Sunday, September 27, 2009

Editorial Comment

Parade Magazine ran a bike-related article in this morning's paper. Columbia, Missouri's Mayor Hindman is to be commended for his efforts to make his town more bike friendly. I believe the simplicity of his message is the secret to the success of such an investment in Columbia's bicycling infrastructure. His message is attractive for people no matter what their political persuasion.

Mayor Hindman has identified three big problems our society faces:

1) Reliance on foreign oil
2) Childhood obesity
3) Life isn't as much fun

If we are to advance our pedal-pushing so that our cities and counties and states make places safer and more convenient for us to ride (and of course encourage everyone to bike!) then it is important that we identify and repeat messages like Mayor Hindman's to our lawmakers that are politically neutral.

We have much to gain if we keep our messages simple and appealing to everyone.

Happy riding!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kuwahara Fork Problem Solved

After some fiddling around, I think I've gotten my Kuwahara fork bent back in to shape. Here's how I did it.

I started by bolting the fork to my workbench using u bolts - 1 1/2" for the steerer tube, 1" for the fork tubes.

Notice how the bearing cone extends beyond the steerer tube. I hand-tightened the nuts on the u bolts so I didn't bend the steerer tube.

After the nuts were all hand-tightened and very snug, I began bending with a 4' long piece of 2" dia PVC pipe. I used my right hand near the end of the pipe and my left hand on the work bench. If you decide to do this at home in this same manner, beware. It doesn't take very much effort to bend the fork. I wanted to bend only a very small amount at a time so I didn't over bend and have to bend back. I believe over bending and bending back will weaken the fork.

I used reference marks on the workbench to check my bending progress.
To check my progress, I placed a straight edge along the fork tube first on one side, then the other.

Doesn't look like much space here at the top of the steerer tube.

There's loads on the other side. I split the difference and measured from my reference marks near the drop outs. More bending to do.

I actually had to bend the other side - the side I thought was the non-bent side. I bent that in slightly toward the center, and pulled the bent side out again very slightly.

There, now the measurements are equal on both sides.

I had to do a little bit of bending to get the fork ends to be equal (level) on the front-to-back axis.

Then, the last item I checked before declaring myself done was to measure the drop out spacing. Perfect.
Fits like it should now.

One last item - since the fork had been bent, and I did more bending to get it back to close to factory condition, but not quite, the fork drop outs are not parallel. They should be parallel so they don't place too much stress on your front axle, and especially your skewer. A broken skewer equals broken bones or worse. Be careful. Take the fork to your local LBS to see if they have the whereabouts to fix this problem for you.

I did put the fork on my bike tonight and rode for a little bit. I can now ride no-handed on the Kuwahara!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kuwahara Fork Problem

I've suspected that my Kuwahara fork is bent, and I figured out a way to prove it tonight. I put the fork, forward-facing up on a board, and pushed the drop out end of the fork and the fork side up against a board I placed square to the side of the board on which it's laying.

I then drew a line on the board on which the fork is laying, extending the line from the side of the head tube. I then pushed the fork over to the other side of the board like I did above. I extended the line from the side of the head tube again. It is now easy to see I have a problem. No wonder the bike wanted to pull severely to the right.

The right side of the fork is bent inward and slightly backward.

I placed tape on the fork where it bends inward.

This camera angle shows how the right side is also bent backward.
This photo doesn't show it very well, but the right drop out is also very slightly twisted. Notice the two holes for bolts on each drop out. I assume the front side is for a bike rack, and the back side is for fenders.

I don't have a vise for my workbench, but I plan to bolt the fork directly to the workbench and use something, maybe a bar or a piece of galvanized pipe to bend the right side back to where it needs to be. As Jon, of Two Wheels has said, I'll need to have the drop outs twisted back to parallel.

New Riding Buddy

Michael, of Ear to the Breeze blog, was up in Fort Wayne yesterday. He contacted me to see about riding, so we decided to ride the Huntington Bicycle Challenge Scenic Tour. If you want to see some beautiful photography, check out his blog. He takes some of the most beautiful landscape photos I've seen.

Here is Michael at work on the bike. Obviously, the photo he is taking here will be one of his poorest photos.

The start is the only part of the ride I didn't like. We were lined up behind the USA Cycling categorized racers and behind the corporate challenge riders. We weren't allowed to start until well after the other two groups had left. We were standing, with our bikes, at the start line for over 1/2 hour, while the ride organizers blathered into their Mr. Microphone. Otherwise the ride was very well supported and very scenic.

After the halfway point, we turned into a stiff east headwind. Micheal and I took turns pulling each other for about 12 miles. We maintained a decent pace despite the wind, but it wasn't until we had finished that we both realized we were going too fast for either's comfort (i.e., I was too proud on the bike to admit that I was sucking air, BIG time!).

Michael is a very strong rider, with great leg strength for wind and hills. It was fun to ride with him and look forward to many fun rides ahead.

Happy riding!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stripped down Tricross

I temporarily uncommuterfied my Tricross Saturday night so I could ride the Hancock Horizontal Hundred in Findlay, Ohio on Sunday (yesterday).

I took off the fenders (actually just the rear fender and the very little bit of the front fender that hadn't yet broken off), my rack, and my 20 pound rack trunk. I forgot how light this bike used to be! I also did a thorough cleaning, replaced the bottom bracket and put on a new chain.

As for the ride, I was able to complete all 102 miles, making this my 5th century of the year. I rode with two different groups of people with grey hair like mine. We averaged 19-20 mph for most of the first 50 miles. The second 50 miles was very lonely, as most folks split off and took the short route back to Findlay for the 64 mile loop.

My goal is yet to find folks around here who want to ride in pace lines, but not at 24 mph. All of the folks I rode with Sunday were from various parts of Ohio. It was SOOO MUCH FUN riding in the pace lines with experienced and courteous bikers.

The weather again was beautiful with a cool, gentle breeze. Another great day to be on the bike.

Happy riding!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Back from up north

Well, we made it back home from a very enjoyable trip to Door County, Wisconsin. We stayed at a small place in Epraim, 3/4 of the way to the end of the peninsula. On Saturday, we rode over to Peninsula State Park, about 16 miles of biking. On Sunday, we rode across the peninsula to Baileys Harbor and back, about 35 miles total.

Here's Baileys Harbor:

Sunday night, just after sundown, looking across Eagle Harbor, at Ephraim:

The weather was PERFECT. I can't remember a weekend with such nice weather.

Back to a week of commuting now. Fall is coming and the weather is great!

Happy riding!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

When the light goes out

My headlamp burned out Monday morning just as I was about to leave for work. I have to leave by 6:00 am, since it takes 1 1/2 hours to bike to work, stow the bike and change clothes. Since the sky doesn't begin to get light until after 6:30, I couldn't wait and then leave. So, another driving day to work. My local LBS didn't have a bulb in stock, but I ordered one.

Here's my NiteRider light...

Monday night I discovered that a cheaper 10 watt, 6 volt halogen bulb fits my lamp base really well. Except it wobbled in the base because the reflector isn't as deep as the original.

Original on left, cheapo bulb on right. Notice, the cheapo bulb doesn't have a lens over the bulb.

I used the cheapo bulb until the proper replacement came in on Wednesday. The cheapo was just as bright, but since it wobbled in the base as I rode, the light flickered when I hit bumps in the road. I really got worried when I approached intersections with cars stopped and waiting to cross. I wasn't sure if they fully saw me coming. Desparately I tried to fiddle with the lamp as I approached the intersections, but the light kept flickering anyway.

The replacement bulb works great and I don't have to worry about the flickering issue anymore. I did toss the cheapo bulb in my rack trunk, along with an allen wrench in case the new bulb burns out, I can use that until I get another replacement. Yes, I'm a saver. I had to really cram the spare bulb into the trunk. Some day I'll have to clean that out...

Not tonight.

On the travel front, Alex and I are headed to Door County, Wisconsin, to spend the weekend biking. Looks like it's going to be a great weekend weather-wise.

Happy riding!