prospect of using such a lock as the only thing between you and a crack head getting your nice bike. It litterally takes a few seconds to clip a cable lock.

The stolen bike reports will commonly include phrases such as "only left it for an hour". This is plenty of time. Most people won't even notice someone clipping the cable to you bike.

To backup my point a little, take a look at the statistics for Chicago. When you add up the percentage of bikes stolen with some kind of cable lock you get 42% of all reported cases were using a cable lock of some sort. This in comparison to 21.23% for U-locks and an amazing 1.62% for a bike specific chain lock. This mean, all things being equal (the often aren't), you are twice as likely to lose your bike to a cable than a u-lock.

If you use your u-lock correctly, by positioning it to allow as little room as possible to fit anything inside the u-lock, you should be pretty secure parking your bike. The national bike registry as more information on how to lock your bike. You could also go with Sheldon Brown's locking strategy.

Now, even u-locks aren't perfect and can be defeated also, but it takes some more effort. The game you are really playing is that your bike is harder to get than the one next to it, or down the road.

I don't get why a bike show would still sell a cable lock to a new customer without explaining the danger to them. I guess what the customer wants, the customer gets. :)

I personally use the Kryptonite bike chain. I ended up getting this because there wasn't anything at my appartment that was small enough to lock a u-lock to. It's worked great, but the thing is an eight pound beast. Good thing I'm not a small guy. I normally lock it on my back rack and let it hang down both side while riding. I find this easiest.

Whatever you do to lock your bike, here hopeing that no one ever takes a crack at your bike. I'd hate to find my bike stolen. I hope it never happens to you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

First Power Grips Tryout

Commuting home was my first attempt at using the Power Grips. What I found was that the winter shoes I was wearing were just too big to fit in the straps. So earlier tonight I put on my warmer weather shoes and went out for a short ride. I found them to work pretty well.

My only issue with them so far is that the considerable tread on the shoe is getting caught on the pedal when trying to "clip in". Summer and warm weather shoes shouldn't have a problem. The good thing about these is that they are small enough that if I need my cold weather shoes I can just ride the other side of the pedal, or if need be, just mash on top of them. They are a cloth material so no problem just riding on top of them.

Power Grips

I got my Power Grips in the mail today and finished installing them. I had an issue with the reflector bolts being rusted onto the pedals. But a pair of pliers and some torque took care of that real quick.

The power grips seem like they just might not fit the winter shoes I wear, but it's almost warm enough for me to be switching to them spring/summer shoes anyhow.

I let you all know how they turn out.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Today, me, my ride.

Today was the first day in a while where it's been actually warm. I've spent some of the winter off my bike. Early on I discovered a treasure trove of cash on a CTA card of mine. This, with the combination of injured knee, has resulted in me staying off the bike somewhat. I'd say about 2 to 3 days a week I would commute by bike, the rest by bus/train.

Being so warm made me want to be out riding. I have the gear for super cold weather, just not will.

Also this evening I patched some jeans. Pretty much the last pair I have. Some more are on order, but these will have to do for the week. I spent about four hours on the patch. I can sew, but only barely. The patch is definitely amateurish, but it'll work. I do like the DIY aspect of it though. Saddles eat through the seat of jeans.

Since this is my first post, I'll fill in to those of you who might be reading who I am. I'm a overweight web developer from Chicago. I hope this blog will help me keep motivation for loosing weight going. Also share some of the bike knowledge and experiences with others.

For over a year now I've been on the bike. I started because my roommate did. My mom was dying at the time and I really needed a release. Biking was it. Soon after I discovered West Town Bikes. A charity that does bike programs for youth and adults. I took their build-a-bike course. I've been volunteering there ever since and I'd like to think I'm pretty good with a wrench now.

What I ride. I have and old 1995 Novara Arriba-LT frame, steel like god intended. That frame is pretty much all that's left from it's origional state. I have it setup with Velocity Psycho 26 inch rims, Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires (never had a flat on them), butterfly bars. I have old shimano deore thumb shifters, which are amazing. Finally I have a WTB saddle.

I find all the things I've listed to be excelent. Took me over a year to find what would haul me around. I'm a big guy. Right now I'm over 300 pounds. The Psychos hold up amazingly. The WTB also fits me well. In later posts I'll expand on these particular parts and how I got to having them.

Until then.