The salmon are running in Washington State, two kinds actually. One kind you can see over at the Ballard Locks, swimming upstream to visit the place of their birth and spawn little babies of their own. The other kind can be seen cluelessly pedalling their bicycles upstream against the flow of traffic. This is the cycling equivalent of me walking into the ladies’ room or double dipping my potato chip. Cyclists who ride against traffic on busy city streets do approximately as much good for the advancement of bicycle rights as Toddlers In Tiaras does for women’s suffrage.
I don’t care who wears a helmet or doesn’t. For myself, I wear a helmet during the busy times of day or at night. I don’t wear one on my 8am Sunday grocery run because I just don’t. Having said that, I did see 3 different instances of blatantly stupid helmet use in one trip the other day; 3 different riders who were actually carrying their helmet in one hand as they rode their bicycles. Not only were they not enjoying whatever sort of protection a helmet is supposed to offer, but they were hampering their own ability to operate a bicycle by using less than two hands to do it. Color me confused.
There’s been some talk about Shimano’s line-up changes. Something is happening with the electronic shifting things, but I didn’t read that part. Apparently the Sora group will be “better” because…something, I don’t know, brifter change or whatever. Didn’t really read that part either. I did read the part saying Tourney will become its own complete trekking (touring) group and it’ll be…7-speed! I’m actually excited about this, provided the quality isn’t crap. I love my Shimano 12-36t 9-speed cassette, but I’d much rather have a 13-34t 7-speed (one of which I actually just ordered the other day). If they offer something like the Sugino 46/36/26 triple crankset and an option for bar-end shifters, this could be a serious winner. Sadly, I’ve seen some photos of both the Sora and the Tourney groups and they’re all black and all ugly. Oh well, silver’s day will come again. Soon, I hope.
Speaking of black components, the Shimano 13-34t 7-speed cassette I just ordered is all black as well. I don’t get it, but I guess a lot of people like the look of a black cassette. I don’t, but having it work well is priority number 1.
I’ve been scrounging around on Craigslist lately for a project bike to mess around with. I’d really like to find a Raleigh Portage, but I’d settle for a Bridgestone RB-T or a Miyata 1000 or even a really nice Trek 520. Every so often I run across 10 or 12 year old carbon fiber bikes on there, and I do a full body cringe. Talk about a ticking time bomb. I can’t imagine trusting my face to a 10 year old carbon fiber fork on a 40mph descent. Gives me the willies. Say what you want about how shitty a bike the Schwinn Varsity is, but they’re still on the road, still ride fine, and won’t break into a pile of daggers when they finally do fail.
Rivet Cycle Works seem to be making a good name for themselves with their leather saddles. Slowly but surely, I’m hearing more and more favorable things about them. In the leather saddle game, it’s tough to be the new guy; Brooks has been around since the steam locomotive was hot shit, Selle Anatomica is loved by people who enjoy the feeling of a leather hammock supporting their privates, and VO and Cardiff have pretty nice low cost offerings. Rivet is designed to be sort of like a broken-in Brooks, but not as sling-like as a Selle Anatomica. Go to their site, they explain it better than I do. I hope they continue to do well. Leather saddles are great, and the fact that we have more than a few companies making them gives me hope for the cycling world at large.
Swift Industries is a little two-person operation here in Seattle that specializes in bicycle bags and accessories. I’ve seen their stuff in person, and it really is top-notch. Their Pelican Porter Bag might be the best front bag I’ve ever seen, ever ever ever. You can go as nuts as you want to with the ordering and they’ll whip up your unique creation right here in the mysterious and enchanting land of Washington. I’m going to go for the waxed canvas when it comes time for me to have a set of their panniers. Cost is something like $250 for a set of those sweet things.
Walnut Studiolo (not a typo) has a sweet little accessory that will make people with walk-up apartments squeal with delight. It’s called the bicycle frame handle, a name that sort of takes any mystery out of what it does. It was a Kickstarter offering, and it blew the doors right off the initial goal. The Walnut Studiololololo (intentional typo) people are playing catch up now, so it’ll be a little while if you order one. I’m getting two for sure. They have a bunch of other stuff as well, most of which seems to be related to beer in one way or another. Fine by me.
That’s all for now. Next week I’ll have started working on a project bike for a friend. I should have some photos and a progress report. It’s the world’s largest Nishiki, and it’s going to get resurrected by me and my slightly-above-amateur skill lever. Thanks for reading.