2014 Salsa Vaya Build and Basement Workshop

I mentioned in my last post that I recently moved. My new place has a basement that makes for a perfect gear storage and bike workshop. I took advantage of that space to do a frame swap for my commuter. Bye-bye On-One Pompetamine. Your rear dropouts and disc caliper mount were a pain in my ass and it was time to replace you with something that just worked.

Welcome, Salsa Vaya. You sure are a sexy commute bike.

2014 Salsa Vaya 2 Frameset

I brought you home during a bad time. I just didn’t have the space to build you up the way it needed. Unfortunately, you had to sit around for awhile before I could get to the build. Once I got my workshop cleared up enough, though, I got started.

2014 Salsa Vaya Build

Here it was when I first got it assembled. Basically just transferred over the parts from the Pompetamine, with new Midge bars, Retroshift CX1v levers and a 1×10 geared drivetrain. The retroshift levers are basically just the same Tektro brake levers I’ve been using, except with a Microshift indexed thumbshifter mounted on the front. The only part Retroshift actually MAKES is the little red ano cable stop seen here.

2014 Salsa Vaya Build

So far, I like the levers. The shifter just works, and was a helluva lot cheaper than SRAM or Shimano integrated shifters. And, I didn’t have to buy a left-side lever with shifty bits I wasn’t going to use so I could get the same lever feel in both hands. These levers are designed to work with long pull brakes, but Retroshift sells a version for short pull, too.

To further flesh out details of the drivetrain, I used the same crankset and chainring I was using on the Pompetamine. I’ve got some Kona Wah-Wah pedals on now that I won in the Brown County Breakdown raffle.

2014 Salsa Vaya Build

I’ve gone with a 1×10 drivetrain here to give me some gearing options, but still keeping it simple.

2014 Salsa Vaya Build

I’m using a 9spd SLX rear derailleur, a 10spd 11-36 Shimano XT cassette, and a 10spd XT chain. Yes, a 9spd mtn derailleur works with 10spd road shifters and a 10spd cassette. The available gearing here is pretty darned close to what you’d get from a road compact double. I don’t care much about the high end of the range at all, since this bike runs fatter tires and weighs more than most bikes that would get a compact double. At the low end, the gearing works fine now. If I ever wanted to ride to Brown County, I’d probably put a smaller chainring so I could have more low end gearing for the hills.


Here’s a shot on the Pennsy Trail on its maiden test ride. It rode well, but I had to make some adjustments to the handlebars.

After that ride, I managed to drop the handlebars, and rotate them some to make the drops more useable by moving the levers some. I also managed to get my old fenders to install, and get some 700×38 Specialized Crossroads tires to fit inside there with some tweaks.

I think the bike looks better with bigger tires. It should ride better, too.

The workshop is coming together. I still need to work on it…I need more storage for gear (namely, a rack to hang packs and sleeping bags), and I need a pegboard and maybe more workbench space.

Basement Workshop

Basement Workshop

The bike storage works well.

Basement Workshop

It could probably take up less space, though. I’d rather not drill a bunch of holes in the concrete block walls, though. I had to put holes in the block walls in the garage for the canoe rack, and I dulled up a couple expensive masonry bits in the process.

Long Time No Post

It has indeed been awhile since my last update. I’ve been BUSY trying to get my thesis done. I really haven’t done much GPS tracking of any rides lately because I’ve just been riding when I can. And lately, that’s meant lots of commuting duty so I can keep my cycling legs under me.

The Pompetamine has been getting some miles on it lately. It’s also had some changes since I posted up my original build pics. Here’s what I’ve done to it:

It’s the wet season, so I threw on some SKS full fenders so I can keep drier. I also had to get some narrower tires so the fenders would fit. The rear end of this frame has plenty of width, but tire height is a bit of an issue with fenders. I had some 38’s on it, but I dropped down to 32’s. They’re smoother and faster on pavement and can still take a little dirt. But they’re no gravel grinder tire. If I want to do that, I’ll have to remove the fenders to put the old 38’s on.

I put a smaller 42t chainring on instead of the 46t. I found starts from stoplights to be a PITA on the 46t, and I’ve got a bit of a climb on my way home that was just a beast every evening. The 42t just takes the edge off of the climb and starting from stoplights takes a lot less effort. 42×18 works for me on my commute.

I got a Portland Design Works rack just last week. Boy is this thing nice. Bamboo deck, aluminum construction (even bamboo dowels inserted into some of the aluminum tubing), and curvy, sexy lines. This isn’t grandpa’s utilitarian rack. This one has some design put into it to make it LOOK nice.

More reflective tape to increase visibility and a MagicShine taillight.

Now for the pics (and a vid):

On-One Pompetamine commuter

Check out that sexy rack. I don’t have any panniers just yet, though. But you can be sure I’ll pick some up. I’ll probably get a set of waterproof ones. I also want to move the taillight from the seatpost out to the end of the rack, but it’s designed to attach to a round post, not the tab. I have some scrap pvc and I might rig something up.

On-One Pompetamine commuter

Rear view. You can see the round light on the seatpost here.

On-One Pompetamine commuter

I had to get creative for the front fender attachment to get around the disc brake caliper. First, I needed to use a longer bolt with a shim to get the plastic bracket away from the disc tab. Then, I bent the fender stays around the caliper. I did all that bending with just two pair of pliers. A vise sure would have helped out a lot there.

On-One Pompetamine commuterOn-One Pompetamine commuter

Checking out the reflective bits on the bike. You’ll notice something about the rims. I got these wheels built up with Velocity Dyad REFLECTIVE rims. Do you see them reflecting here? Barely. If you notice in the horizontal picture where the light hits the front of the front wheel that maybe 1/4 of the rim is reflecting brightly and another 1/4 of the rim is reflecting faintly. That pales in comparison to the reflective sidewall of my Crucible tire. I’m a little miffed that the reflective effect of the rims is that wimpy.

Here’s a vid of most of the active lighting on the bike (the brand new wheel blinkie is dead…must have blinked in the store for hours or something). Pay no attention to the audio here. That noise is the focus on the camera. I have the headlight on blink, actually, but the frame rate of the camera is too slow to catch it. The taillight is good, and motorists appear to be able to see it in the daylight just fine. I seem to be plenty visible to people around here without extra hi-vis clothing, even. Now, people do drive EXTRA cautious around here, though. I have passed more than one person on my bike crossing the railroad tracks going UPHILL. It seems to be sport to go 10mph under the speed limit. It’s enough to drive you crazy when you learned to drive in big cities and when you get in the car you just want to get somewhere for cryin’ out loud.

Commuting here is spoiling me in many respects. Drivers around here mostly don’t yell at cyclists. I can remember being yelled at once since I moved here in 2008 and I have more road miles here than in any of my previous residences. And even then, it was just dumb kids. No idiot rednecks in pickup trucks (though I do live in rural Texas and there are PLENTY of pickups – none of them care to cause any trouble), no aggressive businessmen in too much of a hurry, nobody’s thrown anything at me, none of that. The worst I get are the clueless students. In some ways they’re more dangerous because they’re unpredictable. There’s a half-roundabout at the main entrance to campus that I use to exit sometimes. It used to be two-way, but it was somewhat recently changed so that it’s now a one-way loop. It really simplifies traffic flow there. But there’s the occasional idiot that enters at the exit in spite of the prominent “DO NOT ENTER” signs, paint on the street, and whatnot. I was waiting at the exit on my bike a few times when people have entered there. It’s quite scary to see headlights bearing down on you head on and you’re just standing there straddling the bike. I do my best to scare the crap out of those idiots. I’ve successfully had one group actually stop and get out of their car. Small lessons, right?

Road Bike Commuter Project 3

Ok, so I’ve had to shift gears regarding the commuter bike project because the old Trek was just the wrong size frame. I ended up selling off that old Trek and buying an On-One Pompetamine frame/fork. This is a steel 700c road bike with track dropouts and disc brake mounts. It goes so far with the disc brake mounts that they’re the ONLY brake option for this frame. I bought one in a glow-in-the-dark paint scheme (the fork was not available in that color, so I went with black).

I ordered it a couple weeks ago as a pre-order. It’s a good thing I did because it was only in stock for a couple of days before being available on pre-order again. I got notice that my order shipped (from the UK) on Tuesday last week. I was a little confused when I came home from work to a note from USPS that I missed an Express Mail parcel earlier in the day. This was the only order I was waiting for, and I was told to expect it in about 16 days. It was only 6 days after the shipping notice so I wasn’t sure what to think. Later in the day, the postman stopped by again to check if I was home. No kidding…the bike was here already.

On-One Pompetamine build

I cracked open the box to examine the contents. Everything looked in proper order.

On-One Pompetamine build

I’m going with a red/white/black color scheme for this bike. I’m kinda stoked about the mustache bars, too. They’re very comfortable in my hand. I got the Mungo bars from On-One. I also picked up a headset, a chain tugger, and a seatpost collar.

On-One Pompetamine build

And here’s the bread ‘n butter of the order: The frame, in its creamy white daytime disguise.

On-One Pompetamine build

I haven’t managed to get a good glowing bike shot yet. I think that’ll take a little bit of work, so for now I’ll tease you with one of On-One’s photos:

GITD frames

I’m mating the frame up with some parts I’ve already bought: A Shimano R-553 crankset and outboard bearing BB

On-One Pompetamine build

And Avid BB7’s

On-One Pompetamine build

I’m using the mtn version of the BB7’s because they give me the option to use mtb levers on a flat bar if I so desire to swap them out. There are options for long pull road levers, so I really have the most options here. Even though I prefer the feel of hydraulic disc brakes, the BB7’s are solid performers at an affordable price. Plus, I can geek them out with red cable housings cheaply and easily.

The last big purchase I need to make is a wheelset. I’d really like to have an internal gear hub, since that’s really what this frame is designed for (in particular the Shimano Alfine system). For the most part, those are out of my price range. I MIGHT get lucky and find a deal, but if not I will rock this bike as a singlespeed while I stay where I am. It’s not too hilly for SS here as long as I choose my gearing well.

Road Bike Commuter Project

I picked up an old Trek 420 road bike from the Bike Shop recently with the goal of turning it into a better commuter than the one I’ve been using. My old commuter is just an old mountain bike with some lights, reflective tape, and a horn. Not especially fast on the road.

Commuter Bike

I did a post about it earlier this summer. Like I said, it’s not fast. I use it because I have it, and that’s pretty much about it. My goal with the Trek is to turn it into a simple, reliable commuter with fenders, a rack, and a new life.

Trek 420 project bike

I want to put disc brakes on it, and that requires some frame mods. Sure, some TLC to the existing components would probably turn this thing into a serviceable bike. But you know, I hate rim brakes because they’re fiddly keeping adjusted. Not to mention, rim brakes lose effectiveness in the wet. Since this bike is being repurposed as a dedicated commuter, I want it to perform best as a commuter. I also want it to have a fresh paint job. This one looks rough around the edges. No dents, but the paint looks pretty sad.

Secondarily, I’ve thought about adding a belt drive. Right now, I don’t think I’ll go that way, but since I’m having the dropouts replaced, the work to make the frame compatible for a belt drive doesn’t really add much so I’m going to have that done anyway. But belt drive components are spendy, so I may just leave the bike as a chain-drive SS…but I have the option, at least, of making it belt drive in the future (maybe if I’m lucky, parts costs will come down). I’m working with Cushman Cycle Company on the frame mods, and we’re still working out some of the details on paint and stuff. I’ll post updates as I make progress on the bike.

Right now, the frame is mostly stripped of its parts. I’m still working on getting a stuck rack mount bolt out, though. I tried a screw extractor and the head just snapped off. Then I started drilling it out. I noticed that an allen wrench fit in there really tightly, so I tried freezing the bolt to make it contract around the allen wrench so I can loosen it. No dice for that trick, either. Then I tried gluing the allen wrench in there on a suggestion from a mech at my LBS. I tried 2 different glues, and neither one worked out. Looks like this one will be pretty time consuming to get it out. Once I get it out, I’ll strip the frame and a disc fork and send them off to the builder for the mods.

Bike Month Weeks 2 & 3 and Tyler State Park Apocalypse Ride

I didn’t post any updates for awhile and I apologize. I had finals to deal with and hardly went to the office at all. And when I did, there was bad weather brewing so I wound up driving. So Week 2 was a wash. I didn’t bike to work, but then again I hardly drove, either. Week 3 was another matter. I biked in most of the week but wound up driving a couple of days for inclement weather forecasts. The forecast bad weather those days didn’t end up happening until well after dark, so I felt cheated.

I made up for it (sortof) by doing some mountain biking on Saturday. I figured if the rapture actually WAS going to happen, I’d rather be mountain biking once the fit hit the shan. Of course nothing happened, so I still got to have a fun day in the woods. In the process, I also snagged all of the geocaches in Tyler State Park.

I deviated from the trails a couple of times while searching for geocaches. Stash the bikes in the woods and hike the rest of the way. Some of the caches in the park are pretty good ones, but the park appears to be a black hole for trackables. Eight were listed on cache inventories and none of them were actually there. It’s too bad because I had a neat geocoin that needs dropping off somewhere. I’m not going to leave it somewhere it’s likely to disappear, though.

I had the GoPro along for the trip. I think I really need to get a spare battery or the battery bacpac because I was running out of juice well before the end of the ride…and I didn’t even try to record any cache searching. I still got some good video.

It was a great ride. Mel really rocked the trails today. She rode with confidence I’ve never seen her possess on the bike before. Rooty climbs – no hesitation. She attacked them. Rooty descents with speed and small drops. She attacked those with confidence, too. I was hoping to spend some time sessioning with her on some downhills at the edge of her comfort zone, but she blew away my expectations and she tried way more than she has before. I’m totally proud, and she tells me she had fun, too. And, compared to our ride of these same trails in 2008, she rocked in the fitness department, too. She rode way more trail this time.

Tyler State Park, 21 May 2011 from TheGPSGeek on Vimeo.

I could have done without her leaving my second pair of sunglasses at one of the geocaches. But thankfully I had a waypoint for where she left them and I was able to return and retrieve them. It’s also fortunate that the boy scout troop out geocaching that day had visited the cache before we did. Otherwise, we might not have recovered the shades.

We probably should have skipped the C loop, though. Mel was getting tired by then and didn’t ride much of it. And of course by the time we got back onto the B and A loops where the trail was less technical, she was really thrashed and we had to stave off the bonk.

For my efforts, I was pretty happy overall. Commuting this past few weeks by bike has helped to strengthen my climbing legs, which is one of the things lagging a bit in my cancer recovery. I was essentially singlespeeding the A and B loops. I don’t think I shifted gears once until I hit the C loop. The C loop got me in some of the technical spots. The switchbacks were a beast, but thankfully I’m not the only one. I spoke to an older gent who went up them just after me who was dabbing in the same spots I did. It’s not so much the steepness of them, but the radius of them that gets you I think. I took a bad line on the first one and had a nice spill.

I have some work to do on my videography skillz. I changed up the POV angles more this time, which was an improvement. And despite the ease of use of the chesty mount, it really does a good job of providing shaky video. Not a fan. I think I’ll be using more helmet mount in the future. It’s a lot more stable. I should also find some locations for an adhesive mount or two on my frame. Maybe a second bar/seatpost mount so I can get some shots of my face. I have some room for improvement, at any rate.

Bike Month Week 1

For the first week of bike month, I was able to commute every day of the week, totaling about 35mi. Weight 178.2, BF 12.3% (I was apparently dehydrated when I stepped on the scale). Not a huge amount, but I do have a short commute. I compiled a video showing one of my route options (the one with some dirt).

Week 1 Bike Month from TheGPSGeek on Vimeo.

Here’s my main commuter: It’s a 2000 Diamondback Topanga Comp.

Commuter Bike

I bought this bike new in the spring of 2000, which makes it 11yrs old right now. It has a lot of the stock parts still, but I’ve had to change some things over the years. The rear derailleur was the first to go – it was a trail casualty on the first mountain bike ride this bike took. There’s an XT RD on it now. I had to swap the wheels because I mashed a rim pretty bad on another ride. New seatpost and seat because I sat down too much early on and I was hard on those parts. I swapped the cockpit out a couple of times. First, to get rid of the heavy stock bars and then later I swapped the bars & stem from my FSR because I wanted wider bars on this one. New shifters because the stock Deore ones died after 10yrs.


Important to the commuting function of this bike, I put some Snafu BMX platforms on it. They’re still trail-worthy (and also winter-friendly), but they allow me to wear any shoes I’d like and I don’t have to change out of my cycling shoes into shoes for walking around. Note that these pedals have replaceable pins. This isn’t a big deal for commuting, but it is one feature that makes these pedals trail-worthy. Use most cheap platforms on the trail and your feet will be slipping everywhere. These will grip your shoes tight.

rope light

I also have various lights for the bike. My headlamp is temporarily out of commission, but I still have a rope light wrapped around the frame (pictured above) that I bought at REI and I have my rear blinkie (seen farther above). I also have reflective tape all over the place to improve visibility. People give me a WIDE berth at night because my bike is lit up like a UFO. Better to be obnoxious and seen than unseen and hit by a car.

AirZound Horn

AirZound Horn

I also make use of an AirZound horn (I think Delta makes them now). The first picture shows the air reservoir and the second shows the horn itself. The air reservoir holds up to 80psi and it’s rechargeable with a simple bike pump. This thing is LOUD. Loud enough, in fact, to get people’s attention inside their cars with the radio on. I don’t use it often where I live now because people seem to pay a little more attention. But it has helped me in the past to avoid being hit by getting drivers’ attention.

You might notice in the above pictures the tires I use. They’re Specialized FastTrack Pros. Essentially, they’re a low-profile micro-knobby. I use 2.0’s on this bike. They roll well on the pavement and give enough traction for the occasional bit of dirt. Because I tend to take this bike in the dirt on part of my commute, I’m hesitant to put full slicks on it.