Monday, July 30, 2012

Gay Pride Parade

While enjoying an otherwise beautiful family weekend in northern Michigan one of my uncles repeatedly heckled me about the gay pride parade going on that weekend.  The day after the Au Sable River marathon canoe race there is the Black Bear bike century.  Not a whole lot going on up there other than beatiful country, so I'd think locals would be happy for the annual economic boost and camaraderie from the pair of events.

At first I didn't catch on to my clever uncle's ruse.  First thought was, "Wow!  A gay friendly culture in Northern Michigan?"  But after pressing his point and commenting on spandex, I realized that I was supposed to feel insulted.   This particular family member has gigged me ever since I came up to a family weekend sporting nail polish.

After his 2nd or 3rd mention of the parade, and my unsuccessful attempt to turn the confusing attack into a chat about bike tours and gas prices, I pointed out that four others in the room were cyclists.  That number included my father, Bill Cherolis, standing just behind the persistent uncle.  My dad rides a recumbent, has a beard (reqd for bent riders), and gloriously bonked at mile 120 of the Ride Across Indiana a couple years ago.

Now that the attack was defused, I'm blogging on it to exercise the underlying issue - the fear and hatred of the Other.  Be that other a bicycle rider, a homosexual, or in my uncle's wildest dreams - both.  I know my own tendencies to group with and feel comfortable with people that look like me and share my worldview.  That said, comfort with similar doesn't have to result in fear and hatred of those that are different.  I would hope that reasonable discussions and our shared humanity would encourage a more universal approach to difference.  Perhaps I was too uncomfortable to start a discussion directly, but maybe this post will spur others.  Noticed that Bezos put some big money down on a conversation about difference.  Curiously a newspaper article on Bezos was up front in the Sunday edition of the Detroit Free Press.

Anybody up for a gay pride parade this weekend?  Thinking of a long ride to New Haven or other points South.  My bike is all dressed up and ready!

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Why do engineers ride bikes?

The weather was looking iffy on Thursday morning, but the sky held itself together for our sake.  Had about 50 cyclists check in, and the Mayor of East Hartford showed up to say some words.   Not sure if she's ever biked to work or walked for that matter, but she thinks it's a good idea for others to do so.

Some engineers are so cheap they only use one wheel.

When I gathered up the sign in sheets it surprised me that almost everyone was a P&W employee.  Figured most would be, but tried hard to get others involved.  Goodwin College, American Eagle Credit Union, the East Hartford YMCA, and the City of East Hartford were all co-sponsors.  Figured the event, located on a major north-south arterial would draw others into the fold.  No such luck.  We were on Goodwin property, but I don't think I saw anyone that rode into Goodwin that day.

What makes engineers more likely on average to be bike commuters?  Mostly male workforce.  Cheap.  Already social outcasts.  Relatively casual dress code.  Often mechanically inclined. Your suggestions?

On another note - I got a call from one of the young teens that rode with us on the Real Ride pre-ride.  I'd given him my number (bad idea?) and told them I'd help out if they wanted to put some brakes on their bikes.  They stopped by on a couple of pixie bikes.  My dad and I did some minor maintenance.  The kids were also paying close attention as I walked them through tightening up hub bearings and installing coaster brake straps.  Sending them away with slightly safer bikes, reflective stickers, and blinky lights, it felt like we'd done some good.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bike to Work Breakfasts on Thurs and Fri

Heads up.  Free food for bike commuters.  Thursday in East Hartford, and Friday in downtown Hartford.  See you there.

Free water bottles and blinky lights at the East Hartford event.  Raffle tickets for premiums from Bicycles East.  Lots of food, juice, and coffee.

More info.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

It's bigger than us.

Colleen was run over by a box truck last year.  She died.  Twice.  But somehow with modern medicine and lots of donated blood she survived.  Join her in person our in spirit tomorrow as she puts up a ghost bike.   I'm getting up early and riding the 40 miles from Hartford, a minor trip considering Colleen's experience.

Tomorrow morning at 9am at the School House Deli in Madison on Boston Post a Ghost bike will be placed where I was run over. Join me and other cyclists, the Madison Ambulance, and supporters of safe roadways as the bike is put in place. Also, please consider bringing a LIVE potted plant to put beside the bike to symbolize LIFE. Although my life was taken twice, I am here and living. We will gather with hands held, prayers lifted up, seeking to work towards change. I will be wearing my triathlon swim bikini top, and Tri swim shorts, with my helmet, gloves, and cycling shoes, scars exposed, working to help save another's life. If I wasn't an athlete, I could not be welcoming you to help me create change. Also, bring YOUR bike-Depending on weather, we will take a GROUP SAFE ride afterwards and grab some brunch. Pain and fear can be crippling, but it can also be the greatest moving force on the planet.. As Jody Williams says, Anger without Action is irrelevant. Well, Im pissed, and Im acting. By the Grace of God, Go I.

Ken K will be bringing the bike down.  We also placed a memorial in East Windsor for a cyclist struck and killed July 1st.

Stay safe kiddos.  And make a difference.

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We like nearby music.

Today!  July 14th.

Come out to the Charter Oak Cultural Center and catch amazing bands well known throughout the region for leading Indie movers and shakers. Music from The Radical Dads, a Brooklyn New Yor ‘college rock’ trio will headline the fesitval in Charter Oak’s beautiful garden; followed Farewood, and the Suicide Dolls. In addition, local bands will be playing during the day.

Indulge in Music, Food, and a really, really free market. FREE.

Featured Bands: 7 PM -12 AM is the Electric Set: The Radical Dads, The Suicide Dolls, Farewood, Post-Modern Panic

2-6 PM is the acoustic set: Kevin MF King, Brett the One Man Band, Rum Glass Serenade

You can ride your bike there.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Colnago deals

Google had an interesting ad for me based on a search:

Colnago Bikes at Walmart·Save on Colnago Bikes at Walmart. Get Riding for Less!

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

In praise of Connecticut government!

Connecticut government is much maligned. Rightly so, for the most part, but the General Assembly and Government got their shit together this fiscal year and the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferry is running full time. The other night when Dario and I rode it, we even saw Sen. Len Suzio (R) and it's not even his district! Read more!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Klunkerz Tonight!

photo: DirtRag
Join some of your fellow Hartford bike folk this Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM for a showing of Klunkerz at La Paloma Sabanera. Klunkers is a documentary about the early days of Mountain biking in California.
I've been looking forward to seeing this film for a while.
poster images: Charlie Kelly

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

America's Saturday (Continued)

Brendan properly celebrates America's Saturday by bailing before the good parts of a fixed gear century (or so).  I'll finish the story for him.  Salem and I found a new rail bridge at the end of the Airline Trail in East Hampton, and there was some unexpected graffiti.  Salem's routine throughout the day was, "You should put this (25 mile out street art) on the next graffiti tour."  Eye roll.

On our way back in we decided to cut through the Portland Meadows rather than ride the boring and somewhat hilly Route 17.  This is a known mudhole / quad haven, but on past trips I've only seen a couple straggling rednecks.  We ran across what appeared to be every redneck in CT having a bear soaked, mud slinging party.  Salem and I found ourselves practicing our drawl, just in case we had the need to interact.  Unfortunately no photos.  We didn't know if the natives would appreciate the gesture.

After leaving the Mad Maxx excitement we were puttering along idyllic Tryon street in South Glastonbury and were nearly run off the road by an aggressive Jeep pulling a jet ski.  After being told to "get off the road" we were informally challenged to a duel.  Fortunately we were able to wave the jerk on his pissed off way and were surprised to be yelled at again by his girlfriend who had been in the next car back.  We took this opportunity to call the police who were quite responsive.  We took a break and waited for the patrol car to take a statement.

There was some swimming, although I only waded.  You'll notice that Salem wore shorts.  It was an excellent ride, although the premise was questionable.  I was really surprised that Salem had four people take him up on the idea. Read more!

How to properly celebrate America's Saturday

July 4th, no matter what calendar day of the week it is, is Saturday. On such a hallowed day, it's important to show America how great it is by doing something in the American way. For weird cyclists that probably means going on some weird theme ride. So, Salem, the impresario of weird theme rides decided we needed to ride a long way on fixed gear bikes. People still have those things around here. Since it was Saturday, Salem didn't make us get up too early. We met in East Hartford, went to Enfield and then Willimantic. The plan was to return via the airline trail, but it was getting late and I was supposed to go to a cookout and drink beer. I turned around in Willimantic and I don't know if Salem and Tony survived flat tires and swimming. I hope to hear from them again some day.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Salvaging cartridge bearings in an orphan headset

For machines that have been essentially unchanged for the past several decades, bicycles suffer from a remarkable amount of planned obsolescence. Today's case in point: the threaded headset.

I've ranted about this in the past, the fact that most of the bikes I see in use on the street have threaded headsets, yet most bike shops don't even keep them in stock. The industry prefers that you buy a complete new bike with a 1 1/8 threadless headset and abandon your aging-but-otherwise-serviceable ride. If your headset has ball bearings and the bearing surfaces aren't damaged, you can renew a tired headset with a fresh set of balls and some grease. If your headset has cartridge bearings, you may not be so lucky, but there's still hope. Here's how I went about it:

My gently-used Breezer Venturi road bike, circa 1995, still had its original 1" threaded carbon fiber fork and Shimano 600 cartridge-bearing headset. I decided to retire the OE fork due to suspicious surface crazing and my general distrust toward carbon of advanced age and unknown provenance. While swapping on a replacement fork, I found the cartridge bearings were lacking a bit in the smooth department. Actually, the top bearing still felt pretty silky, while the bottom cartridge felt downright crusty-- not surprising given the added load and dirt the bottom end of a headset sees on a fender-less bicycle.

A few days of searching showed the bearings to be made of high-grade unobtainium, although there were a few complete new-old stock 600 headsets to be found. While I was chatting with the mechanics at the Bicycle Cellar, one of them suggested that I might be able to pry apart the cartridges and repack them. He was right!

Top left: complete cartridge. Everywhere else: races and retainer from disassembled cartridge.

I started by gingerly prying the assembly apart with an old, well-worn putty knife. This revealed within each cartridge 18 balls held in place by nylon retainers.

Removal of the bearings/retainers revealed very slight pitting (shiny spots, really) on the bearing surfaces-- and also cracked the retainers. I mitigated both problems by installing loose bearings without retainers. I learned this cheapskate trick from Sheldon Brown-- the lack of retainers means you can install more ball bearings and that they will no longer line up with the tiny dents in the old bearing cups. It's technically not quite like new, but I couldn't tell the difference once it was back together. Most 1" threaded headsets take 26 5/32" balls per cup. You want a little bit of play between the bearings.

In this case, the bearings were identical top-to-bottom. With both cartridges repacked, I reinstalled them in the opposite locations from whence they came, so the former road-dirt-eating bottom cartridge can enjoy its golden years in the sheltered luxury of the top cup. I figured this overhaul would be a stopgap measure until I found new bearings, but I'm thoroughly happy with the results and don't feel particularly motivated to change them again. For under $6 in grade 25 loose ball bearings, it feels great. Read more!

Not a good June

So, we only had four posts in June, which is a low point for our venerable blog. And, that is forcing me to write another excuse post. Damn!

In other news, I rode down to the.blow hole last night and continued my battle with the trail braider. While he (I saw him once) keeps moving away the branches, I think I'm winning because the offending braid is showing less and less use.

Oh, there's a semi-new Thai place on park near south Quaker. It's very good. I can't remember the name. I think it's something like "chili mountain".

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Corporate commuting

As I continue not to write blog posts, my thoughts turn to other things. I've been working in City Place II and I'm impressed that the garage has 2 racks and they're  usually full. There's even a recumbent and a time trial bike. No idea how those things work.

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