Thursday, October 30, 2008

Excited but Fearful

Surly has announced complete Big Dummy long bikes for next year, supposedly available in December. They also will have a complete Karate Monkey configuration. This is great news for those of us who like to promote the brand's quirky mix of affordability, versatility and performance, but it also means they have more and more inventory in the pipeline. They're getting big. Will they reach an awkward age and get a whole new bunch of cooler friends?

To make matters worse, they've given me dropout envy, too. They're redesigning the dropouts on the Cross Check and the Long Haul Trucker. The Check gets nice, long ones with double eyelets.

The Cross Check has always had some form of long dropout, but some years were longer than others. Initially they only had one eyelet, too, though the past several versions have had doubles. My green one only had singles on fairly long dropouts. The cellist's red frame has double eyelets, but fairly short dropouts.

The Trucker still has VD*, which limits my interest, but the upgrades to it sound nice anyway. I like building them for other people.

Probably many months will pass before I get to build any bikes for anyone. The shop has shifted over to Nordic ski mode. We wait to see how the season treats us.

*Vertical Dropouts

(Late) Aftenoon (Chilly Weather) Delight

Snot rockets in flight!

Pinch your nostril tight --

Turn and aim your head just right!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Steely Skies and Slicing Wind

Sand bars and rock reefs break the surface of Lake Wentworth, drawn down for the winter. The west wind beat the surface into white-capped waves and flung icy drops that could have been sleet into my face as I rode along the shore this morning.

The battery died in my camera after I took this shot. Maybe it was just cold.

The forecast said the day would clear, though the temperature would remain cold. They got the cold part right.

Streams of white flakes flowed sideways on the relentless wind this evening. My clothing worked perfectly to keep the weather out, but the raw wind and deepening dusk still gave me a sense of urgency.

For the darkest commuting time I can reduce my exposure to traffic to just a couple of blocks in downtown Wolfe City to get to the DERT. Once the season turns dark and cold, I have the path almost entirely to myself.

My biggest worry is skunks. I could totally imagine running over one in the gloom.

Once I got away from town and open water, the wind was just a sound effect. I ran over branches, but nothing big. With no derailleurs, I had nothing to fear.

Snow accumulated on the trailside ground cover and on my gloved hands in a white rind. The plank bridges were coated and slick. The rails were treacherous.

On the morning run, I had hopped onto the trail after my Lake Wentworth diversion and gotten railed on one of the crossings, but again it offered slapstick comedy rather than a real smackdown. This time the bike went right down and I ejected off the left side. I ran it out slap-footed for a few yards before turning back to pick up the bike. I pulled a wad of compost out of one handlebar plug. That was the only mark on the bike or me.

Bike commuting days get really scarce after this week. I have to start the northern run, so maybe I ride a dawn patrol, conditions permitting, or maybe I turn to other training methods. The weather calls the shots.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pathetic Dependence on Auto Mechanic Provides Excuse for Beautiful Ride

I look back fondly at my completely car-free years. Unfortunately, my choice to live in a rural area with winters required something that would cross greater distances more quickly than a bike from time to time. As for fixing them, these days a mechanic invests not only in lifts and compressors and lots weirder tools than even my arsenal contains, but most deal with proper disposal of many hazardous substances. I look forward to the day we float around in shimmering bubbles fueled non-toxically by fairy farts. Until then, I'll see a neurologist for my brain tumors and an expert auto dude for my car stuff.

The way the intermodal sandwich came together today, the bike leg was only from Gilford to Wolfe City, a pleasant 27 miles.

After leaving the patient in the hands of the best surgeon, I pedaled off in the warmth of mid-day.

Mid-Monday after the peak of foliage season is the time to do this ride. I've never ridden the scary narrows of Route 11 with less traffic.

I resolved to take it one pedal stroke at a time. Even so, I found myself going 25 or 30 miles per hour in sections that give it freely. Of course in places that take it away I groveled along below 10.

Route 11 offers a scenic overlook at the mouth of Alton Bay. I couldn't pass up the chance to take a break there. It was hard to get going again. But I did. I thought about taking pictures of the quaint village of Alton Bay, but I was rolling pretty well through there. I swept through the left onto Route 28A like a solo breakaway. You'll have to settle for this shot from the saddle.

Route 28A is technically a climb, but for some reason it has some fast stretches before demanding its toll. Fast, slow, fast, slow, eventually I came to Chestnut Cove Road, which is a lot like a bike path.

Although the reds, oranges and yellows have faded toward the brown, in places they still have some power.

Joining Route 28 brought me back to wide pavement and many motorists. It has some fast parts. On one long grade I maintained 35 for a while before the next roller knocked me back to lower gears.

I worried about coming down L'Alpe de Suez. I'd ridden the waves of some ponderous logging trucks from the relative safety of 28's wide shoulder. I did not relish the idea of something like that snorting at my back as I tried to stoop like a dive bomber down the rough asphalt into South Wolfeboro.

When I got to the big drop, only small cars were behind me. I took the lane. They had to settle for my 42 mph.

The screaming descent gives way immediately to a grinding climb that crests about a mile later by the high school and pitches right away into a downgrade on patched and potholed pavement down to the town center. I was lucky. Traffic choked up enough to let me flow at 25-30 with it. The motorists accepted me among them because I could obviously hold my place.

I changed modes to motorized at the shop parking lot in Wolfeboro. I still had time to do some yard work, split wood and throw in some laundry before dark.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Taking a break on a warm day

Rain lashed the house overnight as a 60 mile-per-hour gale raked the treetops while we slept, vividly dreaming. Morning's gray-filtered light revealed surprisingly small pieces of tree debris for all the rushing noise the wind had made.

The clouds lifted as we ate breakfast. The day warmed rapidly from the mild 40s of the night to something in the neighborhood of 60. After a bit of this and that we headed out for a quick jaunt.

Pine River Road runs close to the river from which it gets its name, but you only see it twice: once at the bridge on Elm Street shortly before you turn onto Pine River Road, and again from a hill overlooking the flood plain back toward the Green Mountain massif.

The Hausberg in autumn gold

To add a couple of miles to the loop we went across Route 16 toward Center Ossipee so we could take Annie Nichols Road over to Dore Street. It's a short diversion, but Annie Nichols Road runs beside Beech River, which is both a pretty and an interesting stream. Beech River starts at the Beech Ponds on a ridge north of Wolfeboro, flows down into Garland Pond in a large wetland complex and continues through the glacial till of the valley floor through Center Ossipee to join the Pine River.

The cellist loops back under the railroad line to see what's holding me up. Conveniently, this puts her in the frame for the shot I wanted. Beech River is on the right.

Just past the railroad underpass we turned right on Dore Street. Along there we saw the homes of successful bowhunters with deer in various stages of disassembly hung out front. A dog charged noisily at us from an overgrown side yard, but must have been chained or fenced. A child giggled at the thought of us dismembered. We pedaled sedately through the balmy afternoon.

From the village of Center Ossipee we dropped down to pick up Route 25 east. We caught the tailwind there, too. It booted us about four miles down to where Green Mountain Road comes out opposite 153 north. We turned there to close the loop. The hilly contours and surrounding forest kept the wind from hindering us, so the tailwind we'd enjoyed was basically free.

To avoid a nasty wall, we peeled off to the left on Winter Road, a more gradual climb along a small stream ravine. It's barely more than 100 yards and well worth it. On Winter Road some friends passed us in their VW van to drop some friendly harassment. They turned left at High Watch Road. We wondered if they were going hiking up there or if they'd made a wrong turn.

Several miles farther around the mountain, we saw another friend of ours, standing in her front yard with her Airedale, so we stopped to chat. She had her pets out for a romp. Her smaller terrier and one cat came to join us. As we talked, we saw the van with our friends in it. They had made a wrong turn. For some reason, people don't realize they need to cut further back to the right to regain Green Mountain Road after Winter Road. Several people have told me they went left at that next intersection. Fortunately the paved road peters out into a logging road, so they don't drive all the way to Maine before figuring it out.

The sun keeps sinking. The weather keeps trying to turn cold. Riding days must get fewer and fewer or at least more logistically challenging. Even the warm days are short. Grab what you can get.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cars R Crap

Nothing is more awkward, useless and discouraging than a broken-down car. A beached whale might compare, but generally our interest in the whale is more theoretical.

On Friday my wife drove my car to town because it is (or was) our only functioning station wagon. She called me minutes after she left the house to say it was smoking heavily. About fifteen minutes after that she called to say it had lost power and she'd made a forced landing at a restaurant parking lot just outside town.

Kissing off my afternoon's pay, I climbed on the Traveler's Check to ride out and assess the situation. On my way out the rail trail I discovered that the maintenance crew had dumped a bunch of that new fill onto the long causeway beside Lake Wentworth. My skinny tires sank into the loose sand. I stood and grunted to keep forward momentum until I wallowed clear of it.

The ride helped me calm down. This is not a good time for yet another expensive car repair, especially when I probably couldn't get the car to the world's best mechanic, our guy in Gilford.

I found the Ford alone in the empty parking lot at the end of its trail of vital fluids. With only a sketchy description of symptoms, the Gilford Guru had said it might be the water pump. A closer look revealed it was the automatic transmission oil cooler lines. These commonly fail in cars in northern climates, where road salt attacks them all winter. Northern drivers have months to consider the bitter irony of treating the roads with corrosive substances that actively destroy our most expensive and troublesome appliances.

If I was lucky, I would be able to pour enough fluid in there to limp the 25 or 30 miles to Gilford to leave the car in the most reliable hands. If I was really unlucky I would have to leave it with someone in a town where everyone I know is underwhelmed by their auto mechanics.

First I had to call in the choppers to get me home to get another car to deliver to my wife so I could attempt the Gilford run in the bum car. Not enough daylight remained for me to ride on home and complete all the other maneuvers. Better to try parking lot improvisations in daylight than dusk and a rapidly dropping temperature.

That accomplished, with the help of two friends, I tried emergency transfusion in the parking lot. Red oil poured out as fast as I put it in, so I stopped putting it in. What remained in the tranny would allow the car to move, sort of. I limped into town to a garage with the usual mixed reviews, but a couple of testimonials from people I know. Any choice would be a roll of the dice.

The problem for people who have limited funds and value quality work is not that the car mechanic might be corrupt. That certainly does happen. More often, however, the mechanic simply lacks the imagination shown by the Gilford Guru. The customer ends up paying for failed experiments, among other things. The other things include professionally cheerful greeters and other staff that some mechanical establishments use to try to create a welcoming atmosphere. These do not substitute for friendliness. I can't fake cheerfulness and charm, so I don't expect anyone else to do it.

In this case, the emergency room my car landed in was able to provide the option I hoped they would: a quick tourniquet for a reasonable fee. Now I have to figure out when to do the car-car-bike-car transportation sandwich to deliver the Ford to the other side of the lake and get myself home to wait for the call to retrieve it.

My bike could completely explode along a dark and lonely road and it wouldn't cause a fraction of the hassle this car thing did. Of course if my bike gets engine trouble I can't afford to get it fixed at all, but that's another issue entirely.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The "Winter Riding" Label

Some may have noticed the "winter riding" label attached to posts about rides that fall outside of winter's official dates and full conditions. Because winter brings a range of conditions to different parts of the United States and the world, I did not use a more generic label like "cold weather riding" because once the weather gets cold enough, riding techniques and conditions could produce winter-like situations.

Some riders are harder than hard core. They push their Pugsleys through blizzard-lashed tundra, putting us softer folk to shame. Kudos to them. Meanwhile, riders in mellower climes still push the envelope in which they find themselves. They might benefit from an autumn technique devised in a colder locale, which they could apply to their frostiest conditions.

Speaking of cold weather hazards, a rider in Wolfeboro reports that not everyone has turned off their automatic lawn irrigation systems yet. Beware of icy streets next to lush lawns. He said the black ice may be so subtle that you don't see it at all until you're on it. The mist forms icy droplets rather than an obvious sheet. Unless you really know your neighborhood and have noted who has such systems, you could find out the hard way.

Remember that the temperature may be above freezing in the sun and below it in the patch of shade next door. Even heavy frost on a smooth enough surface can bring you down.

At least in cold weather we're wearing a lot more clothing, so maybe we don't shred as much skin. But that clothing ain't cheap.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Almost got "railed"

On the DERT (Disappointing Example of a Rail Trail), the classic crash occurs when riders hit one of the rails at a shallow angle. This sweeps the front wheel right out from under them. In a common variation, the front wheel goes over, but the rear wheel doesn't follow.

I have developed a pretty reliable technique for getting over the crossings smoothly. The narrow space between or beside the rails prevents a rider from lining up perfectly perpendicular to the rails to cross them. Signs advise riders to stop and dismount completely.

I slow down at the crossings, setting up as open an angle as I can. As the front wheel touches the rail, I rock the bike toward the outside of the turn, standing it up and turning the front wheel more perpendicular than the overall approach angle of the bike. Stand on the pedals to let the bike rock over the crossing and keep your center of gravity low. If the rear tire gets swept slightly, weight on the pedals lets it move into a stable alignment with the front end and hop over. Because the bike is already leaned slightly toward the outside of the turn, the rear wheel does not get swept out from under me.

Speed is important. Going too fast has obvious drawbacks, but the bike wobbles and hangs up on the rails if you go too slowly.

This morning was my first trip down from Cotton Valley on Silver. Because of the bike's length, weight and slack angles, it holds its line much more strongly than the Cross Check. Heavy frost coated the rails as I bombed into the first crossing at too shallow an angle. The front tire slid, but then hopped over. The fixed drive brought my pedals around so that my weight shifted outward in time to keep me on top of the bike. The rear tire slid a little, but also came over, as one foot blew out of the toe clip. I flailed on down the trail, bouncing up and down on my one foot attached to the crank until I could get the other foot back in.

I slowed way down on subsequent crossings and all the plank bridges, which were heavily frosted.

Almost to town, I ran into another obstacle, apparently a gift from the trail maintenance authorities. New fill!
This is the view looking back at it I after I had ridden around it on photo left.

It was still there on the ride home tonight. The herd had developed a much more defined path on that left side.

As expected, the actual workday was fairly tedious. Riding helps tremendously. I just like seeing my bike hanging there while I'm working. I know I just have to hold out a few hours to get back onto it.

Frost my kneecaps

This is a frustrating time of year. Today the temperature is supposed to get to the upper 50s, maybe 60. The temperature now is 26. It won't be anywhere near 50 at the time I have to ride. And when I start for home, it will have dropped again.

Cold weather calls for a bike with a built-in heater. I mean a fixed gear. The fixed gear demands energy from the rider going up or down hill. The limited gear keeps you from going too fast through the freezing air. You can't hunch your shoulders miserably and shrink within your clothes, wishing it was over. You have to stay on top of the gear.

Riding in the cold is definitely tougher than riding in the warm. It takes about four times as long to pull on all the layers, compared to shorts and a shirt.

At this point I've taped over the front vents on my helmet and added toe covers to my shoes. For path commutes in the dark, I quit using cleated shoes, too. Even when I ride a longer road commute in the dark I would forgo the cleats because off-bike capability is more important than maximum performance on it. Night speeds are slower. If I hop off the bike for anything, I don't want to worry about clearing my cleats when I get going again.

Fall is a little better than spring, because the road side isn't as likely to be a quagmire of mud. But spring has the longer daylight.

Time to layer up and head out. The ride will definitely be more interesting than the day at work. The next ride at the end of the day will give me something to look forward to.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Snitchin' a Ride

Before subjecting myself to trial by automobile I made an egg run with my sweetie. The temperature was in the upper 40s with a rising wind, but the sun did its best from its angle below the Equator. Somehow the wind never managed to give us any problems.

We discovered that the Highway Department is into stenciling.

Once in Taylor City we discovered that Cloverleaf Farm's chickens were finally producing, so we got a dozen from there instead of Earl's store. While the cellist talked with the farm folks, I grabbed a few pictures around the City.

Bill Taylor's store

Earl Taylor's store

South Effingham Church. Zoom in on the patterned shingles. I seem to recall Bill Taylor told me they used to be different colors to accentuate the different shapes.
Detail picture from a different day, showing shingle patterns

Looking into Taylor City from the south on Route 153.

Don't fight City Hall

Although I had a list of things to knock off before the delight of four hours driving south with the lemmings, it was hard to hurry.

This leaf-covered pond caught our attention
Quite a contrast between the pleasant bike ride and the door handle-to-door handle motor racing action driving south. Despite my best intentions to stay out of the way and flow peacefully to my destination, some hothead always brings the battle to me. In the restricted spaces of tight traffic, there's often nowhere to go but forward at 75 or 80 just to get to a clear spot to pull aside. It's better really late at night when no one pushes me. Some cruise missile might come by at 90, but not a whole raft of them. The schedule didn't suit a late run this time.

I brought a bike in case I get to tool around down here a little. Then I have to get back home through the northern fringes of Megalopolis.


Wet Leaves and Frosted Rails

The track was firm and fast on the DERT yesterday morning at 31 degrees. Fallen leaves completely covered the trail in places, including at some rail crossings. In other sections the rails shone dully with a coating of ice crystals waiting to trip the unwary rider. Of course, at 31 degrees, there were few riders at all. Maybe just me.

Humming a song of praise to the inventor of wind briefs, I pedaled through the frosty morning air down the corridor of molting trees.

After eight hours at my creativity-crushing, spirit destroying job -- yes, it's much like yours -- I headed out into the gathering dusk to ride back out on the journey home.

Before the sun had disappeared below the horizon, I came upon this strange, perfect line of red maple leaves drawn casually across the trail. These photos don't show how distinct the line was. Most of the other leaves on the ground were yellow with a few red mixed in.

Is it like a crop circle?

It began (or ended) with this curl.
The line led straight to a cleft tree...
And ended (or began) within it.

After taking these photographs I continued on into the growing darkness. With no overtaking motor traffic, I didn't turn on the rear blinky lights, but snapped on the Beamer headlights one by one. Sometimes I'll meet another commuter inbound. So first I snapped on one Beamer in flash mode, then switched to two in steady mode. Finally I reached down to add the Beamer 5 mounted below my handlebars. The head of it popped off and it spewed its batteries into the leaves and acorns covering the path. I had rolled yards past the drop zone before I was able to stop and turn back.

I found the light head and one battery. I had to give up on the other one after several minutes groping around with one of my other lights. Maybe I'll spot it on Thursday, which is my next likely bike commuting day. Or I could get insanely motivated and bust out early enough on Wednesday to ride the bike to my pre-work dentist appointment. My dentist frowns on tardiness as much as tartar. You don't want to get on the wrong side of the guy with sharp implements and power tools in your mouth.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"My husband wants his front brakes fixed"

According to the woman who brought this bike in, her husband has been riding it this way for a couple of years.
The front brake was disconnected, but could be hooked up and function back there, provided the rider does not turn too sharply to the left.
For extra credit, the quick release was wing-nutted tightly in this position.

Visit YOUR Local Bike Shop today, for the relief of these and other complaints!

A public service message from wrench nerds of America.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Working Three Jobs

Working in this shop is like having three jobs. In bike season it's all bike shop (except for the clothing). In the winter it gets more complicated. Nordic skis are our core business, but Nordic skiing suffers more than farming from adverse weather. The weather IS the crop. So the winter division spawned a couple of alternatives, most notably hockey.

Each transitional season, fall or spring, has us moving heavy objects and boxes of merchandise and equipment, enduring days of tedium, trying to cling to sharpness and information related to the season ending and the one beginning.

In the transition from summer to fall, biking dwindles, but does not disappear. The dedicated cyclists want to see us as bikey as ever. Hockey starts to pick up. Ski merchandise arrives like a few stray flakes followed by an avalanche. Our main shop serves as the headquarters for a non-profit that oversees the local trails, so that revs up as well. Later in the fall we start to work on setting up the Jackson seasonal shop. And that's where it really gets another personality.

The J-town shop is 50 miles from Wolf City. After just a few days there I feel like a colonial governor in a remote posting. I go from spending a nice hour on the bike going each way to spending a mostly tedious hour in the car. The situation has its pluses, but has its own unique demands.

Jackson is a pure Nordic monoculture. We have a token array of snowshoes, but for some reason they don't seem to move well up there, even though the touring center rents them. Mostly we sell skis, skis, skis, and clothing and peripherals to go with them. That was nice at first. When we were the new flavor of the month a lot of people checked us out. As the seasons go by, customers make up their own minds year by year or week by week about whether to stick with us. They travel to sample newer entrepreneurs or settle into long-term relationships with shops that can be open all year up there. We're a bit like a Nordic convenience store or an airport gift shop, except we have to price match with every low-ball warehouse on the Internet, just like in the bike biz.

Well before the end of ski season I've settled into Jackson's little, little world, like it or not, and nearly forgotten what a bike shop is like. Then spring comes, somewhere between January and late April. I start pulling shifts back in the 'boro. The tips of my fingers turn black. I start getting those little knuckle wounds common to mechanics. As the weather dictates, I start to trudge the weary road on my bike again.

Scenes from the DERT

Across the channel between Crescent Lake and Lake Wentworth

A family from Israel renting bikes reminded me not to hurry through the annual color show. Shooting from the hand on a clouding evening, I didn't get calendar shots, but here they are.

True colors are hard to capture. This will have to do.

Riding (between) the rails

Across Crescent Lake

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Seven or 666?

Still working on the $12,000 beater bike, I finally achieved smooth front shifting after four derailleurs and four bottom bracket configurations on top of the new chain rings and several shift cables. I started to think the bike was possessed.

The funniest part is the derailleur. What works? Not the modernest marvel I could order. No, what shifts cleanly is a Deore from about 1991. It matches up with that misapplied Ultegra brifter like it was born to do it. But is it worthy of a $12,000 bike? I put the question to the owner. He says he'll try it.

The new XT derailleur I was trying to install to replace the worn-out XTR would fray the shift cable every time I tightened the anchor bolt. I burned through five or six cables while trying different configurations. Remember, kids: bad design is not a manufacturing defect! No warranty for you!

Our parts bin now has an XT front derailleur and an XTR Octalink V1 bottom bracket (116.5) that we may never use. We'll probably place the derailleur, but who is going to need that BB?

I ordered the wide BB after I couldn't get the chain to drop to the granny with the old one, because the front derailleur was already folded up as tightly as it would go. Only moving the chain rings outward would put them under the dreailleur in that position. Since it's hard to find detailed dimensions on current componentry, let alone obsolete stuff, I didn't find out until the new BB arived that the axle only sticks beyond the end of the bearing cartridge as far as it does on the 109.5 mm Ultegra BB that was already in the bike.

The XTR unit came with spacers for different chain lines. Interestingly, neither chain line listed in the spec sheet that came with the BB matched what I measured on this bike, so I was on my own. The BB that finally worked was the original one with 1.5 or 2 mm of spacers behind the flange of the drive side of the bearing cartridge. The new one would have worked as well that way, but his left crank arm would have been dangling way off the left side, making the tread measurement of his bike much wider than before. Since Seven supposedly chooses every dimension of their bikes to match customer specifications, I didn't want to widen the stance of the pedals when it was supposedly carefully calculated. So we ate the new bottom bracket.

The bike has been picked up by the owner's staff, to await its rider's return in the spring. He's off to wherever he winters, whether that's the mercantile centers of Megalopolis or Utah ski country.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Old Fart on Fixed Gear

A young couple came through on Saturday riding back to Boston. The woman, on a Trek hybrid, had some shifting problems. While my associate worked on that, I discussed route options with the two riders. The woman said, "avoiding hills would be nice, since my boyfriend is on a fixed gear."

His bike was a black KHS track bike with flat pedals and drop bars. I didn't ask what his gear was, but I bet it's higher than mine. We started talking about fixed gear bikes in different configurations. Fortunately, I'd ridden the blue bike that day.

He got to see the quick-release rear axle and the two-sided hub. His bike had a two-sided hub, but only one side cogged. I see this a lot on Fixed Gear Gallery, too. That, and people with their wheel pulled almost all the way back in the dropouts.

The fact that I could tell him I'd been riding fixed gears since 1975 gave my methods more validity. I've tested them thoroughly. Being an old fart has its advantages.

Egg Ride

We buy our eggs from a store eight miles away in a part of town called Taylor City. The state line runs right through it, so one side of Route 153 is Maine. If you ever wanted to see the arbitrariness of political boundaries, this is the place.

According to legend, there are houses in the area split by the state line. So maybe half of our dozen eggs came from Maine. Maybe the whole thing did. Earl Taylor, the "mayor," could tell me.

In 1988 I stopped at Earl's store on my way from the coast to Canada on a 200-mile day ride. At that point in the ride I didn't have 100 miles on me yet. Earl's dog peed on my bike, but Earl himself was encouraging. When the photographer traveling with me told him what I was trying to do, he said, "Make it, boy!" I've never asked him if he remembers that. I didn't move to town for another year after that first encounter, and I live on the other side of town.

The egg run makes a pleasant little ride. My wife has devised padding for the trunk pack on her Cross Check to protect a standard egg box on the trip home. If she's going to get a few vegetables from the farm stand across the street she throws the panniers on, too.

Yesterday's egg run was just a nice excuse to go out on a beautiful, warm day. The hardwoods have not reached peak color yet. A lack of hard frost has made the colors a little dull, same as last year. But the pines have shed their needles in a rust-colored shower, turning the ground a golden orange. The low sun angle side-lights every scene. We enjoyed cycling's blend of practicality and play.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Good News from Surly

According to an email I just received, the new batch of Cross Checks will be shipped with uncut fork steerers. This will make adjustments to front end height as easy as can be. I can't wait to see the new rear dropout they mentioned on their blog, too.