Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Photo Credit: UGGBOY

I have a real problem, one that takes a normally peace loving bald man and turns me into a pissy vigilante with fantasies of violence and water boarding. Littering.

Yes I know that this isn't really a biking post and to tell the truth I'm not all that big of an environmentalist. What really set me off this morning was a young woman eating some candy while waiting for a bus. She was less than 7 feet from a trash can and yet all the papers from her candy ended up on the ground. So I have decided to call this woman Litter Bi7ch

The sheer laziness of some people just make me want to scream and yell, and piledrive this girl into a mound of broken bottles and still lit cigarette butts. I mean really, what kind of super important person are you that you need to set aside not just the law (littering is illegal) but the years of instruction you should have received  at the knee of your marginally responsible mother.

Really if you are reading this and you don't feel the need to use the nearest trashcan I want you to do two things.

1. go immediately to the doctor and have yourself sterilized, if you can't manage to learn this lesson then you can't be trusted. If you have children take them to the woods to be raised by a family of chipmunks - they will be better off.

2. Don't take the time to comment here and tell me your justification in being an Asshat, there is no justification in this and really, Your mother clearly should of followed #1 above. You would be better off with the chipmunks.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Photo Credit: Moff

This is something new to me. I'm not really that used to being dirty, at least not on the outside. I have a white collar engineering job that keeps me clean, cool, and inside (barring the very rare trips to the field) for the most part. So it came as a bit of a shock to me when I found myself not only getting covered in grease and dirt from working on my bike, but also looking for chances to do the same for others.

I have found in myself a great joy in working with my hands, in engineering I have designed many a machine that I never actually got to see built and working. Doing the design and making the drawings was always enough for me to be satisfied (at most I would build a 3D model). Now the idea of actually tearing apart a bike for my 'Evil Project' and building it back up as something else has evolved from something I dreamed of doing, gone past something I think I can do, and made it all the way to something I can't wait to get back to.

I made this realization on Saturday as I volunteered at Free-Ride. I spent the time helping people fix their bikes up. I also learned quite a bit about parts of bikes that I didn't know. Knowledge that will serve me well in the future when I have to make similar repairs. When I left Free-Ride I was hot, sweaty, greasy, tired, and well worn. I was also happy, fulfilled, at peace, and feeling like I had, in some small way, made the world just a little bit better.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bike Ninja

Photo Credit: Art Mob

Bike Hacks defines a Bike Ninja as "This is the guy who sneaks up on you at night because he has not one iota of reflective gear and his bike is void of lights and reflectors. These people frequently appear out of nowhere and scare the bejesus out of me."

Since it was bright and sunny, since I am huge fat guy, since I ride a day-glo orange bike, I was more than surprised to find out that I am apparently a Bike Ninja. I am invisible to a whole group of people mostly people in cars talking on cell phones. The not so nice part of me what to ride around with a cell-phone jammer, while the nicer part of me wants to get a helmet cam just so I have proof when I'm found on the side of the road. 

There was one person who saw me. A guy in a Red SUV who decided to rush out of Mcdonalds in order to cut me off. We made Eye Contact so I know that Pricky McPrickster saw me and still rushed out to cut me off. We exchanged words, none of them nice. We waved at each other, well with one of our fingers. I was starting to reach for my u-lock when he sped away. (I was ready for him to jump out the car and rush me - But then a ninja is always ready for action)

It is times like that I want to pick up my bike and toss it at them. In the end I decide not to, after all I really like my bike.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Photo Credit: Google Search

Style, I have to admit I don't have it. I don't worry about it, you see, I never had it so it is something I don't miss. Lets face some facts, one of the main reasons I don't wear Bike Shorts and Bike Shirts is that I am a Fat guy on a Big Orange Bike. I have looked and I simply cannot find a Bike Shirt that will fit me and while I know that I would be much more comfortable in Bike Shorts I also know that it will be some time before I can fit in to largest pair of Bike Shorts I could find.

So until then I do the best I can, I wear black shorts and the loudest shirts I can find. This however isn't what I really wanted to talk about, I just wanted to be sure that all of you who read understand where I am coming from before I go on to talk about those "others"


I read a forum post recently where someone wrote about how inconsiderate "Those Cyclist" are. He then went on to describe 'Those Cyclist' (I will call them TC from now on) as those guys in spandex on road bikes.  After this he talked about how nice those guys on Mountain Bikes, Junkers and Cruisers are.

As one who rides A Mountian Bike I really should agree with him.  Alas I cannot. You see I have seen many A biker clad in Lycra and riding the carbon fiber dream machine streak past me as I gasp and wheeze. Still I am greeted with a smile a nod and even a hearty and hale 'G-Monrin' . This gives me a good feeling deep down in the cockles of my heart (maybe even the sub-cockle area) This warm and fuzzy feeling is tempered by the also many times I have been snubbed, ignored, or accosted by these same people (TC).

What I am trying to say in my oh so long winded way is that in every group of people there are good ones and there are bad ones, and the truth is that you can really tell the difference from what they are wearing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Free Ride

Photo Credit: Richermcm

On Tuesday night I left work and with a Google map clutched tightly in my hand I headed out to Free-Ride for Volunteer Night. I had no idea what I would be doing, I had no real idea who or how many people would be there, and I really wasn't worried. I just wanted to find out more about what Free-Ride really is.

What Free-Ride really is, is bikes, lots and lots of bikes. The amount of bikes that are in this confined space is truly staggering. I have to admit I was starting to feel twitchy from being surrounded by so many bikes. About twenty people showed up to help out.  Some were fixing bikes some (myself included) were sorting through wheels (hundreds of wheels) sizing them and sorting out the bent ones (an interesting job for someone who has just enough OCD to drive those around them totally insane).  I even saw several people cutting up old shirts to use as rags.

So with music playing, and surrounded by a group of interesting people I was happy to find myself having the time of my life. At one point, while I was working, I looked up at the roof and was surprised to see even more bike frames hanging from the rafters. I learned several things from my time at Free-Ride.

1. Some people have no idea how to take a tire and tube off of a wheel.
2. These people invariably end up sorting through the wheels and stripping the tires and tube off.
3. I so need a repair stand. (those things rocks)
4. My OCD goes totally nuts in a place like this.
5. Being "Fat Guy", I totally stand out in this crowd (Im pretty sure I weighed more than 3 of any other people there)

I am really looking forward to the next time I can go down there and help out. (At least I didn't hurt myself)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Evil Project Part 2

Photo Credit: DbackLover

The Stripping continues and it is a serious pain in the A**. Today marks the second day of me trying to strip the paint from the bike frame. By the looks of things I have another couple days of sitting down and stripping the paint until my drill gets to hot and begins to slow down.

As the build goes on, I have been learning more and more about not just the bike but also the local biking community.  I wish I could say that everything I learned about the local biking community was positive but I think we all know better than that (nothing is all positive or all negative) I have run into this on the various forums (and not just biking but all the forums that I have been on) When I asked questions about parts on the bike I would usually get several really good and informative answers mixed in with comments like (the whole thing is junk and not worth your time / You cant have a good bike unless you spend a lot of money)

Editors Note: Left of sanity makes a very valid point in his comment below, after reading this post I realized that I was putting forth a negative overall opinion of the Local Biking Community and that is not what I meant to do. Overall the biking community is a fantastic group of people. In general I really enjoy the time I spend on the forums. I have yet to have a bad experience on the forum, (lets face it I posted about looking for a beater bike I could strip down and the next day I had someone on the forum offer me one for free) So while I am focused on this one aspect of all forums, please understand that there are many more positive aspects than the one negative I have chosen to bring to the forefront.

Editors Note (7-16-10) The Paragraph that was here has been deleted on examination and comments of those involved I realized that what I said was said in the heat of passion and was far harsher than was intended. on re-reading it I find that it really does not properly express the point I was trying to make and came close to being down right mean to people who didn't deserve it.

I know what you're thinking, You are thinking that this doesn't have much to do with TEP The Evil Project but it does. I have long had the belief that you don't need hundreds of dollars to have a decent bike to ride around the city and on the trails. So what I am going to do is keep a running total of the price of the bike. The next bike I build TEP2 will be a road bike

In Related news, I am going to try and get down to Free-Ride for volunteer night, I am hoping that I can pick up some long forgotten Jedi Bike knowledge. For those who don't know Free-Ride is "not a traditional repair shop, where you drop off a bike and someone fixes it, but a bicycle educational facility. There is that old saying “if you give a person a fish they will eat for a day but if you teach them how to fish they will eat for a lifetime.” That is our basic philosophy at Free Ride!" (at least that is what their website says.) So I will be heading down there on saturday as well to put in some volunteer hours to help out and pick up some tips on the bike I am building.

Running total on the bike so far:
Price of original Bike - 0$ (was giving to me)
Hours so far - 4

I am looking forward to finding out more about this and the people who run it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bike Trail

Photo Credit: Dbacklover

Last weekend I went riding on the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) Trail and to make things even better my sister (who hasn't been on a bike in 40 years) My son and daughter, as well as my nephew and his son all went along. The day was a pretty perfect day for a bike ride, sunny without being too hot, and the trail is mostly shaded (as you can see from the photo).

We rode 12 miles total, rested when we felt like it and spent a good amount of time sitting at one of the rest areas half in the shade and half in the sun. One of the things I noticed while on the ride was the amount of talking that went on while we were riding. As I bounced from the front of the group to the back of the group i could hear the conversations all around me. My son talking with my nephew, my daughter talking with my sister, and on and on.

By the time we got back to where we rented the bikes we were ready for the ride to be over but as we returned the bikes there were smiles all around. My sister told me flat out that she would be happy to do this again.

I for one was just happy to out riding and surrounded by family.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Car Free Fridays

Photo Credit: Google Image Search

Friday was CarFree Friday and so I took it upon myself to ride into town for the first time since I moved from East Pittsburgh to Penn Hills. I can express this ride in a single word, and that word is - HillGodInHeavenWhatWasIThinkingTheHillsIThinkImGoingToDie-InFactGodIfYouAreTherePleaseKillMe

Yeah it may be a big Hyphenated word but it works for me. Still I made it, sure the 12 mile trip took me 2 hours and I'm pretty sure that my friend Dave could of Jogged it quicker, But I still make it. So I will have to remind myself to be proud of this, when my vision clears and I stop wheezing that it.

Still the ride in was both invigorating and educational. You see the trip from the suburbs to downtown pittsbugh go through some of the less desirable parts of the city, Parts of the city filled with abandoned buildings and collapsing houses. I was unsurprised to recognize street names from the recent reports of cyclists being attacked. I have to be honest that I was more than a little concerned. It was then that a strange thing begin to happen while I was riding through these neighborhoods.

I started to notice

Things like the mean looking man on cell phone who nodded and smiled as I passed.

Things like the three story moral of Giant flowers on the side of one of the buildings.

Things like the garden I saw, the large impressive well tended in a way that makes me jealous, garden.

I would like to think that what I noticed was Common Courtesy and Hope.

Amidst the reports of clueless or vindictive drivers. among the reports of attacks, threats and near collisions, among the anger, justified, exaggerated and imagined, I rode to town.

No one Hit me or even tried
No one attacked me
and I got 5$ off breakfast (Go Carfree Fridays Go)

I hope your Friday went just as well.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


From the Ataxian

Some days I need to get some perspective, other days I have way to much. Earlier in the week you can read me moan about the how I didn't ride my bike into town (a distance of 12 miles) because I woke up late and it looked like rain. 

Some of you are thinking "What kind of freak would ride their bike in the rain?" if you are thinking that, well I can understand it.

The rest of you are thinking "Mmmmmmmm Rain" if your thinking that, well, frankly, I'm jealous.

Now if you watch the video Above about Kyle Bryant and the RAAM (Race Across America 3000 miles in 10 days) you will begin to understand what I mean about perspective. It becomes difficult for me to balk at a 12 mile bike ride that I know I can do easily when confronted by that video. All my life I have suffered from an acute lack of perspective. I would get so wrapped up in my own problems, or more truthfully, so wrapped up in ignoring my own problems, that I would end up helplessly entangled in one problem or another.

Perspective is tough, Perspective is dangerous. I am learning that perspective requires honesty and honesty is hard. It is honesty that requires me to admit that I am a Fat Guy on an Orange Bike because I spent year after year eating my own weight in lard. I have to stop blaming everything else and just suck it up and keep my cakehole shut.

Honesty is rough but I'm working on it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why I Ride - Reason #1

Photo Credit: Mei Teng

Many different people ride for many different reasons. I could say that there are as many reasons to ride a bicycle as there are people out there riding, but I would be wrong.

There are more reasons than that.

Still that isn't what I am writing about today. I am here today to write about why I ride, about what gets my fat butt off the chair and into the saddle. Even as I sit here writing this I have to confess, I would rather be out riding. This self-imposed ban on riding I am currently going through (while my shoulder heals) has left me too much time to think. This is the first reason I ride.

1. It stops the voices in my head.

Well actually it doesn't stop them, I haven't found anything that stops the voices. Riding seems to focus the voices and allow them to sound more like deep thoughts and less like an ADD 6 year old on a pixie stix sugar rush. There is just something about riding that forces me to leave alot of the baggage I carry around behind. When you get right down to it it seems that there just isn't room enough on the bike for me and the worries and distractions of the day. Sure all the worries and distractions will be waiting for me when I get back but that just seems more of a reason to stay out there than anything else.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Self-Imposed Hiatus

Photo Credit: Majima82

I find myself in a very strange position. No not like that time I got drunk and woke up in a different state. I find myself starting a Cycling Blog and then having to take a break from riding. If you look at the picture above you will see a good representation of how I feel right about now. Awhile I got I got myself into a distressing accident (Read I got run off the Road) and I had thought that the physical problems were minor - Some Road Rash, a few bumps and bruises, and a sore shoulder.

The Road Rash has faded, The bumps and bruises are mostly gone, but the shoulder, the shoulder is still pretty tender and while it works (I can move it just fine thanks as long as I ignore the pain) the shoulder is still tender. So I have decided to give the shoulder a break from the day to day stresses that I put it through and give it a week off to see if I can get some relief. This break from riding has left me with a bit of free time on my hands (I mean how many times can you read the same cycling mag or check to see if anything new is up on bike-pgh forums before you realize you need to do something else.

So to fill up this time I have new project that should be starting today. After work I picked up a beater bike frame that I plan to strip and rebuild. Hopefully this will give me something to focus on instead of staring at the road and wishing I was out there riding.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Evil Project Part 1

Photo Credit: DBackLover

Well I have to wait no longer. I posted on Bike Pittsburgh Forums that I wanted a  beater bike that I could tear apart and not worry about breaking anything expensive. Tim (Thank you Tim) offered me a Magna Mountain Bike for Free, All I had to do was go pick it up. Well today I went and picked up the bike. (you can see the photo of the Bike as I got it.

I worked on it for an hour (until it got to dark to see) and managed to strip off most of the items. i.e. everything but the chain and the sprocket. I learned quite a bit while doing this. After the photo below you can see the interesting things I learned about stripping a Bicycle.

Things I learned:
1. You can strip a bicycle of parts really fast if your not to concerned about keeping the parts.
2. Before you start something like this read up on the process. I spent several hours over the past few days reading the The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair: For Road and Mountain Bikes(Expanded and Revised 5th Edition) And I have to say this really helped.
3. Make sure you have your tools, All your tools. I grabbed my big orange bucket of tools (what can I say I like orange) from my sister's where I had been working on my nephew's Bike. I can see now that my nephew has been playing with my hex keys and Chain tool since neither of them were in my Bucket. (so you can see why the front and rear derailleurs are still attached to the bike) 

Next things to tackle
1. Get my Tools from my nephew!!
2. remove the chain, derailleurs, sprocket and Bottom bracket.
3. Clean up the Frame.
4. Strip the paint off the Frame. 

Ghost Bike - Remembrance

Photo by M.V.Jantzen

What you see above is called a Ghost bike and if your interested in what a Ghost Bike is you can find out more at in essence a Ghost Bike is a memorial for a cyclist that has been struck and killed by a motorist.

From the Ghost Bike Website:
"Ghost Bikes are small and somber memorials for bicyclists who are killed or hit on the street. A bicycle is painted all white and locked to a street sign near the crash site, accompanied by a small plaque. They serve as reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and as quiet statements in support of cyclists' right to safe travel."

I have been riding off and on for the past few years and during that time I have to admit that I have had little contact with the biking community. I have always been in my own little world, thinking my own little thoughts and never really looking outside of myself.

Things have a way of changing, more clearly, Life has a way of changing these things.

Well ok, getting run off the road has a way of changing things. Combine that with the fact that less than two weeks after my accident a man (Don Parker - 52) was struck and killed nearby.  it had an effect on me (his Ghost Bike was placed on Memorial Day (Editor Note: it was the day before memorial Day and I was still to banged up to join in the ride of silence) . As the road rash on my leg is fading and the pain in my shoulder is slowly getting better I find myself more aware of the cyclists around me. I also find myself gripped with the desire to connect with these people, my people. So I look forward to the future not with fear of getting run off the road again (I'm sure it will happen) but with the excitement of meeting as many of the other cyclists that are out there as I can.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All Rain - No Love

 Well today was going to be the day that I started my commute from my home in Penn Hills to Downtown Pittsburgh. It seems as if the enemies of cyclists everywhere have conspired against me on this part. I did everything I could think of to get ready.

I set my Alarm clock early so I would have time for the commute
I packed my backpack with work clothes
I set out my biking clothes (helmet and gloves)
I made sure I had patch Kit and emergency Pump
I had two bottle of water in the fridge

I was ready

Perhaps if you are a bit more commuter savvy than I you may have noticed what I didn't do in the list above.

While I set the Alarm I never actually turned the alarm on.
Nowhere in the list was there any mention of me checking the weather

So when I woke up late (not to late just around my normal time) to find gray clouds and rain I had to admit defeat, un pack my backpack and head out to catch the bus.

Oh well there is always tomorrow

Monday, June 14, 2010

Waiting ... ARGH!

Yesterday I got lucky, really lucky. You see I have been wanting to pick up a old beater bike that I could tear apart, strip, and build back up. I wanted to get a bike that I could learn from and not worry about braking it. So I posted a WTB on the Bike Pittsburgh Forum and the very next day I get a message saying

"I have a bike for you and if you come and get it you can have it"

So now I am just waiting to hear back with directions to go and pick up the bike. So like the addict I am I have the shakes as I stare at my phone and wait for it ring. (Come on -- RING dang you!!)

In Fact one of the reasons I started this blog was to have someplace to document the process of stripping and rebuilding the bike as well as my soon to be daily commute from my home to town. I am hoping to start commuting several times a week.

Update --
As soon as I lost the ride, I got the call, Now it wont be until thursday -- somebody please just kill me