Trade School

Is there too much emphasis put into education for computer tech, business, or other such “desk jockey” type jobs? Aren’t hands-on, skilled positions also necessary for society to function? Or are we all aspiring to make our million sitting in front of a monitor? Charles at Wright Bros alludes to this discrepancy at times. His entire point wasn’t included in the PI article, but the notion that more people should concentrate more on vocational trade skills is an interesting one. I agree for the most part, I’d only like to see it go deeper into the bike realm. I’d like to see the trades really accept the bicycle mechanic as one of it’s own. Like a carpenter, an auto mechanic, or an electrician—all professions that necessarily benefit society—a bike mechanic is a skilled technician that, as the price of gas steadily increases and hopefully more people begin riding bikes for transportation and delivery, will be a necessary component to his or her neighbors and fellow citizens.


This is part of the reason I intend on attending United Bicycle Institute next month. Not neglecting the fact that I have learned extensively under Charles’ tutelage at Wright Bros, rather my session at UBI will be to fill in some of the gaps that might remain, gain a different, comparative, perspective to bicycle mechanics, and to go for a certification in the industry. Maybe it’ll even give me an extra shot of confidence, who knows?

The article in a recent issue of Momentum mentions a bit of the idea I’m talking about. (Check out the Winterborne Bicycle Institute.) Like the article says, being a bike mechanic is not really a trade, not today. In my mind, until there is more acceptance of bikes in our culture, like the editor says people valuing their bikes as vehicles [a mindset that I feel is changing, albeit glacially] it will be tough for this vocation to take off as an accepted trade. Personally, I love it and want nothing more than to continue with it, learning more everyday. I’m being an optimist in this, I think the necessary acceptance will arrive, and I’ll be happy to lend a hand repairing bikes far into the future.

Deciding between UBI or Barnett’s wasn’t too difficult, it’s debatable which is the better school but UBI being closer geographically was the clincher (although we’ve found out that getting there from Seattle is far more difficult than we imagined). Both I’m sure are worthwhile institutions. I’d like to attend a frame-building class sometime soon; UBI has a pretty well known program for this skill, but recently I’ve been hearing mention of the Yamaguchi Framebuilding School, also in Colorado like Barnett’s.

Wish me luck, I’m really looking forward to it, partly because it’ll also be a vacation of sorts. James and I will be heading down to Portland for the awesome Filmed by Bike film festival and then we’ll make our way down to Ashland on Sunday to start classes on Monday; should be a rawking way to start the school.

80’s Vice Bike

Way back in the day I had a road bike. I was probably in the eighth or ninth grade when I was given a Centurion for Christmas. I don’t remember it as well as I should, but through my research and vague memories it was either a Sport DLX or an Accordo. This would have been probably around 1989, so that would more likely be the Accordo—according to this page on Sheldon’s site. This is proving a difficult history to research; I’m dying for more photos really. This is the closest, memory striking, one, and from the looks of the picture the paint is on it’s way out. But note the sweet decals and two tone paint job. Those shapes and squiggles always stuck in my memory.

I remember having a good time with this old Centurion, it was as fast as I had ever gone on a bike before, and wanting to be like Mr. Lemond at the time, I taught myself how to ride stronger: trudging up hills in progressively harder and harder gears. I’d like to try those hills again, they at least seemed like steep hills at the time; climbing up the street my old elementary school was on in suburban Maryland. I remember people would ask me why they’d see me looking behind me so often while I rode. I admit, I had no idea why, I probably had no idea where I was going.

I also had no idea that I would eventually get rid of this beloved Centurion in an ignorant desire to ride a different bike. I only say ignorant now, at the time of this decision to “upgrade” I was eager to get rid of the road bike. It was fast, it was fun racing busses up and down Kembridge, but… my big brother had just gotten a sweet new mountain bike! A Scott Delano hardtail (& nose) mountain bike. His friend Dan also got one with a suspension fork! And I just felt I had to do the same, why ride alone, when I could ride with the big boys. However, all I could afford was a Scott Peak that looked just like this dude’s. What was most troublesome at the time was the fact that I could only afford it by trading in my Centurion, and even then I remember it only buying me a hundred dollars credit towards the Peak. Oh well, I was in knobby heaven, again ignorant at the time of my newly reduced speed. But I remember those rides well: me, my brother, and friend Dan hitting woody trails and muddy swamps near and around the Patuxent River.

I brought that Scott out here to Seattle with me but it has since been Recycled. I had plenty of miles on it but I stopped riding it after I got a lighter Fuji. I only remember vague highlights of the old Centurion, a mostly white frame with the awesome geometric accents and colorful squiggles that afterwards I would always describe as being Miami Vice-like (it pleased me to read a similar description on Sheldon’s site). Just a few weeks ago—on my birthday no doubt—I got reacquainted with another Centurion-as-gift. I’m back with a “close-enough” Centurion, albeit with only a few of the sweet decals that I liked so much back then….

This color scheme is a bit more my current style

To really firm up the memories though, I need to get my mother to dig through some photo albums, surely there’s one of me and my bike. In the meantime, there’s more pictures of this gem; soon enough I’ll be re-working this gifted bike and converting it to more modern components—like Biopace isn’t modern—and using it primarily as a city bike capable of towing the B.O.B. and utilizing a front rack. It’s not my old bike exactly so a restoration isn’t required; one day exactly whatever that bike was, it’ll return to me perhaps.


As a good supplement to wheel-building, having a spoke length calculator is important. There’s a few out there online, there’s books too—I know the Sutherland’s I use is at times difficult to use; there’s a new one online that has a nice database and user interface to it: the Wheelbuilder at Free Bike Tools.

It’s a growing site, so keep checking it out for more tools and resources.


This next month coming up is going to be a busy one. I’m excited.

All will be normal until Friday the 11th when my wife and I, along with James & Shellie will be heading down via Amtrak to Portland, Oregon to enjoy the wild festivities on Clinton Street. That’s right, Filmed by Bike.

Do it yourself, get down there, bring some old tubes I hear, watch what are expected to be some great bike movies!

There’s been some chatter about it around town up here I’ve heard, and seen…


Anyone have some floor or space to let four friendly bikers crash for a few nights in Portland?

The Doctor is in…

I’ve heard working as an orthopedic surgeon is oftentimes compared with working as a carpenter. Joining bones instead of boards. The time I had some pins in my hand from my broken thumb, having them removed sure felt like I was on the floor of Home Depot or something. Simply pulling them straight from my flesh (and bone) with a pair of pliers wasn’t exactly my idea of “surgery”.


Well, as we all can all probably recall working on bikes has been compared to working on bodies; kind of like being a doctor. Having a busted bike is like being a patient, especially if you don’t know what’s wrong with it.

In my short time at the shop, I’ve seen enough worried and confused faces to know that your bike malfunctioning is more than just a broken machine, it’s a injured best friend. This is why you’ve come to Admissions: those first twenty feet inside the shop is the examination room, the triage area. This is where we take a look and hear about the injured bike’s symptoms. “Your brakes aren’t working, we’ll take a look, is there anything else we should examine? Any problems it exhibits while riding? Any issues with shifting?” Maybe just a check-up, “If anything major crops up, we’ll give you a call.” Not to worry, the next step for your friend is the work stand: the ICU if you will. If you’re lucky there’s room over in the “waiting room” near the coffee machine and the beer fridge; and there’s never any need for turning your head and coughing.

“What’s the prognosis, Dr Moore?” Symptoms, examination, triage, diagnosis, ICU, snapping on the rubber gloves! How many bike shops think about bikes this way I wonder?

This isn’t a new idea obviously, huh?

Considering the package we received at the shop the other day by mistake from Group Health, maybe we’re not the only ones confusing ourselves with doctors: “Incorrect bike fit making your back hurt, don’t adjust—medicate with opiates!”

And as for those self-medicaters out there, part two to wheel-building is definitely coming around soon. It is actually in the works!

Edited 3.14:
Just remembered one more connection to the medical field; counting out spokes and especially nipples always makes me feel like I’m a pharmacist.

Behind Yehuda Moon

I was so instantly impressed and wholly amused by the Yehuda Moon comic that I wanted to find out more. Here’s an interview of sorts I threw together asking the artist himself, Rick Smith. He was quickly responsive, and revealed that he’s a pretty nice and cool guy. Enjoy.

CrankedMag: Where do you originate from? How long have you been in Cleveland or the Midwest?

Rick Smith: I grew up in Cleveland, but only moved back here in 2005. I spent fifteen years in Virginia, Texas, and Colorado before deciding that Ohio was where I wanted to be.

CM: Have you spent any time elsewhere? Do you think the Midwest has shaped your bike mentality?

RS: I biked in all of the above places, and Cleveland certainly isn’t the best spot out of all of them. But there are less people here, and that makes for a calmer commute (sometimes). I think my summer riding during college in Michigan and upstate New York probably shaped my riding the most. I learned to ride long distances, and came to truly appreciate the pastime.

CM: How long have you been commuting by bike? Have you always been “bike-minded”?

RS: I’ve been biking off and on to school or work since 1986. I usually took winters off, but decided to take the plunge and go year round. It’s been a blast. Winter riding takes careful planning, but once you’re out on the road, you learn different things than you do during warm weather riding. There’s so much more to keep track of—gear, clothing, repairs, the ride itself (what with the snow and ice).

CM: What’s your commuter bike? How long is your commute?

I ride an Azor Mechanic’s Series 108; basically a customized Dutch bike built by the folks at the Dutch Bicycle Company. It’s decked out with Shimano components including a dynamo hub and Nexus 8-speed internal hub. It’s a beast, a tank, but feels luxurious while riding. I’ve taken it camping as well, but will probably get a country bike for those trips. I travel 24 miles a day, round trip.

CM: Your comic is really relatable, many of the themes are like many I’ve experienced personally. Are these comics thoroughly derived from personal experience or what?

Some of the strips are from my own experiences, while others are from discussions with colleagues (like the Lauterbrunnental series). Most are simply concocted on the ride home. Riding every day gives the strip its sense of ‘relatability’.

CM: Do you relate more to Yehuda or Joe? What or who was the inspiration for Yehuda Moon? Are these characters or the Kickstand Gallery inspired by any shop in particular?

I speak chiefly through the character of Yehuda Moon. Joe represent the views of a cycling comrade I work with. Many of the discussions or arguments between Joe and Yehuda are drawn from conversations he and I have had about bicycles and bicycling.

CM: I loved the “Lauterbrunnental Leaflet” bit. What brought about that satire?

I recently bought every issue of the Rivendell Reader from a seller on eBay. The Reader changed me as a bicyclist. Civilians should read it. I’ve offered my services to Rivendell to bind all of the previous issues into four fat volumes. I even made covers for the volumes. I really want to see it happen—there are so many others who should read the Reader.

The LL was a gentle jab at the wonder that comes with each issue, as well as some of the obsessiveness of Riv members. Joe’s a skeptic, and feels the LL is a bit overzealous, and I wanted to capture that in the strips as well.

CM: How long have you been cartooning? What’s up with Shuck and Sulfurstar? Do you have any advice or anything to say to those attempting cartooning themselves?

I’ve drawn most of my life. Shuck was published independently as comic books and by Top Shelf Productions as a graphic novel. After, I tried my hand at a daily strip and got bored. I’ve also drawn a graphic novel with Damon Hurd called ‘Temporary’ about Envy St. Claire, a temp worker with a terminal illness. Advice? Keep drawing.

CM: Is it a lucrative activity? Do you have a day job?

I work as a web developer at an insurance company.

CM: Shuck looks like it was once in print form, is it still available? How do you manage publishing? Publishing Cranked Magazine myself is pretty difficult, is publishing a comic similar?

Shuck ran in print as both a graphic novel and as saddle-stitched comics. Copies are available at shops, online at retail sites, and at Publishing a printed comic is much different from publishing the strips online. Working with the printers, getting colors correct, proofing the galley copies, distributing to shops and through wholesale channels—wow. There’s a lot of work. But it’s very fulfilling.

CM: Is Yehuda Moon in print anywhere?

Yehuda will likely be in print within the year, in some form or another.

CM: What can readers expect to see in the near future with Yehuda?

RS: Yehuda will have to deal with city council again after he paints the illegal bike lanes along the city’s main thoroughfares. There will be a segment on bike camping. More commuting hi-jinx. More customer interactions at the Kickstand (look for the ‘Bike Whisperer’, ‘New Old Parts’, more ‘Carbon Copy’, ‘Dateline Mom’, and others). More info about the models sold at the shop, and who builds them.

CM: Is there an overall message with Yehuda Moon that you’re trying to put out?

RS: I hope the strip doesn’t exhibit an agenda, just points of view. I want to skewer Yehuda’s message as much as I do other character’s. It’s only fair. If you enjoy riding a bicycle, you’ll find something of yourself in Yehuda Moon.

Sounds awesome, you keep drawing too Rick, I know people that are looking for more Yehuda. Keep him coming. Looking forward to seeing it in print form.

Thanks again for the interview.


On Sunday morning, Brooke and I went out for breakfast at the Dish on the way to Ballard on Leary. Brooke riding my Coppi and I on her Pro Miyata, she got a lesson in STI shifting, feeling how different they are from downtubes. As an aside, my Coppi has been infected with the Campy virus so it’s Dura-Ace bits might be migrating to her Miyata. (To hasten this “cure” I’m in need of some Chorus 9-speed hubs).

Anyway, as we roll up to the restaurant we noticed people taking pictures and staring at some birds up above. Not thinking of it we ignored the rubber-necking for a moment until someone mentioned that it was prompted by a bald eagle up there. Sure enough, up above at the top of a telephone pole sat our nation’s proud symbol, a big beautiful bald eagle. It was a great sight, I was tempted to snap a picture myself, but decided to just enjoy the view unencumbered by technological futsing. (They look like this: Bald Eagles on Flickr if you were unfamiliar).

Like the photo linked to, a few minutes later after watching the sitting bird squawking at some pestering crows another baldy appeared and began circling it’s friend having some sort of conversation. Their call is unexpectedly shrill, not the manly patriotic sound I thought it would be. But what was really impressive apart from the flying bird’s huge wingspan, was how the avian seemed to hover, chest out, towards his/her friend with it’s wings stretched but controlled with merely the tips of them. Probably for us humans, something like doing pull-ups with the tips of your nails.

The morning was great! Great clear day, good biking, great birds, good food. Today I saw blossoms on trees. The oppression of Seattle’s winter is coming to a close.

These are not bald eagles, but stellar jays we saw the week previous snowshoeing.