Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Bike 'Day' - Rawland rSOGN

The garage looks a bit different than it did when I went ahead buying the rSOGN off of a RCOG Google groups member, I had intended this buy to satisfy two things; first to be my fat tire trail bike replacing the MB-5 for riding out in Winchester and also at local trail parks and second to satisfy my curiosity with low trail geometry.  After my calamity on the Saluki however those two reasons became a distant second/third to the everyday geared commuter usage until such a time that I get the Saluki rolling again.  Having plenty of versatile bikes in the stable has it's pluses!

While it threw a monkey wrench in my life for the past couple weeks the disassembly of the Saluki did offer some sweet components for the initial build up of the rSOGN!  The brakes, wheels/tires and full drive train all made the transfer to the new frame.  This gives me a good base for setting aside delta's with the components for my initial impressions of the rSOGN.

Here is the build;

Frame: Size ML Rawland rSOGN, stock fork cut to 2.75" above headset
Headset: Cane Creek
BB: Shimano sealed bearing
Cockpit: Moustache Bars, Ritchey 17deg,90mm stem, inner tube tape
Seat: SQ Labs 610 (probably going to be replaced w/ my B17, Kalloy seatpost
Pedals: MKS Grip Kings
Brakes: Paul Stoplight Cantis
Brake Levers: Shimano aero
Shifters: Silver shifter, friction (right only for now)
Crankset: WI Eno, 44T single chainring
Cassette: Shimano 8 spd 12-34T
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Exage
Chain: KMC 8 spd
Wheels: Shimano 105 rear w/ synergy 36T, Shimano dyno front w/ synergy 36T
Tires: GB Hetre EL

I've gotten two moderate rides under my belt of 14 and 20 miles at this point and really like the bike.  I'm holding off getting to definitive with impressions till my fitness catches back up to pre-crash levels and I get some more time on the bike. The stability of the bike, particularly the 'no-hands' stability is impossible to ignore.  I wish I had another inch in stem height somehow and might end up looking for a steeper angled stem to get me a bit of that but I'll probably wait till I try out the build with noodle's first.

That Carradice saddle wedge has seen a TON of use since @dailyrandonneur gifted it to me during a #FMCC!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Forbidden Passage

Lake Waccamaw in NC is a gorgeous, wonderful spot I've been going to with family since I was a kid, the lake is very shallow and hosts an amazing array of plants and wildlife.  (it was also the site of my first #coffeeneuring outing last Oct!) My Mom recently retired to a nice house right on the water and we've been spending alot more time down there.  Several bike related projects include the relocation of our Univega 26" wheeled Tandem and a step through cruiser project that has had some issues but seems to be rolling now.

The XO-3 hanging out at the end of the State Park pier... I like the minimalism.  The lake is only about 7 miles wide at any point so you get a feel for how foggy it was this morning.
The Lake is a great place to bike as it's flat and has a road that goes about 2/3 of the way around the lakeshore.  My goal in this most recent visit was to figure out a way through that other 1/3... entering Lake Waccamaw State Park.  According to the maps it hosts a number of trails that are marked for hiking but don't specifically exclude bicycles.  With my single speed XO-3 and some 1.9"ish cruiser tires I decided to give it a go.

I'll give myself a partial success here, I did force my way through the quite challenging shore trail in the State Park but found myself stymied at the end by a hi water dam that just didn't look safe to cross.  So I got the dubious pleasure of forcing my way back through the sandy, swampy and rooted trail back to asphalt.  A great adventure though it was damp and I was thoroughly beat down by the end of it.

Some random facts and background on the Lake;

NC State Park site for Lake Waccamaw

Dept of Natural Resources discussion on Carolina Bays
-Lake Waccamaw is the largest of the Carolina Bay instances and apparently they are quite a mysterious geological/biological formation

Council Tools
-Anyone looking for Made in the USA steel tools and Axes can look no further, they make exceptional drop forged tools right here w/in a mile of the lake. They got there start supporting the local turpentine industry

The next day my wife and I completed the other half of the ride all on pavement via the tandem and had a great ride. Enjoy the pictures;

That darned drainage creek and the hi water dam really fouled it up for me but it was a good ride all the same.
Speeding through the paved section of the State Park.

The Park Service does a pretty regular prescribed burn policy to encourage the natural growth cycle of the pine trees that actually depend on fire to germinate the next generation of trees.

Smoke on the water eh?!?  This is from the pier pictured earlier in the post along the coastline that I followed via the trail.  Primordial comes to mind...

Another prescribed burn and a fresh one at that, the trail is along the right hand side of the frame.

Trail work needed, much of the trail was fire road in width as it is here but it was also marshy and or sandy with the lake encroaching from the right and the swamp coming in from the left.

Here we have a big tree down and while I nearly turned around I decided to risk snakes and other beasts and slide through underneath pushing the bike ahead.  Having to do it a second time on my return trip really freaked me out b/c I hate snakes and this seemed like the perfect haven for them.  I made it through without a sighting thank goodness!

I don't have much in the way of great photo's of the swamp, I was beat down tired and dripping with sweat and condensation the whole way.  But this view is typical of the left inland side of the trail.

Ahhhh... so close and yet so far.  The water was pretty darn hi and I decided not to wade across carrying the bike.  Another time perhaps.  No pictures from the return ride, I was pretty disheartened at the time but having done it twice solidifies my mind against trying this trail again any time soon!

Sunday, August 24, 2014


It's been a rocky couple of weeks for vehicles and me... All three cars have been in and out of the shop with some frustrating issues and more dramatically two weeks ago I crashed my bike - yes, the Saluki.

The good news is I was able to get back on a bike this weekend after nursing a right arm/elbow for the two weeks.  The Saluki fork is most likely going to be replaced and I've stripped it down to frame and fork to facilitate a thorough inspection as soon as possible.

But today is not about the crash, or the state of the Saluki.  Adding to the ridiculous nature of the past two weeks is that the used Rawland rSOGN I'd been keeping an eye out for over the post year or so came available and I received it last week, it was very frustrating to be unable to ride a bike (and limited in my wrenching ability) through this weekend.  Tonight I got the rSOGN built up enough to roll around the block.  Long way to go but it's a nice start! I'm glad I have the new frame to distract me.

Just past 'rolling chassis' mode, front/rear brakes operational, 44x12 ghetto singlespeed and only half the bars wrapped.  Seems like test-ride material to me!

Moustache bars - eat your heart out! The XO-3 donated the bars as it transitioned to a more stately Albatross cockpit.  The Paul Stoplight canti's are on loan from the suddenly idle Saluki but they look sharp here as usual.
Full Build list coming, nearly 100% borrowed parts... I had the Sugino triple crank installed before I realized that the seat tube on this puppy is larger than 28.6 which scuttled my plan's in that area but by going to the WI Eno Crank w/ 44T chainring I was able to use the Saluki's chain straight up.  In fact the rSOGN is now sporting the full Saluki drive train.

More to follow this week!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Drivetrain Feeling

I'm quite a bit late in posting a full set of images and discussion of my primary, and gorgeous green ride... the not-purple-saluki.  And this post won't fix that but it will tease it a bit and show off my two favorite parts.  First is the ever so sweet White Industries Eno crankset with 44T SS chainring.  This was acquired through a fairly interesting trade with a friendly enthusiast on the RBW Google Group and I couldn't be happier with the ride. I took the opportunity to replace my chain and cassette at the same time and am blissfully enjoying 'that new drivetrain feel'  with every ride right now.

The second shot show's you my primary view of the sweet piece of MUSA-CNC'd aluminum.  And last but ever most certainly not least you'll note a teasing, semi-obstructed view of the vintage Paul 'Stoplight' Canti brakes... they stop great and look better.

I promise a full post on the Saluki soon... gotta do the summary for two reasons; 1. I'm pretty satisfied with the build now and I think this is roughly it for the time being, and 2.  I've got a new frame build in the works and I don't want to get into that till I've detailed the Saluki! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday Night Trail Riding (Happy 100th Post!)

A bit of envelope pushing at Wakefield Park for some evening trail riding.  My friend Jonathan is a serious mountain biker and we've been musing about hitting up this park which happens to be roughly in between our two homes for some time now.  Call it a Polar Vortex miracle but we finally pulled the trigger this week and settled on Thursday.  Great night to be outside, the vortex has removed the typical mid-summer humidity and heat from the region and left us a warm but very comfortable setting.

The ride gave my my first real opportunity to test out the new bosco handlebar setup for the MB-5 as you see here.  While I hadn't gotten the bike out for a serious test my friend Ryan's son had borrowed it for a scout trip and he apparently had a great time with it.  He also left it with two broken rear wheel spokes, a flat tire and a busted shift cable but all of these were easily fixable.  I had a 'spare' 135mm, 26" wheel w/ 7 spd freewheel laying around by chance and managed to get the bike back in tip top condition Wednesday night in prep for the ride.

No pictures from the ride itself I'm afraid, suffice it to say that we were out for about 1 1/2 hours returning to the vehicles around 9PM as it started to get dark.  I was fully prepared to be left in Jonathan's dust both from a conditioning, experience and equipment perspective.  Aside from his significant mountain bike saddle time he was riding a cool double suspension bike (carbon?) that sported a hydraulic button operated seatpost lower-er-er...  pretty spiffy!   The MB-5 looked a bit antiquated but it aquited itself extremely well.  
I believe that Wakefield is considered to be a very easy mountain biking course, i.e. not to 'technical'.  But it had some thrilling rides as far as I was concerned, I"d been there several times before but this time I had the benefit of merely following Jonathan's lead as he picked our route through a web of ~8 miles of single track, double track, slaloming descents, some mild bumps, creek crossings and wooded trails along a creek.

I managed to stay on the bike for the most part, no catastrophic instances in any case.  I was thrilled at the leverage and comfort that the 55cm Bosco Bar's gave me, the 2.1" knobbies picked up second hand last year worked great giving me just a bit more grip especially on some of the wide embankments in the slalom section.  I did my share of hoping off the bike to walk in several steep sections and found that I would very easily 'wheelie' the bike when ascending.  I also had plenty of brake squeal.  The only immediate equipment change I'd make on the MB5 is to replace the brake pads.

I'm anxious to get back out on the trails sometime soon!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Introducing..... (drumroll please).... Mr. Burley (or the tandem to be named later)

Still working on the name, but this is one winter project finally ready for prime time!  It was actually the week before Thanksgiving that I noticed a tempting price on a Burley Bossa Nova tandem, black, set up in the road style.  Erika and I ventured out into a cold and rainy night to Springfield to go check it out.  The previous owner had a garage full of amazing bikes and was getting rid of the Burley as it was a seldom used 'back up' tandem.  The fit seemed close enough and a quick solo ride in the rain (Erika was to smart for this) and we had bought ourselves a fancy road style tandem.

My plan was to attack a full rebuild over the course of Jan-Feb-Mar and emerge phoenix-like in the spring with a very new-to-us and customized build.  Needless to say this didn't materialize.  We did get out for an odd warm day, I think it was in December.  Our destination was Port City Brewery which we had already visited via tandem and it was a really successful trip until I decided to push our luck and try to go home a new way, one fateful wrong turn and we ended up on a potholed 6 lane intermediate street (Rt 236 for the locals) near Landmark Mall.  It was harrowing w/ the road condition, speed of traffic and we ended up hitting a big hole and blowing out the rear tire.  Unpatchable and with no 27 1/4" tubes handy we had to phone our friend Sara for a humiliating but much needed emergency pick up.

Between the early misadventure, the incredibly persistent cold and wet winter and a plethora of other projects I never got around to tuning up the tandem though I did acquire some parts slowly and ended up disassembling the cockpits as I mused about the build.  I was also intimidated by a couple new-to-me systems on the bike, namely; eccentric bottom brackets, internal cable routing and a hub drag brake.  In the end, Sheldon Brown and youtube came to my assistance and I got the bike together as you see here.  I'll let the photo's and captions take you through it but here are some highlights of the build;

1993 (?) Burley Bossa Nova Tandem (not positive, but based on some bikepedia entries and the original build kit this seems pretty likely plus or minus a year)
27 1/4", 48H Wheels, Continental Gatorskins (32mm) (original and likely to be replaced by 700C rims)
Suntour XC Brakes and drive train (I replaced the 6 speed indexed barcon shifters w/ the old power ratchet barcons because the locking bolt for the indexed units was stripped out pretty bad)
Front cockpit - Nitto Moustache Bars (original), Shimano aero levers, suntour barcon friction shifters, newbaum's over inner tubes, Nitto Tallux stem
Stoker cockpit - Ritchey(?) Moustache bars off of the '93 XO-3 (MTB width) with Diacompe dummy levers, newbaum's over inner tubes, Nitto Technomic stem
Sakae tandem crank set (original)
Jagwire XL Racer cables
(2) Brooks Flyer sprung saddles (honey)
Baggage - Carradice large saddle wedge (courtesy of @dailyrandonneur) as a bar bag, Berthoud Saddle wedge in the rear, and a Truce small saddle wedge in the middle... room for improvement here but this setup gets us on the road for now!

Future projects:
700C wheelset (I'd love to be able to get 38mm tires on this bike but need to do some measurements/dry fittings)
Fenders (waiting for final wheelset)
Dyno lighting?  Possibly along w/ the wheelset - sensing a theme?
Front rack - I've got a sweet Bruce Gordon Mountain front rack courtesy of @OceanAirCycles that needs some work to get it mounted.
Rear rack - Erika's seat height makes it a challenge, possibly a Nitto R-14 will work
Frame bag - the frame 'cell' below Erika is huge and seems like a great spot for a big frame bag... might be useful

'Before' - Pretty much a stock Suntour XC groupset, Sakae cranks and handlebars
'After'  Great ride today to Mt Vernon on the MV Trail.  The bike was setup for that trip, our longest to date at ~27miles.

Dual Moustache Bars!  The Captain cockpit is the traditional downward configuration and the stoker bars are set up upward giving Erika a slightly more upright option.  I'll need to come back and trim the shift cable housing at some point but I left them intentionally long for now.

Bossa Nova.  The frame finishing seems like quality TIG welding work, the top and diagatube are ovalized OS tubes, the down tube is standard round OS tubing

Stoker-eye view.  The old XO-3 M-Bar's are distinctly different in shape than the current (now former) M-Bar with a longer and more pronounced straight section coming back to the bar ends and more compact 'hooks'.  So far Erika likes using the dummy levers for a stretched out posture.

Newbaum's cotton bartape over a single layer of recycled inner tube, It's not as gorgeous as cotton tape right on the bars but it makes for a bit more squish and I like the end thickness.

The internal cable routing for the two shift cables and the  drag brake was intimidating but I needn't have worried.  The  down tube passes under both BB's giving the cables unimpeded routing straight to the 'tailpipe' exit and cable routing literally couldn't have been easier.

Rear brakes crowded by the Berthoud saddle wedge that came with my Purple-Luki purchase

SIX SPEED!  With a new wheelset we'll go to 8 speed friction in all likelihood but for now the 6 speed freewheel is more than adequate.  The cassette and chain, drivetrain in general is extremely clean.

Sakae cranks are strong and clean looking  We've stayed in the middle ring *48T* I think for all of our riding so far.

Front hub, 48T is alot! :)

You may have seen these before on the blog, new home... and likely permanent home.  With the jagwire cables all adjusted nicely the right shifter worked flawlessly today.

Nice short reach Technomic stem for the stoker

Diacompe dummy levers, hoods a bit worse for wear.  They came off the XO-3 and have stayed with the bars.

True Temper Chromoly....

Burley, mimial but cool looking graphics. You get a bit of apeak here at the nut for easy fender mounting and the odd (to me) top tube bend into a Y yoke for the rear 'fork'  Also note the bolt for fender mounting.

The Phil hub drag brake, currently disconnected but I've read up on hooking it to a thumb friction shifter and putting it on the stokers bars.  That may be what we do.  It was hooked in via a cool dual cable through the right side suntour brake lever, either the cables or that lever was weak though as there was very little braking power either in the rear canti brake or this drag brake in the initial configuration.

Showing you tire clearance and the unicrown fork,  I think 700cx38's will fit don't you?!?

Same here in the chainstays and chainbridge, plenty of clearance.

The rear 'fork' may have the tightest clearance though even that is pretty darn good.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Friday Morning Adventure

I hate to give MD any credit over VA but I do prefer the MD side of Great Falls both for the actual vista of Great Falls and for the gorgeous boardwalked hike across Olmstead Island.  I also think sunrise is more photogenic on the MD side.
Sometimes coffee outside is too small a term to describe a morning outing... Friday was such a ride!  My friend Joe and I met in Georgetown at the C&O/Capitol Crescent Trailhead at 0500 Friday morning.  So we were each already in for 10 and 3 miles respectively making for my earliest non air travel related wake up in quite some time!

A cue sheet was not required, from Georgetown we road about 13 miles right along the C&O till we reached Great Falls.  Being up so early we saw a ton of wildlife including just outside of Georgetown a very handsome 3 point buck, antlers still fuzzy.  He was standing on the trail facing our direction and looked completely nonplused about our presence, he never moved a muscle but looked like he was ready to lunge as we sped past him.  Another wildlife highlight was the numerous Great Blue Heron's both in the canal basin and at the falls themselves.  These birds are ubiquitous in our midatlantic wetlands but I never tire of watching them.

We made it to the Falls in just about an hour and decided to follow the rules and not take our bikes (or light my stove) on the Olmstead Island overlook.  So we set up the coffee kitchen just off the trail short of the Island trail and brewed up a fine cup of Swing's Coffee, pour over this time as the gear was smaller and lighter than my french press.  I wasn't feeling particularly hungry but we had a delicious challah loaf with some honey if we had.

The view from the Olmstead Overlook is amazing, hopefully the pictures give you a good sense of the scale.  It is easy to forget that we have access to such an incredible vista this close to downtown DC.

The ride back on to work was fairly spirited and I made it to my desk by 0800 which was the goal... alot accomplished before 0800 on a workday and an inspiring mile post for future pre-work adventures!

Joe found us a flat-ish rock and we're waiting for the pot to boil at this point.

My coffee outside kit is starting to firm up... from right to left; the esbit alcohol stove with esbit windshield, my trusty old aluminum tea pot that is blackened from many fires, the collapsible coffee cone filter holder, two cups, my REDSKINS tuperware for fresh grounds and a water bottle...  that is about it.  We also had a half a loaf of challah bread and some honey with us for snacks!

Checking out the VA side Great falls overlooks.  Dead center you can see a Great Blue Heron in flight right above the water. We probably saw 30 of these awesome birds this morning.

Joe and I at the MD side overlook.

Dramatic waterflow's around Olmstead Island

Down river towards DC

The Saluki and 'Frankie', Joe's self built (@UBI) steel, fillet brazed bike based on his Lemond road bike.

Frankie is worth a post all of her own but this close up will have to do for now.  Joe built her last fall at UBI in Portland and we built up the componenants in my garage this spring.  She is based on a mid-90's Lemond roadie that he is riding (Jealousy) but is more upright.  Right now she has a 10 speed 105 group and is his daily commuter.  He got her clear powdercoated locally so she wears the sweet brass fillet's proudly!
I'd never been this far on the C&O, this section near Great Falls has very dramatic rock faces on the far side of the canal area and is gorgeous.

Speeding home, I love the slight downhill trip leaving Great Falls.

Handlebar-eye view

A good morning on the bike...