Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Houts emailed to set us straight on the whole Scandium thing. BTW He says this photo was from New Years, which would inspire such frivolity, however, I know the truth that this is a regular Saturday night occurence around the Houts ranch. Anyway, I quote the master:
" ... your frame is mostly aluminum although containing small amounts of Scandium (from Scandinavia, hence the name). Scandium is even rarer than titanium but retains the same high quality performance characteristics as titanium. It is mixed with aluminum to control grain growth in the weld zone. If you notice most aluminum frames fail at the edge of the weld (the row of nickels). So, you increase weld strength through finer inclusion of other alloys and by reducing the voids that normally occur at the grain boundaries, (as you know, metals have grain structure like wood), of when aluminum alloys harden and oxidize. The hardening code is in the numbers 6061, 4130, 7000. This tells you what process was used both in the materials mix and afterwards in the hardening process. The main goal is to strengthen the weld, but it is just enough Scandium in the mix to create a cleaner, stronger weld. Take it from here marketers! Back to diggin' ditches! That is one sweet ride! This time I mean the bike."
But wait, there's more:
"After sitting here second guessing myself on the numbers on materials ... I looked it up - here is the truth. Every type of material has a different code: Cro-mo Steel 4130 = 4-type of material, 1 percentage of molybdenum, 30-amount of carbon; Aluminum6160 - T6 = 6-major alloy (6 is magnesium and silicon), 1-impurities (mill-controlled impurities), 60-% of Aluminum stock (40% uncontrolled impurities), T6 treating; in this case T is thermally treated and 6 is solution treated and thermally aged; 7000 = zinc is the major alloy. There! That sounds more like it!"
I am so thankful that in addition to bike knowledge, Her Houts also gave me a lot of advice in the area of fashion. Thanks, Dave ... I love you, man.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
urban-crawl (n): one part roving reporter as seen by the "eye in the sky." "urban-crawl" is suggestive, descriptive, symbolic. (Hell, some might say it's stupid. These people are flat, literal and Type-A. But that's okay.) Picture an image of bicyclists steadily pedaling the urban grid. Now, imagine that image from about 500 feet off the deck, looking straight down. Kinda cool, eh? Cyclists like little industrious ants, crawling all about the city, getting the real work (progress) accomplished while the ego-maximus of homo sapiens goes on figuring out ways to squash/poison more of them in punishment for a long and well-documented history of ruining picnics in the country. Think of the number of ants in the world, as , well, compared to the number of humans. Kinda scary, eh? There are always many, many more than we can see. Thank heavens for Tupperware.
Literal can be fun, yes. But think symbolically. "Humans crushing ants" = motorists crushing cyclists. Okay, not literally, again ... we're delving into the realm of Foucalt here. It's a symbolic battle of not so unlikely opponents. Not that ants want more power, per se; they just want you to step around them on the sidewalk. The struggle is on many levels a battle of ideologies. Modern American society is founded on the ideology of the automobile. Ants? Heck, they like to figure out ways to carry things 300 times their own body weight. Go figure. Burn dead dinosaurs? Or, harvest the power of organic exoskeletal hydraulics? Pretty cool. Is your team mascot a Lazy Sloth or a Self-reliant Spartan?
"urban-crawl" is cryptic, prophetic and, perhaps, apocalyptic. (Well, Jesus and Mary Chain what in hades is he talking about? I think somebody stayed up too late watching The End of Suburbia.) If the automobile ever had a "Golden Age" none of us would like the fashions we would have to have worn to enjoy it. It's over. Gone daddy gone. Cars are inefficient, unsafe relics of a totally consumer-driven, class-based (don't forget elitist) society. (Sound familiar? That's us!)(We'll get into that more in later posts, I'm sure. But, back to my thought ...) When the oil runs dry (or, more importantly when supplies run low enough that practically no one can afford to fuel a car anymore) then cars will start to die. (In the meantime, there'll be riots and other silliness at the pumps for sure.) Drivers will be forced to (figuratively, again) crawl, just like toddlers, before they learn to walk. Unlike the war, pestilence and famine of popular, fundamentalist New Testament fame, however, there's a shiny happy upside to this rather apocalyptic proclamation -- society will learn to walk again! Hurray! And, just maybe, some of the more adept will discover how practical that golldarned bicycle really is.
Of course, this will only happen when the messiah pedals back to Earth on a celestial two-wheeler with a peloton of archangel domestiques in tow. Holy shit! I think I just proved Lance Armstrong is the anti-christ.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Bike sites always list the ultra-geeky particulars. So, here goes! Frame: Bianchi San Lorenzo, Scandium (that's a fancy name for aluminum, I'm told) with carbon fork; Drivetrain and brakes: full Campy Chorus 10s with Skeleton brakes (they're purty!); Crank: FSA K-Force Carbon 53/39; Bars: Deda Newton; Stem: Deda Zero 100 metal finish; Seatpost: Chorus carbon; Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Ti; Wheels: Campy Zonda with Vittoria Diamante Pro rubber. Weight: light. Price: "I told you I'm selling my old road bike, okay?"
Have I ridden this beauty yet? No. Why, you may ask? Well, if you added the combined daily (high) temperatures of the past couple days, you wouldn't get a positive number. We seem to be having a real MN winter after all. Two more inches of snow today. At least when it snows at -2 it's not very sloppy. The commuting has been divine. You layer up (not too many, mind you) and cover all exposed flesh. Sticking mainly to side roads and residential lanes it is very quiet and peaceful. This morning the flakes falling were huge and light and not too sticky. Each one seemed to be humming a gentle song. It's just you and the snow and your tires softly crunching through the powder. No pedestrians ignorantly clogging the bike path gabbing to neighbors about their latest trip to the MOA. Motorists generally give a wide berth since they are certain you're a friggin' lunatic. Even most other cyclists (Buddha bless their non-souls) have mothballed the lycra. If you do see another biker, you know: "Yeah, they're just as much of an introverted freak as I am! Yippee!" And you honor their experience as well. Oh, blessed winter in Minnesota.
Here's another photo. This is what I like to see: chicks on bikes. Well, I mean, my chick ... err, partner ... on my bike -- smiling! When I look at this photo I think about what it might just be like to win my first race. Maybe I'll recollect his photo when I'm cranking up some brutal climb ready to heave over those graceful handlebars which are so lovingly caressed by my dear one. Maybe the image will dull the sting of roadrash the first time I lay this sculpture-on-wheels down on the pave. Maybe I'll just be happy the bike looks so good when I finally realize a new bike hasn't made me any faster than I was on my old bike last year.
Two months and one week 'til the first road race in MN. It's actually held on gravel farm roads. They call it a classic (a la "Belgian classic"). It was fun last year with one hell of a steep climb. Yes, for yea who doubt, we do have hills in our grand (mostly flat) state. I didn't see any puking last April. But I did see the stitches of a fellow rider who went down in a corner and was sutured by a spectating doctor. Thrills and spills. And beers afterwards. Bring it on!