Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bike Friday - The Pocket Randonneur

Since the Rambouillet is waiting for a new fork, the only roadish bike left in my garage is a Bike Friday Pocket Lama. The Pocket Lama is Bike Friday's tourish bike that is usually seen with flat bars. I don't like flat bars for the road, so I had a new stem built to replicate the 'cockpit' dimesions of my Rambouillet. I even sent BF a Nitto Noodle bar to have it cut and sleeved for packing. Diacomp 287 aerolevers are compatible with the longer cable pull required for the v-type brakes. The addition of bar-con shifters mounted on Kelly Take-Off's, planet bike fenders and a Nitto M-12 front rack complete the conversion of this bike to a Pocket Randonneur...or at least, that's what I call it...

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Please pass me a fork...

This is semi related to the previous post about my bike wreck. When I got my heap of bike home that day, upon closer inspection with a set of Park Fork Alignment tools I borrowed from my friend John, I determined without a doubt that my fork was bent. The alignment tools, which attach to the dropouts and allow the user to observed all axis of alignment relative to the fork tips. As such, however, it cannot define the exact location of a misalignment. Well, at least in this case, it could not since the misalignment is represented as the left dropout a few millimeters behind the right...or maybe it's visa-versa. Judging by the buckle at the top of the left blade near the crown and the corresponding crack in the clear coat on the front side of the blade opposite the buckle, it's pretty obvious which blade is bent and where the bend is located.
So the fork did it's job. It took the impact and failed...but it did save the frame. A 'stronger' fork may have transferred the impact to the frame where the headtube would deflect and the result would be a buckle on the underside of both the top tube and the down tube. That would have been $1250 to replace the frame rather than $200 to replace the fork!
There are two options here. The fork is cro-moly steel and can certainly be straighted and ridden but knowing that a bend with a buckle is serious and given that the fork is a major structural member of a frameset, I elected to call Rivendell and order a new fork.
Who answered the phone but Grant Peterson!
"Rivendell Bicycles, this is Grant."
"Grant Peterson??"
So am I a dork or is it pretty cool that the owner of a world renound company and a legend in his own time answers the phone to take an order? I think it's pretty cool even though it is probably not all that uncommon given any cottage industry.
But I did have Grant Pertersons and I gave him some ideas for a new line of 650B wheeled freeride bikes....
No, I ordered a new fork which may be two weeks out.
In the mean time, I relaced my back wheel. I wanted to reuse the spokes so, without doing any research for options, I am sort of locked into using Mavic Open Pros again. Aside from being orageously expensive, these are excellent rims. They are pretty light at somewhere near 400 grams and are double eyeleted which I really like. I also like the welded seam and machined sidewalls. Finally, I got silver rims to rpelace the dark anodized Open Pros becasue I think the silver rims look better on a classic style bike like the Rambouillet.
Since I am reusing spokes and hubs, I am married to the lacing patterns I had on the existing wheels. That is, radially laced on the front wheel and 3-cross / radial on the back wheel. After lacing the and tensioning the back wheel, I now wish I sprung for new spokes and at least built the back wheel 3-cross on both sides.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

T-Bones & Red Meat

It finally happened. I hit a car this weekend while riding on the road. I was on my regular 25 mile road loop through the older urban neighborhoods of Birmingham. On one of the several downhills on the loop, I was rolling at about 35mph - tailgating a Tahoe. Suddenly, he slammed on his brakes and made a quick left without signaling. I grabbed two handfuls of brakes and went into a full-on sideways drift. For a glancing moment, I thought I might be able to haul the bike to a safe stop, but my field of vision quickly filled with gleaming American plastic as I plowed my bike and the right side of my body into his left rear quarter panel. In retrospect, it feels weird to replay this scene. Of course, from the moment I saw the brake lights to the instant ass met asphalt, is all in slo-mo. I had so many thoughts during the few seconds it took to decelerate. The most notable thought being the realization that yes - I am going to hit this car. I was feeling that went with the thought was not fear. I was not scared. I was pissed! I was so angry that this SOB had no regard for the traffic behind. If he absolutely needed to make a left, rather than slam on the brakes, putting everyone behind him in sudden reactionary mode, he could have passed the turn and continued down the street where he could have properly signaled know the rest. Bottom line was that I was pissed that this inconsiderate asshole was alive and in front of me.
I slammed into the side of his truck with a solid thud - all 180 pounds of me. I was too preoccupied trying to gauge the amount of damage my bike suffered to look at his newish Tahoe. I hope I left a body-sized crater. I hope it costs $3000 to fix his truck. I hope insurance won't cover it since we did not call the cops for a report!
As soon as body/car/bike came to a full stop, I jumped up off the pavement and started yelling. I was hollering so loud that people started to come out of their houses. I called this guy every name in the book. I asked him - at the top of my lungs - if he knew how to use a fucking turn signal? He had the balls to retort that, yes, he did know how to use a turn signal. I shot back, frothing at this point, that he did not use it this time.
I think the guy was genuinely concerned. He listened without further comment to my rant until I calmed down. He hovered in my periphery as I surveyed the damage to my bike. Unless mumbling 'fuck' as I inspected the folded rims, bent fork and torqued bar converstion, there was no other discourse between us. I sent him on his way. I told him I appreciated his concern. He was probably so releaved that we both walked away with no greater consequence that whatever money would be spent on mechanical repairs.
Alone now, sitting on the curb, trying to beat my rear wheel true caveman style, I conceded to the fact that I would need to relace new rims. I called my buddy Jim who lives nearby and requested a ride home.
REPAIR UPDATE: Bike still in repair stand waiting for a new fork.