Sunday, May 22, 2016

Estabrook on three wheels

Yesterday I convinced one of my sons to accompany me on a ride in the woods.  Actually, he was excited to go.  We had just rode over to the Arlington Jimmy Fund ice cream fund raiser and he didn't find an ice cream flavor that he wanted to try.  He did enjoy a chocolate chip cookie.  When we got home, I asked him if wanted to ride in the woods and he did so we packed up and headed to Concord and found a parking spot on Estabrook Road and rodeinto the woods.  I have walked and run here a lot and rode here a few times so I thought that I could manage the roads and trails with my son on a trail-a-bike.  It wasn't fast or easy but it was safe and we both enjoyed being in the woods and had at least one minor adventure.  I didn't have the ride mapped out but I managed to find the paths I had intended to follow without much trouble.  I did use RideWithGPS once to confirm a turn that I wanted to take and, fortunately, I had enough service for the map to draw quickly.

Bike parking.  We sat on an old stone wall for a pineapple juice break.


This is the first Pink Lady Slipper that I've seen since I moved to Boston.  I've since heard that they are common, sometimes in places that I've been a lot but apparently not when they are in bloom.


The Lady Slipper was just to the left of my bike by the big rock.  I didn't see it until I was off the bike.  We stopped at the rock because my son wanted to climb on it.


This picture probably doesn't capture it but the light and color of the leaves was so inviting and this trail was a pleasure to ride.


Our one mini adventure - seeing a water snake.  This was about 30 inches long and thick bodied.   We later saw it slip into the water.  As my son said, it was a great swimmer.
Our ride on Strava (no land speed records were broken):

Sunday, May 15, 2016

New Bike Day: Soma Buena Vista

Today was new bike day for my wife, a Soma Buena Vista mixte.  Well, we've had the bike for a week but today was the first day she had it off of our street.

We started thinking about this bike about four years ago.  We contacted Roy Cervantes at Grace Bicycles and Rob Vandermark at Ride Studio Cafe.  Rob didn't think he could build the bike.  Roy gave us an estimate but we declined to pursue the project at that time for a variety of reasons.  Then last winter all four of us took our bikes on the Arlington Jingle Bell ride.  As part of our version of that ride we went through the woods and my wife ended up walking.  Her bike, with its narrow wheels, just didn't give her confidence.  Then in the spring we bought our older son his first mountain bike (also his first geared bike with hand brakes) and he is interested in riding off road on it.  That made us think about the Buena Vista again, this time with 650B wheels that could accommodate a very wide tire that could roll on the dirt trails that my son was interested in.  My wife is also changing her schedule, which might give her time to ride more, both for pleasure and for errands (errandonnee, here we come!).  We got back to Roy, who designed and built up my IF and my Surly Cross Check, and this is what he built up for us.  It's not all perfectly color coordinated but it's a very nice bike that fits my wife well.




The bike has a dynamo hub but no way to use it yet.  I have a Busch and Mueller light to add and have get a rear dynamo powered light, which will be mounted on  the rear Tubus Vega rack.  (We would have preferred the silver version of this rack but it isn't imported into the US.)  My wife also wants to get a charger, which is why we opted for the SP PV8 over the SP SV9.  The SV9 is similar to the Schmidt Deluxe, which is offers lower resistance and lighter weight but less power output.


My wife is testing a Rivet saddle.  I'm hoping she loves it but she hasn't been on it long enough to be sure.  She has a front basket, which was a key requirement.  That's a Nitto B302 handlebar that a friend gave us.  He also gave us the Tektro brake levers.  Roy suggested the  handlebar grips, which my wife likes.  I suggested the Chris King silver headset for durability.


The drive train is an 11 speed XT group set and the rear hub is a disk hub (there is no non disk option and you need a mountain hub to work with the XT cassette.  The gearing is intentionally very low, with a 28/36 crank and an 11/40 cassette, which will make it possible for my wife to carry groceries from the farmers' market and our CSA without worry.  We went up and then down a local park on dirt trails on today's ride and she felt fine riding, both because of the low gearing and the wide tires (the Compass Babyshoe Pass 650Bx42mm in standard casing).  The fenders are the Velo Orange Zeppelin 52mm fenders built for 650b wheels.  The rims are Velocity Atlas rims, which are wide enough to mount the 42mm wife tires.

Matt Roy was generous with his time and offered opinions on the SP hubs, which helped me pick SP over the Schmidt and Shimano dynamo hubs, which I have on my IF and Surly, respectively.  Thanks Matt!

And thanks to Roy for accommodating several component changes during the process and for building the bike.

Overall the bike seems like a great bike and I'm even a little jealous.  Well, I'm actually very jealous.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Not quite 30 days of riding in April

There is a pledge you can sign is to let the world know that you intend to ride your bike for 30 days in April.  Besides being a good idea, it's also a fund raiser for World Bicycle Relief.  I didn't pledge because I knew that guaranteeing to ride every day in a month would be difficult, especially on weekends when my free time is often committed to my kids.  But I did do my best to get on my bike in April.  Besides getting out on one or more of my bikes on 20 days, I also rode all three of my bikes:
  • Four road rides on my IF (131 miles)
  • Three commutes on my 3 speed bike (27 miles)
  • One off road ride on Surly (45 miles) and Thirteen commutes on it (185 miles)
That's almost 400 miles last month.  While I didn't win any competitions, I feel like I got out as much as I could, given my other commitments. I rode to work most days and somehow I don't feel all that much of fair weather cyclist anymore.  That said, a hard rain as I'm about to leave my house may give me pause.

Thinking of fair weather cycling, I remember the one time my wife and I rode the King's Tour of the Quabbin.  This was in 2002 or 2003.  We were coaxed into going by a friend who apparently checked the weather forecast and didn't show up.  We headed out with far too little foul weather gear for the weather we encountered.  My wife had a light fleece jacket and I had a short sleeve polypro shirt under my jersey.  The rain started around 20 miles into the ride.  We made it to the turn around in the rain and simply turned around and headed towards our car.  I don't remember all that much from the ride except for the cars passing us and spraying water from the puddles onto us.  I also remember finishing and trying to get to the car to change into dry clothes while I was chilled to the bone.  It was a miserable experience that would have been easier to take if I carried the gear that we needed (and left at home).  But I'm pretty sure that a ride like that would have been less than pleasant with any gear.  That may be part of why I call myself a fair weather cyclist.  And I'm not ashamed of that.