Saturday, August 17, 2013

And with luck there will still be some for my kids to inherit

Phil Wood grease, purchased from Ann Arbor Cyclery in about 1978.

I couldn't have imagined then that this mundane purchase, one of a thousand or so similarly forgettable items I must've also bought that year, would follow me around for 35 years and that in 2013 I'd still be using it to lube pedal threads.  (A bit less remarkably, I still have the Campagnolo Nuovo Record low-flange front hub that I got that same day, but it hasn't been ridden in years.  Lots more use out of the grease.)

I don't rebuild many hubs or headsets nowadays, so I don't pull this out of the tool bag very often and there's a good chance it will last me the rest of my life.



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The King is dead! Long live the King!

Top photo:  Brooks B-17 Special saddle.  Installed March 1999, retired July 2013 (terminal tear in the metal nose).  36,500+ miles over 14 years of near-daily use.

Bottom photo:  Brooks B-17 Special saddle, installed July 2013.  (It's a good 3/4" shorter than the older saddle, which had stretched out over the years.)  Check back in 2027 for a performance comparison.



(I may yet try to have the original repaired.  The leather was still supple and strong.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Moscow bikesharing

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Moscow - which seems like a pretty treacherous city for cyclists - has a bike rental system.  This sign translates roughly to, "Map of parking locations", "Bike rental network of Moscow".



 The rack was well stocked -



but prospective customers might find the twisted metal to be a little off-putting -

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Stanley 1913 One-Hand Vacuum Insulation Bike Mug – first impressions of a thermos (finally!) made for bicycle water cages


Sometimes I find myself on ride that is only one cup of hot coffee short of perfection – maybe a sunny, cold, dry winter commute, or a fall neighborhood tour with the kids.  In pursuit of the elusive Perfect Ride I’ve been casting about on and off for years for a thermos that fits a standard water bottle cage.  It’s not an easy thing!  Most everything I encountered required either a custom cage, a handlebar mount, a lot of duct tape, or some other ugly jury-rigged compromise.  But recently I stumbled across the Stanley 1913 One-hand Vacuum Insulation Bike Mug.  I bought one and got my hands on it yesterday.  Here are my first impressions:

First off, it’s indented at just the right spot, and snaps into the bottle cage easily and firmly – no adjustments necessary.  The thermos body is all metal and quite durable, and looks as though it will be easy to clean.   (Which apparently you have to do by hand – “not dishwasher safe”.)  I expect that the smooth metal exterior will quickly become scratched and discolored by the cage, but I don’t mind a well-used look on a well-used thing.


The lid isn’t quite as finely tailored to a cyclist’s needs, though in fairness Stanley did seem to try, and I’m not sure they could have done better.  My favorite travel mugs have a little a reservoir in the lid that holds a bit of the hot coffee and lets you sip from it as it cools.  This lid has only a narrow opening that’s triggered by a pushbutton in the rear.  It’s – well, okay having to push the button.  The problem is that the narrow spout concentrates the hot liquid on one small spot on your lips and, if the coffee’s still hot from brewing, it’s painful. I don’t much care for this design but I get why Stanley did it this way – these thermoses are made to be used by moving cyclists, and a “dead-man’s lid” with no reservoir makes a certain sense.  When the bottle’s in the cage, it won’t leak at all.  And hot liquid won’t get spattered all about if a cyclist hits a bump or loses his grip on the thermos while drinking from it.

After 20 minutes the coffee’s probably cool enough to drink easily anyhow.

Finally, Stanley included a little “mud guard” on the lid, a little piece of plastic that covers the opening and keeps grit away.  To drink, you rotate it over to one side.  I’ll probably just leave this piece at home –  I’m not going to be taking the thermos off-road as it is, plus the piece is held to the lid by its own tension and it’s much too easy to imagine trying to twist it and instead causing it to pop off and spring away in an unknowable direction.

The thermos comes in three colors – black, silver and a weird bright blue they call “cobalt”.  You can find it on Amazon for $25-30.  I’ll report more on it after I’ve used it a bit.

Friday, September 14, 2012

3401 Water Street, N.W.

Here's a fun progression that's been pretty much invisible to auto commuters; the location is Water Street, N.W., Georgetown, a few hundred feet from where the CCT empties out.

Hibiscus Cafe put up a nice mural here some time in the early 1990s.  I never actually ate there - the first time I tried, it was a Monday and it was closed; and by the time I tried again, it was closed for good.


A fitness center / gym then occupied the site for a few years.  They closed in maybe 2007.  I liked that they never put up their own signage.

Only in March of this year did it occur to me to photograph the murals I'd been riding by for more than a decade, and good thing too because just a couple weeks later they were gone!  An outfit known as the Water Street Project moved into the space and painted over them.


After only a couple of weeks the site was vacant again, the mural whitewashed altogether.  It seemed like an awfully quick demise for the new tenant but later I learned it was only a 10-day project, a flash gallery of some sort.  I wish they hadn't painted over the (IMHO) much more attractive and interesting Hibuscus murals for something that was going to come and go so quickly.


Within just a few days the new folks had put up their own sign - uninspired, but at least informative.  Malmaison is (according to the Georgetown Dish) going to be a "dessert bar and lounge".  I am not sure when it's scheduled to open.  Time will tell whether they come up with a more interesting exterior motif.  I doubt though that it'll last as long as Hibiscus's great effort, though.