Saturday, January 21, 2017

New Bike Review, Part 2: Riding The @CriticalCycles Harper Single-Speed/Fixie

So, the Presta to Schrader adapters I was waiting on arrived Thursday. Got the tires aired up as much as I could with my tiny hand pump (65 psi or so) -- they're rated for max 90 psi and I plan to get them to and keep them at 80-85 -- and took off down the Archer Braid trail to the nearest gas station with one of those super-frap air stations that just lets you set the pressure you want and go to town. A pleasant three-mile ride.

When I got to that gas station, I discovered that the air pump didn't like my tires very well even with the Schrader adapters on them, and that it tops out at 70 psi anyway. OK, so every bike has something about it that proves to be the bane of my existence. On this one, it's those Presta valve tires. And I assume the hole in the rim will be too small to accept a Schrader. So I ordered a decent "stand it up on the floor and hold it with your foot" pump with built in gauge so I can keep air in the damn things. Should be here today. End of digression.

I wanted to put in more than six miles (three each way) on the bike's virgin ride so I took off down a street I know that has some reasonable elevation changes. There aren't really any hills here in north central Florida that I've seen but I wanted to see how well the bike was geared for handling a fairly long (1/4 to 1/2 mile) but not especially steep grade. Answer: It's perfectly geared for that. As out of shape as I am, I averaged better than 10 miles per hour over that that 12-mile ride and the next day's 20-mile ride and handled all the grades without having to stop and shamefacedly walk my bike.

One thing that worried me was the tire size. These are racing tires, only 25 millimeters wide and fairly slick. I was afraid I'd lay the bike down trying to come around curves and corners. But no, it handled beautifully. The bike rides like a Cadillac.

Reader Chris Moore has the same model (only with a coaster/pedal brake -- I use regular hand brakes) and mentions that the tubes are cheap and will need quick replacement. I suspect the same thing of the tires. They look visibly worn after less than 40 miles of riding. So I'm planning to buy two new tires and two new tubes some time in the next few weeks (unless a supporter visits my Amazon Wish List and buys them for me -- the list is full of bike stuff right now, but the tires/tubes are the only thing I'd rate as absolutely necessary ASAP).

Once I was sure I liked the bike, I started hanging all my crap on it -- water bottle, tire pump, brackets to hold my phone and a flashlight (for a headlight) on the handlebars, a little LED taillight on the seat post, transplanted the rear rack from the Trek, etc.:

If there's decent weather for it, and if I have good tires/tubes on the bike by then, I want to do my first "century ride" (100 miles) in late February -- from home near Gainesville to Cedar Key and back, with a short detour to pick up the six extra miles to get me to 100. IIRC my longest ride so far, ever, has been 40-odd miles, but I think I can work up to a century ride in a month or so. My near-term speed goal is to start clocking in at an average 15 miles per hour instead of 11-ish. On a 100-mile ride, that's a difference of three hours or more.

Now if that damn pump will hurry up and get here, I'm going to get out for another cruise. I don't feel really comfortable with a bike until it has a hundred miles or more on it.

Update: Pump arrived, aired the tires to 80 PSI, took off ... and had my first flat at about seven miles (thankfully not that far from home, though -- a mile or so). It took air, got home, it was losing again. Can't find a puncture. Probably cheap/bad tube, so I guess I'm off to the store.

Today: A March by and for Some Women

Of course, the organizers aren't calling it a march by and for some women. They're pretending it's a march representing the values of all women versus the values of Donald Trump and his new administration.

But 42% of women who voted in this presidential election voted for Trump. He took 53% of the white female vote and beat Clinton by 27% among white women without college degrees.

I'm not going to try and justify that, if for no other reason than that I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone, of any demographic category, would have voted for Trump. But it's a simple fact that this march does not represent all women.

It may -- may -- just barely represent a majority of women. But let's call it what it really is: A march for women who

1) don't like Trump and

2) agree with the march's statist center-left organizers on a bunch of issues (the "not welcome" mat was quickly put out for women who disagree with the organizers on abortion)

If Hillary Clinton had won the election and a Men's March on Washington had been called for the day after the inauguration, that event would have been rightly recognized as what this kind of thing is: The most base form of identity politics.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

#NotAllVets headline: "Vets Slam Obama's Decision to Shorten Manning's Sentence."

Well, not all of us by a damn sight.

Veterans of Foreign Wars national commander Brian Duffy covers himself and his organization in shame when he says that

President Obama has upended the entire military justice system .... To release from prison former Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, who was sentenced to serve 35 years for releasing three-quarters of a million classified and sensitive military and diplomatic communiques, is offensive to everyone who has ever honorably served in uniform.

Even setting aside Duffy's gratuitous gender poke, Chelsea Manning's actions were the very definition of honorable service in uniform. If the US armed forces in the 21st century can claim a single heroic face, that face is hers.

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