Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Moving Forward

Lenny was a perfect shop dog!!!
A Fixed Gear bicycle and/or Fixie is a bicycle with one gear similar to a single speed.  The difference being, the gear on the rear wheel is fixed in place on the hub with no bearings or freewheeling mechanism involved in this gear system that would provide the rider with a reprieve from pedaling. Fixed gear folklore is always romantically tied to the idea that the lack of ability to stop pedaling is a metaphor for life, because once you stop moving forward, that's when the bad stuff happens.  It's a simple metaphor.  Simple.

My first picture on Facebook was a picture of my first Fixed Gear.  It sounds like the punch line in a bad joke about hipster culture. It's the one above with Lenny in center.  Lenny was rad, but that bike was pretty rudimentary. That bike was originally a red hunk of Nishiki I bought for $10 at a garage sale.  I bought some parts from the Pedal House, made it a fixie with a brake, Powder Coated that bike Gray, eventually gaining enough confidence to ditch the brake. I ended up giving it to a kid who loved it. That bike was simple.  

I remember taking a lot of simple bikes and finding ways to make them way more complicated.  In fact, I became infatuated with how much work we put into making something so simple.  

For those of you who know me, you know I can be kind of picky, so I started looking for a more perfect frame.  My original bike was fine, but I wanted something that was not an every day kind of find.  I wanted my bike to be somewhat unique, but simple.  
Raleigh Made in Ireland in the 70's 

Same Type of bike - not this one. 
As much as I wanted to, there was no way I could cut up and repaint that Irish Made Raleigh bike.  Nope.  So I decided that an old 1980's Trek was due for some simplification.  I found the frame in a junk pile and bought some more stuff from the Pedal House.  This is around the time I met my friend Joel.  He was a new Mechanic at the shop.  When I met Joel, when he first came to town, he might not want me to tell you this, but he rode a fixed gear. The makings of a true hipster bromance, were it not for the fact that we were both into fixed before it was cool. He was the the one to show me the possibilities that brazing would provide. He brazed a new set of dropouts on my bike.  Track drops from Paragon Machine Works. We drank beer and made my bike a one of a kind.  It was simple.  
Joel brazing on track drops
I really liked that bike. It was a 1980 Trek road bike that I ended up powder coating to look like a John Deere tractor. It was a fantastic ride and after we brazed on drops, sandblasted the frame and powder coated what was once a perfectly good frame, it was simple. 

I rode that bike every day for two years, but eventually someone made me an offer I couldn't refuse and I sold it.  As much as I liked that bike, I didn't love it. It was a mixture of parts that other people made, a virtual Frankenbike, and I was okay watching it ride away into the sunset. After that bike, I cycled through a couple of different track bikes. This next pic is my first day on my new All City.  They do a fantastic job making an attractive bicycle that is also the good type of simple.  
I have never really been the type to become too attached to any bicycle, it's sort of always been about the next ride. I started shifting my infatuations with the new technologies that were blossoming, full suspension, disc brakes, or whatever.  There was so much to explore.  I found so many different bikes I stopped looking for a fixed ride. After all, I never found a bike that I fell in love with. But the Pedal House has provided me many opportunities, and one day a frame walked into the shop. At first I just liked the name, "Rory O'Brien", but it wasn't something I was too into.  I bought it and stashed it in the basement for another time.  Months later I was cleaning when I rediscovered the bike and decided to take a closer look. It fit, so I thought I should ride it. It was a road bike from England, made by an Irish builder named Rory O'Brien.  I had a plan, and it was simple.

The O'Brien came to me as a 5-speed road bike, but all I really wanted for my project was the frame.  I built it up as a fixed gear with some stuff I had laying around, but the saddle and the front wheel came on the bike. After a few weeks of riding I decided this was my new project bike. My first order of business was to build up a new fixed wheelset, All City Hubs, DT Spokes and Nips, and Velocity Rims. I also got a new All City fork and started planning the rest of the project. It was dope.  And simple.

The Gopher pic is how I rode Rory last summer.  I decided that this was my bicycle. I decided to do the same things to these drops that we did to the trek back in the day.  This time, I did all the work myself under Joel's tutelage. I had a few rules.  1. I know this is stupid to say about a bike I was going to chop up, but I wanted to try to keep the frame as original as possible.  2. No shortcuts. 3. Have fun. 4. Keep it simple

Cutting the drops makes them easy to pull out. 

Use a torch to heat the brass and remove the old drop outs. 
Use the old drops to shape the new ones, and then start hand filing....

...and filing...

And filing....and filing, for like three days. 
Brazing on the new drops and filing off the excess brass was next.
Powder Coating was a breeze.  
It's all fixed up.


Monday, September 4, 2017

2017 Happy Jack Bike Bash

Join us for the 2017 Happy Jack Bike Bash on Saturday, October 14 from 12-5. We'll be at the Happy Jack Trailhead Parking Lot to facilitate a day full of fun on bikes. There will be bicycle demos, a scavenger hunt by bicycle, a bike toss and hill climb challenge. In addition, there will be FREE food and beverages. Hope to see you there as we celebrate all things bicycles!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Night Ride

I love autumn.  The weather means I can bust out my classy flannel shirts, my beard doesn't look like a desperate attempt to hide my neck waddle, and riding bikes is so much more fun.  The cool, (not cold) weather is refreshing at mile 15, and the landscapes inspire longer rides and bigger grins.
But this beauty comes at a price, and we all know that price is the shorter days.  But this too, can make mountain biking a whole new adventure.  Isn't that why we do what we do?  To find adventure? Fall provides that adventure in the form of a night ride.  I love night riding because as the days get shorter, it is a great way to extend your season, and with fat bikes it is like a never ending season!  But you have to have the right equipment.  Here is my equipment list for those new to this:

1. Helmet, bike, gloves, water, bike...basics you would have on any ride

2. Lights.  I like to have a light on my handlebar, and one mounted on my helmet.  The handlebar light is a given, but the helmet mount gives the advantage of being able to look further ahead and around corners.  My handlebar light is a pro series NiteRider light.  Powerful with a long lasting battery.  The light I mount on my helmet is a Stella Light & Motion, though it is an older model, it has stood the test of time and it is equally bright with a super fast charge time and a long lasting battery.  There are tons of quality light companies out there, but these two are tops in my books because they last, and you can find them at your local bike shop.  #supportlbs
3. Friends who are as crazy as you are.  Seriously, it is nice to have friends on night rides.  I go alone all the time because I enjoy the comfort of solitude.  But it can be scary out there.

So go ride your bike...longer too.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Tour de Laramie, a non-sanctioned sport.

Greetings friends, this blog begins like all good blogs,...with cheap wine.  Last night Jessica and I decided to examine the world around us.  What was around us?  The Tour de Laramie.  It is a grand event, similar to the Marine Corp Ball.  What follows, isn't for the faint of heart.  It is only for the strong, the ideologically profound.  The geeks.  It is bicyclists depraved and acting like children.  And after all, isn't that why we love bicycles.  At the end of a long day, a long week, a long month, a long semester,....bikes remind us of our first freedom.  That first pedal stroke without training wheels, when we ride away from our parents, and into the open spaces where we learn to be the person they taught us we could become.  We ride bikes because it is fun.  I saw some some fun, and I am so excited about the coming season.  Let's go ride.  Because bikes.
1st street, in all its glory.
Winter and Loni! 

Jeff loves love.  

I love Wyoming
Jeff has a pink collar.  So what. 
The Bicycle knows

Security is important, that is why we have superheroes.  I see a superhero, but a name escapes me. 

  That is right, because bikes.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Global Fat Bike Summit 2015

Fat Bikes from there to here, fat bikes from here to there, fat bikes are everywhere! 

The 2015 Global Fat Bike Summit took place in Jackson Hole, WY Jan.23-25. Dewey and I left Laramie with fat bikes in tow, Jeff and Lenny in the backseat and visions of Snake River Brewery Pilsner and Lager on tap. 

Surly brought a whole mess of Moonlander fat bikes. Being from Wyoming and growing up on a working horse ranch, I have a fondness for the bright green and yellow of a John Deere tractor. It's iconic. It reminds me of my childhood. And as it turns out it makes for a good looking bike. 

Felt brought their new aluminum fat bikes, the Double Double 30 and the Double Double 70. They also brought two FAT E-bikes, the Lebowske 10 and the Outfitter. It was a trip to ride one...all of a sudden I had serious skills. I couldn't help but have perm-a-grin as I rallied past a guy walking his fat bike up a hill and another rider seriously struggling. 

Every time I neared the Borealis tent, I heard "Wow, that was amazing". I couldn't have said it better myself. They have clearly built an excellent fat bike.

The Short Track Race was short. Riders seemed to be having a great time!


The weather was beautiful. The company was great. And the beer was oh so good!

This blog started with a google search for songs about bicycles...found one 
I LOVE it! It has nothing to do with Fat bikes. Enjoy!

I also found a new video of freestyle fat biking. It's fabulous too! 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Making Dreams come true.

"Making dreams come true."  We take great pride in that idea.  

We have all seen, and been affected by the smile of someone who buys a new bike.  For me, it stirs up the sense of adventure I feel every time I move at a speed that I create making me a part of a symphony of symbiosis. It is a big part of working in a bicycle shop, and it feels pretty good. 

But the reason being a mechanic is special is because of the other part of the job.

"Making dreams come true."  It has a deep meaning to me because I am fortunate enough to work with people who have been well educated in the craft of making broken things work very well again.  If it can be fixed, or made to work, then it is with these hands that it will happen. That is the true meaning of the words; "Making dreams come true."

When there is desperation in the eyes of someone who is afraid they have wounded an old friend beyond repair, my mind searches desperately for a solution. I know what it is like to lose a bicycle to the destructive nature of the universe.  These moments, when we have the opportunity to keep someone on a bicycle they love, they are the reason this job is special to me.

Recently I was presented with something that made me smile:

The Bike: 2011 Brougham by Felt Cycles.
The Job: Add a FreeRadical by Xtracycle

The Problem - Without a chainstay bridge the Xtracycle will float from side to side with a fixed gear.
The chainstay bridge isn't necessary for the Xtracycle to work.  In fact, in their directions, they have a handy dandy way to solve this problem.  But...when using a fixed gear bicycle like Felt's Brougham, there are some extra factors to keep in context.  Chain tension and chain line are extremely important.  If they are off, say because the Xtracycle floats between the stays, then parts could be damaged, and the bike is in the shop.  So it needs to be perfect.
The solution: Make a brace to fill the space.  (Formerly a top tube from a steel bicycle frame.)

Powder Coat it!
Make sure it looks good!

Assemble the contraption!

Make sure it works!

Make dreams come true. 
I really enjoyed this project.  Recycling the world one discarded part from our basement at a time.   I was happy to help make an old bicycle feel brand new.  Thanks Gus, Jackie and Axle.  Happy Trails from the Pedal House.