So, we’re taking Hill’s spring break to go to the South West. The plan was to fly in to Denver, rent a car, and drive to Las Vegas, from whence we would fly home. Along the way, we’d see Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, and Grand Canyon. 

And then Denver got a giant spring snow that dumped a lot in the mountains. So much for driving thru them. 

So, went south to Santa Fe and will go the southern route. So far, we’ve stayed with friends, ate a lot of good food, and driven a lot of miles from Denver to Santa Fe. 

Here’s some pics. 


Ever since I moved to St Paul, I’ve missed a key part of my routine – stopping at Canteen coffee on the way in to work on the bike. The new route is almost all trail, which is nice for the ride, but there’s basically no coffee along the way. So after a lot of google map searching, I decided to change the route to try Precision Grind Coffee

I’m sitting there now. And it’s not as good as CG. :-(. The latte is just frothed and dumped in a paper cup. No feather. The coffee is scalding hot, and oddly flavorless.  The scone was moist and doughy. Not what a scone should be. 

So, no, not civilized. Simply barbaric. 

And, yes, I know I’m being a HUGE snob. Canteen was just that good. 

As I mentioned, I swapped the Soma for a Velo Orange Piolet. It’s been doing some winter duty with the riser bars and studded tires. But, climate change is happening, and it’s basically Spring here now. So, I swapped out the bars for drops and the suds for some Schwalbe Super Moto tires. Those tires are OMFG sweet. I LOVE the look of fat tires and drop bars. There’s probably a hashtag in there somewhere, but really, it could just be a Queen reference. Also, I have the Axiom 29-er rack on. Nice rack, slim profile, and burly rails. Just wish it was silver. The fork is set up for something like the Salsa Anything Cage, and I think I’m going that route.1456531948_thumb.jpeg


I found an old copper grounding rod being used as a clothes rod in the basement.  I cleaned it up, cut it to length, drilled and tapped the ends, and mounted it under the hood over the stove. I made a jig and shaped a bunch of hooks out of 6ga copper grounding wire. Looks pretty good, if I may say so myself!

I was inspired by Marcus’ Soma Wolverine to step up the frame game. So I went with a Velo Orange Piolet. Here it is mostly built-up with parts from the Soma Double-cross (which will shortly be for sale). The cassette was deeply gunked-up and required a deep cleaning with parts cleaner and a scraper.  I’m not sure what lube produced that sticky sludge, but I’m suspecting the BoeShield.  Maybe it’s not really suitable for real winter …  In order to clear the chain stays, however, I needed a mountain crankset (73mm BB vs 68mm BB). That created weirdness with the chain line, so I ended up pulling a small (38t) chain ring from the parts bin and mounting it on the inside of the crank. Clears the chain stays, has a nice chain line, and allows the use of the Paul chain keeper. So, it looks a little weird, but seems to work like a champ. I went cheap and rugged for the fenders. The Planet Bike ones are just easier to work with than the VO fenders despite the VO ones being way better looking.  I have the 42mm studs on for winter commuting, so there’s a lot of fender gap. That will disappear when I put Schwalbe Super Moto 29-er (2.3″) tires on. The steerer tube I left long (with a big stack of spacers) to see if a more upright riding position is easier on the back. That may come down in the future.  I’m also digging the full length cable housing for the shifter.  I was a foot-dragger for brake cables, but I came to like the “fully-contained-system-ness” of each component – and am liking that aspect with the shifting as well.  It will make seasonal tear-down and clean sessions way easier!  The cable clamp system on the underside of the down tube is cool too – nicer than the plastic clip approach.

My only gripe with the frame was that the geometry diagram on the VO website shows the seat tube measured from the center of the BB to the top of the TT. They actually measure to the top of the seat tube, a difference of 1.5″. So, the frame is a little smaller than I thought.

Anyway, here’s some pics of it out and about.


Still missing paint, tile on the backsplash, the drawer pulls, and the floor needs the final finish but it’s mostly functional.

Appliances, faucets, paper stone counters and all the other systems are in.