Saturday, September 28, 2013

Two autumn rides

Our first ride together for the fall 2013 season and it was a beauty.  Winds from the east scoured the sky and burnished the blue and left us gaping in wonder.  We scrapped plans for a rock climbing day, rigged the trikes and cranked out the twenty mile, two thousand foot round trip to Keene.  Jodi and Django slug away at the big grade in the photo above.  This is my 100th post, and it's nice to feature a beautiful ride.  The Microshift levers on the Expedition are still proving their worth.  After our big 10 day tour to Vegas this winter, I'll post more about them and any other gear that needs discussing. 

Ever since early August, Jodi and I have been thinking about where we were this time last year--in the Rocky Mountains, of course.  Below I've uploaded a couple of pics from this day, 2012.  We were in the heart of the Colorado mountains in the vicinity of Hot Sulphur Springs, and Jodi had just recovered from a harsh bacterial infection caused by bad water.  It would come back to haunt her when we landed in Espanola, NM, but for the rest of Colorado, we were in fine form.  September 28th has proved a blessed day for this triking couple.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gear talk: Shifty shifters

For cycling nerds like me with deep experience using Dura Ace bar end shifters, the sorry tale of Shimano's poor quality control is well known.  Once the gold standard in shifters, the bar ends got worse and worse.  For over a decade, I used the old thumbies on an mtb and never had a single problem.  When Jodi and I had our Greenspeed recumbent tandem, we went for thousands without a problem.  On my old HPVelotechnik Street Machine, I put in 10,000 trouble-free shifting miles.  In the years since every set of these shifters has failed to one degree or another.  Mostly it's a slight and then increasing sloppiness that makes precise shifts impossible.  You can feel the indexing go, the sharp notches blurred.  The issue is a flimsy plastic ring with holes in it.  It wears and cracks pretty quickly.  One of the nice features of Shimano's bar ends is that they can be converted to friction with the spin of the wire ring featured above.  The bad news is that I've been given no choice in the matter.  To cope I've simply adapted to friction shifting.  For the most part, this has been fine, but when cranking the Catrike Expedition down the road, I really prefer indexed shifting because of the radical maneuvers I have to make working with the Schlumpf internal bottom bracket gearing.   That unit takes a 2.5 to 1 jump, so to make my gearing transition smooth, I have to pop up or down two to three gears in the back.  Making this move precisely every time without indexing is pretty challenging.

Enter Microshift!  The black unit on the right is one half of a new set of Microshift bar end shifters I recently acquired.  They are Shimano 9 spd compatible and don't have a friction option.  The rubber cover on the lever has a slight ergonomic flare that I prefer over the Shimano.  So far, I have a couple of rides on my Catrike with the rear shifter.  I'll get to the front one soon, but always being friction and only dealing with three gears, that's never been a problem.  The Microshift has performed well, although I may need to adjust the derailleur a little still.  The shifts are sharp and pleasant.  Occasionally, I've had to do a tiny "trim" on some shifts to clear a slight noise, but this could be due to improper adjustment.  Overall, I'd say I'm happy with the results.  Finish and materials are very bit as nice as the Shimano stuff.  After I've logged some bigger miles, I'll post a follow up.   The best news?  They run about $70 vs. the $129 $himano is now asking.  And I believe Shimano has dropped the friction option.  So if you need to replace, or you're putting together a grouppo for your next steed, check out these units. I think you'll like them.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday spin

The enormous Rim Fire (300+ square miles) in the Yosemite region was expected to impact our air quality today with a "Air Quality Warning" issued for our neck of the Sierras.  This morning we suffered under the skies featured above.  I can't complain!  Okay, a little.  It was humid, but the building cloud cover shaded us from the full assault of the sun for much of the ride and made the final 10% climb back to our house almost pleasant.  A nice ride for sure.  I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon working on bike/trike maintenance.  A stubborn chain ring bolt needed replacing on Jodi's Catrike, and I struggled mightily for some time before succeeding.  Boy did that feel good when I finally got it out--a stupid little task that took far too much time, sweat and swearing, I tell you what.  Then it was on to the Haluzak and a much needed front derailleur  adjustment, which lead to a much needed general cleaning, especially chain and chain rings--freakin' filthy.  I gotta do a cassette clean on that rig, too, I tell you what.   Still, it was fun and productive to futz with the velo-gear for a couple of hours, and the Haluzak is now scrubbed and ready to rock for the big ride down to Bako on Tuesday.  Get out and ride, folks.