Tuesday, November 27, 2012

random bits, week of 11/26/12

Mostly photos of my travels around town, and a report on the buildup of the new bike.

This week, with no class on Sunday because of the Thanksgiving holiday, I enjoyed a trip over to Velo Cult and spent a delightful two hours -- luxury! --  doing nothing but hanging out with bike pals who wandered in. I also got to make new friends:

Anyone who takes issue with pit bulls should remember two things: dogs are a reflection of how messed up or healthy their owners are; and if trained carefully and loved fully, any dog can be raised to be a total sweetie. Like this one.

I fell in love with him exactly five seconds after we were introduced. He seemed pretty happy with me, too. Meeting him was a highlight of my Sunday visit to Velo Cult.

Today, I went out again, on another dry day before the rains are due to come tomorrow. After meeting with a student, I rode over to Crank to pick up the alloy seatpost for the Sekai. Hanging out for a little bit in Crank's roomy, airy space, I admired the vintage wheel truing stand on display.

I've enjoyed hanging out in bike shops more since I stopped working full-time in one. Go figure.

I installed the seatpost there -- it wasn't an involved part swap -- and when I rode away I instantly noticed the difference in the overall quality of the fit. Installing a seatpost with an intergrated clamp allowed me to move the saddle back another half a centimeter, which opened up the cockpit and allowed me to sit perfectly centered on the back half of the saddle.

Since the earlier photos of the Sekai were taken, I've added a second bottle cage -- a vintage TA, clamped to the downtube's underside -- and a first-generation Acorn "hobo"-styled handlebar bag, which gives me all the carrying capacity I need to use this bike on most school days if I feel like it. The All-Rounder is due for a drivetrain revamp -- new freewheel and chain -- so getting the Sekai set up gives me time to deal with All-Rounder without having to resort to the cargo bike as my primary transport.

Speaking of the cargo bike, the jury is still out on how useful it remains to me. I appreciate the capacity and the fact that it's all one bike; but when loaded to the top end of its useful capacity the bike becomes wobbly and less fun to ride. I recogniae that some of this is less about the bike and more about my own comfort with balancing big loads -- a comfort level that seems to be decreasing somewhat. I am considering the possibility of selling this bike and getting a trailer that folds flat, like a Burley D'Lite. Folded flat, the Burley trailer would take up less room in storeage than the Surly does, and I am beginning to pay more attention to the ratio between the number of times I use a thing and the amount of space it takes up while not in use.

When I decided to cancel my order for the Sidecar -- the concerns about the additional weight on a bike without e-assist along with the added cost were factors in that decision -- the Surly became open to reconsideration on many fronts. Stay tuned, as I may end up selling this frameset and putting the usable parts onto another regular frame. I'll reeavaluate in the spring.

In a recent swap, Slow RPM (http://slow-rpm.blogspot.com/) and I have agreed to a little swap of legbands and other bike ephemera. My packge got sent off after the Thanksgiving holiday delay, while his arrived in the mail on Saturday. I now own a lovely pair of Ron D. Swan legbands, made in Australia from recycled products. Mister RPM was a sailor for many years and therefore saw fit to send me a pair in maritime red and green. On my maiden voyage with these beauties, I of course wore them on the correct sides.

They are very sturdily made, with heavy-duty thread and tough vinyl material that promises to last a long while.

Ron Swan makes other cool bikey things like safety sashes and vests, top-tube pads, laptop sleeves, panniers and even a chic little musette. You can see them all here: http://www.rondswan.com/products.php

Be prepared for a little sticker shock -- the exchange rate as well as the cost to ship from Down Under will set you back more than a few bucks on most items (a single pannier costs $200).

Finally, while at Velo Cult, I ran into friend and Slow Teammate Tomas, who is a professional artist and who is making a coloring book of his bicycle designs to sell at next weekend's Bike Craft (http://www.bikecraftpdx.com/). Here's an example of Tomas' work:

He's already made this available to folks to print and color so I don't feel I'm hurting his sales. However, there's a ton more cool stuff in the new book, which will go on sale at Bike Craft this weekend. Go and buy a copy for the child in your life, and buy another for yourself so you can color together.

I'm heading out again tonight on my bike to hang with friends. Really digging this Sekai now that it fits better. Forecast calls for some rain overnight, hopefully, after I get home.
If you're riding after dark, make sure you've got front and rear lights and the appropriate reflective stuff, and please be careful out there.
Happy riding!

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