Category Archives: Chicago Velo Blog

Goodbye Dad

Charles Nissan Diamond

Charles Nissan Diamond

Last night, my father, Charles Nissan Diamond died unexpectedly at his home. It hit my mom especially hard and I drove out to Cleveland today to begin the process of helping her, making arrangements for his funeral, and meeting the family that is congregating to celebrate his life. It has been a hard couple of days and I suspect they won’t be easy for a while.

My sister Rae sent me the picture above, which I love and shows a side of my dad that not many knew.

I love you dad and I miss you already.  Peace to you and mom and Rae and all of our family.

FRIDAY NIGHT’S TOUR IS CANCELLED.

I am going to have to cancel Friday night’s make-up Downtown Night Tour as I will likely still be in Cleveland and in any case will be in no position to lead a group of riders through the streets of downtown Chicago at night.  I am sorry for this. I will initiate refunds for all that pre-registered and be in touch about the status of the season pass for those that purchased one this season. As I look through the posts on Chicago Velo, it is depressingly notable how many of the posts are about tour cancellations, postponements and rescheduling. I know it isn’t the time to make big decisions about everything after a major event in one’s life, but as I sort through these tasks, I will be taking stock about the future of the Chicago Neighborhood Bike Tours as well.

Take care everyone and hopefully I will see you soon.

At night, Chicago is particularly lovely

Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain

SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT THE TOUR AND THE WEATHER:

The weather report is indicating the strong likelihood of thunderstorms during the hours we would be touring. While we do indeed hold our tours in the rain, we do NOT hold tours during storms, particularly when lightning might be present.

I will be at the start of the tour to either run the tour as scheduled, or to greet riders that show up if the ride has to be cancelled.
IF the ride needs to be cancelled, we will have a rain date of next Friday, July 28 at the same time. Pre-paid riders will have the option of a refund or rain-check. Hopefully our weather luck works out and I will see everyone tomorrow.

THANKS! – Lee Diamond

 
 

When Chicagoans speak of their downtown area, they most often refer to it as the Loop. The term does indeed represent the central business district of the downtown area and is a designated Chicago Community Area, but Chicago’s Downtown also includes adjacent neighborhoods and communities and many of the iconic buildings that people associate with downtown Chicago like the Field Museum, Wrigley Building, Merchandise Mart, Union Station and the Water Tower which all lie outside of the Loop proper.  The term the Loop is most frequently thought to originate from the loop that the cable cars made at the turnabouts along State, Lake, Wabash and Madison. Later it referred to the Union Elevated Line, an elevated train that connected the various independent el train companies to one another in a central business district Loop.

Agora

Agora

For much of the decade that I have been organizing the Chicago Neighborhood Bike Tours, I have offered mini-tours of the various Downtown districts which I held for the City of Chicago, and longer night tours of the same areas.  The mini-tours were 6 to 10 miles and offered the greatest hits of the major sites of each Downtown Community.  The night tours were 10 to 14 mile tours that used the night as a filter to highlight sites and buildings that were particularly impressive for night-viewing.  A comprehensive tour of any of these areas would be impossible due to the density of all of the magnificent sites in any of these areas, as well as the challenge of very dense and busy downtown vehicle traffic. 

LaSalle Street Bridge

LaSalle Street Bridge

I have created a Google Map with our Route, and sites of interest in each of the different Community Areas.

This year, the tour combines iconic buildings and sites of all the different downtown community areas in a combined night tour. There are fewer stops and an exciting route that offers a breathtaking view of Downtown Chicago in all its nighttime glory. All riders should bring a helmet as well as front and rear lights to see and be seen. We ride in rain, but not in storms.

I hope you can join us for a one-of-a-kind view of Chicago by bike at night.

Biking Downtown Chicago at Night

Biking Downtown Chicago at Night

Inspiration for this post’s title from the great Ohio band Orchestraville and their album, “At Night, it is Particularly Lovely”, available to listen to for free on Bandcamp here.

Downtown Chicago Night Bike Tour
Friday July 21 at 7:00 PM
Buckingham Fountain at 301 S Columbus Dr in Chicago

Buy Tickets | Facebook | Chainlink | Downtown Night Tour Map

 

Save

Save

DOH! Tour of Hyde Park postponed until Saturday June 24, 2017

University of Chicago Presidents House

University of Chicago Presidents House, an 1895 Gothic Revival mansion by Henry Ives Cobb

NOTICE:  The Tour of Hyde Park originally scheduled for this Saturday has been postponed two weeks. The new date is June 24, 2017 at 11:00 AM

I have done some stupid scheduling over the last decade of organizing the Chicago Neighborhood Bike Tours.  I once scheduled the Loop Night Tour during the Taste of Chicago only to discover that our starting spot was completely inaccessible on the night of the tour. I have also managed to schedule tours on the same day as Tour de Fat and Bike the Drive and brilliantly picked out dates that coincided with major neighborhood events for the neighborhood we were touring.  More than once.

My method of scheduling has changed as a result and I now consult various bike events websites, bike club calendars, city websites, and websites for neighborhood organizations and chambers of commerce to try to prevent these self-inflicted errors. This year, for the first time, I scheduled the entire year at once. This was convenient for poster printing and forward planning, but had the disadvantage of not allowing me as complete of a calendar of events to compare against, not that my immediate scheduling error was directly the result of this.

What I did NOT do in this most extreme and recent example of scheduling dunderheadedness is consult the University of Chicago’s website or calendar. This would have been a great thing to do, given that this Saturday was supposed to be the Tour of Hyde Park, but before it was that, it was already scheduled as University of Chicago’s Convocation Weekend

Since large sections of the campus, the Midway Plaisance, and numerous major streets and points of interest are going to be shut down and closed to traffic, and thousands of visitors will be coming to Hyde Park to celebrate their family member’s graduation, it is not possible to do the tour on Saturday.

As a result, we will be postponing the ride for two weeks and hold the Tour of Hyde Park on Saturday June 24, 2017 at 11:00 AM.  I will notify all ticket purchasers, send out my email newsletter, and I have updated the Event page, Facebook and Chainlink pages in addition to this post. If you are able to help spread the word to anyone you might now that was planning to come, that would be VERY much appreciated.

My apologies for any inconvenience and my sincere thanks to season ticket holder A.M.C. who alerted me to this problem. I hope to see many of you in a couple of weeks at the rescheduled Tour of Hyde Park.

I’ll be the one with the big red face.

Tour of Hyde Park
Saturday June 24, 2017 at 11:00 AM
Washington Park Field House at 5531 S Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Chicago

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

New Old Bike Day

Geoffrey Butler 3-Speed Conversion

Geoffrey Butler 3-Speed Conversion

Everyone loves New Bike Day. In this case, for me it was an old bike I already had, that was recently remade into a 3-speed, and it might be the zippiest 3-speed there is. 

I got the Geoffrey Butler frame back in 2009 from a classified ad on what was then the Serotta Bike Forum, since re-christened the Paceline Forum. The frame was in great condition and the bike brand is named for a semi-obscure British racer turned bike shop owner. Geoffrey Butler opened a shop in the 1960s in South Croydon, England which is still there today. He was the younger brother of Claud Butler, a better known British shop owner with their own branded bikes. The frame I bought was a mid-to-late 70s model made with Reynolds 531 tubing and long Campy dropouts with all the cable stops intact, but no bosses or braze-ons for shifters or bottle holders. The lugs are particularly gorgeous, especially at the junction of the seat stays, top tube and seat tube. I researched what I could of the frame and even contacted the shop about finding out more about the exact year or other details, but was unable to gather much. I was told they get these requests from time to time, but don’t have any information on the old shop frames unfortunately. Geoffrey Butler contracted with several British frame builders who did the custom frames for G.B. and it seems rather unlikely I will ever be able to discover much more about it.

When the frame arrived, it was in relatively good shape with a bit of age showing on the paint and some surface rust in various spots. Every purchase or sale I have ever made on that forum has been easy and hassle-free. I first built the frame up as a traditional 70s road bike with a combination of Nuovo Record, Cinelli, 3T, Mavic, Brooks and miscellaneous parts. The lack of shifter bosses and the configuration of the cable routing was a bit of a bummer and the friction shifting and mismatched parts proved clunky and in the end I decided to convert it to a fixed gear for road bike. I had an old Shimano 105 crank, a no-name stem and seat post and a slightly dented set of Nitto drop bars anodized red to play off the logo. I built up a set of wheels with Formula Hubs and Sun M13ii rims with a Dura Ace 16t cog, an old Campy Record front brake and kept the Brooks seat, adding some red leather Brooks handlebar tape to top it off. This was my daily rider for the next couple of years, replacing the much abused Sekine I had been using steadily for some time.

Fast-forward a few years, and I decided to get Duane Waller from Chester Cycles to repaint the bike and recreate the down tube logo, leaving the badge logo on the head tube and seat tube intact. (I never did replace that Reynolds 531 sticker!)  He did an amazing job and the frame looked like I had picked it up in South Croydon fresh from making.

My buddy Michael Abene and I rebuilt the bike with mostly Miche parts and wheels. Nice as it turned out, to be honest, it didn’t really see much use at that point, as by then I had gotten my first modern bicycle, a carbon 2013 Ridley Fenix which I ride/rode just about all the time. I had a few other bikes that I would use for other types of riding, but even just doing the tours, I almost always rode the Ridley. Modernity is a spoiler for sure.

Last year, Michael had turned his Specialized Langster track bike into a 3-speed with the aid of the fine folks at Turin, who built him a Sturmey Archer fixed-gear hub with a White Industries freewheel (better shifting under load than the S.A. freewheel hub) laced to H Plus Son rims and a bar-end shifter. When he sold the Langster, I bought the wheels and shifter from him. I won’t lie…I know my way around bikes pretty well, but I am in no-way a fan of bar-end shifters and was stymied by what else to use with drop bars, as normal 3-speed shifters can’t get around the bends. I also plead the Fifth when it comes to internal geared hubs and never really liked working on 3-speeds. Turin had rigged an interesting method of shifting the internal hub by connecting the cable through the rear brake mount and down the seat stay to the hub, which could have worked, but still didn’t solve the shifter problem for a man that disavows the bar-end shifter.

Then earlier this spring, my friend Ben Fietz opened a new bike shop in Albany Park with his buddy Steven Blum. I called him up and chatted about the project and then took it to over to their shop, Tailwind Cycles to brainstorm. I wanted to keep the rest of the build the same and convert the fixed wheels to the new wheel set with some solution for shifting. Initially I proposed using the front-derailleur shifter of a touring integrated-shifter (touring bikes have 3 front chain rings and the left shifter operates the front derailleur), but the cable pull length was all wrong. He proposed using Gevenalle (Retroshift) and the guts of a Sturmey Archer shifter, but the direction of their shifting mechanism was backwards. Then we looked at using a Paul Components Thumbie with the SA shifter, but Paul told him he didn’t think it would work. It looked like I might be stuck with the stupid bar-end shifter, but he proposed using a standard SA shifter on the quill stem. I found a picture of this and sent it to him and he said that was exactly what he had in mind. Bingo.

(Side note….given the copious amount of research I did on 3-speed shifting for drop bars, and the multitudes of people and posts that I saw who have run into this issue before me, SOMEONE needs to build a 3-speed shifter with an open-end articulated clamp. For real now. Some of the solutions I saw out there were quite ghastly.)

He also reconfigured the routing to follow the down tube and under the chain stay like a traditional 3-speed. It turned out quite nice and I still have space up front for my Crane bell (every commuter needs a bell), a light and my Garmin mount. I did the shake-down ride today, and I am convinced that this is the world’s best, fastest, and certainly most stylish 3-speed in existence. And if I am wrong, I don’t even want to know.

So once again, I have my nice daily rider and a good bike for the Chicago Neighborhood Bike Tours. It might be nearly as old as I am, and I missed taking its maiden voyage on my birthday by a couple of days, but all the same, I love New Old Bike Day.

Hopefully you can join me on Saturday for the Tour of Logan Square to see it in person.

It’s so purdy….

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Lies, Whole Lies and Nothing but the Lies

Liar's Ride Collage

Liar’s Ride Collage

For the billionth year in a row, we will gather again on April Fool’s Day for the annual tradition known as the Liar’s Ride.  It is on this day when I trade my architectural/historical tour-guide hat for my liar’s cap. It fits better anyway.

This year, it has proven exceptionally difficult.  First, the watering hole known as Fischman’s in Jefferson Park, the ending site of many of our Liar’s Rides has closed.  Part third-shift bar, part neighborhood gathering spot as well as being the site of some of the finest beer options in the city, the bar closed last year in a rent dispute with the owner’s relatives that owned the building.  I can say for certain that while my liver is better for it, we as a nation, and in particular, the NW Chicago, are far, far worse. While the good news is that they will reopen soon at nearby Six Corners in Portage Park, (NOTE:  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SIX CORNERS IN WICKER PARK YOU POSING, THIEVING, MISAPPROPRIATING JERKS!), the bad news is that it won’t be before Saturday.

The ending point will instead be a nice little wine bar in Kuala Lumpur.  You’ll love it.  Malaysia is lovely this time of year.

The other difficulty in running the annual mobile lie fest is the extraordinary competition in our land today.  It can leave a liar feeling…..inadequate.  In all humility, I confess that I simply can’t compete with the fraudulent, dishonest, deceptive, backbiting, false, hyperbolic, libelous, slanderous, inaccurate, guile mendacity that springs so easily from….certain quarters.  After all, this is an age when the average news article linked on social media must contain the phrase “Not the Onion” on a regular basis.

Honestly, what is a satirist to even do anymore?  Let alone a cycling satirist.

Come out on Saturday to find out.  You will find out along with me.

THE LIAR’S RIDE
Free as always
Saturday April 1, 2017 at 11:00 AM
At West Town Bikes & Ciclo Urbano at 2459 W Division St in Chicago