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Two-wheeled Eco-flashback April 5, 2011

Posted by Bill in Photography, Reflection.
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In 1971, I found myself crouched behind a clump of grasses with my Mamiya Secor 35 mm camera to photograph marine bird life that occupied the Upper Newport Bay in Southern California. upper newport bay

A freshman in college and enrolled in an ecology course taught by master teacher Mark Parrat, I found myself outraged that the Irvine Company had plans to dredge the back bay into a marina/condo development, describing the area as a “dead mud flat.”  In these  pre-social networking days, the hard lifting in ecological conflicts was done by the devoted who would attend planning commission hearings and nag state agencies until the right thing was (occasionally) done.  My camera was pointed at the not-terribly-dead egrets, gulls, sandpipers and great blue herons feeding on the also-not-dead fish fry after hatching in the back bay, still a major fishery for the west coast.

I returned there today to revisit my eco-radicalization after finding online a bike trail serving the perimeter of the bay and UC Irvine while in the area on business (with the bike, of course).  I thought of the grannies, biologists, students, academics, and other activists who opposed the Irvine company, driving the creation of the Upper Newport Bay Preserve in 1975.

upper newport bayI also thought of, and slightly longed for, the angry young man I had been, camera in hand, in awe of the unwillingness of some to see the life I photographed, many years ago.  Slightly less angry now, I remain grateful to those who made the preservation of UNB possible despite phenomenal odds.  The rest of Orange County, CA, stands as testament to the values held by the developers who have had their way with the land, except for Upper Newport Bay, a place now celebrated, and which would only exist in memory and on film but for those heroes in the early 70s.


I don’t care what they say February 15, 2010

Posted by Bill in Equipment, Reflection.
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After today’s inaugural 20 miles on my “new” build Madone, nobody can ever tell me that a non-racer geezer doesn’t belong on a race bike.  Well, they can tell me, but now I have no reason to listen, without a moment’s doubt.

madone 6.9 inaugural run Why should the pleasure of easy climbs followed by acceleration off the crest unlike anything a heavy bike can produce be reserved for young team and pro riders?

There is no practical and age-appropriate machine for any particular individual or age group.  If you want to feel a snappy turn and you want your bike to shift effortlessly, without hesitation or grumble, you find a way to make that happen for you.

After this build, giving me a truly awesome ride at 15 pounds 2 ounces (with pedals, without water & tools), I have something that tells me in uncomfortably unforgiving terms that the only limitation is the rider and the condition thereof.  This bike screams “Come on!” as I think about how to spend my time.  Do I take advanced training in Tivo programming, or do I divert into the garage and spin for awhile?

Posts to come will have more to do with returning to a higher level of conditioning at a certain age.  WIsh me luck.  Or better yet, join me.

I’d like to thank the Academy… January 31, 2010

Posted by Bill in Equipment.
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madone almost finished

When I stepped back after the laying on of WTB Vigo saddle and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels, the message I had to suppress was, no joke, “Nobody’s going to let you get on that, you know.”

Still missing bar tape, a chain, pedals, and tuning, but this puppy knocks me out.

This Geezer’s 2008 Trek Madone 6.9 Pro…

Thank you, Danielle…

Brilliant engineering… January 31, 2010

Posted by Bill in Equipment.
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madone frame with cranksetThis build began with a modest degree of fear.  I have built a number of machines in my time, and I have repaired that which was built by its builder, with all the parts coming from the same source.  Or, at least the parts at one time started out fitting together, and leaving in completed form from the same place.

This build, however, was anything but that.

Frame: American; Waterloo, Wisconsin; used, via Ebay.

Drivetrain: Italy (pretty, but have you seen that tower in Pisa?)

Other parts: China (very glad there’s no dog food in this bike)

Installing the Campagnolo Record Ultra Torque bottom bracket was nothing less than an affirmation of my faith in international community of engineers.  OK, maybe the European Space Agency and NASA can’t keep their feet and meters straight when they jointly send something to Mars, but when Campy and Trek put their heads together in this revolutionary bottom bracket design, they totally got it spectacularly right.  Once the hard-to-find Loctite products arrived (primer from San Diego, adhesive from butt-nowhere), the BB went together in about five minutes.  I had to stand and wipe grease from my hands multiple times just to slow down the experience.  It’s beautiful, it’s light… I pity the poor slobs who pay someone else for the pleasure of installing it.

Stage 2 January 29, 2010

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In truth, this journey began not with a frame, but with a ride two years ago on an Independent Fabrication bike with a Campy Record grupo. That supple, snappy bike with its effortless light shifting behavior grabbed my attention big time, and my fantasy world entered the realm of the $5,000 custom-frame bicycle. Then fantasy collided with financial reality as the lure of carbon took hold, and I entered the zone of serious cognitive dissonance.

So I started fishing about for a responsible way to get into my $5K bike which, of course, had morphed to an $8K bike in my head. A year ago Ebay offered up a Chorus/Record drive train – you’ll see this later – and I was off to the races. That drive train sat in my garage, burning in its box on the shelf, until the daily news that I wasn’t getting any younger drove to me find something to hang it on.

Back to Ebay, and to the Madone frame offered by an excellent seller, Sarah Hansing, master wrench with deep Trek connections, offering guidance and necessary wisdom for this carbon-baby who didn’t quite appreciate the depth of the project he was beginning.

So I bring you today’s progress:

headset installed, complete with new Madone 6.9 fork with its 1 1/8″ top and 1 1/2″ bottom Cane Creek headset bearings, Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon stem, and FSA K-Force carbon bar. Yummy.

You can take the speed out of the geezer, but… January 28, 2010

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Yes, in biking terms, I’m am such a geezer. But that’s not my fault.

Still looking to two wheels for a speed fix, I have begun a build, and I’m bringing you with me. It all started with stumbling across this lovely frame: Trek Madone 6.9

This 2008 Trek Madone 6.9 Pro called to me and just moved on in, as you see here.

Carefully and perfectly repainted by Russ Pickett of Air Art in Chico, CA, this frame awaits that which will make it the lightest thing to roll beneath me, and you will be witness to its transformation.

Too long away… November 30, 2009

Posted by Bill in Reflection.
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bikes on the Sunrise footbridge

Thanksgiving holidays brought an opportunity to get back onto the Parkway after a long year of change; a marriage, a move, some grief and struggle, much joy.  So much to be thankful for, also things to cry for.

We did fifteen miles to ease back in, then stopped to watch the salmon at the American River Hatchery make their battered and weary way up the ladder into the “processing area” to spawn.  Their life-ending struggle put our past year in perspective, to tell the truth.  Here we were, watching them at the end of their lives, not the other way around.

And a new Trek is growing to join my mate’s.  Stay tuned.