Friday, May 31, 2013
After a great burrito dinner with my father-in-law, Scout and I took a ride on the network of ATV trails criss-crossing the hills behind their house. While I would've ridden better without a big burrito on board, the system of trails was just the ticket after a day in the car. I'm not a big fan of noisy, dusty, overly powerful ATVs, but their activity does result in some pretty great double tracks.
The small town instant access to riding off road makes me really feel like moving out of the city. If I had trails like this in my back yard, I'd be on them all the time. I pretty sure Scout would, too.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Optimum number of bikes to own = N+1, where N is the number of bikes you currently own.
Variations of this formula attempt to factor in an upper limit of the number of bikes a person may own; a ceiling which would trigger divorce or other undesirable relationship outcome.
Beyond the hazy calculation of a relationship-destroying bike ownership number, there are other practicalities to consider with having many bikes. While it is certainly fun to have a variety to choose from at any point in time, it can also be debilitating. It can take a lot of room to house a hoard of bikes, as well as copious time, money, and effort to properly equip and maintain them. The time to ride and enjoy each bike ultimately suffers.
I have a lot of bikes. I freely admit this. I certainly don't have the largest total of anyone out there, but I have more than anyone I personally know. The household number of bikes has reached peaks in the mid-30s as recently as last Fall, though I'm not certain how many are here at present. Regardless, for a while now, I've felt as though I've been getting close to my ceiling; not fueled by factors of relationship impact, mind you, but more by a sense of feeling bogged down. Thus, I've decided to make some changes.
Some of my bikes I ride a lot. Others, I don't. Some have irrational sentimental value. Others, not so much. Some were acquired for specific purposes or objectives. Others seem to have just appeared, through chance or apathy. Some, but definitely not all, I regard as essential. It is within this web of factors that I've begun to weigh the costs and benefits of retaining each bike.
So, I've embarked upon begun Operation N-1, with the goal of getting to a manageable number while still upholding my bike-centric ideals. Though I don't know what my personal lower-end threshold will be, I'm probably not quite ready to be a one-bike-to-do-everything kind of guy, though that does have some logical appeal.
|The Shogun on the light rail going downtown to meet its new owner.|
|So long, 1981 Trek 710.|
|Adios, Zap Electri Cruiser.|
So there it is. A reduction in my bike fleet, but only the start. I may list some of my bikes that are slated to go on this blog at some point. In the mean time, go ride some of your own fleet, whether that fleet is large or small.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
|My brother's giant Surly Ogre, and my Stumpjumper FSR, perhaps slightly-too-small for its rider.|
My bike for the trip was my 2006 Stumpjumper FSR. I still haven't decided whether I'll keep it, so I thought that it might be a good opportunity for further evaluation. Plus, it was a lot easier to fit in the van than the Pugsley. I made sure I was equipped with tools, tubes and water, but somehow overlooked until too late that there would likely be any number of things along the trail to make pincushions of the tires. The Stumpjumper has non-slimed, standard-tubed tires. I decided to tempt fate anyway.
|The dam at the trailhead.|
|Cholla: beautiful but barbed.|
|Prickly pear in bloom.|
|Embedded rock gardens to keep things lively.|
|Lots of rollers, but trending unmistakably upward.|
|A bull snake sunning itself on the trail.|
|The area has a vast network of well-marked trails, some of which are part of the Albuquerque Parks system and others of the U.S. Forest Service.|
|I found these concrete waffles to be an ingenious tool to mitigate erosion and maintain trail integrity.|
|My brother often runs these trails, though I can't help but think of knobby tires when I see views like this.|
|One of the few places on the way back down that I had to stop and wait for Chris to tell me which way to go.|
|Difficult to see with my lousy phone cam pic, but there's a lizard in the lower right third of this photo.|
|A view of town below.|
|We took a few minutes to mess around on a concrete drainage ditch with slanted sides.|
|As kids on BMX bikes 30 years ago, we would have been all over this thing. As 40-something old guys, we were a bit more measured, but still had some fun.|
On the positive, it is a well-engineered superbike (at least for 7 years ago, which is new enough for me) that I picked up on the cheap; something of which I would/could never buy the full-priced new equivalent. As a full-suspension bike, it really can do some things that I have to acknowledge a rigid bike can't. It is incredibly fast and fun to ride.
On the negative, it's a size large, which is borderline too small for me, and I remain convinced that a 29er is better proportioned for my height. As a full-suspension bike, it also has the hassles of shock and pivot maintenance. Though I've owned suspension before, there's a reason I gravitate back toward rigid. But it is cheap and fun.
So, I remain undecided, and will probably keep it for further evaluation, for at least the time being. That is, unless some fervent (size large) reader out there wants to make an offer I can't refuse to take it off my hands. Perhaps its parts will someday make their way to a 29er frame, for which I'll sell the Stumpy and Fox fork to finance.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
|Still have some work to do to get the shoulder harness right.|
Thursday, May 16, 2013
|Seatbelt magic resides in the holes.|
A piqued interest of my youngest daughter in riding the Big Dummy recently hastened seatbelt improvements. She is now about 15 months old, and although she has enjoyed riding in our old Burley trailer, she wants to do what the big people are doing and has very recently become very energized about riding on the Dummy. She did a few rides with the old seatbelt system, but it seemed that a five-point harness was in order.
I didn't want for screw heads or other hardware protrusions to stick out of the areas where her body would be in contact, so I devised the following system using easy-to-source webbing and Fastex-type fasteners. There is perhaps some detail missing below, but this is a new development and still in the process of being honed. As I get it dialed in, I'll post more photos.
Here we go. I used a one-inch diameter drill bit to make holes through which I inserted 3/4-inch webbing. Note that I would have preferred to use one-inch webbing, but 3/4 was what I had on hand. depending on how things work out, I may reconfigure the webbing, which shouldn't be a big deal. In any case, the procedure follows.
|Pilot holes first. For the shoulder straps, I drilled two holes six inches apart on center, centered across the backrest. Each hole is 2 1/2 inches down from the top of the backrest.|
|After drilling the pilot holes, I drilled with the 1" bit part of the way through the back...|
|...and the rest of the way through the front so as not to rip up either the front or back face of the wood upon exit.|
|For the seat belt, I located the hole center about 2 1/2 inches above the deck surface, centered laterally on the side panel. Same drilling procedure as above.|
|Drilling the anchor bolt hole. Anchor bolt is in the foreground.|
|Anchor strap installed. Note the position of the d-ring. It's easiest to drill the webbing when it is sandwiched between two scrap pieces of wood. Making the anchor strap adjustable might have been nice, but is not entirely necessary.|
|Underside of the anchor bolt.|
|I measured and cut a slit in the foam pad through which to work the anchor strap.|
|A view from the back. Note the back of the seatbelt runs behind the seat, and the shoulder straps loop through the backrest. The goal of no hardware protruding into the passenger space has been met.|
If this all seems like a lot of effort, well, it is to a degree. However, I personally consider the ability to safely carry passengers the defining element of my Big Dummy experience. Carrying kids and cargo has radically reshaped my biking life and made for some of the best times I've had on two wheels.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
|The rear seat as it has evolved after a few years and thousands of miles of use.|
That said, this presentation is for entertainment purposes only. I make no claims as to the safety or reliability of the cobbled together device pictured here, nor for the appropriateness of any use thereof. I am at best a middling craftsman and have been known to use materials and resources for purposes other than that for which they were originally intended.
If, against better judgement, you proceed to construction of something similar, any outcome, whether good or bad, is entirely of your own doing. I assume no responsibility. Know this: a healthy dose of common sense and constant attention to the safe operation of any machinery is paramount. You have been warned; proceed at your own risk.
|Side view of how the deck wing supports the side panel.|
|I added a bit of lateral curvature to the backrest. It's constructed of two 1/4" pieces of cabinet-grade oak plywood laminated together. I glued and clamped them to a form in order to produce the curve.|
|From left to right: Magic Carpet cover, closed cell foam pad, seat deck assembly.|
|The basic shape of the deck and the SnapHook holes are traced from the standard Xtracycle Snapdeck. Again, the deck is comprised of two laminated 1/4" layers of cabinet-grade oak plywood. I used four Xtracycle SnapHooks for attachment. If I were to do it again, I'd use the newer SuperHooks, which were not available at the time.|
|Another view of the deck assembly. I would have preferred maple or ash to the oak, but it was what was available.|
|About 10.5 inches across the back. This width seems good for a wide range of differently sized passengers.|
|The trailing edge of the wings are narrower, so that the effect is that the seat sides open toward the front. Note that the strap shown serves to more strongly connect the deck to the v-racks.|
|I glued and screwed the backrest to the side panels, being careful to pre-drill pilot holes and apply glue to the screw threads. That sucker is there to stay. The backrest makes a great sticker board.|
|A view of the deck wings. Three glued screws per side. I think all the screws that I used were 1 5/8" exterior grade.|
|This shows the laminated layers of the deck. I cut each layer separately, glued them together, then sanded them evenly along the edges. A router to round the edges would have been nice.|
|Side panels are about 9" high.|
|An overall shot with the ruler to show how far back the backrest is placed.|
Next up: Seat harnesses and cockpit amenities.