Bloggishnish: July 31st

Just a few miscellaneous thoughts to share ….

Dang, it’s been HOT! Bad Timing for Shed Project – For some strange reason I always seem to get out door projects going in July and August and then wonder why it’s so darn hot.  It’s been slow going on the shed project, noting I finally have all of the walls and roof up with roofing paper covering the OBS sheathing.  I’d hoped to get the shingles on today, but thunderstorms intervened so I packed it in and will resume work next week.  At least it will be mostly dry, noting I still haven’t fabricated the pair of sliding doors that cover the 6′ x 6′ door opening in the front of the shed.

But, as I said, it’ been HOT!  On days when I’ve started early to avoid the near 100°F temps that come in the afternoon the 90% humidity has more than made up for the heat and I’d guess that on average I’ve had to change T-shirts about once an hour regardless of when I’ve been out working on this thing.  Oh to have a couple days of low to mid-80s….

Still lots of details to address once the basic box is complete and shingled, i.e., soffits, corner boards, lap siding on the lower 1/3, battens on upper 2/3, porch decking and overhang, the bar door sliders, final paint and then interior shelving.  Of course, the minute the shed is done and all of the garden and yard “stuff’ is moved out of the garage, the garage renovation project begins.  With any luck, I’ll have it all done by Halloween when my folks pay their annual visit, as that always seems to be the catalyst for getting major projects done.

Moto Mojo; It’s BaAack! – I think I can officially declare I’ve got my Moto-Mojo back.  Despite two late afternoon commutes in the midst of severe thunderstorms and near 100°F rides on the days when it’s not raining, I still find that I’d rather ride my moto to work than drive my truck.  In fact, there was one day when I took the morning off to work on my shed and opted to take the truck and was quickly reminded why I prefer the moto.  Moreover, I’m actually looking forward to those winter-time commutes when the temps are back into the high-20’s and low-30’s…  that’s when I find that I’m really in the zone on the moto!!  No, I haven’t got a clue as to why that is…  it’s counter-intuitive.

Elmer Fudd asks, ” Is It Wheel Back Wuck or Wheel Bad Wheels? – No, no… not us.  We’re doing just fine with our 36h conventional wheelset, thank you very much.  However, on the heels of my July 10th blog entry on the dubious value of using ‘racing wheels’ as everyday wheels on a tandem came several accounts of rim cracks from different tandem teams who had been using sets of go-fast-wheels as their daily-use wheelsets.  About half of the teams opted to keep on playing from the same card deck and pony’d-up for either rebuilds with new rims or new wheelsets, while a few others have moved back to conventional wheelsets.  To say that there’s a lot of angst with some teams would be an understatement.  Frankly, I still think a lot of folks are kidding themselves when it comes to high-end integrated wheelsets and even super-lightweight conventional wheels for everyday riding.

While the marketing materials seem to suggest that ‘wonder wheels’ are analogous to Popeye’s spinach and will provide users with magical performance improvements, reality suggests otherwise.  Again, time after time when you go and look at the teams who really are at the top of their game — even in the Paralympics — more times than not they’re winning on old-school technology, i.e., conventional wheels and in many cases your basic aluminum tandem frames, not some exotic alloy or non-metallic uber-frame.  So, at least from my perspective, aside from looking pretty slick, using high-zoot wheels will subject the average user to higher-than-average problems with higher-than-average repair costs.

Is it time to put the ‘V’ back in VBQ? – There’s no other publication that arrives in the mailbox that I eagerly await as much as the latest edition of Bicycle Quarterly.  Jan Heine does an outstanding job of bringing readers a large collection of well-written articles and reviews that never fail to educate and inform.

However, that said, since dropping ‘Vintage’ from the title and venturing into current product reviews what was once genuine enthusiasm for a niche segment of the bicycle market — touring, trekking, randonneuring and bicycle technology retrospectives — is now a cause célèbre.  In some respects, I’m almost inclined to suggest that VBQ has ‘jumped the shark’… that or the vast majority of high-end bicycle designers are clueless.  While I would agree that there are a lot of folks who ride the wrong type of bikes and who would be served better by a more classic touring bike, it just seems counter-intuitive to believe that the folks who have a preference for racing bikes have been drinking KoolAid for 40 years.    But, I could be wrong.  And, in that regard, it would be very interesting to see a 180° flip on the usual BQ review where instead of having ‘the usual suspects’ provide their subjective impressions of newer offerings contrasted with their favored, classic designs to have them turn over one of their classics for objective testing by a firm like Cervélo against current benchmarks for bicycle performance: that would be an interesting read!

Now, to be fair, BQ has a loyal following of readers and I count myself among them.  While I may find some of these more recent comparisons a bit irksome, it’s really just a nit and speaks more to my own biases as much as anything else. Again, one of the items on my tandem bucket list is “acquire a classic, well-maintained example of an Alex Singer or René Herse tandem from the 1940’s” so that I can spend some quality time on one of these machines to form my own opinion as to how it compares to our more contemporary road tandems.

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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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7 Responses to Bloggishnish: July 31st

  1. Greg Adcox says:

    Mark, just wanted to say that i’m enjoying your site. Wife and I are just getting into tandeming through kind of a side door… two years ago, for our 25th anniversary, we bought two Greenspeed Anura recumbent tricycles that we hook up in tandem ( I have a bad back and she didn’t want to fall , hence the trikes). They are great fun and we have had a blast riding around Dunwoody, on some ABC rides, as well as on the Comet and Alpharetta Greenway. Next year, we will have one less child in college and I will be in the market for a 2 wheel tandem and will use your buyer’s tips to guide my quest.
    Thanks for all the info and enthusiasm.

    Greg

  2. TG says:

    I sincerely appreciate the kind feedback. I had to go and check out the Anura as I wasn’t familiar with that model of Greenspeed trike: slick set-up for an alternative / segue to a upright given your circumstances:

    The Atlanta cycling scene is a small world, so perhaps our paths will cross before too long.

    Warm Regards,
    Mark

  3. gaf shingles says:

    Hey that yard is looking fairly spiffy. Keep it up.

  4. Greg Adcox says:

    The founder/owner of Greenspeed is a big proponent of cycle commuting and he designs a nice machine. I think our setup looks a little better than that pic of the prototypes… here we are on our way to camping near Rockmart… feel like we need a train whistle…

    http://yfrog.com/natriketrainj

    Greg

  5. Greg Adcox says:

    Hey TG,
    found a old Schwinn Doubletime for only $250 on Craig’s list… can’t find any specs on it… could it be a good beginner machine?

    • TG says:

      I think those were mostly ’93 models… essentially a 700c hybrid / ATB with 48h wheels, 7 speeds, flat bars, SunTour thumbshifters, derailluers etc… Moderately heavy and not the stiffest frame around because of the double-diamond frame design (i.e., no internal tube) and small diameter tubing. Pretty much on par with a Fisher Gemini and some other ATB tandems of the same era.

      Entry level? Perhaps… it depends on your expectations. Again, it’s old technology but once cleaned up and serviced, you could probably put 10k miles on the bike without a break down, aside from a flat tire. The stoker compartments are VERY small on these vintage bikes, e.g., ~25″ vs. today’s 28’5″, which can become bothersome if you begin to search for longer miles off the bike paths. However, for a Silver Comet – type bike or leisure use, it would be more than adequate. Again, the handling would be a bit off from what current tandems offer in terms of lateral stability, so if your stoker was pre-disposed to moving around a lot, you may find it takes a little more work to hold a razor straight line. Slick tires or nearly slick / inverted tread tires in good shape would be a must.

      Hey, $250 for a tandem… it’d be worth a try if it’s in descent shape, has all of its parts, etc. Again, just set your expectations and know that the biggest limitation will always be the riders abilities and fitness, bounded by rider comfort. FWIW: We have some very good friends who ride a 50lb+ vintage Fisher Gemini w/26″ wheels who can pretty much hammer all but the really elite riders into the ground… 7 speeds, flat bars and all. Above a certain level of quality, it’s not about the bike.

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