Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Truth In Advertising

My four-year-old nephew broke the bell on his bike, and immediately put in a request with Uncle Jason the Bike Guy for a new one.

So, I decided to get him one that's both noisy and educational:

That ought to do the trick.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lip-Smackingly Delicious Irony

Ah, the used book sale, where one finds gems like the two photographed above in the Sports section.

Maybe I should have a "write a new subtitle" contest for these. Here are my entries: "How Lance Does It: Counsel Has Advised Me Not To Answer That On the Grounds That it May Incriminate Me" and "We Might As Well Win: Otherwise, What Was the Point of Taking All Those Drugs?"

I think I'd rather read that kneeboarding book instead. And I'm terrified of water.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Blue Cylinder Of Triumph

Specifically, this one here, being used for some wicked extreme skateboarding by a tiny Domo:
Can you guess what it is?

That, dear reader, is a blue "hard" elastomer from a Cane Creek Thudbuster suspension seatpost. Specifically, from my dear spouse/tandem stoker's Thudbuster.

So what makes it the Blue Cylinder of Triumph?

That blue/hard elastomer was recently replaced with a grey "soft" elastomer. Why? Because since we bought the Thudbuster, said spouse/stoker has dropped over 60 pounds, making her too light for ol' blue up there. Note that I'm not telling you the color of the OTHER elastomer on the post, which would allow you to approximate my wife's weight before and after -- I may not be the brightest LED on the handlebars, but I'm no fool.

This is really just a long-winded way (like I know any other) of telling said spouse/stoker just how proud I am of her, in front of Blog and everybody. Can't wait to get that new elastomer (and the tandem it's attached to) out on the road.

To paraphrase the scary movie about the big shark, "We're gonna need a bigger chainring."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Yet Another Ikea Bike

No, this is not the bike-shaped object that Ikea gave away to its employees once upon a time.

This is a bike (granted, a kids' balance/scoot bike, but still, a mode of transport with two inline wheels) crafted from the stock parts of two Ikea stools, complete with a guide handle for the parent/guardian/whatnot.

Two things I totally love about this: One, it's a hack, yes, but the end result doesn't look hacked. It honestly looks like a product that those nutty Swedes could have designed and marketed themselves. They probably would have come up with some more refined/ergonomic handles, and maybe wrapped some hard rubber tires around the wooden wheels, but still, it looks plausible.

Two: I love that the designer made Ikea-style pictogram instructions to go along with the stool-bike, featuring that weird Ziggy-looking character who assembles all Ikea products. The instructions even include my favorite "confused Ziggy-looking guy holding a hammer and staring at the instructions" panel. I love that guy. Hell, I am that guy.

Now it just needs a Swedish-sounding name. Bycikl? Hobbi-hors? Skut? Drat, where's my HTML for umlauts when I need it?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stupid Human Tricks: My First (And Last) Wheelie

I never learned to pop a wheelie on my bike as a kid. I could lift the front wheel off the ground for a second, but it would immediately drop back down with a resounding thud. (To this day, that description matches my pathetic bunny-hopping skills too.)

However, one of the guys who worked at the first bike shop where I turned a wrench had grown up as an avid BMX freestyler. Even as an over-the-hill late teen, Ryan had skills that would leave your jaw on your top tube. If I put the tailgate down on my old pickup truck, he'd ride up alongside it on his MTB, come to a dead stop, and bunnyhop into the bed in one elegant ker-thump. To this earthbound klutz, it was (and still is) astounding.

So one day, we're circling a trailhead parking lot, waiting for another rider to show up, and Ryan's riding around on just his back wheel with all the ease most people show while riding on both wheels.

I couldn't resist. "How do you DO that, man?"

"Low gear, lift the front, pedal like crazy to get under it, and then just keep pedaling."

That sounded easy enough, so I gave it a shot. It took a few tries, but pretty soon I could hold a wheelie for a couple pedal strokes. Nothing like Ryan's one-wheeled ballet, but a far cry from the no-air-time thud of my youth.

And then, the stars aligned. I got that wheel up, pedaled like a maniac, and I... WAS... DOING... IT! Halfway across the lot... three quarters of the way across the lot... OH, CRAP, I'M RUNNING OUT OF LOT! WHAT DO I DO NOW?

Normal cycling instinct (misguided though it may have been in this case) said to turn the bars, so I turned them. Obviously, nothing happened -- though I must have looked totally radical with the front wheel up in the air and turned 90 degrees. If my brain hadn't been in full-on survival mode, I might have pulled a one-hander for the cameras.

Finally, sense kicked in, and I realized that if I just stopped pedaling, the front wheel would drop and I could ride it out with some style and dignity. Except, of course, the bars were still turned 90 degrees to the left. That front wheel hit pavement perpendicular to my (rather impressive) momentum, stopped that momentum dead, and added one more BMX trick to my repetoire as I did a spectacular Superman over the bars.

Injury to insult? I'd forgotten my gloves that day. Try going back to work as a bike mechanic after you've landed an endo on pavement bare-handed. Every time a wrench pressed into my hamburger-palms for the next month, I was reminded that while I may be many things, "radical and extreme" are not among them.