Tuesday, March 20

Save the Cannondales: Another Rescued Classic


I get the distinct urge to begin a "Mid-90s Cannondale Mountain Bike Rescue." M9CMTBR? Doesn't flow off the tongue exactly.Or across the keyboard.

A few weeks ago a reader emailed me with the story of finding a 1997 M300 SE by a dumpster. Geez! Some guys have all the luck!

Mark M. wrote and asked what I would do with the Cannonball if I had it to do all over again. So I gave him my two cents, minus Xtracycle conversion, on how I would rebuild the Cannonball as a commuter/offroad bike.

I surprised myself with my response. Basically, the Cannonball v3.2 would begin here:

And I would add the Jones H Bar (necessitating a threadless headset), upgrade to the Alivio shifters, add at least a front disc brake with a fork change, possibly add a rear disc brake, better panniers, slimmer commuter tires and of course, the dazzling blue powder-coat finish I have now. And now in retrospect I would change the front chainring to include a bigger big ring. I've found that I don't really have a strong top end. The bike climbs like a billygoat, but I fight too hard to catch my roadie rabbits.

Basically, it would be the Cannonball X minus the X. And how could I leave off the X?

Well, I could see if I somehow found a better donor bike I might convert the Cannonball back to a conventional bike. But the replacement donor would have to be a really stellar specimen.

Mark M. seems to have found a good specimen for just a good all around bike or the donor for an Xtracycle conversion. My research shows that the 1997 M300 SE frame was still built in the US. No matter where it was made a free bike is a free bike!

Good luck with your new bike Mark M.!


In Peak Oil news: Newt Gingrich is a great example (but not the only one) of how out of touch our politicians really are.

"Contrary to popular belief, America has more energy than any nation on earth. All that's keeping us from becoming energy independent is a lack of political will to do so."Newt Gingrich

As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, some other factors will keep us from being energy independent: namely, the fact that we can't meet our own demand with our own supply. Infrastructure is as important as the resources in meeting a growing demand. The lack of infrastructure is one reason renewables haven't taken off faster. We lack the transmission lines from area with adequate winds and high insolation to the area where electricity is consumed in greater quantities.

But Gingrich, and the other panderers, fail to grasp that our energy problems can't simply be solved by drilling more or building more pipelines. We must diversify our energy portfolio, reduce our overall consumption, and look to better living arrangements than our current unsustainable suburban nightmare. Kunstler (and others) calls our suburban experiment the "greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world." We've pushed human-scaled development out of the picture and replaced our feet as the measuring stick with the automobile. Resilience ultimately comes by relying on, or designing for, the most simple and most reliable form of something. Walking, and human powered transportation, provides the simplest and most reliable mode of transportation, and if we had kept our units of measure in step with that in mind we wouldn't be in the energy mess we're in today.

Asking modern Americans to scale back is not an effort to quell freedom, but to return to sustainable levels of freedom; to accept the nobility of being good stewards of that which we've been blessed with.

The political rhetoric these days includes a lot of talk about "jobs." I am certain the reason for this is because the politicians recognize that a good number of their constituents have "jobs" pretty high on their to-do lists and care a lot about "jobs."

But the rhetoric does little to actually address or solve the problem of "jobs." It's just another empty word that gets included as a part of the campaign package in 2012.

In reality, should we preserve the jobs of today at the expense of future jobs? The jobs of our heirs? If we create "work" to give jobs to those unemployed souls of today, shouldn't we give heed to the total costs, now and forever, of those jobs? If we employ a person to drill that last bit of oil out of the ground to be consumed in the motor of a race car, or to make a few hundred more plastic bottles, or another iPad, is that job somehow more sacred than the jobs of the future that could have come about by the careful conservation of the last drops of oil?

I'm not saying we're about to run out of oil, but just using that scenario as an example.


In honor of it being the first day of Spring I give you a photo from last spring. So far I haven't seen much blooming here in Colorado, but reports from Kentucky are that everything is abloom.

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