Sunday, 10 February 2013

Lazy Eyes, Real Work Commences, a New Bike

It has been fourish weeks since the last proper work on the frame, and for good reason; I have just  had my eyes lasered. This involved wearing my glasses instead of contact lenses for two weeks prior to the operation, which made it hard to wear dark glasses for brazing, and then two weeks of being careful about my eyes; ie, not brazing and filing and grinding stuff.

The first two weeks wearing the glasses was actually the hardest to deal with as I am (was!) particularly blind; 7 diopters in one eye and 6.75 in the other, which basically means I was so blind I could not really even read a book without holding it millimetres from my face. My vision was ok with contacts but wearing glasses it meant I had virtually no peripheral vision, and the glasses lenses were so thick that I would get a form of light dopplering at the sides of my vision where lines of contrast would either red shift or blue shift. Disturbing to say the least, but at least in idle times I could imagine I was a spaceship.

Anyway this meant that for two weeks I basically could not trust my vision to tell me that things were the way they actually were, and so I thought it best to leave off work on the frame for the duration.

The actual Lasik procedure was pretty quick and painless, the only stressful bits being; 1. Having your eyes speculumed open. 2. Having the front of your corneas cut off. 3. Smelling the bits of your eye being vaporised by the laser. 4. Watching the nice doctor brush the cutoff bit of your eye back on.

For a day it felt like a little gremlin had dried out your eyes with a blowtorch and then liberally sprinkled finely chopped glass fibers in there just for good measure, but I had drugs to deal with this. Overall it wasn't too bad really, and well worth the blood loss from where my fingernails cut into my palms.

So now I am back on track I have fearlessly dived into the actual frame build. This weekend I brazed the head tube to down tube joint, seat tube to bottom bracket and the chainstays to dropouts;

A bit wayward with the quantity of silver, nothing that endless hours with a riffler won't fix.
A better effort.
Another unnecessary view of a better effort.
After I washed the flux off, clearly the skills have not entirely deserted me...
It was hard to get enough heat into the dropouts without toasting the tubes, I think it went ok though...

Now I just need another fill of oxygen to proceed, those little tanks do not hold many hours worth.

As indicated I have purchased a new bike, which you have probably guessed is a Surly. This is a Disc Trucker, which the disc braked version of the Long Haul Trucker. I bought this because it seemed to be the only steel framed bike in the size and geometry that I wanted.

A Surly Disc Trucker last week.
All I wanted was a decent bike that I would be able to do long rides involving hills, but this thing has far surpassed my expectations. It is so comfortable and responsive that having had it for a day or so I actually braved going up Dyers Pass Road. The first section up to the Sign of the Takehe was frankly rather ugly, it wasn't so much a granny gear I needed but more like a crematorium gear. I made it eventually, with many pitying and slightly worried looks from the walkers passing me, I think because my breathing sounded like someone was felling redwoods with a handsaw.

Thankfully from that point on things got significantly easier, so much so that I also took in as much of the summit road heading towards Sumner as I could, and I was rather disappointed to realise that the road was closed. That was a good ride and bedded in the squeaky front brakes quite nicely.

Since I took that picture I have bought a Topeak rack and some Phillips panniers and handlebar bag, so it looks pretty industrial. I have been using it for commuting for the last two weeks as well because it makes every other bike I own feel floppy and uncomfortable. This does nothing for my FCN but it is so easy to get the power down I am scalping pretty well regardless. When the frame goes together I will be trying to replicate how I sit on this as it is so nice.

I think I am in love.

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