Friday, January 30, 2009

The bike build begins!

With great excitement, I started my bike build the other day. I laid out all the various components, set up my bike stand and admired the beautiful frame. Knowing (or, not knowing, to be more precise) what I was about to undertake, there was a good chance that the frame wouldn't emerge unscathed, so I took a picture to capture it's unmangled purity.

Then, I got down to work. It was a lot of effort, but I'm pleased with the final result. What's that? It looks like the same picture?

Here's a better image, complete with graphics identifying my progress.

I'm still short a few parts, all of which are required before I can go any further. Basically, if you see a hole anywhere on the frame, it's because I'm missing the piece that goes there. I have cranks, but don't have a bottom bracket to attach the cranks (that hole at the bottom where the seat and down tubes come together). I have a fork and headset (the front end), but don't have a stem to keep the fork in place. I have a seat, but don't have a seatpost to put it on.

So, to tide you over until I have those pieces, here's a picture of cycling in San Angelo. Notice that Hannah's in front of me. That had nothing to do with the fact that she's getting fitter than me on the bike, but was because I was riding a bike with no wheels, cranks, seat or handlebars.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Walk in the... umm... Brush

A few weeks ago, Hannah and I went for a longish hike in the state park in San Angelo. By "longish," I mean about three hours. By "about," I mean almost exactly three hours. By "almost exactly," I mean I'm filling space in this post since the actual content will be a little sparse.

The trail we walked was split into two paths: one for hikers and cyclists, the other for hikers and horses. I suppose the split is because bikes don't get along with horses. We chose to walk the hiker/cyclist path, if only to avoid the horse droppings (bike droppings are typically easier to spot, since they're usually metal).

Some of you might not be aware, but the State of Texas has made a concerted effort to be inclusive in their park system (walkers, cyclists, etc.). As such, they want to make it clear who can use which trails, and they've updated their signage appropriately.As you can see, this sign is very specific about who can use the trail. What you can't see is the little bicycle (the photo cuts off the image on the left) -- so this is a multi-use trail for cyclists, hikers and women.

That's all well and good. Unfortunately for our shared hike, we came across another sign a few miles down the trail.

It seems some old biases of the park rangers are hard to overcome. It was a shame to part ways, but Hannah had to sit down on a rock in her dress while I got to wander ahead.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Yesterday I performed the herculean feat of running across the street to beat a traffic light... twice (no, not the same light). I know you're impressed. My amazing ability to succeed at the ordinary is astonishing.

I'm quite pleased with myself, because at this rate, I'll be able to run a mile in a year. Actually, I suspect it will be somewhat sooner (two weeks), as that's when my PT scheduled me to have a running evaluation to measure my gait and form. I'm on the mend (I think... it might be that the PT just wants to watch me suffer).

PS - If you like that image at the top, check out Superuseless Superpowers. You should get a smile out of at least a few of them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My new toy (some assembly required)

One of my updates from last weekend in Texas is that my new bike arrived.

"New bike?" you might say. "Last year, didn't you go on and on about not buying a new luxury item from China?"

"In fact I did," I'd answer. "But this bike was actually made in Taiwan, of Columbus tubing (which is good stuff). Besides, that was last year."

And since I'm making up this entire conversation, I'd respond to your generous offer of a new car with, "Yes, thank you. I'd like the Volvo C30. I appreciate that's not too expensive a car, but I don't want to impose."

So I have a new bike. Or more specifically, I have a new bike frame. For my third bike, while I strongly considered a penny-farthing, I opted for a standard aluminum road frame, which I'm going to build up myself. This might go disastrously bad, but since there are few overly complex moving parts and no electrical or plumbing work involved, I'm not really worried about damaging anything, except maybe my ego when I need to bring the tangled mess into a bike shop to undo my debacle.

Also, apparently I was such a good customer over the phone that Fetish Cycles (the bike company) sent me two (2) frames for the price of one. I contemplated some kind of reverse training wheel build (two frames on one set of wheels), but thought better of it when I realized I wouldn't easily be able to mount the saddle without access to a machine shop. Besides, Fetish decided they actually want the "free" frame back.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I have a whole slew of upcoming posts about my last few days down in Texas. (On a side note, I don't think San Angelo is "deep in the heart" -- but the song doesn't work with, "the probable center of gravity of Texas, if you were able to pick the state up and needed to balance it." That's a shame, because the stars really are big and bright there.)

Anyway, to tide you over, and to keep up my regular babbling about new sneakers, I have a dilemma. You see, END Footwear has just released their road models. And, they're cool. And environmentally sound.

So, the question is, do I buy myself the new pair of sneakers I've been eagerly awaiting even though I can't actually run in the them because of my knee? What to do?

If you're interesting in any of END's products yourself, check out REI -- they have most of the trail models and at least the road shoe that I'm looking to get. However, if you're interested in END's water shoe, their women's road shoes or the other men's road model, the marketing manager at END told me would have the full line-up first (yes, I actually e-mailed the marketing manager at END to find out when the road models would be available).

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Knee update

Another visit to the PT this morning revealed a weak vastus medialis obliquus (VMO). There's some interweb controversy about whether or not targeting that specific muscle will do anything for my patellar pain (the pain I feel behind the knee cap when I do things like squats and hard cycling), but Jeff the PT hasn't steered me wrong yet (in the minutes and minutes I've known him), so I'll stick with his recommendation.

To learn if there was a problem, Jeff had me lay on my back and tighten my quads while he watched my VMO. After squeezing for all I was worth, Jeff said, "You can tighten your quads at any time now." Whether he was joking or not, the fact is the muscle needs work. So I've got a few more exercises to do this week. Maybe when all this is done, I'll end up with legs like the guy Hannah was oogling at the trail run last year. Maybe.

On another note, I was bored last night and created a word cloud on with my blog. For those not in the know, a word cloud is a useless graphical depection based on the words that most commonly pop up on a web page. The larger the word, the more often it's used.

I understand why "running," "knee" and "pain" are so big, as that's all I've written about for the last few weeks. But I'm a little suprised by "much." How much can I possibly write the word "much" in a post? I don't think it could have been that much.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I feel the need. The need for...

sitting on the couch in frustration.

Things had been progressing nicely along with my knee. I've been doing all the exercises and stretches the physical therapist recommended. Twice a day (also as recommended). The pain in my knee has shifted from awful, to dull, to -- just yesterday -- a slight pinch. Even this morning, as I walked to bus stop, I thought to myself, "Wow, I feel this much better in only a week. I wonder how good I'll feel next week."

Then, because I was daydreaming about running free, I realized my bus was about to leave a block away from where I was. So, naturally, I started to run to catch it. I got exactly five steps before the pain from three weeks ago came hurtling back. So there you go. I expect that means I won't feel much better next week.

As far as an update on my physical therapy -- the therapist thinks I have a ridiculously week hip area. Weak hip flexors and abductors, and tight everything. The logic is that by strengthening those areas, I'll address the long term imbalance so that I don't have this problem again. Oddly enough, right now I'm interested in addressing the symptoms. Since they hurt and all. We'll see what happens tomorrow in my next PT session.