Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two Greats

Pity about the sound quality, but the spirit is there.

It's hard to make a stand ....that's light, strong and cheap

I might just be disowned for this............

I was sitting here scheming how to make the centre stand for the XtraBike. Trying to fit it into those standard three dimensional bicycle parameters STRONG LIGHT CHEAP when I was distracted by the words of this song.

You said it, Ms Crowe.

....but not impossible.

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's been a long week

It has, with it's ups and downs, been a rough rollercoaster one, this last week.

My friend Graeme went into hospital for an operation, only to be told that he has picked up an infection (in the hospital when he was there for tests last week) and has to be on an IV anti-biotic drip for a week. Fuckin' hard for anybody to have to deal with that.

Bicycle design post a piece on Archibald Sharp's epic treatise, including the direct line to the mother lode. Where to download this wonderful book and many others in a similar vein, for free. Big props to James T and Miles. You were a highlight in the week. Thanks guys.

We (Di and I) are deeply involved in the design of the first three "xtrabags" (trademark applies) for the xtrabike (well, two for the xtrabike and one for the 29r). Di is precisely 10 times more precise than me, I do the centimetre thing whereas she wants it in millimetres ). These are frame bags for the long haul, made of ripstop canvas with take no prisoners zips, they should outlast even a good steel frame. (Not for use on carbon frames, the mere sound of that zip closing could crack that pretty frame ;)

Another big prop to TopCopy in Claremont, Cape Town (Ray, Leila and Jeremy). Nothing was too much trouble in getting Sharps' classic to them via, printed, bound and ready on time. The marvel of modern technology; Download a 20MB file of a digitized 19th century book from the other side of the world, send it to TopCopy via yousendit. They print it and bind it and two good friends make sure it gets to Graeme in hospital. He's blown away.

I proceed to greedily download a host of other 19th century cycling books thanks to BikeDesign, including BOTH volumes of Thomas Stevens "Around the World on a Bicycle". If you haven't done so already, do so now. And that includes you, Steven Thomas. These 1100-odd pages help put things in perspective. Around the world on an "Ordinary". In the 1880's. No kidding.

Xtrabag design now 99% complete, final templates done and Di and I are on the same page regarding angles and millimetres...looking good. We may yet turn this into a business, the only other person I know of making frame bags is in Alaska, so we shouldn't tread on each other's toes too much. Anyway, his snow will have melted by the time he gets down here.

That all-important template, all detail correct and present

Then a call from Graeme to say that he's home hospital has run out of the anti-biotic needed to deal with the infection he picked up in said hospital. Welcome to South Africa, to the land of the World Cup 2010, to the land of fat thieving greedy politicians, to the land that runs out of medicines at it's training hospitals. Fuck these thieving swine.

Ok, so that's now out, so I pull out the singlespeed corkscrew and get to write this all up........this is for a friend up North where the snow only stays slushy for a very short while, until it freezes solid!
A good Merlot and a brilliant corkscrew.

For many reasons this has been a week from hell, but after it's all over, there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stretch and the compartment issue

Cardboard mock-ups of potential frame bag spaces.....

Oh yes, motivation for the weekend

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Stretch is taking shape in an "organic process".

Weld, grind, weld.....

This idea scored top points for creativity, but that's all. Hours of careful thinking removed with a grinder.......

A very late night last night has produced this so far.................

  • Rock solid
  • Rides like a dream
  • Carries a load without a problem
  • Would be lighter if made of carbon fibre

Handles very well with the 15kg load, even placed up that high.

Technical detail: Notice the second gorilla (that was acting as a chain tensioner) has gone, not needed.

Elegant solution, still a way to go.
Action List:
  • Fit plywood deck on rear rack
  • Complete sides of rear rack
  • Tidy up the metal-work
  • Strip and paint (Afrika Korp Brown RAL 8020)
  • Install both brakes
  • Install rear gorilla with a friction clicker

Monday, October 18, 2010

A whim, I suppose.

I don't remember what started the search, but I ended up on the homebuilt Xtracycle page over the weekend..........if someone in Western Canuckistan can do it so can I!

I dragged two old steel frames together, in fact I tied them together so that they could commune overnight. Come morning things were looking good. I posted some pics on the thread, hoping for advice and encouragement, but after 30 minutes there was no response so I picked up the grinder and got to work. I mean hell, boy, what time do you wake up in that part of the world ;)

Fortunately (for my level of skill as a welder) these frames are made of steel, back in the days when it was still cheap. They made nice thick-walled tubing for sparkers like me to play with.

I think the extra few hours of thought paid off (as it so often does) and I was able to turn out an XtraCycle frame that rides pretty well (still no technical gubbins...brakes, shifter cables etc) without having to backtrack.

OK, the process in a nutshell:

Put the frames together to see how they work together (actually bolted the donor bike and the "other" bike (the receiver?) together, BB to dropout. That gave me an idea of what and where to cut.

Cut and grind. Removed the down-tube in it's entirety, kept the top-tube, but sliced it to facilitate a bend. Grind the front of the top-tube to mate with the receiver's seatpost.

Weld (yes I know you can't weld this stuff with an arc welder) That's why I just pretended I had a tig welder and got on with it. Looks not unlike pigeon shit, just smaller. Nothing that body-filler and undercoat can't tidy up. (Actually, I'm rather proud of my arc welding ability)

The "meeting point", where the donor bike's BB goes into the receiver's rear drop-outs was simple enough. A 12mm high tensile bolt, drilled dropouts to 12mm, some spacers, aligned the whole lot and welded it in place. Neat, strong, simple.

So far a fun project, the rack detail at the back is going to take more time, it needs a strong, lightweight, cheap, home-made, practical, stylish rack (I don't want to raise expectations at this stage).
So that's her, and yes, I know it's like coming out of the closet, here I am riding those little wheels aided by clickers and gorillas. Standards just ain't what they used to be. Please don't tell anyone.

OK, seriously now. That "parallelogram thing" looks like the business to me. This bike suddenly opens up a few possibilities, there's space to load quite a few litres of water in there (Sishen-Saldanha and another Bushmanland trip are now in reach.) Just a pity about those little wheels, but I could get over it. And the gears.

If anybody has any ideas about racks, please supply.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I don't generally like "concept bikes", but this is real. And I like it. A lot.

ICB 29
Wonder how she sails?

Never Mind The Dog - Beware of the Owner

Harry with with his favourite uncle, Noor, at the range.
That's a first generation Glock, for those know these things
The results? Impressive.

The Irony of it all

I have unashamedly lifted this from

Plumber creates bicycle made for tools to beat Olympic road works

A plumber driven round the bend by Olympic road works has adapted a bicycle to keep his business running.

Chris JonesOn your pipe: Chris Jones dodges road works on his adapted bike (Dorset Media picture)
That's great, but I really can't help thinking that in most of the "developing world" this would be considered perfectly normal and hardly newsworthy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Dangerous Roads" my arse !

I drive this road regularly. 400km along the "most dangerous road in the country". Regular massive crashes, regular double-digit fatality "accidents". Generally the only visible presence of the traffic officials is when they are hiding behind bushes manning (or womanning) speed cameras. Very rarely does one see a moving traffic cop, one that can deal with "moving violations" which must be the major cause of so many accidents..

Arseholes like this one.........ZMJ467GP

Not once, but four times I saw this vehicle pull the same move.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

South Africa -- The Real Threat

Solid piece by Justice Malala, heartening in these times of the neo-kleptocracy.

Justice Malala, The Times, Johannesburg, 4 October 2010

ANC leader Pallo Jordan, writing in this newspaper last week, asserted that because of the struggles of his comrades I am able to write my "wordy, self-righteous columns in The Times, certain that he (I) won't spend that night in prison."

I am not sure that I won't spend tonight or any other night in prison. I am also not certain that the leaders of the ANC won't throw me in jail. Because, as outlined by ANC veteran Oyama Mabandla in an article in African Affairs in 1990, large chunks of the ANC hates free speech and hates people who speak truth to power.

Which is why this same ANC - that Jordan claims fought for me - arrested and detained him for six weeks in 1983.

This is what Mabandla said way back in 1990:

"Pallo was detained on the orders of (Communist) Party member and Mbokodo (the ANC's security department) chieftain, Peter Boroko. . Pallo was accused of exposing the Mbokodo informant network within the Department of Information and Publicity by mockingly referring to department official Francis Malaya and another man named Ace . as Amapolisa (the police) - warning other DIP staffers to be careful of them. On that basis, Pallo was detained and was to spend six weeks in detention.

"I participated in an informal meeting at Green House (Mbokodo HQ) which discussed Pallo's arrest. . During the discussion one Mbokodo officer made a chilling remark which seemed to capture the essence of the entire saga. The comment went thus, 'leli intellectual lase Merika lisijwayela kabi': 'this American-trained intellectual is uppity' - and thus in need of straightening out."

This is the ANC that Jordan now claims I should be certain will not jail me. Either he has been imbibing something strong, has been in a coma or he is delusional. He should ask Mzilikazi wa Afrika what the ANC is capable of.

Wa Afrika, in case that story passed the perceptive Jordan by, was arrested by 20 policemen in six vans, taken to a secret location in Mpumalanga and interrogated at 2am without a lawyer. The charges against him have been dropped. Wa Afrika works in my building.

I am grateful for Jordan's certainty that I will not spend the night in prison.

Yet the ANC I know is the ANC that detained Jordan for saying exactly what I say today in my "wordy" columns. It is the ANC that detained my colleague Wa Afrika just two months ago while Jordan was composing his Floyd Shivambu-esque drone.

The really offensive part of Jordan's piece is that he claims that it was him and the ANC who fought and liberated South Africa so that "today Malala enjoys the freedom to insult them with impunity".

It is time to tell the true story of who delivered the country to the democracy that it is today - and who fights to protect these freedoms. The ANC's useful idiots arrogantly claim that "it was the ANC" that fought to give us our freedom. Rubbish!

While the ANC was detaining the likes of Jordan or torturing young women in its camps, it was people like my young friends and relatives who were, under the banner of the Mass Democratic Movement, rendering the apartheid state unworkable. It was Desmond Tutu who led me and other young students to the beaches of Cape Town to defy apartheid laws.

It was Peter Mokaba who, as president of the SA Youth Congress, harried PW Botha. It was Trevor Manuel and Popo Molefe and others in the UDF, and Jay Naidoo at Cosatu, who led our mothers on marches and stayaways.

Meanwhile, the ANC was detaining and then poisoning the young leader Thami Zulu. Jordan may be interested to know that Zulu's bosses in that ANC, and the people who still won't say what happened to him and many others, are now snugly in Cabinet giving us legislation such as the Protection of Information Bill.

An ANC that can behave so abominably towards its own members, in a faraway place of hurt and loneliness, is not the noble beast Jordan tries to portray. I am empathetic to - and even love - the real ANC, the one Jordan turns his face away from: it is fallible, it is aware that it is open to abuse by people within its ranks and it is humble in its enjoyment of the freedoms that we, the people of South Africa and the world, fought so hard for. This is the ANC that values a free press.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy my sleep and write more "wordy" columns now that I have Jordan's assurance that the leaders of Mbokodo, the people who ran the ANC torture camp Quattro, won't jail me. Or Mzilikazi wa Afrika. Or even the rather wordy Pallo Jordan himself.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Eukanuba Dog Food Diet ---Thanks Di!

I was buying a large bag of Eukanuba dog food at my vet and
standing in a queue at the check-out. A guy behind me asked if I
had a dog.

On impulse, I told him no, I was starting the Eukanuba Diet again,
although I probably shouldn't because I'd ended up in hospital last
time, but that I'd lost 22 kilos before I awoke in an intensive care
unit with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both

I told him that it was essentially a perfect diet and that all you do
is load your pockets with Eukanuba nuggets and simply eat one or two
every time you feel hungry. And I told him that the food is
nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again. I have to
mention here that by now, practically everyone in the queue was
enthralled with my story, particularly a guy who was behind him.

Horrified, he asked if I'd ended up in hospital in that condition
because I'd been poisoned. I told him no; it was because I'd been
sitting in the street licking my balls when a car hit me.

Stupid fool... why else would I buy dog food?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Monday, October 4, 2010


These are the bastards who ran the rhino killing syndicate.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Blues