Monday, September 09, 2013

This blog is on hiatus but it's not dead!

I know some of you  have been screaming for more how-to articles but I can't write what I'm not experiencing. When I started this blog I already had 15 years of messing around with tools and bikes under my belt and it was easy to throw all of it in the blog. Now, things are different.

I haven't been cycling that much lately and whenever I do, it's nothing to write home or on the blog about. My new passion is photography and when i get into something, I go all in. I've yet to master this new skill and it's taking all of what time I have available. I tried to mix cycling and photography with the folder build but as you all know so well, it went nowhere. Not to say that I won't get back to it at some point but don't hold your breathe.

Until I get bitten by the bike bug again, I will still answer your emails, respond to your comments and keep the spammers out. The free Ebook and articles are still there for you to consult. I even catch myself fixing them up sometimes, so enjoy and use them.

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cycling and Law Enforcement

Recently here in Montreal Police Officers have been handing out tickets to cyclist for various infractions. Some are saying that they are being more aggressive on enforcement than before.

Man gets a ticket for riding in a pedestrian zone.
Tickets issued vary from crossing on a pedestrian light, riding on the sidewalk and having no or missing reflectors on the bike. Reports coming in from some riders indicate that some Officers are not being discerning in their Law enforcement and going heavy on the pen. One noted anecdote states 3 tickets were issued for 3 missing reflectors on the same bike instead of just one ticket for the general infraction. It is also good to know that Montreal PD does not issue any kind of warnings. If the pen comes out, it will cost you.

What to do then? One thing for sure is to pay attention to your surroundings, making sure you don't commit an infraction right in front of a cop. Check your bike for missing reflectors and replace them according to your local law. Here in Quebec reflectors are required as follows: One white in the front, one red in the back, yellow on the pedals front and back, yellow in the front spokes and red in the rear spokes. Quebec's highway code does not specify a definition for a reflector or a standard size, so if you cannot fit a standard reflector somewhere on your bike, you can use reflective tape of the required color.

One element that has been prompted by all that recent MPD activity towards cyclists here in Montreal is a Facebook Group that lets riders know where the fuzz is at during the day. Same kind of thing already done by our car driving counterparts. Don't have one in your area? Start one, it's not illegal (Here anyways).

Lastly, if you do get pulled over for something by a Police officer, identify yourself and shut up. Keep your arguments for court, anything you say will be used against you in the report. Send in your "not guilty" plea with the section for explanation blank if you choose to challenge the case. Would you show your hand at a poker game?

Keep safe and ride free.

Gerry :)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Big Bike Ride, epilogue

For those curious on how the big ride went, here's a little post to satisfy your curiosity.

Mechanically the bike did good except for developing a tendency to throw its chain at the end and no it didn't rain. That fender did pay off!  :)

My body aches all over today, especially my butt. The price to pay for not having done any serious riding in the past year.

Hopefully I'll be more on the bike this year.

The Tour rides always finish with a big party. This was the scene at the Olympic Stadium.

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Preparing for a big ride

I'm scheduled to do the "Tour la Nuit" here in Montreal this evening. My bike and I haven't participated in anything serious, ride-wise  in over a year. This being a night ride with thousands of other cyclists, it is quite important to have proper lighting installed and for it to be fully functional.

Getting the tools out.

My lighting gear was starting to show its age, so I decided to fork the bucks for some new front and back lights. A trip to MEC provided the required equipment for less than $20 and the ride to and from the store gave me a chance to gauge myself and my bike. Not bad but the bike needed some tweaking.

Small but very effective white LED light. This sub $10 will give you proper lighting for an entire season on one battery. 

Very bright $8 rear LED light. I always set mine to blink in order to be more visible.
Installed the lights, checked and adjusted the brakes, checked tire pressure and prepared a tool kit. Tool kits should contain whatever you feel is necessary to keep Murphy at bay. The number of tools and the distance you are willing to walk home are relative to themselves.

My personal selection for the evening.
Talking about Murphy's Law, we might have a chance of rain tonight so I decided to install a rear fender. It probably won't rain now but I can guaranty you that it would have should I have decided to lazily avoid putting one on. 30 minutes well spent.

Always do a test ride prior to the big one.
If you're in Montreal, hope to see you there. If not, until next time ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Ultimate anti-theft bike set up!

These 2 shots were taken near the Montreal Mont-Royal Metro station which is notorious for bike theft. Montreal has a serious bike theft problem and not much is being done by the authorities.

Now this is a BIG lock!
At first I suspected it was a sculpture from a local artist and it turns out I was half right. The whole thing was put together in order to promote the City's Bixi bike program. The successful program has already been exported to other cities like New-York with it's unique design. Most of the parts being unique to this bike and not really worth stealing.

You just need to remember which key goes where...
However, I'm certain some bike thief out there would be crazy enough to take the challenge just for bragging rights!

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

CCM folder bike conversion to multi-speed

Sorry for skipping a week. The weather was bad (I'm outdoors you know.) and life was pretty busy. Didn't want to make a half ass post.
Beer can light Aluminium cranks or boat anchor heavy steel one piece crank? I think the choice is pretty obvious!

Step one in the build is to convert this once single speed bike to a multi-speed set-up. The first thing I wanted to do was to change the one piece crank to a 3 piece crank using a conversion kit. I got the kit from Pork Chop BMX some time ago for another project that never saw the light of day. The idea is to have a better selection of cranks and to shave off some weight.

Conversion axle and bearings with the dirty original CCM bearing cups.
The kit is pretty straight forward with an axle, bearings, cones and bearing cups. Simply install and put on your favourite crank arms. In my case I did hit a small snag where the bearing cups are a specific size to the CCM. I had to forgo the ones that came with the kit that are sized for conventional American BMXs.

Clean up must also involve the bottom bracket shell, loose dirt will get in the bearings. Here it also reveals the original mid 70's purple color of the bike.
The new bearings did fit in the older cups with no problem. Of course a clean up was in order and they were still in decent shape. I would suggest inspecting them has there is usually one side that is more used up than the other. depending on the rider being left handed or right handed, one side will see more usage than the other. Always put the better cup on the side that suits you, that way they will last a bit longer. In my case as a right handed guy, the better one went on the right side.
Cup and bearings packed with fresh grease. Don't forget to add a dab on the bearing cones as well on the axle. More is always better than not enough.
Completed conversion.
After the bottom bracket was installed, I put on the crank arms and lucky for me, they cleared, barely. I've faced such a situation before and let's just say that the solution wasn't pretty for the frame!

Check for clearance between the crank arm and frame. Also, check your picture for proper focus before publishing!  Aaaaaaargh :X   Notice also that tire clearance is not an issue.
Next I had to install the rear wheel and check for clearance in regards to the tire and frame. That's where I hit another little snag. The axle was a lot wider than what the frame would allow. I remedied the situation by spreading the frame a bit using a car jack.

Small discrepancy here!
Take note that you should never do what I did. Bending a frame is a last resort because you will ruin it or make it dangerously weak. I'm rolling the dice here doing this and only sharing it with you for information purposes. Yes, I'm an idiot, haters don't need to post it in the comments.

Do not ever do this, ever!

Final result.
I finished up by installing the derailleur and the chain. Everything works fine and nothing is rubbing the wrong way. I'm not planning for a front derailleur since the frame design won't allow it. No biggie, I have hands.  :)

This is how it sits for now.
In case you have any questions about the different steps taken in this post, here's a list of links to post I've done in the past that relates to the work done here today:

One piece crank
3 piece crank
Installing a chain

And of course the links to all the how-to articles here.

Until next week, ride safe and free.

Gerry  :)

Sunday, May 05, 2013

CCM Folder Cargo Bike Project

As promised earlier, here is this year's bike build project. Hopefully it won't fight me like last year's build that actually got a win over me. That bike will be revisited maybe in the coming years.

U-245 Hammerfish Bike, the starting point.

For now, a need has risen for a small cargo bike that can carry my 4X5 camera and tripod. That gear weighs over 20 pounds all together and I don't want to kill myself carrying it around the City. The folder bike is small so it can be stowed in the car on trips and the low centre of gravity means my camera stuff won't be falling from too high if I crash. Always plan for the worst!

One piece crank to 3 piece crank conversion kit.
The original bike was a coaster brake one speed CCM folder bike from 1976. Hills here in Montreal are not made for that set-up, so I'll be going for a multi speed hub with derailleur. I'll probably be replacing the one piece crank with a  3 piece bottom bracket using a conversion kit I bought some time ago. This and the aluminum rims I'll be using will help save some weight. The gear I will carry and the custom carriers I'll have to fabricate will be on the heavy side.

Aluminum rims and high pressure Maxxis Hookworms will be taking care of rolling duties.
The bike is entered in the annual bike build off contest at ratrodbikes.com and I intend to go with a U-Boat theme. However, since I'm modifying a lot of things, I need to proof concept the bike before I paint and start customizing. That means building it to ridable condition to make sure everything works right before I do all the fancy stuff.

1958 Brooks B66 saddle, still good and very comfortable.
First off, I have to dig thru my parts pile to find all the bits that were scaterred here and there when I took this bike apart some years ago. Keep posted.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles.

Until next week, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

First ride of Spring. So what does MY bike look like?

I've been spewing out advice for many years now about proper bike maintenance and every Spring I remind you folks about going over your ride before heading out into the joyous bliss of the first bike ride of the season. I figured it would be fun to show you what mine looked like this morning after a Winter spent in the shed.

I've written before about proper storage for your bike to survive the lay over period during the Winter. Do I follow my own advice? Well, not this year. I was basically busy and lazy and tossed everything in the shed real fast before the first big storm hit last Fall. So I was kind of worried on what I would have to deal with when I took her out of the shed this morning to go enjoy a nice warm and dry sunny day.

Overall it wasn't that bad. First order of business was to check tire pressure and as you can see it wasn't a bad idea. A 40 psi difference between what it was and what it should be is huge. My tires are rated for 65 psi but I keep them at 60 for a bit more comfort. 20 psi would have been murder on my inactive Winter legs. I was happy to find that despite the fact that the bike was not hung up on the ceiling,  I had no flat spots on my tires.

That's not good!
Next was cables and brakes. I found a dry front brake cable which is showing some rust. It will have to be replaced since it is the main brake on this bike. The rear one is more of a "slow me down" type of job.

Dry and rusted, it will have to be replaced
Chain and gears were fine since they were properly lubed late last season. However I did make one mistake. I forgot to upshift before storage in order to take tension off the cable and the derailleur spring. The old derailleur didn't like that too much and the now fatigued spring prevents the derailleur to bring the chain down to the last gear. It will fix itself over time or I'll get off my lazy butt and replace it.

Will be trying some wishful thinking before actual replacement.
The first ride was sweet and I was surprised to feel my legs in decent shape despite the fact that I almost didn't ride last year. I'm happy I went out there and enjoyed myself today. Now to go and find that upcoming folder project in the mess that is my shed!

Somewhere in there hides a great folder bike project.

Don't forget to check out the how-to articles.

Until next week, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 riding season starts, be careful out there!

Well folks another riding season starts for those of us living in the snow belt. For those of you living in warm weather all year, you can keep on reading, laugh or thank your lucky stars you can ride all year.

As most of you know starting the riding season, this means taking at least a glance at your faithful ride before taking it out the first time. Pumping the tires up to proper pressure should be your first task on the list. Your out of shape legs will remind you pretty quick that low pressure tires slow you down for the effort you are putting in. Brakes, cables and lubricating the chain is next while also making sure that everything is there and working properly.

Remember that most drivers are not used to seeing too many of us for the last couple of months and they are driving a lot faster since conditions are good. Collisions happen mostly during dry and clement weather. Drivers are usually careful and very attentive in blinding blizzards. Nothing says "carefree" like dry pavement and a blue sky, which usually results with you becoming invisible to them on your bike.

My last but very important piece of advice is the roads and pathways you'll be riding on. Loose gravel and other possible problems caused by infrastructures not yet maintained could cause you harm. Your front wheel being swallowed up by a huge pothole could ruin not only your day, but your entire season. So keep your eyes open and be careful out there.

Until next time, ride safe and free.

Gerry :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Can you help my friend?

Lyndsay, who writes a wonderful bike blog called "You ain't got Jack", has packed up her stuff sold everything she couldn't carry in her suitcase and moved back to the UK recently. Being a UK subject, married for 7 years to the same guy and having a kid, you'd think it wouldn't be an issue to live and work there. Think again! British bureaucracy has smashed her to pieces. Here's her article on the matter, read on and see if you couldn't help her out. Many thanks to all of you in advance.

Gerry :)

"Unrequited Love In The U.K.
Posted: 10 Feb 2013 04:59 PM PST
Last Thursday was an utterly miserable day, we finally met with our immigration lawyer. I'd been trying to get assistance from two lawyers that work with low income households since November, but neither had worked out until now- so off we go to Bristol, looking forward to getting some idea of what we need to do to get Kyle in a position where he can work, as he is our main bread winner and our savings are dwindled and gone. We'd heard that we would probably have an easy case as we've been married for 7 years, together for 10 and oh yes, we have a son together, so we hardly fit the profile of a convenience marriage!

One of the first things we were enlightened to was that the government expects us to live elsewhere unless I can fulfil a high wage job to support us both, that just because I'm British it doesn't mean I can live here with my family and that if we CAN live in America then we should return there, as "you don't get to choose where you live". I wish I could say it was a complete shock, but after dealing with the wrong side of immigration for the majority of my life, its really not. I guess I just expected more common sense from the government...OK you can laugh now, that was my first mistake. My second was thinking that our case would be considered on a compassionate grounds, as we don't want to abuse any systems or government funds, we simply want to work and live in a country where 2 of us have citizenship, and the other is a spouse and father to two British Citizens.

Our lawyer, who was very nice, went on to tell us there was hope and we could accomplish our goal, but it would take lots of money, lots of time, lots of British Bureaucracy and most likely a few years or more of not living as a family, but rather being separated by 1000's of miles and 1000's of pounds/dollars.

This isn't the kind of thing where you say "oh, my bad, we'll just forget that idea". I mean I'm not being funny when I say I might be physically allergic to America, I break out in hives just thinking about moving back there. I realize that may be slightly offensive to some people, but my American experience is likely not the same as yours. Mine involved being dragged there at 13 years old and having my mother join a cult pretty much the week we landed, we left behind a lovely house in Shrewsbury, England, and  I was 17 before I ever lived in an American house- the 5 years between we were homeless, roaming 22 states in all, with crazy religious people.

Now back to last Thursday, where was I?

Oh yeah, the lawyer pretty much dashed our hopes and dreams and then told us what would become our ray of hope. She told us that as I'm European, I can go live and work in any other European country with my family, and that as long as I work, so can Kyle. Brilliant! What a concept, that people should be able to bring their family, work, live, pay taxes and contribute to a society they believe in! Of course this news was great, BUT I really wish we'd have heard it before we spent all our savings moving to England, talk about a royal F*** Up.

So now we have to move to Europe (in the next 8 weeks, before Kyle's visa runs out) and as neither of us speak much in the way of a foreign language, our thoughts are either Ireland (English speaking) or the Netherlands (Lots of English Speaking). Apparently after we've lived in another European country for 12 months we can move back to England and Kyle can work the next day...it's some kind of ridiculous loophole. But to be honest as much as I love England, it can shove off with it's unrequited love, we'd much rather live in the Netherlands or Ireland...or France...or Spain...or wherever opportunity and a hope of stability take us. We're willing to work hard for what we want in life, we always have done, but it's going to take a bloody miracle this time.

I spent 2 days being heartbroken and today being pissed off.  Tomorrow I start trying to make magic happen. We have one more asset to sell, it's a green Boda Boda. Then we have to find some work and a temporary place to live in any European country, then we have to get there and in the mean time we have to survive. I just passed 40,000 views on this blog and a lot of them happen in Europe, so if you know of anyone looking for one or two people to do some work for them let us know! If you can think of someone who might have a temporary roof they can place over our heads let us know! We're pretty talented if I do say so myself, here's a list of what we've done with some success in the past:

Office Manager
Personal Banker / Loan Officer
Hotel Operations
Sandwich Shop Manager
Radio Personality 
Bistro Manager
Graphic Designer
Sales Person
Core Driller
Pizza Delivery Person
Cook and Cleaner
Dressage Horse Trainer & Stable Worker
Guitar player and singer
Cocktail Waitress
Medical Herb Distributor
Cult Member
Blog Writer

Can you guess which jobs were mine and which were Kyles?

Got any great ideas to share, a little advice, an option we might not have thought of?
Email me: youaintgotjack@yahoo.com

Thanks for reading! L"