It’s official! I’m a member of the Tarik Saleh Bike Club

Tarik Saleh hat 2Tarik Saleh buttonsTarik Saleh Dalek Tarik Saleh is  very nice  guy who has had an awesome blog for years, and  runs a very cool bike club with two simple rules:

1.  Ride Bikes

2. Don’t be an Ass.

I bought two of his awesome cycling caps, once of which I am wearing above. He sent me a bunch of great club buttons too, but unfortunately one was taken by the miscreant you can see above. He’s always an ass and going on and on screaming “EXTERMINATE!” all the time. Don’t really know what his deal is.

Maybe if he rode a bike, he’d be less of a jerk.

Anyway, the hats are great. They fit really well, are  super comfy, and makes me look uber-cool to boot. Tarik  might still have some hats, so click the link above if you are interested.  The hats are all handmade by RandiJo Fabications.  She has other great stuff too, so you might want to check her site.

So as far as the rules of the club,  I got rule #1 down.  I ride everywhere. Hate using the car unless I have to. In fact,  I got an Xtracycle  a few months ago for cargo trips and even more recently ordered a stokemonkey, which is an electric motor designed specifically for longtail bikes like the Xtracycle, which will allow me to carry my wife on the back of my bike as well as our dogs in their trailer up a 20% grade to our weekly dog training classes. I am also hopeful that I can talk her into doing some local bike camping as well. Very excited about that possibility.

As far as Rule #2 goes?… Work in progress.

Ty

Xtracycle to the Rescue!

I’ve had my Xtracycle for a few months now and have found it very handy for a lot of purposes:  Shopping, taking my wife and our dogs for a Sunday ride, E-recyclables to E-Waste, etc. I’ve read on other blogs about other owners finding things along the road. Furniture,  knickknacks, etc., but that hasn’t happened with me. At least, not yet…

Last night, I went on my weekly pizza run  Papa John’s with my pizza warming system ready. I wrote about this recently here. While on the way, I saw one of my coworkers from work walking down the street. To protect her identity, We’ll call her Lily L.

Anyway, I don’t usually see her walking in this area, thought nothing of it, waved hi to her. I was about to ride on when she looked up, recognized me and said, “Ty! Ty!” and seemed a bit distressed. I pulled my bike on over and she said she had parked her car near the train station that morning, but couldn’t find it now. She asked me if I could look for it for her. I pointed to the rear deck of my bike and showed her the foot rests and stoker bar (passenger handlebars, which you can see below if you look closely,

Ty's Xtracycle with Doggyride mini

and said “You can hop on and come with me.” She looked at it and said ok and got on. I checked to make sure she was ready and off we went

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Lily looked for her car, and then within a minute  exclaimed “Oh my gosh! I parked at the other train station in Belmont! My car is nowhere near here!” I told her no problem as Belmont was only two miles away. We set off down the road.

Lily thanked me profusely as she would have had to call a cab otherwise, as nobody was home to pick her up. She seemed to really enjoy the ride and kept commenting on how fun it was and kept asking if I was ok, as I was doing all the work. I said no problem as it was good training for me and her light weight was no burden at all. Image

We got to train station and I let her off saying, “That will be $20.”

Just kidding…

But maybe I do have a future career in pedal cabbing?

Carrying Pizza on an Xtracycle!

So I decided one of the things I wanted to do once I got the Xtracycle set up was to go get my own pizza on the bike. I could have done it with the CETMA five rail rack on the front, but it would have been more awkward.

The main issue with going to get your own pizza is coming back with it warm. I don’t mind cold pizza the next day, but hate it when I first get it from the pizza place. So first step was to get my own pizza bag. I  did extensive research on the subject – basically went to Amazon and spent five minutes looking at reviews, and got this one.

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Next step was going into the realm of invention. I knew the bag would keep it warm, but I wanted it go come home piping hot. What to do? I got the idea to get a warming pack from a pet bed we have. It has a heavy round plastic insert that is microwaved and radiates heat for a couple of hours. I wanted to get one  that fits well in a pizza box, so found this one Image

that is designed for people who take casseroles to pot luck, church social., etc

 

 Then I got a medium-sized pizza box from the good folks at my local Papa John’s and crudely put a bunch of venting holes on top.

 

 It is the right size for the warming pack. It won’t move around too much. The warming pack assembly goes in the pizza bag, and the fresh pizza goes on top. Heat rises and all that…

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 Since the pizza bag is soft, I kept a couple of large pizza boxes from the last run to give it some stability. I put those on top of the warming pack, put it in the pizza bag, cargo netted the whole thing to the deck of my Free Radical, ordered two pizzas (buy one, get one free night) and off I rode the two miles to Papa Johns.

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 The Pizza guy did a double-take when he saw my pizza bag and was quite impressed by it.  “I can ‘t believe no one else thinks of this!” he said. He was also impressed by my improvised warming technology.

I put the fresh pizza in the bag and headed home.  FYI – temps were in the low 50’s. When I got home and pulled out the first piece I was immediately rewarded with piping hot pizza! The wife, who usually rolls her eyes at my ideas had to admit this was a good one.  We kept the pizza in the warming bag and took slices out as we needed them. The best part was the pizza stayed hot until we finally put the leftovers in the fridge. The only down side is that I ate almost twice as much pizza as usual. My excuse was the pipinghotedness of it was hard to resist and I did ride to go get it!!

 

 In any case, if you like pizza, I highly recommend you adopt my method. Even if you go by car <shudder> it still is nice to have it stay hot all night.

Haulin’ Plasma

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Freshly-converted Xtracycle with Doggyride mini trailer

 

 

So I got my old Specialized bike converted to an Xtracycle a few weeks ago. The conversion is taking an existing bike, and then adding what they call the Free Radical to it. It extends the rear of the bike, and lets you carry lots of stuff, including passengers.

It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. So far I’ve taken the dogs for a ride (above), gone to Costco, Pet Store, Smart and Final, etc. The Xtracycle can handle 350 lbs including rider, so with my current 211 lbs :(, that means I need to keep the cargo at 130 lbs max.

 

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Loaded up with 8 gallons of distilled water and 40 lbs of ktty litter. Approximately 120 lbs dry weight.

The big challenge was hauling my 2004 Pioneer 44″ Plasma TV to the E Waste at Goodwill. It was one of the earlier ones, so it weighs close 100 lbs. .Just getting it on the bike by myself and not having it fall over was a chore in itself.

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To counterbalance, I put the stand, which weighs about 6 pounds on the other side. I stuffed some shirts I was going to donate on that side as well, and set off.

The Goodwill was only two miles away on flat ground, but as soon as I got going I the bike started to shake alarmingly . This is somewhat normal with a longtail bike, but it was exacerbated by so much weight being on  one side. I was carrying less weight than when I brought back all the water and kitty litter, but that weight was distributed much better.

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With careful riding, I managed to keep the shimmy down to a minimum, get to Goodwill. 

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As I was gingerly getting off the bike, I heard a young guy say, “That’s so cool!” and gave me a thumbs-up when I looked over. In any case, I managed to offload the TV without the bike falling over, fill out my paperwork, and head home. The bike felt like a carbon fiber Trek after all that! When I got home, I cracked open a nice frosty KCCO beer (my new favorite) and congratulated myself on a job well done.

Would it have been easier and quicker  to use the car, sure. 

Would it have been a slightly nail-biting adventure, heck no!!!

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plasma tv causing bike to sway alarmingly (which you can’t see, work with me people!)

 

 

On the train in the bike car. Heading home. Cold, frosty Anchor Steam. Listening to my local guys call the first game of the World Series. Ahh…

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Coffeeneuring Challenge Control #2 and #3.

Bean Street Coffee, San Mateo, CA.

So this weekend I went for coffeeneuring control #2 and #3 as part of the Second Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge.

I was in a bit of a dilemma. Evidently, I am a creature of habit as I was at a loss trying to decide where to go for my second trip. You see, I pretty much always go to Peet’s coffee. Ok , not pretty much, let’s just say always.

My solution was to use Google. I just typed in “Coffee Shops San Mateo, CA,” and would see what I got. Well, the first one was Bean Street Coffee. It sounded familiar, and I realized that I had ridden by it hundreds of times on my way home from the train station, thinking ” I should go there sometime” and then never did.

So I set out last Saturday 10/20/12 to check it out. I had to ride through a pretty fierce headwind to get there, but it was only 2.5 miles, so  I managed.

I got there, parked my bike in front, and went inside.

Interior of Bean Street Coffee.

It’s a very small shop, barely room enough to stand in front of the counter and order. It has a very nice atmosphere to it, with a very friendly vibe. I ordered a cup of coffee and a piece of coffee cake and sat at one of the three small tables at the front of the store.

The coffee was very good and the pastry quite delicious. I thought to myself, “Must come back here again.” It was then that I glanced up at the wall and saw this sign announcing their closure. Last day 10/21/12.:

Sad news from Bean Street Cafe.

I felt it was somewhat bittersweet. I discovered a great new coffee shop, only to find it was closing its doors. However, if it weren’t for the coffeeneuring challenge, I never would have gone there. Thanks Coffeenuring Challenge! 😉

The next day, I went on a short 20 mile ride with a friend. I used my Salsa Casseroll for this ride, and went to the Mini Coffee shop in downtown San Mateo on the way back for Control #3. Polar opposite of Bean Street Cafe. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing special either.

The coffee was ok, and the shop owner did heat up my muffin, and that was a nice touch, but not enough to get me to come back.

My Salsa Casseroll in front of Mini Coffee.

I’m going to expand my choices for next weekend and look for something new and different. Perhaps… gasp! A different town?!

Stay posted!

How to make your own “Deflopinator.”

I am in the progress of turning my old Specialized mountain/ commuter bike, “Big Blue,”  into a cargo bike.

One of the things I needed to do was stabilize the front wheel. I noticed that when I had the bike on its dual kickstand, and there was weight in the panniers, that the front wheel would flop over and face the rear of the bike. Very annoying, as it would slam over very fast.

Weight from the panniers has lifted the front wheel off the ground. Wheel immediately flops over to one side and ends up facing the rear of the bike. Don’t like it!

I had seen a wheel stabilizer at VeloOrange and thought it looked pretty good. However, when I tried it, the down tube of  Big Blue was too large. It wouldn’t fit. Otherwise, I think it would have worked great. What to do…

In the spirit of redneck tech, two thoughts came to mind: Bungee cords, and duct tape. How to meld those tried-and-true methods into something that would work?

I had gotten a set of bungee cords some time ago in random sizes. I found a couple that were seven to eight inches long and started playing around to find a good way to employ them.

Quickly, I found that if I hooked one end around the brake mount, looped around the down tube, and then back again, it just might work.  Turns out it did, but then I was concerned that the metal ends of the bungee would end up scratching my new Surly rigid fork, so I put a small bit of used inner tube around each end, and used some gaffer’s (sorry, not duct) tape around them to give the fork some protection.

The system works very well. Not as quick of a pull-back as the VeloOrange wheel stabilizer, but I actually like it. It is more of a gentle pull, but it does keep the wheel straight when on the duel-leg kickstand. The other added benefit is that I can ride no-hands a LOT easier than I could before. It really enhances the bike’s natural tendency to go forward.

Front wheel, still pointing forward, even though weight from panniers is lifting it off the ground.

Next step is to install a similar system on my rando bike. I think I will go the VeloOrange route for that, purely for aesthetic reasons. But it really needs it too. When I have my handlebar bag full, I cannot take my hands off at all. It would be really nice to be able to access my bag and take my hands off, at least for a little bit, when I am able to ride a brevet again.

Still waiting on the hand to heal a bit more for that, but that is another story…

Coffeeneuring Control #1

Big Blue in Front of Peets

I’ve been recovering from a bike accident last July, and only recently got back on the bike. I can’t handle any long distance yet, but am managing to commute at least, and am doing light shopping trips.

I really miss randonneuring, so when I saw that one of my favorite bloggers, MG from Chasing Mailboxes, was starting up her coffeeneuring challenge again this year, I had to do it!

I knew it would be a lot of fun, and I thought this would be a great way to get back, in spirit at least, to the concept of randonneuring.

The concept is simple: Go to seven different coffee shops by the middle of November, document your trip, and show proof you were there. It has to be on the weekend, and the minimum distance is two miles roundtrip.

“Big Blue,” my original commuter bike and cargo-bike in progress, inside of Peet’s.

For my first adventure, I went to my local Peet’s, the Bay Meadows location in San Mateo, CA. last Sunday 10/14/12,  a good two miles round trip, just at the mileage minimum. That distance would be easy enough on my hand.  In the spirit of the season, I had a pumpkin latte. Unbelievably delicious!

Pumpkin latte from Peet’s. Yumm!!

After finishing my drink, I headed over to Whole Foods and did a little shopping, then headed home. This was a great way to start a Sunday. Can’t wait for next weekend!

( I wonder, do I have to send in a signed receipt with my coffeeneuring brevet card?)

Yep, that ‘ol gray beard is me!

How to Have a Large Handlebar Bag with STI Shifters

STI shifters with V-brake noodle adapter

I thought I would post this, as I know many randonneurs like to have a front handlebar bag but have been dissuaded from doing so if they had STI shifters. Two reasons. First is that if your handlebars are not wide enough, the shifter levers will hit the side of the bag. The other reason is the STI shifter cables usually poke into the side of the bag, and make opening and closing the lid problematic, as well as accessing the side pockets. In fact, when I was first looking into buying my large Gilles Berthoud  bag, a few experts advised me against it.

Top view. Unobstructed access thanks to Vbrake noodle adapters.

However, Gabe at BoxDog Bikes pointed out that as long as the levers don’t hit the side of the bag when shifting, I should be ok.  Luckily, that was the case, so one hurdle down. He also suggest using a Vbrake noodle to route the cable. I didn’t end up doing that at first, as the setup was functional.

However, it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing as the cables pushed against the side of the bag, and pinched the top, ruining the clean lines.  I also had to be very careful when taking the bag on and off. Once the cable got underneath the bag, and had I not noticed it, would have affected steering significantly.

It was just  awkward opening the bag while riding, particularly on a long brevet. Closing was also tricky, as I had to push each side down again against the cable to really shut the bag properly.

So after a few months of this, I was in Huckleberry Bikes, which is where I bought my Salsa Casseroll. I mentioned Gabe’s idea to Kevan, their ace mechanic. He was intrigued and said he would like to try it. He took a Vbrake noodle, cut down part of it to make a clean angle, and installed it.

Clean front view with Vbrake noodle adapter.

In practice, it works great. I can see no downside to having this setup. I really like my STI shifters, and had come close to getting rid of them and getting down-tube shifters to accommodate my handlebar bag.

However thanks to Gabe’s original “out of the box” thinking and Kevan’s tweaks and application, I think there is no reason not to have the handlebar bag with STI shifters with this adaptation.

 

Why I like commuting home on Saturday on the train…

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Need I say more?

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