Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bike Mechanic: Tales from the Road and the Workshop (Book Review)

Bike Mechanic: Tales from the Road and the Workshop (Rouleur)Bike Mechanic: Tales from the Road and the Workshop by Rohan Dubash

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I saw a one-sentence description of this somewhere and thought it was a bike mechanic memoir, to complement the many "my days as a road cyclist" books available. "Bike Mechanic takes a look inside the daily life of the unsung heroes of the peloton, the bike techs who keep the stars riding." But in the book itself, one reads, "this book is a collection of stories with some tips and hits that we thought would be useful to amateur mechanics and road cycling enthusiasts alike. It certainly isn't comprehensive; there just wasn't space."

The book table of contents is as follows:

The Daily Grind
Bike Washing
Team Car
The Truck
Team Garage


Frame and Forks
Bottom Bracket
Contact Points
Cleaning and Lubrication

The "On the Road" section is the closest to describing what being a professional road race bike mechanic is like, but this is only about a quarter of the 272 pages; the remainder are a somewhat whimsically selected look at the tools, workshop, and use of these tools for caring for high end road bikes.

Although a paperback, this is a nicely produced book with good paper and well reproduced photographs.

The two authors convey stories or instructions on how to carry out a mechanical procedure with equal skill. They know their subject and their writing is interesting to read as well.

The photography is by Taz Darling - some of her racing photography is available online. The book includes both action oriented photography and the kind of photography appropriate to a "how to" book; both types are executed well.

If there is a drawback, it is that there is so much in it and I still am not sure of the best way to attack a book like this. I read the first third or so in a conventional start to finish way, but eventually started jumping around.

View my reviews of cycling books on Goodreads.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Not an Attraction of Bicycle Commuting

Riding in sleet results in ice droplets forming on brim of hat

I could see those droplets as I rode along but my attention was mostly focused on staying upright. When I got home I discovered that the droplets were frozen. I don't mind so much riding in the cold or riding in the rain, but riding in freezing rain and/or sleet is not something that is enjoyable in the usual sense, except when it is over, I guess.

I used to wear a baseball cap under my helmet in order to have a brim to keep water off my fact, but the hat wouldn't fit under the helmet well - this little brim works fine. Usually not adorned with ice, however.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Seattle Seahawks Win; Player Celebrates with Fans by Riding Bike

Seattle Seahawk borrows police bicycle to ride around field, celebrate with fans

When I lived in Seattle, my understanding was that the Seattle Police were among the first in the late 20th century to resume active use of bicycles as a standard means of transportation for some officers. (I thought I could confirm this easily with Wikipedia, but their article on this topic is awful.) The Seattle police web page on their bicycle use doesn't make this claim, but so maybe they were, maybe they weren't.

This was a resumption of police bicycle use since urban police had certainly used bicycles actively in the late 1800s. I have mentioned this in earlier blog posts - for example, a newspaper story from Washington DC in 1897 describing the DC police "bicycle squad" mobilizing to catch scofflaw bicycle racers.

The Seattle Police tweeted, "Just bring the bike back before #SuperbOwlXLIX @mosesbread72 :-) "

Friday, January 9, 2015

Studded Tire Performance in Icy Weather

Photo from several years ago, but bike and tires look same now

I have a 15+ year old heavy ChroMoly Giant mountain bike with studded mountain bike tires - they were sold under the NashBar brand, but were made by Kenda (I think). 1.95 (or really 2) inches wide. There are two rows of studs, kind of alternating in position relative to one another looking across the tire. They are far enough out from the center of the tire that one can significantly influence how many studs may be in contact with the ground by changes in the tire pressure.

Three days ago it was snow, not ice, and I had the tires at 55 pounds per square inch. I made pretty good time but the studs were not really necessary. Two days ago the conditions were much more icy for about half the ride, in other words, the part that is NOT MAINTAINED BY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE (unlike Arlington County, which pretreats its bike trails, God help us). I rode to and from work with the tires inflated only to 40 pounds per square inch and clearly that improved the studly-stickiness of the tires - very little sliding around. On the other hand, on bare pavement, the road resistance is pretty noticeable (and unpleasant). A compromise.

Typical Mount Vernon Trail conditions - thanks for nothing, NPS

This morning I increased the pressure to 50 pounds per square inch since I was hopeful that the trails would be more clear today, but there were still significant areas that were covered from one side of the trail to the other. 50 pounds per square inch was too much to have the same kind of good traction that 40 provides, but I chose to ride along the edges of the trails where there was less bare ice or in a few cases off on the frozen ground along the trail. The improvement in rolling resistance by having more air in the tires made up for a small amount of slow riding in the few really bad spots.

I have now had these studded tires for something like eight years - maybe more. Of course there was at least one year where I didn't use them at all, but I don't ride them much. Originally I thought that if I rode what must be cheap metal studs on lots of bare pavement that I would pound them flat (ruin them) in no time, but in fact they seem to show little wear at all.

Last year I realized that I had lost several on each tire - they are kind of like short thick nails, with a head at the opposite end from what sticks out of the tire. Nashbar sells replacement studs with a tool for installing them and that works fine. I am now riding with a full complement of studs.

I see that there are road tires with studs - the rows of studs are of course much closer to each other. I assume that overall in most urban conditions these would be faster but for now I will stick with the mountain bike approach.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Bicycle Race as Analogy for Federal Budget-Making (1898)

From the cover of Puck magazine, 1898 (cropped version)

Image of the full cover.

Item record from the Library of Congress
Title: A handicap needed / Dalrymple.
Creator(s): Dalrymple, Louis, 1866-1905, artist
Date Created/Published: N.Y. : Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1898 January 12.
Medium: 1 print : chromolithograph.
Summary: Print shows a bicycle race on the "National Track" with the man in the lead labeled "National Expenses" easily outstripping the second bicyclist labeled "National Revenue"; a man labeled "Dingley" is giving the second bicyclist a push.
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-28769 (digital file from original print)
Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Call Number: Illus. in AP101.P7 1898 (Case X) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Perhaps not surprisingly, I am more of a Krugman-ite in my economic views so I don't actually see that some imbalance in this race is a problem. It seems reasonable to me that some of our economic thinking today could be more advanced than the economic thinking of 1898, right?

I think it is correct that this is an analogy, but like most semi-educated folk (I have two masters degrees but was never able to open the door behind which I would have found a PhD) I am not always right in the simile-metaphor-analogy parsing process.

The illustration shows the Capitol dome off to the left; perhaps this "National Track" is supposed to be on Hains Point?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Arlington Trail Snow Removal ROCKS

At long last, parity (if only in Arlington)

Clear roads and clear trails, on the same day. Thanks County government!!

Where Arlington County trail clearing ends

I stopped on my way home to take this photo. This is where Arlington County's trail clearing efforts came to an end - the Mount Vernon Trail maintained by the National Park Service has had nothing done and tomorrow will be an icy mess.

My photo doesn't show it clearly, but it is pretty funny (to me) how Arlington's mini-plow went in a nice little circle clearing the trail before heading back into Arlington.

I suppose the National Park Service will do something when hell freezes over.

Arlington County Plows Bike Trails Early

Arlington Country bike trail along Four Mile Run - plowed at 6:45 am

The DC streets I saw, however, were not plowed at all. Crazy.