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.”

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: https://www.etsy.com/listing/222080664/redlands-strada-rossa-100k50k-bike-ride

Rolling Tires… off the rim!

So this happened. Twice.

My new (to me) Phil Kiss-Off wheelset, WTB Dual Duty rims, and new (actually new) Vee Rubber “Mission” tires don’t seem to work together. I don’t know if the fault is with the rim, the tire, or if they’re each slightly out of spec.


I rolled the tire in the neighborhood after installation, reinstalled it, it blew off, then I put the tube in another tire on another rim. Twenty minutes after installation, the tube exploded like the Death Star. This Stan’s-filled tube off another wheel stayed on fine for two days and 1.25 rides.


Riding up a steep short climb, traversing to work with my 36×17 gear, I suddenly was rolling on the rim! My first thought was “I am SO HAPPY this didn’t happen going DOWN this road!”

I rode home super slowly, after my riding friends bailed me out with CO2 (I bought a box of cartridges online as soon as I got back to my desk).

My plan is to replace the WTB Dual Duty with a Velocity Blunt 35 (same ERD), and throw the tire in the trash. I’m scared of both of them, now!

Mixte is one of many styles of women’s bike frame!

My old friend, inspiration, and mentor* Sheldon Brown, states that a “Mixte” is a ladies’ style of bike characterized by twin top tubes that extend all the way to the rear dropouts. He further states that there is a variant with a single top tube and the extra set of stays. He says if it don’t have three sets of stays, it ain’t no mixte.

I have always been leery of this interesting pedantic fact, because:

    • Sheldon presents the definition with no supporting evidence
    • In French, “Mixte” means “co-ed” in the old-fashioned sense, which seems appropriate for all step-through frames
    • Really, who cares?

His main point was “don’t use the word mixte to refer to any old ladies’ frame bike,” because it’s a specific style.” I generally skirted** the issue: I tried not to make any embarrassing gaffes, but didn’t correct people on the internet.

Cut to the big mixte news this week on the iBOB list:  Greg Reiche posted a link to a C. S. Hiroshi page about creating a ladies bicyle, specifically a “Sport.” One of the pictures showed a publication from FNCRM (Fédération Nationale du Commerce et de la Réparation du Cycle et Motocycle), a French bicycle and motorcycle trade group. Another image was of a page of that publication, showing some of the different styles of step-through frames.

I’ve redrawn the graphic here. Don’t sue me, bro. Popular styles of French women's bicycle frames Mixte – Twin tubes from the upper head lug all the way to the rear dropouts. Hot.
Sport – A single top tube, with a third set of stays. Also hot. Rivendell and J.P. Weigle style. Sheldon calls this a kind of Mixte.
Berceau – Bendy twin top tubes, for more standover height. Lots of potential, but I’ve never seen a truly sexy implementation of this style.
Jumele – Twin top tubes, with NO third set of stays. I have never seen this style of bike. Doofy.
Anglais – Second top tube, no extra stays. Angelina’s Steyr was this style. Workmanlike.
Col de Cygne – Swoopy top tube, with supporting struts to the down tube. Nice, but tend to look heavy.
Double Col de Cygne – Swoopy top tube, and down tube, with struts.  Trying too hard?

I propose that Americans call the “Sport” style “Mixte Sport.” Other bike nerds know what you’re talking about, and it clarifies Sheldon’s postion. 

Of bikes that have passed through my house, apparently the Steyr was a “style Anglais,” while the Belleville is a true mixte. The couple Suburbans Angelina had were… variations on the Anglais?


* Internet-style. He may or may not have recognized me on the street. ** See what I did there?

Brewvet #3 and #4

Last week, I did two of the shortest Brewvets possible, back to back.


Third Street Aleworks growler. #BREWVET

Wednesday, June 4th, I rode Angelina’s bike to Third Street Aleworks for a point-eight mile round trip  and two growlers (Puddle Jumper and Anadel Pale Ale). Friday I took a point-six mile out-and-back to Russian River for a pint of Blind Pig, and a growler of Pliny the Elder.

Russian River Brewing #BREWVET

I chatted with a fellow from Seattle at the Russian River, who tried to impress upon me how famous this place is, in the beer world, but I prefer to get my beer from a bartender, not a bouncer. Third Street Aleworks wins on beer, ambience, staff, and graphic design.


Like the Coffeeneuring Challenge, I DNF’d, only getting in four rides, and less than half the mileage. I’d planned to ride my bike to work last week and stop at Lagunitas and Heroine (101) on my way home for the mileage, but didn’t.

Brewvet #2 – Ernie’s Tin Bar

We (at my work) ride a 10 mile loop out Lakeville, up Stage Gulch, and then back on Adobe, most days of the week.
The Stage Gulch climb is called “The Tin Bar,” after the tin fish-shack/gas-station at the bottom of the hill. I’d never been inside, even though it’s a place also frequented by my workmates.

Last Thursday, I was doing a late ride, solo, and I thought, “This is it! The perfect opportunity to drop in at Ernie’s and have a post-lunch beverage!” So I did.

The interior is long and narrow, with just enough room to pass between the barstools and the outside wall. The regulars are at the darker, wider, far end, talking about the Port of Sonoma, the (im)possibility of a ferry every making its way there, and (not) dredging in the (protected) tule marshes.

Down that way the bar opens up a bit, and there’s an opening into the dark space of the old garage, where an older fella with a cap is bellied up to a little bar-for-one, taking part in the conversation.

The barkeep is another older gent, bearded and quietly helpful. The beers run to the Stone Brewery, and more local brews, most with ABVs north of 6%. I bought a pint of Stone Levitation, at 4.4%. Caramel colored, richly flavored and nicely balanced. Very refreshing, with the sun beating down on my bike leaned against the tin siding, and not worrisomely debilitating for riding solo alongside cars*.

The interior has an interesting patchwork quality, with a timeless feel. The old squat white glass doored cooler in the middle of the rear of the bar is filled with bottled beer and covered in local union stickers. Contra Costa Electrician’s Local 302. UA Local 38 Pipe Trades.  Carpenter’s Local  751.

I finished my beer, left a dollar, and continued my ride. 10 miles. You pretty much have to do the loop because westbound Lakeville from the Tin Bar to the top of the rise has the shoulder torn up, and concrete barriers right on the white line. Really torn up, with dump trucks, Cats, and workmen in the trench behind the barriers.

I weigh 235+ – I’m not too worried about a single beer.

Brewvet #1

I did MG’s Coffeeneuring challenge last Fall, and DNF’d like a boss. I hope to do better this Spring on the Brewvet challenge. Saturday, I rode down to the Toad In The Hole for a pint or three with my wife, kid, and friends.


My local brew was the Bear Republic cask conditioned hootsie. I also had a pint of Old Speckled Hen, which is named after an MG, which I like, because it was my first car, and it tastes great. I also had a Hoptimator, which is Sierra Nevada channeling Lagunitas, sweet and dry-hopped all in one.


High points: kid liked the fish and chips enough to go back, even with the insane wait. You know the critic Ego in Ratatouille? That guy actually likes food. My kid… not so much.
Low point: 54 minutes before the server took our order. For drinks.


Our friends go there two or three times a month, for the last 8 years. Regulars. I have never seen Sid so agitated. Catching the server’s eye, bobbing up and down in her seat, visiting the the bar for an update. I think the Dalai Lama would have gone up to the bar to see what the f*ck* was going on. The server forgot about every single one of our beers halfway through the pour process. The cask beers came up 1/4 short, and she said, “Oh, I should probably come back to top these up.” BUT SHE DIDN”T. She was nice, though. The new server had the dead eyes of a killer.

I would say that giving bad service to people who have BEEN servers is bittersweet. We feel your pain, but we can see every single way you could have made the situation better. “You gotta circulate. Get the new people their drinks before you cash out the 14 separate checks. Those people can’t leave until they’ve paid, but the new customers can just walk out.” Regular entitled yuppies would just leave, but entitled dirtbags like us, we’re rapt, watching it like a slow-motion car wreck, except we DO want our beer and chips, just like anybody else.


My kid, new to calculating tips, says, “I was hungry when I came IN. Now I’m STARVING. It’s been an HOUR. This is where I’d bust the tip down to 15%.” You’re a nice boy, Max. Someone raised you right.

We ended up having a good time, but part of that was probably learning how to count bad times as interesting adventures. Lifetime bike-riding for the win.

*One of these asterisks is a footnote, the other stands in for a letter, so’s y’all won’t be offendicated.

2014 Bike To Work Day

Last year I rode to work all week for Bike To Work day. The high point of the Friday ride was meeting an anti-fixie hipster. Then that next Monday I rode to work and fell over from vertigo that lasted a week, and still affects me a little. Probably some kind of hipster curse. This year I notice that due to the subtleties of page layout, and the lameness of the internet, not only do Pingbacks on the Sonoma County Bike Coalition Bike-to-Work page look like the names of sponsors… most of them are flat-out spam. header layout makes pingbacks look like sponsors So that’s me – art nerdery and UI/web nerdery spilling into the bike nerddom. I did set 6 Strava PRs on my commute this morning, though!

Pass-Fail Bicycle Flowchart

I thought this up while riding my bike. I think it applies to anything that people might obsess over.

Pass- fail bicycle tinkering

I am very particular about some things. Words. Pixels. Behaviors. Presentation phenomena, mostly. Bicycle fit and feel.

In other things, I don’t even register major differences. I like coffee, but I can’t tell the difference between the Kona and the Italian Roast at work. They taste like coffee. Ten years ago, I had already drunk more coffee than you will ever drink in your life. Coffee is pass/fail. “Does it taste like coffee?” Good. Does it taste like great coffee? Great!

Is it coffee?

It’s not like I have blind tastebuds. I can taste large differences. I can tell “delivered today” from “delivered last week,” because today’s coffee tastes better. Weak coffee gets poured out. I like espresso Americanos, because they generally taste like great coffee.

My kid is a supertaster. We go out for sushi, now, which is a big development. This is a kid who lived for years on goldfish crackers. All his crackers go in airtight jars, because if we keep them in the bag or box, he won’t eat them. “They’re STALE.” “Dude, they’re four hours old! It’s… only a little stale.”

He likes the red tuna more than the lighter fish like maguro or super-white tuna, so we always order a custom “rainbow” roll without the rainbow – just tuna. I am not a supertaster. To me, they all “taste like sushi.”

Pass-fail sushi connoisseurship

I worked in a sushi bar as a teenager. I ate a lot of sushi. I also ate a lot of tonkatsu chicken. I know that avocado mysteriously robs wasabi of its fun nose-rush high, a thick slice of octopus tentacle is bouncy to the tooth and oddly astringent, and uni is ‘challenging!’ Sushi tastes like sushi. I like it. Mediocre sushi tastes like sushi, and good sushi tastes like awesome.

Super Bowl Sunday Rain Ride

I’ve gone out a couple times riding in Annadel with friends from work. On Superbowl Sunday, Josh and I went 16 miles or so, in the rain.

Super Bowl Sunday in Annadel. Muddy rain ride.

I was a few minutes late, and caught up with Josh on the long climb up Warren Richardson, and we did South Burma – Buick Meadow – Marsh Trail down to Lake Ilsanjo.  At Buick Meadow, I went up Quarry a bit, until I saw Josh come out of the trees from Burma, and stopped to turn around. I almost get rear-ended by a guy who had ninja’d up behind me. “JESUS!” I say (it wasn’t Him), “I had no idea you were back there!” He says, “Sorry, I thought you were pulling aside to let me by.” I’m like, “Nope. I thought I was alone out here.”

Josh comes up, and he’s like, “I hate tools who don’t announce themselves like that. It’s rude and dangerous.” I told him I used to do that, just figuring people would hear me coming, and saying something would be intrusive, until I rode with my friend Scott and his daughter on the Springwater Corridor in Portland. Hundreds of bikers, dozens of them overtaking us. Every time someone would slide by silently on the left, Scott would say loudly, “On your right!” Josh was like, “Oh, man, that’s great. ‘On your right!'” I was like, “it took me about five times to get it.”

Super Bowl Sunday in Annadel. Muddy rain ride.

On the last bit before the lake, I popped a couple little mini-jumps off some rocks about the size of 7 speed freewheels. Just as Josh says, “I’m so tired I’m not even hitting any of those ‘features,'” I landed sort of crooked, and cut right into the back third of Josh’s bike, forcing both of us off the trail, “What? What what what?” onto our sides in the dirt and grass. We looked like mountain biker cutouts that had blown over in a high wind. Josh was like, “WHAT? What was THAT?” as I’m laying on my side laughing. Worst mountain biker ever.

We got up, admired the giant rough  boulders we had NOT hit, and rode around the lake, planning to climb to the top of Warren Richardson to bomb back the steep downhill to the cars (you can ride offroad almost 40 minutes longer if you drive to the trail – who knew??). After resting and talking for a few minutes, I got ready to go, and he said, “I ain’t moving.” Okay, that’s funny. I ride halfway up the hill, around the corner and out of sight. No Josh. I wait a minute. Nothing. I ride back down.  He’s straddling the bike, staring off into the same point of nothing that he’d been staring at two minutes before.

Super Bowl Sunday in Annadel. Muddy rain ride.

So we rode back to the lake and down Canyon, around part of Spring Lake and back to the car. All in all, total success.

Bruce Gordon’s retail store opening

I sent an email around to the cyclists at work, alerting them to the Bruce Gordon Retail Space Grand Opening, with the caveat that “he has a reputation as a curmudgeon, but he’s always been nice to me.”

I laughed out loud when Bruce came through passing out tiny buttons that said “Bruce Gordon Was Nice To Me!!” He had bags of them, and a pin press for making them.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Someone told me that earlier in the day, Ross Shafer had taken one, looked at it and handed it back. “I can’t take this, Bruce, you’ve NEVER been nice to me!” Apparently they were an answer to pins he’d made years ago, saying “Bruce Gordon Was Rude To Me.” My friend Mark showed me one later, along with a BG Cycles pocket protector.

Bruce Gordon Cycles "where the touring nerd is king." POCKET PROTECTOR!

I’ve met Bruce at a couple bike shows, but introduced myself as a friend of some of his old Dempsey’s friends (see above). After hearing some good Bruce stories (“You can’t afford one of my bikes – CLICK”) around the (Dempsey’s Red Rooster and PSA) beer kegs, it seems that a beer connection might start things off on a much better footing than a bike connection.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

The bikes are great. I saw them at a NAHBS, and bought a CD of excellent photos of them (“I paid five dollars for a HEINEKEN on the train – I think I can buy a $5 CD of bike pictures.”) It was very cool to see them in a smaller venue (if you will).

The retail space is extremely small, with Two Fish, White Industries, Bruce Gordon and Honjo items for sale. Nice stuff. MOAR!

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

After looking at all the bikes twice, once for the overall effect of 37 years of bikes, one bike a year, all in Bruce’s size, and then again to see the details, I drifted around the shop space, then hung out by the keg as the head of the Sonoma County Bike Coalition held court.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Integrated seat mast?
Bruce Gordon, 1977.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Road-going fixed gear? Single brake, bell, light, rack?
Bruce Gordon, 1980

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Green tigerstripe mountain bike with a fastback seat cluster?
Bruce Gordon, 1983

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Flintstones bike?
Bruce Gordon, 1,000,000 BC

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

In addition to bikes, I like shops.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Bruce Gordon retail store opening

There was some cool engine-fancy happening. My first car was an MGB, my dad had (has) a Triumph motorcycle, Angelina has a Vespa, and we were married in a hearse, so I had some things to talk about on that front, too.

Bruce Gordon retail store opening
Bruce Gordon retail store opening
Bruce Gordon retail store opening
Bruce Gordon retail store opening

Around the kegs, we chatted about hiding new bicycles in friends’ garages, Cadillac engines vs flathead Fords, and how long people keep riding the same bicycle. Gary (king of the tap) said, “My wife is still riding the bike I made for her when I owned Merlin.”



I chatted with Maurice Tierney (he lives around here now), and he encouraged me to contact the new Dirt Rag art director, and maybe do some more illustrations for them. I said I would, but I haven’t.