Saturday, December 31, 2011


I suspect 2012 is going to get it's rear end whipped by this beast.


                                              Looks good on a cloudy day

This has been a nice and mild year. Snow and really cold weather have stayed away but I'm sure they'll show up soon. We've had plenty of rain and cloudy, misty days and while I like the rain and drizzle (for some reason)  I don't just go out and play in it because I respect it's power to get me sick when it really tries. But when ya' really need to get out in that weather, it's usually fun. The hiss of the tires on a wet road while the fog does it's thing on the hills is kind of soothing. Something about taking on this kind of day makes me feel like a cyclist.....A lifetime, transportation and sport cyclist.....In blue jeans.

Catrike headset bearing swap...

Catrikes are built with two headsets to allow a strong and smooth pivot point for the front wheel assemblies and  this just seems like such a high quality and good looking setup.The headsets are readily available from most any bike shop and they'll almost never wear out when they're properly assembled and maintained.

Both of our Villagers use Cane Creek ZS22 headsets with one oddball piece. Catrike swaps out the top bearing for a plastic bearing which is probably some sort of nylon or delrin. They supposedly do the plastic bearing thing to slow down the steering to make the trike more stable.

It takes a lil' more guesswork to properly tighten a headset with plastic bearings compared to a normal set of caged or cartridge bearings like I've done thousands of times, soooooooooo, in comes some Cane Creek cartridge bearings and  I'm sure they must be more durable than a slick piece of plastic. It's nice that we can easily get these tiny parts with a few clicks of a mouse and minimal searching by going to . The conversion takes a pair of 38mm bearings and two 38mm compression rings. I haven't done the switch over yet but there will surely be joy in the land once I get around to it.

Once the switch is completed, we'll have a spare set of stock Catrike top bearings for Jetaime's trike so she should be set for years. There's no real notable reason for me to want to switch from the plastic top bearing to cartridge top bearings other than simply wanting to do it. I've not heard of any issues with the plastic bearing but I'm just a guy who likes what I like and the cartridge bearing is my preference. We'll see how handling and durability might be affected since we can observe these sibling trikes as the mileage accumulates.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanks to veterans past and present....

The freedom to do all the small things like posting on this blog is due to our brave soldiers. We all still have a voice because of you heroes.......Thanks!

Friday, October 28, 2011

New wheels..

I love my Catrike and I love Mavic rims sooooooooooo, now they're together. I've been using Mavics for a lotto' years and they're on all my bikes. It's easy to find a nice Mavic rim in 26" and 700c sizes but not so much in the 20" size. Luckily, there is one on the front of my Tour Easy and I just bought a stockpile of them so the XY's are flowing like water around here.

I measured the ERD of the stock Catrike rims and the Mavic XY rims to see if they could be swapped out without buying new spokes.....As luck would have it, they match up very well.

The XY rim and the stock rim. The XY rim is twice the width of the stock rims and this spreads the tire out better and makes for an improved ride. Made in France with supa' high quality.....Oui. 

This is an easy way to do a straight rim swap. Bread ties keep the spokes in place. Another way is to tape the rims together and move the spokes over as you take them out of the old rim. 

Here's what the bread ties do. I use beeswax on the spoke threads when lacing them back up. 

Mmmmmmm, harmony.

Catrike family

I enjoyed building and test riding my wife's Catrike Villager so much that I started looking for one of my own. We bought her trike as leftover stock from a bike shop in Wisconsin. That shop had two of the old style Villagers but I just didn't like dealing with them. Luckily I keep an eye on E-Bay and found another "new old stock" Villager for $500.00 less than we paid for Jetaime's Catrike so I ordered it.

As strange as it may be, my Villager also came from Wisconsin.....That means that I couldn't find any of these anywhere else but I know there were three of them sitting in bike shops way up there in the dairy state so I did my best imitation of a socialist and redistributed some of that Catrike wealth to this time zone. Actually, capitalism redistributed the Catrikes because I paid for them with my hard earned money.

Jetaime and I went on a Catrike ride around town and it was a blast! There was a short steep hill that was so easy to climb simply because we could go as slow as we wanted. We experienced this because at the base of this hill is a cross street and the traffic separated us as I started up the hill so I simply slowed to a standstill to wait for her and it was very cool.

Catrikes, herbs, and marigolds

Sugino cranks, MKS pedals, Kleen Kanteen, and Suntour Barcons. 

Close view of the Suntour shifters.....They are completely serviceable and I have a box o' parts. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011


My home state has a reputation among touring cyclists.......Many who travel the entire Transamerica Trail remember this state as having way too many dogs out on the roads chasing after the cyclists. That's not flattering but I must admit that I'm used to it. Being a good bike handler gives me enough confidence to battle off the dogs on a daily basis

Because of my youth revolving around bicycles, it just never occurred to me that a person who is less than 100% confident in their handling abilities might be scared of a charging dog. My wife became a pretty serious bicycle commuter well into her adult life and never built up the skills of a freestyle riding, dirt jumping, downhill mtb racing youth. She's confident with dogs of any sort when she's on foot but she's MUCH less confident if they pursue her while she's on two wheels. Where I might kick both legs towards the dogs while simultaneously squirting them with a water bottle, she worries more about simply staying upright. She's a very competent rider but this variable of a dog that can hit her front wheel or otherwise knock her off balance is just a little too much of a worry. She has helped change my own attitude towards charging dogs.

Back in the old days, I would ride along and ignore a charging dog. Never got bit but I did get rammed a few times and even accidentally ran over one dog but it was okay. Now that I'm more aware of how uncomfortable a dog can make a cyclist, I've changed my methods. Now I actively train people's dogs for them. One thing to use is "Halt!" dog repellent and it works well. It actually does train the dogs if you regularly ride that area. Another thing I've used is a frame pump. These things aren't that tough but I have used them for a swift whack on the snout. Another method I've used is direct conflict with the owner and this could easily lead to fisticuffs so I don't suggest it. Honestly, any of these methods can lead to a fight with a protective owner so it's all done at your own risk. Weigh the pros and cons to see if it's worth it to you.

 I'm training all the local dogs for the sake of my wife being able to ride with confidence and others will probably benefit too. There is no good reason for a dog to pursue/attack anyone on a public roadway so it's a no-brainer for me to help them stay in their yards.

In this photo you can barely see a busted Zefal frame pump poking out of the Carradice bag because it had a meeting with a dog snout. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Here's how they roll....

Now this is a motorcycle gang that looks like they have a sense o' humor.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Papers please.......

Just read about a stolen bicycle retrieval plan in England and it made me frown. Normally, I'm all smiles about the police helping us get our bikes back but this one doesn't sit well. Lancashire Police can stop a cyclist and ask him/her to prove ownership of the bicycle. If sufficient proof is not provided, the bicycle could be confiscated and taken to the police station where the rider will need to bring proof of ownership to get the bike back. Acceptable ownership documentation is a purchase receipt, a photo that shows said rider on the bicycle, or some sort of insurance documentation like a homeowner's policy that has the bicycle listed. If you can't provide these......Well, the friendly officer might seize your bicycle. Now, the good thing is that these checks are targeted and aren't completely random, plus not all bicycles are seized but that's a tiny little nibble of goodness with a big serving of badness syrup poured over the top. 

The only times I have ridden my bicycle with ownership documentation have been the couple of times I rode a brand new bike straight from the bike shop. Other than that, I don't carry the receipt or vanity pictures of me on my bike. I also don't insure the bike because I take maximum precautions against theft (I've never had one stolen) and I hate insurance and insurance companies so I don't support them any more than absolutely necessary. It's a personal feeling of freedom to not need to insure or register my bicycles and it just appears that the cops have too much power in this instance. I'd like a lil' help with bike theft but this doesn't seem toooooo helpful. If my bike were confiscated, I might not even be able to get it back because my bicycles are bought, bit by bit, through mail order from companies all over America. It's ironic that one could potentially do everything right to prevent their bike from being stolen and then have the police confiscate it. Seems like this could easily lead down the road to mandatory licensing, insurance, and user fees for the folks who produce their own transportation power. 

I read about this story on a blog page at . The writer seemed to be enthusiastic about the program and they even said that they had an ownership check by the police but the story doesn't say how ownership was proven. The fact that this is happening in England may explain folks being okay with too much intrusion. I really don't know how everyday, practical life life goes in that part of the world and I'm not familiar with most laws and the attitudes of the people since I don't live and work there. It would cause an uproar around here though.  

I'm talking "extremes" in this post but from where I sit.....This just isn't the way to fix the problem. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Getting around by bicycle...

There is a festival in our town that shuts most everything down for a few days and it's known as the Apple Festival. We live in the shutdown zone and it's impossible to conduct normal business or go about our daily routine. The town's population swells by about 500% during this festival and that's a lot of people and traffic. The good thing is that there are food booths that are operated by the volunteer fire departments, churches, schools, and some others. The fire departments and churches make the majority of their yearly operating budget at this festival. The extracurricular school activity booths that are put on by groups like cheerleaders and little league are also helped tremendously by these sales. This festival gives us all a chance to support the organizations and groups we care about while getting various oddball food items in return. I only buy from volunteer fire departments, schools, and churches because those are at the top of my list of importance. At the bottom of the list are the political booths. I'm sure everyone has a different list of "booth priorities".

Our God son and Jetaime were to ride on a float in the parade and that sounds alright......Until the day actually comes around.  The floats are first judged (there is prize money at stake) and later they head out on the parade route. Sounds simple, but the crowds and timing complicate matters. The judging and staging area for the floats is across town. The judging took place in the morning with the parade in the afternoon. This meant Jetaime and Ian needed to get across town and back two different times. Thanks to Big Muddy I was able to transport them there, back, and then back again in a quick and efficient manner. It was by far the quickest way to travel and there were probably tons of jealous people on the sidelines.

I love knowing this big bicycle secret that few seem to get!

Friday, September 30, 2011


Getting our schedules in line enough so that Jetaime can commute to work again....She likes the Catrike a lot!

Added some power grips and a Kleen Kanteen Reflect water bottle.....This model has zero plastic in the bottle or the cap and looks lusciously retro and stylie.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The balance beam.....

A Monty T219 mod trials bike is how I keep my bicycle balance up to par.

This one is pretty old.....I bought it from it's second owner way back in the early nineties. It's held up nicely though!! The only real issue it's ever had is that I replaced the headset a few years ago and, oddly enough, this is a Mexican bicycle but it has a French headset.

I actually sold the bike once and it was given back to me years later.....Then I gave it away to someone in need and it made it's way back to me even more years later. It's like when you set free the one you love to see if they come back. Hard to believe I first jumped onto this bike twenty years ago!

You don't need to do anything "extreme" to gain skill from a trials bike. Just jump on and do 5 minute balance/riding stints around the house without allowing your feet to touch the ground. It's helpful for building your strength, balance, and reflexes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Vee brake stuff...

Brakes have really changed over the years. Back in the nineties, canti brakes mounted a certain way. You've got your post that's brazed onto the frame/fork and then you've got the brake that slips over that post and rotates around said post. That's pretty simple and if you don't look toooo closely, it looks like nothing has changed. But besides the one obvious fact that vee brakes and disc brakes have taken over most of the market it's also now normal for the vee and canti brakes to mount up in a different way.

Back in the old days we bike shop mechanics would have to file many a brake post to get the brakes to work smoothly. Then someone came up with the bright idea of a "cartridge" style mounting method. The way this works is that the brake arm still mounts onto the braze on like normal but now there are two sleeves (instead of just one) inside the brake. One sits stationary on the brake post and is tightened down during assembly while the other sleeve rotates on the inner sleeve whose job is just to sit there on the brake post. While it's more complicated to produce, it's actually a plus for speeding up the bicycle assembly process. No more filing the brake post. It's sort of an idiot proof style of building brakes.

Paul does this type right by sealing everything up with o-rings and making it rebuildable but that's also a pricey way to do it which is why I don't have Paul brakes at this time. <----- Notice the pun...Paul and Price used in the same sentence. I dream about Paul Motolites, though.

Anyway, when building up my Tour Easy, I found that Tektro still makes an old style vee brake that's also dirt cheap. So I bought a set, sanded my brake posts, and slapped them on. That created a nice feeling of nostalgia over a (necessary) ritual of times past. Funny how MORE work can be fun when assembling a bicycle. The "old style" doesn't work better than the "new style" but it's my preference. The facts that they'e cheap and shiny silver also help the cause.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The light of day....

Jetaime's Catrike made it outside. I carried it sideways through the house. I knew it would be tough to get it outside when I built it inside because all of our doors are narrow but I wanted to be able to build it at my leisure in our office and it was a relaxing thing.

After building this, I must say that my appreciation for Catrike has shot through the roof! This just seems like such a high quality vehicle. All the Catrike proprietary parts are so nice and fit so well. The building process may have been tooooooo nice because now I want one too.

The rear derailleur is slightly messed up because the low gear limit setscrew wasn't adjusted properly and it looks like it went into the spokes on a test ride. I could make a big deal out of this and make an angry phone call but I'd rather not talk to those guys again. It will work in 8 of the 9 cogs so it's still useful until we get another.

We've ridden trikes before so this isn't anyone's first time on one but it's the first time either of us has ridden one east of the Mississippi. All of our experience has been riding KMXs, a Terratrike, and the elusive Catrike Silvercat on the bike friendly streets and Greenbelt of Boise. This is probably the first Catrike that's ever been in this particular town.

Tires are backwards 

This angle makes the boom look crooked

Too big for him

Also gathering herbs for drying since it's getting colder 

Jetaime likes it ! 

Jetaime's new ride....

After a fair amount of searching, we found a trike for Jetaime. It's a Catrike Villager and I just gotta' say I've always loved the concept of the Catrike company because they're an American company who actually make their own stuff and have even gained a few patents along the way. That sounds like a nice brand to support!

One of my favorite things about these trikes is/was the solid/non adjustable seat because it equals one less thing to go wrong out in the real world. You pretty much buy the Catrike that has the built in seat angle that you prefer.....Whether it's super laid back or more upright. There are plenty of other variations in the models but I suspect many people start with the seat angle and go from there. Recently, Catrike decided to give the Villager and Trail models an adjustable seat and to phase out the frame style I prefer. I wish the old style could have stuck around as an option but that's not for me decide. The new style is very solid and very nice but it still takes away some of that wonderful simplicity and I think the old style frame also looked better. So having said all this...We searched until we found an old style Villager sitting unsold on the floor of a bike shop way up in Wisconsin.

Because of events that have happened in the last year, my mind wanders and remembers the swarms of angry Wisconsinites skipping out on their schools and jobs to protest and make themselves into a spectacle. It seems sadly ironic that this Villager (which is a giver of smiles) would be sitting there as an orphan right under their noses. If one is going to skip out on school and work, you should take a happy ride instead of doing the angry mob thing......But thanks for leaving this Villager for my wife.

Anyway...Here's pictures......

The big box 

There it is....Somewhere

Pulled out the Park tool case

I love the skeletal look of the naked Catrike

Finished, but how do I get it out of the room? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

New member of the household....

Suddenly got word yesterday that we would have a new person in the house for a while. This isn't the first time this has happened but it might be the most sudden time. My wife and myself are "Godparents" and, sometimes, things happen that might put that title into action. This means we gotta incorporate a toddler into our bicycle loving lifestyle. This isn't a big deal as there are so many child carrying options out there but we're thrust into this situation so suddenly that it's tougher. If we had months to prepare, we could get everything lined up and purchased and it would be nice and easy with the great products we cyclists are blessed with nowadays. Wifey and myself are both Xtracycle riders and there are tons of options for this. The Yuba Mundos, Bakfietsen, and all the different trailers are great too! It's just a wide open world of child carrying options out there and we have so many choices that I can't help but brag about the bike industry for a moment.

Thanks to all the innovators and practical thinkers.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

11,000 mile tires...

Specialized Armadillo Hemisphere tires are unbelievable! These were rotated regularly but 11,000 miles is a lot for any tire. This is over the course of about five years too. I didn't just rack up a bunch o' miles in one season. The tires have mostly ridden on my cargo bike and have battled goatheads in the Northwest, actual armadillos in the midwest, and chunks of coal on the road here in the Appalachians. They carried people and large touring loads at different times. The kevlar casing seems to be the key to the durability of these particular tires. I've gone through many other tires due to sidewall cuts.

Coincidentally, both tires messed up in the same week. The tread had just gotten so thin that it tore and started coming off the casing. It was like a bologna (baloney) skin. I was alerted of this problem because the tread was flapping against my fender and it make me think it was either a sidewall bulge or a bent rim. The actual cause was more of a surprise and I was unprepared for this event.

Had to ride these tires in this condition for about a week as I waited for new tires to arrive on the big brown truck. I expected that the casing was probably tougher than the tread so I didn't worry about a blowout. I did have to be careful cornering though because the casing is slick when you hit that spot, plus the tread was wallowing around on the casing a little bit. This gave the bike a bit of a vague feeling in the turns so I slowed down.

Unhappy cranks...

Cranks live a hard life.....Especially if they're mounted on a cargo bike and ridden by a former BMX'er who happens to be a clydesdale.

Here's what these poor cranks look like after about 9,000 miles. The shape actually created a stress riser at the source of the crack. As much as I want to glorify my thunderous/crank arm murdering thighs, these cranks really just committed suicide.....So I must stay humble. Guess this is why these have been off the market for years.

Clean yo' bike every now and then to find these ticking time bombs. My friend Todd had a BMX crankarm break while he was powering down the street and it absolutely messed him up. Scratched up face and broken teeth. I got lucky with these


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Setting up the Tour Easy...

Adjusting the fit in a tiny room. Never fear.....I'm not balancing on the kickstand. My left arm is against the wall to support us.

This is actually my wife's yoga room.

The color is british racing green but I'm so "blue collar" that I feel the name is a lil' too fancy for me so I tend to call the color coleman green.

Tour Easy...

In May, 2011 I got a new bike. It's a medium/large Tour Easy from the Easy Racers bike company. Back in 2008 I got a Kentucky blue Tour Easy but had to sell it because of financial reasons. I regretted that decision very much and had been saving pennies for another one ever since. The Tour Easy is what I think of when you say the words "recumbent bicycle". To me, it's the quintessential recumbent that handles well and the position works for me and how I ride.

Now I finally have another and went a step further this time and got a semi-custom color because most of the Easy Racers standard colors feel too flashy for me and I'm also not a fan of black bikes. There's nothing wrong with any of their stock colors but I wanted something that felt more like.....Me. The way their system works is that the powder coater has the E.R. standard colors in stock, plus a few extra colors from past custom work. It's like $300.00 to get a full custom color but that price is cut in half if you use a non-standard color that they happen to have sitting around.

My inner cheapskate won the day so I didn't go full custom but asked them to find me a good color that they already had on hand. I specifically asked for military colors...Grays, tans, browns, or greens and E.R. got back to me and said the closest they have is a nice medium green. I told them "green sounds good". The fork is painted to match the frame because chrome forks look perfect on old Italian road bikes but this is not one of those.

Big box, tiny dog

Well packed frameset
 You can see the well wrapped frame, fork, handlebar/stem, seat and a giant mass of paper....Plus Atlas the puppy
 Those plastic caps are VERY WHITE and are about to be replaced with the corks in the background
 Corked but not yet shellacked 

How I see the bicycle world....

I can't think of any sort of one, two, three, or four wheeled, human powered machine that I actually don't like.

I'm a cyclist.....Not a snob.

I ride......I don't just sit back and criticize.

For whatever reason, I just can't get enough of the bicycle. I gotta' look at them, touch them, ride them, fix them, and think about them. It's fortunate that I'm not this way with women as it would destroy any chance of  having a meaningful marriage....Which I'm lucky to have. As a matter of fact, if I were so obsessed with cars, it would probably be a marriage destroyer as well because I just don't make enough money to obsess over anything pricier than a few thousand dollars.

When I turn on the computer I see that there are BMX blogs.....Freeride blogs.....Commuter/utility blogs......Mountain bike blogs.....Road bike blogs.....Fat bike blogs.....Recumbent blogs......Cargo bike blogs.....And fashionable/pretty lady blogs. Often a person who prefers a particular style of cycling or bicycle will hold that style way up on a pedestal and insult all the others. It seems alright to love a particular style but it seems less alright to criticize others for simply exercising their freedom in finding their own preferred style.

The cycling world is full of Nazis.....Helmet Nazis, light Nazis, lyrca Nazis, facility Nazis, trail Nazis, handlebar height Nazis, sidewalk Nazis, seat angle Nazis,  and plain ol' bicycle Nazis.  This one makes fun of lycra while that one makes fun of black socks, and that other one makes fun of recumbents. Slow cyclists, fast cyclists, skinny and fat cyclists are criticized . Some completely ignore fashion and ride naked and even these clever folks are still the "butts" of jokes.

Fat bikes, skinny  bikes, heavy bikes, light bikes, plastic bikes, steel bikes, big wheels, small wheels, cheap bikes, and even pricey bikes are all fair game.

We all deal with the "do it my way" crowd but that's the opposite of what I am. Ride whatever you want and I'll give you the thumbs up. Tell me what to ride and I'll give you two thumbs down. Right now I have two bikes and they are not "normal. One is a Surly Big Dummy, and the other is an Easy Racers Tour Easy recumbent. My wife has a Bianchi Milano with an Xtracycle on the back. We hope to get her a recumbent trike as well.

We rarely wear a helmet, our lights are not supa' bight, and we even (carefully) ride on the sidewalk when the occasion arises. The rabid bike Nazis see us as shining examples of cyclists who need to be exterminated/assimilated . According to some, we do everything wrong and it's okay to believe that....Just don't expect us to change because you say so.