Saturday, December 29, 2012

How a Bicycle is Made - Raleigh, 1945

How to make a Raleigh, circa 1945.  No carbon fiber in sight.  Just good ol' steel and the scary tools required.  Remove the glamor of all things bike - and it looks sorta like a metal shop - a dirty old metal shop.

Check out how they "paint" the frames.  Ah, the good ol' days of no OSHA and EPA to worry about - or whatever the British equivalent is.  I get a kick out of these vintage films and how things were manufactured.

Interesting stuff...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Blog - What's Next?

December marks the fourth year I've been messing with this little ol' blog, first post being thrown out into Internet Land back in 2008.  For a fluffy personal blog, would consider heading into year number five a pretty long run, no?

Depending on what metrics to believe, I get a few thousand page views per month, not that I'm really counting.  It does crack me up when certain Google searches place my blog on the first search page. That's kind of cool.

Even though my main focus is still bicycles, I toss in other posts - vintage motocross, music, vintage cars - anything that interests me.  The posts that get the most hits, by far, are the vintage motocross posts.  Apparently lots more folks into old dirt motorcycles, then bicycles.  And that's okay. Two wheels is two wheels, pedal or moto powered.

My interest in photography as ramped up over the last year or two.  I get a big kick out of shooting races, especially cyclocross.  Later race oriented posts have morphed into picture albums and not much words, matching the change.  I really do enjoy shooting anything that matches my interest, and continue to learn and get better at it.

I've been riding bikes my whole life, and as the (alleged) adult since '84 or so.  Being a cyclist that long, at times motivation and interest, ebbs and flows.  A few years ago, was riding close to 200 miles a week - hard core bike commuter, plus mountain bike rides on weekends.  The last two years, not so.  I haven't bike commuted to work since last June, a major slump - new job and other factors being the excuse.  I still squeeze in some mountain bike rides and suffer on the trainer in the garage occasionally.  I only raced once last season, but a memorable event - my first 24 hour mountain bike race.  Big fun, made extra so, since shared with my son.

Speaking of my son, Racer Boy Ian, his biking interest slowed down this year also.  Still interested, but not as gung ho as before.  He competed in a few cyclocross races this year, skipping some towards the end of the season.  Sick a few times, homework projects, and a bit of burn out contributing to the early end of the season.  This is all supposed to be fun, no need to push it - especially at 13 years old.  His race team, Northwest Velo/JL Velo also folded up (or scheduled to this month), which seemed to bum him out a bit, along with the jump to junior high school.  Life changes and plows ahead.

A good aspect about ebbs and flows, is the recharge when things ramp back up.  And on the bike front, we're headed for the upswing and some cool changes.  Ian, along with most of the junior racers on his old team, were invited to new team - Team Slalom Consulting.  Ian being more dirt oriented with mountain bikes and cyclocross, and the new team being more track and road oriented, we'll see how it goes.  Ian is open to trying the track gig out, and so many people (now) on the team race 'cross, that will still be there.  Should be interesting.

On the mountain bike front, I've gotten involved with local high school mountain bike race league, now open to junior high kids.  Things are just starting and yours truly - that be me - signed on to run a junior high team.  Ian included as racer.  Coaching conference and details to follow. Getting more kids riding bikes is right up my alley, should be a great experience.

I will return to my bike commuting ways towards spring, since new job has calmed down a bit.  And I really, really miss bike commuting.  I'm itchy to experience the twice daily dose of two wheeled goodness once again.

So there you have it.  Kind of blog birthday, year review, and what's coming up - all rolled into one rambling post.  To anyone who actually reads this blog, I'm flattered and thanks for the time spent doing so.  I should have some fun things to post about in the coming year.  

Thanks for sharing the ride.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Junkyard Cross 2012

Came across this online, too cool not to repost.  Awesome crazy cyclocross fun in a junkyard. Yeah, a junkyard.  May wanna get a tetanus booster shot before entering.

I don't know the full story behind this race, appears to have something to do with Bilenky Cycle Works, the makers of some very nice bikes back on the east coast.

Gotta love 'cross in all its wacky forms - serious or not.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dogtown and Z-Boys - Birth of Modern Skateboarding

While doing some Christmas shopping today, scored a copy of Dogtown and Z-Boys for $9.  Merry Christmas to me.  I've only seen this documentary once, a few years ago, so popped it into the DVD player tonight for another look.  As remembered, a fantastic film, even if you're not a skateboarder.

I wouldn't call myself an actual skateboarder, but did dabble with skating back in the '70s as a teenager.  Neighborhood cruising and general goofing around, including one broken wrist as proof.  I also read Skateboarder magazine at the time, so knew a bit about the Dogtown crew and influence on the scene.  That scene being Southern California, my scene a universe away in suburban New Jersey.

Those Skateboarder magazine articles and photos - especially the photos - made an impression on me.  Some of those images of Tony Alva, Jay Adams and others, burned into my teenaged brain.  I recognized many shots in the film, as it shows plenty of photo and video archive from that era.  Seeing the archived video was especially cool, since all my memories revolved around still shots.  Watching how they skated, you can really see how it formed modern skateboarding, pushing it from the stand up tricks from the '60s, into vertical moves that changed the entire sport.  Modern day interviews though out the documentary puts it all in perspective.  

Being a kid from the '70s, the look of the archive footage - long hair, tube socks, t-shirts - and the soundtrack, pushes all my memory lane buttons.  The look and feel of the old film and still shots, combined with the very stylish skating - fantastic to witness.  There's also a bit of surfing history and footage laced into the film, since early skateboarding was very tied to the surfing scene.

If you've never skateboarded in your life, still an interesting documentary.  Especially if you ski, mountain bike, surf, snowboard, BMX, motocross - anything involving movement, style and flow - you'll get it.  Highly recommended.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Yeti Hits the Pacific Northwest

Caught this well done video on the Yeti site.  Some visual proof as to why mountain biking rocks in the Pacific Northwest.  But hey - I'm biased - since I happen to live here.  Lucky me.

Not sure exactly where this was shot, but reminds me of my local riding areas.  The trees, the moss, loamy dirt, misty air - yup, I dig it here. No doubt.

Click here for a bigger screen view.  Enjoy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

1982 Miyata Pro - Vintage Goodness

Like the Camaro you wanted in high school, the bike geek version from my bike shop era - the '82 Miyata Pro - this one spotted on eBay.  And Holy Suntour Superbe Batman, this one is a keeper.  Appears to be the garage queen with little use or wear.  Sweet.

Alas, 63cm frame way too big for me, so no need to explain to the family why I need a vintage Miyata hanging in the garage.  This one going in the $790 - $990 range, not exactly chump change.  Curious to watch the bidding action over the next few days.

I'll just admire from afar, pics borrowed from eBay listing...

I'll keep my eBay search alive.  I'd like to score just a clean frame set - as to not feel guilty pulling off vintage parts - then replace with something along the lines of modern Ultegra or Chorus.  Mixture of Old 'N' New, that be a very cool steed indeed, standing out in a sea of modern carbon.  True?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blue Angels - In November?

My iMac is bursting at the seams with pictures, hard drive full enough to effect performance.  I have one Firewire drive I use for backup, time to get more drastic and move/archive pics to another drive for storage.  This way my pics are sitting on two drives once moved off the iMac.

Drives do fail, so better keep an archive on at least two external drives.  Trust me on that.  You can then also move one drive off site - work place, neighbors house - just anywhere not under the same roof.  Then you're covered in case of fire, theft, or other scenarios you don't wish to think about.

While moving my Pile-O-Pics around, came across a few shots from the summer.  The Blue Angels visit Seafair every year and I've hit the show occasionally over the years.  This time finally armed with a decent camera, my Nikon D7000.  Thought I'd post a few for pondering, better then fermenting unseen on a hard drive.  That's my take on photography anyway.

Considering I've never shot an air show in my life, jets blowing by at crazy speeds, 70 - 300 mm lens at the ready, I didn't do too bad.  Add in sweat literally stinging my eyes due to the heat, amazed I caught anything at all...

Oh yeah, should also mention, the Blue Angels are loud.  Uh, really loud.  An insane cool noise though.  With that, I'm out.  Hope you enjoyed the pics.  Until next time...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Two Basic "R"s - Riding 'N' Rock

70+ minutes on trainer in the garage - spinning going nowhere - dripping sweat with iPod set to stun. Reminder that my two basic "R"s have been low lately - Riding 'N' Rock.  Working on correcting that ASAP.

Queens of the Stone Age, "Go with the Flow" to finish it off...

I want something good to die for
To make it beautiful to live

Do you believe it in your head?
I can go with the flow

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cyclocross on the Cheap

Bike racing can be expensive - stupid expensive - if you want it to be.  It doesn't have to be that way - with a little knowledge and elbow grease - racing on the cheap is totally possible. Building up bikes or searching for used stuff can also be a gas, if you're so inclined.

I've kept my son, Racer Boy Ian, rolling with decent race ready bikes on the cheap for a few years now.  Used bikes, Part-O-Swaps between frames, and new bike deals in the mix to keep things rolling.  The price of being a one paycheck Family-O-Four.  Expensive bikes on hold for a few years.

While eating dinner tonight, pulled a back issue of Cyclocross Magazine out of the Pile-O-Mags, as I can't seem to eat with reading something. I'm sick that way.  This issue containing an interesting story of putting together a new 'cross bike for low dough, that I re-read and getting a kick out of for a second time.  Bike pictured above, borrowed from the online version of the article.  Total cost for the race ready rig, via various sources, came to $643.  Entire bike for less then the cost of a high end wheelset.  Very cool.

Sure, a new Ibis or Steelman would be sweet.  If you can't swing the cost of something along those lines, don't let it deter you from racing or riding.  There are other avenues of getting out there.

Also a nod to Cyclocross Magazine, now one of my favorite mags.  Grassroots and run by people in the know.  If you haven't done so already, very worth checking out.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Secret Race - Book Review

Unless you've been living in a cave for the last few weeks, hard to ignore the news that Lance Armstrong has been busted for doping and stripped of his seven Tour De France titles. Another massive blow to the credibility of pro cycling.  This doping nonsense never seems to end and makes you doubt the results of any pro level race, especially any of the grand tours.

I was a Lance fan, even though I had my doubts, put them off until something was proven. Well, with the USADA report and testimony of previous teammates, there is no more doubt. To me, if George Hincapie says Lance doped - Lance doped.  Then add in the other pros who've said the same thing - Hamilton, Landis, Andreu, Leipheimer - the list goes on. Incriminating themselves and taking Lance with them.

I enjoyed the hell out of watching those seven Lance tours, waking up bleary eyed for work after too many nights of late coverage.  Then bike commuting to work, 34 mile round trip, inspired by what I witnessed.  If pros can conquer mountain passes while battling each other at insane speeds, I can get my sorry ass to work via bike.  Now, according to the UCI, those Tours never existed - or whatever crazy version of history they'll rewrite.  It all leaves a lame, sour taste in your mouth.

Pro sports is basically the entertainment industry, so who cares - right?  Cycling is different however, many pro cycling fans are cyclists themselves - especially in the U.S.  So, we feel more of a connection to the sport itself, even if we don't race or do so at a grass roots level. How many football fans actually play football?  I think you get my drift.  That's why this kind of news stings us a little.  Because we're cyclists and cycling fans, so it digs deeper.

With that background, I read Tyler Hamilton's tell all book a few days ago.  Start to finish in one sitting, fascinated and sickened at the same time.  Many of the incidents and stories I've heard before, but now laid out in chronological order with full details.  I've always wondered how the mechanics of doping work, now I know.  And it's less complex then I imagined.  From shooting EPO to the creepy practice of transfusing your own blood, usually hiding in a nondescript hotel somewhere.  Blood bags carried via cooler and taped to hotel wall.  Somehow that scene never comes up during interviews or Tour coverage on cable.  Also apparently easy to avoid getting caught, though eventually the averages put you at risk.

As a fan I always enjoyed watching and reading about Hamilton.  Super tough guy from Massachusetts; from riding the Giro with a shoulder injury, to suffering to a 4th place finish in the Tour with a broken collarbone.  All with a humble, low key style.  Then after being busted for doping a few years ago - complete with "unborn twin" crazy excuse, the Believe Tyler crowd, endless denials - made you wonder, yet another weird chapter in pro cycling.

After reading the book, you realize to an extent, why Hamilton acted this way.  From the don't tell pro culture, to realizing without doping, winning at that level would be next to impossible, at least during that era.  It was all part of being a professional.  It's easy to call these guys cheats and liars, 'cause in fact they all did just that.  Still, if you were in their shoes at that time, you'd say no and head home?  Or just become pack fill at a lower salary?  That grays up the area a bit.  I'm not condoning what they did, but it certainly puts more light on why they did.

Through Hamilton's experiences, you also get the impression that Armstrong is quite the ego manic, and the conniving all powerful jerk.  You're either in with him or on his enemy list - complete with high priced lawyers, connections to the UCI, bike industry, and media - to insure you're dismissed as a disgruntled employee, nut case, or ironically enough - a doper.  Huge piles of fame and dough at his disposal.

If you're anything of a pro cycling fan, this book will open the doors a bit - a peak behind the curtains - and it ain't that pretty.  Names are named, pro culture split open to revel the bloody truth, dates and scenarios explained, no holds barred.  Well worth the read and the eye opener.

Through it all, the silver lining, Hamilton comes across as the honest nice guy. The guy you originally thought him to be.  With his book, USADA testimony, and other actions of finally telling the truth - maybe, just maybe - will start the path of a dope free pro scene.  His response, along with other pros doing the same, deserve kudos and even forgiveness if you will.  These folks are human, made mistakes - of their perceived own doing or not - and are now trying to make things right.  Many fans will remain fans of pros doing just that, I know I will.

For all the pros, officials, team directors, and others to continue to play the denial game - Lance included - time to fess up.  Cover has been blown, the jig is up, time to honestly move the sport in the correct direction, no matter how painful that may be.  Do it now, we're all behind you.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

MFG Cyclocross Series # 4 - Mangnuson Park

Cyclocross season keeps on rolling, along with my never ending supply of pics and rambling words.  Photography is like racing - some days you have it, some days you don't.  I'm just a hack, but must be doing something right, since I usually arrive home with a decent Pile-O-Pics after most races.  In any case, I'm having fun and that's what it's all about.

This week's Pics 'N' Words from MFG series # 4, that took place last weekend.  Venue was Mangnuson Park in Seattle, nice spot for a 'cross race.  Very flat and fast course, some pavement included.  Barriers and one run up section.  Usual cool 'cross scene that we're lucky to experience in the Seattle area.

See for yourself...

Teammate Lars trades dirt for concrete.  Super nice dude, along with his teenage racer son, Anders.  Anders assisted my own teenage racer son Ian, warm up for this race.  Anders appears to have the series already won for his Grade 10 - 12 junior class.  Cool.

Kari Studley, woman's single speed 'cross national champion, can also go pretty damn fast with multiple speeds.

Concrete underpass allows for some fun camera angles and blur shots.

Dreaming of life beyond training wheels.

Past the secret door.

Monster Cross bike flattens everything in path.

Birds eye view of the action.

Girls racers rock.


Racer Boy Ian chases teammate Matt into the concrete abyss.

Scenic cruise on the shores of Lake Washington.  Ian demonstrates.

Run Ian run.  Check out the new white Northwave shoes.  Pro, eh?  Considering this was a flat, fast, and not very technical course - not really his style - did pretty well.  Scored 9th out of 18 kids in the Junior Boys Grades 6 - 7 class.  His currently sitting in 7th place overall for the series.  Great job!

Follow the leader.

High speed leaf crunching.

Insanely nice fall day.

Various barrier action.

Back of the course featured a run up, courtesy of wooden stairs.

"Do my cleats look worn?"...

Grimace into the corner.

Go JL Velo.

Old school cool.

Lined up for torture.

It's late and my mental caption machine is operating in sleep mode.  Time to wrap this up and hit the sack.  A few races left in the season, more to follow.  Adios...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Jiggernaut Frame Building Jig

While cruising though Kickstarter - cool site where people donate to fund various projects - came across this project, already fully funded and I'd assume in production.

Affordable jig to try your hand at building a bike frame.  Fantastic idea and well executed.  And affordable - at least during their pledge drive - $299 for the jig.  $499 for jig and tube set to construct a road frame.

Dust off the old brazing skills from high school metal shop class, and you have yourself a fun winter project.  As per their official site, not sure if available yet.  I gotta find out - I want one.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Seattle Cyclocross Series # 3 - Silver Lake, Washington

Yes kids, time for another round of 'cross Pics 'N' Words, courtesy of me at no additional charge.  Call now, operators are standing by.  As seen on TV.  Money back guarantee.

This alleged report emanating from the shores of Silver Lake, Washington.  That be in Everett for all non Pacific Northwest types.  Stop number three for the Seattle Cyclocross series, held last weekend.  The Seattle and MFG series are well attended, now pulling in around 1000 racers per event.  Crazy town, huh?

This race also signaled the end of our Warm 'N' Sunny weather.  Overcast, cloudy and cool.  Rain the night before, wetting things down a bit. Leaves changing color and cooler temps make it feel like fall.  

And fall means cyclocross...

Juniors hit the sand, teammate Henry staring down his line.  My number # 1 son, Racer Boy Ian, seen on the right.  Go JL Velo, go.  Start area pavement dumping quickly into fairly deep sand.

Cheering makes you go faster.  Scientific fact.

Running through deep sand adds to the festivities.  Sam demonstrates.

Ian lines up for the barriers.

Looking good.

Go Ian go!  He was looking forward to this event, this venue more to his mountain bike style - tight turns and short punchy hills - almost singletrack like.  He was riding well and looking good, then it all sorta went pear shaped...

Barriers, sand, then short run up.  Nobody said 'cross was easy.  Sam stares me down in agreement.

Junior teammate Henry blurs the course with speed.

Scott and Jarrett - two very fast 13 year olds - in battle.

Kids racers rock.  They really do.  Pretty cool junior scene we have in the Seattle area.

Run Ian run!  Flat tire causing him to run almost the entire last lap.  Ouch.  After crossing the line, plopped on the ground to recover - soaked with sweat - slightly light headed.  Suburb effort, though he was seriously bummed.  First flat or mechanical issue in a few years of mountain and 'cross racing.  Bound to happen eventually.

We have no spare wheels or bike in the pit area, would have come in handy today.  Ian did run into the pit, directed by spectators - but after some confusion over his 9 speed cassette - he just ran out of the pit to finish.  I'm not even sure if this series offers neutral support.  I need to check on that.

In any case, I'm very proud of him.  Would have been easy to quit, instead toughed it out and ran to the finish, placing 14th out of 18 kids in the Junior Boys 13 - 14 class.  Excellent job.

Fallen pine needles, overcast sky, arm and knee warmers.  Smells like 'cross season.

It's the final countdown.  Fast women get ready to roll.

Joey spreads the love.  Joey is a bit famous from this little spectacle last year.

Round 'N' Round we go.

Carve an arc.  Monster Cross bike leading the way.

Single speed Action-O-Plenty.

Barriers 'R' Fun.

Full speed dive into the sand.

Dude, we told you that number was bad luck.

Man, these helium filled bikes kick ass.  Theo charges the barriers.

Evan tilts the horizon on his way to a very respectable finish in his first CAT3 race.  Pretty cool for a high school kid, no?

Harrison deep in thought - or maybe pain.  Another fast high school kid.

Doc who fixed my daughter's broken arm last year.  Any doc who races 'cross is okay in my book.

And there you have it - another post to help fill up the Internet.  More 'cross reports and other nonsense to follow.  Thanks for reading and checking out the pics.  Until next time...