2021.05.01Now I'm Comitted

Specialized Secteur Comp (2012)

This morning I brought the bike out from where it had been stored for the last three years.

I found a few broken spokes and some rust on the chain. I brought it to a local shop for a deep cleaning and repairs.

So far, I know I'm in for the cleaning, plus a new front wheel, a new chain, new inner tubes and possibly having the tires replaced with the Continental Gatorskins I requested.

This certainly cuts down on my shopping list at Performance: helmet, skins, gloves (although I did find a pair of gloves in my garage today).

So with the bike in the shop, I feel I'm committed to riding now, because I'm now into it for probably just over $200 — and that's a lot of money to us right now.

Link to this
Back to top

2021.04.29Maintenance List

Specialized Secteur Comp (2012)

Just trying to jot down what needs to be done before I can ride.

  1. Replace tires and tubes
  2. Maint tune-up: grease cables, true wheels, etc.
  3. Replace computer... if it even has one
  4. Buy a helmet
  5. Buy skins
  6. Buy gloves

Performance is having a sale on Continental Gatorskin puncture-resistant tires. I'm sure they're heavier than a standard tire, but I'd imagine it's about comprable to a standard tire with a Mr. Tuffy strip inserted.

I just assembled a shopping cart from Performance... basically $300 in goods. The tune-up will probably cost another $150. Add tax, and I'm about $500 before my butt even gets on that saddle.

Link to this
Back to top

2021.04.25Times Have Changed

Specialized Secteur Comp (2012)

I'm surfing the Web looking at cycling stuff. I accept that I have some gear to replace — helmet, gloves, skins — but I'm very concerned about my bicycle being maintainable. (One question I asked yesterday: Are LOOK pedals still a thing? Seems they ARE.)

So far, I'm bummed that Specialized doesn't appear to be making helmets anymore. They had the coolest designs for years and years.

What Happened to My Mail Order Companies?

So, Nashbar and Performance are the same company now?

I loved getting their catalogues back in the 80s and 90s (before the Internet). I lived in some pretty remote places, and those that had bike shops catered to a market that wanted cruisers, not road bikes, so if I needed gear, Performance and Nashbar were my go-to solution.

I don't *think* they were the same company back then, but it's completely obvious now: reviews on one site also appear on the other, and their layouts are exactly the same, save for some font changes.

Link to this
Back to top


Specialized Secteur Comp (2012)

Having enjoyed recent successes with weight loss and having modified my diet, I'm now daring to think about getting back into cycling.

I was just looking at MSRP for various things and am shocked at how expensive everything is. The local bike shop is a Trek dealer, and they're showing bikes that are several thousands of dollars — I can't even BUY a road bike for less than $1500.

I think I have the bike part covered, although I may be forced to upgrade my pedals — I don't even know if LOOK-style pedals are still a thing. Most likely, about all of my protective clothing needs to be thrown out. I'll need a new helmet for certain... and replacement gloves, and probably new skins. The bike itself is going to need a serious once-over — cables greased, tires replaced.

I'm excited to ride again — I'm just in sticker shock at the moment. Wonder if Nashbar is still around?

Link to this
Back to top


My J-bolts arrived from CycleOps yesterday. So last night I made some progress:
  • I got the other two J-bolts installed; now the bike's fork is clamped to the fork stand, which is now properly attached to the rollers.
  • The main sensor for the cyclocomputer software is now attached to the frame. Now I just need to attach a coupla magnets and that should be all set.
  • Mounted the phone mount to the stem. And I have to say, the mount seems to hold the phone quite securely.
  • Single bottle cage mounted on the down tube and pedals installed (night before last).
Left to do:
  • Install cleats on shoes
  • Complete magnet/sensor install
  • RIDE!

The Training Rig

Link to this
Back to top

2012.11.12Bicycling Magazine

Dear Rodale Press,

It's been a long time since we've been in touch — I had a subscription to you for years, but cycling fell away from my life for a while. Now that cycling and I are dating again, I have to say how impressed I am with what Bicycling Magazine has become in 2012.

Before I start pouring the love on, I should probably note that it's entirely possible that what's changed between then and now is ME, and not the magazine. I'm turning 44 this week. A lot about me has changed since my 20s. So things I'm finding in your publication in 2012 perhaps read a little differently to me now — and not just because of my astigmatism.

In the issue I recently received, I saw numerous articles about diet and foods that aid in training. As a man who spent the year shedding 40 pounds and is now hoping to spend the winter building muscle, I cannot tell you how excited I am by finding such great information between your covers.

Plus, of course, there's all the great cycling and training tips I've come to expect from Bicycling. And, of course, the BIKES — all that amazing eye candy!!

For the travel minded (do I dare fantasize about bringing my bike with me on my next vacay??) there are reviews of rides in lovely places, and even information on cycling camps — what a fantastic idea!!!

I'm so pumped about getting back into riding, and Rodale, you're a larger part right now than I'd anticipated. Keep up the great work!!

Link to this
Back to top

2012.11.11Pedal Wrench?

Here's another way you can tell you've been out of touch with cycling for a while — try using your trusty pedal wrench to attach a pair of Look Keo pedals!

Back in the day, one used a pedal wrench to get pedals on and off of a crankset. These little devils don't use them — instead of a bolt with two flattened sides (for the pedal wrench to grip), they have... nothing. Just a thin metal ring, ungrippable by my classic metal friend.

That pedal wrench and I have been through a lot together. Back in the late 80's or early 90's, I remember getting my bag searched at the airport— and who could blame the security guards — they thought they were looking at a long-barreled handgun through the x-ray machine!

Of course, this means I get to drive back to the bike shop and admit that I'm stumped on how to remove these pedals from the crankshaft. Oh, I got them on alright — one the one side, I just spun the crankshaft and held the pedal (relatively) still — I let the rotational action drive it into place.


Link to this
Back to top

2012.11.10Bicycling Magazine's 250 Best Cycling Tips

The editors of Bicycling Magazine published a pamphlet, last revised in 2007, called "250 Best Cycling Tips."

I believe I downloaded it with my print subscription. I highly recommend visiting Bicycling's website for tons of useful information.

250 Best Cycling Tips (PDF), Rodale Press

Link to this
Back to top

2012.11.02My exercise fantasy: Gratification Delayed Again

A bag of parts I was waiting on from the manufacturer of the rollers/trainer arrived late last week.

The parts I needed were nowhere to be found.

They're sending me out another bag of parts. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do if they don't get it right this time!

Link to this
Back to top

2012.10.31Pedals, Grease Acquired

I drove to the bike shop over lunch and bought the grease and a pair of pedals.

Now I just need those parts for the fork stand to arrive.

Then I can move on to installing and configuring the cyclocomputer app on the phone (why not? It's not like I'm actually moving!) and to installing the cleats on the shoes.


Link to this
Back to top

2012.10.29My exercise fantasy: Gratification delayed

The fork for the trainer came in and I tried getting it connected a couple of nights ago. I was dismayed to find the kit was missing some parts. Thankfully, the customer service reps for CycleOps were awesome about it — they plunked a new bag of parts in the mail for me right away. I should have them mid-week — maybe I'll be up and rolling by the weekend!

The last thing I think I need to get up and running are pedals. I think that for right now I'm just going to cannibalize one of the other bikes. I'm not happy about it, but it's not like I was really planning on riding outside until next year anyway.

Whoops. I need goop for the pedals! Even if I take old ones off, I need fresh grease to put them into the crankset. Mebbe a lunch time trip to the bike shop this week — 'course, I could lose control of myself and just buy new pedals while I'm at the shop, eh?

Link to this
Back to top

2012.10.17Sickened by events in the pro cycling world

Every day lately I've read at least one news article about somebody getting fired from their job with team such-and-such as a function of their complicity or participation in organized doping. In at least one case, a rider was offered two contracts: one for riding (clean) and another, ten times the value of the former, for riding and participating in the team's EPO program. And today I read that Nike dropped Lance Armstrong — and Armstrong stepped down from Livestrong probably to keep it in Nike's good graces. This after Armstrong was banned from the sport for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France wins.

As a kid I enthusiastically followed the sport. Armstrong at the time was a new rider on the Motorola Team, joining the likes of Frankie Andreu and Andy Hampsten. I never raced — the most I've done is an MS-150 — but I've always admired those who raced and did centuries and stuff. It's tough to learn that one's heroes really are just as flawed as the rest of us — just in a more spectacular fashion. And so as Armstrong falls to earth with smouldering wings, perhaps we find we all got burned.

"Armstrong Steps Down From Livestrong as Nike Cuts Ties", Bicycling.com
"Bassons: 'People Now See I Wasn't Lying'", Bicycling.com
"RadioShack Says Bruyneel Will No Longer Manage Team", Bicycling.com
"George Hincapie Admits Doping", Bicycling.com
"American Levi Leipheimer Fired for Doping by His Belgian Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team", Bicycling.com

Link to this
Back to top

2012.10.16My exercise fantasy... at least until Spring

New bike... check.
  • It's more bike than I planned on buying — but I couldn't pass up the deal on last year's model!
Rollers... check.
  • Aluminum drums. Baked fresh and served up by Amazon
Fork stand... check.
  • Are you kidding? It's been so long since I'd ridden rollers I figured it'd be a good idea to not kill myself right away — or WORSE, damage my bike!
Basement... check.
  • Pretty sure this wouldn't go over well upstairs.
Pedals... not check.
  • Got outbid on the ebay auction. Rats! But since I ordered new shoes I guess I can fairly safely buy some modern pedals.
Awesome old Motorola jersey to hang on the wall... check
  • Yeah. There's zero chance of me wearing a "5" and not looking like a red and blue sausage.
Awesome old Motorola jersey to actually wear.... mebbe
  • A size "6", however...
iPhone converted to cadence-enabled cyclocomputer?... about to be check
  • Should be here Thursday. The bike's being held still for goodness' sakes!
Misc. maintenance items (among them: chain lube!)... also about to be check
  • It's important.
Taken together, I should be ready to ride (going nowhere) in the evenings probably early next week. I really want the iPhone thing to work — I'll likely get a dedicated cyclocomputer in the spring, but for now this gives me something to do while I'm riding on the trainer!

Link to this
Back to top


The 2012 Specialized Secteur Comp
As it happens, there’s a REAL bike shop HERE IN TOWN! With actual ROAD bikes and everything!!

  • It’s got a 10-gear cassette on the back (11 – 32). If you think back to your standard 10-speed bike, it had 10 “speeds” because it had two gears on the front at the pedals plus five in back, giving you ten combinations of front and rear at which you could pedal. This thing is 2 x 10. Fantastic for hills — and for going for a spin with a little girl behind you. According to information I’m reading online, the cassette allows a comparable or wider range than would a bike equipped with a triple chainring — and I’ve had my eye on a Secteur Triple.
  • The frame geometry of the Secteur line lets the front end sit up a little higher. Easier on the arms. I’m not 20 anymore.
  • One thing I don’t really get is the width of the tires. I was told they’re 700x28c, but the specs I’ve read say they’re 25′s. These things are FAT. My Cannondale is rocking a 19 on the front and a 21 on the back. These guys look like they’ve eaten my skinny 19. I think the fat tires gotta go — even though they're apparently supposed to lead to a more comfortable ride (and I couldn't find any bikes at the shop that didn't have 25s!).
  • The gruppo is from an American company called SRAM. Shimano has historically been king — at least at the level I ride at. I *think* SRAM got their start doing off-road stuff. The Apex is their basic kit, I think.
  • The bike also has a pair of Zertz inserts into the stays and fork (The Triple does NOT have them in the seat stays). The inserts are a kind of polymer designed to absorb vibration coming from the road, giving a smoother ride.
  • Along with dual bottle cages (which I’d expect on an endurance bike), the frame also had some nice touches like interior cable routing along the top tube. Some of the lower models don’t have that.
I’m a little stuck with the color, though. I would have liked something a little different than white — mostly because my Cannondale is white. I’m thinking about this bike as my Cannondale, just with all kinds of upgrades, as opposed to something entirely new.

It just seems ideal for me, and where I am right now vis á vis cycling. I want a comfortable road bike that’ll help motivate me to ride through the winter months and let me get out and put some miles on in the spring — get me in the healthful habit of riding (even if it’s only on the trainer) so that in the spring I can settle into doing some comfortable distance riding.

Link to this
Back to top


The Specialized Secteur Triple

Link to this
Back to top

2012.05.06Cycling Kit is Recovered


Link to this
Back to top

2012.05.05Brooks Saddle

I ordered a Brooks saddle for the Bianchi. WOW does it look nice. Sure wish I could find my kit so I could ride!

Link to this
Back to top

2012.04.23So Close... And Yet So Far

Yesterday the weather was gorgeous, AND I had a fantastic opportunity for alone time laid right at my feet: kiddo was out with friends and my wife went upstairs to nap.

Time for a little ride.

I crept down to the basement to retrieve the Bianchi. In our mud room I reinflated the tires and reattached its computer. Then I went out to the garage to retrieve my cycling gear from it's bin.

It wasn't there.

I went upstairs to look for it in a drawer.

It wasn't there either.

Chances are very good it's somewhere in a box in our storage room. Some months ago my wife organized that room in a way that only she understands, and did it in such a way that she managed to face a number of the sides which list each box's contents toward the wall. So I'm downstairs looking at a boatload of boxes on shelves that all say the same thing — the name of the moving company — and that's it. I can't ride without at least the cleats and skins.

I eventually came back upstairs in defeat. My bike sits, ready to go, in my living room. At some point this week we (and I do mean we) will have to find my cycling gear so I can put them to good use should an opportunity arise.

Link to this
Back to top

2012.04.17The Love Affair Continues

Last weekend we had occasion to clean up the basement due to the approach of impending storms and the threat of tornadoes. I opened up the furnace room to stash a trash bag full of junk I'd just picked up off the floor when I saw it.

There it was — looking so lovely in celeste.

I need times like these to remember that I have a beautiful, classic (*sigh*) road bike AND — thanks to diet and discipline — the body to ride it!

Link to this
Back to top

2012.03.24Saturday Morning Breakfast Rides!

Last weekend my wife and I decided to ride our new bikes up a few blocks to a local diner. We did it this morning too, and have promised ourselves to make it a weekend tradition.

Copyright 2012 halfgk.com.

And by the way, it certainly doesn't hurt that their three-meat omelet is delicious!

Link to this
Back to top

2012.03.15The "Dad Bike"

A couple of weeks ago I bought a new commuter/hybrid bike to use for tooling around with kiddo. The Trek Atwood is my compromise between going for casual rides and maybe doing some commuting to work and back without the need for cleats and skins. It's not as casual as a fixed-gear cruiser — I wanted a range of gears to help me ride apace with the six year-old and be versatile enough to handle the hilly environment between home and office. Plus I like it's retro look. With an added toe clips and rack on the back, I'm pretty satisfied with the purchase.

Link to this
Back to top

2011.12.05Bringing the bikes indoors

In a move that threatens to be as empty as my wallet, I have brought the road bikes indoors for the purpose of riding at least one of them on a trainer over the winter months. Since moving here I've gained back roughly 25 pounds. I need to drop those. I HAVE to ride over the winter!

Link to this
Back to top

2010.07.19Putting on some miles — slowly but (somewhat) steadily

Over the past couple of months I've been doing rides with friends. My return to the saddle has been slow, but I'm seeing steady improvement. By the end of the 14 miles I did a few weeks ago I couldn't WAIT to get my helmet off of me; my neck was really stiff, and my forearms were very tight. Tonight I did the same route but had a much easier time — my neck isn't stiff at all, but I must still be really tight on the bars. Baby steps, I suppose. According to my odometer, I've put on 75 miles; years ago, I'd do that in two rides; but, with having been out of the saddle for so long, I feel great to have done it over two months!

Link to this
Back to top

2010.05.20The 2010 Ride of Silence

Last night I participated in the 2010 Ride of Silence. The annual event is held on the third Wednesday in May, at 7 PM. Last night, 87 of us, escorted by bicycle-mounted police, rode to the state capitol. A few of us then rode back to the start, after standing on the steps of the capitol for photos and some stories of remembrance. We rode a little over 12 miles.

Ours was one of 310 worldwide events, all happening on the same day. The annual event is a slow-paced ride in honor of those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways. Many wore red or black armbands to honor victims they knew. RideOfSilence.org even has a page set aside in memoriam for those who were killed.

As the name infers, riders are silent on the road. It is essentially a symbolic funeral procession that was started by riders of a club in 2003, mourning the passing of one of their number who had been killed by a mirror on a school bus while riding.

Link to this
Back to top


I bought a copy of Avatar today. I’d seen the movie in the theater. It’s such a visually stunning movie I had to add it to my BD collection… which now stands at four. In the movie, the character Jake Sully is a former Marine who lost the use of his legs. He’s asked to take the position of his late brother, a special projects scientist who was killed in an accident. In one of the first few scenes of the movie, Jake is introduced to his avatar, and rediscovers — probably too quickly — the simple joy of running again. When I saw that in the theater, it was a simple, gratifying milestone moment in the movie plot.

Today it became more.

I stopped the movie and fished my old road cleats out of the dirty rubber bin on the balcony. I put them on — and rolled the Bianchi out the door.

Stepping onto the road bike for the first time in so very long felt magical. I mean magical. I could stretch my legs with each stroke. It felt awkward — the saddle seemed so high, it took a few minutes to get comfortable — but it still felt wonderful.

Not everything went as smoothly as Jake Sully’s first trip on his legs. For reasons I don’t understand, the computer failed to take input for the first short trip across the property and back. The sensor and the magnet were perfectly aligned — so I simply moved the sensor closer and hoped for the best. On the second trip, for whatever reason, it started reading about a hundred yards in. It felt so weird to sit so high up in the saddle. I had to, eh, adjust to the saddle height. At first I strongly considered dropping the saddle a bit. After I rode for a little longer, I’m not so sure.

I didn’t go far — and I didn’t go fast. Far and fast aren’t the point yet. The point is simply to remember the pedals as an extension of myself; to make graceful, smooth circles, and become one again with the simple machine.

And to remember how much I love it. That part was… well, just like riding a bicycle.

Link to this
Back to top

2010.04.23Bianchi is home!! Check out the pics!

Got a call from the bike shop this evening. Al had the bike all done. And WOW:

Copyright 2010 halfgk.com Copyright 2010 halfgk.com Copyright 2010 halfgk.com Copyright 2010 halfgk.com Copyright 2010 halfgk.com

Al did an outstanding job. I lucked into finding someone who cares so much about "vintage" (the word still makes me cringe) steel-framed bikes. He told me a lot of people have admired it while it was on the stand — and it even got some love from one of the shop staff this evening as I was paying the bill. It looks so beautiful I'm starting to wonder if I'd feel less guilty dumping a new bike instead of having some sort of accident on this one!

Link to this
Back to top

2010.04.17Bianchi progress

Looked in at the bike shop this morning. I was blown away by the work they've done. The technician has shown a lot of love in fixing it up — touching up the paint, even adding washers to prevent the seat post bolt from scraping against the paint. PLUS he found, from a connection in California, a pair of never-used, original Modolo brake lever hoods (and they were expensive!). He also told me people have seen it up on the stand and it has received many compliments. All of this is so exciting!! Can't wait to ride it again!

Link to this
Back to top

2010.04.06Bianchi is in the shop!

Yesterday afternoon I finally got a call from the bike shop, and happily wheeled it in for its overhaul. Giggity!!

Link to this
Back to top

2010.03.30Rode! Finally!

The weather here has been lousy for the past week. Today we saw the upper 50's, sun, and very little wind. A fantastic evening for a little ride. I've been riding very short distances, and very low speeds. The name of the game has been simply spinning. I think I rode for a little better than 30 minutes tonight. But the nicer weather makes me want to stretch my legs — in a way I can't do on my mountain bike. I hope to get a call from the bike shop later this week about bringing in the Bianchi!

Link to this
Back to top

2010.03.19Very short ride tonight

A testament to Michigan weather. Conditions seemed nice enough for a ride this evening... but boy did that wind whip up. I ended up cutting it shorter than I would have, but probably not by a whole lot. The wind made for some good resistance training. Yeah, that's it.

The new computer worked just fine, but my headset was a little loose as a function of installing it. Tightened it down when I got back. We're actually supposed to see snow tonight... I don't have high hopes for miles over the weekend.

Got a note from my office today that a package arrived — it's the parts and replacement paint I ordered for the Bianchi!

Link to this
Back to top

2010.03.18Too windy to ride

Was hoping to get out again this evening — the weather folks promised us a high of 65 degrees and sun today — but it wasn't to be. We had sun (sorta), but we also had wind and jacket temps — not 65 degrees. The good news is I replaced the faulty cyclocomputer on the mountain bike with a wireless model. It'd be nice to finally get rid of those ugly little wires. Dunno if this weekend will lend itself to a ride, either — highs are supposed to be down in the 40s.

Link to this
Back to top

2010.03.17Welcome to cycling!

Years ago I was a cycling FIEND. I've never done a century or anything like that, but I came close when I did an MS-150. I put cycling away for about ten years while I was married. But now is the time to rediscover joy on two wheels, and thought I'd share the experience. I currently own three bicycles: a 1988 or '89 Bianchi Campione de Italia, a 1990 Cannondale SR-400 (both road bikes), and a GT mountain bike I bought probably around 1999. The GT actually saw some trail action for a while near a local lake — and I'm much more into road riding. Now that we're in spring's "pre-dawn," I decided to have the Bianchi spruced up into riding condition. I can't WAIT for the work to be done. I was lucky enough to find a technician at a local shop who has a soft spot for restoring "vintage" (yes, it bugs me) steel-framed bikes. Until that's ready, I've got the GT out. In fact, I took it for a spin — my first of the year — this evening!

Link to this
Back to top