Friday, July 31, 2009

Wednesday Night Social

I'm pleased to announce a new weekly even here at Milltown, the Wednesday Night Social.

Most of the best times we've had at the shop seem to always involve three things, good bikes, good friends, and good beer. I think it's a logical conclusion to come to that putting these things together on a weekly basis can't be anything but a good thing. Starting next week, we will have the inaugural Social from 6-8pm. This is a to be a laid back time to give guys crap, tell stories (ie, bullshit,) drink good beer, play pinball, and otherwise cause trouble within the walls of 311 Central. Bring what you will, yourself, a few libations, a fun bike or two, whatever. We'll see who shows up and go from there.

We look forward to seeing you at what I hope will turn into something pretty cool. Cheers.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rawland Sean Rocking Leb.

Here's a fun video Sean sent me from a recent club ride at Leb. Sean is riding a proto Drakkar fixed 44x17 on 650b's with Quasi Motos, front brake only. I really like helmet cams. I think a side mount eye level may give a more rider perspective view though. Would be fun to play with for sure though.

Also, a nice package from Salsa arrived today. Look forward to some killer pics tomorrow. Stop by if you can't wait!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Canoe hitch details.

As requested, here are some shots of Eric's hitch set up for his Jensen canoe. It simply consists of a lag bolt through the Snap Deck, appropriate spacers to provide clearance for the canoe bow over undulations, and a two nut/washer set up tightened inside the canoe for support. Simple and effective, this could be adapted any number of ways to fit differing set ups.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Canoe Musings and Elgoskes

New toys from Rawland have finally arrived. Here's what it'll look like when you open a set of the new Elgoske Bullmoose bars.
Twin Rawland custom clamps allow for bar angle to be adjusted, something not offered by tradtional bullmoose bars.
Etched logos and cutting guides on the bars add a touch of class.
Nice neat welds and really uniform finish. Big bolts and lots of clamping area insure sound purchase.
The bars look great and should be available from Rawland's website shortly.

Apparently there is quite a bit of interest in self hauled canoeing. I should probably start by saying that my method of hauling the canoe was intended to make full use of the bike and trailer I had. It has worked exceedingly well thus far, and I am thinking of several refinements to the set up. The idea of being able to ride upstream, and paddle back with the bike in it is a different story all together.

This is a concept that in reality would not be hard to bring to fruition. The canoe needs to be large enough for two standard folding bikes. These bikes are available from many manufactures for relatively small amounts of money. Dahon comes to mind as probably one of the most reasonable, higher quality units. As with any smaller wheeled bikes, these will have some trade offs on road. Depending on your roads, a ride of 10-20 miles shouldn't be significantly harder on a 20" wheeled bike.

Constructing a cart to haul the canoe basically consists of a wheeled axle that can be strapped around the bottom of the canoe just aft of the center of gravity. A quick Google search for "Bike Pulled Canoe Trailer" brought up a plethora of results. This one seems to be a well thought out, easy design to replicate. If anyone does something similar, please give the gentleman credit for his hard work.

So there you have it. Just find a nice Dahon, buy 3 2x4's and a wheel barrow axle assembly, drink 3 beers assembling it, and you're off! You'll have a canoe transporting system that weighs less than 40lbs and one that can easily fit inside a standard canoe whilst going down the river.

Here are a few pics from Eric and I's little regatta the other morning. Eric's design is similar to the one talked about above, and works quite well for his purposes.
Onlookers of all sorts watched even at the early hour of 6am. Drives by strained necks to check the bikes out, and several honked in approval. Quite a different honk than I'm used to getting on the roads!
Eric's superbly equipped Dummy. Complete with the Rohloff drive train, it may be verging on perfection.
This picture just sums it up. A perfect day, and a picture perfect day. Puttering around Lyman Lakes. This trip was really a trial of Eric's set up. It turned into a perfect morning just hanging out on the water.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Big Dummy Canoeing

Monday morning had all sorts of errands for me to run. There was the trip to the bank, I picked up some groceries, and I had to run some errant EZ Up tents around town. All of these tasks were easily handled by the Big Dummy/Bikes At Work combo. I finished the errands at about 9 o'clock or so. I had an hour or so to kill before Meg and I were to have brunch, so I set about putting a plan in motion I've been mulling over for a long time.

For years I've loved canoeing. There's just something about being on the water that is a whole different experience than you get on land. It's movement in a completely different way, and a hobby I find utterly relaxing. Much as I like the actual paddling, I hate the necessary BS the comes with it. Loading it onto a car, shuttling it up river, paddling down and then shuttling both canoe and second car back to a point. It ends up being 3 hours of driving and messing around for 4 hours of canoeing. If I had to do that every time I went biking, I'd guess that I'd not like bike so much either. The simple idea to haul the canoe with the bike seemed a logical way to increase my paddling time while making the execution much easier.

Since getting the Big Dummy and BAW trailer I've said that they are like gateway bikes. They are not necessarily the kind of things that most people would buy to fulfill a particular need or use. I've found them to be tools that once you have them, the possibilities of what can be done with them are endless. Looking at what a canoe is as cargo, it's actually a pretty small thing. Weighing in at around 65lbs for our old Alumicraft beast, it's not particularly heavy. Paddles and other accessories don't weigh much either. For comparison, we then have a trailer and canoe package that weighs less than two children in a Burley.

The trouble with a canoe is it's size. At 16', it's a rather bulky item. Enter the 96" BAW trailer. With how I have the hitch mounted on my BD, the yolk adds about another 8" of usable length to it. With its movable axle, it's designed to be able to center the load over the axle for optimal weight distribution. In this case, I needed to drill 6 holes to properly position the axle. This will of course only have to be done once, so now 6 bolts are all I need to change it easily.

Though the fenders on the trailer are rather sturdy, as I envisioned using a ratcheting tie down strap the force would be a bit much for them. I wanted the keel of canoe to be supported in the middle of the trailer. This I accomplished simply by cutting a 4x4 post down to appropriate lengths and notched the middle for the keel to rest in. This raised the canoe above the level of the fenders, while balancing it on the center of gravity. By looping a tie down strap under the front of the trailer, and looping it through the canoe it more the secured the two pieces together. 2 bungee cords keep the back bouncing in check, and this was more than secure enough for the crappiest roads at some speed.

All that done took about 45 min, and we were off.

Easy enough to do one handed talking on the phone. I've also decided that pulling a canoe is the best way not to get hit by a car. Most people who passed me were so scared they were in the opposite gutter!
An idea of scale. 8'+16'= a hell of a good time, and a wide turning radius. Surprisingly, with the added stability of the longer Dummy wheelbase, turning around in a standard street is not problem at all. With those short turns, the trailer simply rotates in place around the axle!

It carves corners rather well. The load rides so well, it's almost possible to forget it's back there. Really.
The crew. Meg and my brother John.
On the water.
Yup, after a long weekend that's exactly what I want to look at for a few hours.
So there you have it. It's now possible for me to load up my canoe in less than 10min, ride 1.5miles to the river, canoe for 2-3 hours, and come home all under my own power. It's easy, fun, and actually relaxing. Anyone in the area that would like to give this a try just give me a call, I'm always looking for someone to go with.

Looking forward to Monday morning, both this and another rig will be parked down at Goodbye Blue Monday in downtown Northfield. A bike powered regatta of sorts. More on that later, but stop my and check it out! Cheers.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A well run race, and thanks.

We had a great race this year. For the first time we actually had enough volunteers for things to go really smoothly. To the volunteers, I cannot thank you enough. It's only with the help of people in our community that we can put on a race of this scale. Jake and I'd like to especially thank my family, Cherie and Jerry, Sue and Brian, Tom and Linda, Preston, Logan, Mark and Brandon. These people have worked for years to help us pull this off, we are most grateful. We'd also like to thank the City of Northfield, it's street crews and law enforcement officers, The Bikery in Stillwater, Just Food Coop, Sean from On Support, Bruce from Split Second timing, the officials, and everyone else involved for their time and support. It's will all of this help that we are able to pull this off every year.

The race itself went very well indeed. We had a total of 250+ field of individual riders, and several classes had 60+ person fields! Even the judges commented on the large field sizes of those races. Race conditions were good most of the day. The morning started with broken clouds and light rain off and on. The water was just enough to make some races interesting, particularly the last turn onto the home straight. Thankfully there were no significant injuries for the day, though some people did go down. Thanks to our volunteer medic Heather, who patched people up nicely. The afternoon brought hotter temps and sun, which dried off the course for later fields nicely. Races for the day were very fast compared to last year, and racers put on a great show for on lookers. With ominous clouds and a change of wind, the last race was cut just one lap short by the officials. 2 min after the end of the race, it rained quite hard. Talk about timing! Take down was uneventful and went very smoothly. Before you knew it, it was like we were never there.

Afterward the crew ventured over to Dan and Linda's house for some necessary food and libations. We watched fireworks over the high school and went home late to comfortable beds. The day was great, and we look forward to doing it all again next year. Thanks again. We'll see you all on the fourth!