Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bicycle Giants Jeff Kistler & Matt Christy Help me Stop!!

At right  is a picture of a HiWheel bicycle going down the steps of the US Capitol. The rider whose name was long ago lost to history, did this as part of  a stunt to prove how much safer this design was to the HiWheel configuration, big wheel in front, small in back,  that dominated the self propelled world back at the turn of the last century. 

As I've said before in here, this style vanished from the marketplace the same year  it was introduced as a safer HiWheel Really a high performance Penny Farthing, if improvements to the chain hadn't come along as well as the pneumatic tire. this is the bike we'd all be riding today.

As for today's ride, even though at 2:15  AM  I told my Facebook friends  I was still up  working my TransAm ride because rain   seemed likely today and thus no riding, I   rode anyway. At 7AM the skies were clear enough for me to try to out my rebuilt brake!

You see, I was at Matt Christy's home shop until 9PM and didn't get home  until 10 as he lives in San Mateo, twenty  miles away. To get there. I took one of my rare rides in a car. And yet there again, I've been in Jeff Kistler's truck two times in three weeks now. Ugh... It was Jeff who took me to Sacramento to get the bike and  it was  Jeff again who took me to get   the brake fixed.  I just found out today that Dave Hershberger here locally had been sick all weekend long  and that was why I had not heard back from him. Jeff, pictured below, put me on to Matt to get the weld I needed.

And what an honor and a privilege it was to have access to Matt's world. A few years older than   myself, he and his awesome wife, Sue (pictured above),  both graduated from my alma mater, Cal State Hayward. Matt had done a lot with  his life since college. He owned businesses and property in many different places and was semi retiring into the world of older steel bikes, the  ones you can still work on.

As we (mostly Matt) measured,  cut and filed, Matt and I also talked about old bicycle times   and the sad drug induced state of present day bicycle racing affairs. And it didn't take me long to realize that I was in the presence of  two two wheel giants.  While everyone accepts Jeff as one of the top bike mechanics in the area (and so by extension, one of the best in the nation if not the world) and it was obvious that Matt knew he was in hallowed company, Matt himself was a top local racer who had  won some pretty challenging races. He had also competed all over the world with and even won against  some of the best. And he did so at at a time  when bike racers lived on table scraps and not corporate sponsorships or surreptitious blood manipulations.

Not only did Matt engineer a little sleeve to join the two broken brake pieces but after we got it silver soldered back together, he then machined a bushing and new bolt and washer for where the lever affixes to the handlebar. One more reason why I had to get it out on 4 and 1/2 hours sleep. The whole assembly does not rattle any more and it operates like a Swiss watch like the rest of the bike.

We also talked about the pedal/foot connection. Matt pointed out that Adidas shoes tend to run narrower and that I should look into that. I told him that he was right as that is the kind of shoe I was now wearing. Still not affixed to the bike as tightly as I'd like, we discussed this further. Jeff pointed out that I can not just use modern pedals because their axle shafts are not long enough. Before I ask Jim Spillane if he can make me some new ones, I am going to see if I can make these Power Grips work  that I have from recumbent guru, Kelvin Clark, of Angle Tech Cycles,. I will be sure to keep you posted!

Matt also marveled at how short my crank arms are. By his measurement, he came up with 150 mm! And indeed this  is whoaaa when you consider that average crank length is in the 170's. While he thought more length would help me on the hills, I told him it would cause me to spin far too much on the flats.  

I rode maybe 15 miles today as my late start gave me  a lot of traffic that kept requiring me to stop. However having a brake now meant  I could sprint for the tail end of green lights  and stop if I came up short. Wow I had been missing that.

I also tried some no hands riding. I need to master that so I can stay on the bike while I do things that require both hands. For example. it warmed up enough that I took my jacket off today and tied it around my waist. And yet in order to do so, I had to stop. Bummer......

I also  hit a pretty gnarly pot hole that was covered by rain water. And I got to see how the bike handled that. No problem. It did surprise me though. 

Before I go off curbs however, I am going to see what my HiWheel elders are saying......

So much to learn - so little time to learn it.....

Boston here we come.....

See the 2009 Mayors' Ride schedule

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