Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Officially Out of Reading Material

Maybe because I've been too busy to get to the library much this spring, or maybe because I've been sick too much, but I'm officially out of reading material.  I have re-re read even my "comfort reads" too many times, read all the issues of the Atlantic that were piled up on my side of the bed and read all last weeks' newspapers pretty much front to back.

So despite the deluge I decided to wade through Harvard yard last night to the library instead of going straight home.
Despite almost getting hit my a ninja salmon biker on the way (grumble,grumble)
I managed to get there only slightly soaked.  I gave up on the umbrella halfway there because it kept getting blown inside out.

I got a couple of new books, got home, and immediately dove in to Wolf Hall, the historic novel featuring Thomas Cromwell that was last year’s Booker winner.  So far it’s fantastic, really elegant prose and some compelling characters.

There’s not much cozier than coming home soaking wet, changing into warm dry clothes and settling in with a good book, a dog on your lap and a glass of wine.  Just think, if it wasn’t rainy, we couldn’t enjoy huddling warm and dry outside.  (Thankfully, so far our basement remains dry!)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pedal Fail/ Customer Service Win

About a month ago I realized that one of my cool flashing pedals wasn’t flashing any more.  I was kind of bummed, because they were kind of pricy, and I was sad to lose that extra attention getting flash.
I thought maybe I’d try to open it up, clean it out and see if there were any obviously broken or corroded electrical connections.
I was poking around on the internet looking for information, and noted a post from the Pedalite customer service manager asking anyone with problems with the pedals to contact him so that he could try to solve the problem (before they become disgruntled ex-customers spreading ill will on the internet)

So I emailed him last Wednesday, at the address he provided in his post, and he contacted me the next day asking for a photo of the defective pedal and my shipping address.  He said that even though their warranty was normally a year, they wanted the products to last a lot longer than that,  and were willing to replace the defective pedal despite the fact that I’d had mine 18 months.
I was out sick again on Monday (2010 has been a year of plague in our household- sniffle)  but arrived to work today to find a tidy package bearing the Royal British Mail stamp, with a new pedal enclosed!
Super fast,  no paperwork, no five copes of my proof of purchase, no quibbling about the warranty date-  what excellent customer service!
Plus the blinking lights are very noticeable!  Put me down as a fan.  I was at Harris Cyclery Saturday (they started carrying the Pedalites a while after I bought them) and let them know so that they could help anyone else who has a failure.
Disclaimer in case you might think I'm a shill:
I bought these pedals at a bike store in Portland for retail.   The only financial “compensation” I’ve received is the warranty replacement.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Simple Supper

We got home a little late tonight from a trip to Eastern Clothing.

The Scientist is 6'5" and has a hard time finding dress clothes that are Tall but not "Big"
About 3/4 through a frustrating visit a couple of weeks ago to what seemed like every place that sells suits in the Boston area , a saleswoman took pity on us and suggested Eastern Clothing.
Tucked away in a mostly residential neighborhood in Watertown, in an unassuming brick warehouse, is a place that's probably sold a suit to every pro athlete in the Boston area.  They specialize in "athletic cut" (aka, not fat) tall suits, and sell suits as separates, so that if your shoulders say you need a 54, but your waist is a 36, they can fit you.  Their collection of autographed sports memorabilia is probably worth the trip alone.  I picked up a baseball nestled in the extra long ties, and it had the following signatures: Noma Garciaparra, Trot Nixton,  Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez.  Most people would have that ball in a glass case;  here it was lying amongst the ties.

ANYWAY.  We got home late after picking up the altered suit, and I surveyed the fridge:
Half a cabbage, shredded.  Some hot dogs (for our dog who prefers his antibiotics when they're delivered in a salty meaty package). miscellaneous condiments.  

I checked the freezer, where I noted a package of frozen shrimp.  It was time for Peanut slaw!

Peanut slaw is something that I think I invented, at least I've never seen a recipe for it.  I had a really memorable asian slaw at a restaurant with pickled sushi ginger, and rice vinegar.  I had a regular rotation dish based on a Moosewood recipe called "baby tree" that was broccoli in a peanut sauce.  I did a bit of low carb dieting, and somehow I combined the two-  a spicy asian inflected peanut sauce, stirred into cabbage hot so the cabbage would soften, topped with sauteed shrimp.

It's strikingly like Pad Thai- especially if you top it with cilantro and chopped peanuts, but as I said, it was getting late, and the Scientist was anxious to check out the NCAA games.  15 minutes later, we were enjoying dinner.  I know it sounds weird, but it's really tasty, delicious, and reheats well, and the ingredients are long lasting pantry staples.  Like many of the recipes that are in my rotation, it's not a precise recipe- more a season to taste thing- but here's my best approximation.

Peanut Slaw/ Low Carb Pad Thai
1/2 head cabbage (approx 4 cups) shredded as for slaw.
1/3 cup peanut butter.
3 cloves garlic
1" ginger, minced (you could use pickled sushi ginger if you had it)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
oil for saute
2 tbs cider vinegar
4 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp sugar (or splenda if you're being low- carb)
1/2 -1 cup water
shrimp, sauteed.

Heat a nonstick saute pan.

Make the peanut sauce:
Saute garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in a bit of oil in a saucepan until the garlic seems cooked.
Add the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar, and add enough water to thin to about the consistency of pancake batter (I've found the amount of water depends a lot on what kind of peanut butter you use).  Let it come to a simmer, stirring when you think of it.

Cook the shrimp- about 2 minutes a side in the heated saute pan with a bit of oil, or until pink.

Bring the peanut sauce to a hard boil, pour it over the cabbage and stir it in well.  Sometimes I run it all through the microwave for  3-5  minutes to wilt the cabbage a bit more.  Depends if you want it more "slaw" like or more "noodle" like.  Serve,  topped with shrimp (chopped peanuts and cilantro if you're ambitious).
This has become a catchall during CSA shoulder season -it's good with Daikon radish, turnips, broccoli, carrots, mustard greens or all of the above stirred in.    I'm  of the opinion that peanut butter is a universal solvent- everything tastes better with more peanut butter, but the combo of sweet, salty, sour and umami is  hard to resist!

Last light on the river

Despite the time change, things have been so busy at work that I'm barely making it home before dark.
It was enough before dark that I could ride along the river, and enjoy the last rays of sunlights reflected off the Boston skyline.

I've had a hard time getting on the bike mornings this week.  I'm either having a bit of a relapse of my old cold, or a new, milder cold.  The weather too has relapsed a bit, with more chilly rain, and a couple of cold damp mornings.   The dampness at least holds the promise of more spring to come-
and my little front garden is trying to get into the spirit with daffodils, and the first new buds of Sedum peeking out from autumn's dead leaves.

I was heartened that despite the possibly icky forecast two days this week, we had 100% ridership (of the three of us in my office who bike commute.  I think after all the icky snow and cold, it takes more than a little chill to stop us. 
This is the first year that I've biked through the whole winter,  and while it's been good,  I feel more tired of it than I have in years past, when spring was a chance to leap back into it.  Maybe that's the cold (medical and environmental) speaking, and I'l rally once I'm healthy and the weather is lovely again.

Edited- Interestingly, all three of us who bike to work- ended up meeting in the last couple of blocks from work this morning-  it was nicer today than yesterday, and I hope to get home before the last light so that I can enjoy the evening a bit!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bike Lock

I guess if you're a bike cop, you have more than one way to lock your bike

Of course, you also probably don't have to worry too much about someone stealing your bike.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bits and Bobs

Things I found around the web on Friday but was too busy enjoying the sunny weekend to post until now- hope they're not too outdated:

I'm tired of cycle bashing, and I'm sure you are too.  This may be old news to you, but thanks to Lance Armstrong's taking him to task via Twitter and a unprintable word, Terry Korn the ESPN host who suggested that people should "tap" cyclists who ride in the street is now claiming that he was kidding when he advocated vehicular homicide.  If you don't think that kind of "humor" is funny or should be promoted on the radio,  instead of ranting on bike blogs, I highly suggest a few choice words here

A really great video about riding around busses/ driving a bus around bicycles from Chicago.  It a bit long, but well made.  Save your life, don't try to pass a bus in its blind spot!

If you're a female reader of this site,  you should consider spending 15 minutes filling out a survey here.  Tell city planners and the people who set the city planning agenda what shapes your bicycling habits.

I spend a fair bit of time along the Charles River bike paths, and DCR just sent out a "save the date" for their annual volunteer clean up day "Park Serve".  Anyone here in Boston interested in meeting up and forming a group to clean up a section of the river together?
I'm definitely going to do it,  but it would be a fun way to meet some of you, and help make the biking environment more pleasant.  If you're interested, comment or email me at
If I get a group of 6 or more I'm supposed to call in and get an "official" assignment.  Lots of people want to do the bike path,  so it would be great to sign up before the best spots are gone.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On my soapbox

Spring seems to have finally sprung in Boston
I say seems because it's not uncommon in these parts for mother nature to get us all excited about longer and warmer days, only to slap us down with a week of 33 degree rain.

Thanks to the time change, I got to ride home in daylight for the first time in what feels like forever:

I stopped at the regular grocery store for Gatorade for the Scientist who has the Stomach flu- hopefully the 24 hour kind.  Then I went to Trader Joe's where I bought a case of wine.  The stock guy was overly solicitous- worried that I couldn't carry it to the front of the store.  I wanted to tell him- honey, I'm about to carry it 2 miles home on my bike, so if I can't get it to the front of the store, I have other problems!

I think this is about the limit of what I can reasonably carry on Robert.  I was super wobbly at low speed.

The nice weather and the time change have brought an influx of new or newish riders out of hibernation and back on the streets, to which I say "Hooray"

However,  I'm also seeing a lot of dangerous, and, quite frankly, rude behaviour from some people excited about riding again or for the first time.

So some suggestions from my soapbox:

1)  Smile!  You're not in a car-  relax, enjoy the ride, take a couple of deep breaths of spring air.  Biking is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, not just about getting there as fast and furiously as you can.

2)  Practice the Golden Rule/ be polite.  This has a lot of applications in biking as in the rest of life.    You hate it when cars come too close, don't yield when you have the right of way or otherwise make you feel vulnerable- don't make pedestrians or other bikers feel the same way.  You may feel like you're giving pedestrians enough space, but maybe the guy who nearly hit you with his mirror felt the same way when he buzzed you.  Additionally- practice it with cars.  If you're on a narrow road with a lot of traffic, and people are having to wait to pass you safely, maybe you shouldn't blow past them at the next stoplight and make them do it again in the next block.  If there are other drivers stopped at a redlight or a stopsign, how hard is it to stop and wait your turn? If there's really truly no one around, it's like a tree falling in the forest as far as I'm concerned, but otherwise it's illegal, and more importantly, rude.

 3) Don't put yourself in danger.   I see a lot of new riders threading through narrow gaps in the blind spots of busses and trucks.  Your life is worth the extra 20 seconds to wait and go around.  Not only are they probably not expecting you to be passing,  but they probably can not physically see you.  I personally extend this to never passing moving cars, or cars that might possibly start moving while I'm passing.  A moving car can veer into you so quickly that you can't react, and it won't be expecting you to pass it in what is really a single lane.  
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest to even new cyclists that you need to learn about vehicular cycling and consider trying to implement it.  I understand that when you're getting started the cars are scary, and you feel like you're moving slow, and the natural tendency is to pull as far over as possible.   But that puts you at risk of dooring, and unfortunately it encourages people to try to squeeze by you when they really don't have enough space.  I understand that it's challenging,  and it requires a certain amount of fortitude to make the cars wait to pass you,  but all I ask is that you learn about it and start trying it out.  Try it on less busy roads and see how it works.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how cars actually give you more respect and space and you will actually feel safer.
Finally I'm going to include biking the wrong way down a one way street in this one.  This is one of the leading cause of accidents.  I know that it often feels like a good shortcut, or a way to avoid a busier road.  But people won't be looking for you, so they're even less likely to see you.  And if you come down the bike lane the wrong way, you're in violation of #2.  The advantage of being on a bike is that you can go a couple of blocks out of your way pretty quickly.  If it's just a block or so,  it won't kill you to get off and walk on the sidewalk.   

4)  Ride in your regular clothes.  Because if you have to change your clothes to ride your bike, unless you're super hard core, you're less likely to ride your bike.  If you're riding less than 5 miles and at less than 20mph,  you can almost certainly ride in your normal clothes unless these are your normal clothes.  Honestly, unless you're built something like Lance Armstrong, or are riding some serious distance or at impressive speed, you're gonna look a little silly riding in the 100% lycra getup.  I'll try not to laugh if I see you at the streetcorner, but I can't guarantee what anyone else will do.
I'm not a super fashionable girlie girl, despite the blog title, but I manage to ride in just about anything I wear to work.  Pretty much any sturdy shoe will work (heel height is not an issue unless you plan on pedaling with your heels).   I wouldn't wear Manolo Blahniks ( if I owned such things) unless you don't mind possibly ruining the heels, but clip in pedals aren't necessary for city riding either unless you want to take up tap dancing on the side!
I do try to test ride a skirt before I take it out on parade,  and if it tends to billow up, I take precautions.  I have a couple of pairs of mostly cotton "workout shorts" that come almost to the knee and ensure modesty with fuller, floatier skirts.

5) Get lit.    You're going to have so much fun riding, that sooner or later you'll be out after dark.  For your own sake, for the sake of other bikers,  for the sake of drivers,  you should have at the very least a small (blinky) white light in the front  and a red light in the back that is not hidden by your backpack or your bag or your coat.  Thanks to LEDs there are tons of small, cheap, long lasting options out there, so there's no excuse for being a ninja.

6)  Consider wearing a helmet if you bike in the city.   This is  a personal choice and gets a lot of flame wars going.  Please do not write in with vigorous arguments for/ against.  When I ride in Europe or on a limited access bike path I often don't wear a helmet.  I understand that if a multi- ton vehicle hits or runs over me, the helmet will not help me, etc etc.
However, probably the most common accidents in a city like boston are dooring,right hooks, and hitting a bad pothole, all of which are cause to stop short and fly over your handlebars.  Although I try my best to avoid putting myself in a position for them to happen,  I like to give my head a fighting chance if it hits the pavement at speed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New (to me) bike

So, back in October when I was wringing my hands about preservation and utility,  I decided to buy an old but not "vintage"  frame and fix it up.

After a bit of deliberation about the peculiarities (weird threadings, odd sized bolts)  of Raleighs, I bought a 70's era step through frame from the nice guys at Metonomy/ Cambridge Used Bikes for $50.  I did a lot of work stripping the paint myself,  and I found that a $1 brass wire brush from Sears, mounted in my drill worked great for that- stripping the paint without damaging the finish.  I was originally planning on taking it to Sugarcoat, which is why I was trying to save money by stripping it myself.   However, instead I ended up taking it down to Plymouth to a guy I originally contacted on Craig's list, and later got good references for from Somervillian.

The bike in its original state was dull silver with 70's typography,and  lots of surface rust spots, but had a solid geometry similar to a complete vintage bike I'd ridden and liked.I'm sure that I took pictures of the bike "before" but I'll be damned if I can find them.  You'll just have to trust me that it looked a lot like a bike that's been abandoned chained to a light post

It's back from the powder coater's and now it's a dark blood red (although in retrospect, I wish I'd gone one shade darker!).  It's going to be my daily ride for a while.  My current plan is to scavenge some of the expensive bits of Robert (the dynohub, the internal geared rear wheel) and add some new parts (the two-eyed rack everyone loved).   The longer term plan is to take Robert for powdercoating and then rebuild him with maybe slightly less high tech parts.

I took advantage of the warm weather a week ago  when it came home to start working on it.
The first thing I did was spray Frame Saver in it.  This is a messy process, and best done outside over a bunch of newspapers.  It seems to basically be some kind of oily goo suspended in a petroleum solvent that allows you to distribute it through the frame.  You spray it in the various holes,  shake and tilt the frame to distribute it evenly, and let it off-gas outside for an afternoon.

Then I cleaned  a bit of the overspray off with an exacto knife.

Next, following Sheldon Brown's instructions,  I screwed in the fixed cup of the bottom bracket.
Then I turned the bike over and applied a liberal amount of Phil Wood's waterproof grease.  I should have probably done this before putting the cup in, because I couldn't get the nozzle of the grease tube in enough to get it on the far side of the bottom bracket shell.  I used a bamboo skewer (very technical tool) to deliver it to the installed cup.

I then plugged the hole with my finger and dropped the ball bearings in, pushing them into the grease with the skewer as necessary.

Sorry for the lousy photos,  I couldn't figure out how to over-ride the camera's focus plane very well, and the macro mode didn't seem to help.

The light was failing by this point,  but the next step was to grease up the adjustable cup and fill it with ball bearings, put the short end of the spindle in the adjustable cup,  and holding them together so that the BBs stay in place, lower the long end of the spindle into the BB shell against the fixed cup BB's.
I got it tightened enough that everything is held in place,  but I was getting a lot of resistance to further tightening of the adjustable cup while still having a lot of play in the spindle, so I stopped.

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures, but I assembled the headset BB races,  which were a lot simpler.  The headset doesn't turn completely smoothly, so I might have to take it all apart and do a bit more sanding and smoothing- now that I know how easy it is to dis and re-assemble, I won't hesitate if it gives me problems once the handlebars are in.

That's all for now- brakes and brake cables are the next step once they arrive.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

wicked fracking cool

Sorry to mix my boston vernacular and my geek vernacular, but this is the coolest bike I've seen in a LONG time.

It was so cool, that I was accosting random strangers (with bike helmets) in Trader Joe's asking them if it was their bike
I was so excited when I saw it because I actually brought my real camera with me today, only to be disappointed when it was out of batteries. So sorry for the lousy pictures.  I was so excited that I completely forgot to lock Robert up, Thankfully he was still there when I returned.  I probably spent 5 minutes rapping my ring against the tubes trying to make sure they were actually bamboo and not some clever simulacrum.
  So, this bike appears to have been custom handbuilt from bamboo and gaffers tape!  Gaffers tape is the matte black version of duct tape used in theatrical work. I could be wrong, it could be fiberglass tape and resin.  Either way, it's incredibly cool!

A mystery solved

Can you see the difference between the two chain cases?

As I mentioned in my recent post on Minerva, I have been struggling to get the chain case to fit.
However, a full chain case is such an important factor to me in the utility of a bike that I went ahead and ordered one for the new bike in the smaller size designed for 26" wheels.  While I was ordering it, the gentleman at Yellow Jersey bikes in Madison was very helpful and offered lots of suggestions on fitting the other case on Minerva.

The new chaincase arrived today, and I happened to have the other one at work, I took a look to see how they were different,  and guess what!  THEY'RE THE SAME!   That's why I've not been able to fit the guard I had on Minerva.-it's way too short!

The guy at YG sounded very embarrassed and said he'd send me a new 28" one immediately, and he'd figure out a way for me to get the other one back to him later (hopefully without my having to pay shipping again).  I'm glad that I figured it out- although I'm a bit sad that I won't be able to send both of them out to be powder coated this weekend.
Funny how things work out sometimes

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Where's the fire MA S-15?

I did a little more poking around on Google Map's bike directions after work, just to see how they would direct me home.  And, well,  I'm going to stay with my current route.
Their route wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great.  It had me wend through downtown and back bay to get on the Storrow side bike path, cutting over on Western Ave of all places (probably one of the worst bridges for biking) to Harvard.  I went ahead and followed the little link asking for suggestions and told them that cutting over on Harvard bridge or Longfellow would be a lot more bike friendly.

As I said in my original post,  these new directions don't substitute for keeping your wits about you, and making smart choices based on what you are experiencing in the real world.

Although on paper it might not seem bike friendly, my route down cambridge street in the evenings is generally pretty smooth.  For one thing there's not much traffic,  for another, the lights are timed almost perfectly for a bike, so cars can't really get going too fast,  and finally,  there's a lot going on- pedestrians, cabs, bikes, etc, so I think people are going a little slower and paying more attention- a case of more chaos actually making things safer.  I generally take the lane for most of the distance I ride there, and 95% of the time it's no sweat.  Tonight though..

I could hear this guy's impatience as we went from one stoplight to the next.  At the 2nd light, he was lightly revving his engine.  The next bit was the tricky part, with cars turning in and out of a parking garage, a pedestrian crosswalk and a cab stand (and a line of curb parking)  So I kept well out into the lane.
I was moving essentially as fast as the other lane of traffic,  downhill, cars not moving too fast between lights.
Just past the tricky part, he passed me,  and to his credit he did give me a good 5' of clearance,  but he went a lot faster and a lot closer to the car in the other lane than I found safe.  Clearance doesn't help you much if they get into an accident and come spinning your direction!  But he made it (barely) back into my lane just in time to slam on his brakes at the next light.
I followed right on his bumper the three blocks until he got on the thruway.
Perhaps you should be more careful driving if you have an easily remembered custom license plate.
Hope you're happy and that you got there in time Massachusetts S-15!

do the Google

I use google maps a lot- to the extent of stopping on the side of the road while biking to check where I'm going.  Which is why I'm very happy to hear that Google is starting to offer a bike-appropriate directions option.   I tend to use it when I already know more or less where I'm headed to,  but if you don't really know, the normal directions could lead you to some pretty unpleasant cycling situations.  The idea is that this feature would send you on the less crowded roads, roads with bike lanes etc.  No substitute for being able to pay attention and display adaptability, but at least you'll be starting (hopefully) from a basic set of directions.

Yea Google!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Hack, Cough, wheeze, on your left"

Today was my second day of riding to work after being sick all last week, and although I'm still hacking and wheezing a fair bit, I hadn't had a real coughing fit while riding (the kind that leaves me doubled over) until tonight.  Pedestrians were turning to look at me in horror, wondering who let me out of the sanatorium and why the hell I was on a bike.   I had to pull over to get breath back finally. I'm about done with being sick!

On a more pleasant note, two happy surprises courtesy of the City of Cambridge Public works!
They filled the enormous, bike eating pothole at Broadway and Galileo Galilei road,  and the less gaping, but more entrenched one half a block east.  This morning, I was treated to a freshly swept bike lane-  so fresh I could still see the wet track the sweeper left behind- ah bliss!

I sent the CPW two "thank you" emails- positive conditioning and all that.

big bad bike building post still in the works- but since I just got home at 9pm,  I'm gonna eat dinner and sleep instead of blog.

Monday, March 8, 2010


A couple of updates:
Back when Minerva first entered the family and I was cleaning her up, I decided that the front fender had a bit too much rust, and decided to strip first, ask questions later.  What started as stripping down "the bad spots"  ended up with a bare metal fender,  followed by a primed fender, followed by a visit to an automotive paint supplier who told me to take the primer back off because Rustoleum has fish oil in it that interferes with regular paint.....

Long story and a lot of sanding later,  I took the fender (and a bunch of other stuff) to be powdercoated by Scott at Long Beach Custom Fabrications down in Plymouth.  I think he charged me $10 for the fender.

The thing that I love about it (besides the fact that the paint finish is bombproof)  is that he had a great almost matt-but-not-quite  black finish that looks great with the vintage paint on the rest of the bike.
I took advantage of the lovely weather we had on Sunday to pull Minerva out of the basement, put the fender on and run a couple of errands.  I still feel a little awkward with her slightly narrower handlebars and slightly more forward position, and I'm no further along with the "carrying stuff" issue.
She rides rock solid though-  I can never go "no hands" with Robert, and Minerva just tracks dead straight without any fuss.  Longer wheelbase, more rake to the fork, who knows,  just really comfortable.

I think that I mentioned it before, but I bought a full chain case for Minerva,  and spent many hours sanding off the paint, only to find out that it doesn't quite fit.  Somervillian and the nice guys at Open had some suggestions for making it fit, but I'm not sure I'm up for doing it myself.  This weekend, I decided I'm still going to send it to be powder coated (est cost $20) and then take it to Harris, who managed to get the exact same chaincase to fit Lovely Bicycle's Velouria, who is only a year "younger" than Minerva is.  I spoke to the expert at Yellow Jersey bicycles in Madison (whom I bought it from),  who actually had them all custom made to the old Raleigh specs.  He said he has personally fitted one of these to a 1970 DL-1,  so I suspect it can be done with enough patience and fortitude. He sent me a follow up email with suggestions that sounded complicated and is going to send me a free half size chain link that he thinks will do the trick.  I'm vacillating between trying it myself, and just turning it over to Harris and say "make it so"

Finally, although the "cheap but bright" headlight was much commented on,  I decided that the basket wasn't really working (or rather the support wasn't really working- it racked terribly under even a light load). So I removed basket and light when I installed the fender 
(the light may make another appearance in the two eyed rack).  
 I made a semi- impulse purchase of a 2 watt Planet Bike Blaze Sunday at Cambridge Bicycle.  I'd seen someone riding with one, and it was impressively bright enough to make me stop them and inquire about it, and when I saw it, decided to make it mine.  Having ridden with it briefly, I'll say that it does seem objectively quite bright,  and the strobe setting is impressively eye-catching from at least a block away,  but I'm beginning to understand why all the light mavens obsess about "beam pattern" and optics.  The Edeluxe has a much more useful beam- it really lights the road much better and creates more usable light for it's wattage.  

The weather was so nice that I decided to ride Minerva in to work today. (and I only hacked up a lung twice on the ride in and for about half an hour after I arrived- God bless my patient pod-mate who must be really tired of my pulminary woes by now)  One thing I notice, is that she's fast! I'm surprised how quickly I got to work without hardly trying.  And despite the lingering awkwardness, she's a lot of fun!

Thanks again to Somervillan  who gave me a primer on sturmey archer adjustment.  A couple of quick tweaks at stoplights on the way home and I think I'm completely functioning in all three gears now!

Spring in New England Part 2!

Looks like the lovely weather we had all weekend is coming to stay all week!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'm Alive

But just barely.  Sorry for the delay in posting- caught a nasty upper respiratory bug that knocked me on my posterior for a week straight.  My voice is still AWOL  (called my mom today and it took her a minute to recognize me, even though my first words were "Hi Mom")!

Anyway,  lots of bike news, including picking up my newly powder-coated project, code named Rudy for the moment,  news on the Dl-1, and lots more.

Unfortunately the Oscars sucked me in and it's too late for a lengthy post.
Two photos from my first bike trip in a week:

One, outside Cambridge Bicycles, in the tradition of delivery vehicles with talismanic stuffed animals pinioned on the grill:
And by 1369 (Central)  a Fairey-esq  Obama tube badge:

Sorry the picture isn't better- snapped it at a red light without stopping.

I managed to bike to Kendall and to Trader Joe's and I only had to stop to cough up a lung once!
I might even make it to work via bike tomorrow!

Pictures of projects tomorrow, I promise!