Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rainy Day Photo Dump

Introducing the Pofahl.
Yesterday was a killer ride. It was just hard enough to hurt, just long enough to be a good workout, and just dry enough to actually ride. It was just in time too. We have gotten almost an inch of rain already today, with rain/snow mix to follow this afternoon. I'm glad I was able to get out when I did.
I have to say that this bike rides better than I had ever hoped it would. Even with the rather severe bar to saddle height, it was comfortable and responsive. I didn't get a sore lower back, and was able to ride the "technical," (I use this term relatively,) sections without any issues. In short, it's a ripper.
I was also surprised at how well the brakes functioned with proper levers. They are Suntour XCD roller cams. The bike had XTR STI shifters/brake levers on when I got it, and the braking was atrocious. With one or two fingers I was able to control my speed rather well.
No it's not period, but it does work amazingly well, (and it's pretty.) Sachs front der to XTR 950.
Pepperman graffiti for Jason!
Some fun close ups from the ride. Old state prison fence posts. More of the like to come.


Tunnel o'youngin' art. Found a few picnic tables in there once.
Trail work before....
...after. The tree still there is the best I could do without tools. I'll go back with a saw and really clean it up. The other tree was put into the woods about 25ft behind me in the picture.
Old railroad bed. Big ring fun every time!
Really fun off the map single track.
Entrance to the river bottom trails. A bit of sand, a bit of rock, some trees, it's got just about everything. I had a riot, it was great.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday in the dirt.

It's been a good Monday. I woke up this morning at much loathed 5 am. There's really only two things to do that early around here, ride, and or drink coffee. I chose a bit of both. I saddled up for a brisk 27deg jaunt downtown to be at Goodbye Blue Monday coffee shop by 6am. There's the best group of guys that have coffee down there that early, and they are a wealth of information both sought and given! Lots of laughs and some actual meaningful conversation was had, and the coffee was great as always.

Off to the shop by 9am, I had a meeting with my small business adviser, a local community college teacher and someone who has forgotten more about business than I will probably ever know. The meeting went great, schemes were hatched, and for about 3 hours we talked about the past, and where we're going in the future. There's more fun stuff to happen before the full season opens, check back regularly for updates there.

After getting a wheel off in the mail to Arkansas, I decided to hit the trails and see how they were. It was the maiden voyage, (for me,) on the Pofahl as a true dirt bike. The drops are amazingly low, but surprisingly comfortable. The bike performed better than expected in every way, and was just a blast to ride. This also marks my first ride on a 26" mtb off road in almost 6 years! What a day. I took a bunch of really nice picturesfrom the ride that I'll have up tomorrow. It's time to head home for dinner and some much needed family time tonight. Cheers for now, happy trails.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

In the news.

Nice little article in this morning's paper.

Link: Faribault Daily News

Happy Sunday.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Painting nearly completed.

It's been a flurry of activity this week. Most of the color is on the walls of the shop. I am really happy with the results. We had a great time, and I had a lot of help from a few friends and my parents. It was really a lot of fun. We still need to paint most of the remaining walls a neutral color, but that'll happen with time, the critical stuff is done. I still have to make a new workbench, get the tools where I want them on the wall, and build shelves and other organizing materials. The shop is pretty much back to running normal. Here's the pictures.

Rack moved and bikes packed.
The shop is now so open, it looks only half full. Not so when they're all up against each other.
The before shot.
Mom painting.
Tools of the evening.
Making progress, the paint dried darker than pictured.
Stuff put back. The purple bathroom is in the background. I don't have detailed shots of that, but it looks really nice as well. There will be an little accent bit of purple across the room from the green to tie it into the space.
Really bright blue shop area. This is the smallest part of the shop. It's also where I spend the majority of the day. I wanted a bright cheery color, and this certainly fits that bill. The tools and other things on the wall will tone it down a bit, but it's just awesome!
Full current shop view. A sneak peek of the WTB bar'ed Pofahl is viseable in the foreground.
Thanks for playing, back to work!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Poached from Surly

Watch this, marvel at the use of a bike cam for "good" use.

Linky

Thanks to Surly for bringing this up. Great stuff! Makes you wonder if you'd really like to know just how close cars are getting to you. Scary stuff.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rainy day painting.

It's a lovely rainy day here in southern MN. The rain is coming down steadily and gently, which was really nice to wake up to this morning. The plants in the gardens are just starting to grow, and the roads are just beginning to get really nice and clean. A solid day or two like this will help both along rather well.

We are planning on a marathon day of painting at the shop today. We are finally at the point in the renovation to do that, and Meg and I both have the day off. We decided to go broke and shoot for really colorful. The building is long an narrow, and hopefully this will make the products in the shop look better, as well as complementing the added warmth that the wood floor coloring as done. We are going to be painting purple, green and yellow today. I put down all the trim and edging for the purple last night, and it looks really good so far. All of this combined with some new displays coming this week should really set the stage for the summer.

More updates and pictures as the day goes on. Happy Monday!

Friday, March 20, 2009

For Marty

Marty's favorite, complete with 32t rear for hilly tri's.
A lovely no cross, 3 cross wheel. I thought something looked funny when this came in. Awesome.
New shoes, dig.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pofhal detail shots.

The paint is a little lighter blue in person. It's hard to show, but the bike has a great pearl clear coat that really make is shine.
Nice little seat cluster.
Clean dropouts.
I like the brake routing a lot.
BB shell detail.
The white front has seen the most abuse, but still looks pretty good for a bike of this age, with this much riding done on it. Back to it, enjoy the pictures.

Pile of Swiss

I really like these hubs a lot. I was reminded again yesterday when overhauling a 13 year old one that just needed grease. I am decidedly a wheel guy, buy the best stuff you can afford there and you'll never regret it. These are some of those parts that just keep getting better with age, and really are a pleasure to work with. It's a beautiful day here in Faribault, I hope you're able to get out and enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Perfect Evening

Tonight was one of those perfect nights. It was a crazy day at the shop again, a direct result of me being alone. The phone was either ringing off the hook, or there where one or more people in the shop, and new emails where sitting unaswered about Austrailian 36ers, there was a surprise road bike sale for a guy's wife, plus a growing stack of repair slips from all the traffic in and out. It was one of those days where I finally got to eat lunch at about 4 o'clock. For so many reasons, it was the perfect spring day in any bike shop. It's fun on spring rush time. It's what everyone in this industry has been eagerly awaiting for months now. It is, however, a bit draining. Work didn't end when I locked up for the night either. It's spring time at home as well.

Meg and I have recently embarked on a rather large painting project at home. Four rooms of our small six room house are in dire need of painting. Add these to the growing list of places to paint in the shop, and I imagine I'll be sweating latex by the end of the month. We are fortunate to have a great paint store in town. You know, the kind that sells actual paint that so good it doesn't really need two coats? It's awesome. Like a good bike shop, such a place is indispensable in the Walmart world we live in. The living room and bathroom at the shop are going to be a raison shade of purple. It's awesome really. I was a little apprehensive at first, but it's going to be really cool looking. I'll be the first to admit, I am not a painter. I am capable of producing a decent looking job, but I royally screwed up the estimate for how much paint one wall would take. Turns out, I need a little less than a gallon, I bought a quart. Oh well, half of one wall is currently purple in my house, and it looks amazing.

After all of this, I was really needed a good easy let down from the day. It's a really nice early spring evening in Northfield. The air is a crisp, clear 38 deg or so, just on the chilly side without really being cold. I took a few minutes earlier today to set up the new to me Pofhal for decent riding as a flat bar. I am in need of some nice non aero Campy or Dia Compe brake levers and a set of Shimano Barcons to complete the Dirt Drop conversion. For the time being, I retuned the rollercams, fixed the chainline issues, removed the bar ends, replaced the hard grips, and overhauled the rear hub. This more or less made the bike ready to go, though by the end of the night I was sorely wanting for some nonstraight bars for it!

Out of paint, and thus released from my honey-do list, I threw on my trusty flannel lined Carhart overalls, a wool longsleeve, a hoodie, windbreaker, and light hat and gloves. I was perfectly dressed. Not too hot, not too cold, it was just perfect. The Pofhal rides really well. The linear pull levers really do not work well with the short pull rollercams, thought they stop if needed. The bike shifts great, the wheels spin up really nicely and the new tires roll along without hardly any coaxing. I really like the handleling of the bike, though the fork offset is clearly designed with drop bars in mind. It has a tendency to feel a little floppy with the current no sweep, racer boy bars, (I really dislike these!). It was a great ride though nonetheless. The bike is very responsive, almost to the point of harsh, but not quite. The tires at 50psi I am sure contributed largely to this as well, so it's not a true judge yet. The frame and fork are pretty nice Columbus tubing, and it really shows even with high pressure. Small vibration is vitually nonexistant, and larger bumps have just enough of the edge taken off to be managable.

It was an epic cruise of Northfield. I hit all of the old haunts. Carleton, St Olaf, the old night time graveyard routes, all of my childhood elementary school playgrounds, it was great. I took a few minutes at Longfellow School and hit the swing sets for a while. I have to say, if you haven't been swinging lately, do it now! What a feeling of pure simple joy. There's nothing that makes you feel like a kid again than just chillin on some swings. The school is in a quieter part of town, without many lights around. Up above, the stars were shining bright. What must have only been a few minutes there felt as if hours could have passed in the real world. It was just what I needed.

Much refreshed, I headed for home. I rode about 6 miles tonight. Plenty for a casual cool down spin. Tomorrow will bring much of the same I hope, more bikes to be fixed, and more people to talk to. I'll sleep good tonight, knowing that I'll be ready for it when morning comes. Hope it's been a good night for all of you, cheers.

I feel like Mike.

It's a truly a rare thing when we get to see fun vintage stuff in southern MN. Given that we're smack dab in the middle of either coast, it seems much of the early mtb culture was lost as it disseminated into the country's interior. This weekend has been a rare one indeed. Without further ado, here's what's in my stand. The white and the yellow bikes have made their way into my collection, and the white and blue one is here for repair. I'll post more later, but I'm looking at 20 tune ups that have come in since yesterday, so it'll have to be tonight. Cheers!

Very early Pofahl with rollercams and M 950 XTR. Hubs are Hugi, with Mavic Sunset 217's, (I think.) Has Specialized dirt drops that will be reinstalled!

1987 tigged Ritchey Ascent. Full XT 6 spd, alloy Nitto bullmosse bars, original tires and seat. Not perfect, but all there in very good condition. A great rider. Suntour XC post as well as XC pedals. Near perfect Araya RM 20's!

Mid 90's Pofhal with full Suntour XC, Diacompe 986 brakes with Ritchey rims. Ritchey Logic tubing and sus corrected fork. Great pearl Breezer-esq paint, and really nice shape as well.

Shop shot.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Madison report, and sun again finally!

So Madison is was a lot of fun. We went into town on Tuesday and bummed around State Street and the capital blocks for a while. I have to say, Madison is a town to bike around, not to drive. I got so turned around looking for a spot to park that wasn't 1 hour metered it was nuts. Had the weather not been so crummy it would not have been a big thing to walk a ways, but it pretty much sucked. 30's and rain really wears on you after a while. Most of the downtown places were pretty protected, so it wasn't bad once we got parked and down there.

The Yellow Jersey is always a fun spot to check into, and it did not disappoint this time around. There are display cases after display cases full of both vintage and modern goodies to check out. There were bikes a plenty to ogle as well. There was a gorgeous Panasonic touring bike, a lugged Waterford with the new Super Record 11spd, and a few tandems that had my tongue on the floor. The thing with having so many goodies around though, is that the prices are pretty steep on the harder to find items. Not saying that is a bad thing, but it certainly put a few things out of my price range. I did indeed find the exact crank I was looking for. It was a period correct Record in 172.5 with 9/16th's pedals and a 42-52 chain ring set. It would have looked and worked well on the Bianchi, but the price of $550 with rings was a bit much! At this point I'll just find a nice used modern crank and throw it on there. It won't quite match, but I really don't care that much. It'll work just as well if not better, and it'll certainly be less expensive.

So that ended the Yellow Jersey experience for the year. It is fun, and is the quintessential weird intercity shop. On the way out of town Meg and I stopped at quite possibly my favorite bike shop, Machinery Row. It is, in my mind, what a large shop should always be. Walking into the turn of the century building right on the bike path 'round Lake Monona, it is floor to ceiling of really nice bikes, sensible commuters, some eye candy, (including a $38000 Litespeed triplet tandem!) and accessories displayed in creative fashion all over the store. The building is awesome, the set up is awesome, the sales staff are great, it's just the whole package. We got some really good ideas to bring back to the shop, and some good inspiration for color choices and ideas to improve on. It was really good for Meg to see the shop, to give her an idea of where I'd like some things to go, and to spark her thinking about some ideas as well.

For most of my time in Faribault, Meg has been largely out of the daily running of the shop. This process of renovation has brought her into the shop a lot more, and I hope to make her ideas integral to the plan overall. It's been hugely advantageous to have her thoughts and eve on the project, and it's a blast working with her on it.

The weather for our last day in the Dells brought us a dose of warm sunny weather again. We're going to try and get out on some of the golf course trails, which have largely been cleared of snow from the rain and sun over the last two days. We have a few things to get done later today before cleaning and packing up for the ride home tomorrow.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Wandering in Wisconsin

It's been a nice few days off so far in WS. The weather has been interesting to say the least. We had amazing weather on Friday for the drive down here. It was in the high 40's and clear and sunny all day. We ended up getting into the infamous Wisconsin Dells at about 5 o'clock and getting settled in most of the evening. Saturday brought a temp drop in into 30 deg temps with rain morning and evening. I was able to get in a nice 20 mile ride midday, which was awesome. The roads surrounding our resort are pretty quiet, with very undulating small hills. I also had a nice dog sprint mid ride, so that was fun. It was a blast to ride, and left me far more tired than I care to admit. I can say that it's spring, or that I was riding hard due to get the most out of a short ride, but basically I'm out of shape. it felt really awesome to get out though. After a long winter, just rolling again is a great feeling.

I was very happy with my bike set up as well. I made the fenders happen on the Sogn last week, in prep for the wet nasty pre-Spring riding conditions, and it was a really good choice. Much of the terrain around here is sand based, which combined with the wet roads to make all sorts of nastyness to ride through. The fenders did an amazing job of keeping both me and the bike clean. The new Ashima discs have also made a huge change in the performance of the bike. Both power and modulation have been hugely improved. The 185mm front does not feel overpowering with the 35c tires at 100psi, providing power with one finger. This matches the rear very well, and feels very motorcyclish in the feel. Since I also ride motorbikes quite a bit, this is a very natural way for me to be. I can certainly understand the argument that discs are overkill on a road bike, but I am really growing to love the fade free, quiet, and easy power on this bike. The overall mechanical aspects of the bike are working very well. I really have fallen in love with the ride quality of the Rawland with fatty road tires. It's a rock solid feel, very still under acceleration even under my SS trained 200lbs. I need to get a smaller ratio cassette for the bike, as the gravel 11-34 is a bit widely space for my liking. Even with the large tires and the portly nature of my current set up, I ran out of gear in the 46t big ring several times. A 48t may be in order, as another Rawland will be taking over gravel duty in a few weeks, so this bike will be used for road duty for the forseeable future.

Yesterday brought a huge change in the weather. We got a morning full of cold rain, then dropping temps turning into 2"s of snow over ice! I was more than a little depressed looking forward to my riding chances. Thankfully today has brought weather into the high 40's again, and it has almost all melted already. Rain is supposed to move in overnight clearing tomorrow morning, so tomorrow has a good chance of clear roads for riding again.

Meg and I have ventured into Madison for the day today. I am looking forward to the annual trip to The Yellow Jersey, if for no other reason than to say that I did. I am kind of looking for a 110 BCD Campy crank for my Bianchi, as the 144 BCD Ofmega crank is pretty limited as to gearing choices. We'll see how that goes. All for now, have a good week all.

wandering

Friday, March 06, 2009

Vacation

Meg and I leave this morning for fabulous Wisconsin Dells. Thrilling I know, but it is kind of a big deal for us. This will be the first week long vacation that I've taken in 2 years! It seems really strange at this point to think about being gone from the shop for that long, especially with all of the things still to be done there. I have to say though, it's kind of necessary at this point. With everything going on at the shop recently, I've been working near every day on something, be it specifically in the shop or not. I am already feeling a bit of the burnout that usually doesn't hit me until about July. So much as I hate to admit it, this is kind of a must.

Looking at the past weather, and to what this week has forecast, the weather has been in the high 40's to low 50's for the past days. So, no skiing like what was originally planned, but I'm guessing it means mostly clear roads. I got the Sogn ready yesterday for nasty spring riding with a set of fenders. Fenders just look so right on this bike. It makes the look, and is such a functional addition. I am a huge fender fan. I hate dirty bikes, and dirty, wet me. I'll be leaving the 35c Bontrager road tires on it for now, but I'll also be bringing a backup set of CX rubber in case the roads are not quite there yet. There seems to be a pretty large bike shop in Baraboo, so I'll be stopping there for some route recommendations and conditions info.

It may seem funny to go to a bike shop while on vacation from a bike shop, but I love it! There's just something about bike shops that is awesome. You can generally get a good idea of the cycling community by what's in, who's working, and what the vibe is from a good local shop. I love talking to different mechanics and salespeople and finding out what's working for them, what they're selling, and different opinions on where they think things are going in general. I've also found bike shops to be indicative of a greater community at large. Just about everyone from low income to high goes to bike shops. If you hang around long enough, you get a little window into the town through bike shop glasses so to speak. I love it, and look forward to doing that on this trip. I'd like to just get some slow base miles on this week, and there seems to be several shops in surrounding towns. Maybe I'll just take strolling rides to the different towns and check them all out.

It is really exciting to look forward to the year at this point. So many things are starting to come together, and the weather is cooperating with all of it. The roads are getting clear, and rain is forecast locally off and on for the next week. By the time I'm back, the shop should really be starting to pick up, and indeed it already has. I'll be putting in periodic updates through the week. I don't know whether they have wireless at the condo, but I'll find a coffee shop or something to get some pics posted. Take care, and get some rubber out on the road!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wedding pics

Teaser pic for Marty!
For those who couldn't be there with us, and since Meg and I are finally getting around to that honeymoon, check out the pic site from our wedding. It really was a remarkably good day.

http://megbenswedding.shutterfly.com
/

Cheers all, Ben.

More Pics

Figured out the Picasa thing. Here are some more pics of the shop. The walls clearly need to be painted compared to the floor. Any guesses as to where the bench was? Apparently the walls where blue once. Never knew that. Anyway, pardon the mess. Still a lot of organizing, (my favorite thing ;) shelves will fix a lot of that. I've got some plans for a real workbench as well. The old solid core bench door has seen better days, and I think some built in storage space will be a big plus as well. The plan is to have frequently used small parts within easy reach of the bench. Having both tool boxes in one location should make the shop flow a lot better before they used to be across the room. We are still trying to figure out just where the bar/customer computer terminal will be. It's funny, now that there is so much more room, I am finding myself reluctant to fill up the space with stuff. I'll do some brainstorming over next week, and see where that leads. So, enjoy the pics for now. It'll be even better in a few weeks. The first pic shows a few of the spots that we kind of really screwed up, oh well. It looks really nice compared to what was there before.


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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Shop mid-renovation.


Here's a shot of the shop mid-renovation. There are still walls to paint and a lot of storage to get finished up, but the floor and the wall being gone is pretty huge. The access to the pinball machine is a lot better now too!
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Monday, March 02, 2009

Sleeping well after long days.

There has been more stuff going on at the shop this winter than any other. Walls came down, floors are finished, counters are gone, the shop is getting laid out, doors and shelves are being built and hung, new products are coming in, and painting has started. I am totally amazed at what we've been able to do with a lot of help from friends, and a pencil drawing in a sketch book.

We finished the floor finally on Thursday. I can say in all honesty that we messed some things up, and I don't care at all! It's amazing. Rob is an absolute saint for redoing it with me. It fought us at every turn. Literally everything that we did seemed to just mess up some how. Even after taking careful notes, buying high quality products, and doing everything by the book, we managed to get foot prints one the floor even with booties, we got some pretty crazy swirl marks going on, and none of it matters. It's now the perfect 80 year old shop floor!

The color is amazing. It's a really rich reddish brown, and makes the shop look really warm and inviting. Gone is the yellowed basketball court look with wear patterns, it doesn't even look like the same place anymore. Only if you know where to look can you see small details that give away the old counter and wall positions. The stain brings out all of the little dropped tool marks, old oil stains, and scratches from shop use for years. It's very uniform throughout the floor, and looks just killer.

The floor also achieved another goal, making the walls, door, and trim look really bad. Years of greasy hands, tools, and dust and dirt have taken their toll on the walls in the back. Meg and I have picked out some really nice paint colors to really freshen the place up. I'm picking up the samples tomorrow, and hopefully getting some squares painted before next week. I also have picked out the full glass door to replace the aged and kind of yellow house door the currently is in place. This should let some much needed light to the narrow shop, as well as making the back a much more welcome entrance. This also literally leads to much bigger changes out back, but no hints at what those will be just yet.

That's all for now, I'll have some pics up as soon as I get the shop a bit more put together. Cheers.