Tuesday, January 27, 2009

As seen in Aspen II

Fantastic do it youself frankenbike with homebrew ski rack box.

As seen in Aspen

ASU themed cruiser bike with standard ski rack tube.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Church of the Sweet Ride

As seen on a crazy pink longtail bike at a local cyclocross race this fall.  Dig that classy leather and canvas pannier set up front and the mustachio'd handle bar.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recreational Cyclocrossing

I recently did some recreational cyclocrossing.  What's that?  It's a term coined by our very own -d to describe a road/dirt ride with potential dismounts and a bit of adventure.  For a while now, I've wanted to ride Alpine Road in Portola Valley, CA.  It used to be paved road which was eventually closed off to traffic and maintenance was ceased.  It was used in the past as a good way for road cyclists to get up into the hills while avoiding traffic.  There are some pics on Ray Hosler's website of famous local cyclists like Jobst Brandt and Tom Ritchey riding it in the 80's. Also, it was part of a hill climb time trail series back in 1996.  However, there's not a ton of current information.  Time for reconnaisance.

The road starts out as a graded gravel road.  Nice riding.  Steep in places.  We had a two weeks of rainless weather so I thought it would be pretty good, but there was still peanut butter style mud in the shadows.

But don't bother.  The vegetation is so thick and overgrown, you have to take the side trail which is steep, root strewn single track.  Great mountain biking, impossible road biking (be prepared to walk it so bring your mountain bike shoes), challenging on a cross bike, but do-able.

Apparently, it was once attempted in a pickup truck, and here it lies.

After the single track, the road opens up again, gets a little more sunny, and picturesque.

You pop out on Page Mill road, where a right turn takes you west towards the Pacific ocean, and a left turn takes you back down to Palo Alto and the Santa Clara Valley.

If you're on a mountain bike, don't bother to take the road.  Take Montebello Trail instead which should dump you out at Stevens Creek Reservoir.

If you take the road down, there's a water spigot outside Foothills park where you can top off.  Because of this, I only carried one bottle on the ride.

In conclusion - if you've got something just a little knobbier than a road bike, you should do this ride.  It's low on traffic, high on nature and scenery and a damn fine way to spend a weekend day. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

If I could turn back time in Kazakhstan

As I was checking out Bonktown, the roadie stepbrother to Chainlove, I saw this deal for a Castelli Jersey. Not just any jersey - one that could make you look like you had a black thong over your jersey that went up to your shoulder blades! Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time until the impeccable fashions of Cher and Borat reached the cycling world.

Gravity Bikes

Back in August, I dreamed about the ultimate downhill road bike. I was assuming that this bike would also be peddled uphill. Say you didn't assume that. Then you'd end up with something like these nut jobs built for themselves:
They're competing in something called the MaryHill Festival of Speed which is basically a gathering of people (mostly young males) wrapping themselves in leather and helmets and then placing their bodies on wheeled objects that seem to me like carbon fiber skate boards and like-a-bikes and pointing them down a big hill.

Here's a pretty good blog entry on the world's fastest gravity bike. CNC'd aluminum components, gigantic custom motorcycle style disc brakes, and shocks to cushion your ass while you kiss it goodbye.


Of course, nothing this crazy goes un-Youtubed. I'm sure you can do some good research there.

Picture from bikeportland on flickr.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The lunatics are on the grass

Went down to Watsonville, CA a little while ago to watch a cyclocross race. They were in the 'cross spirit.
Cowbells on every lamp post.

But not such big fans of veldrijden.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

IT Clips - reduce, reuse, restrain

That's it.  Little, yellow, different.  No, we're not talking about Nuprin, we're talking about the IT Clip.  It's just a bit of plastic that makes your discarded inner tubes into a tie down strap.  They also make a model with hooks for bungee-style applications.  Check them out at http://www.it-clips.com/

Apparently the only place to get them is McGuckin's Hardware store, the greatest hardware store on earth.  Go to their website and click on 'Colorado Companies'.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mountain Town Bike Shop

All the famous bike bloggers like to pump up their favorite shops, and we here at nippleworks are no different. Take this example from Belgium Knee Warmers.

Here's a mountain town shop that is sure to impress. Paco's Bike and Ski.
Now, there are plenty of bike shops in ski towns that switch to renting mountain bikes in the summer and can sell you a pair of gloves or a helmet if you forgot yours. But, how many can do this:

That's real selection. In the dead of winter, they had three complete Campagnolo brake/shifter cable sets. Does QBP even have that? Even when most people have snow on their minds, they can still help you out. And speaking of snow, they're one of the most complete nordic skiing shops I've ever seen with real expertise, clothing and gear for cross country and back country skiing. The best way to stay in shape when the ground is covered in snow.

Also, they've got a good selection of local trail maps which point out great mountain biking or skiing routes.

Check them out if you're ever passing through, or enjoying Truckee, CA.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Performance fork for less than $0

With Performance and Nashbar throwing their 15% off sales, I thought I'd check them out. After all, a cyclist can always (window) shop, right? Well, I stumbled across this interesting little deal on the Performance SSR track/fixie frame. They are selling the SSR Frame and Fork for $229. This is a pretty good deal... WAIT A MINUTE... I looked on the same page and they have the frame itself for $249. Yes, folks, Performance is willing to pay you $20 for a $99 fork. In other words, this fork costs less than $0. Sounds like a deal to me. If you don't like the graphics of the SSR, the decals are removable for that Kitt look.

Flabbergasted and utterly curious, I wandered over to the Nashbar site to see if there were any similar pots of gold. Well, they weren't willing to pay me to take their parts, but I did find the ultimate cargo riding jacket!

Sure, when empty, the pockets may billow like those sprinting parachutes, but I'd still love to see how many beer cans and/or burritos I could cram in that thing. Alternatively, it might just be the perfect jacket for a fly fishing bike tour.

Monday, January 12, 2009

You've got to be kidding me

Somebody stole Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's bicycles.


Whoever this is stole bikes from:

a) a couple of great grandparents
b) a Nobel Peace Prize Winner
c) a guy who, if he wasn't so damn nice, could have the thieves sent to Guantanamo

Better give 'em back man, and maybe wash them and lube the chains first.

Photo from Wikipedia

Got a junker bike lying around, live near SF?

The good folks at the Bike Hut are looking for some junker bikes. For those of you who haven't heard of them, they're a farm located near San Gregorio, CA on the Pacific Coast. We first blogged about the Bike Hut in October and it looks like they're making great strides in being a unique bicycle-centric rest stop on the Pacific coast.

Right now, they're looking for parts or frames to make a franken-sign for their establishment. According to them:

"If anyone has any giveaway bikes or bike parts (ie beaters) gathering dust in a garage (out in the rain and rusty is fine, too) please drop it by anytime and just leave it in the picnic area if you happen to be driving by."

They're also planning a Tour Of California picnic/watch party when the big show rolls by the farm on February 16th. Check them out.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rear brake cable hanger/ seat post binder

I took one look at this and said "genius!". I figured it saved weight by combining two must have bicycle components into one simple part. Not so the owner said. It may save components and weight, but is not a work of genius. The cable has to take a sharp turn as it exits the hanger and rubs against the aluminum. He has actually sawed a groove into his. Well, better luck next time, Giant Bicycles.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Campy vs. Shimano brake cables

The ends of these two cables look the same at a cursory glance, but when you get them up close to eachother, you realize that the ends of a Campagnolo brake cable and a Shimano road brake cable are not the same. The Campy cable end on the left is smaller in diameter, and also shorter in length. I didn't realize this until I tried to install the Shimano cable on my Campy bike. Catalog ads tend not to say "Shimano compatible only", and the cables install pretty much the same way, so who would have thought them to be different?

To resolve my problem, I ground down the Shimano cable and stuffed it into my brake lever. Will it hold? I'll let you guys know. Until then, I have at least one lever with a regolamentare cable in it so that'll stop me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Adventure Cyclocrossing

While riding my road bike down a local rural road, I found a mystery tunnel. It didn't have much of a path going to it, and went under a pretty major freeway, so I decided to come back with the cyclocross bike to follow it. I also checked it out with Google maps and Wikimapia and thought it might lead into a dirt path in a neighborhood on the other side, creating a neat road/dirt bike loop. Well, on my return visit, I found this:

Equestrian use only. Booo. This was found in an area so rich that people either drive their luxury cars, ride their horses or excercise in their home gyms, so I'm not going to hold out much hope that the path will ever be open to cyclists. Also, I dare not trespass, lest some very well connected resident call the authorities and have me sent to Guantanamo. In the mean time, it really whetted my appetite for some adventure cyclocrossing. The kind that goes from my doorstep, to a rural road, to a dirt road, to a trail and back to a road in a scenic loop.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fuzzy ear warmers

Here's something I can't recommend enough - the New Years morning bike ride. It does the following:
a) it keeps you from partying like it's 1999
b) it prevents you from learning the meaning of "coyote ugly"
d) it's better than going to a holiday sale at the mall
c) it starts the biking year off on the right foot

This year, I rode up to the top of Mt. Hamilton on New Years morning, along with a huge crowd of strangers and friends, all out for the same reasons. Mt. Hamilton is a not too steep, but very long climb, and the road has 4k feet of elevation gain. During winter, the top is frequently snowy so weather is a serious factor, but traffic is usually not. You can't do it every year, but when you can, it's great. Every part of the US (except Florida) probably has a similarly good holiday ride.

This year, I met a friendly fellow with a really neat piece of gear. Fuzzy ear warmers on his helmet. Here he is surveying the cold, foggy valley below from the warm, sunny peak:

Notice that he's also sporting a cycling cap and that the ear warmers are velcro'd on to his helmet straps. This means his noggin is dressed in layers. Take the ear warmers off when you get warm, and the hat when you get warmer. Put it all back on for the descent. He told me that you can get these, handmade by a local seamstress, at Cupertino Bike Shop. I haven't verified this yet, but I'm sure they'd be happy if you'd drop by and ask about them, or check out the website for yourself. I've been happy for several years with an Outdoor Research Military Watch Cap. It's pretty handy because you can flip up the band to uncover your ears if you get warm.

The fellow with the ear warmers also had an unusual bar mounted index shifter with double paddles:

Where did these come from?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

SF MoMA - Carrie Basket

Happy New Year from nippleworks

As our first post of 2009, let me tell you about something else I saw at the SF Museum of Modern Art. The Carrie bicycle basket. It has a much more intuitive, robust and well designed attachment than many of the other bicycle baskets I've seen.

It hooks on in a simple, non-fussy way and is just a plain, open basket with a handy nylon strap for carrying.

That strap would probably work better if the top of the basket didn't have protruding petals on it to dig into your back/hip, but what they hell, it's artistic. If you want to buy one, you can drop the steep, $50 here.