November 30, 2014

The Face of Things to Come

Those who know cycling understand the feelings of a great ride don't come from the bike, the road, or the effort, but from the spirit the bike extracts from its rider.  It's difficult to describe what it feels like to the uninitiated though I've attempted to over the years, clearly paying little mind to just how long it takes.  A man of few words, I am not. 

Starting back in 2002, commuterDude focused on commuting by bicycle, then began to migrate toward long distance cycling, all while highlighting many of my personal highs and lows along the way.  I have overcome obstacles, cracked under my own pressure, emerged victorious - and then repeated.  Even though these pages have often served as confidant and sounding board, in truth the blog wasn't ever intended to be about me.  As they say, it is what it is; and so herein lay the chronicles of an everyman who found himself while floating along atop a bicycle.  Interspersed, however, hide the ride reports about which I'm most proud: rare moments when the ride took focus and the story developed effortlessly.  The goal now involves a reinvention of sorts to attempt the same sort of flavor you've come to expect from those posts, but in a much smaller space and with more consistency.

The stories, therefore, become shorter, more focused, more visual. The long rides will continue, as will the commutes; but the tales will be told

Milepost 1445

Racing sunset, son and I soaked up what might have been the last "short-sleeve" day of 2014. No filters here, just perfect lighting from a crystal clear sunset caught in the dust of frantic homeowners' last-minute leaf raking and mowing. The temps topped out at 65°F, but quickly dropped off - reminding me of RAAM duty on the high desert in Arizona where, regardless of the temperature, the suns disappearance had always been greeted with stark chills and extra layers. No residual heat in the air, each corner diving close to the waters edge greeting us with a similar chill, we ultimately emerged into the residential maze and finished the ride with headlights afire: the boy's first taste of night riding. One full loop of the trail system, and a head full of memories. -- via Instagram: -- Twitter @RUSAdude

November 23, 2014

Front Bag Testimony: fork rake & trail, headlight brackets, and sepia tone

  For the first time in almost a decade, the Kogs gets something of a make-over - at least as far as the front end is concerned.  I've been sitting on a GB25 handlebar (front) bag for a while now, and I finally decided to give mounting it a shot.  Why the hesitation?  Well, that's me thinking too much - as is often the case.  I'm not the milli-metric nut-job I once was - but, I still appreciate precision and bespoke touches.  Centering and accuracy are simply part of the landscape here, so the activity remains therapeutically perfect for me... but, for a while I struggled with changing anything at all.  All I knew was, after almost a year riding with them, that bags mounted directly to the handlebars wasn't quite cutting the mustard.

SO, let's begin;  I don't have much footage of fabbing-up the front rack and decaleur setup, unfortunately.  During the build, it completely slipped my mind!  I will, later, post some photos to social media with some of the finer touches.  It's sloppy, not exactly straight, and uses P-clamps to hold it onto the front fork legs.

(holy SPIT-TAKE... what??!  Dude, NO!

Yes, clamps.  I despise clamps.  They have their purpose, but, it was always a difficult pill to swallow, me using them as a major contributor to

November 18, 2014

Milepost 11/18

Wrapping up the photo series on fabricating headlight brackets out of old chainrings, the final product mounted and wired up. I ended up with two mirror image brackets after discovering that supporting the light from only one side invited an annoying lateral wobble. Doubling up provided the necessary bracing, and the wobble is gone, resulting in a solid headlight beam. The biggest trick was getting the light high enough to avoid too much tire shadowing and for it to be visible from the rider's left in traffic, but to still keep it low enough that the bag wouldn't block the beam or put pressure on the mount or light itself. So far, so good. I don't prefer adding a lot of complication to the bike, and this project became tough to stomach at times, adding complication and weight... But, like fenders, once mounted and forgotten, the usefulness of the front bag should quickly outweigh any previous concerns. Now, to get out out on the road to expose and fix any rattles, and we're ready for the 2015 brevet season, and the next R-12/P-12 streak!

via Instagram

Milepost 11/17

We are deep into Fall here, and the sun isn't out as much, obviously, leaving the sky far darker each morning and evening, thus making it harder to spot both motorcyclists and diehard bicyclists. This is an example of how reflective tape can help. The tape on the wheels is most effective, as it creates the image of a full disc once the bike is in motion, and also helps indicate a riders relative speed. Even if you don't want to wear the admittedly dorky reflective vest, applying reflective tape to the bike ensures you are visible to some degree, no matter what the of day you ride.

via Instagram

November 16, 2014

Digging out, but not like you think.

The first snowfall of the new season came a little early yesterday, capping off - for me - a long, arduous year.  A roller-coaster of a year.  A year of further self-discovery.  I won't get into too much of that here, but, after a month or two of sitting down and thinking - calmly - I have emerged renewed, rested, and ...  no, no... not ready.  That, for me, is probably okay.  For now.

I believe, for me personally, coming off a good streak of a few years' worth of R-12 rides perhaps warranted some rest, even with the difficulty of letting that streak go in July.  With my shoulder repaired and healed, I started with good intentions to get right back on the proverbial horse; yet, I have not returned to the bike in earnest, nor have I kept my own promises about maintaining fitness and rising above the challenge of restricted activity.  This is my personal struggle, not-so-personally outlined ad naseum throughout this blog's past.  Even having run a half-marathon (er, jogged/walked) back in late July, I'd have thought myself motivated.  It didn't last.  So, knowing how I deal with personal stress, upheavals in the office, and the financial balancing-act that comes with teenagers in the house - here I am, another blank - blank, yes, but not white and clean; more tattered and beige - canvas on which to paint my next portrait.  These are tales best left untold, at least unrecounted.

As I work toward a solution here, and to run the