State of the Stable 2023 #1

Bruce Gordon Rock’n’Road’n’Road Tour

I bought the frameset used at Christmas time 2022. The stem had been sold, but I got a matching Valentine Red stem from a friend a couple days later. Currently I’m using a slightly taller stem with less reach, but may go back to the red one.

It’s built up with 3×9 parts off the Fitz. XTR rear derailleurs and Ritchey Logic cranks have been signature parts for me since they were current.

A friend gave me (‘gave,’ not ‘gifted’) a set of gray brakes which kicked off the build set: gray PNW pedals and tape, but the tape discolors unpleasantly; gray XTR hubs I built into wheels with DT Swiss A319 rims (cheap wide good); gray Cambium saddle with a cool topo map pattern that looked good with the bar tape when the bar tape looked good.

Frances Cycles custom “light tourist”

I’ve had this bike for almost two years about six years now. Here’s a New Years 2022 update photo:

Frances custom bike – metallic green

People are shocked that it’s ‘new,’ since it’s steelier and beautifuler than most modern bikes. It’s a Frances, out of Santa Cruz, custom built by Joshua Muir for someone who is not me. I like it.

green frances frameset illusion mist powdercoat
What, this old thing?

It checks all my boxes: steel, fillet, gigantic, “all this by hand” custom, built with American tubes and fitments. Also a crazy color I did not pick. Color-matched stem and custom racks. I’ve met the builder and I like him. I think he’s a genius. Have you seen his cargo bikes??

I have three friends that regularly text me links to green bikes “YOU SHOULD BUY THIS.” This one I saw on Craigslist, looking for “custom.” The ad didn’t even say “Frances,” just “custom by Joshua Muir.”

“I know who that is!” I met Josh at a Portland NAHBS, or similar bike show, and fell immediately in love with the bikes and the pretensionless air of his whole presentation. Zero other builders had Nashbar brakes on their bikes. Josh had borrowed back bikes from his friends and customers, and they all had workmanlike quotidian builds, instead of self-conscious overwrought bling like everyone else.

This frame is unselfconscious bling. The color is amazing. It’s a metal flake green called Illusion Mist. The stays are bowed in a trademark way, and the stay ends and custom stem feature whale fluke details. The tubing is all True Temper, because Josh bought up as much as he could afford when TT got out of the bike tube business, and the fitments (dropouts, lugs, crown) are all Henry James or Pacenti. The stem and racks match the frame. Maybe one day I can afford a Wayfarer trailer, painted to match.

Why no blog posts in a year?

“What happened to all the cycling blogs?” 

The question was not about this blog (it wasn’t on the list of now-silent blogs). Speaking for myself, as one does, the decline of my blog activity has been multi-variate. The short answer is “if you want to read a good cycling blog go write it.”

Well, why did we have blogs in the first place?

Maybe it’s more interesting to think about why someone would have started a blog in the first place, than why they stopped. Since I don’t clearly remember the reasons I started, maybe that’s a reason right there…

I thought it would be cool to have a nom de internet.

People like Cyclofiend had cool online names, and I thought it would be fun to have one. It is. It’s fun. It harkens back to early cyclotouring, where people went by made-up cycling names. It seems easier than actual fame under you own name (Sheldon, Jobst, Grant, Jan Heine), which takes time, and  a kind of genius. BikeSnob and John Prolly are famous, but both pseudonyms.
Why’d I quit? I didn’t. I just kinda moved sideways.

I thought I might show people how to fix things on their bikes.

I can’t. I can show people how NOT to fix things on their bikes.
Why’d I lose interest in that aspect? Time, mostly. I have enough spare time now to ride, OR wrench, OR blog. I still take pictures of projects as I’m doing them, but I just post them to Instagram. People see them and like them, and I get the project done in time to ride it a little. It used to take twice as long to do any project, with all the photo-ing, and the same amount of time again to write the post. I don’t have that time any more. I have a bigger job, a longer commute, and other hobbies.

I wanted to show off my bikes.

I was proud of them: they were unified and different enough from the main stream to interest me, and sometimes others, and done on a limited budget.
I did it. My Quickbeam is moderately famous.
Why’d I stop? Time. I fully intend to show the evolution of each of my bikes by updating a single post or page, but I haven’t done it yet. Time.
Redundancy. The world caught up to my bikes. There are more bikes now like my bikes were then than ever before. Dirt drop bars aren’t ‘alt’ anymore, and drop bar bikes with 60mm slicks are production bikes. Baskets are ubiquitous, and thoughtful builds are table stakes.

I wanted to know how blogs worked.

I was interested in the mechanics and the social aspect, and all the ancillary online stuff like Google Analytics, ads, social media, WordPress.
I did it. It was interesting, and it made me more useful in my day job.
Why’d that stop being interesting? I’d done it, and Facebook came along, and Instagram, and Flickr ceased to work for me. Basically the tools got better, and some faded away.

I wanted to capture my bike thoughts in one place.

I’d write a long answer on the BOB list, and turn it into a blog post, or write the post then link back if it was relevant to the discussion.
What gave out there? I generally didn’t refer back to those thoughts. My watercolor Carradice reference chart, maybe.

I wanted to make friends.

I had rarely met people who liked the bikes I liked, and I had recently moved to a small town. I did it. I made local bike nerd friends in that town, and I made Flickr friends, and BOB list friends. I see some of you a few times a year.
Why stop there?  Friends are exhausting? jk

 I wanted to create opportunities, see what might happen.

I got some opportunities. I sold some articles, sold some art, worked on some apps. Got into some bikes shows for free as a “media type.” I even got a nice British bell “for review” that I ran over with my car by accident.
Why stop: None of that was a good enough fit to go big, and I let it go. Or they let me go. You know how it goes.

I wanted to document my bike life.

I did. I do it still, on Instagram, but it takes 20 seconds, instead of two hours.
Why stop? My bike life is repetitive. Same bikes, same routes, same dog. Things that are interesting to me aren’t really “biketinker” things: learn to ride in a paceline, for instance.

I wanted to do my own thing, man.

I did it. I had my own thoughts and experiences, wrote them down in my own words, and illustrated them with my own photos.
Why stop that? People hassling me for not posting, or for using cuss words starts to sound like work, man.

If you truly want to read a great cycling blog, you should write one yourself.

The barrier to entry is zero. Time and practice. I feel like the guy that used to stand on the corner at Columbus and Broadway, shouting at traffic. If you say, “Hey, man, how come you don’t yell at traffic anymore?” I’d say, “Street corner’s open, man. It’s all yours.”

Bontrager Enduro Allroad ”gravel bike”

Bontrager Privateer Comp drop bar rigid mountain bike

2023 New Year’s update. Knobby tires, original XT cranks back from the Fitz. I moved the RTP tires to my sister in law’s Trek 930, and I sold off all the XTR cranks and funky bottom brackets, including the XTR/Jericho setup (which would have looked amazing on the Fitz…).


Bontrager Privateer Comp “gravel bike”

2022 New Year’s update. Rat Trap Pass tires, Nitto riser threadless stem, XTR cranks. Unicanitor saddle for all-weather riding. I stole the old-style Bontrager innertube sleeve to protect the seat post slot; I got the idea from the RoadLite, and found old catalog pictures showing other Bontragers with it.


One of my current older project/brainworms is to convert my Bontrager to a fat-tired road bike. Bars are On-One Midge bars with bar-end shifters. I swapped the SID Dual-Air for a Kona P2 canti fork, and bought some phenomenally expensive (for me) Compass Rat Trap Pass tires. I’d been planning the conversion for some time, but changed the fork the day after I rode down Mt Tam and back to the top with knobbies and a suspension fork.

I visited a couple of cool bike shops in Sebastopol, and got some bar tape, since I like to buy something when I visit a shop. Black bar tape replaces the dingy faded cloth tape, looking a little more intentional. Spot the electrical tape fanciness on the stem!


Here’s the “finished” bike, still wanting an LD stem (UPDATE: I tried an LD stem, and it was too tall), and A23 rims for tubeless setup. Maybe a setback (or just fresher-looking) 27.0 seatpost (UPDATE: I got a Thomson post).

Bontrager Privateer Comp with drop bars and rigid fork

I rode it for a week with the rigid fork. Less funky dive in the corners. I like it. I chose the canti-only fork because it’s lighter, I don’t like extraneous bits, and I’m happy with V-brakes on this bike.


This was always a fine bike, and it came with Bontrager-modified King hubs. Keith Bontrager once told an interviewer they were the one piece of kit he wished he had a secret stash of.

Bontrager Privateer with drop bars and suspension fork

Obsidian Monarch saddle customization and repair

This looks great.

Obsidian Monarch in Oakland can refurbish your Brooks (or other) leather saddle.

Pi Day Ride

An online acquaintance mentioned that he was leading a 31.4 mile Pi Day ride, and I had to steal the idea.

Pi Day 2015 - Quickbeam ride

It’s a nerd’s nerd thing, Pi Day, and today’s is special. Today’s date is 3/14/15, which is the first five digits of Pi, 3.1415. Further, at 9:26:53 this morning, we were good to 10 digits of Pi!

Epic Pi Day.

Bike nerd? Check. All-’round Nerd? Check and double-check. I started my ride at 9:26:53 (Strava should have a time counter into the hundreds of seconds for starting rides like this. You know, the ones that happen every hundred years)… or so.

I was kind of surprised I started on time, but I woke up naturally (the reason we have Saturdays), thought, “I’m not sure if that dream was troubling or comforting,” and started putting on bike clothes. Full Riv regalia: sneakers, wool socks, Riv knickers, Wooly Warm jersey, Devold underwear. The jersey was green, which didn’t match all the blue everything else, but my baby blue jersey is looking kind of green itself after all these years.

In addition to the ONCE IN A LIFETIME MAGICAL NUMBER THING, I also wanted to get some miles in before the Strada Rossa, and assess how enjoyable the 50k is going to be after a “winter” of sloth. Turns out, that’s a good length to feel like I accomplished something, but still enjoy the whole thing.

So, I rolled out, bought a double Americano (very nice, $2.07 (that’s a stupid price – not egregiously high, just a dumb number. I was going to pay cash, but switched to a card because I didn’t want 93 cents in change rattling around my pocket, so it cost them whatever the card companies charge)), and headed to the Prince’s Greenway.

Pi Day 2015 - Quickbeam ride

 Holy Grounds coffee shop

My plan was to run the loop of Sonoma bike paths I’d mapped on Google Maps that added up to 31.4 miles.

  Pi Day 2015 - Quickbeam ride
Oh yeah – this is me, before the ride.

Mostly I did that, with a couple wrong turns side quests. I have to say, that the trails are pretty awesome, but the signage is designed to please the people standing back admiring their handiwork, not the people navigating intersections while focusing on moving automobiles.

Pi Day 2015 - Quickbeam ride

Pi Day 2015 - Quickbeam ride

Pi Day 2015 - Quickbeam ride

Pi Day 2015 - Quickbeam ride

I took the Greenway/Creek Trail to Willowside road, shelling grandpas and kids on trikes like a Cat 6 monster, then took Hall Road into Sebastopol, where I finished my coffee in front of the Whole Foods.

Pi Day 2015 - Quickbeam ride

Heading North on 116, I stopped at Andy’s Market (legit produce) for another Americano. This one was marginally cheaper, at $1.75, and tasted smokier than the Holy Grounds espresso. I very much enjoyed it, and it would appeal to people who like Portland espresso. Frankly, it had all of the good and none of the bad (“What? This is no longer a fluid. It’s a solid. You just steamed the grounds.”) aspects of Portland espresso.

Redlands Strada Rossa patches!

My pal David is putting on a 100k bike ride with a 50k option, down in Redlands. It’s a mixed-terrain bike ride, part road, part gravel, part singletrack.

David (and Jacquie Phelan) asked me to design a patch for the ride, so here it is: the two routes, more or less. The 50k is just the left-most lobe, and the 100k is the whole enchilada. I don’t know which I’ll do, since I’m not getting any fitter as the date approaches.

Redlands Strada Rossa embroidered patch

You can preorder patches here, $5 each:

Mailing out Entmoot Patches

Every Bay Area Rivendell Rider who mailed me an SASE* from Canyon, CA (a place fighting to keep its post office) last Sunday got a free Entmoot patch. A bike drawing was worth extra points, but was not required.

These are the outgoing patches, with the incoming envelopes.

From the Bay Area Riv Rider's ride, and the Canyon post office.

Cool stamps were also worth points.
From the Bay Area Riv Rider's ride, and the Canyon post office.

Points are not redeemable for cash.

This is the paperwork and envelope stuffing operation at “the office.”
From the Bay Area Riv Rider's ride, and the Canyon post office.

*Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. From the old days. You buy two stamps, and two envelopes. On one envelope, you write your own address, affix a stamp, fold it in half, and put it into the second envelope, which you mail.  Someone puts something in the first envelope, and mails it back to you.

Loosening Bike Bolts

Pedals and bottom bracket (BB) cups aren’t all threaded normally. For most American and British bikes (Italian and French bikes are different (of course)), the pedals can be loosened by turning the wrench toward the BACK of the bike. Bottom bracket cups can be loosened by turning the wrench to the FRONT of the bike.

Pedals loosen toward the back of the bike, BB cups loosen toward the front.


Print this out on acetate, so you can look through it from the back when you go around to the other side of the bike.



Military Surplus bag for Wald baskets

My kid and I stopped into a military surplus place in Cotati, and I picked up a little medical kit. It’s a green nylon pouch with a green plastic box inside. The box closes, and the pouch has nice snap-through hardware. On the back of the pouch are two metal clips that lock.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.

It turns out these two clips are EXACTLY the height of two Wald basket wires, top to bottom on the medium.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.

The clips snap down and lock, and there are two grommets at the bottom of the pouch that you can zip tie to the bottom wires of the basket.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.

I put some first aid stuff in the pouch (since it’s a medical kit), and big gauze pad fits behind the box.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.

My wallet fits in front.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.

Inside is a tube, tire levers, some allen keys taped together, and an inhaler.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.

The box is easily removed for use.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.

And overall it complements a green Quickbeam quite well.
Wald Basket bike bag pouch.

State of the Ross Porteur – 10/11/14

State of the Ross 9-30-2014 Left it under the oak tree for six months, the fenders are jacked up, and I sold the front wheel with the matching S3X rear. Sad.

I sold my S3X/dyno wheelset and halogen lights, leaving the Ross without a front wheel (because I didn’t go get one off the pile in the shed and put a tire on it), and I took the chain for the Singular, or maybe the Quickbeam after I rode it on gravel paths in a rainstorm.

Stripping the Ross porteur down. Maybe build it as a road bike?

I had planned to make this into a geared roadbike, with the old SON hub and new IQ Cyo LED headlight, but no derailleur hanger or shifter bosses make it seem better off remaining a fixie. Maybe the Quickbeam needs to become the fendered winter commuter, and the Ross setup as the fixed/free double-single “fast” roadbike.