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I have a new bike. Many of you have seen it and know how pleased I am with it, which is mainly down to the fact that a lot of it comes from my own hands. It's an exercise in making a silk purse from a sow's ear by dint of removing most of the sow's ear, carefully tanning the tiny remnant and then covering the whole thing with swathes of silk. The fixed gear thing confuses people though. I explain that it doesn't coast and people develop fixed polite smiles and say things like "How...interesting." *shuffling of feet, peering at shiny bits* "Why?"

Not an easy thing to explain really. Reams have been written on this and for the most part it sounds like some mystical navel gazing exercise. There are some benefits involved...it forces you to work harder up hills and pedal more smoothly, more quickly and generally with better form downhill all of which make you a better cyclist. There are arguably benefits in efficiency overall, simplicity begetting reduction in losses from various types of mechanical drag which is an effect more noticeable than you might think, particularly given how good the average bicycle is in that respect already. But really, it's an exercise more analogous to cooking over an open fire or performing music unamplified. It's not necessarily better, but it's definitely different. In some ways it recalls the way the particular thing used to be done and because you're removing intermediary bits and pieces the whole thing becomes more immediate and more intimate. This is the navel gazing part, but it's definitely real and apparent. In this case, there is no discontinuity between what the back wheel does and what your legs do. At all. Ever. This leads to people rambling on about being "at one with the bike" and suchlike and they're absolutely right. Add this to the utter lack of complexity in the mechanism and it really is a case of thought begetting action. I suspect that people who have played with bow lathes or kick wheels for pottery or treadle sewing machines and found that they like them have the same sort of connection with what they're doing.

I'm not about to discard my more conventional bike and it will doubtless become my usual commuter again at some point. For now though, I'm getting a little extra fun in my daily commute. Given how arduous most people seem to find getting to work and home again, I figure being able to genuinely apply the word "fun" to the exercise is a win.
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I managed to bring a project out of hiatus today. I got the Super Eliott frame back from Abbotsford Cycles today, having had them fit a headset to it. They were very nice and fitted my bottom bracket while they were at it. I got it home and assembled as much of it as possible and that's enough to have been able to take it out for a spin. A genuinely nice thing. Nice and light for a steel framed bike, due to an utter lack of extraneous bits and pieces and very quiet and free spinning for the same reason. As I'd hoped, the reasonably nice hardware has given it a lovely smoothness and lack of rattle (once I'd adjusted a little play out of the headset) which is almost eerie when you've got a reasonable cadence up. I didn't go too far on it as I'm expecting a call to go pick up [livejournal.com profile] doushkasmum and I need a longer nut to fit the brake caliper so the test ride was brakeless. I'm ok with riding a fixie brakeless in the back streets of Reservoir, but I wouldn't be hitting arterial roads that way. Initial pics here.
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We managed to progress a little further with the oven today. The clay floor we made didn't work at all so it was removed with a shovel (I didn't need to break it up at all...it was already in pieces) and the insulation and bricks we bought last weekend on the way to November Crown were installed. A fairly straightforward exercise and nicely satisfying.
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We have a thing. Shaped like a pizza oven. A thing shaped like a pizza oven in which we plan to cook pizzas. Yay for pizza ovens and yay for doing friends who come and help us do. Thanks especially (and predictably) to the indefatigible [livejournal.com profile] tenbears who came and did and did and then did some more.

Pictures to be found here.
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There is a pleasingly regular hole on our backyard. This already has steel reinforcing mesh in it, to be joined in there by concrete on the morrow. Stage one of the pizza oven is away! [livejournal.com profile] mr_bassman, [livejournal.com profile] mrsbrown and [livejournal.com profile] montjoye came over and provided general helpings and support so hooray for them. I do like our house :)

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