Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sequoia now pink

Drive side

I got the Sequoia back from the powdercoater yesterday. I chose RAL3017, which is antique pink, and color-wise the paint job turned out very well. Nor Cal Powdercoating in Ukiah did a very decent job. Most of the frameset has very even and not overly thick layer of paint. The only complaints I have are that the paint is too thick in a couple of spots below the bottom bracket shell, and that the painter didn't cover the threaded holes for the dropout adjusters and so I won't be able to put dropout adjusting screws in there anymore (I lost one in there after breaking it trying to screw it in this morning, and had to drill it out).

Another angle of bottom bracket shell
Paint is a little too thick under the bottom bracket shell; the thread here needs to be chased

Now the bottom bracket shell is being chased, headtube faced, and headset installed. I should get it back tomorrow and build it up. It will be mostly the same components as before with 3 changes: the rear honjo fender was cracked, so I bought a set of Tanaka 45mm smooth alloy fenders to replace the set; the brakes will be silver Tektro 720, and the handlebar will be a more traditional drop bar--VO Grand Cru classic round bars.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kogswell for Brevet Duty

Kogswell ready for Brevet duty

I took the Kogswell P/R on the SFR Point Reyes Lighthouse 200k. I should have taken the Ebisu, but I needed to retension the dynamo wheel on it, but didn't get to it in time. Instead, I took off the porteur rack on the Kogswell and replaced it with a small front rack--a Mark's Rack in this case. I  used Riv's Nigel Smyth tweek Lil' Loafer with the rack, and added an Acorn M/L saddlebag to give me more capacity. The Kog has a SON20/Velocity Synergy dynamo wheel paired with a B&M IQ Cyo front light. The setup went through the day's event without a hitch.

Kogswell on SFD before reaching Drakes Beach
I have done this route 3 previous time with the Ebisu. The Kogswell, by the nature of the slightly higher frame weight and noticeably heavier components, felt weightier on the ride. The standard-size tubings still provided me with a fairly springy and responsive ride. The Soma B-line 37mm tires are no Hetres, but plenty supple enough for the horrible pavement in Pt Reyes National Park. Though there is a some weight up front in the small front bag, it wasn't nearly as heavy as the porteur set up, this in combination with the larger saddlebag leads to a handling that was more lively--though on most occasions it was very predictable and stable, on climbs I find the front end wander more than I am used to.

Kogswell at 12th street station
The fit on the Kogswell is very good for me; I was comfortable, and was able to stay on the drops for extended spells, which was especially useful on the stretch of super headwind toward Marshall. The P/R did an adequate-to-good job, but it will return to Porteur duty today. I will probably ride the Ebisu for the upcoming brevet, or maybe take the soon-to-be-repainted Sequoia.

SFR Point Reyes Lighthouse 200k 2013

Riders gatheringThe brevet season is upon us. Last year I was away dealing with some important family issues and didn't participate in the winter/spring events. I signed up for the Pt Reyes lighthouse 200k even though I am probably not in the best of shape. This course was the first brevet I did in 2009, and I have ridden it 3 times prior to this year. I figured familiarity with route and passable shape would get me to the finish line--and they did eventually.

Mill Valley Bike Path
I carpooled with some folks from the East Bay instead of catching AC Transit. We got there with 20 minutes to spared, checked in, and listened to Rob's instructions. This year the 200k and the 115k Populaire that shared most of the route took place together, but most of the folks were going for the longer distance on this occasion. The route goes across the bridge, through Sausalito and Fairfax (and all the towns in between) and dropped us on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. I haven't ridden any distance beyond New Year Day's 40-mile ascent of Mt Diablo, and I was definitely laboring in the early going. My heart rate was 10-15 ticks higher when i rode a similar route in the fall.

I got onto the Cross Marin Trail in Lagunitas and the Kogswell did fine on this wet but packed dirt trail (it had very little mud). Going over the hill before Olema brought my heart rate up again. At the top, I stopped and ate an energy bar. To get through the ride I had to monitor my heart rate and put in calorie at a regular interval.

Incoming rider
The road to the lighthouse is always the most challenging for me on this route, and today that statement is even truer than in the past. Once getting over Inverness Grade, I battled headwind and crosswind on this up-trending roller all the way to the foot of the hill before the lighthouse. The last climb was steep at times but not too long. It was a great day for surfers, as the wind and waves pound the shores. After checking in at the parking lot at the top, filled my bottle and grabbed some food. I rolled downhill for the return leg. This next section is a down-trending roller, and during the last 4-5 miles before descending Inverness Grade I got tailwind on my back, which helped me get over the hump. I know now I can eke my pay back to the finish.

Cattle crossing

I typically eat lunch at Pt Reyes Station, but decided to get a sandwich at the Inverness Market today to avoid waiting in line at the Bovine Bakery, and plus I was already very hungry. The market has a nice deli counter and has veggie burger on the menu. A fellow rider Goey rolled up on his touring bike converted from a 80's Schwinn mountain bike and shods 26" big apple tires. We rode the next section together before parting ways when I had to take a call.

Tomales Bay near marshallThe crosswind toward the lighthouse was nothing like the headwind we battled going north toward Marshall. Judging from my heart rate monitor, the wind at times is taking 8-10 mph off my pace. It was especially fierce as I got close to Marshall. Along the way, I waved at fellow randonneurs on their returning leg, smiling because of the equally strong tailwind on their back now.

At Nicasio Ranch
Marshall Store was busy on this clear day with many tourists ans chowder-seekers. I got my brevet card stamped and began to turn back. The tailwind carried me quickly back to Pt Reyes Station, and I kept a decent pace around the reservoir to Nicasio Ranch. I was definitely feeling the fatigue in my legs at this point. At a reduced pace I retraced the route traveled this morning back toward the City. I turned on my light in Larkspur as it was getting dark. I was actually feeling better after ingesting some much needed food, and climbing Camino Alto presented no challenge.

Moon glow over richardson bay
I stopped several times at various locations before reaching the City to shoot the glowing almost-full moon over the Bay. I got to the finish at 7. The wonderful volunteers were hanging out waiting for the last few riders. I checked in, and got on the road to catch BART back to Berkeley. It was a nice day out for the first brevet of the year

Friday, January 25, 2013

Specialized Sequoia: Repaint in Progress

Sequoia at Alpine Lake
Sequoia at Alpine Lake on a cold January afternoon. Before repaint
 I got the Specialized Sequoia in the summer of 2011 as a frame fork and a rear rack. I converted it to 650b wheel size and used most of the parts from the then outgoing Bleriot. The bike has gone through a serious of significant changes:
Sequoia frameset ready for repaint
Frameset before repaint; it looks alright from 3 ft away
I had put money down on a Rawland Stag pre-order. The Stag, if it turned out as described will basically be the TIG welded version of my Ebisu, with flat top tube, standard-size tubing, and minimal braze-ons. It'd be a lightweight, fat-tire 650b bike. For a short period of time, Rawland included a pair of Pacenti PL23 rims in the pre-order price, which made the deal sweeter. I began to sell off some parts and planned on selling my Sequoia to fund the purchase. About a month and half after I placed the pre-order, I decided that I don't really it, since the Stag will basically replicate my Ebisu. My decision was partly influenced by several rides I did on the Sequoia during this time, which reminded me how nimble the bike feels, and even though it wasn't built for 650bx42mm Hetres, after switching to the Konversion fork, the frameset can actually accommodate Hetres both front and back. Basically it isn't too different from the Stag. It has a flat top tube, standard-size tubing, can accommodate 650b fat tires, and is relatively light. The fork also has mid-fork braze-ons, which allows me to use the Tubus Tara rack and use the bike as a light-touring bike.

Bottom brack
superficial rust; but none inside
Given that I sold bunch of parts to finance the Stag, but ended up not spending the money (I sold my pre-order spot, but arranged to keep the Pacenti rims), I was pondering repainting the frameset as the powdercoat the previous owner put on isn't in the best of shape, and the frame-mods that took place in the summer of 2012 are still unpainted (except for a layer of rattle-can clearcoat). The rust patches I discovered on the under side of the bottom bracket shell on a recent ride pushed up the timing, as I didn't know whether the rust was only superficial. 

Last weekend, I took apart the bike and examined the frameset to better understand the extend of the rust. Fortunately it seems that the rust is only superficial. I took a frameset to a powdercoater and should get it back next week. I picked antique pink (RAL 3014) to be the next color. I also sold the On-one Midge cockpit that was on the bike at the time when I took it apart, and will switch to a VO Grand Cru Classic Round Bend handlebar. I also upgraded the brakes from Avid Shorty 4 low-profile brakes to high-profile Tektro 720's.  I look forward to building the bike up and riding it again.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Response to LovelyBicycle's review of Swift Industries Polaris Porteur Bag

LovelyBicycle is a well-written bicycle/cycling-centered blog that I peruse some times. Today the author posted a thoughtful review on the Polaris porteur bag made by Swift Industries. Since I have had some experience in the last two years with two different porteur racks and two different porteur bags (including Polaris's predecessor, the Pelican), and I use my Kogswell Porteur almost daily. I thought I would comment on her post to add a perspective from someone with extended experience with the porteur bag set up. Here is what I posted on the blogpost:

Handlebar Panda
Accessibility of content during riding
Also, bag can stay open w/o obstructing view
"HI, nice review. I have used porteur rack/bag extensively for the last two years. The bike is a Kogswell P/R with a low-trail fork, which is designed to carry heavy load up front. I have used two different porteur racks--VO and a Roseland rack specifically designed for the Kogswell Fork. I used Polaris's predecessor Pelican for a while before switching to a custom bag made by Ely Rodriguez of Ruth Works. Though the Pelican is of very high quality, some of the issues you mentioned in your review--inaccessibility of content while riding or even standing over the bike, for example--led me to have Ely make a custom bag.

Now the Ruth Works bag attaches to my front rack with an ortlieb pannier hooks and two velcro straps in the front-bottom, and I have a kryptonite thin lock cable attached to it so I can lock it to the bike when I go run my errands. I typically carry a thin/light grocery bag in the porteur bag so I can take it out for shopping. When I am done, I simply drop the entire grocery bag with the content in the porteur bag and begin riding.

The bag opens toward me, and I can access the content while riding much like a boxy handlebar bag. The ortlieb pannier hooks are quick-release and taking the bag off and putting it on is pretty easy, though carry a boxy bag off the bike is not easy so the bag stays on the bike virtually all the time. The bag can stay open, and the lid simply folds down to the front of the bag and doesn't obstruct my view

Besides being a daily workhorse carrying up to 50lbs of grocery (I have carried a 20lbs bag of brown rice AND 30 lbs of grocery from farmers' market once), I have also done a 200k brevet on it once and toured with bag filled up with stuff twice now. Because the bike is designed to carry a moderate to heavy load up-front, the bike stays extremely stable at speed, even as I descended the winding roads of the Santa Cruz mountains this past weekend (with a full load in the bag).

My wife carries all her stuff on her 1982 Trek 720 in panniers on a Tubus Logo rear rack, as the Trek 720 has extremely long chainstays and is designed to be very stable with heavy rear load. I agree with many folks who have already posted here, bike designs matter the most when deciding where to carry the load. I do think that I appreciate some of the design element of my Ruth Works bag more than the Swift, such as content accessibility during riding or standing over bike, and the fact that the bag can stay open when big content overflows and I can still ride. But the Polaris looks like a great bag for the right use."

Bike and view
On the ridge, ready to descend, carry a full load up front and stable through corners