26 January 2015

Bikewright Workshop Project

Inspired by the movie Breaking Away and the TV show by the same name, Greg Lemond’s three historic Tour De France wins and my first 50 mile ride while earning the cycling merit badge as a Scout. Sealed my love of the sport of cycling and the love of the bicycle simplistic style and function.

While I love the modern day advancements to the bicycle and components. The classic triangles and the lines of fine steel-lugged tubing builds the framework of a classic bicycle. Anyone who loves art can appreciate a bicycle’s simple form and function. While forever enamored with beautiful vintage steel bicycles from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, I am by no means purists.

Indulges over the last few years of rebuilding my own vintage mountain bikes and the commissioning of a builder to produce a custom bicycle for myself. I have a goal and desire to keep these fine bicycles and works of art, on the road for as long as possible.

With that, I am going to start a series on the blog the called the Bikewright Workshop Project. My intent with this project is to exclusively rebuild and reinterpret used steel bicycles and frames for builds. The Bikewright Workshop Project will focus on a couple of main themes. First, will be the use of quality used steel bicycles or frames. Second, will the selection of build types. I will primarily look at building touring, mountain touring, commuting, randonneuring or brevets, and road bikes. Third, is building a bike that will be durable, comfortable and will last many years. Lastly building a bike that will have its own personality and spirit.

But why ride used vintage steel when you can buy a reasonably priced bike at your LBS that is brand new? Well that's a good question that I hope I can answer.

Because these bicycles are older does not mean they are of a lower quality. Today’s production bikes are simply not built to last a lifetime. Aluminum, while cheaper to manufacture in bulk, is prone to failure and fatigue. Aluminum in my opinion is a less forgiving ride. While carbon frames are lightweight and provide a quality ride, they are also very vulnerable to damage. Let’s not forget about titanium! A top-end frame material with low weight, has flex and is rust free. It does come with a cost. A cost which most riders cannot afford. During my life I have had a bicycle made from these materials and I find myself loving the ride qualities of steel.

Steel has proven over the years to be a superior bicycle frame material; it is strong, durable, and provides a comfortable ride quality. Plus there are plenty of steel-lugged frames from 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s to provide the framework of rebuilding and reinterpretation of these bicycles.

In many instances, the construction and components they possess are better than their modern counterparts. I plan to use a mix of old school and new components that have stood the test of time and where I can plan to use American made products to make the best build possible.

13 January 2015

Adventures and Projects for this year

I have spent a lot of time this past year surfing the web,reading blogs,journals and websites of the things that I like. I have been doing that more than posting things here on my own blog BIKEWRIGHT. I have some ideas that I think that will be fun to share with the folks that visit the blog.

This year there are plans for mini-adventures, S24O rides and hikes and a GORUCK Light just for a little "Good Livin". There are also a couple of projects in the works. I am looking at building a nice Home Bike Workshop and looking at building a monstercross bike and a touring/brevet bike.

I think the bike projects will be really fun to build and fun to ride. I am looking at both bikes will be built around steel frames and different components that will make them truly unique. The touring/brevet bike I am going to look at a "reinterpretation" of an old touring bike from the 70', 80, or early 90's. I can't wait until I get that project started.

Since I will be building both of these for myself to ride and have fun with. I am looking at some companies products that I believe will make them truly unique. If you are one of the 3 people that follow the blog you will know that I like things that are purpose built and will last a longtime.

One of those companies is Gevenalle or use to be called Retroshift. They have developed some
innovative solutions for cyclocross and I think will work well into one if not both of my projects. Now I have never used or seen their products in person but this is what I like about it. Gevenalle focus on producing products that provide both advantage, affordability, more durable, reliable and my favorite ability of service and repair.

So stick with me this year! I think we will have a good time

01 January 2015

Let's Talk About Bicycle Tool Kits- Field Repairs

On a hot and humid Virginia weekend in July I went out for a quick ride in the park. This was one of the few days that I took my Wingnut pack with me on a ride. I had loaded it up with some water, tool kit and a mini pump. Just a few miles into my ride I rode up on a female rider walking her bike. I asked if she needed anything and she said a pump.

Long story short her and her adult daughter were out riding and she got a rear flat tire. Neither of them had a spare tube, pump, patch kit or any tools. They also did not know how to fix the flat. I had everything with me that was needed to make the repair. I told them that the local REI gave basic bicycle repair classes and that it would be good for them to attend. She wanted to get my contact info to send me money for the repair. I told her I would not take the money but she could give to one of the local trail groups that take care of the local trails.

Back on my bike,I had rode off from them and five minutes later wouldn't you know it I get a flat tire. I will let you guess where my spare tube is and the first two don't count. Yep, that's right it's on the other bike I just fixed. Okay no problem. I have a Park Glueless Patch Kit with me. I am down to one Co2 cartridge. I make the repair and what do you know, there is another hole in the tube. One patch later and about 100 million strokes with the pump I got the tire fixed and I call the ride short.

On my way back to the house I was thinking I was pleased that my repair kit set-up was able to fix three flats. But it did get me thinking did I have everything that I needed for repairs in the field. So for the next couple of weeks I research the internet to see what others were carrying and different methods of repair.

I was amazed of all the different types of kits that riders had put together. What I found covered about every type of riding out there. But one of the things I could not find out was what were people thinking about when they put there kit together. I mean they had tools and a patch kit but there seem something was missing. Riders carry their kits in seat bags, zip-lock bags, stuff sacks inside backpacks and tool rolls.

I have posted before about building a tool kit. You can read here,here,and here.

After my research and reviewing my own set-up I figure that there needs to be more of a system than a kit. Now this works for me and might not work for you, but I hope to get you thinking about what you carry on your rides for making field repairs.

Here are some of my requirements:
1) No seat bags/saddle bag/seat wedges are to be used. Sure I have used them in the pass and I do not like them. It seems to me that I either have to much room (makes noise)or too little room(can't fit the tube in with the tools). I also don't like them other other riders bikes. It just kills me when someone has a nice sweet ride and their seat bag just kills the look of the overall bike.

2)I have to have the right tube for the right bike. I have three bikes, two of which are 26" and one being 700cc. Depending on my tire set-up I could have couple of different tube sizes. In the pass I have had the wrong size with me or forgot the tube.

3) The basic system should cover everything I need from a one hour ride to all day. Both road or mountain.

4) There is a reason for every item in the kit and that I don't need to carry five ways to fix a flat.

5) The tool Kit has to fit in a jersey pocket.

Since I do not ride a tubeless or disk brake set-ups, I am not going to cover that here. For those that do please share in the comments section on what you carry. I think my system method would still work for you.

The first part of my repair kit system is the tube/Co2/tire lever. I like using the Backcountry Research Tube Tarp and CAMRAT Road Saddle Mount. On my cross bike

Tube Tarp and CAMRAT no bigger than my cell phone.

The Tube Tarp and CAMRAT mounted under the saddle. There is a 20g Co2 cartridge and a Pedros tire lever packed with the tube.

I use a Co2 inflator (threaded) as my first means of putting air in my tire. Yes these are pricey but I want to ride, not pump a tire up all day. I notice that a lot of riders carry two tire levers. Most of the reasons stated online was if one breaks. In almost 20 years of riding I have never had a tire lever break. Matter of fact I still have the Park tire levers I purchase in the mid 90's. I like the wide Pedro's lever for a couple of reasons. One is I can get a better grip with the wider style lever than a narrow lever. Second the wider lever helps when strapping down the tube, Co2 cartridge, and lever to the seatpost or steam. Park Tools, Pedro's and I know Bontrager all make wide levers.

One the mountain bikes I use a ByeKyle Strap on the seat post. Same set-up tube/Co2/tire lever. There is a bit of an art to fold the tube up to make it small and flat.

Here is an example of my tube/Co2/lever kit strapped to the seatpost of my MB-1 with a ByeKyle strap.

The second part of the system is the tool kit it's self. The Backcountry Research Tulbag is what I use to carry my tool kit components in. It meets the requirement of fitting in my jersey pocket. The Tulbag has a anti-slip or a grip side to it that keeps the tool kit in your pocket no matter how rough the road or trail gets.

The items that I have selected for my style of riding might be different from yours. If you carry something different that is great. I had to put a lot of thought into what I was going to carry in the kit. Remember the same kit had to fit in my jersey pocket and it had to work with both road and off-road riding.

The components in the kit are:
Bicycle multi-tool-(I use use the Crank Brothers 17 tool. The brand is not important. What is important is that you have the tools needed for your bike and know how to use them).
Multi-tool- (I use a Leatherman Micra. It has all the tools I can think that I would every need in a tool kit.)
Tire Boot- (Park Tools tire boot. Yes a dollar or a energy bar wrapper will work!But the Park tire boot will hold up better in off-road conditions. )
Co2 Cartridge and Inflator- (I wrap a couple of feet of 100mph aka duct tape around the cartridge. I can use it to make a tire boot or treat a blister on the back of a heel. The uses are endless.I could use a smaller inflator head but I have this one and it works.)
Zip Ties-(Just like duct tape you can fix about anything with a few zip ties. One I had not thought about but I have had it happen to me before is that the freehub breaks. You can zip tie the cassette to your spokes so it will turn with the wheel and just not spin free.)
Chain oil
Quick links and section of chain
Chain pin
Presta Adapter
Glueless Patch Kit- (I use the Park glueless patch kit. Tip Use you tire lever to smooth the patch and put pressure on the patch. Wait a few minutes to let it set before putting air in the tube.)

Adding a mini-pump to this system should round out the kit. This system should take care of all the repairs that you would need to make from that hours ride on your favorite trail or that training ride on the the road. Since I do not ride tubeless or disk break set-ups you will need to make adjustments for that. I would like to hear what they are so please post in the comments section.

Without a doubt the best tool you can care with you is knowledge. Learn how to make repairs in the field. Find a Park Tool School at your local shop or REI Has basic repair classes just to name a few.

I will follow-up with another post that will add to this kit for all day epics, touring and bikepacking.

29 November 2014

A Morning of Trail Work- Part of the Richmond Regional Ride Center

Things have changed since I first started building mountain bike trails in Pocahontas State Park in 1995. The above picture is part of the new "Gateway Trails" at Pocahontas State Park and are part of the Richmond Regional Ride Center".

I could only give a few hours to the trail this morning but glad I could give something. What's cool is that part of the trail is a Adaptive Sports Center to serve paralyzed riders with a safe place to handcycle.

A few hours or a few dollars is all it takes to have a great place to ride.

13 November 2014

Outings From This Past Week

My son wanted to spend his birthday hiking Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park and I figured that would be a good birthday gift to take the day off and go with him. I guess he wanted to hike Old Rag because he did that hike as a Scout a few years back. Old Rag is one if not the most popular hikes in the park.

The weatherman was calling for some rain and that would make the hike dangerous because of the wet boulders on top of the mountain. We got a later start on the drive up and by the time we got to the mountain it was a bright and beautiful day. I called the weatherman's bluff and we started our hike from the lower parking lot to the upper lot which is about a mile up the road. Once we got to the trail head it started to rain.

Yep, the weatherman got me.. At this point we can only move forward and complete the hike. For the next 45 mins it rains on us. But by the time we get to the rock scrabble the sun is back out and the wind is blowing and most of the that are in the sun are dry.

Beautiful fall day after the rain

But in the shallows the rocks were still slick and it made for a hard day of climbing. By the time we got to the peak the wind were blowing in the mid teens and was getting a little colder. We started eating lunch and I looked over to the west back to Skyline Drive and could see that another band of clouds were coming our way.

The sign at the top

As we started off the mountain the wind started to pick-up and the temperature started to drop. We were hiking at s quick pace for about 15 mins and I looked up and saw this gray wall of rain coming at us. Just up the trail was a shelter the Birds Nest #4 which is closed other than an opening with a picnic table in it. I think by the time it is all said and done we had 10 hikers waiting out the weather in that small space.

Just remember that the weather can change on you in a heart beat in the Blue Ridge Mountains and you need to plan for it!

On Saturday I went to the Carytown Bicycle Company Pizza Crawl 6. The ride starts and ends at CBC but you ride around the City of Richmond making stops to eat a slice or two of pizza from local pizza restaurants. This was a great event and it was only $10 for pizza from 4 different places and pizza and beer back at the shop.

Great mix of riders (There must have been a hundred) and all different types of bikes. Plus I got to hang with all the young cool kids. Being one of the older riders there that night.

My pictures suck but you will get the point.

Waiting on the pies from 8 1/2 Italian Restaurant: 401 Strawberry St. All the pizza for the night was cheese and in my opinion 8 1/2 was hands down the best.

Overlooking the city from historic Church Hill we had Anthony's on the Hill: 2824 E. Broad and 29th St

The 3rd stop was at the Floodwall on the South of The River (yes you use caps when you say it and write it). There we had Papa's Pizza: 214 Hull St "Old Town Manchester"

Waiting on everyone to catch-up

Riding circles on the compass rose at VCU

Last stop before the shop was Christan's Pizza: 404 N. Harrison St. This one you loved it or hated it. Described as tasting like tomato soup on bread. No photo op at that one..

Back at CBC they had the mobile pizza oven which was cool. I had to ride back to my car which was still 20 mins away so I did not stay for pizza and beer.

Once again a great time and I would do it again. $10 is a great price to get out and ride in the city at night hitting the local pizza shops! Now I just need to find 8 1/2 by car..

07 November 2014

New Day Over the James

It has been a while since my last post. It's not from a lack of things to share. It has been a lack of time and the lack of motivation to post those things. After setting the clocks back I figured it was time to move forward to make the time to get out their and do the things I love and share with those that visit the blog.

The image above was what I captured on my way across the James River in the heart of downtown Richmond. I had just made my mind up just a couple of days earlier that I am going to do another GORUCK. But this time it would be a GORUCK Light. Why not a Challenge? One I want to get the light patch and two I want others to do it with me. It is easier to get folks to do a Light than a Challenge.

Once I got to work I was able to get a couple of co-workers to commit to doing the Light with me. So once a week we will go out for a ruck for and hour. I hope to be able to share those images with you.