Thursday, December 22, 2011

Exhibit A

Man, it's like Christmas in December this week!!!

I opened my creaking PO Box door yesterday to reveal a lovingly wrapped and almost illegibly addressed package of brainfood, lobbed over the ocean by this man.

Allow me to introduce A, the best machinist/massage therapist his side of the Brantas.

The term "built like a brick shithouse" doesn't quite cover it. He's like an elegantly articulated meatcage whose sole purpose is to sustain and protect a massive, generous heart.

Some of his finer moments include;

Taking and winning my dare, and my $5, to eat a navel orange in its entirety. Skin, wax, seeds, sticker...the lot.
Graciously giving the $5 back when he failed to repeat the stunt with a huge cooking onion.

Sprinting the mandated 50 meters across the weigh scale of a wreckers yard during their annual "all you can carry sale". His precious cargo? An entire Mazda rotary engine and a backpack full of automobile entrails.

He had the ability to take a 6 foot long cut on a bar of stainless, keep it within 5 thou, all the while listening to classical mandolin tracks, reading the latest Richard Dawkins tome and ingesting half a roasted chicken the way most of us would eat an apple, or a cob of corn.

After being told by The Boss to, "stop wasting the company's time", he sauntered over to the punchclock, clocked out, told The Boss to fuck himself, then punched back in and resumed the task at hand. Poetry in motion, our boy.

Some years later, when I was in the position of having the responsibility to receive his letter of resignation. I opened the envelope and read the first sentence which began, "To The Evil Overlords Of _____________ Industries".

I could go on and on boring you with this. Suffice to say he made my day a number of times and has just done it again with his latest gesture.

Thanks, Gundul.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My inner Archie Bunker 1.

For all of you lucky people flouncing around in your winter wonderland in anticipation of the upcoming extravaganza of gustatory delights and material flamboyance that Christmas has become, I offer this small amuse cranium sent by a good friend of a good friend...

Here in LaLa Land it is the rainy season and that means, that's right, rain. There is an old wives' tale that the Inuit have over 100 words for's just snow for chrissakes. So too in the tropics there are an equally large number of variations in the way the water falls from the sky, but in the end the result is the same. It's rain. You get wet.

Holding together a training plan means that you will have ample opportunity to prove the above statement. The alternative is too ghastly to imagine. 6 hours on a trainer? Now, where did I put those booties?

Yesterday, on a tooth rattling, taint bashing 85 km/hr descent in a blinding piss fest, I communed with my inner Archie Bunker. As I age I find him coming to me with increasing frequency. The pleasure of this visit was owing to a little tune in that I had the previous morning.

Kiddo and I had a date called Report Card Day. Normally not a huge deal unless your child is either an idiot or a savant, this meeting took on a whole new trajectory round about the time the outgoing head of the school's advisory board was winding up his speech by dropping (rather proudly) that his son had opened a practice as a... well, really, the only word we have in English seems to be... witch doctor.

Now, one might expect that there would be a bit of a pregnant pause at this point...nope. Just a bunch of people whipping out their Blackberries and tapping away to make sure they got his number and particulars should their child experience falling marks or emotional problems owing to black magic, curses or possession.


Then we all had snacks...

I'm not going to launch into some long drawn out discussion of cultural relativism or the like. At some moments it just really strikes me how different my thought process is from many people around me here. Child has bad marks, call the witchdoctor...Nanny would have offered something more down home that she used to refer to as, "kicking your ass up to your ears". To each their own.

To end this post on a more down to earth note, I picked up a couple of these jerseys from Klaus over at Cycling Inquisition. Now, his only contribution to the whole affair was to make them look drop dead awesome... OK, I guess there was that whole 2 years of blogging thing beforehand that made it all possible, but I digress.

ANNNNNYWAYS, the point is that these Hincapie jerseys have a really weird attribute; dirt doesn't stick to the bloody things! I've got over 20 hours in the rain on this white one and it doesn't show a spot. the shot above is after yesterdays love-in. I just hit it with a little dish soap and faster than you can say SUAVEMOTHERFUCKER, the dirt is down the drain. George better watch his fine self so the Iraqis down "down" and analyze his kit.

Oh, one more thing...

Cassava (yucca) patties with chives and cumin. Feel the love.

Merry Christmas Meatheads,

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Aliens Unite! and Gentleman Joe

Just when I was beginning to feel like Daffyd with a bike shoved up me arse, I actually met some people on roadbikes!

Yesterday, while ripping away on a big bastard climb, I passed a small group of cyclists (actually a group of small cyclists and their trainer) perched on the side of the road about halfway up. I crested, turned around and zoomed back down to find out who they were.

We chatted for a bit, exchanged numbers, and hit the road.

They were a group of young (13-16 YO) riders and their coach getting in some miles ahead of leaving for a 3 day stage race on Lombok which is a selection race for further regional and national races.

I'm keen to meet up with the coach after their return to find out more about the racing and selection structure as it seems a little odd.

The riders had bikes and kit provided by the Indonesian Sports federation, but I'm not sure how they got to this point without any local races to showcase their talent or interest.

In a scene which has repeated itself ad nauseum on countless group rides all over our fair planet,
there was one rider, slightly older (no, not me you cheeky buggers!), who was blabbing on about how the younger riders were not serious and were too lazy in their training. You can guess the rest...I turned to the 13 year old girl riding beside me and said, "Uh oh, looks like we've lost someone...". She just smiled and said, "big hill...". Class.

We all said our goodbyes a few km later before they returned to Denpasar and I continued my climb up into the clouds at Kintamani.

At 5:30 this morning, my oatmeal feast was interrupted by an sms from the coach inviting me over to his place when he's back from the race. Cool.

Seeing these kids out halfway up the side of a mountain on a rainy day, being followed by their coach on a scooter hauling pump, drinks, etc reminded me of the people that were my role models when I was a youngster shaving my legs before I had any hair on my chin.
There was one fellow who stands out.

Following our move to Alberta, when I was 13, I had the fortune to find Velocity Cycle and its owner, Joe Zombor.

You can read his bio here.

He was equal parts Clark Gable, Francesco Moser and had a quality that people currently think exists only in Jens Voigt. Class to spare, a strong hand on your saddle when you were a bonking 13 year old in over your head with the old guys, and a drop dead gorgeous Cinelli that even a summer storm knew better than to sully with its impertinent rain drops.

He was a fount of great commonsense advice for riders young and old and stressed that one be serious about sport, eat right, and train-train-train. Often when I was too tired or lazy to get on the bike, I would think of what his reaction would be. Then I would get on the bike.

When we hit the roads east of Edmonton on a Sunday morning it was always a great social occasion for Joe and his buddies after a long work week. Why they would want a 13 year old kid tagging along is beyond me. Yet, I never heard anything other than positive words and encouragement. He would often dip his hand into the cavalry blue musette that was permanently slung across his back and offer out fruit candies to his riding mates.

There was another piece of cargo that occupied space in that musette. Whether it was a Joe original or a habit from the old country, at regular intervals he would produce a small piece of hardwood and use it to graze the running surface of his wheels to glean off any glass and stones which could destroy an expensive tubular.

As I have been reminded by Wife- it's not as big as it looks.

I was reminded of this ritual one morning earlier this past week when I noticed a pile of glass on the road whilst walking Mutt. Then I saw more. Then I looked up the road...

There is a popular drink here called Teh Botol. It is essentially a super-saturated solution of sugar in tea, which is approximately sweet enough to raise the dead.

These bottles lay broken on the road at regular intervals as far as the eye could see. Why? How? Who knows?

Local opinion is divided as to whether they fell off a truck or were purposely broken. They were all along about 5km of road.

If it was done on purpose, chapeau to the asshole(s) for keeping the hate running long enough to accomplish this. Perhaps there is discipline here after all. I would've started laughing my sack off after about the 3rd explosion.

So, after half an hour of sweeping the road, I began to think of Joe and his little block of wood. I don't run tubulars on my road bike any more, but tires are expensive all the same.

For my efforts, I was given a free helmet by the Sosro people. Kidding. I'm a kidder.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trademark, Shmademark

Somehow I don't imagine that "PORCHE" is losing much sleep over this...

Anyone that has spent any time here will tell you that discipline, generally, is not terribly thick on the ground of this beautiful island.

There are seemingly endless examples of this that are visible on a daily basis, some relatively deadly (traffic and Borax treated rat meatballs spring to mind) and some benign, but annoying all the same (traffic police and meatball soup shops that don't open on time, perhaps).

I would say that the matters of trademark, copyright and patent infringement fall somewhere between these 2 poles.

In the west we tend to use the yardstick of commerce to separate the cheats from the criminals.

If you are benefiting financially from counterfeit, you are pretty solidly in the second of the two categories.

As a company owner, would I care that some kid emblazoned the name of my product all over his body/car/bike? Probably not (unless the kid was doing illegal stuff while displaying my brand).

Would I care if I learned that someone had set up a shop selling knock offs of my goods
at a price that greatly undercut the cost of the genuine article? Yeah, I might be a little pissed.

What if the problem was so systemic that items bearing absolutely no relation to my product
line, yet bearing my brand were being marketed openly in retail establishments wrapped in
professionally produced packaging also bearing my trademark complete with fake security seals and hologram stickers? Pissed AND a little awed.

Some time ago I read a great post on the Cycling Inquisition blog regarding people in Colombia "branding" their no name bikes with commercially available stickers.

This took my back to my first car, A crappy Volkswagen Beetle plastered with Porsche stickers. I completely related. God bless the resourceful Colombians and their stick-it-to-the-man-I-can-ride-a-Guericiotti-if-I-fucking-well-want-to attitude, I thought.

It's not like the group in question form a huge bloc of Guericiotti's market demographic anyways.
And then I saw them. The Cervelos...

Who the hell knows about Cervelo here? People don't follow road racing. I rarely, if ever, see anyone on a roadbike. So what's the reference?
Apart from these, Cervelo has never even built mountain bikes.

Why not BMC?

Maybe Canadians are pushovers, whereas the Swiss will find your ass and not be so neutral
in their treatment of it.

The thing that I can relate to in the Colombian example is the desire to have something
that is unattainable. That's not present with the owners of these "Cervelos". They don't
know or care what Vroomen means.

I asked one fellow why he chose this particular frame and he said, "The color is nice and
the Giant was too expensive". Fair enough.

When I asked if it mattered that it was not a real Cervelo and that Cervelo wouldn't see a
Rupiah of the sale price the response was the universally heard,"Sing Ken-Kennnn..." (Not a

Ok, whatever...I guess.
Maybe the bikes in question are meant to be a second tier fake of a fake;

But for Chrissakes, if you're going to get up early enough to lay down 2 colours, decals and
clearcoat, have enough coffee beforehand to at least spell it right...

(My apologies for the formatting of this post. I have been fooling with it the better part of an hour, but the editing does not transfer to the preview pane...)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Number of The Beast

The Boys from Leyton had it wrong (as does the rest of the Judeo-Christian world as well, come to think of it). The beast that will wreak havoc upon the Earth hath a number, but it's not 666...

Here is a picture of the 2nd most beautiful bike in the world. Why is it so lovely? It fits, it's light, and it was (relatively) cheap to build.

It has its quirks, but it is a tool suited to its purpose and as such receives all the care and maintenance it needs. and then some, but it has one soul-grinding flaw.
Whoever the knucklehead was that spec'ed its non standard headset, deserves to be whipped in public by the janitorial staff of Chris King Industries using an artisanal bamboo cane .

Is it a Reg'lar Ol' Zero Stack headset?
Is it an Integrated headset?
Can It be upgraded or replaced with something better or even WTF more expensive?
Well, old buddy, that's OK. just get a few replacements and save them for that sad day when your's is too bunged to service again.

Spec'ed by said knucklehead, made by FSA sub contractor VP, Badged and supplied by CaneCreek, then pressed into my deal-of-the-century aluminium frame. No wonder it was such a great deal.

I've got spec sheets, drawings, part numbers...but f**k me if I can actually buy a headset. Like trying to find an upper rad hose for a friggin' 74 Dacia. In Moose Jaw. In the dead of Winter...

Why is such a little detail so important to me?
Reread the title of this Blog.
That and I ride in the rain. A lot.

Besides all my other good qualities, I am also gullible (and I make a great salt fish fried rice).
On forums where people had vented their frustration regarding this very same headset, the general consensus was that it was not even serviceable.

Don't believe it.

As is so often proven by 5 year olds with screw drivers and 15 year old Indonesian motorcycle mechanics; if it was built it can be unbuilt (and in some instances rebuilt by the latter, but most likely not by the former).

Here's How:

Once the forks, spacers and bars are removed and safely out of the way, clean any accumulated crap from around the bearings, head tube and steerer tube.

Be sure not to lose track of the lower seal that sits on the crown race support. Using a pointed tool, pry out the plastic bearing retainers and release the bearings in their cages. I like to keep them separate so that they go back from whence they came. The bearings and cups can now be cleaned with your degreaser of choice, being mindful of the bike's finish.

note; cups shown removed for clarity
Once clean, the cups and bearings can then be repacked with fresh grease. The final step is to pop the bearing retainers back in their grooves and give things a final wipe before reassembling the front end of the bike.

At this point I'll give you a little tip; When the fork is installed, particularly if the steerer is carbon, give the crown race support a wipe of white lithium grease and do the same when the upper compression ring is installed.

I cannot tell you how much stress I have been caused by a mysterious clicking on my Cervelo, and again once I upgraded the fork on this Giant. All caused by stiction between the alloy upper compression ring and the carbon steerer tube.

We don't want any grease on the steerer tube when the stem is installed, so give it a good wipe with a soft clean cloth wetted with rubbing alcohol after the upper cap is slid home.

To finish things up, apply a bit of assembly paste to the steerer tube, install the stem then torque the preload cap and stem fasteners to spec.

Score; VP/Cane Creek/FSA/Giant-0: ME-1

Note that this is generally the procedure to repack the bearings of an integrated headset too, but extra care is needed with your tool when removing the bearing seals to ensure that they are not distorted or their lips damaged (yes, I just said that).

Once the seals are removed, the bearings must be cleaned in their housings and dried completely before repacking using the palm of your hand to work the grease in. I live in a very humid environment and shy away from using compressed air to blow out the bearings so as not to contaminate the bearings with moisture.

Final tip; save your skin. Don't use solvents or harsh cleaners to get the grease and corruption off of your hands. Just work in a little cooking oil (or extra virgin olive oil if you're a dentist, or your hair if you're Cipo), then wash up with a mild soap. Works the treat, it's cheap and leaves your hands as soft as a Schleck!

Rant Over. Ruben out.

A disclaimer of sorts

If you came upon this blog hoping to find information about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I can't help you.

There are authoritative sources for said info on the web, such as this. More info can be found here and here.

I am many things; critical, moody, verbose, picky, irrational, foul mouthed, irritable, cranky, insatiable, but I'm not OCD (well, I don't have any paper proving I am, anyways). Rather, I am, as Wife puts it, "A fucking picky pain in the ass" (bless her soft heart).

Kids, I am an inveterate potty mouth. Do NOT use me as a role model for your ever burgeoning vocabulary. Also probably not a good idea to look to closely at my punctuation...Oy, Kids today!

I may from time to time use an image which is not my own to illustrate a point, if its usage is a problem for you as the rights holder, please contact me.

I am Living in Indonesia. I am Riding the Road Bike. I am Loving the Food. I am Iron Man...ok, not the last part.

This Blog deals with all of that and more...