Most of Northeast Ohio is under a flood watch today, with the snow we got last week melting from the temperature, and the thunderstorms we got this morning, it is a mess. My commute to work this morning was interesting, with bottom bracket deep "puddles" and the bike path actually a moving part of Rocky River.

The last part of my commute before I pop out back onto roads goes over the river on a bridge (actually I go over 3 bridges), but this is the one farthest down river. That is a lot of lumber in that river. After another deep ford biking, ankle deep in the river, my feet freezing, I took this picture. Soon afterwards, an 8 inch thick log hit the bridges support beam, sounded like a homerun hit off of an aluminum bat. I got out of there quick.

I'm taking a different route home.


cargo bikes

So, I've been looking at replacing my years old Novaro framed Xtracycle with something new. I like having a cargo bike of some sort around for doing my shopping, not having to worry about how I'm going to get everything home. I have a Burley trailer for the littlest one, but putting two in there isn't going to work. And putting a child with a week's worth of groceries for 4 - with a bunch of fresh fruit and veggies just doesn't work. I also ride the cargo bike because it is my most comfy ride for cruising around. Besides not having the money for a new one at the moment, I just can't decide what to get. When I think that I have the answer, I change my mind, or some idea or thought about said decision makes me rethink. Here are some pros and cons of each of the major players - Surly Big Dummy, Trek Transport, and the Civia Halsted. Not listed, because of money issues are the Ahearne Cycle Truck and the Hunter Cycles minicyclecargotruck (my name - although if I had the money, it would be the winner).

Big Dummy


By far the best choice, been around for a long time, uses the Xtracycle platform, so it has lots of options, a frame designed from the ground up to take a heavy load, wouldn't have to put extra money into it for upgrades right off the bat (just tires and chainrings) nice construction, can still use a Burley trailer and Owen could sit on the rear Snapdeck, off road capable, best for touring, lightweight for what it does, awesome name, and I already have the shirt.


Most expensive out of the realistic choices, long so its hard to get on or in a car for transportation (touring), steel - so I have to spray the inside, needs a front rack of some sort for small everyday things and a kickstand (which is super expensive), and weird sizing so I don't know what size to ride.



Less expensive than the Big Dummy, can carry as much, already has a front carrier, aluminum - less care for the frame, comes with a better bag system and folding side mounts, Owen could still sit on the rear rack, has some cool mounts for a front light, convertable dropouts for rear hub, pretty much a great fit out of the box, and it would be supporting a brand the bike shop I work at carries.


Has been out for less than 6 months - so it doesn't have a long history yet, if you listen the internet "experts" who have yet to ride the bike they say it is a bad design that won't carry heavy weights very well, needs some parts right off the bat - extra bag, rear disc brake, rear derailleur, chainrings, and wider tires, can't use a Burley trailer - would have to put Josie on the rear rack and that might be trouble with both of the kids up there, but nobody has done that to my knowledge, unknown if it is good for a longer distance tour, and it is really heavy about 50 pounds to the Big Dummy's 35.



The least expensive option, the size is good for storage and any type of transporting, front loading platform - good to carry groceries and daily supplies, lightweight, can use a rear rack and the Burley, best for everyday in town use, and I thing one of the coolest looking.


Would only be for around town - don't think it would work well for a tour, needs a rear derailleur, front brake, and tires, no word on how it rides - although for tooling around town and to work probably pretty darn good, no place for Owen - but we could use a Trail-a-Bike, and need to carry more than one tube at a time.

Well there it is, no idea what I want to do, or can afford. Time will tell.

not much

Not much going on, have been off of work for the last three days. Not doing much, mostly sitting on my butt and not doing anything physical or constructive.

Baked some bread and made homemade pizza on Tuesday. I find that baking really relaxes me and makes me feel happy. I don't do it as much as I want to/need to.

Not much going on in the bike front, rode Josie to music class at the college, and that was the only time I've touched a bike. Still trying to figure out the cargo bike situation for the coming up years, maybe I'll get down those thoughts today.

I'm noticing one thing I did and a whole lot of "not muchs". Vacations are nice that way. Back to reality tomorrow.


tool kit

The last bit of the Chester (besides the frame) is what do I use when things go wrong - flat tube, broken chain, loosened bolt. Luckily, tubes happen sometimes - see article on tires here - and accidents do happen, so one has to carry a kit so that you can get back home, important for those all dayers and multi-day trips.

Here are the main bits - on the top a Pedro's Six-Pack Chain Tool +
this gives me a chain tool (duh) and a spoke wrench to help straighten out a wonky rim. The chain tool is needed to break and replace links in a chain. What? Replace links? In a single cog system, with very little in the way to adjust chain tension in the advent of a link or two missing, one might have to replace a small section of chain. I carry about 4-5 total links as well as a Wipperman master link to help me in this regard.

The chain tool itself uses a 5mm hex, and normally it comes with the tool, but I took it out because my the tool in the middle has one. An old school Ritchey CPR, is my favorite of all on the bike tools. Like my ATAC's, I would own 5 of these if I could still find them. A 5mm and 6mm hex, two tire levers, 8, 9, and 10mm closed box wrenches, and a screwdriver, along with a 4mm wrench covers anything that can go wrong. The 5mm can be used for the chain tool, the headset or seatpost binder bolt or brake pads, the 6mm for the rear Phil Wood hub, and the 4mm for the stem bolts. The wrenches for the fenders, and the screw driver just in case I'm missing something. A nice compact system.

Almost the whole kit, tube, tools, masterlink sitting on a Rivendell Burrito Wrap, a scrap of waxed cotton to hold everything together. Missing is the extra hunk of chain, it hasn't been cut because the bike aint built up yet.

All bundled up.

In the corner for the roll. When done it should look like Chipotle's finest.

Done, held on to the saddle's railings with a toe clip strap. The strap is also needed for the pair of Schwalbe Marathons, that tire bead is a massive pain in the ass. Also seen here is the saddle cover from Randi Jo Fabrications, nice way to protect your leather saddle.

Missing is my pump, I haven't decided what way to go with that, a frame or smaller hand pump. Detail - I know that you are at the edges of you seat for that, when I know myself.

Have a good one.



View out of the back of work this evening.

Weather has taken a massive turn for the worse. Friday, 60 and sunny(ish). Today, 20 presently, whiteout snow conditions, horribly chilly headwind, and ice covered slush on the path home. Not looking forward to the crappiness ahead. I do have the next three days off, so hopefully I'll be able get some more bloggin' out.



Awesome weather for the commute this morning. Didn't have to wear layers upon layers of clothing to stay warm. Wore knickers, a synthetic tee, longsleeve jersey, windbreaker and shoe covers. It was nice. The bike path was a icy mess. Nice and easy with the fixie, and I still wiped out.



Some of the minor but important players in the building of the Chester.

Holy awesomeness. Old school Time ATAC composite pedals. If I could find like 5 more pairs, I would buy them all. ATACs are my favorite all time pedal - they work through everything, completely rebuildable, and they have just enough float with a very exact entry and release movement. The old ones like these are better than most of the new ones, they have a better "feel" to them. This is one pedal that I'll never have to worry about.

Bontrager Race Lite composite bottle cage on the left, will have two of these, need to keep hydrated. I find that these are probably the best bottle cages out there. The are light, cheap, look OK, but most importantly, they hold the bottle in through the roughest roads/trails, and give up the bottle when you need it. I have these cages on every bike I own, and completely trust them.

On the right is the Portland Design Works Radbot 1000. A super cool 1 watt bulb and reflector. Although I would love to have a longer burn time (more than 30 hours), the brightness and interesting blinking pattern make it a winner. I picked this for this build instead of the PDW Danger Zone because of the reflector, cheesy, but hopefully a little safer. I'll be putting on some reflective tape to the frame and fenders, so this will help also.

Fenders. Another piece of equipment that finds its way onto almost every bike of mine. And SKS fenders are the most promanate of the models. Why? The front fender has two fancy clips that allow for the fender stays to disconnect when a rock or stick gets sucked up by the front wheel. This disconnect doesn't let that object to stop the front wheel turning, sending you up and over the bars. It breaks away, and you can still control the bike. On horizonal dropouts, like on single speed or fixie, you can also use them on the back fender, giving you good visual lines and coverage on the back, but pop off the fender if you need to switch out a flat. The model I'm using is the P45, for 28-37mm wide tires.

That is about it, hopefully I'll have pictures of the frame soon, and I'll post a little about the lamest of all parts - my repair kit later this week.


happy vd

Happy Valentines Day to my wife of 10 years, Julie. I LOVE YOU!


happy b-day

Happy Birthday to my little sister Annie! Hope you had a good one!


Happy (?) 50th Birthday to Henry Rollins.

Why should we care? Even those with great happy lives have had their fare share of pain and agony, some real, some imagined. Henry writes about it all. I read once that "punks" were outcasts, they didn't have many friends, they kept to themselves and educated their minds so they are always the well read ones. Henry is definitely that and well spoken man tells it how he sees it. Quotes here and here.



Not riding in today, wife sick, not feeling to well myself, and of course the kids are perfectly healthy. More later today....


Here is the crank for the Chester, a Bontrager (Truvativ) road crank, 130mm BCD, 170mm long. I got this on a closeout pricelist from Trek, super cheap - but its a good crank. The crank comes with a GXP outboard bearing bottom bracket setup, which I guess led to some extra design work for Matt. He says he never has built a frame for an external bottom bracket. He prefers (and I do sometimes too) a square taper. I haven't had any issues as of yet using an external BB, but time will tell. If it doesn't work, I'll just go to a regular set up, but the crank and bottom bracket were so cheap, I had to get it.

I had to switch out the chainrings, it came with shifty cyclocross rings, and I'm running just one, so out comes a Surly 39t Stainless Steel ring, and a BBG bashguard. The BBG is a real lightweight aluminum circle, that protects the chainring (and leg from rookie ring) in case of a rock or branch. I don't know if the chainline will work with the bashguard, but again we'll see.

More to come....



Our entire family are Green Bay Packers fans, so we are celebrating today!!! Julie and I grew up in Berea, Ohio, which since the 1980's has been the home of the Cleveland Browns Training Facility. I remember as a teenager seeing Ozzy Newsome running through the streets, the players and the coaches eating in local restaurants, and later when I worked at a sporting goods store in town, selling Browns paraphernalia to Browns fans world wide. I grew up with the Browns in my town, and I still love them - even with their problems.

But I've also been a humongous Packers fan! Their history, the great teams of the past, and now this year the Super Bowl Champions! Thanks guys for a great season.

Next year lets hope the Browns do a lot better, see you in Training Camp next year (around the corner from my house).


back end

The next contact point is my buttocks, being supported by a Brooks Professional saddle. A little more aggressive than the B17, I think that it will work better with the sitting position on the Chester, and with thicker leather, it will last longer than my other stand by saddle, the Selle An Atomica. I like the Brooks saddles for the simple fact of the comfortableness over the years, and that they really become part of you.

Holding up the seat, a Thomson Elite Setback post. What else would I trust my precious backside to? The easy adjustability and strength makes this a favorite throughout the years.

Interesting that I trust my ass to the same thing year after year after year.

More soon...


rest of the front end

The continuing parts list for the Matt Chester...

The fork spins in the frame with a Chris King 1 1/8 NoThreadSet. As your eyes can see, it is black with a Mango top bearing cap in the Sotto Voce finish. When I first saw the color on color finish, I didn't know if I really liked it, I mean Chris King headsets have always had white letters on the color headsets, but the understatedness is growing on me. Now I find it kind of weird looking to see the older style.

My hands are going to rest on a pair of 42cm Salsa Woodchipper bars, with a 25.4 clamp diameter. Why? I had a Thompson Elite stem laying around, and Matt designed the frame around its extension length and rise. Might as well use it instead of it just sitting there. Also from this picture, you can see that I have my brake levers installed - although probably not in the correct position. Both are from Cane Creek, and I have one SCR-5C lever and one stoker lever. This gives me an extra hand position while sitting up or cruising, and gives me a sense of equalness on the bars. I'm probably going to wrap the bars in white tape, just because I like the way it looks.

More to come tomorrow!


pic and tires

Tires can make or break a ride. Too heavy, flat prone, too stiff of a sidewall can make a great ride miserable. I've tried different company's tires, and my three favorites are Schwalbe, Specialized, and Continentals, but so far, I just have two pairs of the Schwalbes, so here they are.

Here is a picture of the clearance of my Paul Components Racer M with a Schwalbe Durano HS 700x28 tire. On the rims they measure 26mm, so I don't know if they will be my do everything tire, but for faster road rides, they weigh nothing, have good flat protection, and should be pretty durable. Wish they made a folding version in 700x32, I'd get them in a heartbeat. I might try the non-folding ones in the 32s just to see.

Also have a pair of the Marathon Plus HS34s. On the DTSwiss 465's they run true to their 700x28 size, but they are HEAVY, 740g - compared to 290g for the Duranos. Upsides are extremely durable and flat resistant, so except for the weight, they would be perfect. The downsides are the weight, and the fact that the sidewalls are so thick, I actually have to snap on one bead, and take toe clip straps to attach the other bead so I can the tires set in the rim. Good thing they are so damn flat resistant. I'll have to see how they ride, usually something with this thick of a sidewall ride like bricks. So these might be for the early spring and rides where I know that flats might happen more, like long gravel rides and off-road.

I'd like to find a lighter 700x30ish (measured - I don't know why companies [except Kenda] don't make that width) tire with good flat protection, and mid 500g weight, I'll have to look at some more Contis - oooooooooo like a 4 Season in a true 700x30 width with some more stiping....

More to come, I think I'll do the handlebars, headset, and brake levers next, and the stuff my ass sits on.


Three years ago, we had to put our dog Marley to sleep. I miss her very very much. She was the best dog, except for her hate of bikes.