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Robert Hamlin Bicycles is not open. I am available for repairs. Just call to set up a time.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's mid July and several friends have asked me,"Have you been up Green Canyon and seen the new single track?" "Well, no" I had to answer. So, yesterday morning I got up early and went all the way up to the "fourth trough" meadow at the wilderness boundary. Single track is always great. Single track that you can get to by riding from your house is just fantastic. I rode the fixed gear Pake with only the front brake, cut-off shorts, hiking boots/Power Grips, 32mm tires, and 75 psi.

People ask "Why the skinny tires no rear brake?" Well, let me just say there are times I do enjoy fat tires, Lycra shorts, freewheeling, clipless pedals, and two brakes. I am flexible enough to try and practice other types of riding. I even have the geared cyclocross bike, but I hardly ever ride it. Yeah, gears.

That said, I love the simple elegance of the fixed gear cross bike. I like the feeling of riding with "normal" clothing and shoes. The no rear brake thing is no big deal, even when riding the freewheel. With skinny tires, you will always run out of traction before you run out of brake. It makes you ride smart. You have to brake early. You have to brake when the trail is flat and smooth. If you wait until the trail points down and is covered in loose rock, you have waited to long. The front tire will drift and slide out.

Speaking of drift, if you want to be a good rider, you have to get comfortable with drift. Drift is that fine line between rolling friction and sliding friction as you go really fast through a turn. If you experience drift enough, you can learn to control it and keep your tires from sliding out. Find a section of trail and practice at various speeds.

The same philosophy applies to braking. A good rider is very familiar with the full on emergency/panic stop, and comfortable with that fine line between stopping and going over the bars.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to a grassy field and practice the emergency/panic stop. Put two cones (rocks, potato chip bags, big gulp cups) about twenty feet apart. Ride toward the first cone at speed. Brake hard when you get to the first cone and try to stop before you get to the second. As you get better, move the cones closer together, and repeat. If you want to be a road-warrior-bicycle-commuter, you really should practice stopping as quickly as possible. When a car driver pulls out or opens a door in front of you, and they will, you will be ready.

Or, forget all the above, put on you cut-offs and hiking boots, and just go ride. Slow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fe700c Bicycles Is Open

We are back in Logan, and last night I slept in my own bed. I'll be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 11 to 6ish. The Fuji Touring-C and Cambridge bicycles are now in stock. You just have to see the Cambridge. It is absolutely fantastic, a beautiful bicycle.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We're Going (Coming) Home Today

Lupine and I are flying home today, Jacksonville to Houston to Salt Lake City. Patty will pick us up and drive us to Logan. But wait, I am home. Aren't I? Where is home, because I feel confused? North Florida is home because every plant, animal, and ecosystem are part of my soul. We spent yesterday floating down Juniper Springs Run in the Ocala National Forest and crossing the St. John's River four times. It was familiar and wonderful. That said, North Florida has plenty of issues to complain about. Every morning when I read the local red-neck-conservative-Baptist-bible-belt-biased newspaper, I am shocked at all the crime and murders. I've been away too long. Could I ever live here again, with the thought of crime always in the front of my mind? I have forgotten how to lock a door. And the traffic? Everything is Jacksonville (the largest city in the country, in area) is spread out and completely auto-centric, the model of failed urban planning. It seems all I do when I come here is drive.

So in a way, Utah does not look so bad. I live beside beautiful mountains. The doors of my house and car are always unlocked. Always. The keys are always in the ignition. Not that I turn them; I ride my bicycle nearly everywhere I need to go.

Good bye Florida. See you in five months.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My TT Ride Last Night

Here is a nice picture and baiku from Chip. It was a fun ride last night!

pokey vine snatch-back
leaves trail creator bloodied
looks worse than it was

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Coming Around The Circle Again

Yesterday I saw a swallow-tailed kite. I would love to post something profound about being back in Florida and out of the shop. I was even thinking about composing a haiku. So, I looked back at last year's posts. Almost one year later, in the same place, and I have nothing new to say. The old words could not be any more true or current. Below is the edited version of my p0st from July 19, 2008, so you do not have to navigate away. Here is the full version.

I'm on vacation. I'm back home in north Florida. I've slowed down a little. I needed a break. My mind and body are tired from working seven days a week for the last four months.

Like still black water
Spanish moss on the live oaks
My life moves slower

I've missed the lake
Panicum, green, wet, and tall
Meadowbeauty, pink

Running (Fe7ooc Bicycles) has been hard as of late, a product of my own success, a control freak completely out of control. I've become another in a long line of jaded bike shop owners, my emotions constantly changing between exuberance, anger, depression, and giddiness. All or nothing, I've allowed myself to become consumed. I've made a lot of people happy, and I've even changed a few lives.

I've also made people angry. I've even lost a few friends. I've been flamed on my own blog. There are customers who have been waiting for over a month to get their bikes worked on. These things I truly regret. If I have hurt your feelings or pissed you off, I am sorry. If I cussed you and told you to "get the hell out of my shop" that was uncalled for and I was wrong. Nothing is worth losing friends.

That said, there will be some changes at the shop. I'm not sure what these changes will entail. I don't know if I will be selling new or used bikes next year, or running a bicycle cooperative, or operating a mobile repair service. Who knows? I may even be a wildlife ecologist again. I do know that there have been many days standing in the shop juggling tools, customers, invoices, tubes, and cog sets, and asking myself, "for this, I earned a graduate degree?" I also know I can not go for weeks without a real bike ride. My heart and mind wont allow it. Palpitations and depression are unacceptable. Saturdays with my family and evening meals before 8:00 pm are pretty important too. I may even keep a regular blog. Like a long ride on a fixed gear bicycle, putting my feelings into words for the world to see is cheap therapy. Thanks for reading.
So, it's taken a year, but I am making some changes. There will be a different business plan and bicycles next year, less hours in the shop, and more time at home with the family and working for Patty. I look forward to reading this post again in July 2010. Perhaps then, I will have something new and profound to say.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fuji Connoisseur

I will be out of the shop and out of Loganistan for the next week or so. I plan to be open again on July 16. I'm going home to Florida, where the unbearable heat is surpassed only by the unbearable humidity. I can't wait.

I ordered some classic Fuji bicycles today: Cambridge, Touring, and Connoisseur, which is still not ready to ship. I will post more details and pictures when they come in.

Below is the Fuji Connoisseur. I never thought I would see a new production (not custom) road bike in 2009 with a steel lugged frame and downtube shifters. Yesterday, Jimbo asked me on the phone, "Do you think anyone wants a lugged steel bike with downtube shifters?" I may not sell very many of these bicycles, but I like it. I would ride one. At least once a week a bike comes in the shop with broken STI brake/shift levers. I also think indexed front shifters with "trim clicks" do not work as well as an old school friction shifter. Really. I want to be able to trim my front derailleur as I see fit.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bicycle Assembly

Every fourth or fifth (that's 20% to 25%, just because I love math) bicycle that comes into Fe700c Bicycles for repair has the same set of problems. "I bought this bike just a little more than a year ago, but it needs some help." That's the first clue, a like new bike. When you shake the wheels, the hubs are loose. The brake pads do not align with the rim and are not centered. The cable ends are long, they were never trimmed. When you shift the bike, there is not enough cable tension. And sometimes, the left pedal is missing.

These symptoms all indicate poor assembly. Kids pretending to be bicycle mechanics in businesses pretending to be bicycle shops pull new bikes out of boxes, quickly put on the front wheels, tighten some bolts (perhaps), and put the bikes on the floor. I understand. They make $5 per bike and do two or more each hour. That is good money for kids, but bad news for the bicycle industry. In real bicycle shops, this does not happen.

The Gospel according to Robert says:
  • Pull both wheels off the bike, adjust the hubs by locking down both sides (this means pulling off the freewheel or cassette and locking down the drive side first on the rear wheel), and true the wheels.
  • Grease cables and pinch bolts, adjust brakes and derailleurs properly (another post or two), and trim the cables no longer than the width of two or three fingers. Yes, you do have to pre-stretch these cables!
  • Use a pedal wrench and tighten down those pedals. Yes, you do have to grease the pedal threads. Use a big 8mm wrench and tighten crank arm bolts properly, after you have greased the threads.
This is not a complete bicycle assembly check list, but it is a good start. Have fun kids.

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