Rediscovering the Crested Butte

It’s sort of funny: I’ve talked about the death of the Crested Butte many a time over the past couple years, yet I still have the bike. Well, “death” may be too strong a word, but I have definitely talked about selling the bike, and did actually try to sell it in October, but that didn’t go over well. So, I still have it. And guess what: I still like it!

I can’t promise that I’ll keep this bike “forever”, but right now I don’t have any other plans of getting rid of it. I may reconsider in spring, when the bike market gets better, but that’s still months away. Yeah, despite the talk of redundancy, it’s hard to get rid of this bike, with how it looks, the quality components, and ride quality. There’s something about old mountain bikes…

Now I’ve been trying to figure out where to place it in the stable, and avoid too much redundancy while being cognizant of the overlap. I have previously talked about how the Bantam Rambleneur will be the more special/fun bike, and I’ll be using the Crested Butte along with the Raleigh Wayfarer three speed more the daily drivers. With the new-to-me rear rack, both the Crested Butte and the Wayfarer can take panniers, so easy for commuting and errands. (The Crested Butte has a leg up for rainy commuting due to cantilever brakes.) I removed the front rack before the sale, and don’t think I’m going to put it back on. I’ve been liking it in its no front load setup so far.

Now onto lights. Man, I have gone through too many switches with lighting systems throughout the course of three years of owning it, starting with battery, then getting bottle dynamo generator lighting, then back to battery, then hub dynamo generator lighting, then back to battery as I sold the wheel and light separate. Yeesh. Of course, if I had known I was going to keep the bike, I wouldn’t have sold the dynamo lighting, but too late now. So I could keep doing the battery system, as my Cygolite Metro 300 USB rechargeable light is still going strong.* But I do have a Spanninga bottle dynamo I got for cheap in the parts bin, plus the other day I picked up a B+M basic headlamp for just $20, the same headlamp I paid about $70 for just four years ago. (LED dynamo lighting just keeps on getting better and better, so what was good a few years ago is merely adequate now, and cheap.) So I could go dynamo again! And a bottle dyno plus headlight would be easy to remove if I do decide to sell this bike again. So we’ll see.

I also picked up a Brooks B68 saddle for cheap. I had the B66 on briefly, but it needs to be repaired because of a broken spring. The B66 is the unsprung cousin to the B66 and B67, a wide city/upright saddle. Looks and feels good. Though I do have another B17 in the wings which may go on here…

The final piece of the puzzle is handlebars. I still like the Civia Duponts, especially after my failed try with the Surly Open Bars, but I’ve been eyeing the Nitto Bosco bars for awhile. They have more rise and sweep back further than the Duponts, which just might solve once and for all the fit issues with this bike. Of course, because it’s a nice Nitto bar, it’s not cheap, almost $70. Wasn’t I trying to sell this bike just last month? On the other hand, isn’t it a small price to pay for making the bike “work”? Also, Nitto bars retain good resale value, so there wouldn’t be as much of a loss if they don’t work out. Or, I could switch them over to the Heavy Duti.

So here she is again, folks, the Crested Butte in all its glory. A bike that hopefully will keep on serving me well.

*To note: Cygolite makes their lights here in the US, and are great with warranty issues. I think I have replaced the bracket and USB port cover twice over, and they send the replacement for free.

A change in the air.

wpid-wp-1448246556806.jpgThe winter season, or the approximation we see here in the wet side Northwest, is here. October is typically a decent month with temps hitting 70 a bunch, but then around the end of the month “the switch” turns on, and we get a few weeks of wet weather. This has been the case this year. Since Halloween, the weather has been wet more than dry, and we got our share of drenching days.

But after a few weeks of this high wet cycle, the rains go away for a bit, and dry but colder weather is ushered in. This morning I awoke to heavy fog and frost on the rooftops and grass. This was the first frost of the year. We don’t see a heck of a lot of frosts, especially compared to other parts of the country, but the first frost is always a good reminder that warm days are over for now. And the coming week is promising to be mostly dry, and chilly, with highs scraping the low 40’s F, and lows around freezing. I realize as the upper Midwest is getting pummeled with a good storm right now that this weather sounds almost balmy, but this is cold weather for Portland.

wpid-wp-1448246562966.jpgAnd I’m enjoying it. I wasn’t always one for the coming of winter, especially when I lived Back East. Winter was a mix of snow, slush, grey, and cold. While we see our share of grey and cool here, snow is infrequent and truly special when it happens. It’s a climate that you can still do outdoor activities all year, just be prepared for damp weather and cool but not frigid temps.

And paradoxically enough, this weather is getting me thinking about camping, as I haven’t been camping in a couple months. Up until a few years ago I didn’t outdoor camp during the winter months, but it’s actually enjoyable if you have the right gear, fire, and friends to enjoy it all with. And now that I’ve gotten used to the shorter days, it’s not as big a deal as camping in say late October where the lack of daylight is more a rude surprise than anything else.

I’m sure at some point I’ll get sick of the season, as I do any other. But for now I choose to embrace it.

A Black & Cream Fall Ride and The Healing Powers of The Bicycle.


A nice story from Hugh down in SoCal.

Originally posted on velocipedemusings:

Sam Hillborne Black & Cream Sam Hillborne Black & Cream

I can’t speak for other bloggery folk, but when I get feedback or a reader reaches out through the digital ether, well it just plain feels good!

Recently,  David Person from here in the Los Angeles area reached out while I was fully immersed on the Coffeeneuring Challenge and expressed a desire to get in a ride with other Rivendell folks, and yeah I fall into that category as I’m pretty darn Rivy.

Even though the timing didn’t work out to get in a Coffeeneuring ride together (I still need to submit all my rides to Mary) since I completed the challenge last weekend and I didn’t have time to get the other SoCal Riv riders organised for a group ride, David and I went ahead and scheduled a ride on Friday the 20th my day off.

A bit about David, standing at 6’2″ with long legs and an easy…

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The Bantam Rambleneur, three months in

wpid-wp-1447906886744.jpgWell before I knew it, a full season has passed since I got the Bantam Rambleneur. Three months since I got my custom bike. A custom bike! It’s still weird to think that I own a custom frame, because up until a couple years ago I never thought I would.

So, how is this “dream” bike? Well, great! It’s proven itself as a capable light-moderate tourer, distance rider, rough stuff adventurer, and day-in, day-out commuter. I’m no Jan Heine, but it is definitely the “liveliest” and sportiest bike I have owned possibly ever. It’s more fun to ride than the Long Haul Trucker, though I have not pushed its load-carrying capacity in the same way as I did with the LHT. And it’s relatively light, but no lightweight, especially since that Carradice Camper Longflap lives on it!


The Bantam Rambleneur in its rare “almost naked” form.

I will be riding the heck out of it in the coming years. It’s a keeper. And right now, there aren’t many changes I want to do to it. I think this is mostly because I had it built from scratch, and decided exactly what I wanted with most things. (While I bought my Long Haul Trucker as a frameset, most of the components came from another bike that I broke.) Most things were tried-and-true (for me), while a few others were new to me, most obvious are the dirt drop handlebars and the 1X8 drivetrain. Both of which I like. And disc brakes! I know that according to some they are not a “mature” technology, but I like them. I definitely feel the difference in stopping power!

I still want to install an Alfine 11 internally geared hub wheel at some point (esp. since I have the hub,) but right now I am in no hurry. And at some point it would be nice to get a small front rack, one to hold that custom rando-style handlebar bag (before I went custom frame, I went custom bags. ;-) ) But like the Alfine 11, I’m in no hurry.

Now the ultimate question: Was it worth it going custom? In this case, yes, because I had a bike built the way I wanted it to, rather than a stock bike with compromises. It would not be possible to find a stock frame that could take disc brakes, switch between 26″ x 2.25″ or 650b x 42 mm, be able to switch between a derailleur system or an IGH, and have braze-ons up the wazoo. (And have internally routed dynamo wiring!)  But I probably would not have thought about going custom if I was still happy with my Long Haul Trucker, or if I had an XO-2 with 26 inch wheels versus the 700C XO-3, or if the Crested Butte fit me better. I wanted to find a long distance/touring frame that would make me happy for a long time. I briefly thought about getting a Rivendell, which would be a great bike, but there would still be compromises.

Will I ever get another custom bike? Maybe, but that would be a long way down the road. I got a screaming deal on my Bantam frameset, but even with that, I’ve spent several grand on frameset and components, more than any other bike I’ve ever owned. In the past I would rather save several grand to go travel than spend on a bike. And in the next few years I’d like to go do some extensive travelling. I don’t make a lot of money, so maybe when I get that fabled “good job” I could swing another custom bike. But I don’t know what that would be yet, and honestly, most regular bikes fit me and I get a kick out of vintage bikes. We’ll see, we’ll see.

Now, should you buy a custom bike? I feel that the three biggest reasons to get one are:

  1. You’ve had fit issues with most “off-the-shelf” bike frames and want a bike that finally works for you.
  2. You want some very specific things in a frame, things that are not common or not found at all on production frames.
  3. You want to support a craftsperson.

For me, I did it for reasons 2 and 3. But of course none of this matters unless you have the cash for a custom build, and with custom frames usually starting at about two grand, it’s not cheap. Now, I’m not denigrating bike builders for charging that much, as building by hand takes time and experience. They’ll never be able to compete with a production line in Taiwan. But it’s going to be a price that only the dedicated are going to pay.

How will I be using the Rambleneur in the months and years to come? It will definitely be the go-to machine for touring and distance. While I’ll still do some commuting and utility riding, I think I’m going to keep it more as the “special” bike. This wasn’t the original thought with this bike, as it’s supposed to be the “do anything” bike. But since I’m keeping the Crested Butte and also have the Wayfarer, I’m going to use those as the more day-to-day machines rather than the Bantam. But the Rambleneur will still see its fair share of use!

A Kelley Point Ramble and a bonus Coffeeneuring adventure

It’s November, and I’ve been feeling it. November is possibly the toughest months because of the onslaught of winter, which means short days and rain. Not only that, November can be stormy, and it has been just that. Wednesday November 18 was a niceish day in between two very soggy days. While I had many things I wanted/needed to accomplish, one thing I needed was a little bike ride. I cancelled the last two big rides due to weather, and haven’t had anything substantial since the Forest Park ride two weeks back. If anything, I needed a ride for my mental health!

I decided to head out to Kelley Point at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. It’s been a few months since I had been there, so a good excuse to go back up that way. Plus, this nine-mile ride to the Point has the benefit of being mostly bike paths the whole way there. In fact, only the first mile from my house is on streets. Low stress!

The ride there was pretty straightforward, a ride I’ve done dozens upon dozens of time. The only new and interesting thing was the bike path connection at North Denver Avenue. Previous to the new construction here, the options to continue on the bike path was either ride the wrong way on an off-ramp, or cross a very busy street that had no marked crossing. But now, that off-ramp is closed to cars, so bikes can use it stress free!

At Kelley Point, I had a tea break. This is the butt end of the Coffeeneuring Challenge, at least to those of us doing the rides mid-week. While I have fulfilled the obligation of seven coffeeneuring rides in during the challenge, why not a bonus one? I enjoyed a cup of Steven Smith Tea (Brahmin Blend) while watching tugboats and kayaks navigate the cold, cold waters.

From the Point I headed towards Saint Johns for food and beer. While most of this ride follows bike paths, bike lanes, or low-traffic streets, there is a very sketchy short connection along busy and shoulderless Columbia Blvd to get into Chimney Park. I really hope the city does something about this soon, because when they do, cyclists can have a seamless, mostly pleasant loop ride up to Kelley Point.

After the beer and food, I headed back to my house in the wet, dark night.

  • Distance: 22 mi/35.4 km
  • High temp: 52F/11C
  • Bike: Bantam Rambleneur
  • Tea: Steven Smith Brahmin Blend
  • Brewed via: Esbit stove/pot combo
  • Bike friendliness: Much of it bike paths.
  • Route map: Ride With GPS

Membership sale extended to the end of the month!

Originally posted on Society Of Three Speeds:

wpid-wp-1446929950036.jpgHey! I reintroduced memberships last week and put them on sale. We’ve had some sales (thank you!) but what the hey! Let’s extend the sale through the month! Until 11:59 pm Pacific Time on Monday November 30th, memberships are only $7 in the US, $11 rest of world. You can only get this sale price if you purchase through my online store, so go here to do so!

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REMINDER: Three Speed Pub Crawl this Sunday

Originally posted on Society Of Three Speeds:

threespeedpubcrawlHey folks! Don’t forget about the pub crawl happening this Sunday, November 15!

Please meet at Hedge House, 3412 SE Division St, Portland OR 97202. Meet time is 4 pm. The distance isn’t going to be long, maybe five miles, but it’s not a loop. We shall end near transit. We’ll hit up at least three pubs, because a pub crawl without a minimum of three pubs is no pub crawl at all!

And yeah, it will be dark, and the forecast is showers, high 49F/9C, so make all the appropriate appropriations. Drink responsibly, and it’s never a bad idea to buy your leader an ale.

SPECIAL NOTE: A few folks have said they may not be able to make it to the start but might want to catch up later. I will say with certainty that we’ll be at the Hedge House until 5, maybe even a bit later (Happy…

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Chehalem Ridge Ramble CANCELLED for this Saturday

Hello all, I hate cancelling rides, but the weather forecast for Saturday is looking pretty dire. Now, I realize it’s November, and we should expect some degree of precipitation. But there’s a difference between “some degree of precipitation” and “deluge”. And the National Weather Service has this to say about Saturday: “RAIN RATES FOR AREAS NORTH OF SALEM MAY BE COMPARABLE TO
WHAT WAS OBSERVED ON HALLOWEEN.” And if you forgot, we got about TWO INCHES of rain on Saturday October 31st.

I had to lead one ride earlier this year on a day we got two inches of rain. About five minutes in, everybody wondered what the hell they were doing, and we started to look for a place to be indoors. The Chehalem Ridge Ramble is a ride that will afford us few opportunities to do so.

So, with all that, I’m going to cancel the Chehalem Ridge Ramble for this Saturday, November 14. There will be more opportunities for a ride like this later in the season, so I hope to reschedule. Keep your eye out for it!