Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Follow the Leader

I wake up early most days. With the shop slowing down for the winter season, it means I have time for morning rides. I really love it- it's cold, quiet, and I usually have the trails all to myself. Or almost all to myself- I also bring along my riding buddy of the past 9+ years.

Cedar Hot Dog is a great trail dog. She gets in the zone. She'll run in front when I'm going slow, and then fall in right behind me when if I pick up speed. She's always right near me- she's not distracted by woodland creatures or other riders. She's learned to respond to the command "Scoot!" if I need her outta my way quick.

We ride the same trails pretty often. I like getting to know a trail really well. Some spots may be difficult to ride at first, but maybe you try a different line one day, or you get better at anticipating what's next, and you ride more and more of the trail. It feels like a nice accomplishment.

There's one spot on the trail we rode this morning that I've always had trouble with. There's a little rock pile flanked by a boulder and a tree trunk. I've tried a number of different lines, on different bikes, in different gears to get up and over it. I always have to put a foot down at the last second. Always. For years- I've been doing this for years.

This morning CHD was in front and ran up the obstacle in a way that I'd not thought of trying before. I like riding with other people to see how they ride and follow their lines- it helps to see the trails in a different way. So why not follow the dog's line? I did- and totally cleared it!

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Built a Bike

There are several things you could mean when you say you 'built' a bike. Most commonly it means you took a bicycle frame and other components and attached them to each other to make a ride-able cycling machine. We do that here at Hub Bicycle all the time -sweet fixies, super commuters, racing machines- what ever you want we can and will (and have) build(t) it.

What I haven't done up until now is 'build' a bike. Or more accurately- a frame. I started the process in April(ish) by buying a box of steel tubes. After many months of planning, cutting, filing, brazing, more filing, sanding, etc. it was finally ready to ride this week.

This is my first attempt at frame building. So I knew it wasn't going to be perfect. Early on I decided to name this project 'The Practice Pancake'- after the first pancake in every batch that comes out less than perfect. You know, sometimes the pan is a little too hot, or not hot enough. It takes one to gauge how the rest of the batch is gonna go.

That's how I approached this bike. One to warm up (or cool down) the pan. I didn't want to over think it, or make it seem too precious. This bike is a tool that has/will serve two purposes- to teach me how to make bike frames and to transport me from point A to B. It was a fun process, and I learned a lot.

It seems to me that frames are best built when the full plan is set ahead of time. I'm more of a plan as-I-go kind of gal, so this was a personal growth project as well. The biggest mistakes I made were because my plan wasn't fully formed at the start, so I know what I need to do for the next one.

After building it I built it with my existing commuter bike parts. It's rocking a disc brake mullet (disc brake up front, road brake out back) because of some serious non-planning...practice makes perfect (pancakes). Mr Paul Carson is responsible for the metal-flake purple finish and it looks great. If you're in the market to get a bike powder coated- give him a shout.

Pic by Bike Safe Boston
The thing that struck me the most about that first ride is how unremarkable it was. I poured many hours, tons of thought. love (and a little blood) and I built a bike and it rides like a bike. If I closed my eyes, I wouldn't be able to tell that there was anything different about this little baby (right before crashing, because riding with your eyes closed is a terrible idea). In the end, I set out to build a bike and that's what I did, so mission accomplished. On to the next bike.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I got to visit Kryptonite HQ this week. Did you know they're in Canton? They are.

They've been in business for a good long time, and there was a nice display of vintage/throwback/old advertisements in the entryway to the office.

This ad hung in the tiny, grimy basement bath'room' of the very first bike shop I worked in. It was more of a bath'cubicle', and the partial walls were covered in bike posters. While it isn't their most clever advertisement, IMHO, it does bring back memories of my early days in the bike industry.

I mentioned this to the good fellas at Krytponite, and they were kind enough to find a copy for me (laminated even!) to add to my very own grimy bike shop bathroom.