Tag Archives: fixie

Baltimore Bike Party July 2014 – A Visit From Georgia

Last Friday of pretty much every month I make the trek into Atlanta to participate in Critical Mass, which has been loads of fun.  This time around though, I was heading to Baltimore on vacation, and made sure to schedule my time off to include the last Friday of the month, so I could do Baltimore Bike Party.  This was my first time experiencing the end of month group ride anywhere else but Atlanta, so I was pretty excited to examine the differences.

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The ride started at St Mary’s Park and ended just a a short way away at the Maryland Historical Society, so this particular ride formed almost a perfect loop.  From what I have heard it does not always end so close to where it starts.  I was on the scene by 6:30 and by 6:45 there was already a pretty serious size crowd.

One of the things I dug about the start gathering was that there was repair station set up by Twenty20 Cycling.  There was definitely a lot of action at their table from people needing last minute adjustments and air.  Very good idea to have this included and certainly some great promo for the shop. BONUS LEVEL:  the organizers also posted info about bathrooms for use at the start point.  I like it.

Each BBP has a theme. This month was Boasting Baltimore and Maryland Mania. In addition to seeing a zillion tons of Ravens and Orioles gear, there was at least one person with a giant 3d steamed crab attached to his helmet, and one pink flamingo as a nod to John Waters. Best dressed won some gear from Hill Killer Apparel Co.

Pretty much right at 7pm the ride started.  How about this…the ride has a police escort as long as they do not get a call that supercedes leading the ride.  Yeah, I can support that to the fullness. The ride rolled out to a bunch of “Bike Partaaaaay” whoops and hollers, which would continue throughout the evening, the northern cousin of the “Happy Friday” heard along the way at CM ATL.

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Starting from such a dense traffic light area, the group got separated pretty quickly, and I tried to stay in the front group since I didn’t want to get lost.  We had only gone about a mile when I noticed that there were a LOT more 20″ BMX bikes than I am used to seeing, and you know I love that.

Then the craziest thing started happening. There were these kids riding all sorts of different bikes, most of which seemed to be department store mountain bikes in various states of disrepair, careening THROUGH the crowd at crazy speed, doing wheelies. I mean, looooong coaster wheelies, and then just when you thought the front wheels was going to drop, they would hit the gas and speed up even more. I’ve done wheelies…long wheelies, but never with the reckless abandon that these kids were doing.  But wreckless may not be the right word, because I never saw any of them wreck, never saw any of them have to hop off because they over pulled and came off the back of the bike. They were always teeter tottering on the brink of control, but never went over the line. It was pretty freakin sick.

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One very large contrast to the ATL CM is that about 80% of the riders at BBP did NOT wear helmets.  I don’t really have a point or agenda to state here,  just observing the difference.  Truthfully this ride was so much slower paced than our CM that I can see why people may leave the lid off.  I didn’t.  I really enjoyed how this ride was much more -party paced- and not the faster pace that ATL CM has sort of morphed into over time.  I have no trouble staying in the front group at CM, but I think it may have gotten a little fast  for the folks who come and bring kids in trailers, beach cruisers and such, wanting to support biking in Atlanta but getting dropped very early into the ride.  I feel so bad when that happens.

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The route was pretty cool and we definitely were well received by the folks hanging out outside, having card games, playing loud ass music, drinking booze and being hood. Fuck yeah man, I love my home city, and on this ride you saw things and heard things that you could never experience anywhere else.

Then all of a sudden, in the middle of a park along the way, the whole ride stopped to take a breather at the halfway point.  Wait, what? What a great idea!  There was shaved ice from Hula Honeys and people took the time to be social and conversate.  I even caught up with an old friend who spotted me in the crowd which was super rad.

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The rest stop was just long enough to not be -too long- and soon enough we were on the backside of the ride.  Somewhere not too long after we got going again, we were all stopped at an intersection when about 30 kids on dirt bikes came jamming down the street at a zillion mph, popping wheelies and in general owning that intersection until they were passed. I am not sure, but it could have been the 12 O’ Clock Boys.  The whole spectacle was pretty rad.

By this time it had started getting dark, and I noticed that what the Bmore crowd lacked in helmets they made up for in headlights. Everybody had one, and a lot of people had good ones, not some crappy toytown bizness.  I’m gonna chalk this up to the high number of insane potholes in the streets up here. You wouldn’t want one of them to sneak up on you after dark  for sure. It was a good choice to not bring my roadbike.

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The last part of the route was a long trek down St. Paul street which was a total blast, since it was mostly down hill and the whole group got going pretty fast. Stop lights were obeyed.  Fun was had.

Eventually we reached the end of the ride at the Maryland Historical Society.  The entire ride was less than 9 miles. Here is where the biggest difference between CM ATL and BBP happened…this was a full on after party scene!  

There was a parking lot with some security guards at the entrance.  Once inside there was an area specifically designated for bike parking, but it was a little weird, there was almost nothing to lock your bike to. So, people made the best use they could of the poles  and fence that was available, and there was definitely a lot of creative use of vertical space.  I kept thinking how rad it would have been to have the Atlanta Bike Coalition Bike Valet here.  Baltimore people, if someone isn’t doing a bike valet for big events around town, here is your opportunity to get in the game.

The rest of the lot was filled with food trucks, a dj, and they were selling beer!  Really?!  I love it.  The afterparty scene was super cool. so much so that I would be willing to bet that about 80% of the people who started the ride, finished the ride.  How awesome is that?

bikeParty7

Yeah man, it was packed. Packed enough that the smart money said to buy more than one beer from the beer line, which was a good strategy, but even when I did have to get back in line, it ran pretty fast.  I reaaaally should have tried some of the food from the food trucks. You Atlanta people know how the whole food truck thing has had it’s ups and downs, and they aren’t as ubiquitous in the A as they are in some cities which is too bad.

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As I had said earlier I was pretty stoked to see a lot of BMX representation at the ride, but there was one group who really killed it by bringing out the proper vintage gear.  They were running a Schwinn Apple Crate, two Hutch Trick Stars, a Skyway 26″ and a GT which I can’t recall as a 24″ or 26″ but it was definitely not 20″.  All of these rides were super clean and well done. I talked with the guy in the pic for a while but by this point I had had a few beers so I don’t remember his name. Great crew of people though.

The whole after party scene was just so good.  I was chit chatting bike talk with my buddy and his crew who I had met at the halfway point, and probably could have stayed til they kicked people out, but I had to bail to go meet some other friends. I am imagining that at some point maybe someone got on the mic and awarded the best dressed prizes or something, I dunno.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
When I set out to document my experience at BBP, I wanted to make sure that it did not come off as “Here is what we’re doing wrong in Atlanta”, because we aren’t doing it wrong.  We do it our way, and we love it.  I love it.  But I knew there would be a lot of exciting and fun differences I wanted to relay.  I had a pretty good idea of how it would be from following the BBP facebook page, and it was definitely what I thought it would be and more.  The ride here reminded me a bit more of  The Mobile Social back home. I guess the reason that I used so much comparison to CM is that since  BBP happens the last friday of the month, to me it came across as “Baltimore’s version of Critical Mass”.

 

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“Stealthbomb” Aventon Cordoba Test Report and Bar Reduction

I have had my Aventon Cordoba for about 3 weeks now, so it is time for a review. I cal it the Stealhbomb as a nod to the matte black paint and the awesome airplanes made by the Lockheed Skunk Works. I’ll keep it short.

Overall this bike ROCKS!

My previous fixed gear is an 84 (or 86?) Peugeot which I coverted top fixed and did a flop n chop on the bars, so the Aventon is a big jump to modern geometry. Love it.  Also it has a 44t chainring as opposed to the 39 on my older bike. I’m pretty sure that the rear is a 17, but I haven’t counted and it isn’t listed in the specs. Anyway, I thought the taller gear would be EXTREMELY difficult to get used to, but it hasn’t been at all. In fact I dreaded doing hills with this new larger gear, but the momentum I get on flats and downhills seems to actually be helping level out the hills a bit.

DOWNSIDES: I trashed the pedals on day one. Toss them straight away and get something proper. I switched to the same type of BMX pedals , but higher quality models…Anumal Hamiltons. Instantly the bike became a zillion levels quieter.

I also ended up replacing the seat which was a bit small and hard for my ass section, which is larger than the average hipster type who might buy this bike. It’ll work for a while though. Don’t put a Brooks on this bike it will look stupid.

So, my final word on the Aventon Cordoba: Money Well Spent. Make sure when you get yours you tighten up the chainring bolts, crank bolts, and lock ring just to be safe.  Oh one other thing…on the City Grounds description it says the brake lever will only work with the riser bars. This is not true, the brake lever will work with the bullhorn bars also if you mount it up by the stem. It just won’t mount in the end of the bar like some of the levers out there that you may have seen. You’;; most likely need to cut a few inches off the brake cable also. Great bike. Love it love it love it.

The bullhorns it comes with are fine, but they are BIG. For me, a little too big, so I cut about 3″s off of them, and now they are perfect. Here is a before and after pic:

fixeBarB&AMUCH BETTER!

 

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My New Aventon Has Arrived!

aventonJustBuilt

My new Aventon arrived Thursday 4/17/2014.  Overall I am pretty stoked on the whole deal.  It came with riser bars and bullhorns, so I set it up with the bullies and some bar tape the color of tennis balls.  It was a bit late when I got home, so after assembly I was only able to take it for a short ride up my street. My street is a huge hill. I had thought that since it was geared taller than my current fixed gear, that I’d have trouble on the hill, but I made it to the top easier than I though. I think that I’m going to benefit from having more momentum from turning the larger gear.

I haven’t properly given it a name yet, but the matte black def reminds me of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and the Northrop Grumman Stealth Bomber.  Before a name sticks I’ve gotta put some miles on it.

 

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Aventon Cordoba Fixed Gear

aventonCordoba

I broke down and ordered this murdered out Aventon Cordoba fixed gear from City Grounds. I have been looking to get a new fixed gear for quite a while, and pretty much everything in my size in the under $500 has been sold out for months pretty much everywhere. When I got an HTML email from City Grounds advertising this new build, I jumped on it right away before they run out.

Of course I alreay have plans for it. The matte black offers the perfect canvas to constantly change op the look via accesorization. The most lajor plan though, is to replace the crankset with tubular chromoly BMX cranks. I finally found a mnaufacturer who makes 1/8″ BMX sprockets that are more than like 28 teeth, yet aren’t goofy looking saw blades. More on that later. I also found a suitable euro BB that will work for the mod. It’s gonna be freakin SICK. Also I won’t be scared to stomp on it once the tubies are installed. I am always afraid I am going to crush aluminum cranks.

My currentfixed is a 1984 Peugeot with a flop n chop on the bars and some Vuelta fixed wheels, which I have to say have been pretty rad condidering how low priced they were . My friend Katie iMac gave me the bike, so it kind of has a sentimental value, but I’m pretty sure it musy be sold. Gotta make some room, and I am thinking it just won’t get ridden once I have the new, currently unnamed bike.  I’df much rather have someone ride it often.

Yeah, this new bike needs a name, and I am sure one will present itself. Cordoba is a name I am just not that into. It reminds me of the Chrysler that Ricardo Montelban was hawking back in the 70’s. Welcome to Fixed Gear Fantasy Island.

chrysler_cordoba_ad

 

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Georgia Proposed Bicycle Legislation HB689 Meeting – What I Saw

HB689 is a bill proposed by 3 Hall County Georgia lawmakers (Rep. Carl Rogers and supported by Reps. Lee Hawkins and Emory Dunahoo, all Hall County Republicans) that would require all bicycles in the state to be tagged and registered for a $15 fee, would limit riders to 4 at a time single file with 50 feet of space between groups, and would allow authorities to deem any road they they see fit to be off limits to bicyclists.  Needless to say there is huge opposition from the cycling community. Tonight there was a public meeting about the bill which I attended.

bikeMeeting

The room packed out completely, I would estimate about 300 in attendance.  There was a brief introduction and then people from the audience were allowed 3 minutes to speak. The first speaker delicately took the side of motorists, and genuinely seemed concerned for the safety of the cyclists and herself. Then the cycling crowd began to rock the mic one by one.

The most exciting part of the meeting happened when a gentleman named Robert Wilhite spoke at length very passionately and got the crowd fired up, then was asked to stop speaking as he was over his time limit.  He tried to make his closing point but was asked again to stop, to which the assembled crowd started chanting “Let Him Speak”.  Mr. Wilhite did sit down but the crowd continued to voice their displeasure with him not being allowed to close.  Then a security gaurd stepped over to Mr Wilhite, who had sat down and was complying with the instruction to not conclude his speech.  But for some reason, as the crowd got more and more vocal, the security gaurd ended up removing Mr. Wilhite from the meeting.  I doubt he was arrested as he was complying with their demand. I hope he wasn’t anyway.

More speakers took to the mic and there were some very good points raised.  Two speakers actually raised the point that I had hoped for all along, which was that we as cyclists need to realize that we aren’t always setting the best example, and that there are loads of cyclists out there who take the “Share the Road” mentality to mean that they can just ride however they want to and motorists should deal with it.  This is a horrible attitude and does not promote a sharing atmosphere at all.  Examples were given about how cyclists could be more courteous and also how their actions could be interpreted as smug and defiant.  It was great when someone pointed out that almost every cyclist in the room was ALSO a motorist and that we have all witnessed bad form by cyclists when driving.  You may not like that but it is true.  Each commentor that brought this up left the room with words of encouragement to NOT be that kind of cyclist as it ends up contributing to the polarizing effect.

One of my favorite speeches of the night was by a lady who I believe represented a tourism organization in Lumpkin County. She made excellent use of her time by providing examples of how fantastic the Six Gap ride is to Lumpkin County financially, citing 2600 riders in attendance from 31 states. Then explained that since this legislation has been introduced that she has been fielding messages from out of state participants who are concerned that they’ll have to tag thier bike in order to participate in the ride at risk of being ticketed. It really made an impact on the room when the issue got down to losing dollars because of legislation that was not well thought out.

The speech with the most impact though, happened early on in the meeting.  A man used a visual aid to illustrate the group ride that he was in this past weekend which had 32 riders riding 2 abreast.  The length of the entire group was 111ft, a manageable length for a car to pass providing the road allowed for it to be done safely.  Then, with the help of another participant, he brought out a visual aid of that same ride adhering to the specs of the bill…no more than 4 riders to a group with 50 ft between each group. People started applauding as the visual aid kept unrolling and unrolling, eventually stretching across a large section of the front of the room, representing the 638 feet that the group would now consist of if adhering to HB689.  No single moment of the night illustrated the absurdity of the bill as well.

Several other great points were made by advocates of the cycling community, including one great suggestion that the pocket cycling guide from georgiabikes.org be given out with each new bike sold in the state.

Another interesting moment happened when Jim Sysfan spoke.  Mr Syfan is a local businessman and has been largely regarded as the source of getting the representatives to write the bill.  He began by apologizing to the crowd if he had gotten any of us upset.  He made a comment that resulted in a heckler from the crowd shouting rudely, trying to make a point that money was some sort of factor in Mr Sylers influence.  The heckler would not reveal; his identity when pressed, and truthfully, it was probably for the better.  Mr. Syfan continued, and was obviously very nervous in hostile territory, but tried to make a point that the reason for his involvement was because he was concerned for the safety of the cyclists.  Unfortunately he was not able to strongly make his point and ended up coming off like he was backpedaling  on his stance.

I left the meeting before it concluded, and at the time of writing this I am happy to see that  Rep. Rogers concluded that the point of the bill was to get everyone together and begin a dialogue, and that since that process has been accomplished, nothing more will be done on HB689 and the bill will be pulled in the morning.

Congratulations Georgia cycling community, you have done yourselves well!  Let’s all do our part to make the roads safer for cyclists and motorists alike. 

dontread

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Shimano 8speed to 7speed Spacer Issue: Hall of Fame Level Cheap Dirty Fix

Got a new set of wheels for my beater bike, Ye Olde GT Talera, which is a thousand years old and still jammin.  Seriously, I love that bike, it is so weird.  So Thursday night I was stoked when the wheels arrived and I could finally remove the one with the giant flat spot from that pothole I hit at Atlanta Mobile Social.

The new wheels have an 8 speed freehub, and Ye Olde Talera is a 7 speed, so I ordered the appropriate space from Bike Island  as recommended. Dove into the install and immediately found that the spacer was way too big! It was big enough that I couldn’t even get the  lock ring to catch the threads.

Bummer.

I put all the tools and gear away, and headed in to see what I could find about getting a smaller spacer, which was pretty easy to find, but I just couldn’t let the issue go. I had to WIN. It was the kind of day where a bunch of crap had happened that sucked and getting the wheels put on was going to be the redeeming element, there was no way I was going to give up that easy.

Then I got an idea. A -possible- solution. So crazy it just might work. So I headed out to give it a try. I’ll let the pics do the talking from here…

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Yep.  I used a freakin coat hanger to create a makeshift spacer…and it WORKS!

A few notes.  The cassette I have is very old, the original from the bike. I’m pretty sure that newer cassettes as completely flush on the back of the big cog, as the connector pins are recessed. At least that’s how they are on my SRAM cassette on my mountain bike, so I figure Shimano must be doing the same.  This particular cassette has pins that are like rivets, I don’t know if they are removable, but they ad about 3/4 mm to the stack size that butts against the inner part of the freehub.  This contributed to the problem, and is a factor in the makeshit install as well.  In the places where the rivets bumps are the coat hanger wire is bent inwards a bit when they line up with one of the “hollowed out” portions of the freehub body. You can sort of see this at the top of the pic with the yellow arrows.  As far as I can tell this han’t caused any alignment issues at all, it spins straight and shifts fine.

My rig is awesome but it will be temporary. The wire has the potential to pop out if the circumstances are correct, and I don’t want to take that chance, o I ordered a proper spacer, just to be safe. Overall though I was pretty happy since I WON, and I’ll actually be able to use the bike this weekend. Ordered some wicked new Kool Stop brake pads also…upgrades are fun. Cantilever pads are increasingly hard to find, unless you want clunky black uncool bricks.

So Ye Olde talera now has actual round wheels again. Truthfully these wheels are a little much for this bike (bladed spokes? cmon now…), but the price was good and hell, why not trick it out, I love this bike. Still haven’t decided whether I’m going to remove the stickers from the wheels or not…they kind of mess up my vision of a totally murdered out blackity black ride, but at the same time they are kind of growing on me. I’ll decide in a few days. Comparison below.

TaleraB&A_NewWheels_edit

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The Mobile Social Atlanta

mobile social

Heading into Atlanta tonight, to check out a group ride called The Mobile Social, which I am pretty sure is hosted by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.  I get the impression that it’s a pretty fun bunch of folks from their Facebook Page and event invites.  The ride  happens second Friday of the month, and leaves at 6:30p from Woodruff Park (of Occupy Atlanta fame) which is the same location that Critical Mass starts from.  One difference I’ve already seen from TMS and CM is that  TMS, posts an established route beforehand.  This time around it’s a little over 9 miles, through a part of the city I have actually never been in. I like it.

brokenHeartsBicycleParts

The Mobile Social ends tonight at a location hosting the first night of SOPO Bicycle Cooperative Broken Hearts and Bicycle Parts annual fund raising jammity jam. It’s been a few years, but I’ve bee
n to some of the BHBP festivities before, and it was just swell Wally.

Rumor has it that Jay Starr is going to meet up with me for whole mess, which will be excellent since I go to these group ride things trying to connect with people and make some bike-people friends, but usually end up not talking to anyone cause I’m kind of shy like that. So it’ll be good to have my own crew, even if by crew I mean one person I actually know.  Low Budget Soul Riders.

One of the interesting things about a ride like this is deciding which bike to take, since I usually don’t know if there will be any urban Alpe D’Huez bizness along the way. My -go to- ride is always Ye Olde GT Talera, which is as comfortable on the street as it is on gravel or trails.  But since the route has been posted for tonight, along with a hill profile, I’m gonna opt for the ‘Pooj. I like to get some time in on the fixed gear when I can, and also, I’m pretty sure Jay is bringing a fixed, so we’ll be synced up like a couple of X-wings about to storm the trench on the Death Star.

Complication: The weather is supposed to be some of the nicest yet this year, BUT…the way it is looking, it’ll be warm enough for shorts all through the afternoon, but when the sun goes down it’s going to be a little too cold for bare legging it. So it’s gotta be thermals under bike shorts or brave the cold, which could effect the possibility of any extra miles after the group ride is done.

 

Another complication: Where the hell is my boozeflask? Bad Bwoy squad always bring something to put the “social” in the mobile, seen? I’m not trying to be riding around with a bunch of loose beers in my backpack, so flaskin’ it is the way to go. Also, my I left my party cooler in Greenville after a seriously high level ragemode, so I have no way to keep beers cold til ride time anyway. Hopefully I’ll find my gear before heading in.

Most likely I’ll head in early and tool around solo for a while…maybe get some slices at Vesuvius or something til it’s time to meet up with Jay.

SHOULD BE A FUN TIME. MAYBE YOU SHOULD COME TOO!

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State Bicycle Company meets Hipster Girl Trope at Facebook Station

stateBicycleHipsterGirl_crop

Yesterday r/FixedGearBicycle was going bonkers over this photo montage that was posted to the State Bicycle Company facebook page. Although “hipster bashing” is very 2005 I have to agree it really does trot out the “hipster lifestyle” tropes…retro fancy bag filled with PBRs, the Holga cam, and footwear inappropriate for a woodsy trail but right at home at the party after the afterparty.

I actually just learned of the State Bicycle Company. Their rides look pretty rad to me. They were getting some hater love on r/fixedgear, but I think they were really getting slagged on because they have successfully packaged a product that what some people don’t want to be packagable.

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