Monday, July 30, 2012

Just Ride - Book Review

As I've mentioned a few times in this wildly popular blog (ha!), I'm a bit of Grant Petersen fan, starting from his days running Bridgestone during the company's heyday of the '90s.  As proof, purchased three new Bridgestones in '91:  RB-1, MB-Zip, and MB-3.  The vibe, catalogs, and bikes from Bridgestone were something out of the ordinary for that era.  Most things Bridgestone have now become eBay collector items to some extent, and the company is remembered fondly many years later.

As most bike nuts already know - after Bridgestone USA folded up - Grant went on to start Rivendell and himself becoming somewhat of an icon in certain bike culture circles.  Rivendell carving its own little niche of real world bikes and accessories.  There's no hype involved, the company just sells what it believes in and doesn't follow any fads or trends.  Even if you don't agree with Grant/Rivendell you gotta enjoy someone who stays their course.  I know I do and always enjoy reading his words and checking out the Rivendell site.

With that, I enjoyed reading his book - a guide for folks looking to ride without pretending to be a racer - the Unracer, as he calls it.  If you're familiar with Grant Petersen, the book basically puts all his views in one convenient place:  Handlebars should high enough to be comfortable, frames need enough room to handle fatter tires and fenders, baskets and bags are a good thing, steel frames rule, carbon fiber is unreliable, don't use clipless pedals, wear normal clothes to ride, etc - the list goes on and on...

And for the most part, for many riders, I agree with him - even though I don't subscribe to it all myself.  I usually dress like the wannabe racer (and do race occasionally), I'd rather use a messenger bag then clutter my bike(s) up with bags or baskets.  I own a carbon road bike (along with steel) and will never give up clipless pedals.  My mountain bike does indeed sport a suspension fork.  After riding as the (alleged) adult for 28 years, I've developed my own style/beliefs.  Grant's book basically documents his bike related style/beliefs and there's nothing wrong with that - as well as being fun to read.

As mentioned, I do agree with Grant on many things.  For most people just looking to ride, using racers as role models is stupid, and cuts down on "normal" folks from perhaps doing just that - ride.  You really don't need to dress like a Euro Pro to cruise the bike trail for an hour or commute to work.  Fatter tires are more comfortable.  Fenders do work and keep the toxic road stripe off your back.  A basket or large bags do allow you to actually carry something on a ride, besides a spare tube and CO2 cartridge.  And horror of horrors, if you want a kickstand to hold your bike up - use one.  All this stuff adds up to using the bike for more then a "training tool" or pretending to be a racer.  And we need more of that, the more people riding bikes, the better.

if you're familiar with Grant, some of the chapter titles give you a clue to what they'll contain:  Racing Ruins the Breed, The Shoes Ruse, Helmets Aren't All They're Cracked Up to Be, Most Bikes Don't Fit, No Ride Too Short.  My favorite was Frame Arithmetic, spelling out insights to frame design.  Cool stuff.

If you're not familiar with Grant and looking for tips and views that go beyond the usual bike marketing hype, this will also be a fun read.  Give it a whirl, book available off the Rivendell site.  Ride on, ride often...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Nikon D7000 - Failure 'R' Us

My Nikon D7000 camera, barely a year old, died suddenly last weekend.  Ouch.  Every image now contains the blurred black bar as pictured, along with a sick sounding shutter, complete with blinking Err message.  Game over.  After some Google searching, appears I'm not the only one to experience this.

I'm seriously bummed, since I really dig this camera and use it a lot.  It was a 50th birthday present from my wife, and really kick started my interest back into photography.  After checking the receipt, discovered it died nine days out of the one year warranty period.  Double ouch.  And I actually didn't unbox the camera for two weeks after receiving it, but I have no way to prove that, so purchase date it is.

Being without the camera bums me out more then potentially paying for the repair.  Great camera, and I'd consider buying another D7000 body as a spare and/or to have an additional camera to shoot races, lessening the need to swap lenses.  At $1200 per body, that's not gonna happen anytime soon.

I called Nikon on Monday and talked to a rep.  He didn't promise it being covered under warranty, though gut tells me it'll be covered.  I hope. Camera now shipped off to repair center in California, no idea how long it will be gone.

After whining about my plight to Facebook friends, old coworker pal offered to loan me his Nikon D60, since he also owns a D7000 - along with yet another photographer pal of mine sporting a D7000, who offered me his D80.  Lots of spreading the camera love, pretty cool.

I picked up the D60 this week, curious to try out the lower end end of Nikon DSLR range and compare to my D7000 - which will hopefully return soon...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Project Access - Round Two

Racer Boy Ian has already outgrown the mountain bike recently built up for him, only lasted a few months.  That'll happen when you're the fast growing (almost) 13 year old.  He's now riding (or will be shortly) the same size frame as me.  Welcome to Crazy Town, I'll be your Tour Guide, please keep arms in tram at all times.

Scored this Performance Access XCL Comp frame direct from Performance for $180 on July 4th, and it arrived today.  Larger version (18.5") of the same frame I built up awhile back, that one being the 14" model.  Amazingly, Ian rode the smaller version for two years.  Adding a longer seatpost with setback, along with a longer stem, extended the life quite a bit.  Lots of cool memories thanks to that little frame.

The Sette frame we'll soon retire measures at 16 inches.  Nothing wrong with the Sette frame - build or ride quality - and a screaming deal at $90.  It's just now too small.  So there you have it, 14" to 18.5" in three years (or so).  My, how they grow.

These "bargain" frames are fantastic for the money and work well.  The build quality and graphics are much higher then you'd expect, and they ride great.  For keeping a young racer on decent bikes, I can't come up with a cheaper solution.  I just keep moving the old school XTR parts kit and Fox fork from frame to frame.

Parts transfer/build to follow shortly....

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Track Night - Marymoor Velodrome

Hit the Marymoor Velodrome to watch a little track racin' on Friday night.  Pretty cool scene and a great way to spend the evening.  Clear skies, setting sun, low key fun vibe, and great racing.  Set up a picnic in the grass and watch 'em go round 'n' round.

Ian's JL Velo teammate, Harrison, taking the win in the CAT 3 "Miss and Out" race - which I captured above.  Oh yeah, Harrison is all of 16 years old.  Fast kid indeed.

Low light and fast bikes equal blurred pictures.  Playing with the blur factor can be cool though.  Expert I'm not, but I dig shooting this stuff. Slideshow of images to ponder:

We only hit the track occasionally.  Good family night out, need to visit more often. We'll schedule a few more Fridays in Redmond before the summer is over.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Everyone's a Winner...

Caught this online, obviously some sort of euro Candid Camera show.  Pretty funny, give it a spin.  Would be a goof to set this up on your local bike path...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

As of today, I'm now over half a century old - scary, eh?  51 years young and counting.  Pretty quiet birthday, especially compared to last year. This year celebrated by sleeping until 11:30 AM, followed by a breakfast/lunch at the local pancake house with the family.  Big pile of potato pancakes and side of bacon, thank you very much.  A round of miniature golf - daughter Amy digs that - to help the digestion (burp).

As the sun sets, a shared ride with son Ian, who requested a road ride - being Mr. Dirt - quite the rare event.  I think watching the Tour over the last few days has taken effect.  I dusted off his 'cross bike, not touched since 'cross season ended last December.  Being the rapidly growing (almost) 13 year old, the little Redline now too small for him.  I cranked the seatpost up as far as possible and slammed the saddle back on the rails.  Still about two inches too low, close enough for a quick cruise.  I also stole the old school Ritchey 28c tires from my RB-1 and swapped out the 'cross tires for something smoother.

We hit the Sammamish River Trail and headed towards Woodinville, Ian riding 17 - 21 mph with no problem, looking like a mini-pro.  Cool.  At one point, ran into Bill, one of the Old Guy Ride regulars, getting in some road miles.  Wished me a happy birthday and his age came up, being 61 years old.  Bikes are the fountain of youth, no doubt about that.  Bill mentioned recently doing a ride with a well riding 71 year old.  Awesome.

Ride done, about 20 miles total, head home to late dinner.  Wife Lori had the spread on the table ready, including chocolate cake for dessert.

Not a bad way to turn 51 - here's to many more years and rides...