Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Late September evening ride

Soaking up the last rays of the sunset
It was the end of an unseasonably hot day. To enjoy the evening atmosphere, my daughter and I walked Heidi. Well, actually I walked and she rode. Ever since she learned how to ride a pedal bike, this has been a common evening pastime for the three of us. This time of year, it's important to make the most of the nice weather before snow and ice and dismal gray become the standard. I'm not looking forward to the change this year.
It's sometimes difficult to capture a moving target
After walking Heidi, it was starting to get dark. She wasn't quite ready to go in for the night, so she asked me to get out the Big Dummy for a longer ride. Who am I to deny such a request from a little girl?
With her aboard, the Big Dummy is a rolling snack machine
Five miles later we were back home, after riding past the farm, the library, the flower garden, through neighborhoods and a few parks. We also tossed in a short segment off the pavement through a forested area in a park with a short, fast and bumpy downhill; a long-time favorite of hers. She seems to enjoy the dirt so much that maybe I'll put a mountain bike together for her next year.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Capulin volcano run

Me, just after finishing with the girls, each fun run finishers themselves
So my last post wasn't Big Dummy or Daddy related. At least this one is Daddy related but suffers from lack of bike content.

This weekend I traveled to another state to take part in a run. Yes a run, not a ride. It was the Capulin Volcano Run in an incredibly scenic area in Northern New Mexico. We met my brother and his girls, and my mom (otherwise known as Oma) near Folsom, NM.

I ran the 5k, as did my Mom, while Chris and Jen ran the half marathon. Those who know me know that I am a fairly recent running convert, but have fallen dormant in my running activity for over a year. Lacking in raw talent or speed, I make up for in... something, I suppose. I'm good at lacing my shoes, maybe. In any case, the event was hosted by a gracious community, and well supported with great food and amazing views. It was also notable as most likely the only time I will even come close to finishing near the top of a timed event.
That's me in 4th place, just off the podium out of 20 some 5k finishers
I suspect that the real draw is the half marathon and not the 5k. The half marathon course winds up the side of an extinct volcano, to the very peak after gaining about 1,100 feet in 2.1 miles, then back down and on to the village of Folsom. The 5k is not nearly so demanding; climbing a couple hundred feet out of Folsom and then back down again. Needless to say, it was demanding enough for my taste.

Afterward, we all enjoyed the great food, including pork chili, breakfast burritos and home-baked goods. I can't say enough about how great the food was. Really terrific. As I've stated before, I'm not really a racer or a runner, but it was a great time. I look forward to next year.
Oma and Jen
Near the summit of the volcano
The view from the top included parts of several states
Near the bottom of the crater
Hamming it up
Girls in a tipi
Tipi camping is fun

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Retina-vibrating, skinny-tired time capsule

Yes, that's me in spandex and clipless shoes, not a common sight
UPDATE 18 Sep 2014: I've added a post featuring seatpost size and images of the seat tube cluster, per a reader request. See it here.

This post veers far away from Big Dummying or Daddying. In fact it's about a bike with no provision for fenders or cargo at all. Nevertheless, rest assured it is chock full of the bike nerd-ness you've come to expect.

You may remember my recent encounter with speed on two wheels. I was surprised to find that as non-competitive as I am, I enjoyed racing, at least against myself. I had fun as part of a team triathlon, even though my equipment was not well suited to all-out speed. While all-out speed for me remains a distant possibility, I now have a real road bike.

Enter a 1991 Diamond Back Master TG via Craigslist that I picked up for a mere $6.52 per pound. It has a 60cm center-to-top seat tube and a 58cm center-to-center top tube. The bike has been a garage ornament for the better part of the past two decades. It was obviously un-ridden, with grease having seeped out of every bearing assembly, collecting a translucent encasement of oily dust. 
1991 Diamond Back Master TG as it was when I got it
The Master TG has a full Shimano 105 7-speed group including Look compatible pedals. No unserviceable STI or finicky 9 or 10 speed parts, and it has a threaded headset; all big pluses for me. The tubing is Tange oversized chromium-molybdenum steel, TIG welded together. The bike maximizes use of quality steel with an Avenir 4130 heat treated seatpost and a Tioga Prestige stem. The rims are hard anodized Sun Mistrals, 36 hole front and 32 hole rear.

The previous owner bought it new from Pauli's Bicycle and Lawnmower in Metairie, Louisiana. He later equipped it time trial style, with a Profile aero bar, a Vetta C-10 cyclocomputer and a CO2 cartridge emergency pump. Other than these additions, the bike was stock catalog spec. The original bars were included, as were a pair of size 44.5 Lake shoes (unfortunately a bit too small for me) and a seat pack containing two new tubes with their receipt from a bike shop dated 9/10/91, a bottle of Motrin that expired 6/94 and a multi-tool.

The OEM 22mm Vittoria Zefir tires were flat but in good condition and held air confidently when I pumped them up. I've always liked the look of gumwall tires on dark gray hard anodized rims. I wonder why good gumwalls are so hard to find anymore?
Tange 100% OS CRMO tubing and a slightly askew dealer sticker
Dig the cool matching pink splattered black Paramount bottle cage
Other than old grease, dust and a few paint chips from leaning against things, the bike was immaculate. The photos don't do the intensity of the salmon pink color justice, which I have to admit I quite like. Although the color clashes with current ideals of a proper color for a bike, the paint itself is impressively high in quality, flecked and streaked with gloss black over top. The combo of garish 90s era paint, non-horizontal dropouts, lack of lugs and oversized tubing makes this bike unappealing both for hipsters looking for a fixie frame and collectors looking for a holy grail classic. These features contribute to a lack of respect culminating in low market value for what is really a great road bike, well suited for my purposes.

The frame is a descendant of the highly sought Centurion Dave Scott Ironman road bikes. It was made less than two years after Western States Imports (WSI), the owners of the Centurion brand, apparently decided to capitalize on the name recognition of their Diamond Back mountain bikes by re-branding their road bikes. As a remnant of this lineage, the bike has a decal on the left chainstay declaring it "Designed by Centurion." Sheldon Brown has some info about Centurion bikes, but there is very little info on the web about the short era of high quality steel Diamond Back branded road bikes, starting in 1990 and going to about '94 or '95. 
Furry with dust, prior to cleaning
WSI owned the Centurion and Diamond Back brands
The frameset was made in Taiwan, and appears to be of very similar quality and build characteristics as the two Surlys I own, which were also built in Taiwan. In this respect, it seems a bit like an antecedent to the Surly Pacer road frame. Overall, the welds are clean and the finish work is more than competent, though well short of custom. This is actually preferable to me; I am averse to owning a bike that is too expensive or pretty to ride. That propensity once kept me from buying a Rivendell Atlantis, and I'm glad to now know and acknowledge it.

I enjoy working on a bike as much as riding one, so as soon as I had the time I completely disassembled the bike and cleaned, adjusted and rebuilt everything from the bearings outward.
After cleaning and a coat of wax, it's almost factory fresh and completely rust free
The bike rides smoothly and quickly. After reassembly, I took it for a ride to Chatfield on the Platte River Trail and it performed well, with the resilient liveliness and subtle road surface feedback of a good steel frame. It's not the lightest or the quickest thing out there, but neither am I. At about 23 pounds, the Master TG feels like a svelte and nimble rocket after having ridden so many miles on a loaded Big Dummy.
1991 Diamond Back Master TG, resplendent in Pepto-Bismol colored glory
I've never been a fan of lycra-covered gel saddles, so the original Avenir saddle is off in favor of a vintage Flite from my parts box. I also temporarily swapped the Shimano 105 pedals for some SPD compatible units until I have the time to install Look cleats on my shoes. I returned the stock Centurion drop bar to its place, bringing the bike back close to original spec, with the exception of saddle and pedals. I haven't taped the bars yet, because I may exchange the stem with something that has a shorter extension than 130mm. I might go with a 110mm Salsa CroMoto to keep the TIG welded look, but a Nitto Technomic is also a possibility.

It's a little odd for me to ride a bike that doesn't have a utilitarian purpose, but I enjoy it anyway. I'll definitely be doing some more road riding, and who knows, maybe even some casual racing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

School picnic

Today there was a picnic lunch at our daughter's school and an early release afterward. I loaded up the Big Dummy and the Xtracycle with equipment and goodies. Nothing makes as good of a combo as bikes and food.
Picnic machines
Holding down the picnic blanket
We also got to see some of the great stuff she has been doing in school. I particularly liked the following project, in which kids draw something and describe it to practice writing using what is called "kindergarten spelling." The idea is to sound out words and think about how they might be spelled.
I clearly see a pink Electra with nicely arched fenders. I like to ridmibik too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another click on the odometer

Yesterday I was:
Today I am:
I think I'll go ride a bike.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Gettin' some eats

We took our longtail bikes out for a Friday evening trip to the grocery store for dinner and some Labor Day weekend supplies. This was Julie's first cargo hauling trip and she did a great job.
A bike pixie vamping in front of two cargo bikes all loaded up and ready to roll
The cooler is for the cold stuff, of course
On the way home we went past Doctor Who's house where the TARDIS was hidden in plain sight
Yes indeed...