Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pascal's Album of the Week

This week Tall Tree's finest roller racer, Pascal, brings us the album of the week. Enjoy! - Matt

Last week I got myself some rollers since the skiing has not been fantastic as of late. I quickly realized (more like I already knew) that riding rollers is not terribly exciting. I figured I could only stand it for about an hour so I decided to put on a hourish long album that I was familiar with to pass the time. When chosen properly, an album can take place of the terrain we ride on to dictate the pace. Enter Trans Am's 2000 Thrill Jockey release, Redline, which clocks in at about 72 minutes (phew).

This album has the mood of a Stanley Kubrick movie set in the not-too-distant future; very cinematic and vivid. It takes us through desert wastelands with a detour through the deep dark Black Forest. There are peaks of electronic euro thrash and valleys of acoustic guitar dispersed with blistering chainsaw-like rock guitar. Some tracks are very blatant and scream at you to increase the pace, others are more subtle as they whisper quietly and creepily in your ear to keep going or face the dire consequences (think Clockwork Orange). "Play in the Summer" is definitely the highlight. The drums are fast and relentless, as the name of the album suggests, and pushed me like a stern T-Mobile DS. By the end of the album I was cooked. I will save this one for when I feel particularly sprite. - P

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tall Tree Frame Jig

Thom and I were down at Hugh Black's Frame shop (True North Cycles) in December to discuss the possibility of them producing some of our new Steelwool frames. While we were down there getting the shop tour we asked if he had any old frame jigs kicking around. Not expecting him to say yes, we were extremely excited when he actually did, and even more excited when he said he would be willing to sell it to us.

We have been planning to purchase a jig for a while now however once we found this used one things were put on the fast track.

Hugh had to find all the bits and pieces for this jig, so the jig didn't arrive until this week. It looks like it will do quite nicely. If he was able to build countless bikes on this jig it should do well for the small number of proto's we make every year.

Hugh also generously gave us a box of old small diameter cast lugs to mess about with to hone our brazing skills.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Christmas in January

My long awaited Christmas present from my Wife arrived, so very exciting.
Look where it came from:

What's inside?

The movie was free and a very nice surprise, however here is what is more exciting.

Its a Peggo Richie Columbus Niobium tube-set, also known as Columbus Spirit for lugs.
Fork blades are Columbus SL.

Lugs are the Richard Sachs designed, Long Shen made "Rene Singer" model. They are inspired by their namesakes classic french bicycle lug designs. The fork crown is a "Richie-issimo Series" with fancy tangs. BB shell is also Richard Sachs.

Columbus Steerer tube.

Now for a couple other frame bits for build this time from Paragon Machine works.

Now in case you were wondering, these frame bits and pieces are for the new Steelwool all-road frame I will be building myself over the winter. I will be posting blog entries along the way.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Get a car!"

Saturday was beautiful in Ottawa. Earlier in the week I'd sent out an email soliciting company for a ride on Sunday. The weather was to be mild, around zero, and there was a minor risk of ice rain. The list of potential wheelmen grew to 6 or seven with hours. I hatched a plan. I'd been planning to build a Steelwool Limited frame up with the parts from my fixed gear in the spring. The Limited fits large tires and fenders, takes brakes front and rear, has excellent road geometry, and is built with standard diameter tubing. It builds up into a great road machine, heavier than the aluminum and carbon framesets I've been using for my fixed road rides, but also far more versatile. Rather than take my Steelwool Secteur 18 out, I thought I'd build the Limited on Saturday and give it a roll. So I rode over on out 'station wagon,' a Kona Ute, fixed Roubaix strapped on, and enjoyed the +2 balminess outside.

Come Sunday morning, I was out the door to meet Neil, Jamie, Steve and Ariel at Gamelin. Brad and Marty would ride about an hour later, also keen to take advantage of the weather. It was a day of firsts: first ride on the Limited, first 100k fixed ride for Steve, first ride since July for Ariel, first time riding Shouldice for Neil, and first time receiving an awesome nickname for Jamie: Iceman. See, Jamie seems to be nearly impervious to cold. He removed his jacked about 30k in. He's always the one wearing the least. Iceman.

We rolled a straghtforward route to Wakefield, then continued north for an extended loop. The 105 and River road were excellent, devoid of ice. As we transitioned onto River road a man outside the restaurant yelled 'Get a car!' I found that rather amusing, as did we all. Particularly ironic as Neil is a car mechanic. He has one. I don't want one, but hey, I like a ride once in a while.

There is a low section of River road near Wakefield that always features ice. We made it through fine. Neil and Steve ran studded front tires. Iceman was on slick Contis, myself on a file tread and a semi-slick. No problems. We all ran full fenders and flaps, though we only really encountered dry pavement and snow covered dirt north of Wakefield. All in all, the road surfaces were completely fine for either treaded or studded tires.

All in all our route had us all door to door a little over 100k, which is longer than the first ride we did last year. Yet the legs felt better, indicating the trainer time is certainly helping. I'll gear down from my 44x16 to a 46x17 for the next ride though, this was just too tall with the heavier treaded tires and lack of in-season fitness.

I'll write more on the Limited as I spend more time on it, but for now I'll say my first impressions are positive. The first thing I noticed was the remarkable stiffness in the bottom bracket area. The bike runs an oversized bb shell to accommodate the eccentric. I've been riding a variety of steel bikes for a while, and this is definitely the stiffest in feeling bike in the pedals. With a tall gear, I found the bike did not work with me. However, when I got it rolling I found it synced with my spin very well. I felt the seatstays were noticeably resilient, absorbing road shock rather well. Jamie remarked that his feels much smoother in the rear end than his Salsa Casserole, which has larger diameter stays. The front end of the bike is completely neutral. It steers itself, its just there. Riding no hands is completely natural, and the bike feels very stable spinning way to fast down hills. I noticed no unwanted flex in the front end whatsoever. The fork seems to balance well with the rear end of the bike. I think my bb drop is around 72-73 mm in its present position; it felt neither low nor high. This is a bike that hums along really well at speed. We'll be riding Rideau Lakes on fixed gears this year, and this will be my tool of choice. I'm looking forward to it!

Here's a map of today's route.

Album of the Week 2

Hi Internet,

At the invite of Matt I'm taking the reigns of the blog for a quick guest post.

I tend take a less focused approach to time on the trainer than most folks. I generally prefer to watch TV or listen to podcasts while riding to distract from the pain while I try to keep from getting too slow by spring. Matt's post featuring Radio Head's Rainbows as album of the week got me thinking about making the switch to tunes and turning my attention inwards while I try to take a more focused approach to my trainer time. If I'm going to spend time exercising indoors, I might as well make it count.

So far my best listening experience has been Caribou's 2007 album, Andorra.

Andorra's got lots of high points and rarely slows down. There's lots going on and it's easy to get lost in the sound. Perfect.

Also, for those on the hundred mile diet, Caribou hails from Dundas, Ontario.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Roller Race Action! January 23rd

The album of the week post will have to wait; this is more important, as its about riding a bikes inside while other people laugh at you.
The Wheelers have been holding Roller Races for a while. I've never made it out, due to personal lameness, but the tide has turned. On the 23rd, the Tall Tree team will be in full effect at the races, making fools of ourselves in style. We're doing a charity spin for Bicycles for Humanity earlier in the day, so we'll be well primed for the lactic acid fest. I think its going to be a fantastic time, and I encourage locals to come and either participate or witness the spectacle.
There will be two formats: trainer with fixed front wheel, and rollers. You'll need a bike to ride the rollers.
Here's the run-down, provided by Chris Mullington:
There are two types of races we run. Goldsprints, which are contested over 500 metres and use matching bikes held upright by the front forks, and Old School, which is contested over 1000 metres and in which the riders balance on the rollers.

Our roller racing setup allows for four riders to race per heat. The rollers are attached to a large dial, with a needle indicating the progress of each rider. This four rider system is one of the only ones in North America and as far as I know, the best maintained.

We encourage people to show off and keep things light. Many of our competitor chose to wear disguises.We hope to have a 5K challenge with some of the top riders in the area. This is an real crowd pleaser because of its intensity.The facial contortions of our contestants become more extreme over the duration of the event.Loud cheering and rowdiness is par for the course.
We hope for a good turnout from the local cycling community and especially look forward to partying with our brothers and sisters of the Tall Tree Tribe.

NB: the Chevaliers de Colomb hall is licensed and I recommend a DD if people are coming by car.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Album of the week

Since I like to ride the trainer and and rollers with music in my ears most of the time, I thought I might as well do an album of the week post...weekly. I've been listening to a lot of Philip Glass over the last month or so, but over the last week I've been listening to:


Outstanding album. My daughter loves it too.

My favourite grooving track is Reckoner. If you dig it, check this out. Fantastic! The band's site is rather interesting, not least the bloggage. Thoughtful.

What's your album of the week? Do you have a favourite you return to while churning away inside?