The Slow Spoke is a place where I put my thoughts to words and hopefully some will read them. Since I'm a major bike geek most entries will be bike related but, not always. I'm also guilty of thinking far too much so you never know what the topic will be. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Missing The Niner and The Warm Temps Today.

I spotted this pic from an 8hr race I took part in last year and I got a crazy urge to get the hell out there again.
I really need a fix. I'm sick of this cold weather crap. It's time to get warmed up and out on the Niner.
It's ready to go! I just need this weather to swing a bit more so that the trails become doable.
God damn! Let's get this show on the road!


Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Yeah, I know. Hell of a title, eh?

On Sunday morning I headed out for a ride with a couple of friends. Nothing over the top; just a good ride at average pace and fairly short. Both were basically going for a shakedown run on new rides so I knew it wouldn't be a hard-pressed ride. None of us have managed much of a season so far anyway - truth be told. Each of us with our own legitimate reasons I suppose but....... Since they'd be running brand new rockets I told them I'd be "slumming it on my CrossCheck".

Sunday morning came and from the outset, I wasn't sure. I had a puking son on Thursday night, and on this particular morning (also his birthday) my stomach was trying to tell me something - or was it?

Sometimes I can, admittedly, be very stupid, but, most times my stupid actions are based on stubbornness and unwillingness to conceive defeat: something I most certainly should have done that morning. I'd later regret my denial and unwillingness to read the signs.

From the first turn of the cranks I felt totally off. Straight away I knew something was up. I couldn't find a good rhythm. I couldn't get comfortable. I could't get my heart rate down. I couldn't settle: breathing hard and struggling even at lower speeds. I just kept telling myself that it was due to the lack of "real" riding I'd managed to get in so far this year. I struggled for the duration, grabbing a wheel and hugging it which is very unlike me. I'm not the type to cling to wheels for the span of a ride and ALWAYS make sure I do my share of the work but, today that changed. I stayed behind wheels on the road sections of the ride and only held the front for short bursts. I just couldn't do it. Not sure if my friends noticed - no one said anything - but that's not my style.

The first hundred feet of the ride saw my computer stop working which turned out to be a broken (worn through) computer wire so I couldn't even tell if I was feeling this way due to elevated speeds or what was happening. With no heartrate, speed, cadence I was blind and couldn't rationalize "why". I was still in denial.

Fast forward to the midpoint of the ride and I had to sit on the ground for a break. I didn't talk much choosing to listen instead which, again, is unlike me (HAHAHA). My gut started to tense up and it hurt like hell when it did so. Now I knew I was in trouble. I quickly got up and said "We should probably get going!! Right??" I threw a leg over and started off. Another attempt to deny any issue I was having.

Now on trail, I was able to concentrate on my riding and I did have my mind taken off my stomach for a time. I pressed on at my own pace knowing full well that I just needed to get home.

Once home, I literally walk in to the house with my daughter now puking in the bathroom (moments before she puked on the front door and porch). I'm quickly on my hands and knees cleaning this all up as we have guests coming over for my son's 4th wasn't to be for me.

By 12:30pm I'm chucking cookies and in bed. A house full of guests and I'm missing my son's birthday. That is the hardest part of this whole thing. I missed my son's birthday. I slept a full 24hrs getting up only to throw up. Totally crazy. Stupid me. I should not have ridden. I should have read the signs. I should have stayed home. Maybe the ride is what pushed my body over the top. I'm convinced, like my bike, my head has some fucked up wires.

It's killing me that I missed his birthday. Killing me I tell you.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sweet Rides Entry #13: A Green Machine

         It’s been a while for one of these “Sweet Rides” entries so I thought I’d better throw one down today. 

To someone new to the blog, at quick glance one might think the color is the key to a ride’s selection (seeing as the previous Sweet Rides entry is also lime green) but I can assure you that their color is pure coincidence. There are rides of all colors in past SR entries. Steel's the reason then? Nope. Despite my admitted "soft spot" for steel bikes, those who have read past entries already know that there are bikes of all materials that are spotlighted. Some may still think that only bikes that require us to visit our respective banks to discuss our financial plans may be the key, but, again, as I’ve said/shown before, that is not always the case. Most expensive doesn't always mean "best" as I've learned the hard way myself over many years spent abusing bikes.

So.......... What is it about this particular bike? 

Well, put simply, I friggin’ like it! That is the biggest rule (obviously) I must adhere to with respect to these entries.  

The other big motivating factor for an entry choice is that the bikes must be assembled for a purpose and  built up in such a way that they serve that purpose well. Whether that objective is to exist as a pure racer, a bomb-proof grocery getter or an epic all-day steed doesn’t matter. Bikes just need to be assembled for a reason, by the owner, with hand picked parts..............and WORK. When you take this into consideration, you’ll get a better sense as to why I chose this particular bike to write about.

The bike belongs to my buddy James’ daughter. Built by James because his daughter needed something to get around town on: a commuter.

The bike itself appealed to me but, I must admit, I thought it was cool as hell that he whipped this bike together (a very long time ago) for her to use as a reliable means of transportation - and she dug it. And THAT is a big reason this bike appealed enough to make the cut. It is nowhere NEAR a choice the average dad would consider but, this dad did and with good #1 and wickedly unique style for his girl #2.

From a small town, her bike attracts a lot of attention, as it would, even in bigger towns. It’s different. There are very few 1x1’s in her neck of the woods. A resilient, simple bike. Ruggedly, but, intelligently built and ready for absolutely anything. James left nothing to chance and a closer look quickly reveals both the father-looking-out-for-his-daughter (with respect to nearly-indestructible parts) along with color matching bits and small details for that visual appeal his daughter was undoubtedly looking for.

He started with a Surly 1x1 frame and rigid fork for the sake of simplicity and reliability. Let’s face it: we all know that the less “stuff” on a bike, the less can go wrong. His daughter would be rolling whenever she needed to. He wanted her to have no issues. 

He assembled the drivetrain with quality parts that would work flawlessly for probably a hundred years in this mostly light duty roll: and it’s perfect. A Race Face XC crankset and BB mated with an e.thirteen bash guard: the guard serving as both a chain guide and providing ring protection just in case. 

Nothing less than a nicely machined Rennen Design Group cog paired with a brass Wippermann Connex chain to finish it off. 

The high grade brass offers a reliable protection against corrosion. Again, reliable and very low maintenance. A Pazzaz wheel tensioner helps keep everything in alignment.

No dad wants his girl riding around with flimsy controls and equipment that doesn’t help foster confidence, so, naturally, a Deity riser bar secured via a Thomson Elite X4 stem was in order! Hahahaha
Bling Bling!
Dad was cool enough to route the front brake housing through the stem too for a nice touch.

Race Face seat post and comfy, yet rugged, WTB saddle offer support.

Nicely sized Maxxis Hookworm tires provide loads of durability and traction for any urban outing. Their volume help soften the rigid frame as a bonus. 

Peeling all the stickers off the Mavic rims help provide a bit of a cosmetic touch as well. I'd use the term "stealthy" but, since the bike is lime green..............well.............stealthy doesn't work here :-) Besides, I'm positive James wanted his daughter to be seen while in traffic so that color has a natural bonus of a visual pop.

He decided that stopping would be provided by reliable and well adjusted set of mechanical Hayes disc brakes he had kicking around. Lots of power and a more than adequate choice for their intended use.

Also on the cosmetic front are some nice Steven Hamilton Animal pedals. Green! Imagine that!

Can’t let that sticker go to waste. Hahaha "Animal" on this top-tube seems appropriate. I dig it.

The bike's been assembled and has been used for a few years now. A well thought out dependable machine that went on to perform as planned, never leaving anyone who used it (mainly his daughter of course) stranded in any way.

Now starting to drive her own car, she doesn’t ride it as often. The bike hangs around for the most part now but one thing is for absolute certain. Should the car break down, there is absolutely NO way, the bike wouldn’t be ready to rock at the drop of a hat should the need arise. 

Simple, low maintenance, bomb-proof and reliable. Now that's a sweet ride. An extremely well thought out whip that could handle far more than commuting if anyone decided to test its limits. 

Not really sure if James’ daughter ever truly realized just how “cool” of a bike she really was riding (she did really like it from what I hear though) but I hope she pulls it down once in a while for a nice ride. It really is a beauty.

I’d gladly add this one to my quiver.

If you’re reading this, give your dad a big hug. He deserves it. It’s a damn nice bike: a very respectable build indeed.

Final verdict; Super freaking cool.