Cyclocross build on a budget – the Rat Cross

Unless you got it like that and/or can swipe for what you want, chances are you’ve thought about how to get your hands on a cross bike, assuming you are a bike geek.

I mean, nobody needs a cross bike. How many rides could you actually get on one? Actually, plenty. Down south its on clay and other locations they call it gravel; Tomato – Tomatoe.

No matter what you call it , where you ride it and how many times you ride it, I’ve had a monkey on my back for a while. I found this old Specialized CrossRoads in the trash prolly five years ago. This “hybrid” frame is actually a sturdy steel frame made with True Temper tubing. So… after years of remaining dormant, here’s what I built up:

The Rat Cross
  • Frame: Specialized Cross Roads, painted with truck-bed black paint
  • Fork: Surly
  • Headset: Origin8 Sealed Bearing
  • Stem: Felt CNC machined
  • Handlebar: Control Tech aluminum flat bar
  • Grinds: Lizard Skinz lock-ons with natural cork plugs
  • Seatpost: Laprade
  • Seat: WTB Laser V with titanium rails
  • Wheels: Alex on Deore hubs
  • Skewers: Salsa flip offs (front ti)
  • Tires: Ritchey with tubes
  • Crankset: FSA
  • Cassette: XTR 8 speed
  • Chain: SRAM 870
  • Brakes: XT cantilevers
  • Brake levers: Avid V brake
  • Rear Derailleur: XTR
  • Front Derailleur: Suntour Edge
  • Shifters: Shimano 8 speed bracons on Paul’s Thumbies
  • Bottle Cages: King Cage titanium cages
  • Bag: Timbuk2

Basically, this was built from crap laying around the house and a little bit of swapping. I spent less than $50 cash on building this up, so it’s a win for me. In fact, my second ride on it was the Dirty Spaghetti. Tell us what you think of the build.

Dirty Spaghetti

A first-person chronicle of the off-road version (62 miles) of the Spaghetti 100 – a clay road ride through north Florida and South Georgia.


I woke up normal – which is to say I turned off the phone alarm. Then, with a fluid motion I swung my legs off the bed, scanned my phone notifications, smacked my mouth of the beer and General Tso’s aftermath from the night before – and exhaled heavily, just like normal. Ride or race mornings are all strategy. Bathroom, food, shower, dress, load – not always in that order. I had carefully packed the night before and realized I had everything but air, which I figured I’d handle in the am. After the exhale, I went bathroom, load, shower, dress, bagel shop, wal mart, publix (for a Lara bar and bathroom, again). I needed the bar to add to the two GUs I snagged from Bird Legs Bicycles at packet pick up the afternoon before.

prep kit
Prep box, jeans and some extras


I white knuckled the steering wheel, tailgating the cars in front of me as we raced down the canopy road. Nearing the Miccosukee Community Center, the road and my speed were choked by bike geeks getting a proper warm up. Parked and popped out of the car – and was quickly met with a muttering “sup man?” from Don Davis – who looked locked-in on the ride. Running out of time, I hurriedly dressed, final prepped the bike a OCD’d a systems check. Phone in left pocket, bar and electronics in the middle pocket, new pump in the right pocket, a GU under each shorts leg… check. I was good to go so I rolled down the hill and saw Terry, who coughed a “I can’t believe you’re here, but I’m happy and proud that you’re here” laugh. Terry “looked me in the bike” (understandable cause I was on the Rat Cross) and quickly ushered me away from the starting line.

The freshly assembled Rat Cross, with post ride clay

I think he just wanted to be free of the noise clutter but also sensed I needed a pep talk. We did a fake warm up, in which he bailed on me after a few words – so I rode a little more and then returned to mid-pack at the starting line. I spotted many familiar faces but nuzzled up between Matt Wilson, Randy, Mark Alexander and Tom. Terry returned, and all too soon Paul McManus alerted riders he was about to sound the horn. Shortly thereafter he simply said go, and the ride started to the right and up the hill. The group of about 50 riders moseyed down the road as we picked up a few stragglers.


I purposely slotted myself top third as we made our way down the pavement. A mixture of curiosity and fear (for many reasons), I just wanted to know how fast we would be going. It was surprisingly civil. Faster than I would ride by myself, but easy enough when drafting with a big group. One of the other fears I had was I’d never done the loop, so I really didn’t know what to expect – beyond what I’d seen from ApeBike’s Instagram photos. So after a few turns, the group starts to stretch out and we hang a hard left onto the lead-in to the real start. Pretty much a false flat decline into the first big patch of sand, with a good climb to follow. My group of four (Terry, David Norman and I think Chris Berg) had the leaders in sight, but as we powered through the sand I realized this ride was about to implode – at least for me. I held on longer than I thought I would. And surprisingly was able to force myself into a pace that I thought I could keep.



Having let go of Terry’s group, I played Frogger, jumping back to pick up wheels to ride and jumping forward to overtake riders who bit off a little too much, a little too early. This went on for many miles and many hills. My goal was to maintain a good pace by working down from the big ring as much as possible, only dropping from the big ring when absolutely necessary. After about an hour in my brain, I downed the Lemon Sublime GU and reminded myself to keep drinking water. The clay turned to pavement and I tried to focus on keeping the bike moving. As I was making good progress on catching some folks just ahead, a rider caught me and approached me from my left. We looked at each other in the face at the same time and I realized it was Gary Robertson. After double “hey-ing”, I asked If I could jump on. He was riding faster than me but acceptable if I could tuck in, which I did. Later, as we rolled through the lumber mill area in Metcalf, we could see a group of road riders on the parallel road just to our left, with fields of flowers in the background – which was reminiscent of a TV shot from the Tour. We hollered at some dirt riders taking the wrong turn just in front of us and sat up so we could group up and work together. As the two caught us so did Randy. We worked together well until I let them slowly stretch it out. I was hesitant to stay on and again, backed it down. Then, a short while later I caught back up with this mini group at the beer stop manned by Matthew Bull and Wickman – where I may or may not have chugged and a Founder’s All Day IPA hand up. And then we were off again, and then I was quickly left alone. After a while, I turned left onto pavement and surprisingly saw the Boston sign. I was close to half way done. Slowly rolling into town I hopped off the bike with intention. I saw Kelly there as well, and Chad razzed me a little. I filled one of my bottles and grabbed a meat sandwich from the table and returned to the bike. As more people were arriving, I was leaving. My plan was to eat on the bike and latch on to a group when they caught me.


The weather and landscapes were awesome when leaving town. The air was cool and sun was out – and I could see in all directions across all kinds of farms, like I was riding through a vibrant painting. I was riding with a purpose and at a reasonable pace. I did not know I would only see one other rider for the next hour and a half. It was awesome but horrible at the same time. I was left with my thoughts and subsequent fears and was forced to just keep riding.


I really thought I was going to die past Highway 19 on the big gravel section, or at least really hurt myself. After not crashing, I settled in on a ride and shot the Lemon GU, again forcing myself to drink.


About this time, I really just wanted to know how much farther, but I really didn’t want to know. Kind of like smashing your toe in a shoe – you want to look, but you should never, ever take the shoe off. I finally was passed by a guy on a MTB and as we hit a left together, we were met with an immediate uphill. I was finally met with my first real set of doubts. The legs didn’t seem to want to work and I knew I was entering into the grind. As I started to suffer, I could hear a number of females off in the distance behind me. They were saying my name in amazement (how could Kent be in front of us?), so I knew they knew me. They passed me with a dude in tow. It was the dude, Deb, Mariska, Brook and some other obviously fit ladies. They were rolling so I seized the opportunity and latched on. They were riding too fast for me but this was my one shot to quickly tick off some miles and minimize the grind. They said we had about 15 miles to go, after which myself and a younger Red Velo rider let go on what I would soon find out was the last hill before TS Green Road (I wish I would have held on). We sort of grouped back together and sort of rode together up to the Coke stop. I found that part of the ride horrible. I was basically by myself out in the wind, and it was a slow, just painful enough uphill. Once at the stop, I drank about five dentist office cup-sized cokes and slowly ate some Oreos. I filled one bottle (but should have filled both) and surreally observed different riders and eavesdropped.

“I hate these next two hills”

“The next two hills are the worst on the ride”

“The only thing worse is the horse flies”

WTF? I thought to myself. But then it got worse…

“You have 13 miles to the finish”

I sombered back to the bike. Picked up the bike out of the roadside bahia grass, rattle checked it and shoved off.


Between the sweat chill, the cokes and the downhill right when we jumped back onto dirt, I was refreshed. The problems started when the downhill ran out, and pedaling the big ring began to hurt. My left knee hurt, my back and neck hurt, my feet hurt – well, everything hurt. And then I saw it – the first hill. It looked bad, but not that bad, but it WAS bad. Halfway up I saw this guy dismount. The only thing I could think was it would be worse off the bike. Besides, I’m a Navy Seal (not really) and no way am I ringing the bell. I made it up the hill but dug way too deep to get it. I’m apt to write the next several miles were a blur but realistically I remember all of it, every excruciating detail. Most of all I remember the conversations with myself, which I won’t share. Turning back onto the first clay road which leads you out, I knew I was close to done but not close enough. I “took the shoe off to look at the toe” and was mortified, I’d only ridden five miles, leaving eight to go. Fear crept back in because I knew, for the most part, you are climbing all the way back in to Miccosukee. Then, for the first time on the ride, I rung the bell, having to dismount and walk the bike though the first (and now last) sand pit. Only when you ring the bell on the clay, you don’t get to go home, you still have to ride it out. Later on, I made it to the last bit of pavement and knew I was close. Wind had picked up, along with the heat – which would crest 90 degrees on this day, and I wanted to be off the bike. I knew I was close but didn’t know how close. Then, after a series of paved rollers, I read in weathered spray paint lettering on the pavement – 500 meters to go. I slowly made it into town. Grimaced at Mark Alexander and Don Davis, and then found the finish. I was met by lots of friends including Terry with a similar laugh from many hours before. All I wanted was water, but the closest thing to me was another All Day IPA.

Post ride clay stuck to legs between bikechain shorts and socks


For a recreational rider, I did better than I thought I would on a 62-mile clay road ride. I rode smart and exceeded expectations. As for next time, I know I left a little on the table. I now know the loop, I can ride smarter and I’m sure I would do better with some training and some bike upgrades. I’m satisfied with the ride in so many ways. However, I’m most proud of the effort. It was a big deal for me to finish in an overachieving total time (for me) of 4:47 (I think my roll time was under 4:30, my goal). It was a great confidence booster and has me believing I can ride again. Maybe this is the start of a real comeback, we’ll see…

Them Fat dudes are Fast

I’ve been on a journey, much longer than the few months since my awakening – when I decided I would ride bikes again. I’ve ridden more these past few months than I have the last three years combined. This has been good for me beyond my expectations. Once I got through the initial sore neck, leg and butt phase, I rediscovered that I love riding bicycles. And instead of having to or needing to ride, I want to go ride. And as usual, with bike riders, the idea of racing emerges. With the annual visit of the Florida State Championship Series looming, I had to work to get myself in check. Telling myself just keep your fun riding and race if want to give it a try. I allowed myself this to avoid training.


So…. I found myself doing yard work the Saturday before the race knowing to my core I shouldn’t race, but… the little devil perched on my shoulder. “Race dude. You’ll kill it. You’ll miss it if you don’t go. You been riding. You’re a bad ass.” Hungover the next morning (from a heavy load of Resin). I had to hunker down to answer big worm’s call to arms for the bikechain crew to attend.

And of course I drove out to the race and made it in time for the yellow wave start. Start line heckling and shout outs ensued. Followed by a slight chuckle to myself that I should have been in this wave. Then I posted up between the BMX and RC tracks to join in more heckling, time split announcements and beer hand-ups.


With the mid-September temperature rising (re still summer), my anxiety shown through like a race horse in a starting gate. I kept in check and quietly registered, kitted up and did a reasonable warm up. Pulling onto the starting line late I was surprised to get the inside line. Less surprised at being on the receiving end of the heckling. Tongue and cheek blasted Higher Ground’s Marcus as a sandbagger… and braced myself for the air horn.


I stomped on the pedals easily surging past the group of 15 Clydesdales. I eased up on getting the hole shot because 1. I didn’t want to crash, 2. I didn’t know where I was physically and 3. I didn’t want to crash. So I settled into a top 10 spot down the start thinking I’d pick these big boys off one by one on the impending double track climb.


Boy was I ever wrong. By the time we had reached the top of the climb and were headed back down. I’d already caught and passed people, been passed back and was struggling mightily behind this dude who had no singletrack skills whatsoever.


And the rest of the race is history. I learned that riding ain’t the same as racing. I also learned that you can get your ass beat but still feel OK. What I mean is I’m not OK with losing a race or spot to anybody. But I am OK with the poor showing when I was able to “pedal” the entire race – something I haven’t done in a long time. And with that… no Cinderella stories… just a DFL number plate.


Look-A-Likes Aren’t Always What They Seem – Avery India Pale Ale

Human nature is fascinating. There are those that need routine – they find what they like or what works for them – and stick with it. While other folks like to deviate from the norm – they take chances and sometimes win big, but sometimes lose big as well.  I’m a little of both. I like to be adventurous and try new things, but I also really enjoy my “go-to” or favorite things.

Left Hand Brewing Company
Beer drinking shines a light on this for me.  I have a narrow lane I travel down as far as beer taste.  I am compelled to try different beers from time to time but usually stay on the course of a Hop Head.  When I occasionally veer off, it’s at the prompting of a friend.  Like when (not so) Big Jim just raved and raved about Left Hand’s Milk Stout.  This had my interest; because my buddy Ray brought me some Left Hand 400 pound Monkey awhile back (we both enjoyed them).  However, I had caution with the Milk Stout because stouts are traditionally dark beers, with a rich taste not in line with my own.  But then again, this is Jim, who many accuse of being my doppelganger. I HAD to give it a try. So Gemini (Jim and I) are hanging at the next party, crack open a few left handers and we’re both moved with big reactions – his of bliss, mine of horror.  Big Jim couldn’t be happier; I couldn’t be farther from happy. I contemplated how I was gonna choke this down so I didn’t lose my man card. I made it halfway down the pint glass before I acquiesced, declared I was less-than manly and merged back onto a familiar, hoppy, road.
Big Jim On The Left, Me On The Right
I most likely headed for something like a Swamp Head BigNose, Terrapin Hopsecutioner or Cigar City’s Jai Lai IPA.Brewed in Tampa, Florida, Cigar City’s Jai Lai offers a distinct blend of citrus and floral hopiness bite. Can’t really decide if it is a good looking can or not, but this was my go-to IPA. Delivering 7.5 ABV, it’s a good mid-to-high-level drinker. Kinda like Dale’s Pale Ale, but leaning much heavier to the citrusy side.
Cigar City IPA
But… one day, headed down to Alligator Point for a weekend this past summer, I just knew ABC was going to have my beloved Jai Lai. The North Side ABC has it, why wouldn’t the South Side? When looking for that distinctive can, I was slightly fooled by this “other” green can. The background graphics are similar, but it was missing the distinctive orange lettering. I looked around the aisles and in the coolers and found no Jai Lai. Having accepted that I wouldn’t find my go-to, I decided to venture out and try something new. I commenced with a build-a-six and selected two Dale’s, two Hoplantas and two of the other green cans – two Avery India Pale Ales.  This looked like Jai Lai, boasted similar stats and quite frankly, was what was available.
Avery IPA
I already had a six of Sweetwater Yellow Label (aka IPA), so I only needed that extra six, and could wait until it was cold. Later… at first crack, the offering from Avery was delicious.  Already skeptical and fearful of being out of my taste lane, this beer made easy work of calming me down.  Brewed in Colorado, from guys who drink what they make and make what they like to drink, Avery IPA is a really, really good beer. Somewhat of a doppelganger to Cigar City’s offering, I’ve actually come to prefer the Avery.  Side by side, most would say they’re the same… but it’s the little differences. While they share similar characteristics, the 6.5% ABV Avery’s taste blend leans heavier to the floral side.  All in all, I’d rank this beer second on my list of everyday beers (with Dale’s topping the list).  So… the moral of the story? If you see a guy that looks like me, dressed in a kit, it’s prolly just Jim after Thanksgiving; AND be sure to venture out of your comfort zone (ahem, Mark) when selecting your next beer; AND be sure to give Avery IPA a try, you’ll love it. Bikechain

Source: Hops and Grinds

Be Careful When You Mess With Crazy – aka Deviant Dale's IPA

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So… mental health… a little bit taboo… every family deals with it in different ways. Ours use levity. It seems like every family has a crazy uncle – and mine is no different.  Oh the stories I could tell, but I only share two. Back in the good old days, before political correctness, I was in high school. During the 11th grade I took Driver’s Education. Our Driver’s Ed teacher was the PE/baseball coach, based out of a portable. For class, three of us would get in this shitty Pontiac with Coach and take off. That was literally our class. He’d have a clipboard and a cup of coffee and we would just drive around. He’d run smack the whole time and we’d all laugh. One day we see this barrel chested dude, sitting bolt upright, riding a bike down Pensacola Street. He was wearing old-school sweatpants, shirtless and rocking a big-ass fro. Coach was like “look at this “f”ing guy. The whole car busted out laughing, me included. Then I was like “hey, that’s my uncle!” Again, everybody just fell out. When I finally convinced them it was my uncle, Coach seemed to be backpedaling off his comments. He finally cracked another joke when I told them it was alright, “he IS crazy.” That’s just the way it was back them. 
Even earlier on Uncle C, that’s what we’ll call him, had the same crazy “look” in his eyes. My dad tells a story where Uncle C was down in front of a juke joint, or whatever the called it, and some young bucks were giving him some static. He politely ignored it, waived it off until enough was enough. When he finally had to tell them to knock it off, that he was in his good clothes, it just made it worse. He warned them a few times that he’d go home and change and be back, which, of course, made it worse. They whooped and hollered as he departed. Having had enough, Uncle C got home, changed out of his good clothes, went back and toted an ass-whopping for all three of them dudes – fighting them all at the same time. 
Thus Uncle C was the inspiration for this latest review. The crazy uncle of Dale’s Pale Ale is Deviant Dale’s IPA. 
We’ll call him Uncle D. Uncle D don’t play.  I first met Uncle D up at Zone 5 in late 2011. I begged the Oskar Blues Beer Distributor for two cases, on his weekly visit, for months. Just before the first shipment came in… Weaver boot-legged some samples out of Albany. Got it in the fridge and waited. First of all, I took note of the heft of the can. Killer graphics and it’s only available as a tallboy. So it looks crazy, but is it crazy? Bout chill time I call Ronnie to give him the play-by-play.  First crack, sniff and gulp. Hmmmm, I’m a little wobbly. Can’t ID if I like it or not. It’s strong. Much stronger than the claimed 8.0 ABV.  Kind of a dichotomy of taste. Harsh and sweet at the same time.  Definite hints of citrus and a pronounced afterglow of that bitter sweet hop. So the excitement of the new beer has me getting after it. Only now I’m not mentally wobbly, I’m really wobbly.  This beer packs a punch. Halfway thru and I’m feeling it. The back and forth taste roller coaster has me. Like Frank the Tank – so good when it hits your lips. 
Thus was born the mood setter. A mood setter is that perfect drink where you preload with one and just have a few lower ABV beers the rest of the night to maintain. A mood setter will get you right. But be careful. Two years later both Ronnie and I have failed to hit two back to back. The usual outcome to drinking a second one of these is 2 am SportsCenter blaring, passed out in the recliner with a half open can of Deviant. With the average single can price of $3.50, that’s no bueno.  On your next outing give Uncle D a try but be forewarned, be careful when you mess with crazy. – bikechain

Source: Hops and Grinds

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

In doing research for my “assessing information” class, I came upon an academic article entitled “No Accounting for Taste”. It is a short but well written article from 2010 that looked at motivations behind the explosion of the craft beer market. The article gave some physical reasons that consumers are seeking out “extreme beers”, but also pointed to a social sophistication aspect of drinking “expensive beer”. The article argues these beer drinkers might simply be following trends and trying to look cool. While I can appreciate some of these arguments, I maintain “fancy beer” really IS about the taste. Think of it in parallel to the hot sauce market. There is always going to be some attention starved portion of consumers who want to show how they can stomach really hot stuff – while some will just want a little spice. We “extreme beer” drinkers are looking for that “hot sauce” somewhere in between – enough kick to get you going but not so hot that you can’t enjoy it. 
It is with this article in mind that I present to you a selection out of Brooklyn – Six Point’s Resin. Before Brooklyn got as trendy as Boston… say ten years back… all I knew about it was the 1986 Beastie Boys hit – No Sleep Till Brooklyn.

This is important because I don’t usually pick my beers by location of their brewery. I use a bend of gut, friend-referrals and marketing appeal.  The introduction to this brew came from my work mate Philip.  We usually like the same beers and he has another criterion that is total awesomeness. He likes beers that are canned for their fishabilty (cans r better than bottles on a boat). So one day Philip throws me a slim-line 12 ounce can.

It’s an attractive can and I like everything about it – except for their logo. They get a pass because of their story (google “brewer’s six point star”). I threw the lonely can in the beer fridge. It took me a while to get around to it but I finally cracked it open and was VERY pleased. It’s a mid-level drinker. Classified by Six Point as an Ale, Resin drinks and tastes more like an IPA. You’re probably not going to chug these nor are you required to sip it. From a flavor perspective, it leans more to the floral side of hoppy that jumps on you with a pretty bitter after-taste that has kind of tangy, sweet after-burn. Perfect beer for a hop head – horrible if you prefer light beer, ales or stouts. 

This flavor of “hot sauce” suits me well enough that I’ve added it to my rotation. I LIKE this beer. However, At $10 a four-pack, it’s not the “ideal” fishing beer. Some would consider it a little pricey but it’s not too expensive considering the 9.1% ABV. That puts it pretty much in the mood setter category. Drink one of these and you’ll be pretty well situated for the night. You’ll only need to “maintain” with complementary IPAs. Visit Six Point Craft Ales to learn more and be sure to give Resin a try.- bikechain

Source: Hops and Grinds

Loaded for Bear with Dale's Pale Ale

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Not sure how it happened, when exactly it happened and who was responsible, but someone introduced me to Dale’s Pale Ale. This has become a mainstay in the garage fridge for years, but it wasn’t always this way. Before fate got us together, I spent many years drinking CBLs and tequila shots. Between my honeymoon and my kids getting to be a little older, I didn’t drink all that much. Of course there was over indulgence at crazy parties, celebrations, holidays, etc… but that was pretty much limited to Jose’, CBLs and even Clos du Bois. Only on “special” occasions did I drink “fancy” offerings such as Patron, Michelob Ultra and Yuengling. No offense to America’s oldest brewerybut I didn’t know what the “f” I was talking about. I had no clue. Previously, beer had been a rite of passage for me. From grabbing chugs of my dad’s Budweiser and Milwaukee’s Best, as a kid, when we would fish for mullet at Wakulla Beachto keg stands and stanky red solo cups in college, I WOULD drink me some beer.  But I’ll have to admit I never quite liked it. It was kind of a nut-up type of a thing. You know… we going out… bottoms up
Freshly poured Dale’s Pale Ale in a Dirt Rag Magazine Pint Glass

So there I was occasionally drinking, not knowing it was crappy beer, and making fun of DBs and their fancy beers. All of sudden I’m introduced to this cool beer company. They’re from ColoRADo . Their cans are cool. They like bikes. They are Oscar Blues Brewery and different than most – they CAN their fancy beer. Then…I taste this Huge Voluminously Hopped Mutha of a Pale Ale and realize I’M the Delta Bravo. This beer has TASTE! It bites you up front but the afterhop has you thirsting for more. It’s not over-the-top hopped. Just enough bite (tangy bitterness) to keep you coming back for more. This is NOT a starter craft beer for most folks. You’ll want to work up to it. Maybe have one or two of your usuals as a mood setter (more on this in my next post) then try one of these on for size. While I’m working on refining my palate to become an expert, I can assure you the sissy-boy beer you drink has no taste compared to this one. 

Dale’s has become my everyday (night) beer. I can’t drink regular beer now because of Dale’s. This is the lowest on taste I will go. This is the beer that makes it OK to spend $10 or more on a six pack. That’s OK when you consider the beermath – with an ABV of 6.5, you’re drinking at more than time and a half (e.g. two Dale’s > 3 MickLites). Now that the Brevard, North Carolina plant is up and running, we southerners can bow-up about this beer with an All-American look and a taste that’s loaded for bear. If you get this far, comment on the Hops and Grinds blog, the beer or if you’re now motivated to get some Dale’s

Source: Hops and Grinds

Black and Tan = Soft Opening

Black and Tan – actually Black and White is how we’re choosing to kick off this blog. We have some ideas of what it will be and what it will look like, but choose to “design” the mechanics in black and white. This is something folks, like web designers, do to make sure all the pieces parts work before they dress it up. If you worry about it looking pretty (form), you lose sight of function.

So, this combination of blog, social media and (soon to be) website strives to celebrate brewed concoctions – beer and coffee, with a little extreme sports and pop culture blended in.  We’ll tweak the recipe but envision a place to celebrate the flavors we like, without hating too much on things we don’t. Expect product reviews, taste tastes, industry news, DIY projects and more.

I’ve had this idea “brewing” in my head for more than a few years, but my own personal renaissance and urging from (not so) Big Jim provided just enough gumption to crack this thing open. We plan to have fun with this blog and you’re invited to join us.


Source: Hops and Grinds

Excuse Maker 4000

What to do when you are at the rebuilding phase? Get back to your roots and do something that makes you happy and is inexpensive fun. I need a test bike – scratch that – I need a bike. I dig on the 29inch platform so I was thinking of getting a Surly Karate Monkey. But… the tinkerer in me knows I have a “slightly” bent steel 29er frame that I was gonna cut up for a beach bike (with ATV tires). I got to thinking if it was a steel bike that got bent from braking force, then I could certainly “bend” it back. The bike company issues these frames with dropouts that include disc brake mounts, but chose not to brace the frame properly. So… I got out the three pound sledge and did work.

Bare naked frame after I put the three pound sledge to work

With the frame “straightened”, it was time to make some upgrades. Time to find some random metal around the house that looked acceptable in the frame.

1/2″ steel box rough cut to fit

The rough cut needs to be cleaned up so it fits the frame a little better for strength and appearance.

Square tubing mitered with the frame prepped for welding

With the piece ready, it was on to welding.

Square tubing welded in

Not sure Independent Fabrication will be calling me to weld anytime soon but weld areas show good penetration and should clean up fine.

Cleaned up and ready for paint

Pretty sure this “test” bike will be all black with a truck bed liner paint job. Have thought of gold accents. Not sure. Will post pics of the build soon.

American Dreams are Made in the USA

Last year was the end of my own personal “fiscal year”. I turned another year older. It allowed me to reflect on last year being a time warped dichotomy.  It was both the worst year of my life and in some ways the best year of my life. It was the slowest at times but yet it went by so fast leaving me wondering where it went.

I closed my shop unofficially sometime a few months ago. The time-frame is as blurry as are the details. It happened so fast that I’m still in shock. I still work on making things right with the bike community because it’s the right thing to do and I truly love bikes. I work out of my house, two storage units and a host of other jobs. I work almost every day, all day, and most nights. Simply, I’m hustling because I want to, I have to and it’s what I’m supposed to do. 

While this last year tore me down emotionally and financially, I grew emotionally and spiritually, and overall as a person. While things were at their worst, I was growing the most. While people always joked I have a “me” complex, I’ve always known I really do care for others. This is one of the areas in which I really grew – the full concept of empathy. I might not have shown it yet with my words or actions but if you’re reading this blog, chances are good I have thought or am thinking of you. 

So with all these epiphanies in mind and turning my own calendar, I’ve developed this renewed passion for pursuing the “stuff” that makes me happy. Spending time making up for lost time with the family, slowly reaching out to friends and working with my hands – tinkering.

I’ve recently started working on extra project ideas that I’ve developed over the years. One of these is taking a big step towards becoming a reality within the next few days. I’m hopeful all of the “successful failures” (aka mistakes) I’ve accumulated can combine in this perfect storm of bikes, friends and family to pull back all the bits and pieces of my life that spun off last year – at least the pieces I want back.

For now I’ll leave you with the mystery of “what is it”? until I launch. Just know it’ll be made in the USA and I’m hustling every day.

Thumb Shifter aka Kent