Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday, The Hammering Continues

Here is the map of the CT NEMBA Turkey Burner Ride.  The who, what, where can be found on the CT NEMBA Blog.  My track is 9+ miles of most of the choice singletrack at Huntington SP.  I experienced my first real mechnical where my chain broke.  I think it was going to begin with but never checked it.  BikerDave, the Trail Gnome of Wilton Woods, hooked me up with a quick link.  I think I am going to get a bunch of those for the future for sure.

Stemming from the broken chain I think there is something wrong with my rear derailler because as I was pedalling it would make a clicking sound.  It looks like the cage may be bent.  I think I might take it in and get a new chain, and probably replace the derailler with a medium cage anyway.  The derailler has never been the same since hitting that rock or log last summer.  That bent the hanger, knocked the derailler out of whack, and now this.

Still, this ride was a totall hammer fest.  I just about climbed everything.  My earlier problems weighed heavily on my mind though.  When I got home, I felt completely exhausted.

Didn't take many pictures on the ride but shot some video that I put up YouTube.  It's the same video on the CT NEMBA blog post.  Decided to try a different type of sound track but I forgot to edit it so after the screen blanks you might want to stop it manually.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Don't be a Puff Ball - GO RIGID!

Phil at Simple Living Cycles in Framingham never dissapoints when it comes to advertising bikes on Craigslist. There are some very convincing arguments in this ad to buy a rigid 29er:
  1. You have to be hardcore (according to the Urban Dictionary) to ride a rigid 29er which I believe that is what he means by Smashmouth.
  2. I am sure he would agree that Gears are for Queers (reference courtesy of Bikesnobnyc) with his statement: No girly shocks or gears here. Because only hardcore mountain bikers (and Cyclocrossers) ride rigid.
  3. I am not sure I would exactly agree with this statement: One-speed mountain folks are so tough, when they go to the bathroom, crowbars come out !! I do know my excrement smells like roses (and so does Jessica Simpson's flatulence) and is worshipped by the non-29er, full suspension riding community.

So, if you are looking for a good reason to go 29er and neither Phil nor I have been convincing enough for you, let me point you to six reasons why you should ride a 29er.

No Low Ballers. I always find it amusing people selling bikes on Craigslist that think the price they set is what you are expected to pay. You have to figure that the price on the bike is marked up at least 10 to 20% and what you really don't know is the actual condition. Of course, there are those people who put a bike up on Craigslist because they just want to sell it and that is the true value of Craigslist, I think. That is how I got my Mongoose. Twenty clams for the perfect family/winter commuter rig. At some point I hope to upgrade this to a Kona Unit 2-9 but for the price and the condition of the bike it fills the gap nicely.

Now, take this bike for an example, a 2009 GF Cobia that is being sold at almost half of it's MSRP? My first thought is that it's 2008 and not a 2009 but if the owner has too many bikes and is selling a bike with only one test ride, what this really sounds like is a Local Bike Shop. Probably one of their good customers wanted a 29er and they ordered this bike for them but the customer either didn't like it or it was too small for them. In order to keep the customer, the LBS took it back and is now trying the bike in anyway possible. Good chance they don't sell many 29ers if any at all.

This still could be a good deal if you are looking for 29er and the bike is the right fit. Still, I don't see why the seller couldn't be a little more forthcoming on the reason they are selling the bike. Of course there is a Low Ball and then there is a Low Ball Offer. I bet you, if you showed up with $600 cash money the seller takes it. You might even get it for less but probably not much less. That is of course you are getting what the bike is spec'd out as:

Wheels: Shimano M475 hubs, Bontrager Ranger disc 29" rims, 32h

Componentry: Shimano Deore front derailleur, SRAM X5 rear derailleur, SRAM X5 shifters, Shimano FC-M442-8-S crank, Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes | (Full Specs)

Suspension: RockShox Tora Race Solo Air 29, 80mm travel

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Massacre

After coming back from Florida the thought of riding in 20 degree weather just seems unfathomable right now and to assuage my conscious for not riding I have been spending time in the man cave working on bikes and it certainly shows in my midriff and on the bathroom scale. Thanksgiving morning, while the kids were watching the parade I headed out to the Gussy Trail. Of course, since it wasn't Sunday, I had to Orange up for the forest. I decided it was time to start riding up the Gussy for a change.

At Sanford road, there was a pick up truck nestled in by the entrance which meant there would be atleast one hunter on the this side of the forest. Riding up the trail on the Qball was fun and except for one climb (shown below) in which three quarters of the way up I spun out on, everything was within easy reach. I was even able to ride up and an up-a-over the trail gnomes built this summer that I doubt that I could have done on the 'Horse in the lowest gear six months ago. All that fixie riding is paying off!

I was taking a break right before hitting the double the cross when I saw another rider coming down the trail. I took his picture and we exchanged pleasantries. His name is Mark and he lives in New Milly. Mark told me that he rides the trails at Upper Paugussett quite a bit and had heard that there was a new trail being built and incorporated it into the loops he rides in the forest. He also said that he frequently rides the Trailway down to Sandy Hook and back but there is a really sketchy section between Walnut Tree Hill and Black Bridge where the trail tracks litterally through a swamp.

Mark said he was at Upper Paugussett with a group of guys that ride here every Thanksgiving morning. I call this ride the Thanksgiving Day Massacre because they all start drinking before the ride then head out on one of the most technical trail in the county, all beered up, and then come back for more. They come out every year, rain or shine.

I tried it one year but didn't know anyone and wasn't really up to riding the river trail. Ended up riding that morning with some people that I knew and we hit the river trail on the way back. That is when I had my fall which I ended up with a cracked rib. My inactivity resulted in a blood clot in my knee, so I guess you could say I don't have very fond memories of this experience.

There had to have been 20+ vehicles parked at the boat ramp. Lots of bike racks and biking paraphernalia strewn in the backs of the pickups and station wagons.

Not to mention plenty of unopened bottles of beers to quench one's thirst after a hard ride.

The back of this pickup had an interesting mix of varieties, ranging from good to bad beer and even some hard liquor.

Not sure about the quality and taste of ACME beer but the Honey Brown is low on my rating scale for ride beers. It may have the color but not the flavor.

Of course, you can never go wrong with Samuel Adams. I would consider it my beer staple along with anything from Harpoon and Red Hook.

But who ever was drinking this Fire Water probably wouldn't be feeling any pain.

Back up the trail, I saw more ATV tracks. My wife told me she saw a bunch of ATVs running up Hanover last Sunday and this is where they must have been riding. Basically, it looks like they came up the Fire Road and went down the Mulikin Trail. In fact they go all the down past the up-and-over and even went down past the rock wall and opened up the thicket but couldn't take it any longer.

Here is the section right before the up-and-over. I am going to have to block it off with some downed logs that they won't be able to hop over to keep them off the trail. However, what this really means is I have to come up with a better solution to prevent them from getting into the forest off of Hanover Road.

I picked up a few Grunge Boards from Planet Bike because I had a gift certificate from Put one the Qball and I have to say that it worked really well. The trails were a bit sloppy this morning and the Grunge Board kept the mud out of my face really well.

I have another that I will be putting on the 'Horse, too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We shall abolish the orgasm...

The title for this post comes from George Orwell's book, 1984:
We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother.
God forbid anything like this could ever happen in the near future and to make up for this perverse prose I hope you enjoy the cover of the 1983 Nishiki Catalog cover that I found on I think she beats the Colorado Cyclist Cover Girl. I haven't seen that catalog lately, I guess they have written me off. Afterall, of all the cycling catalogs I get, that has to be one of the most expensive.  I chose this quote because it seems to me that frame in question originated in 1984 and I thought a quote from George Orwell would be fitting. 

As for my quest to pin point the model year of the Nishiki unfortunately the interwebs were not fruitful for my Nishiki Cascade that I started working on this weekend. It was an exhaustive search that has led me to make some conclusions based on other clues from the frame and parts that I have found. From, in which I asked the general biking community for help what I got in return was a link to another forum post called the Nishiki Serial Number Database.

Nothing unfortunately was yielded on this post that might tell me how hold my Cascade is, except for the stamp on the BB shell, G0184. Accordingly, it means that the Cascade was made by Giant in 1984. The Sugino cranks have a code on the inside that says GC, which according to the Vintage Trek Website for Date of Manufaturer for Bicycle Compenents states:

Code 4 - A forth code method was reported by Mike Swantak. His ’83 Centurion Le Mans 12 has a Sugino GT crankset, with the two letter code GC. This would appear to follow the method used by Shimano, where the G indicates 1982 and the C indicates March. This is supported by Dan Carlsson of Sweden, who writes: "I have a Sugino GS crankset with the codes "GC" stamped on the inside. This seems right, 82 March; I believe the crankset is from an 1983 year roadbike.
So the cranks are from that same time period as well. They must have had a good run on those cranks to be throwing them on later model bikes. The 1983 catalog contains Nishiki's first mountain bike called the Bushwacker.

The Bushwacker looks exactly like the Cascade and has all the same components. So it could be that they renamed the Bushwacker to the Cascade in 1984 or possibly the Cascade happens to be the Canadian version of the bike. I haven't found any mention of the Bushwacker and Cascade existing simultaneously, however it is possible, it would seem unlikely because the bikes are identical and you would think around this time, mountain bikes in general were a niche market play.  Usually when identical bikes coexist, from what I have seen, the other bike would have upgraded components, e.g. I have a 2007 Iron Horse MKIII Comp which has pretty good components but the next level up is the Expert which has better components, costs another $1000 and is painted black.

This bike (above) looks exactly the same as my Nishiki before I stripped it down to the frame.  The only differences I can find are the color and the name.

So, there you have it. Unless someone comes along and tells me otherwise, I have a 1984 Nishiki Cascade. Last night I pulled the fork off and I am going to attempt to replace parts of the headset with the headsite from another bike. If that doesn't work, I'll try griding off the rust because I think I am going to build this into a fixie. 27" wheels fit nicely so I could build it into a no brake fixie or go back to 26 inch wheels and go fixie or SS with brakes.

With that I leave you another Nishiki Girl to help assuage the assault on your morality.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nishiki Cascade

The latest bike to be rescued from certain destruction at the town dump is a virtual classic, I think. The is a Nishiki Cascade with CroMo tubing and some pretty good parts. Looks like it was living outside for awhile or in an open walled shed. Haven't been able to pinpoint the exact model year but given the componentry my guess is a 1989 or 1990. This might be the oldest mountain bike in my possession.

There is considerable amount of rusting on the headset and bars.

It has the early Diacompe levers that are pretty cool. They are huge!

These Suguano Cranks with 175mm crank arms are very nice. The pedals appear to be recent additions, say within the last five years and will be a nice winter commuting platform.

I spent Saturday afternoon stripping it down to the bare frame and fork.

The frame is perfect for a 26" fixie conversion with the short horizontal dropouts.

Here is the loot. Cranks, levers, rear derailler, and not shown are the cantilever brakes. The brake pads are brand new, so they are going onto the Bridgestone.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Friday Fix: New York City!

If you are looking for Bike and Fixie porn, skip this first section and start where you see bike pictures. Otherwise, let me tell you what happened to me on my way to to the Fixie Capital of the world, I naturally had my camera on me with the hopes of catching some fixies in action but happened to capture an interesting interaction between a train conductor and a disgruntled commuter.

Yesterday I had to travel to NYC to visit a software vendor and get some extra training on the application that I am installing for a couple of business unit within my company. Hopped on the 6:52 out of Sub-rural-urbia headed to New York. Where the branch line hits the mainline there was some delay that kept the train standing still for about 10 minutes. Conductor informed us over the loudspeaker that there was a train that they were waiting for that needed to clear the platform in front of us.

We finally got underway and picked up passengers at South Norwalk. Over the summer, when I was working in Norwalk I would normally get out here and not getting out this time was a little unsettling. However, the delay we experienced meant that the trains on the mainline were all backed up. There seemed to be a higher than normal amount of commuters getting on our train. Three stops later the train was pretty packed.

It was so crowded that people were standing almost back to back in the center aisle of the car. I haven't seen the train that packed since the blizzard of 1995! Granted I stopped train commuting in 1996 so there could certainly been other instances similar to that fisaco. I happen to have my camera with me and got the unique opportunity to record some commuter tension.

The crowded conditions caused tempers to flare. In fact one commuter that was standing in the aisle next to the row of seats I was sitting in expressed his anger to the conductor. I recorded this interchange between the disgruntled commuter and the train conductor:

On the way home, there were print outs on many of the seats explaining about what caused this morning's delay. Apparently, a trained lost power right before South Norwalk and was blocking all four tracks. I like how Metro-North concluded the note:

We regret any inconvenience you may have experienced as a result of this incident and thank you for your patience.
I wonder if the disgruntled commuter felt better after reading this note. I doubt it.

So, besides being delayed on the ride in, which was really no big deal, let me tell you about what I saw in the Big City! Didn't see much on the short hop over to the Vendor's office but on the way to lunch I saw bikes! I would say that it was 50/50 for geary vs fixed. In retrospec why I didn't have my camera on me when I should have! I guess I didn't want to appear as a some country bumpkin from Sub-rural-urbia gawkin at all the neat stuff in the Big City, but I think I could have held it discretely at my side with the video running and captured alot more.

I think I might have even seen Williamsburg Hipster riding her fix downtown on Madison Avenue, however, what threw me was that the bike actually had a kickstand. Maybe she wasn't a hipster afterall. The bike, however, was a dayglo green conversion with a little slack in the chain. Could that be another sign that she wasn't a hipster. I guess the country bumpkin/dork that I am was too blinded by the wonderful sites of the Big City to scruitinize the bike and the rider further.

Saw a Peugeot similar to mine chained up to a sign post on 44th and numerous mountain bikes all over the place. With the exception of the two bikes down below that I managed to digitally capture, the rest of the fixed gear bikes were all converts with a lot of slack in their chain lines. Now, I may be a bumpkin from Sub-rural-urbia but I would never ride a fixed gear, nor a single speed, with that kind of slack. It's sacreligious ifyou ask me.

Another thing I noticed was the fact many of the bikes all had those rear fenders that mount to the seat posts. Some had seen better days and were fixed up with hockey or duct tape. My guess is that these bikes were for delivering food because they were all geared bikes. As luck would have it, there were two fixers parked right in front of the Metlife Building.

The first one is an IRO, I think a commuter based on the braze ons for the rear brake cable and brake posts, nice adorned with a Crankbrother's sticker on the top tube and CB candies. Besides being a bonafide fixed gear bike in New York City, what struck me was how it was locked up. U-lock/Kryptonite on the rear wheel and frame and frame and front wheel chained to a street post. Also, the Brooks saddle is secured nicely to the frame. The owner of this bike cares!

Bike looks like it get's lots of use by the worn grips. Of course, the kickstand seems a bit out of place but it is a commuter.

My guess is that owner of this bike rides to GCT and commutes out to White Plains or Connecticut for work. Looking those fenders, this is truly a hard core fixed commuter.

This Paddywagon was securely locked to another street post. I like how the owner locked the seat down, too, with a separate cable. However, this rider is not riding fixed, rather had the freewheel set up.

This last bike, not at all a fixed gear or even singlespeed rig, rather an extra cycle and the first time I saw one live. Definitely made for carrying big loads. The Mundo Cargo Cycle is from Yuba Cycles.

Again, locking the bike in front of GCT seems to be following a trend only the seat is not locked. I guess gel seats are not a highly soft after item on the bicycle black market.

Since this bike can fit three passengers and was pretty clean looking I wonder if this was another commuter bike for someone riding out to the Burbs to work?

I hope to visit the big city again and the next time I do, I am going to ensure that I get more "live" fixie footage.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

29ers on Craigslist in NY, NJ & CT

I am amazed at how many people Google "29ers and Craigslist" and thus hit the Snack. It must be due to the fact that searching within Craigslist is pretty myopic in that you really can't search in particular region and it's localized within the various Craigslist domain cities. However, if you are looking for a broader search capability for anything, especially bikes on Craigslist, you should check out Craigspal.

Craigspal has two versions, a freeware and a power version. There is a cost associated with the power version but if you are just doing casual searches, the freeware version should be sufficient for your needs. Not that I mind the traffic and I sure hope I get some repeat viewers but if you want to really, proactively search for something on Craigslist, this is the tool for you.

Firing up Craigspal this evening I noticed quite a few 29ers pop up. There are some competitively priced bikes and then there seems to be some really wishful salesmanship. I think if you try to sell something on Craigslist that is worth more than a $1000 your are probably fooling yourself. I think you would be better off trying ebay or posting in the "For Sale" forums of local bike forums.

I come to Craigslist looking for a bargain. I don't see bargains at $1500, $2000 or even $4300 as one bike is being offered. If I am going to spend that kind of scratch on a bike, I am buying new! So I have called out three adds, because they have pictures to discuss.

Frequent diners of the Snack may recall an earlier post involving this same bike model, a Motobecane, being proffered on Fairfield County Craigslist. I find it interesting that the seller hasn't mentioned some of it's finer points, like the 42:16t gear ratio or the fact that it seems most SS (Singlespeed) 29ers are rarely configured solely for SS but this one is and what that means is if you are not man (or woman) enough to ride SS then this bike is not for you because you can't easily convert it to gears. I also like how the seller mentions that the bike retails for $795 at your local bike shop but you can get it at for $399.

However, I did find an ad on eBay for the frame alone: 2009 Motobecane Outcast 29er and lo and behold there is a really big change for the frame in '09 - paragon style drops! For the price of $184 clams and free shipping, it is very tempting. I wonder what it would be like to ride Aluminum? As for the bike offered on Craigslist, it would make a great fixie!

Now, this next bike is not only awesome but the price is out of this world! I bet it doesn't last. Why someone is selling such a sweet rig is beyond me. It seems like a waste to sink a lot of money into a fine bike and then turn around and sell it like this. Not sure about the Spinner fork but the frame alone, brand new, runs around $429 at It's a nice build with Avid hydros - damn!

I think this next one is a bit overpriced and goes against my rules for buying a bike on Craigslist.
It's got some really fine components but the first question I would ask the seller is how much it weighs. If it's around 21 or 22 lbs then it might be worth taking a look at. Still, an EBB, eccentric bottom bracket - enables you to the vertical drops and still have chain tension when riding SS, is not my cup of tea.

Maybe I am being paranoid but one of the reasons I like riding SS is that it keeps things basically simple that means there are less things that could break, because when it does happen and you have to hump five miles back to the car. An of course the other downside is the lefty fork. It's probably a great fork and I would like to try one some day but it means a special attachment for roof top bike tray and again, like the EBB, another really technical thing, i.e. that lefty hub.

There are definitely some great deals out there right now and then there are some that are really outrageous. For example this one:

Litespeed Obed 29er Medium/Large - $4300 (Stamford, CT)

Reply to: [?]
Date: 2008-11-17, 10:12PM EST

Litespeed Titanium Obed 29er in size Medium/Large...XT build kit...Manitou Minute 29er fork is amazingly responsive...this bike is brand new...never ridden...would normally retail for $4800, this bike weighs about 24 lbs...serious inquiries only...

cash/local only
If it's really new and hasn't been tested out on the trails of Mianus then it probably is worth the asking price or something close to that. I would like to see a picture of that bike. The only thing though, is if you are going to spend that kind of money on a 29er then you might as well go full suspension.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bike Props

As I mentioned in the sole post I made during my visit to Orlando last week, I didn't see many bikes plying the roads, with the exception of some vacationers and other big box POSes. However, there were a few bikes being used at some of the Disney parks as props that I visited.

The bike pictured above could possibly be a fixed gear. It has some interesting features, like wooden grips and drum brakes. Of course with the minimal lighting, these grips could be really old leather. It looked like wood to me.

There is no cable leading to the rear of the bike though which could mean that it's either a coaster brake or just a bad prop, afterall the tires are flat.

This bike can be found at Epcot at the Norway Exhibit. If you are planning on visiting Epcot and want to see this bike, make sure you going on the Viking Boat ride at that Norway exhibit. At the end of the ride, look to your left along the wharf and you should see this bike.

The bikes pictured above and below are found at the Animal Kingdom. My guess is that most of them came fromt he US except for the one at the bottom. Those steel brake levers seem characteristic with bikes found in many Asian countries.

In a way, it was a culture shock not to see bikes on the roads. I think there weren't any largely due to the fact that where I was staying was a resort area and I am sure that if I drove around some residential areas there would have been more bikes on the roads.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

1992 Bridgestone MB-5

Sub-rural-urbia received a little dusting of snow last night and I really wanted to do a RbW (Ride before Work) this morning but I went to bed too late last night to even consider getting up at 5:30 AM to ride. Waaah! Not to mention, it was below 30 degrees this morning. Waaah! I didn't charge up my headlight battery. Waaah! Excuses, excuses. Going to try tomorrow morning regardless of temperature.

Anyway, the Dump Fairey paid another visit last night. A 24" wheeled FS big box store POS that I want to rebuild for my daughter, a ladies bike, not sure of the manufacturer, it was too dark to see what it was, mostlikely another POS, and what looked like a fairly old styled mountain bike. The last bike, appeared to be a good condition so I pulled into the garage for a closer look and it turned out to be a Bridgestone MB-5!

I have read a lot about Bridgestones and was hoping that this bike could potentially be a classic bike. From what I know about these bikes, however, upon surfing the interwebs I learned that it is unfortunately not from the Bikeforums archive I found this comment:

The MB-5 was a DeoreLX/DeoreDX equipped bike I believe and depending on the year, retailed for around US$550. A very fine mid-level bike.

I guess if it were truly a good bike such as the MB-1 or -2, the owner would have realized the value of the bike and hold on to it or at the very least put it up on CList. Alas, like the Peugeot, which at first I thought might have been the highly prized PX-10 turned out to be the more mass produced consumer US model (still made in France, if that is any consolidation) UO-8. However, it's still a nice bike and if you query the Fixed Gear Gallery for Bridgestone, you'll find a few of the MTB versions of the frames have been converted to nice fixed gear rides. So, it looks like I have my next project lined up.

Question now is, what year is this bike from? From what I can fathom, it's from 1992, according to the venerable Sheldon Brown. The catalog goes to great lengths to explain the difference between over bar vs underbar shifters and they say the 1992 MB-5 is speced with the overbar shifters. However, this bike has underbar shifters. However in a previous catalogue, they talk about how much better underbar shifters are for racing. So I guess I conclude that this bike was set up racing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Riding in Circles

Had a few hours to kill on Sunday so I took the kids over to Reed School and rode around the back driveway near the ball fields. It was really cold and blustery. Not only did Brodie ask to ride in the Burley, I think he is afraid of riding in the Topeak baby seat because it reminds him of riding on the trail-a-bike, but when we got there he even asked for the top cover on the Burley.  It's always a fight to convince him to ride with this on but the weather certainly changed that.

I was tempted to ride the 'Goose but needed a fix with the fixed gear Fixation. It's funny, that if I am in the right mind, that is knowing that I am on a fixed gear bike, there is no longer any hesitation to coast. I love riding fixed gear! In fact, once I get the Fuji built up into a fixed gear I think I am going to rig the Fetish for off road fixie riding again, and even try it as a 69er again. I think I need to try riding as a human full suspension bike again.

It's funny but I got that bike for Katie for her to try gears and she totally loves it but it's almost too small for her. Of course when I mention replacing it with a 24 inch wheeled bike she says "no way" but even a girl friend of hers who is 6 inches shorter already rides one. The one thing I haven't tried is raising the seat. On our ride around the school campus Katie unknowingly pulled her first huck off a curb.

Elliot was naturally having a blast and probably would have had more fun if the wind wasn't blowing so hard. It was so strong that he couldn't pedal a couple of times. I had to get him going with a big a push and then ride along side of him with a cadence to keep him going, otherwise he would stall out.

Riding in Circles from Mark on Vimeo.