Monday, February 25, 2013


My commuter bike is ready. One month after I purchased the frame, picked out all the parts. It's been awhile since I'ver purchased a custom build and I forgot how adventurous the process can be.

Back at the end of January, I bought a SOMA Fabrications Buena Vista mixte frame through a local bike shop. I was pleasantly surprised when the frame and fork arrived in two business days. Unfortunately, that's where the pleasantness ends. Turns out, the distributor for SOMA, The Merry Sales Co., sent the frame with a 650b fork. It should've been 700c. Okay, slight hiccup. Just send back the smaller fork and swap for the bigger one. Except, the only 700c forks Merry Sales had was in a slightly different color.

The Buena Vista I purchased was a 2012 model in Bacardi White, but the 2013 color is Pearl White. I bet you might be thinking, "What's the difference? White is white." To that I say, have you walked into a paint store recently? There is no less than 15 shades of white from names like ice mist to wedding veil. Also, the idea of spending a good chunk of change getting a custom build together with a mis-matched frame and fork didn't sit well with me.

Merry Sales offered to send out a chrome fork. No way. How about a Bacardi White that is slightly blemished? Not a chance. I considered calling the whole thing off and send the frame back for a refund. Or swap the mis-matched 2012 model I got for the 2013 Pearl White. After some consideration, the thought of getting the bike built with minimal delays outweighed the minor color difference.

Ultimately, I was disappointed with SOMA/Merry Sales for not providing the information about the mis-matched frames and forks for its remaining 2012 stock. As of this writing, the SOMA online store still does not have any notes to inform prospective customers about this.


For this build, I was going for a retro look and I wanted to avoid mass-produced companies like Shimano or SRAM. The headset, stem, and crank were to come from Velo Orange out on the east coast. Once again, my local bike shop placed an order during the first week of February. Wouldn't you know it, Velo Orange was in the process of moving right at that time, resulting in shipping delays during their move. The parts finally arrived, almost two-and-a-half weeks later.

This past Saturday, I finally got the call from the shop that the bike was ready. The weather had been cold and wet earlier during the week, but Saturday was clear, calm and even sunny. I couldn't have asked for a better day to going riding during the middle of winter.

The Universe sure has a funny way of balancing things out.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Helmets: To wear or not to wear?

I'll be the first to admit that I don't always wear a helmet. I tend to wear one when I'm out for more than a couple of hours, or I leave it at home if I'm just running errands around the neighborhood.

I know there's a variety of reasons why individuals choose to go one way or the other. There's the usual arguments for comfort, vanity, arrogance, and of course, safety. I'm not here to sway anyone one way or the other. As I said, sometimes I wear one. Sometimes I don't.

Laws and ordinances aside, I'm a proponent for individual responsibility. Whether you wear a helmet or not, spend some time to consider how you came to your decision. Be thoughtful and purposeful with your choice. Above all else, be honest with yourself. When all's said and done, you're ultimately responsible for the choices you make (and don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise).

My current brain bucket.
What I'm considering.

In a matter of weeks, I will start using my bike as part of my long commute to work. For better and for worse, my route will take me through some of the busiest and quietest parts of the city. I have no illusions that safety is guaranteed no matter what I do. I don't like the idea of carrying one more item during the part of my commute when I'm not on my bike. But I like the idea of splitting my head open should I get tapped by an Escalade even less.

I have a lot of people who count on me at work. It's important that I make it there in one piece. This isn't just my ego talking; of course the world will spin madly on without me. But wearing a helmet and riding sensibly will improve my odds of enjoying my ride.

Whatever choice you make, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Here we go.

I've been a "roadie" all my life. What started out as a childhood love for riding evolved into a lust for all things bicycles. I concerned myself with Campy components, frame geometries, friction versus indexing. Maybe devolved is the right word.

Like many before me who left Neverland and grew up, my perspective changed along with my experiences. Somewhere along the way, the fellowship of riding with friends  devolved into speed, competition, and gear. Still fun, but different.

Over the last five years, I haven't ridden my bike the way I did in my youth. For a variety of reasons, I lost my Mojo for cycling, only admiring it from a distance. I often use my long work commute (30+ miles each way) as an excuse for why I haven't been riding. It's dark when I leave the house in the morning and it's dark when I get back. Can you hear the violin music?

Vashon Island, September 2012

it's been much too long. I miss riding. I miss the long climbs. I miss the feeling from coasting downhill. I miss the sound of the wind in my ears. I miss waving hello to fellow riders and getting a wave back.

So this is my plan: Just ride.