Reader Appreciation Week: Day Four

In celebration of my 500th comment, I’m answering reader mail all week. So, if you have a question, and the library won’t help you, send it my way.

Hints: try to make it something I have a shot of answering, or at least humorously. (Offer void where prohibited by law. And in Bermuda.)

  • Q. WTF is up with orkut lately? — Laura, CA
    Let’s check, shall we?


    Server Error

    The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request.

    Please try again in 30 seconds.

    At least that’s different than “Bad server, no donut for you.” 🙁 Different, but not better.

    When it is up, it’s a lot of fun. People are gearing up for the Orkut Prom,
    setting up virtual dates and virtual debauchery afterwards.

  • Q. Why do “American” companies incorporate in Bermuda? – Michael, Atlanta, GA.
    Companies incorporate in Bermuda as a tax dodge. (Hey, corporations pay fewer taxes anyway.)
  • Q. What are the little numbers on the bottom of plastic containers? – Ellen, St. Paul, MN

    These are resin identification codes that the American Plastics Council developed in 1988 as a means of consistently representing a plastic’s composition. It’s used in recycling. For example, my curbside carrier picks up 1’s and 2’s.
  • Q: How is your Bike Friday doing? Any comments/complaints after all this time?Doug, WA
    Overall, I’m happy with the bike, though it’s not been perfect — what bike is?
    I’ve got about 1,000 miles on it now and will be doing a tune-up (new rear tire, chain, brake pads) after Tour de Blast. (Last year when I rode TdB, I had volcanic ash on everything.)
    Once I worked out the seat issues (see below), the bike is extremely comfortable and I’ve done multiple 80+ mile rides on it without any serious discomfort. The frame has a lot of cool braze-ons and hooks for accessories. I have a rear rack on it for carrying junk that won’t fit in the CamelBak on long rides. There are mount points for a front rack should I delude myself into bike touring again. Adding and removing the fenders takes less than a minute and can be done without taking the wheels off.

    And I have a kickstand. There’s a guilty pleasure when stopping at a large bike
    event and, while riders are looking for a space to prop their bike against, I whip out the ‘stand and park wherever I want to. The kickstand also has a mount should I want to tow a trailer. Not that I see a need to do so.

    So here are the issues I’ve come across:
    The beam flexes when one sits on it, thus, the conventional wisdom of leveling the seat
    doesn’t work.
    After some trial and error, I got the right pitch, but my Selle Italia Pro
    saddle, which I had a used for 2,500 miles on my prior bike, was still
    horribly uncomfortable. I think it had to do with the additional springiness of
    the titanium beam compared to the inflexibility of my previous, aluminum bike.
    Anyway, this was resolved when I switched to the low-tech, aesthetically
    pleasing Brooks B17 I received as a birthday gift. My butt has never been

    One other seat-related issue — the original seat post, an American
    Flyers, couldn’t deal with the angle needed to keep the Brooks seat
    comfy. The seat would come loose during a couple of rides until I stripped
    the bolt holding it on. A new Blackburn double-bolt seatpost has worked

    The Shimano Ultegra shifting is not as fluid as it should be,
    especially to the big chainring and from the big to the middle.
    This may be a problem with triple cranksets or perhaps I’m excessively
    pushing the tolerances of the derailleurs.
    I have 39-52-60 crankset on the front and an 11/34 freewheel on the
    back. In practical terms, this means I have a range of 23 – 108
    gear inches.
    Pedaling at 90 rpm,
    this translates to 6.1 – 29.2 miles per hour.

    This combination of gearing neccesitates an incredible amount of chain
    play. A secondary problem is the long Shimano XTR rear derailleur hangs
    near rim level. This seems too close to the ground.

    In the winter I may swap the crankset for a double as a quick fix.

    When I originally bought the bike, I expected to use the 9/26 Capreo, which would
    have used smaller front rings, and this would have theoretically been in spec.
    If I were to do it all over again, I would seriously consider the 14-speed
    Rohloff hub. This would get rid of the derailleurs entirely as the chain
    never shifts.

    I have the handlebars pretty high. With the small wheels, this makes the distance between the HRM transmitter and receiver a bit large, exceeding its capability to reliably transmit data. I had to mount the HRM below the handlebar. This is not such a bad thing because when I bike in the fall,
    I will want to put my light mount down there.

1 thought on “Reader Appreciation Week: Day Four”

  1. I am considering riding to Larabee St. Park this summer. Do you recommend the Cascade RSVP route or do you have another route that you like better? Thanks for any info you can provide me.

    Jim responds: From Seattle I gather? The Chuckanut Drive portion of the RSVP route is very nice and certainly recommended. The only two parts of the RSVP route I didn’t like were the segment on the Burke-Gilman trail (bumpy, too many driveways, speed limits, etc) and the flat portion just before Chuckanut Drive — with no tree canopy, the route is windy and the roads are rough.

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