Saturday, July 30, 2011

Loving the bikes...

Today I went for a ride. Oncall was being a pain, so it was short. I decided my goal was to go get a good shot of my bicycle.

The other night I did my little 5.5 mile timed loop with a 19mph average. That's nearly my velodrome speeds!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bicycles, a lot of them.

A few years ago, while recovering from a broken arm, I had a rather disturbing realization. At the time I was staying at my dad's house, and just the act of going up the half flight of stairs to get to the front door left me winded.

Something, had, to be done.

I bought myself a bicycle. A Dawes LT1000.

I'll go more into the story of where that lead, but since we're talking the machines. I'll stick to the machines.

Building the Dawes was only somewhat satisfying, as I didn't get to really build it. I decided I wanted a lighter bike, as usual that caused me to scour ebay. From a pile of parts, I created this:
A Nerobro special, 2006 Fetish Penna, built from ebay parts. It's 17.25lbs. And I think I built it for $900.

That wasn't enough though. I'd heard all about "steel is real" and "steel rides better". The internet convinced me. I needed a steel bike. I went and bought a lightly broken Univega Viva Sport. I replaced the RD, a set of new cables, and tires on it.
I did such a good job that my sister took it. I really wanted downtube shifters anyway.

So I bought a replacement. A 1991 Univega Viva Sport.
She didn't take that one from me.

Three years ago I took up riding track. After riding a complete season on rental bikes, I decided I had earned a bike of my own. I bought a Dawes SST-AL.

After a year at the track, I still had my race license. I did some research, and found my road/track license also qualifies me for cyclocross racing. I broke out my 1996 Iron Horse MT200, and threw some parts on it to make it lighter and fit me better.

I really wanted to have a bike to carry on the train, so I could chose to not ride the bus to work. I bought a Razor Squeeze.
Amazingly, I've never actually taken it on the train. And I've owned it for most of a year now. There will be some blog posts on it later as I modify it to be more suitable to taking it on the Metra.

I wanted to try building a bike that's lighter than my penna. My original goal was 15lbs for $500. It looks like I won't make that goal. But I can definitely get under 15lbs. The frame I bought was a 1992 Trek 2100. Here it is in "lets just get it rolling" form.

Most recently up a Mercier Nano. I did a bit of a review of it earlier in the week, but just in case...
And in the process I ended up with my third DT shifting bike.

So that's my current stable. There's another half dozen bikes that have been sold, flipped, or otherwise have left me. If there's a bike in particular you want a write up on... comment or e-mail.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cheap sports cars, and the potential for very cheap racing.

I wonder why there aren't any really cheap cars on the market.

My dream "second" car, would be something not very fast, very cheap, and very light.

I'm thinking a modern day british sports car. 1 or 1.5 liter 2 cylinder motor. Cam in block. Live axle. Either trailing arm (heck, even leading arm..) or struts up front. Just do everything as simple as can be.

All of the cars electronics could be handled by $2-3 microcontrollers. And you'd only need maybe three of them.

The body panels should be blow, or vacuum molded plastic. Cheap, easy to replace.. and did I mention cheap?

I wonder if there would be a market. The car would be loud. But it would be a convertable. It would be perfect for spec class racing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Battletech Starter Box Set

Battletech is one of my favorite ways to completely waste an afternoon.  In it's board game form at least. 

Years ago, I bought the second edition of the Battletech board game.  It came with a 30 page book, a few game peices, two d6, and two paper maps.  I've destroyed, and later lost the box.  The mech models were a goner early on in it's history.

I was out this weekend, and wandered into a gaming store... and while I knew the battletech game was still out there.  I didn't know it was actually at retail again.  (this is it's third time through, FASA at first, then wizkids, and now Topps of all people!?)
The first thing that struck me was how heavy the box was.  It had serious weight.  I was actaully left wondering if it came with metal models in it.  It drove me a little crazy as I didn't have time to unbox the game for almost three days after I bought it.

And here's what I got once I opened the box.  The box top fits really tightly to the bottom.  I suppose you can expect this of a collector card company.  I think Topps wants this to be collectible, and at every turn my $55 seems worth it.

The came is notoriously complex.  It has lookup tables, and hit locations, and all sorts of things You need to resolve to finish a turn.  In the edition I had before, you had one book with everything in it except record sheets.  Topps saw fit to give you a cheat sheet, a quick start guide, a full rulebook, a map of the inner sphere, a nice book of record sheets, and a few things I'm obviously forgetting now. 

That bag of models seems a bit big.  And the two little boxes there are labeled thor and loki.  Last time I opened a basic battletech set there weren't any clan mechs.  This made me smile a bit. 

Seriously, it came with lots of documentation.  The record sheets include battle armor, some vehicles, and sheets for all the mechs that are included in the game.  Infantry, vehicles, were just hinted at in the original box set.  Here you get the rules to use them!  And the sheets to play them.

The original battletech game came with two folded sheets of paper as the maps. That's paper, but it's 1/8" thick cardboard.  You dont' see boards like this when you buy monopoly.  I'm seriously impressed.  This is where most of the weight of the box set came from.  And I'm quite happy for that.

That's a lot of mechs.  The two clan mechs are "premium" and need assembly. 

How many of them can you name?  it's definitely enough.  And they range from light to assault.  And all things in between.

I am quite happy with my purchase.  Now I just need to scrounge up some people and time to play with. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blowing Mini-Velo Tubes. Mercier Nano goes flat.

As will become evident.  I like two wheeled things.  I have a few to many bikes in my collection...

My most recent addition is a Mercier Nano from bikesdirect.  I've loved the look of mini velo's ever since I discovered they existed.  Something about the little wheels seems cute, and different to me.

 Not a bad looking bike.  It's a bit heavy though.  It's something like 26lbs.  (I'll get the full specs later)

So the first time I went for an actual ride on the bike, disaster struck..   I got all of 800' before I felt the "thump thump thump" of a flat tire.  Given the unique size of the wheels on the bike, it was a week before I had a new tube in my hands to fix the problem.

It turns out that the tube either wiggled past the rim strip, or just pushed through the rim strip and tore through a spoke hole.  I replaced the stock rubber rims strips with adhesive cotton ones from performance.  And I patched the stock tube. 

And then I got busy.  It wasn't until last week that I took the bike for a real ride.  I say "real" in that it was more than a couple hundred yards, but it was only 5 miles.  The ride was one of my usual middle of the night rides.  The weather was nice.  There really was no traffic to speak of.

Riding a mini velo is really no different from riding a normal bike.  It seems a bit less stable when riding no handed.  My particular bike has wider tires than I'm used to.  (I usually ride 23's, the bike has 32mm tires on it) 

The gearing is to short with the size of wheels it has.  I spent most of the ride in 14-16th gears.  And due to the long head tube, the water bottle is WAAAAY down there.

I'm not going to be selling this bike anytime soon.  I like it.  I expect it will become my new rack-beater bike.

Specs, as per bikesdirect:

Butted CroMoly Steel, features bottle cage mounts, rear rack mounts and replaceable rear derailleur hanger, 130mm rear spacing (standard road)
CroMoly Steel Aero StraightBlade with 1 inch steerer tube
Shimano Sora RD-3400GS rear, SHIMANO FD-2303 DOWN PULL front
Shimano SLR400F 16-SP
ALLOY SILVER W/QR, Forged Aluminum shell
These accept standard 20" BMX size tires
LSC 42T/52T, 170MM Aluminum arms SILVER / Cartridge SQ taper
SUNRACE CSR8, 12-25T-8 speed Cassette (SATIN) / KMC Z-51
130mm rear spacing (standard road)
Velo Ergo-Road (turbo style with comfort channel)
29.2mm x 300mm ALLOY SILVER Aluminum seatpost and Quill Stem EXT:90MMxLENGTH 200MMx0 DEGREES, ALLOY SILVER
Road Drop W:400MM ALLOY SILVER NOTE: Bars are road-drop only, NOT bullhorn / Contact-sealed, Cage Ball Bearing
Flat pedals (free bonus, as shown)
Tires 20x1.5 BLACK Kenda Kwest K-193, Presta valve
These are standard 20" BMX size tires (customers say they can use up to 1.75" BMX slicks but clearance is tight and fitment is not guaranteed)
Color Black or Orange
Sizes SM/M or M/L Geometry Chart
(sized center of bb to top of seatpost clamp collar - just like most major brands like trek and fuji)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shoes. Specially the cheap french kind. Feiyue Sneakers

The puns that could come of this are infinite.  So lets try to get this blog going on the right foot.

I own a lot of shoes.  My shoe pile rivals that of many fashion conscious women.  My excuse is that they all have real purposes. 

There's something like 12 pair of shoes there.   There's definitely some redundancy there. 

I suppose I'll post about all of them at some point... and we'll see if you think any of them need to be trashed.  More to the point, I got a new pair of shoes..  I feel like gushing about them a little bit.

For day to day wear, I like as little shoe as I can get.  I can't stand being barefoot, but I like to feel what i'm stepping on.   That combination means I usually like the cheapest shoes I can find.  The sort of shoes with flimsy soles, and sticky rubber on the bottom.

They don't look like much; because they really aren't.  They're cheap.  There's no padding. 
They're just plain canvas tops. What makes them special is the insole, and sole.  The soles are very, very sticky. 

When I first got them, they smelled strongly of curing rubber.  I suspect this is the norm for these, and it would explain why the rubber was bordering on tacky.  I've been wearing them for a week now, and the smell has disapated, and now they're just sticky.

I feel like I could walk up walls wearing these things.

My cheap shoe habit also means I go through shoes pretty quickly.  This pair was about $20.  (I can't be entirely sure, someone else bought them for me, yey presents!)  So far, I'd buy another pair.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Intents, and dreams.

I figure every blog should have a stated purpose.

This blog is here really just to contain the mess of ideas, and opinions that come pouring out of my head on a frequent basis. You'll be seeing mostly reviews and project logs.