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Lexington doesn’t exactly have a high rate of bike theft. Which is great, obviously. Unfortunately, this can also leave bicyclists with a false sense of security.

commuting setup

The Acorn Bags saddlebag pictured above was stolen Monday night as I ate dinner with my family. It was on a nice part of a street that runs into an unsavory neighborhood. I think some could call me naive, and maybe I am, but I like to think that people are better, or maybe lazier, than to wish to steal someone’s bicycle saddlebag. I shouldn’t have left it sitting there, but such is hindsight.

I usually take my handlebar bag in with me, unless it’s a brief stop. However, as anyone with a saddlebag that uses saddle bag loops knows, attaching and detaching such a bag is not a simple process. Certainly not something I wish to do several times per day. I think from now on I will get more creative with where I lock-up or leave my bike. For instance, instead of locking it up to a rack on the sidewalk, I could have asked the restaurant staff if it was OK to leave my bicycle on their front porch. I think most places are OK with this kind of arrangement. If not, taking the entire seat post, saddlebag and all, is a possible solution.

I plan to replace my bag, either with the Rivendell Sackville Small Saddlesack or another Acorn Bags saddlebag. If anyone has any tips on recovering stolen items or how to securely leave your bicycle alone, please comment.


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Utilitaire’ing Around Town

Washington DC bike blogger MG recently proposed an event, The Utlitaire 12, to give us bicyclers something to do through these last few months of winter. The general idea use your bicycle in a way other than for recreation, and document that. For instance, biking to a hair cut or grocery store or meeting, work, etc. All of the rules and documentation can be found on Chasing Mailboxes. The Utilitaire began two weeks ago and runs until March 16th. I think it’s a great idea and it’s made me appreciate all of the little daily adventures I get to have. Below are a recap of a few of my trips.

I went for a smoothie after a ride amongst the farms south of Lexington. The actual smoothie left a lot to be desired. Was not worthy of a photo.

I’ve been stopping by the grocery store a lot lately. Instead of borrowing my roommate’s (grandmother) car for one big trip, I’ve just been picking up a few necessities and such here and there.

On Monday, I managed 2 bottles of wine, 2lbs of tomatos, 1lb of pasta, a few other things, and all of my daily carry.

Yesterday I got a hair cut. Here’s me enjoying the overcast and cold, but crisp day afterwards.

I commute everyday unless it is a torrential thunderstorm. Locking it up.

my bartape came loose!

A new brewery openend in Lexington, so I stopped by on my way home from work. We have Alltech’s Kentucky Ale brewery already, but they don’t have a taproom. The new one, Country Boy Brewing, is fantastic. The proprietors are knowledgeable and friendly, and their beers are among the least expensive in town. I stopped by a day before their official opening and enjoyed a Stout.

Stampin' Ground on Nitro

I won’t put all of my pictures up here. But you can check out the rest, and any other pictures of myself riding around town on my instagram (samburchett) and flickr.


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Building a Bicycle…(part one)

…is not cheap. I mean really, bicycles in general are not cheap. A decent entry level racing bicycle is $1,000 and up (I won’t comment on mountain bikes, as I know nothing about them). Some businesses have a model that can offer a lot of bicycle at an inexpensive price point, but as with nearly everything, you get what you pay for. BikesDirect is an online bicycle retailer that sells frames and complete bicycles manufactured in China or Taiwan. Some may scoff at riding something made in China or Taiwan, but most frame manufactures including Italian greats like Cinelli outsource their frame and component manufacturing to Taiwan or China.

Over the year that I rode my made in the USA track bike, I began to desire a bicycle that could do things my track bike could not. I wanted fenders, I wanted racks, I wanted a more relaxed geometry. I began investigating a costume frame, and although I was prepared to pay the $1,500+ for a frame and fork, I didn’t want to wait 6 months. I was suggested Velo Orange by a frame builder.

VO sells bicycles and components heavily influenced by mid-century French bicycling. Porteur city bikes and Randonneuring performance bikes are a few of Velo Orange’s recent offerings. After seriously considering the gorgeous Randonneur.

Velo Orange Randonneur Frame

I settled on the second iteration of the Polyvalent frameset.

Velo Orange Polyvalent mkII

The frame features a low-trail front end geometry for front loads, but includes rack mounts fore and aft. Of course, fenders are well accommodated. Unfortunately, the Polyvalent is TIG welded, whereas the Randonneur has the aesthetic advantage of lugs. Ultimately, what made me decide on the Polyvalent was the 650b wheel size. The Randonneur uses the more conventional, but I believe, less versatile 700c wheel diameter, allowing only 28cm tired with fenders, 32 without. I am on the shorter side, at 5’8”, so the 650b wheel size makes sense. But more importantly, 650b wheels can be outfitted with tires ranging from 32cm to 50cm, with most choosing a tire between 38cm and 42cm. Roads in Lexington aren’t the worst, but they certainly aren’t perfect and the generous cushion that a 38 or 42 tire provides makes all the difference. Plus, the added possibility of handling fire roads and trails was very attractive.

I will cover the rest of the buidling process and final thoughts on building a bicycle from frame up in part two.

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Videos and Inspiration

Sometimes when I am enjoying my coffee before heading out onto the road, I either read from a list of blogs (to be covered in a later post) or watch some videos for inspiration. Here a few videos I have been enjoying recently.

Le Course En Tete is a documentary profiling Belgian cycling star Eddy Merckx during his 1974 season. This film is packed with incredible footage of the Cannibal decimating his competition, but it’s most unique aspect is the intimate portrayal of his home life. We get to see Eddy give his daughter, Sabrina, a ride on his training bike. She even has her own top-tube saddle! Below is one of my favorite scenes, with some psychedelic bag pipes for added effect.

The entire documentary is on YouTube, and can be found . If you have a passing interest in the 1970s or vintage road cycling, this film is a must see. Similar, is The Greatest Show on Earth which focuses on the Grio d’Italia road race. Comparatively, this film has much more racing footage, but I prefer La Course En Tete.

Although I don’t ride or own a track bike anymore, I really enjoyed the simplicity and speed that a brakeless track bike provides. I kind of miss it. One of the masters of brakeless track bike street riding is Massan. Here is a recent edit from Macaframa with Massan expertly descending a hill in Berkley, CA. I don’t advocate riding like this, but Massan is nearly unparalleled in ability and athleticism, and clearly possesses the ability to control his machine.

Massan x Macaframa Raw from MACAFRAMA on Vimeo.

I think some would scoff at the idiocy and recklessness of this, but descending a hill at 50mph on a bicycle with rim brakes or a brakeless bicycle with a fixed drivetrain is not very different. No one can just “stop” at 50mph on a bicycle. It’s slowing down. And Massan demonstrated his ability to do so.

Although I have never toured before, Ian Hibell is one of my personal heroes. Ian quit his 9-5 to cycle around the world. He continued his adventures into his 70s, until 2008 when he was tragically killed by a drunk driver in Greece. Here’s some inspiration for the tourists.

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