Goodbye, I barely knew ye…

Wow… I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last updated this blog.

In mid February I crashed my beloved Schwinn… hard.  Fractured my elbow, separated some cartilage in my rib… bodies heal (yeah!), bikes don’t.

I loved this bike… it quickly became, by far, my favorite bike of any that I’ve ever owned.  It felt fast and spry, and was beautiful — eliciting positive comments everywhere that I rode it.  I probably rode it about 4000 miles before encountering this:

Excessive Gap

It’s hard to see from this photo, but the gap was nearly 2″ wide at the edge of the drain.  What’s also hard to see from this photo is that the drain extends about 3 times as far into the traffic lane as most do, putting the gap directly in the path of travel of most cyclists [I normally would have been further left, but somehow I’d ended up further right than I prefer to ride].

I don’t remember anything from the fall.  One second I’m riding, the next I’m on the ground.  After that it was a strange slow motion sensation as I watched my water bottles skitter ‘slowly’ by, then my ziploc food containers from lunch, as I thought to myself:  “Strange, I didn’t zip my bag”.  Why such a thought was going through my mind, I dunno.

The final outcome for the bike was a bent fork, bent handlebars, bent brake levers, bent saddle, damaged rim, torn tire & tube, and possibly some other less obvious stuff.

Anyhow, here’s a parting shot before I salvaged the undamaged parts:

Ouch… look at that fork.

It was nice while it lasted.  It now hangs in my garage, stripped… maybe some day I’ll find a LOOOONG fork for it — the LBS put an alignment gauge on it and says that the frame itself is straight.


When we purchased our house the landscaping was rather plain, mirroring any other in the neighborhood.  Since we moved in we’ve made a LOT of changes.  Looking at the before/after pictures is quite shocking.  Interestingly a few of our neighbors have been inspired to redo their yards and our street is now much more interesting, though I believe that ours is the most ambitious, especially considering we did ALL of the work ourselves.

Here’s the house before:

The backyard pictures have a strange perspective because they’re from a Quicktime VR file that the realtor created.  The funny thing is, when we first moved in we really liked the back yard and thought we really wouldn’t do much to it, it was “just what we wanted.”

Well, that didn’t last long.  We’re nowhere near done, but here’s a few pictures of what we’ve done (pictures can be clicked to go to a comment page where you can click them again for the full versions):

The *BIG* Bike is Almost Done!

It’s been more than six months, but I finally got the BIG bike on the road!  I’ve been very busy and it took me a long time to get around to ordering the parts, and even longer to hand polish every little component that was staying on the bike!


From the Craigslist Posting that I Responded To
From the Craigslist Posting that I Responded To


After First Ride To Work
After First Ride To Work
Cockpit With the Bell
Cockpit With the Bell

I still have some work to do…  I want to order a nice bottle cage, probably this one: and will probably substite a brass bell for the chrome one that I have installed in the picture above. It also came with a front rack, but I haven’t finished polishing it, so it’s not installed yet.

It’s a joy to ride and rides VERY smoothly, and even better it FITS!
It’s an ’82 Schwinn Voyageur SP and I upgraded the wheels to 700C with cartridge bearing hubs shod with 32C Panaracer Pasela TourGuard tires, 7 speed rear derailer, Suntour barend shifters, Planet Bike Cascadia fenders (without the ugly purple logo that’s on the new ones),  Brooks B17 leather sadle, and Nashbar Moustache handlebars wrapped with yellow cotton tape with 4 coats of amber Shellac and twine trim.
I want to ride it in the upcoming Wildflower Century, but will probably swap out the inner chainring for a 26 tooth or so for those hills. 🙂

Remembering Why I LOVE Cycling!

Bicycle Near the River
Bicycle Near the River

I went for a ride during lunch on my old Schwinn World Tourist.  I’ve had this bike for almost a decade now, but it’s seldom ridden because it’s neither fast nor efficient.  Lately I’ve been leaving it at the office to ride at lunch during this beautiful weather that we’ve had lately — it’s great for those casual 7-10 MPH rides with no particular destination in mind.  I ride 6 or 7 miles; down to the river, wander around a bit watching the birds and other wildlife while eating my lunch, then ride back to the office.

It turns out that this picture was almost much more interesting… just as I was about to push the shutter something huge jumped out of the water and splashed back down, but I missed it because I was watching through the small screen of my camera-phone.   You can see the rings from the landing zone just in front of the front reflector of the bike just left of where the cables intersect the water.

On Flickr

Bicycle Lights

Perhaps it's time to upgrade to cooler running LED lighting?

I got home and left the headlight (35W halogen, metal housing) running for a while.  When I reached across the front of the bike to get my stuff out of the front pannier on the other side I brushed across the light housing for just an instant!  I felt a sharp searing pain that felt like I was being poked with something very sharp — instead I was being branded!  OUCH!

Free Professional Assembly

Sometimes I am asked what is wrong with department store bikes.  I give a whole list of reasons, but I just came across a great illustration of the problem…

In case the picture is gone, I’ve included it here…    of course this bike is mail-order (assemble it yourself), but I often see assembly work just like this at departments stores that offer “free professional assembly.”

Professional Assembly Included

Quickly off the top of my head:

  • Fork installed backwards! (Yikes!)
  • Handlebars not flipped up correctly.
  • Cables all tangled, not of proper length
  • Nose of saddle pointing up too much (ouch!)
  • Reflectors not properly aligned (won’t provide proper visibility)
  • Plastic piece meant to keep the axle from poking through the box not removed
  • Sold as a “26 inch frame”, trust me, it’s NOT a 26″ frame… it’s a one-size-fits-few frame

And that’s just what I can see!  Were the bearings properly adjusted? Were the wheels properly tensioned?  Is the stem binder properly torqued?  Is the saddle binding bolt tight? Are the shifters adjusted correctly?  I doubt it.

A *BIG* bike!

1981 Schwinn Voyageur S/P, 68 cm
I’ve been looking for a bike that fits me for some time… and I think I’ve found it…

A 68 cm, 1982 Schwinn Voyageur S/P!!  It needs a bit of work before I can ride it:

  • new stem (en route)
  • headset adjustment
  • overhaul all bearings
  • re-tension and true the wheels
  • clean and touch up paint some rust spots
  • polish the aluminum
  • put wider handlebars on it (I dislike the older narrow bars) and put on some barend shifters that I have sitting in my parts box.  The downtube shifters would be fine, if they weren’t so far away!!

The picture is the picture that the seller put on Craigslist…

Car vs. Bicycle? Bicycle wins!

Towing a Brick Saw One of my current projects is removing a good portion of the back lawn in preparation for a raised bed planter for vegetables.  I had done a good portion of the work resizing the patio (which is also getting smaller) and needed to rent a brick saw to finish the bricks along the edges.

So, Saturday morning comes and I drive my Subaru Outback wagon over to United Rentals to pick up the saw that I’d reserved.  After paying and getting out to the rental yard I see that it’s much bigger than I’d anticipated, and won’t fit into the car!!!  It’s too tall!  Being almost 80 kg, it was also too heavy to lift in and out by myself!  There’s no way to safely keep the back end of it hanging out of the back of the car, so they suggest a trailer rental — problem is, I don’t have a hitch!  I briefly consider putting this off for a week so that I can go get a receiver hitch (since this isn’t the first time I’ve had such a problem), when I realize that I’ve got a trailer!!!  I told them to wait a bit and I’d be back.

So, I go home and quickly get the bicycle trailer ready.  You shoulda seen their faces when I rode up.  I’d realized that the saw had its own wheels so I didn’t have to support the entire weight on the bike trailer, but merely had to strap the front of it to the trailer.  Cinched the front of it down with the webbing straps from my kayak, left the back wheels on the road, and it was good to go! The guy working there who was in charge of helping people load their rentals kept saying “I’ve never seen anything like this!” over and over.

I rode the hilly 1.8 kilometers home (about 50 meters of descending, and 60 meters of climbing) without incident, though I did ride quite slowly both downhill (for safety) and uphill (just because!) — I probably averaged about 8 kph!

In the picture you see the way that I tied it on for my trip home.  This didn’t work quite as well as I’d like because it put too much weight on the tongue.  On the trip back I was a bit smarter and put the front legs over the axle of the trailer, which put very little weight on the tonque and it handled MUCH better, I could have ridden MUCH further! I also took a different route that was longer (about 2.5 km), but had far less climbing.   When I returned there was a different set of people working there… one guy says “Gas prices have really changed this place!” haha

I think that I need a trailer from these guys!