somewhat daily mutterings

/Cycling Fenders Mounted on Serotta

Day One

Well, after a lot of waiting, and a little hacking and cursing, the new SKS fenders are mounted on my 1999 Serotta Rapid Tour commuter. Waiting, because the bike shop mis-ordered the first set, for which I'd already waited a week; this cost me another week and a half (and two or three rain rides) waiting for the correct set. Hacking and cursing because, naturally, the mounting procedure couldn't go quickly and easily, and also due to the cruel whims of mother nature.

serotta commuter bike

Serotta Rapid Tour all set up for commuting [bigger pic]

The hacking was necessary to get the fit of the fenders just right on the Rapid Tour, which has some very tight clearances (for a touring bike, anyway), which made the front fender a special challenge. Basically, the brake bridge bracket of the front fender is designed in a way that didn't let me raise it enough to clear the tire; the bottom of my headset interfered with raising the fender. I ended up coming up with a jerry-rigged combination of a long bolt and three nuts that moved the bracket away from the headset and worked OK for the first fitting, but which looked jerry-rigged, and that I feared would need constant adjustment and re-tightening.

Luckily, the rear fender went on without a hitch. The rear fender bracket fit just fine on the rear brake bridge. A nice surprise was that Serotta thoughtfully included a metal tab, apparently for fender mounting, that is attached with a braze-on bolt near the bottom bracket. So, I could simply attach the leading/front/bottom edge of the rear fender to that with no problem.

Mother nature is on the shit list because as I was working on the rear fender, the wind kicked up bigtime and blew all the parts I hadn't used yet into the grass from the top of my car where I'd carefully laid them out on the cardboard packaging. I'd even put the screws, etc. into a little plastic tray lid, for easy, yet protected, access. I guess the carboard piece and tray lid acted as a catapult for these parts as the wind kicked it up and carried it into the grass, because I found the parts spread out over a fairly wide area of grass. I guess I should be thankful that a) I was almost done, so there weren't many parts to lose, and b) I found most of the parts -- it could have been much worse. Nonetheless, I came away with only half of the little black endcaps that go on the fender struts to give the assembly a finished look. Since the rear will have a rack around it, I just put all the endcaps on the front struts.

I must say, that once all parts were mounted and tight, my "bounce test" revealed that the fenders don't rattle at all. And they look nice and neat, except for the front struts needing a trimming. Well, there's also the fact that the front fender has a bit of a "warp" near the front that causes it to look a bit cockeyed, but I'm trying not to think too much about that (otherwise, it'd drive me plumb crazy).

Day Two

I went to the hardware store today to get a better jerry-rig setup for the front bracket that would result in a more elegant arrangement than my day-one hack. I got a bigger, #10-2" bolt, some washers and lock nuts, and the most important thing - an aluminum sleeve. The aluminum sleeve takes the place of the two bolts that I'd used to "sandwich" the bracket in order to gain clearance in the hack solution. This all went together pretty nicely, I must say.

serotta fender hack

Serotta front fender mounting hack, improved [bigger pic]

I also got some bolt-cutters at the hardware store to trim down the extra material from the front fender struts, and some black "thread protectors" to replace the lost endcaps from yesterday. I had to wrap some electrical tape around the rear strut ends to get the thread protectors to fit better, but it looks nice.

More About My Setup

The bag, in case you're curious, is a Carradice "Bike Bureau" that I bought online from Wallingford Bicycle Parts (recommended). The bag is of waxed cotton (waterproof), and mounts very easily on the (Trek, but I want a Tubus) rear rack. Carradice is an English company and apparently is the oldest maker of bicycle luggage, or something of that nature. Anyway, it's a great bag, and my PowerBook fits great in it with the Waterfield Designs sleevecase for protection. The PB has suffered no ill effects after 235+ miles of commuting so far, in all conditions. A very detailed review can be found at By the way, I had a choice of left or right-side mounting and purposely chose left. Why? Because I mount my bike from the left side, and thus I almost always lean it to the right when parked pretty much anywhere. With the bag on the left, it's accessible while the bike is leaned up. It's accessible as soon as I've dismounted (which has come in handy during a couple of rainstorms), too. Keep this in mind if you choose to buy one.

The lighting system is a Light and Motion Apex high/low arrangement. I can't say enough about this system - it's great. Each of the lamps has three intensity settings, plus off, of course, so it's a very versatile setup. It has never let me down though all sorts of weather. I don't think this particular model is available any more, but I'd imagine anything they make is damn good.

serotta commuter bike

Serotta Rapid Tour all set up for commuting [bigger pic]

I took a page from the Rivendell book and bought a slightly larger than usual frame (a 58cm vs a 56cm), and then set this bike up with the bars nearly level with the saddle. I have to admit that it's a very comfortable fit. When I'm climbing out of the saddle, my arms are very nearly relaxed. On the flipside, sprinting (the little of it I do) feels a little odd.

In contrast, when I got onto my Trek 5200 last weekend, I felt as though I was going to go over the handlebars for the first few minutes, due to the slightly shorter top tube, the lower bars, and the much lower trail on the Trek fork. However, I very quickly adjusted to the Trek (after all I have thousands of miles on it). Still, I think I'm preferring the Serotta's fit. I'm actually toying with getting a Serotta CSi made to my dimensions sometime (one can always dream).

Posted: Sun Apr 25 15:34:11 -0700 2004

/Programming/Java Spring Framework Dedication

Spring Framework

In honor of Spring (both the framework, and the season), I've changed my weblog's stylesheet to be a springy-green.

Why honor the Spring Framework in such a way? Because, at my new company, I suggested its use (along with Velocity), even though I'd never used it profesionally. Why would I do that? Because Rod Johnson's book Expert One-on-One J2EE Design and Development (in which Johnson introduces the ideas and code that have become the Spring Framework) is such an excellent book that I became convinced that Spring is best-of-breed. Also, lurking on the mailing list proved to me that Spring is well-supported and has great traction with developers.

The result of choosing Spring is that the team has really become productive writing the new parts of our system, and it's helped us think about the system's architecture in better ways than before. The configuration infrastructure has allowed us to write better-decoupled components that can be wired up declaratively, or wired up programmatically and tested in isolation. There are so many good things about it that it's hard to cover them all.

Watch for the release of Expert One-on-One J2EE Development without EJB from Rod Johnson, which I'm sure will be a great treatise on using Spring to create non-EJB-based solutions.

Posted: Fri Apr 23 17:33:28 -0700 2004

/Cycling Commute From Hell

Wednesday's commute was a classic. It was cold in the morning, but not uncomfortably so. The real story is the afternoon ride home. The weather said there would be a chance of scattered showers. Well, I guess my downtown location was right in one of the scatter zones, because I looked out the window around 3:30 and it was raining steadily.

An hour later, when I hit the road on my bicycle, it was still raining steadily, with temps around 45 degrees. Luckily, I was well outfitted for the weather, so no problems there. The ride home was cold but uneventful, except that around twelve miles into the sixteen-mile ride, just as I was feeling good about almost being done, I ran over a pile of glass and flatted badly. A huge piece of glass got embedded in my (brand new) front tire, and when I pulled it out it left a pretty good gash. It was still raining, and even colder than when I'd started, and I just didn't have it in me to fix the flat and maybe boot the tire, so I just started walking.

I'd walked for a few minutes when a guy stopped and asked if I needed help. I asked if I could use his phone, and he kindly obliged. I called MB for a rescue, thanked the guy, and kept walking for a way. By the time MB got to me I was freezing and very glad for a warm car.

When we got back to the house, even though I was freezing, I still took the time to rinse and dry my beloved new Serotta commuter, the bicycle that I'd washed and waxed just last Friday. It's amazing how much crud gets on a bicycle riding in the rain (especially since I'm still riding without fenders, thanks to the great service (not) from Bike Source, who screwed up my first order and still hasn't contacted me for a week about the reorder), and there was no way I'd let the bike sit with all that crud on it. I still didn't have it in me to fix the flat, so the bike sits there awaiting further attention until this weekend. Sorry, bike.

Posted: Thu Apr 22 20:58:03 -0700 2004

/Computing/Mac New iBooks and PowerBooks are Out ...

... and they look great. The PBs have gotten (a little) faster and offer better graphics cards and a faster SuperDrive, the iBooks are a lot faster, and the "big" iBook now offers a SuperDrive. Which reminds me that I've always felt that a 15" widescreen iBook with a fast processor (not as fast as in the PB line, of course), would kill on the market. They'd have to keep the memory limits low and leave out other PB niceties, as they currently do, to keep the iBook from stealing sales from the PB, but I think a 15" iBook would sell like nothing else.

The bummer of the G4 iBook, of course, is that I bought a G3 iBook last summer. When they announced the G4 model just a few months later, the value of my G3 plummeted. Good for new buyers, bad for me. Oh well.

Posted: Tue Apr 20 05:01:00 -0700 2004

/Cycling Serotta Update

I took delivery of my new Serotta "Rapid Tour" today. Being a 58cm, measured center-to-center, it's a little bigger than what I'm used to (my Trek 5200 is a 58cm, measured center-to-top), but I have to say it rides like butter. For a "sport touring" bike with relatively long chainstays, it has a very stiff rear end, which is nice. No BB deflection when I stand and honk up a hill.

These pictures don't do it justice, but it's a very pretty bike, IMO:

Serotta photo

Front three-quarter

Serotta photo

Rear three-quarter

I mentioned in a previous weblog entry that most parts were to be moved over from my Cannondale cyclocross bike. The bike was built by Treads Cycle Outfitters, and it is to all appearances, and my experience riding it a little so far, is a great build. Following are the build specifics.

  • The frame is a 1999 Serotta "Rapid Tour", lugged steel construction, including the fork. Tons of braze-ons - front and rear rack and fender mounts, pump peg, and cable guides. The frame was built up by Treads Cycle Outfitters, and to all appearances was a great build.
  • All Shimano drivetrain and controls. All 105, except for the 600 front derailleur, which was necessary since the old 105 clamp didn't fit the downtube on this bike.
  • Mavic Open pro rims on Shimano Dura-Ace hubs. Built by Peter Chisholm of Vecchio's in Boulder, CO. I actually had these built for my Trek 5200, but I never got around to using them on that bike, having gotten used to running my Mavic Cosmos on it.
  • No-name seatpost, Selle Italia Flite Gel saddle.
  • Low-end shimano SPD pedals.
  • 46cm Salsa bars, ugly Profile stem.

Posted: Sat Apr 03 18:20:47 -0800 2004

/Cycling New Serotta Bicycle Frame!

Since I've been commuting downtown again, I've been doing so on my Trek 5200, with my laptop and gear in a backpack. However (and call me a wimp), carrying an 11 pound backpack has proven to be a real downer. Since my Cannondale XR800 has a rack, but is really too small for me (it's a long story), I've been pining for a nice, appropriately-sized touring/commuting bike to help me carry my load. Something that will take fenders and a rack with ease. To that end, I've been specifically pining for a Rivendell Rambouillet all-purpose bike.

So, today I headed out to test ride a Rambouillet and/or Atlantis. Long story short -- nice, but I couldn't really justify the cost. I also rode a Lemond cyclocross bike that rode nicely and was dirt cheap, but since it had no rack braze-ons it wouldn't easily take fenders and a rack. At another shop I rode a Kona "Jake the Snake" cyclocross bike, and it was really great. It had braze-ons for a rear rack, etc. However, I still wasn't ready to commit.

Then it happened. At yet another bike shop I walked around with the salesperson, being very uninspired by the offerings. Until, almost as an afterthought, he says "Well, we have this 1999 Serotta Rapid Tour frame, and it's a 58cm. We've been trying to sell it for $800, but no bites. I'd let it go, with the installed brakes, for $750." Well. I looked at it for a while and saw that it has every imaginable braze-on, was in great shape, and well, it's a Serotta. This frame retailed for around $1400. So, after a bit of measuring and considering, I went for it. I'm having all the components moved from my Cannie to the Serotta, at the labor cost of around $150. So, In essence, I'm getting a super-nice, lugged-steel, sport-touring bike for around $900. Not bad!

My lovely wife is going to drop the Cannie off at the shop this week, and the Serotta should be built by next Saturday. I'm having it built up with white cable housing and bar tape, which should look great with the classic lines and kelly green color of the Serotta. I'll post pictures here once it's in my grubby little hands.

Posted: Sat Apr 03 08:38:27 -0800 2004

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