Friday Group Ride #207

Friday Group Ride #207

It’s been a hard winter. I won’t elaborate too much here (because I’ll do it elsewhere), but suffice it to say it’s been hard to get rides in. Even when you summon the will to leave in sub-20F temperatures, ice and snow make the proposition tricky. The roadway is much smaller, and utilizing main roads to connect more bucolic sections gets more tense. The level of planning necessary to pull off a good ride in this weather is often more than I can manage, given the other requirements of my middle class existence, chief among them youth hockey.

My wife said, “What makes this time of year so hard is that you can’t pin your hopes on spring. It’s too far off still.  So you don’t have anything to look forward to.” It was that sentiment that led us to purchase four plane tickets to visit family in Wales. Something to look forward to. Whether we can afford it or not.

Then, this morning, Dan said, “You know what’s good for the winter blahs? A bike project.”

Yes. Something to look forward to. I can’t ride, but I can build a new bike to ride when the ice pulls back from the asphalt, when the mud starts harden on the trail. Again, whether I can afford it or not, this makes good sense.

The riding I have been enjoying the most over the last few seasons is this sort of mixed terrain stuff sometimes called gravel grinding, which, while alliterative, makes me cringe every time I hear it. Because I live on the fringe of the city, the trails and dirt patches we ride are often tucked behind people’s houses or stuck on the back of public parks. It feels like poaching on someone else’s land. For me it has, a little bit, the same vibe as the So Cal kids of the ’70s and ’80s skating people’s empty pools while they were away at work during the day. It stokes the coals of (extremely) latent teen rebellion that still churn in my over-stimulated brain.

So I’m building a bike. I am piecing together a parts spec. I am making up my mind, then changing it, making not very much progress, but achieving my chief aim, which is to think about something other than the 6 inches of snow still sitting heavily on the roof of my house, melting out into stalactites of ice during the day, building itself into ice dams and tearing at the shingles.

This week’s Group Ride is about projects, about the things we’re looking forward to. What are you working on? What is the point? Is it a new bike or a new training program? Is it a trip or just cleaning your chain and getting back on the road? Cyclists are very seldom still. We are always plotting and planning. Maybe it’s just cleaning the garage. What is your plan?

 Images: Matt O’Keefe

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  1. Chris

    I started my bike project/plan in October. Looks like I’ll get my first ride on the new whip before the end of Feb. And, at least today, the sky is clear and the temps are solidly in the 30s.

  2. Bill

    I built, from the ground up, a Ti hardtail 29er back in November. That has been my first real foray into mountain biking, which has been a treat after 30 years on the road.

    In a couple of weeks I’ll be building a similar steel bike, although its intent will be for bike-packing. Lots of forest roads and back country rides to see.

    Unfortunately for us, I was able to get yet another dry road ride in yesterday, bare kneed. I’m not bragging, I’m quite upset. The ski mountain has yet to open and my season pass is melting in my pocket.

  3. Peter Lin

    Some of my friends in central MA get on their Fat bikes and go cruising around the woods. My only project is improve my bike handling.

  4. andrew

    what part of wales you visiting robot? i live in the south wales valleys, ( not all of them at the same time). i’d be happy to show you around some rides, road or mtb, if you want.

    1. Author

      @Andrew – My people are all in Powys. It’s not clear yet whether we’ll get down south or not. I have some work to do while I’m over as well. If I do make it down, I’ll get in touch. It would be GREAT to connect.

  5. Ransom

    I recently traded my trials bike for a super-’80s-tastic Hutch Exel freestyle BMX bike, or at least most of one. They still make Tuff wheels!

    As a nod to function (and because I’m not much of a museum-piece guy), I’m fitting it with V-brakes on adapter plates in hopes of actually braking on the Tuffs’ nylon surface as I attempt not to admit to myself that I’m neither R.L. Osborn nor Danny MacAskill…

    It’s coming together nicely; My inner fifteen year old is *stoked* (as is my exterior 42 year old).

  6. andrew

    i’m planning mtb routes around the english lake district, looking forward to the TdF coming to us, then straight on to orkney and shetland for two weeks quest pointing. there’ll be a few mtb events in between, mountain mayhem, battle on the beach, whyte rough ride.

    a fairly full year planned!

  7. Aar

    Not yet to the level of project due to spousal funding debates, I am going to have my 1990-ish Giordana frame made of Columbus SLX tubing re-painted (like factory original), then put it back on the road with modern Campy Chorus 11. I’ll largely be using worn and spare components taken from my primary road bike but a quill stem and a few other parts will need to be properly sourced.

  8. Michael

    With a nearly snowless (we are 45″ behind normal in town, and it’s worse higher on the mountain) and very warm winter here, I have been riding a lot lately, in preparation for a work trip to Reunion Island. I’ll be there a month, and have my coupler bike ready to go (framesaver sprayed inside the steel frame, new chain, etc.). After work and on Sundays, I’ll get out to explore the little roads (the major roads have awful traffic). Then I’ll drop the bike off in Ireland on the way home, in prep for moving back there for a year this summer. So, I guess I consider all this my project, as in making my life better.

  9. Souleur

    graveur rides/races…check
    road calendar set…check
    mtb singlespeed calendar set..check

    but most of all, i am most in anticipation about having bought a set of torches, tanks and the set up to braze my own goodies. I will be practicing soon, and will see if i can build something…I have been perusing Henry James, and such sites for weeks now, and having a blank slate to do whatever you will with is truly exciting and inspiring

  10. Ray

    The onset of fall coincided with the arrival of my new born son in late September of last year. What with the sympathetic weight gain during the course of my wife’s pregnancy and being neck deep in diapers and lack of sleep, I came across a vintage/ ancient Raleigh frame set on a online forum.
    The deal was struck and I came into possession of the frame; the idea being that I could use my spare parts bin to build up the bike. Over the last 3 months, the project has evolved with Campy, Shimano and SRAM and Weinmann center pull brakes making up the final bike.

    I like the final product so much that I am seriously contemplating it as a template for a new custom frame. It has enough room for cross tires and mondo clearance. Better yet, it’s close enough to my birth year that I feel obliged to ride it when my birth day rolls around in another couple of months.:)

  11. Shawn

    I just finished building my 1st Cross bike from a used Ridley frame I bought and components I mostly had lying around. Double tonic for my winter blues: first the project and then a rig to plow through slush & snow.

  12. Andrew

    I guess I should say “Andrew in MN” (although Wales is sounding pretty nice…)
    There is no light in our tunnel yet. Blizzard yesterday, deep freeze coming back. Projects? Sprung for some 50mm carbon clinchers and a new crank. Moved studded tires to old gravel bike, so the nice one won’t be too trashed if spring ever comes. Keep training for the almanzo and Switzerland in June. Attempt not to hurl myself into a snow bank out of desperation…..

  13. Patrick O'Brien

    I would like to get a couple of overnight trips in on our touring bikes. My better half want to ride her age this year. And a trip to Colorado Springs to ride Palmer Park and vicinity would be neat. Don’t know if we will get them all done, but two out of three would be nice.

    I just built, really my LBS (M&M Cycling) built it, a new road bike with every part selected by me. Picking out everything was as much fun, or more, then the first ride home from the shop.

  14. chiwode

    My project is researching trailers and child carriers. My little man is eight months old and his little butt is going out riding with me as soon as it’s warm enough for him. Any advice or gear tips on anything from hardware to kit to help us out?

  15. christopheru

    1. Starting work in my favourite LBS – check
    2. Pursuing “primary” career – check
    3. Staring wistfully at my 2013 Jake the Snake wistfully whilst waiting for the snow to be gone – check
    4. Planning the cockpit replacement for my 2005 now single speeded JTS (bullhorns, tt brake levers or something similar, leather bar tape, shorter stem) – check
    5. Making a list and checking it twice for what to do to my hotrodded but still functional 1998 Specialized s-works mtn bike – check
    6. Debating which pairs of afforable to me bibs to get (assos won’t happen!) – check
    7. Planning and implementing a house move – check
    8. Planning a slew of new road ride routes in the new location – check
    9. Glaring at the snow – check
    10. Riding the bike with studded tires as much as possible – check
    11. Getting sick of the gym – huge check

    Been a project filled winter so far!

  16. kurti_sc

    I’m planning a early summer trip with some friends. Our destination has yet to be determined. Probably somewhere in CO or NM. That’ about as far west as we can get in the time frame we have. (we are leaving from SC.). I’ll take suggestions!

  17. armybikerider

    My winter project….acutally started last Fall but pursued in earnest when it’s too uncomfortably cold to ride… I am learning how to play the steel stringed acoustic guitar, with a proclivity for flatpicking bluegrass tunes in the style (but certainly not with the same ability) of Doc Watson and Tony Rice.

    The point is to scratch an itch I’ve had ever since I was a kid to learn a stringed instrument. Like cycling, learning the guitar for me is a deeply personal indeavor not without its struggles and little triumphs, but leaves me with a deeply satisfied feeling of accomplishment and growth.

  18. andrew


    Depending where in Powys, i could maybe come up to you. you should be able to get my email address from these posts if you want to get in touch.

  19. rashadabd

    I am working on a new bike as well. I started with a quest for speed and a commitment to get away from the comfort oriented bikes that had made up my recent projects (2013 Cervelo R3 and 2013 Specialized Roubaix SL4). I was convinced I would end up with an aero road machine or a all-arounder. I also decided that I wanted to spend as little money as possible this time around while still getting something I like. After looking closely at over 30 bikes and going through the Serotta fit and a test riding process, guess where ended right back at (another endurance road machine). I have finally embraced that these are the bikes that work for me and fit my riding style and interests. I need them to have some serious get up and go though.

    This time it came down to a tussle between the Trek Domane, new Cannondale Synapse, and the Bianchi Infinito CV. The Domane carried the day after a great test ride (and due to price point and a deal I was offered). I am trying to figure out which direction I want to go with wheels at this point. I am looking closely at the new Reynolds Assaults and Specialized C35 on the high end and just a pair of Zipp 101s, Chinese carbon clinchers, or Fulcrum Racing Quattros on the low end. The process has been fun though.

  20. Chris S

    My project has not been building a new bike, but reconfiguring some of my current fleet. Two road bikes, two cyclocross bikes and a fixie all have parts that I’ve wanted to swap. My goal last year was to get all my geared bikes on 10 speed shimano, so I’ve ended up with 2 sets of 105, an ultegra, and a dura-ace. Unfortunately, only 1 of the geared bikes has the groupset it should. And none of the bikes have the best bars for their various uses. And might as well swap stems while I’m at it. And clean headsets. And regrease every bolt on every bike. And new bartape, of course.
    It was interesting working out my matrix of what goes where. I knew I wanted most of the Dura Ace moved from my aluminum road bike onto the carbon one, but should the Ultegra go to the aluminum road bike or a cross bike? The aluminum road bike was originally a 3×9 tiagra group, so how would it look with Ultegra? Wouldn’t it be happy with 105? Would I feel better about using it as a rain bike if it had 105? But then how will I feel racing cross next year on a mostly Ultegra setup? I’ve never crashed so bad that I broke anything, but will I be ok if I snap an ultegra derailleur or break a shifter? Couldn’t I just as easily crash my carbon dura ace bike in a race this summer? And even if the Ultegra goes on the cross bike, the ultegra brakes are going to the aluminum road bike because, well, they’re road brakes.
    Which stem and bars should go where? 3 stem/bars are the oversized clamp type, and 2 are the older, smaller size. Some bars have an anatomical bend, which I like, and some have a more even curve. Then there’s the stems with 2-3 degrees of rise up to 17, I think. What’s best where? At least they’re all the same steerer tube size and 100mm in length.
    I’ve tried to stock up beforehand everthing I think I’ll need, within reason. I’ve got quite a few spare cables, a couple sets of bar tape, and a new tub o’ grease just itching to be accidentally smeared on my clothing. I just need to get out there, take some beer, plug in some music, and hunker down for some good times wrenching.

  21. Duncan

    I’m working on not buying/building another bike, but instead buying things which will help me enjoy more riding what I have, so I’m shopping for:

    New road shoes (probably Rapha)
    GPS (Edge 800)
    Glasses (Rudy Project)
    Socks (merino)
    Rain Jacket (Rapha again)

    Oh, and I’m working on getting to bed earlier. Not doing so well there…

  22. T. Guy

    I’m upgrading wheels on our tandem and my single bike to wider, tubeless ready rims, and adding hydraulic disc brakes. Yeah, Les.B.,eecycles brakes are sweet and they will stay on the front of the tandem,, but in back TRP HY/RD disc is phenomenal, way better than the eebrake for my purposes.

    We’ll take the big bike to Corsica in June.

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