Monday, January 30, 2012

It's not you. It's me.

I've been trying hard to not complain too much about people's behavior while driving, riding and walking/running.  I just kinda want to do my own thing and do it safely.  This morning's commute bears a bit of discussion.

There's a small section of my commute which has me making a right turn with no stop sign, followed by 2 stop signs, left turn at the second stop, then a turn signal at an intersection where I go straight across.  All of this is within about 100 yards of each other.  

I made the first right turn in front of an SUV who had to stop at a stop sign.  Mr. SUV did not appreciate me making the turn ahead of him.  He tried to pass me twice by driving on the left side of the double yellow line.  Both times he met oncoming traffic, which honked at him for driving on the wrong side of the road.  He ran both stop signs without appearing to slow at all.  He still was unable to pass me before the signal.  He drove on the sidewalk in order to get around me patiently waiting for the red light to turn green.  He ran the red light and yelled obscenities at me while doing so.  (Yes.  I called and reported him.)

It is good to know that I am the problem... not him.  ;)

Before we go off into a whole cars versus bikes thing, I'd like to add that I experienced similar behavior exhibited by cyclists and pedestrians/runners this weekend, though not near as blatant.  

Everyone appears to be more important than me.  They are more important than being safe, polite or legal.  

Be safe out there!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Happy and Sad Conundrum

The cargo I'm hauling today is both happy and sad.  I had an injury a few years back that made it impossible for me to ride any of my unicycles.  I held onto them to see if things would get better, but unfortunately that has not happened.  A unicycle saddle hits me JUST in the wrong place. 

Today is the day that my favorite unicycle goes to a new home.  It is a Surly Conundrum... made for a 26" wheel and a very fat, 4"-wide tire.  It was a fun ride for everything from late-night liquor store runs, to mellow singletrack rides and snow rides around the neighborhood.

The fun thing about the transfer of this cargo is that the recipient doesn't know it is coming.  I don't even know him.  He's a co-worker of someone I met a few months ago.  The mutual friend was telling me that he'd been looking for a Conundrum for a long time, since they're no longer available.  Hopefully this will be a nice surprise.  

I'll let y'all know later tonight how this went.  

Have a great day.  


Friday, January 6, 2012

Nice chat with F&*$ Man yesterday evening

I originally thought this was going to be a silly, humorous post, but as I write it, the more it is taking on the form of a public service announcement or warning. 

Many of the people I see every day in my commute get nicknames.  I don’t know them and often never talk to them, but I still give them some descriptive name.  One of the most colorful is F&*# Man.  No matter how much you warn him that you’re passing on his left, he yells “F&*% Man!” really loud.  He doesn’t do it every time, but remarkably often.  I see him 3-4 days per week and he drops the F-bomb every other week or so.  I never descend to that level with him.  I keep my tone happy and wish him a nice evening as I pass by.   This has gone on for the last 2-3 years.  At one point last year he seemed to mellow for a few weeks and even gave me a few head nods of recognition as I rode past.  That didn’t last.

He appears to be a normal guy.  Obviously he’s an avid runner. He’s a clean-cut, Asian guy with great taste in workout clothes, very good running form and an impressive fitness level.  The huge chip on his shoulder may be justified, but he’s got more fury for people who politely pass him than I’ve ever seen.

Last night he went particularly ballistic on me. 

Me: “Passing on your left.  Have a good evening!”
F-Man: “Bleep! Bleepity bleep bleep. Who the bleep are you bleeping talking to?”

The exchange didn’t last long… a few seconds… but it was delivered with an amazing amount of anger.  His whole body was used in the delivery of these words.  I had to stop and talk to the dude.  I slowed up and rode next to him for 15 seconds.  I don’t remember my exact words, but they were something to this effect:

“Sorry that my words and actions offended you.  They sincerely were not intended to.  I was just trying to politely warn you that I was passing so that I didn’t startle you.  Since I see you almost every day, I was trying to be nice.  I am not going to return your words in kind.  It isn’t how I live.  I may try different things to politely let you know I’m passing in the future though.  I hope you have a good night.”

Through this whole thing he’s kinda muttering under his breath, but he didn’t actually say anything.  He didn’t pull a gun or shoot me. 

I’d suggest people be careful around this guy.  Though he’s never done anything violent toward other trail users that I’ve seen, I have to say that the fury with which he delivers his obscenities gives me pause.   

I originally wrote a pretty detailed description of him, but decided to leave that out. I thought that might provoke something if by chance he read this.  I honestly don’t want to anger him anymore.  Quite the opposite, I’d love it if he calmed down. 

I don’t know what causes his behavior.  He may have had some run-ins with rude cyclists in the past, like many of us have.  Like I said, he may be completely justified in being angry.  I just thought I’d let y’all know that he’s out there and may be a ticking bomb.

Have a good afternoon.  Enjoy the lovely January weather.



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuna Casserole Surprise

Tuna Casserole Surprise.  What an odd name for a bike?  I got the idea from a good friend who reminded me of the Tuna Casserole phenomena from years gone by.  A good tuna casserole was made up of anything found in the fridge + a can of tuna and a bit of time in the oven.  That perfectly describes this bike. 

Frame: Surly Troll, 20” with the rear canti studs sawed off for tire clearance.  “S”, “U”, “R” and “L” stickers have been removed.  They’ve been replaced with really cute Hello Kitty stickers.  This bike will need all the help it can get in the cuteness department.
Fork: Surly Puglsey – 135mm, non-offset hub spacing
Headset: King
Stem: Zipp Service Course 90mm (will likely be swapped for a 100mm)
Bars:  Zipp Service Course 44mm Ergo road drop.
Shifters: Ancient Ultegra 2x9-speed STI
Brakes: Avid BB7 MTB disc brakes with 160mm rotors and Problem Solvers Travel Agents to make them work with the road levers.
Front wheel: WTB rear disc hub laced to a Surly Rolling Darryl 32-hole rim.  Surly Endomorph 26x3.7” tire with a Surly tube and 13psi in it. 
Rear Wheel: Chris King single speed hub laced to a Mavic 823 DH rim.  4-speed cogs (17-23t).  Maxxis Minion DHR 26x2.7” tire with 23psi in it.  I can’t go much bigger with the tire, but I can go wider with the rim. 
Front Derailleur: Shimano STx Top Pull
Rear Derailleur: Ancient Shimano Ultegra (similar vintage to the shifters).
Cranks: Race Face Turbine with 32/20t rings and a Spot bash guard
Bottom Bracket: FSA Platinum Isis.
Seatpost: Thomson 330mm setback post.
Saddle: Ancient WTB SST.  This saddle has spent more time with my ass on it than virtually any other in existence.  If I had to estimate a vintage, I’d guess that it is from the mid 1990s.  It has been in use for virtually all that time.

The end result of this set-up is extremely odd.  Riding it is a dream.  It weighs a little over 37 pounds and rides the way you’d imagine a 37-pound monster bike would ride.  Nothing about the bike is dull or boring.  

One of the more interesting things is people’s reactions.  I’ve sworn that the bike has caused a few “Exorcist Moments” where peoples’ heads spin all the way around in order to watch the bike ride by.  What adds to the odd visual is that I ride the thing in the drops almost all the time.  It is the best way to get good brake performance out of the setup.  Climbs better that way too.  It loves rocks and seems to really enjoy steep sections.  Creek crossings and soft river banks are easy. 

Road riding is kind of odd with such large tires.  I pump up the tires a bit more to reduce rolling resistance a little.  It really doesn’t change much, but it makes me feel better.  32x17 is not a tall enough gear to really go anywhere with it.  The longest ride I’ve done with it is a 38 mile hill workout. 

The bike is already got changes in the works.  I need to buy a front hub that will work with the Puglsey fork.  I might try to modify a 6-cog cluster so that it will fit on the King SS hub.  That would allow me to run 30/42 rings with a 6speed cluster with some taller gears so that it rolls better on the road.  I might go to a triple up front.  Who knows.

Eventually the bike will go back to its original fork and switch up between 26” touring wheels and perhaps some 700c fixie wheels.  It will get racks to haul stuff and I’d love to get one of Surly’s trailers. 

Surly’s description for the Troll ends with this line: “Build it up, ride it for a while, then reinvent it.”  That pretty much describes what will happen with this bike on a regular basis.