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Why It’s Really Not My Fault That It’s Taken Me Over Two Months To Fix My Friend Todd’s Really Cool Wheels And Other Excuses

This is a story that I started about 9 or 10 years ago and never quite finished. My buddy Todd has since moved away. While I sorta miss Todd, I miss the wheelset more.

I have the front wheel from my friend Todd’s Litespeed up on my truing stand right now. It’s as beautiful as a bike wheel can ever be: lightweight, aero and, as if I had to actually say it, really really cool looking. Badass even.  Its mate is over in the corner, waiting its turn.

Eat my dust, assholes...

My problem, if you can call it that, is that this particular set of wheels has been knocking around my shop for quite a while now, waiting for me to fix them.

For the first week or two it was a case of overscheduling on my part; I had other things that I was working on and, unwisely as it turned out, Todd told me that he didn’t need them back in a hurry.

But even after I cleared away the jobs that I had lined up ahead of it, I found that I was still putting off fixing Todd’s wheels because, well, I simply liked having them hanging around the shop. This particular wheel set has that certain something about it that just screams reckless speed, enough so that merely being in the same room with them tickles the little spot in the unconscious portion of the male brain that is the source for certain very basic, very fundamental urges.

Competitive urges.

Urges that make you treat a friendly training session with your friends like an unholy cross between Grand Theft Auto and a stage of the Tour de France. Urges that make you do things like show up to a casual ride with your friends with mayhem in your heart and an ass-whooping in your legs.  A call to evil fashioned from whisper-light aluminum and carbon fiber.

kind of a wheelset.

So there they sit, leaning against my work bench, leaving me to bask in the aura of their quiet menace while I work on other things.

Now when I’m working on something in my shop I usually tend to ignore the clutter and stay pretty much focused on what’s in front of me. However, having Todd’s wheels in the shop has changed all of that. I’ll be truing a wheel or adjusting a shifter when, for no reason at all, I will suddenly get the urge to glance over at Todd’s wheels sitting there in the corner. No they haven’t moved or fallen over, but something about them makes me want to stop what I am doing and walk over to admire them. Sometimes I will reach down and pick one up and twirl it on its axle, admiring the smoothness of its bearings and the impossible slenderness of its spokes as they whooshwhooshwhoosh past my gaze.

The impact of Todd’s wheels hasn’t been confined to my workshop.  Let’s just say that things have gotten a little weirder as more time goes by.

Right about the time that I picked up Todd’s wheels and deposited them in my workshop I began to notice that small things about my personality started to change. For example, I find that my approach to my daily commute to work on my old beater bike has started to shift from mellow to malevolent; I am starting to ride faster, feistier, and a whole lot more aggressive when I hit the road. Casual bike rides are no longer simply for pleasure; they have became search-and-destroy missions designed to catch and drop as many riders as possible. Things have changed off the bike, too. There is a new-found swagger in my step and glint in my eye. I’m ordering my steaks rare and my whiskey neat. I watch a lot of John Wayne movies.

And it feels good.

After a couple of weeks basking in the transformative thrall of Todd’s wheels, it has suddenly dawned on me that, my God, I really don’t want to fix Todd’s wheels. It is plain to see that every time I pick them up or fiddle with them I get a little meaner and a little faster. If I fixed them I’d eventually have to give them back, and giving them back simply isn’t an option at this point.

I need more time.

So I’ve started to make up excuses why I couldn’t or shouldn’t work on Todd’s wheels.

After casting around for a plausible bit of sophistry to justify keeping keep Todd’s wheels in my shop for the foreseeable future, I had a bit of good luck. Actually, it is pretty rotten luck for Todd, but really excellent luck for me.  The reason that the wheels are in the shop in the first place is because Todd has managed to have the mother of all wrecks on his bike during the Thursday night ride. Lately the guys have been riding way more aggressively – caused, no doubt, by being in the vicinity of Todd’s wheels – and the inevitable happened. It took three ambulances to clean up the mess. Anyway, Todd is now off of the bike, laid up with a broken shoulder, cracked ribs, and a wicked concussion.

My argument that I have come up with for keeping his wheels is as impeccable and pure as my motive: handing Todd back his race wheels before he is medically cleared to ride would be akin to giving Britney Spears a gallon of whiskey, the keys to a hotel suite in Vegas, and a video camera. We know that the girl just can’t help herself, and I strongly suspect that neither could Todd. I mean, shoot, his wife has already caught him trying to sneak out of the house on his beater bike for “just a quick spin up to the coffee shop with the guys.” Can you imagine the kind of trouble that my fun-loving, chuckle-headed buddy Todd might get into if this bit of irresistible, hairy-chested speed weaponry was thoughtlessly returned to him?

Yup, so can I. He might end up beating me in a sprint.

Feeling that I would be justly held responsible for any future injury to Todd if I allowed him to be tempted into a too-early return to the bike, I’ve decided that the only thing that a true friend can do under the circumstances is to keep his extremely cool, very fast wheels locked up in the protective custody of my workshop, where I can personally keep a close eye on them.

I mean, it’s the least that I can do for Todd.

But just because I am helping my friend by providing a safe refuge for his wheels while he’s on the mend doesn’t mean that I have to wait any longer to fix them.  No, no, no. A few more minutes with a spoke wrench and these bad boys will once again be ready to rock. And since Todd is likely to be laid up for quite a while, I’m sure that he’ll understand if I show up to the next Sunday morning ride with his wheels fitted to my bike.

Quality control, you see. Simply a little test ride, nothing more.

And, yes, I’ll be certain to give them back when he’s ready.

Which should be soon. Really. Very soon. Like when I’m finally able to drop the group on that long climb up to Gunston Road. Or when I finally win a sprint in the Park. But certainly not before then. No, we don’t want to rush this. We can’t rush this. Protecting Todd’s health is far more important than sorting out who has some silly wheelset bolted to his bike.

I’m figuring that I can start thinking about giving Todd his wheels back sometime around Christmas…2019.


Later Just Happened: The Bike Is Painted

Last time ’round I said that I would stick to tradition and ride bike Number 5 for a while and paint it later.  Well, after a good solid shakedown period riding my latest creation to work, a couple of things happened.   First, it didn’t kill me, which is always Job #1.   Second, in addition to not killing me, it also didn’t fall apart, act weird, explode, catch fire, or bother the wildlife.

What it did do was start to rust which, being steel, you could expect.  You’d think that this would be a bad thing, but I’m quickly finding out that not all rust is equal, and that one person’s “rust ” can be another person’s “patina” in the right setting.

“Patina” is sort of the latest deal among hot rodders and car guys.  You can’t open an issue of Hot Rod Deluxe (cool magazine) or whatever without seeing some  vintage Ford roadster or ’60s Chevy Gasser with what looks like very old paint or, a lot of times, no paint at all.  And it goes beyond merely preserving an old, distressed paint job; there are folks who actually work to make a new paint job look like it has been baking in the sun for 60 years.  Not surprisingly, given this trend, there are products out there that you can use to, in essence, preserve a shitty old paint job and, yes, I had more than one person tell me that the “patina” that had popped up on my bike was really cool looking and I should find a way to keep it.

However, to conclude this part of the discussion in hot-roddding terms, I’m not into the “rat rod” look.  I like my rides “sanitary.”  As in sharp looking.  Think early ’60s custom or Indy racer.

Capturing that vibe, of course, required another visit to my friends at Roth Metalflake, purveyors of the bitchen-est custom paint on the planet. What makes Roth perfect for my home-brewed bikes is that (1) it is very high quality automotive paint, (2) the colors are killer, and (3) you can get it in a rattle can.  Yes, rattle cans.  I’ve got the compressor and spray guns and all the impedimenta necessary for painting cars, but the older that I get the more that I hate cleaning up.  With rattle cans you can just spray and toss.  Perfect.

Anyway, the colors that I picked were from a cool  (but sadly tragic) Indy-car from 1964: Eddie Sachs’ “American Red Ball Special” Halibrand Shrike.  Metalflake gold, white panels, red trim.  My bike has more gold than Eddie’s car, but the colors are pretty much off of the same palette.

Eddie and Dave MacDonald Died In A Lap 2 Crash

Eddie Sachs, Indy 1964

The color selection from Roth was “Custard Pie” flake over a white base.  I made up a set of decals – including the young lady – and then clear coated the whole shootin’ match with a two-part catalyzed clear.  I also picked out the “windows” on the lugs (fork legs, head lugs, etc.) with Roth pin-striping paint.

Take a look:

She is a


Mr. Bad Example

High -Flange Goodness

Overall, I am happy with the way that it turned out.   The paint really “pops” in the sun.  There are one or two spots where the clear got a little hazy, but I was able to buff most of that out.  It’s almost a shame to ride it to work and place it at the mercy of the Bike Rack Neanderthals who are a little hard on the paintwork when parking or retrieving their rides.


I’ll Paint It Later

Okay, so it has been a while.

As a peace offering to my usual audience, the spam bots and random folks who land on this page as a result of a really misdirected Google search, I offer pictures of my latest project.

Behold, Bike Number 5.  A lugged steel fixed gear frameset.

number5-12The Details:

Columbus Chromor tube set, oversize (Schwinn used to use this on some of its touring bikes).

Short point “bikini” lugs

Paragon Machine Works rear track drop outs

Steel, straight legged fork, aero cross section

Hidden rear brake cable (in the top tube)

Geometry – 55cm top and seat tubes, 74 degree head and seat tube, 39 degree offset fork.

More Details:


“Ass Harpoon” seat stay caps.


IRD “Defiant Crank Set – 144mm bolt circle, 1/8 inch pitch, 46 tooth ring

Paint: unpainted for now, but I already have the paint sitting in my garage.  Roth Metalflake “Custard Pie”.

So, how does it ride?

I put about 100 miles on it last week, riding back and forth to work.

One word: smooth.

Another word: fast.

This is a good one.




New Shimano Add-On For Di2? You Heard It Here First…

While I am not a normal source for breaking news from within the cycling industry, this one is too good not to pass on.


You can expect an announcement in the next few days from industry-leader Shimano regarding their new “Shimano High Intensity Telemetry” add-on for Di2. The new system is comprised of a series of sensors buried under the bar tape and saddle that measure various biometric parameters in real time via galvanic feedback from the skin on your hands and glutes. Quietly deployed in the pro peloton this year, the system provides the rider with feedback on heart rate, lactic acid levels, calculated V02 and, oddly, cholesterol and (on the women’s-specific model) predicted ovulation.

The units also have a GM “OnStar”-like concierge feature that streams rider data to a central location (believed to be a facility located inside the ShimanoLand theme park outside of Osaka, Japan) where it is monitored in real-time. Among the more intriguing services offered by this concierge service is what Shimano engineers are calling their “Bail Me Out” option: Shimano will hail an Uber driver for you if your biometric data reveals that you are too tired to continue. (This algorithm is based on your level of fitness as calculated from your age, number of miles this season, calculated BMI, and the proximity of a good coffee shop). The video feedback from the derailleur-mounted CM-1000 ShimanoVision “action cam” is directly compatible with Apple TV.


I Am Done With Complicated Coffee

I had an epiphany this morning, standing in line at the Starbucks across the street from my office. No profound observations about Man and God or insights into Beauty, Nature, and What It All Means. Nothing that deep. It was, after all, 7:30 in the morning.

No, it was something more basic. More practical.

My epiphany was this: I’m done with “complicated” coffee. 

Yes, I Did Make Some Double Espresso Cups WIth The Taylor Bike Logo. You Know That You Want One…

Stated more precisely, I’m done with other people standing in line ahead of me ordering “complicated” coffee while us regular folks just want to get our java and bolt.

We all know what “complicated’ coffee is. And if you don’t, all that you have to do to find out is show up at just about any Starbucks or other “premium” purveyor of coffee and watch what people order. It’s your mocha frappicino. It’s your iced soy chai in a personal cup. It’s your skim, no whip, triple pump pumpkin spice latte. It’s any foo-foo drink that you’d care to describe. It’s the need to make a statement about personal empowerment masquerading as a beverage purchase.

And from the perspective of all of us waiting here at the back of the line, it’s a drink that takes a long time to order, and an even longer time to make.

Me, I’m not picky. Obviously. I drink whatever is brewed. Drip coffee, thank you. Maybe a shot of espresso, if it isn’t too much trouble. And I don’t hold out for “Sumatra” or “Pike Place Bold” either. Just make it strong and black. No cream or sugar. Like God intended.

This set me to thinking that there has to be a coffee place for those who just want a cup of joe and not have to wade through a lot of nonsense. I would call it “Just F*cking Coffee.” And there would be rules.

The rules would be the best part.

  • Coffee, and only coffee. Don’t start with that macchiato or frappachino crap. If you can’t ladle it or pour it out of an urn, we won’t sell it.
  • No coffee accessories for sale. No cups, no coffee presses, no espresso machines. No music CDs. Go pimp that crap somewhere else.
  • No gift cards. No credit cards. Cash only. Exact change appreciated. And especially no prepaid cards. From what I have observed from my spot at the end of the line, all of those Starbucks prepaid cards must be based on complicated arbitrages of obscure foreign currencies or negotiable instruments that must be reported to the SEC. They must, given all the receipts, signatures, and counter-signatures that appear to be necessary to complete a single sale. Paying for a cup of coffee simply cannot take that long, unless you are attempting to pay for your soy chai or latte using Romainian bearer bonds tied to Argentine peso futures or the Brazilian real.
  • You will get your coffee thrown at you if you are yakking on the phone or plugged in to an iPod while placing an order or paying.
  • WiFi? You won’t be here that long. Trust me.
  • The sugar and milk are over there, by the napkins, on your way out the door.

Am I missing anything?


Left Over Paint

Having finally finished up Bike Number 4 (“Miss Behaving”) it was time for me to catch up on some deferred maintenance on the rest of the fleet. I also needed to clean up the clutter in my workshop that always accumulates around a framebuilding project, especially during the thrash at the end when you finally push away the empty paint cans and tape and just want to bolt the damn thing together and ride it.


The killer paint job that I eventually laid down for “Miss Behaving” is its own story.  What I wound up with is a completely different paint job than I had first envisioned.  The blue metallic pearl that ended up on the bike sort of evolved and mutated over time as I muddled my way along.

And what also happened is that, with the color change, I had a lot of left over paint. Paint that ended up as the basis for a really cool accidental customization of another bike.

It went like this:

The original vision for Miss Behaving wasn’t the snappy cobalt blue that is on bike now, but rather a Lime Green metalflake, with black trim.  My thought was Lime Green would go with the wheels that I had for the bike – which were black. Whatever color I painted it had to work with black.  Lime Green works nicely.  So I bought paint – a color called “Gatorade Green” that I thought looked the part.

I painted the fork (see picture); and it wasn’t what I wanted.  A very cool color, sure. But not what I wanted.

After some soul searching, I decided that actually a bold blue ‘flake would be just the ticket.  The blue worked with the black wheels; let’s go with that!  So I bought more paint, this time a cool blue pearl called “Bad Azz Blue.”  I laid down a white base coat, like they suggested, and then started shooting pearl coats.
Lots of pearl coats.

Now I know that with pearl you build up the color gradually with lots of coats, but I quiclkly realized that I would go broke piling on the pearl coats before I got the color I wanted.

So…I stripped the bike and started over. This time I picked the blue metallic base coat instead of the white and then shot the blue pearl coats over that.

It worked.  Perfect.

But now I had a buttload of “Gatorade Green” paint and a slightly smaller buttload of  non-returnable”Bad Azz Blue” pearl left over from the two prior attempts.

Enter my commuter bike, the trusty and rusty 1998 Bianchi Volpe with a billion miles on it. One of the tasks on my to-do list was to blow a coat of paint over the frame in an effort to forestall further entropy over the winter. The bike still had its original jade green paint that was barely hanging on and, worse, the frame had some serious rust issues. It needed paint. Badly.

I decided to experiment a bit. I could always just get a can of Rustoleum and have at it, but where was the fun in that?  Looking at the many cans of leftover Gatorade Green and Bad Azz Blue pearl that I had lying around, I figured that I might be able to make the Gatorade Green turn a less bilious shade by shooting a couple of very light coats of the equally-leftover blue pearl over it.

Here’s the result – it turned a sort of reptillian metal flake green that, for some reason, reminds me of the album cover on Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies.”  The crappy iPad pictures don’t do it justice; it is really cool looking.  In fact, I get more unsolicited comments about the bike and the color than with any of the other bikes that I own.  Sure, my spray technique can certainly use some work – getting the blue pearl to mist evenly over the green was hard to pull off on something as weirdly shaped as a bicycle, so there are a few splotches and blotches where the pearl got away from me. But overall it looks wicked. 

 I did some decals and then clear-coated the shootin’ match. We’ll see how it holds up to daily commutes to work this winter.


Some Pictures

I was hoping to have something nicer for you to look  at other than some crappy iPad pictures, but my buddy the photographer (who went ape over the bike when I first rolled it out) hasn’t showed up with his camera, so these will have to do.

“These” are pictures of my fourth bike, Miss Behaving. 



The Details: “MISS BEHAVING”

– Silver brazed lugged steel

– Richard Sachs “PegoRichie” tubes

– Richie-issimo Lugs and Bottom Bracket Shell

– Richie-issimo fork crown and Piccoli Gioielli Front/Rear Dropouts

– Internal rear brake routing

– Paint: Roth Metalflake BAD AZZ BLUE Pearl shot over a blue base 

– Decals and Headbadge by Taylor

– 74 degree head and seat tube, 39mm offset fork (56mm trail)

– 55cm top tube, 55cm (center top) seat tube, 40mm chain stays

– Campagnolo Athena 11, Old (2003) Chorus Hubs laced to Open Pro rims

– King head set

– Brooks Cambium saddle

– Nitto Two Bolt post (NICE)

– Nitto Bar & Stem
How does it ride?  Fabulous.  This is now my “go-to” bike.  I can definately see Miss Behaving getting a LOT of miles next season.  I’m also now a compact crank convert – the Athena 11 shifts perfectly, I can always find a perfect gear, and there is plenty of range to get my old and wrinkled ass up most climbs that I am likely to come across.  Again, perfect for epic rides next season.  I’m thinking Jerimiah Bishop’s Alpine Gran Fondo next September…

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