Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jumping for Joy

Summer is for lazy days, sleeping late, no school - and building jumps in the front yard...

Ian styling on a borrowed BMX bike. Way too small for him, but perfect for the kid designed mini jumps.

Caleb, our 8 year old neighbor, goes for the gold.

Houston, we have touchdown.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Bike!! - Mini Kona

Daughter Amy scored the unexpected new bike today. Neighborhood friend has graduated to a 24" wheel bike, selling her 20" wheel Kona to Amy. This one an upgrade over her singlespeed Trek; the Kona with 7 speeds, V-Brakes and a suspension fork. Still a "kids" bike, but pretty decent. It should work out great, then with used purchased price - when resell time comes around for us - practically used it for free. The way to roll with growing kids.

She fits it well, we cruised around a bit today. Her skills have progressed enough for us to potentially try a little dirt action. Fantastic. Son Ian had a similar bike a few years ago - a Giant MTX 125. That bike kicked off his first dirt rides with me. If Amy is interested, hopefully the same story.

Earlier in the day, good clean fun with another edition of the "Old Guy Ride". Pretty big group today, including my neighbor Dave and work pal Brian, along for the first time. Pace was a little quicker the normal, thanks to ride leader Scott. Awesome way to spend a few hours in the woods. Son Ian sat out this ride with a bit of a cold and needed sleep.

Maybe in a few years, Amy will join the "Old Guys" for a spin on the singletrack. That would be damn cool.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Klunking - The Beginning of it All

Super cool film from the late '70s featuring the legendary Repack Downhill. This era being the beginning of mountain biking as we know it today. How many founding icons of the sport can you spot? Charlie Kelly, Tom Ritchey, Gary Fisher, and others - all included. I've seen numerous pictures from this time frame, pretty special to witness via film now.

Mountain biking today may look quite different, but the real beauty remains - sharing the ride with a bunch of folks, or solo - the fun and adventure of riding off-road on two wheels is the same. That will never change.

Give it a go.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mental Vacation - Saab 96

Mental vacation for today is the thought of owning a vintage Saab 96. What could be more ridiculous and a blast at the same time - then a late '60s era Swedish car, complete with a two-stroke engine?

Would seeing one of these in my garage actually happen? Of course not. Hence the mental vacation aspect. Fun to visit Crazy Town, without actually moving there...

Super clean, stock '67 model. I always dug the retro weird look of these things. Then being the old motocross guy from the '70s, find the idea of a two-stroke engine powering a car interesting and hilarious at the same time. Especially in this day and age, with clean electric vehicles headed our way in the semi-near future. Might be time to stock up on ancient two-stroke powered Swedish cars while you can...

Now we're really talking. Saab has deep rally history, with 96s and other models bombing rally courses the world over. This freaky looking rig is right up my alley.

This one even better - pretty damn cool. Owning and driving a car like this would a thousand times more fun then any modern performance car. Well, at least on Mental Vacation Fantasy Island. In that case, Sven would be your personal full-time wrench to keep this thing actually running, while you shopped at IKEA and ate lutfisk.

Saab 96 in full battle cry. Noise not quite matching the imagined speed.

Some crazy Euro Dudes with a modified 96. This thing sounds fantastic. Your neighbors will really dig hearing this early in the morning. Trust me, they'll love it...

Mental vacation now officially over. Back to reality - a bit more boring, cheaper, and safer. Damn, that was fun while it lasted. Pass the lutfisk (burp)...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Painful Weekend - Yet Fun?

Plenty of mountain bike action this weekend - dare I say - maybe a tad too much. Nah, that's almost impossible...

Saturday, Ian and I headed out with two of his schoolmates, Kellen and Austin. Nice kids, nice families. We've never ridden together, but we've talked about it a few times, now it was a go. Kellen's dad, Tate, also joined in for the ride. Austin had his mom drop him off for the festivities. His dad was interested as well, but had other commitments.

Added to the gang was old mountain bike pal Tony. Been years since we've ridden together, Tony now with a new Kona and a renewed interest in hitting the trails.

Our neighborhood trails of St Ed/Big Finn Hill the place to cruise, we all left from my driveway, just a mile buzz on pavement before singletrack awaits. Kellen and Austin have a little singletrack experience, but don't hit trails often. Ian plays ride leader with Kellen right behind him. Austin ahead of me - he's doing fine - I yell out the occasional advice and encouragement. Tate is rocking the 700c hybrid bike without a problem, and Tony gets a few more miles on the new Kona.

All is rolling swimmingly, as they say at the country club, when Austin grabs too much front brake on a short downhill. I watch helplessly as he endos hard into ground right in front of me. I'm off my bike and by his side in a seconds. He's not getting up too quick...

After sitting him up and catching his breath, we check for damage. Slight cut on his mouth, no big deal there - however - said his wrist hurt. A lot. Gut tells me broken wrist, though hoped I was wrong. Said he can't ride with the hurt wrist. Time for Plan B.

Cell phone call to his mom to pick him up nearby. Short walk out of the woods, me pushing both bikes. Understanding mom loads him into SUV for doctor visit. Phone call later confirmed fractured wrist. Ouch. Four to six weeks in a cast. Perfect summer accessory.

Ride was very tame and suited to the slowest rider. I'm always super cautious riding with kids, especially newer riders. Still, I felt bad about the situation. First time I've had someone hurt riding with Ian and I, as a group. We're still talking about riding a bicycle on trails, so there is some element of risk. Stuff is eventually going to happen. Feel bad it occurred on my call.

I saw both parents later that night to return Austin's cell phone. No guilt required. Austin mentioned having a good time up until the crash. He was busy showing off his cast to the neighborhood, as 12 year old boys are apt to do. Once healed, I'd like to ride with him again - assuming he'd want to. Austin's dad is Ian's basketball coach, so I'll see him again once school starts. As mentioned, very nice family. First time I take their kid out, send him home with a broken wrist. Yikes.

Kellen rolls one of the jumps at Big Finn Hill. He and his dad appeared to have a fun afternoon. After the ride - and getting Austin off to the doctor after the, uh, mishap - we rode our bikes over to the local pizza place on the way home. A shared pizza was a great way to end the ride.

Austin in action, prior to the wrist tweaking endo. I really enjoy getting people out there, especially kids. I hope to ride with Austin again.

Ian plays ride leader. For 12 years old, already has a lot of riding and racing experience. When we take out "regular" kids, gives him some leadership experience, as well as shining a bit skill wise. All good life experiences.

After the Saturday morning ride, Ian wound up playing and riding around with friends all afternoon. By the end of the day, clocked 20+ miles on his speedo. In addition, didn't hit the sack until midnight. I finally went to bed around 1:00 AM. Not exactly the proper set up for the following day planned activity - mountain bike race at Lake Padden in Bellingham. Wife and daughter Amy even planned to trek up there with us. I preloaded the car, including rearranging the roof rack to fit four bikes.

Alarm goes off way too early on Sunday morning, snooze button being my best friend. Soon, human alarm named Ian is standing bedside, asking if we're going. Huh, yawn - yeah, let's roll. Female half of the clan elect to skip the race at the last minute, giving me the opportunity to unload/reload the roof rack of bikes once again. Much joy and fun.

Finally, Ian and I are off. Event being about a 90 minute drive up north. The Padden Mountain Pedal is a Northwest classic, running close to 20 years now. Held at the Lake Padden Recreation Area, right outside Bellingham, Washington. Nice race site with lake, grassy areas, playground - and more importantly - killer singletrack. Course has short steep climbs, along with fairly sketchy root filled descents. All covered with slippery dust. It's a real XC course - no doubt.

While signing Ian up for the Boys Beginner 11-14 class, I decide to sign on for Beginner Men 45+ class. Both classes scheduled for three laps on the short course. When I race (rarely now), I usually get my ass kicked in the Sport class, so no real shame racing the Beginner class for a change. As I've joked before, I have the racer mentality, but not the ability - so little chance of me grabbing a winning slot anyway.

Since the Beginner classes run together, thought it would be fun to see Ian out on the course at the same time. Plus, no waiting around for me later in the day racing Sport. That was the plan anyway. With race numbers pinned on, we hit the course for a pre-ride lap to remind ourselves where the sketchy downhill sections were located. Ian has raced here twice before, though we skipped last year. I raced this event once a few years ago, complete with nice crash that left me off the bike for three weeks. That story for another time.

Our pre-ride of the course takes longer then planned, with me missing my start by a few minutes. Very dumb mistake, first time ever for that. Ian just makes his race start by seconds, while I take off after the 45+ class - now long gone. I yell a quick "Good luck" to Ian as I pedal away.

I settle into the pain that is racing, my slow pace reminding me why I suck at this - yet it's still a gas. None of my "training" really is race oriented. Lots of riding, but no intervals, and I tend to ride not hard enough, or easy enough at times to recover. On top of that, I have no natural ability for this. If ever tested, my aerobic threshold probably would fall somewhere between a potted plant and a shivering Chihuahua. I can picture white coated lab dude telling me, "Frankly, we're amazed you can even propel a bicycle..."

Me, looking pro and going slow. Well, more like sorta pro and going really slow.

The course has no long climbs, but the few steep sections add up - two of 'em require pushing - at least for me. Tight, twisty, uphill singletrack, complete with rocks 'n' roots. I'm also riding the downhills like a total squid, carrying my bike and running (more like sliding) down the tricky sections. On the last lap, I finally ride everything, minus one section - a small, but lame victory. On a play ride, I could easily clean these sections. Bombing 'em at race speeds, heart rate cranked, changes the picture entirely.

Three laps completed, I cross the finish line. Only five racers in Beginner 45+, with me coming 5th, and a long way back to boot. My few minute late start really didn't effect anything. An all around lame race for me, when you look at the results. Even so, I still feel a sense of satisfaction after finishing. Only racing will force you to push yourself to that pain level. The encouragement from fellow racers, along with the smattering of spectators is always super cool.

From my completely crappy result - in the Beginner class for crying out loud - I should hang my head in shame and maybe take up knitting. Instead, I vow to race again and return to my usual back of the pack Sport class finish. Yes, I guess I'm sick. I also look at this way - how many 50 year old guys are racing mountain bikes? Compared to the general population, can't be many. For just plain having fun, pushing yourself, health benefits, being part of the scene, and getting outside - can't be beat - no matter what place you come in. That's my take on it anyway.

Shortly after my finish, Ian rolls across the line to much clapping. Kids always score some extra encouragement, and rightfully so. Ian also experienced a tough day, said he was really tired, but glad he raced. I'm sure the busy previous week didn't help him. He's been riding so strong lately, didn't think it would matter much - not the case. Out of five kids in his class, finished in 5th place, way off the back. Like father, like son - for today - his racing future is much brighter then mine.

This is also not one of Ian's favorite courses, even though he once grabbed a third place at this event. Still, a solid ride. Three laps around this course for a 12 year old is still pretty commendable. Plus add in the pre-race lap, some of it fast to catch the start time. I'm proud of him.

Since I raced myself, not many pictures today. Here's one of the Sport classes heading towards their bikes in the LeMans style start. Old mountain bike pal, Art, grabbed 3rd place in the Sport 45+ class, despite not racing for years. He also did it in SPD sandals. The dude has a ton of natural talent. The bastard...

Ian looking a little toasted at the finish. Tough ride, despite the listed results. Not shabby at all for 12 years old, mountain bike racing ain't easy, no matter what the age.

Looking a little better after a few tacos courtesy of onsite food truck. I scored a killer Torta sandwich to refuel myself (burp). Also shared the meal with a few other racers we met - plan to meet for a future ride together. Very cool.

This now concludes the weekend report. Tune in next time for more race, ride, and general tales of suffering and related fun on two wheels. Tacos included.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention. While loading the bikes on the roof rack for the drive home - pegged myself in the forehead with a SPD pedal - resulting with a bloody goose egg. Flat out awesome. Man, racing rocks...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Personal Rides - Ibis Hakkalugi

Time to crank up the iMac for another installment of Personal Rides, where I interest and/or bore readers with info on my personal bikes. Every bike is more then a collection of tubing, parts and wheels. There's hopefully a story and some history involved. Here's the story of my beloved Ibis Hakkalugi....

Spin the clock back to 1997. Two incomes, no kids, work related bonus burning a hole in the bank account. Ah, the good old days. Cure for this is to add another bike to the garage. A good all around investment in fun. I thought building up a cyclocross would be a cool project, since I never owned one. Use it on the road, in the dirt, and...gulp....maybe even try racing 'cross. A 'cross bike it will be.

Even though I'd yet to own an Ibis, came very close to scoring an Ibis mountain bike a few times. I read about the Hakkalugi and decided that would be foundation for this little adventure. This would be the full custom build, each component individually selected. Not exactly cost effective, but certainly fun, with a bike like no other as the result.

Wedgewood Cycle in Seattle was the local Ibis dealer (now defunct). Frame/fork ordered from them, along with every other part for this project. If that's not supporting the local shop, don't know what is.

When the frame arrived, it exceeded my expectations. How often does that happen in life? It looked fantastic - the color, build quality, all of it - with interest from the bike shop gang. When the mechanics circle the unboxing ceremony, proof you have something special.

The Hakkalugi was more of an all-around 'cross bike with fender mounts and room for fairly fat tires. Steel of course, for the fork as well, common practice for the '90s. Frame carefully transported home for the build, along with a pile of parts. I used a mixture of road and mountain bike goodies.

The original build list:

56 cm Ibis Hakkalugi frame and fork
Chris King headset
Shimano 600 STI shifters/brakes
Shimano XTR rear derailleur
Shimano 105 front derailleur
Shimano XTR hubs laced to Mavic SUP rims
Shimano XTR cassette
Shimano cantilevers
Shimano 747 pedals
Ritchey Logic crankset and BB. 36x46 'cross gearing
Ritchey 35c 'cross tires
Syncros seatpost
Flite saddle
Salsa stem
Scott handlebars

Not too shabby, eh? A very nice build for the era. I remember completing the bike and the first test ride around the neighborhood. Sweet. Nothing more satisfying then assembling the new steed with your own hands, from an idea and pile of parts. Bike rode and fit great - plus looked damn cool. Can't beat that.

I used the Ibis mostly as a road bike, even with the 35c 'cross tires, and sampled some easy singletrack rides. Huge fun. Riding a 'cross bike on dirt will put a smile on your face. After riding it a bit, embarrassed to say, the Ibis was barely used for a few years. Why? The answer...

I also bought a new Triumph Speed Triple in '97 (as mentioned, the good ol' days), with a return to full motorcycle addiction in progress. Most road thrills achieved via moto power, with mountain biking for pedal powered action. The Ibis collected a little dust, I even considered selling it. Glad I didn't...

Fast forward a few years, new job with traffic filled commute. Sitting in traffic on the Speed Triple (and later 2001 Aprilia Falco) deemed painful and stupid. Two small kids now added to the picture, minus one paycheck, moto weekend and mountain bike thrill time at a minimum. Addiction pendulum swinging back to full bicycle mode. The Ibis pulled into duty as the commuter, complete with fenders and 25c road tires. The perfect set up (as pictured above). 34 mile round trip now via Hakkalugi instead of Falco. A much better scene for all involved.

Besides making killer nice bikes, I always dug the Ibis sense of humor. During that time, Ritchey had Logic tubing and Columbus had Brain. Ibis counterattacks with Moron tubing, complete with Big Butts. And the name, Hakkalugi, how can you top that? 'Cross racing usually does involve hocking a few loogies. Don't believe me? Give it a try.

The infamous Ibis Hand Job cable hanger. I still get comments on this feature today. This paint was labeled as Gang Green. Yup, multiple rolling jokes - that defy this handmade, sweet riding frame.

The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades. Cheap commuter skins provide alleged traction.

I finally tried a 'cross race in 2009, many years after building up the Ibis. I received the royal ass kicking, but had a great time, complete with a few spectators yelling "Go Hakkalugi !!" I plan to receive a few more 'cross ass kickings in the near future.

The trusty Ibis has become my main commuting rig over the last few years. Here, dark commute as proof. Mounted speedo died and ditched years ago. I probably have 20,000+ commuting miles clocked on this bike. Even after a few drivetrain and rim replacements, the frame and fork still look new.

Out of all my bikes, this one gets ridden the most, no contest. It still receives positive comments, now being kind of the hip collector deal. Nice road rides, rainy commutes, singletrack cruising, and 'cross racing. It's done it all. A truly versatile, damn cool bike. I've learned to never say never, but doubt I'll ever sell it. If you can only have one bike (horror...), a 'cross would be could the ultimate choice. Fast as a road bike, and can do more in the dirt then most realize.

The Hakkalugi currently hangs in the garage as a bare frame. Drivetrain complete toast - cassette, chainrings, chain, BB bearings - all history. Recently, rear derailleur hanger straightened and dropouts spaced to 132.5 mm (from 135mm), courtesy of Davidson Bicycles. All due to a crunchy derailleur eating mishap last May. Snap, crackle, pop.

The Ibis has been down for awhile, will rebuild before fall hits. We have the technology, if not the dough. Probably a modern mixture of road and 'cross parts repeated. The old school steel will roll and the freak flag will fly once again.

Go Hakkalugi !! Go Hakkalugi !!

Friday, July 15, 2011

50/50 Staycation

Super busy week - in a good way - so not much blogging action. Time for a little catch up report on all the action...

First up, my little 50 for 50 Birthday Ride/Party shindig went down last Sunday. It all flowed as a good time with about 35 people showing up. Did some riding, ate a pile of pizza, cake and cookies. People rode one or two laps of the marked loop, or didn't ride at all and just hung out. Guests came and went between 10:00 AM 'till at least 6:00 PM, so a long fun day. Mixture of work related friends, neighbors, and old mountain bike pals came out to ride, eat and chat.

Initial plan was for me to ride 50 miles to celebrate 50 years. I wasn't sure if people would grind out the course on their own or form group rides. Group rides it was with various kids riding along as well. More of a social event then the endurance event. All good though and a great time.

Even so, I still rode about 30 dirt miles - plus a few road miles to and from the park. So, I'll call it 50 kilometers for 50 years. My wife Lori gets big kudos for driving the loaded car over, setting up, keeping things moving, greeting and entertaining folks not riding, or waiting to ride.

My old New Jersey pal Don flew in the day before and helped mark the course - plan was a 10 mile loop - at St Ed/Big Finn Hill. The loop wound being 9 miles - close enough. I marked most of it with spray chalk with mixed success. In the end, it didn't really matter, since we did several group rides anyway. I've known Don since high school with shared dirt motorcycle and mountain bike rides many years ago. It's been decades since we've ridden together, so extra cool that he flew out for this.

Some of the folks who joined in for the first lap. Official photo kicks it off. From left to right: Son Ian, neighbor Dave, work pals Jay and Brian, me, Elisa and Walt (husband/wife team and old BBTC pals), neighbor Rich (serious triathlete dude), Rich's son Duncan and my daughter Amy (who buzzed bikes around the picnic area).

Various milling about during the day. We lucked out with perfect weather.

Ian rides the course while I attempt to unstick head from tree.

Amy drinks up while Andrew contemplates the many prone bikes.

The cake is cut. Birthday was officially the week before - but hey - who's counting?

Back into the woods once again. Having a few kids along for the ride was fantastic.

Old mountain bike and motorcycle pal Nick towed his daughter Selah around on the trailer bike. They can cover some hairy terrain as a team.

Amy covered the ride home on her own - nice job. I look on as proud dad.

I'd declare the party as a success. I didn't know if 5 or 50 people would show up. Flattering to have 35 folks attend to ride and celebrate. I may put together something like this again, just for the fun of it. Most mentioned it an all around cool idea and they enjoyed it. Great to hear.

Old pal Don was scheduled to stay in the Seattle area for a few days, his first visit to the Pacific Northwest. I took a few vacation days to show him around. Day after the party, headed to Seattle for some touristy action. Pike Place Market, Monorail, and Space Needle visit.

Washington state law requires all visitors hit Pike Place Market and buy a coffee at the first Starbucks location. We've now fulfilled our official duty. To counteract total tourism schtick, we rented some kayaks did some urban kayaking earlier in the day.

Urban kayaking on Lake Union in Seattle. Pal Don is a big kayaking fan with multiple kayaks at home, along with much experience. This was Ian's first kayak paddle and he got a kick out of it.

Space Needle pierces the trees. It was a bit cloudy, but the views were still good from the top.

Here I attempt the unbolt the Space Needle. Next time I'll bring the right wrench.

With touristy festivities out of the way, time for more mountain biking. Work pal Brian was nice enough to loan his '90s vintage Gary Fisher to pal Don for the week. Brian is well over six feet tall - however - the Fisher turned out to be too small for 6' 5" Don. After a few last minute phone calls, scored a rental Turner Sultan from the fine folks at Mtnside Bikes in Issaquah. Extra large framed 29er with 5 inches of travel - dubbed the "Monster Truck" for the duration of the trip. It worked fantastic however.

First stop was Tiger Mountain. Don and the Monster Truck pause on the 2.5 mile climb up to the Preston Railroad Trail.

Yup, the fun lies ahead. Don't let the "Railroad Trail" description throw you. It's a downhill crazy train of rocky and rooted out singletrack. Been about two years since I've ridden it, much trail work completed during that time. Great job and still huge fun to descend.

Down we go, first through the upper smooth section. Smile on my face not visible.

Don pilots the Monster Truck down the Preston Railroad Trail. Smile on his face plenty visible.

Preston Railroad Trails cuts over to the Northwest Timber Trail. Ian checks out the view.

Flower shot on the Northwest Timber Trail.

After having a blast at Tiger Mountain, loaded up the car for a quick run to nearby Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park. We played around there for a few hours, showing Don the trails and stunts.

Don gives one of the Duthie skinnies a go. Go Don go.

After a full day of mountain bike thrills, hit Chipolte on the way home for burrito reloading. An all around fun day. So fun in fact, a quick phone call to Mtnside Bikes secured the Monster Truck for an additional day - with Skookum Flats now on the agenda.

Semi-early start towards Mount Rainer and the Skookum Flats trailhead the next morning. After a cruise around the Buck Creek area and a glimpse of the Sun Top Trail, we finally hit Skookum Flats - after an embarrassing navigational blunder - thinking blowdowns were blocking the trail.

Once we got rolling, all was good. Not just good, great in fact. It's been about 20 years since I've ridden Skookum Flats. It's chock full of Northwest goodness - awesome singletrack, tricky root sections, huge trees, waterfalls, and rushing river for scenery.

Before we, uh, found the correct Skookum Flats Trail, did a little cruising nearby. Nice scenery abounds. Ian raced here a few years ago, cool area. Speaking of cool, despite the way I'm dressed - it is in fact July. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest.

Finally on the Skookum Flats Trail. Don tests his helmet on one of the fallen twigs in the area.

Yeah, we have some big trees here.

Don mans the camera, while Ian and I take in the view. You don't wanna fall off that - trust me.

Northwest singletrack sweetness.

Trail side view. How do we stand it? Somehow we survive...

A great ride for all, no doubt. Ian and I plan to head back soon. Don however, will be back to cruising his New Jersey singletrack - which is not as bad as it sounds - New Jersey has some killer singletrack. I know, I grew up there and have sampled it.

Not a bad staycation in anyone's book. Lots of of family, friends, laughs, food, and a ton of riding. You can't beat that. I'm a lucky dude...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Elliott Bay Bicycles - Project Hakkalugi

Took a little lunch time walk to pick up my freshly repaired Hakkalugi from Elliot Bay Bicycles. Their in-house frame shop, Davidson Bicycles, straightened out the severely bent derailleur hanger, along with changing the rear dropout spacing from 135 mm to 132.5 mm.

Now I can run a rear mountain or road hub, allowing the use of the current XTR hub I've been running, and a road hub later down the road. Pretty handy, eh?

Elliott Bay is a smaller shop, but always has some interesting bikes to gawk at while visiting. There's some modern production bikes on the floor from Bianchi, Orbea and a few others. The really fun stuff comes from Davidson, or the older bikes - restored and original - sprinkled throughout the shop. A few examples...

Vintage restored Eddy Merckx and Colnago share a rack. Very nice bikes.

The Colnago sports this amazing blue paint. Looks even better in person, the pic doesn't do it justice. If I ever went for a custom frame, this would be the color choice.

Another classic, the restored vintage Masi. My bike shop days were in the early '80s, so these classic bikes look great to me.

There's usually a few used steel frames in stock to ponder and consider building up.

A new titanium Davidson competes with the classics for floor space. Super nice indeed.

Another Davidson, this one in the Randonneur style - 650B wheels and front bag included.

Vintage Cinelli anyone? Yes, please.

Elliott Bay Bicycles is a great shop to visit. For old school me, it's a "real" bike shop. How many shops still have a frame building operation in the back? Not many. If you're the old school roadie, a fun place to check out and talk with the folks running the show.

If I was in the market for a custom frame, I'd go for a Davidson. Steel frame and fork, plain lugs or maybe TIG welded. Race geometry, but room for fatter tires. Oh yeah, in that Colnago blue. Ultegra or Chorus build. Tell me that wouldn't be sweet.

Bill Davidson himself worked on my twisted Ibis frame, explaining what he did while I paid the tab. Modern off-shore production bikes are better then ever. Still, there's something to be said having a local frame builder - with decades of experience - repair and realign your steel frame.

The straightened Ibis Hakkalugi hanger glows with anticipation. Either that, or the camera autofocus can't get over its fascination with the carpet pattern. You be the judge.