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When my baby’s beside me…

11 Dec

Weekends are often when I get up early and go out on a training ride or (less often) a permanent or brevet; lately though, I’ve been happy to sleep in a bit and then head out on my single-speed to capture the dwindling day-light with my partner in crime who has grown more enthusiastic about cycling together. I’ve been s l o w l y taking her further out, and helping her grow more comfortable with night riding, traffic, and other obstacles. I remember the first time I rode 30 miles, and how this seemed like an amazing distance at the time! So I’m very impressed with Rachel for joining me on a leisurely 27+ mile jaunt out to Canoga Park and back…returning home in good spirits without undue fatigue.

Some scenes from an earlier ride:

...smirking as we pass by a mural

Life in the Slow Lane...

...chasing down a commuter, or just trying to beat the rain to the river path?

Maybe not the most descriptive "lost dog" sign I've encountered...

Kronan the Barbarian

1 Nov

Assembled! (click to enlarge)

I’ve been looking around at various options for a utility bike – something to handle load-hauling, grocery-getting, pub-going, bike-path-cruising, picnics, and other short trips in street clothes where speed isn’t a priority.

I considered building up a Velo Orange Polyvalent, or picking up a Workcycles FR8 or a Civia Loring, but I wanted something less expensive. I looked at a KHS Green, a Linus Roadster and a Public D1 – but none of them seemed particularly suited to hauling a front load.  Converting an older mountain (or even road) frame was a possibility, but finding something suitable (for the right price) proved more difficult than I anticipated. Workcycles produces some suitable options, but then I encountered the bike pictured above: Based on a design by the Swedish Army, the Kronan resumed production at first in Poland, and more recently in Taiwan. Bicycle Fixation posted a well written review of this model (aptly describing it as a “muscle beach cruiser”), so when I saw that they were on sale (20% off), I ordered one.

I assembled it today and had a quick ride up and down the street (my cold precluded me from taking it further) – the low pressure 650b tires (weirdly, the tubes have Woods valves!) eat up pot-holes amazingly well. The carrying capacity should make “car-free” life a lot easier…despite it being a single speed and weighing in at ~55lbs+

Taking a Spill

24 Jul

A brief glance at Rachel's bike...

Beyond randonneuring or commuting I’ve also been riding with Rachel for pleasure. Our riding style fits in well with the Slow Bicycle Movement, as we stick to traffic-separated paths for the most part and ride at a slow pace more conducive to chatting, coasting, and observing…a nice contrast with my solo and group rides which emphasize speed, endurance, and (inevitably) suffering.

A few months back we purchased a mid-1960’s-era American Eagle (the predecessor to Nishiki) 5-speed bicycle for her (made by Kawamura Cycles in Japan). It is a beautiful lugged steel bike and appears to have been scarcely ridden until now. We have made some adjustments to it to better fit her, replacing the stem, handlebars, and brake levers so far.

Rachel is a meticulous craftsman (er, woman) – regardless of the medium involved (e.g. needlepoint, technical pen, house paint, etc) – so it was no surprise to me when on her first attempt she did a masterful and stylish job of wrapping her handlebars using white cork tape and red hemp twine.

Prior to adding a coat of shellac as the final touch, we went on a short ride (11.3 miles) towards Lake Balboa Park along the cycling path near our house. Riding into the sun it was somewhat difficult to see, and not long after remarking on the increased responsiveness of the narrow VO Belleville bars, she oversteered over a patch of slippery pine needles, and her bike swept out from under her.

Rolling (surprisingly gracefully, probably from her WuShu training) to safety, she was largely unscathed, much to my great relief. We paused to go over her bike, re-aligning the stem/handlebars, and fixing/adjusting the front brake – and after resting a bit headed off again still in good spirits. Unfortunately, her magnificent handle-bar wrap now has a ragged gash torn through it on one side…thankfully Rachel shrugged off the damage just as quickly as she did the small accident itself – in fact turning it into a new opportunity (should we re-wrap with cloth tape and put on cork grips? should we move to bar-end brakes? etc.):