Slowing Down.

IMG_4042I’ve never ridden a bike with a bike computer. I don’t use STRAVA, or keep any other metrics about power output, distance traveled, average speed, or elevation gain.

The only metric I keep track of at all it’s how long I’ve been out on the bike. Mostly, that’s because I have obligations as a dad to my family, and I need to make sure that I’m where I’m supposed to be at any given time. Because I don’t chase numbers, it leaves me free to slow down sometimes. I’m not chasing an average speed; I’m not chasing mileage. I’m not chasing anything.

Because I can slow down, I found that I often stumble across things that I’ve ridden past dozens of times and never seen before. A new trail, a new road, a new path to venture down. If I was more numbers obsessed, I’d go screaming pass these trying to push my average speed up or cover more miles. But the benefits of slowing down can’t be overestimated.

So, here’s to slowing down- to finding a bench to sit on, a path to get lost on, and a view to admire.

SitRep

Here’s where things stand:

  • I’m in a small holding pattern on the custom rack cabinet build for the studio- it’s really just a matter of finding the time/weather combo to make it happen. It’s likely a one or two day build, but those two circles in the Venn diagram just haven’t aligned, yet. Some of the power management I was waiting for is there, though, so that’s one less holdup on the buildout (when the cabinet is done).
  • I found an excellent solution to storing large format art that’s not framed. I’d nearly resigned myself to needing to hunt down a map file (and find a place to put that), but I’d been stalling (as they’re expensive and bulky). Through sheer dumb luck I’ve stumbled across a method that involves hanging the work off stringers- and it’s totally something I can build.
  • I’ve been working on a streaming setup- I don’t really know why, but it seemed like a good idea? Anyway, I’ve found that my Mac Mini I’ve hot rodded still doesn’t quite have the horsepower to deal with three HD cameras at the same time, so… it’s also patched into the xserve (which I mostly leave off, these days, as it’s loud and power hungry… but when you need horsepower, it’s got it (still!)).
  • I haven’t been filming a lot recently- there have been too many other projects on the front burner, and something(s) had to give. I’m trying to get back to that, now- as well as putting some time on on my still photography. I’ve been away from it for a little while, and video and still have always been good at pushing some creativity back into my routine, which has obvious benefits elsewhere. The gallery of one of my bikes in the previous post would be the very start of this project.

 

Bridgestone MB-3

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I got this bike in high school, around 1994 or so. Actually, it wasn’t this bike- it was a teal MB-4. It was a gift, and a way to get me to stop borrowing and breaking my mother’s MB-5. I broke a chainstay on the original bike a year or three later, and this was my warranty replacement frame and fork. That was a bit of luck, too, because by that time Bridgestone had pulled out of the US, and I had to track down the former rep and see if he had a frame around that he could give me. He did, and I’ve ridden this bike ever since.

Originally, of course, it was built up as a regular mountain bike. The sub-genres of bikes we have now weren’t yet a thing, so that meant it was setup for twisty technical New England singletrack. Think: narrow flat bars, toe clips, 2″ tires inflated to 35 psi, and a rigid fork. Classic. The build evolved over time (and as I broke things), but it was pretty much always setup for trail riding.

Then, I went away to college and needed to bring a bike. I took this, and before I went I put 1.5″ slick tires on it, got rid of the granny chainring, and added toeclips. It became my first commuter bike. Around 1999, I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper Pro, and that became my “good” mountain bike. The Bridgestone morphed into a single speed (32 x 16… remember when that was the thing?), and stayed that way for years. I raced cyclocross on it a few times like that with the addition of Conti Cross Country tires in 1.5″. As I got older and had my own children, the bike turned into a seven speed burrito slayer- single chainring, front rack & basket, flat pedals. Built for pedaling on bike paths with kids.

I’d been toying with the idea of putting 700c wheels on it- apparently they’ll fit (sorta?) and you can run adaptors to get the brakes to work… but I didn’t have any spare 700c wheels lying around, so I thought I’d test it out for gravel with the existing wheels. I swapped the bars and stem, got some vintage Dura Ace STI levers, re-geared it (and added a front derailleur for the first time since 1998!), and refinished a saddle to match.

It’s my “gravel” bike, now- and it’s totally in it’s element. The handling and frame still feel excellent, and the drivetrain works beautifully for the terrain I ride here. Eventually, it might be fun to see how 650b wheels look in there (the brakes don’t require an adaptor for those- I’m unsure of the tire clearance, though), but it’s pretty sweet as-is. I suppose a slightly narrower/lighter tire would be cool too, but that’s really just splitting hairs.

So there you go- a 24 year old bike that’s still finding new ways to be useful and wonderful. Long live the Bridgestone.

SitRep

What’s happening.

  • The studio desks and shelves are basically done. I have one or two small half-depth shelves to get done/up for material storage, but the major surfaces are all there (including a wiring trough I’m super happy I built). A further update on that on the project page.
  • I’m ready to build the rack for all my gear. The only real hangups are getting the actual material (it’s another two sheets of 3/4″ Birch Plywood and a bunch of Maple 1″ x 2″), and the internal wiring for it all. I’ve decided to sub-divide the internal power management so I can enable various sub-groups of gear (and cut down on vampiric power losses). I’ll need a couple of rack mount power strips for that. And I need a big set of casters, too.
  • In the many years I’ve had a YouTube channel, here’s what’s happened with it: I made, about 5 years ago, a short series of videos meant to front-load some of the background information I needed students to know about William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. In the time since, I’ve posted many videos- some about making, some about bikes and bike riding, some about my kids. None of those has even come close to the viewership those old videos still see. Right now, five years later, those videos still represent the bulk of the viewing minutes/month my channel sees (which is, I hasten to add, not a large number). Maybe I should (finally) take the hint about the sort of content I should make (if, indeed I want to continue making content- which is another consideration entirely).
  • It’s increasingly looking like I might be headed back to school- first, for a graduate certificate, and then (if I’m still into it…) tacking on a master’s program to that. I haven’t done graduate work in a long time, but I’m feeling like it’s something I need/want to get back to. A way to relight some of the fire about education and it’s place in the world.