Sunday, May 27, 2007

Random Happenings

The weather improved for a few days and we had nice weather for my daughter's going away parties. Shiskabobs and a pig roast, yummy. Now it's back to cloudy and rainy, there is even fresh snow on the mountains. We got the garden planted and school is out. Bike boy is in Florida, my daughter will be leaving on the 31st. So I will be having extra time on my hands. What am I going to do with myself? I don't know yet.

My new truing stand :)

My new bike, rescued from the river behind my home by Capt'n Balance. I don't think I will be restoring it. It looks like it originally was a women's bike and then someone welded a galvanized pipe toptube to make it into a boy's bike. It appears they lengthened the entire bike by also cutting it apart just in front of the bottom bracket and welding in an additional 3 inches of steel pipe. The welded galvanized toptube says "mercer". Interesting. I will make it into a planter for flowers or something. It has a great chainring on it, I love the design of it.

Family (some of the family, not all) picture at the family going away party for my daughter

Pig roast at one of my daughter's going away party

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sometimes, I can be a real BONEHEAD

Today was SPC. John Barbonus' memorial service. The roll call, when they call the fallen soldier's name and there is no answer is heartbreaking. John is a hero, his actions saved may other soldiers.

My daughter is moving to Montana at the end of the month. I am really going to miss her. She reminds me of myself at that age, independent, thinks she is more mature than she really is (she is a mature as a 19 year old can be, but how mature CAN a 19 year actually be?) and ready to take on the world. I feel odd inside about it; sadness, hopefulness for her future and I don't know what else. I will miss her. I tell her she can always come back...and I hope she does.

My son will be going to his dad's for 6 week visitation and will be going to Florida to see his grandmother, who has terminal cancer and is expected to live only a few more months. That will be difficult for him. I remember how I felt when my grandmother was dying from cancer when I was 12 yrs old. She asked to see me 1 more time but I was too upset and just couldn't do it, she was soo ill. She died that day. I have always regretted not seeing her that last time.

Tuesday evening, I did the ultimate bonehead move on my ride from work to my truck. I live too far from home to ride almost 18 miles one way and there are no bike paths or sidewalks the first 9 miles. I am not brave enough to ride on the side of the highway.

Normally I park at the PARK and RIDE parking lot (for share-a-ride people who work in Anchorage) and I pedal from there to my office, a little over 8 miles, at least half of it is uphill. This day I was feeling tired so I parked at Lowe's, 4 miles from my office, which turned out to be a very good thing.

Tuesday morning was nice but by the evening, the wind was back and blowing with it's now usual force. I was in a hurry to leave work because I still tired and just needed to get out of there (I work the government welfare programs...I'm sure that gives you an idea what I'm talking about). Happy to leave my day behind, I get on my bike for a nice ride back to my truck. It was all going great - people in the cars and trucks are all being nice, I fight the wind all the way and finally get to my truck.

I then realize I'm feeling pretty light...oh drivers credit cell phone...nothing except my work clothes which are packed in my rack trunk....HOW COULD I FORGET MY BACKPACK????? I search under the truck for the magnetic key box then remember the key was too big for the box so we never hid a spare. Sheesh. No good going back to my office for it, I have no keys to get in. The garden center at Lowe's is open, so I ride in there and borrow a phone. Capt'n Balance is really busy but I have no way to get home.

He comes 30 miles round trip, out of his way to bring me a key, then takes off. The plan was to fill up with gas on my way home but since I have no credit card or cash, no gas. I had enough to get home, questionable if I will have enough for the drive the following morning to make it to my office to get my cash/credit card and then to the gas station. So yesterday morning I drove as far as I safely could without running out of gas and rode my bike to work. Fortunately, there was my backpack with all my important stuff in it, sitting on the floor where I had left it.

Yep, a major bonehead move...The lady at Lowe's who let me use the phone wasn't impressed.

This is a picture of Wasilla Lake, the ice is finally totally gone and I love the smell of the water as I ride by. It's good for my heavy heart.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Almost Forgot WHY I do it....

The wind just hasn't quit blowing. Yesterday it was blowing quite hard. It is also a cold wind, wind chill down to just above freezing in the mornings.

My commute to work yesterday had me wondering why I am doing this. Yes, I enjoy it...most of the time, but I forgot that yesterday.

It was blowing soo hard that I couldn't ride straight. The wind would catch me, my backpack, rack and trunk. Capt'n Balance called me at 3:30, asking if I wanted him to drive out to where I work (30 miles out of his way) and pick me up so I wouldn't have to ride in the wind. He was estimating gusts up to 35 mph.

No, I said, it doesn't look that bad here. So off I went, the 1st 2 miles were alright. Windy but not the FREEZING cold wind of the morning. Then came the start of mile 3, up a hill, which is normally enough to get me breathing harder but no big deal. The wind was SCREAMING down that hill. I was burned out by the time I got to the top of it. I wondered at one point if I was moving at all. I had to drop into the granny gears. My eyes were tearing up from the wind and I couldn't see very well. It took twice as long to get up that hill and my legs were burning, I was out of breath.

This morning, I almost didn't ride. I looked out the window and there it still was, the WIND, blowing just as hard as the night before. I crawled back into bed. I got up at my normal "vehicle-drive time" and I checked outside again. The wind had calmed down and the sun was shining a bit. I decided to go ahead and ride, even if it may me late for work.

I'm glad I did. It was cold and still windy this morning but not as bad as yesterday. I enjoyed my ride. The sun has come out a little more and it is still breezy but I think today's ride home will be a good one. Now I remember why I ride!

Friday, May 11, 2007

My Heart is Full of LUV!!

I just had to get that out. I took my Santa Cruz out for a spin and my heart swelled with love and joy. Then my dog KC and I took a rest on the sort of green grass, soaked up the sort of warm sunshine and tried to avoid the decidedly cold wind.

Then we sent to say hello to Lil' Humpy, the calf. Just like any baby, he wants to taste everything and started licking my bike. Licking the tires was fine, then he moved on to the saddle and that was enough bike sharing with a cow. Baby cow spit is just impossible to clean off leather. There's also something sort of twisted in that... he may end up being a saddle or some other leather product someday.

Bike Boy's fork didn't get fixed. The seals were replaced but it still leaked. The air chamber was replace and it leaked even worse so off to RockShox it goes. For an early birthday present, Bike Boy ended up with an awesome RockShox Reba U-Turn (adjustable travel) with remote Poploc. I'm jealous!

I have finished my friends bikes and may have 2 more to do. Then that's it for now. Last week I fixed up a vintage Schwinn Varsity for a friend who bought it at a pawn shop, for his adult daughter who wanted a road bike to ride in a triathlon in Anchorage. This is not my idea of a triathlon bike. It must weight 40 pounds, it's a kid bike with 24 inch wheels and built in the 1970's. BUT all I am doing is getting it rideable, not giving opinions. So I pulled cables, cut housing, greased, adjusted, lubed, repacked, trued, etc. I took it for a spin, my knees hitting my ears, but the baby just goes! There's just something about the feel of an old steel bike that I like. Then Capt'n Balance and Bike Boy took rides on it and we all enjoyed it and it is working great. I had the girl come over because she had no idea how to use the friction shifters and to take it for a test ride. She is a few inches shorter than I am and she said she really liked the size of the bike. So off she went with her bike. It's a great color also.

The last bike here is ready to be released to it's owner. I didn't do much on it because this guy is a cheapskate. It's his wife's bike, a 20 year old Schwinn with the semi friction/index shifters on the bars instead of the frame. He blew the tubes trying to inflate it and just wanted new tubes. I said I wouldn't do it unless he got new tires, it still had the original tires which were pretty weather cracked and I didn't feel it would be safe for her to ride. So he agreed on new tires. I also had to steam clean it as it had 20 years of WD40 and glacier silt coating it so thick it was too dirty to bring into my shop. I tried scrubbing it with Dawn and hot water but that just smeared the goo around. So used a commercial steam cleaner on it. It is much cleaner but it still didn't get all the gook off. The front brake cable was shot, the brake wouldn't release so I had to fix that or his wife was going to do an endo. He is too cheap to pay for all new cables and housing, so the old ones stay. $20 more but he won't do it and I'm not donating my time and supplies. He said if it's over $90 then he will just go buy a Walmart bike. I tried to explain that this bike is much better than ANYTHING he could buy at Walmart but whatever.

This bike also has the funkiest seat I have every seen. Very uncomfortable. I'm not sure the correct way to sit on it, I don't think it's made to be straddled, but sat on more like a chair, which a person's legs coming off the front of it. But that doesn't allow my legs to extend out fully. I tried it with the seat all the way down but it still interfered with leg movement. I don't think I have enough "junk in the trunk" for this type of seat. It also has pretty interesting roller cam brakes, The stick way out but are very effective.

Bonus' memorial service is next week. I get a horrible feeling in my gut when I think about it. Another of my daughter's friends is being deployed next week. This girl called my daughter up last week, drunk and crying. She is very scared. She has had only 1 week of combat training. I don't think she will be deployed into an "official" combat zone and pray she, and all our troops, will be ok.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Working on Weekends, not my thing...

Word has gotten out about my bike shop.

I have been approached by lots of friends who would like their bikes tuned up and a few have dropped off their bikes.

Saturday was busy with Cinco de Mayo party, drawing for a trip to the Police concert in L.A. (I didn't win), Capt'n Balance's birthday bon fire, visits from parents.

All day Sunday I replaced cables, repacked hubs and headsets, changed flats, adjusted brakes, un-siezed seat posts, etc. I made a few bucks.

Sunday also was the nicest day we have had yet. I missed the sunshine and spent my time cursing dirty, greasy bikes in poor condition. I got them done and outta there. But I missed my sunny weekend day.

Now I have a week of work, grease stained hands, sore fingertips, I'm tired and it's raining.

Was it worth giving up my Sunday for a few bucks? Nope. Am I going to continue to work on other's bikes? Maybe, but I am going to be much more selective with my precious free time.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

This Week's Rides

The mornings are still cold, barely above freezing. The afternoons are in the low to mid-50's. My head and hands are pretty cold in the mornings, I'm starting to get too warm in the evenings while I commute back and forth to work. But I LIKE it!

There are many more bicycle commuters this year than last. I pass 3 other's, all men, who are decked out in hi-vis, freezing in the mornings, sweating in the evenings. Hopefully drivers will continue to see us and get used to us.

Yesterday on the ride home, I was at a crosswalk of a busy intersection and another cyclist was on the other side of this 5 lane road. We were waiting for the crossing sign when a guy pulled up and stopped RIGHT into the crosswalk, directly in the path of myself and the other cyclist. The it was our turn to cross, the other cyclist decided to go around the car, but he had to go all the way out into the oncoming lane of traffic. I decided to wait until the yahoo in the car when on his way. The driver appeared to have no clue of what he was doing.

Today I didn't commute because Bike Boy's fork is finally fixed. Bike Guy fixed the blown seals then found problems with the bushing. It was clunking and the fork would basically free fall or free play about a 1/2 inch when it reached what was supposed to be maximum rebound. Bike Guy called Rock Shox and it appears to be a known problem with this shock. So it had to be dissassembled and an entire new air chamber portion replaced, not just replacing the seals.

I bought the Zing to work and road at lunch. It was an interesting ride. The inbred's are coming out of hibernation. I had a conversation with a pretty rough looking older guy on the bike path. Judging by the vapors coming off of him when he talked, his waterbottle did NOT contain water. He was telling me he has a Raleigh and seeing my bike makes him want to start riding it again. He was riding a mountain bike. Then he lit up a smoke and I was wondering if the vapors would ignite. He was friendly enough. It was time to get back to work so off I went.

Lots of Canadian geese and snow geese fluttering around. There are tiny bits of green here and there. We got some rain last night. 2 cows are pregnant, more calfs on the way.