Friday, November 27, 2009

So...what's new?

So I haven't posted much in the past month. It is that time of the semester when the things you have been putting off absolutely have to get done. To top it off my teaching assistant lab slots had two weeks in a row recently so I'm buried in correcting and have a very large project to do for next week. Say, you don't happen to know anything on Multiple Light Scattering in Liquid Crystals do you? Thought not...

In bike news, Arone and Dave at Bikeworks NYC have been very apologetic and very willing to help me with the few missing pieces on my Surly LHT, as well as my bad derailleur. So I shipped out the derailleur 2 weeks ago, and hopefully it will get there today or the next day. Hopefully they look close enough at when it is mounted to see that the alignment is off in some gears while not others.

As for winter (or just cold weather) riding I haven't been doing much lately do to late and early hours, lack of sleep, having to carry lab books around, and icy roads. I have not gotten studded tires for my winter beater yet. I am hesitant to buy big knobby tires and I do not plan to do much recreational winter riding and simply plan to commute. Huge tires would increase my rolling resistance by crazy amounts, and tires that are not as knobby don't seem to usually have enough studs... So I need to find a nice in-between. Any suggestions?


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Happy New Bike Day!

Today I was able to pick up my anticipated package from Bikeworks NYC, my 58 cm, olive green, Surly Long Haul Trucker. I immediately headed out to Harold's shop to complete assembly on the winter beater as well as set up the LHT.

The winter beater went together nicely. I reassembled all the old parts as well as added a chromoly fork, a new back wheel, a new set of Deore linear pull brakes in the front, a set of lock on grips, and my new shifters and levers previously mentioned. The derailleur hanger was bent bad, but after fixing that the thing shifted like a charm. I added a bar-end mirror and the tiresparx valve cover lights once I got home. All she needs now is some derailleur adjusting and studded tires and she is ready for the winter!

The LHT on the other hand did not go so smoothly. The package was missing the star-nut and cap that holds the bar down onto the fork, and bar tape.

There were some small nicks (not through the paint though) on the seat tube, above the top tube, and one of the brake pads was badly bent.

All of that is not such a big deal, but a pain none the less. However this last thing is the kicker. We began doing the rear derailleur adjustment, setting the bottom stop and the top stop, then began the cable adjustment to make shifting smooth. After we were okay in the bottom gears we moved up and began adjusting again. But after a few rounds of this we noticed a problem. When the cable was adjusted properly in the higher gears, it was skipping in the lower gears, and when it was adjusted properly in the lower gears it was skipping in the higher ones! Harold then started thinking about possible problems. We checked the distance between the two axle mounts and it was perfect. We then checked the derailleur hanger to see if it was bent with the proper adjustment tools, which was off a little bit, but not enough to be causing the problem and that was corrected. Putting the derailleur back on and trying the adjustment again proved to have the problem repeat. Our only ideas then were the Shimano bar-end shifters, or the Deore XT derailleur were faulty. We grabed a brand new cheap-o Shimano LX derailleur, put it on and after a quick adjustment the bike was shifting perfectly even with high in the front and low in the rear. So, however unlikely, I got a bike with a bad Shimano Deore XT derailleur which is rare for this level of quality. Unfortunately by this time Harold was getting ready to head home for the day, so the plan is to go back with the bike later this week and try the Deore XT derailleur AGAIN just to triple check. Once we are 150% positive it is the derailleur I will get in contact with Bikeworks NYC and see if they will send me out a replacement derailleur and as well what they say about my missing parts and minor damage.

Despite the hurdles, it was an exciting and long day of assembling bikes new and old. I learned a lot about how to deal with taking off and putting on all the parts of the bike. I intend on leaving a good bit of space on the top end of the fork to put a second stem for an accessory bar for my handlebar bag. That way I still have room up top for a light and horn and computer. Due to the crappy weather here in St. Johns (with road salt already out) and as well and a bunk derailleur it will be a while before I get to ride my new steed. For now it will just stare at me from 3 feet away in my closet.
Hopefully, after I have my derailleur situation sorted out and have my fork cut to proper length, we will have a nice dry day before the snow really kicks in and I will get to ride her a couple of times. Until then, she waits for the adventures ahead of her next summer.

Here is a pic of my new additions. I can finally say I have a fleet! (Giant FCR 2 not pictured)

Happy New Bike Day everyone!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Morning Commute

Two days of back and forth from school, 18km each way by bike. Newfoundland, especially the east coast, is known for being very hilly. Ups and downs, certainly good for a work out but not so great for commuting or utilitarian cyclying with the likes of trailers and xtracycles. However, this route is probably one of the fairest routes for its length I've ridden! While there is still some significant grade, its a slow long incline with a few flat spots and its no trouble to keep your average speed up. This morning I had an average speed of 25 km/hour! That is pretty good for me. The way back is a little more uphill at the beginning and at the end, but the middle is a long slow down slope.
It is truly and enjoyable ride. I am having trouble finding a proper layering solution for these 2-10 degree Celsius temperatures, but other than that the mornings have been great. I am looking forward to our first bit of snow and nice to try out my not-yet-existing winter beater and see if all winter commuting is going to be something I am actually capable of.

Click here to check out the google map of the commute!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Winter Beater Project + The New Long Commute

So I sandblasted, sanded, primed and painted the old Raleigh aluminum mtb frame from Canadian Tire. I picked a nice bright color that would be easily distinguishable from snow.



The Paint job turned out a lot better than I expected. 2 coats of tremclad primer plus touch ups, as well as 4 coats of orange gloss tremclad. On Wednesday the temperature is supposed to go back up to 9 degrees again, so that will be warm enough to paint. I have to give it a light rub with some high grade sand paper and then I am applying a clear/reflective coating to the entire frame! With my 3 rear flashers, front flasher, tire valve flashers, reflective stripes on panniers and jacket as well as an entire reflective frame, I'm sure I'll get noticed. HA.

Also have the components for it. Just have to wait for the final coat of paint, and to get paid to buy the new fork and rear wheel.
My mtb clipless shoes are in the mail as well.

I still have to get

-Studded Tires
-Pair of waterproof winter shell pants
-Shoe covers

...and probably other things I am forgetting right now and will bankrupt me.

In other news, this weekend I moved back home with my parents to a town just outside of St. Johns called Paradise. There were several reasons, but some relevant ones were due to the fact that I wanted to get all this bike stuff and had no money, I have to pay off a line of credit, and try to save money to eventually get an apartment with my lovely lady Alanna. Bit of a good news bad news scenario, I now have a ~18 km commute ahead of me to the university every morning, and then back again in the evening, Monday to Friday, that is both the good and bad news! Did it for the first time this morning (4 degrees out) and it was a really great ride. Only took 47 mins ride time. I'm having trouble with sweaty hands making wet gloves, and am thinking of sending my MEC Nanu gloves back after only one use as they are a small fit and are almost impossible to get back on if I take them off once I sweat a little. Not to worry, should the weather be bad (or I just don't feel up to it) my dear sister (who is an undergraduate student at the university too) will drive me in with herself.

Anyways, will update on the Winter Beater as it gets put back together, once I get the rest of my winter commuting stuff, and as well when IT arrives.

Surly LHT left the international USPS depot in NJ on Thursday morning. Feels like I'm going to have an early Christmas!