Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Bike Rack

I sold the trusty WRX.  One too many times in a spitting match with a(nother) highway jerk convinced me I didn't need 265 horsepower and a hood scoop that may as well have been a neon bumper sticker reading "my car is faster than yours."  And I was feeling the 4 1/2-year itch.  I replaced the WRX with this cute little number, which I found at an end-of-model-year bargain price.  To my view it befits my official status as "middle-aged."  Quick review: after three or four days, it is a dream to drive.
BMW 128i

The trouble is that a coupe with a sun-roof is less than ideal for a roof-rack.  To BMW's credit, the car incorporates standard rack-mount screws in the gutters, much like the WRX had, so my current Yakima rack would work seamlessly on the new car.  To my view it looks pretty cool, but a little too much like a Jetta.

There's the further problem that a rack interferes with sunroof-open driving.  Perhaps the coolest thing about this car is that it has a huge amount of glass, such that with the sunroof open (or even the shade open) it feels almost like a convertible.  I also abhor the mileage hit you take with a roof rack.  Even with fairly careful highway driving the WRX averaged less than 25 mpg with the roof rack in place.  I'd like to think I can increase that by a fair amount with this non-turbo replacement.

Two other obvious options:  (1) the hitch rack. Yakima, Thule, Saris, and a maker I hadn't heard of -- Kuat (umlaut omitted) -- all offer high design-factor hitch racks, with the Kuat appearing to be the king.  There are myriad off-brand options as well -- Hollywood, Sportrack, Swagman, and Bell, to name four.  In hitch racks I would only be interested in a tray-mount version, which appear to secure the bike more solidly; do not involve hanging the bike from the frame (which causes cable rub on my externally-cabled bikes); and look much cooler.

Hitch racks fold up and out of the way for convenience when bikes are not loaded.
And (2), the trunk rack.  Many of the usual suspects market trunk racks -- Allen, Hollywood, Yakima, and Sportrack pop up in an Amazon search, with the Saris Bones being far and away the most attractive of the lot.  I have a three-bike Saris Bones that I bought several years back.  It would serve my purposes well and cost nothing (because I have it already and the aftermarket value is sufficiently low to eliminate opportunity costs).

The least elegant but perhaps most convenient option.
Trunk racks have the huge advantage of easy mounting, removal, and storage, being light enough in weight and small enough in size to stay permanently in the car's trunk.  They are sufficiently cheap that one needn't worry about rack thievery.  They suffer the disadvantages of lack of security -- no good way to lock the bikes; minor inconvenience in mounting and removing (or annoyance in leaving it permanently affixed); and a danger of marring the car's finish if dirt gets in the rubber feet, nylon straps whip around while driving, or the bikes swing and contact the bumper.

I suppose the answer is to experiment before dumping at least half-a-thousand dollars, including a new trailer hitch(!), on the hitch-mount option.  Input from the crowd?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tandem Dreams

Max really showed me up at Thanksgiving, picking up a sweet Neuvation FC600 for his spouse. It's tough to follow that without looking like I'm just copying him, so I'm trying the next best thing: a tandem.

Honestly I've always been curious about tandems, but have never ridden one. The problem is that it's really tough to find a tandem that fits properly. Since you have to have a single frame that fits two people. There are a lot of really crappy tandems available on Craigslist, but honestly I'm past the point in life where I'm interested in crappy stuff. On the other hand, I'm not particularly interested in spending $20K on a Specialized Carbon Fiber tandem either.

Fortunately while perusing my favorite bike maker's website, I noticed that he is building tandem frames.

I got my first Habanero back in 2004, after spending a year or so riding Max' Cannondale. My Habanero was built by the inimitable Sheldon Brown, marketed as the 'Century Special'.

My second Habanero was targeted as my rando bike. My original Habanero had a ~5" drop from the seat to the bars (now modified to be a much more reasonable ~2"), and by day 3 of a 1200K I found myself riding entirely on the pads of the aerobars. So #2 was a 62cm frame, based on Habanero's cross geometry.

I really like Mark Hickey's philosophy. He acknowledges that he over-engineers his frames and builds, which for those of us in the 100kg+ club is a welcome relief. So I pinged him about the tandem frame, and he responded nearly immediately with a lot of great detailed information.

I still need to make, well, pretty much all the build decisions. The sizing will be interesting, as I'd prefer the geometry of my 64cm Habanero, but the stoker will be coming from a 52cm or 54cm bike (not sure which. Need to measure).

There are a few other important decisions to make as well.

Mark recommends the Wound Up Composites CF fork.
Wound Up Tandem Fork

They do have a disk version. Mark suggests not to go that route, and I'm inclined to follow his advice. I'm not yet convinced of the integrity of a CF disk fork. It s tempting though.
Wound Up Tandem Disk Fork

Tire Size

One of the advantages of a disk fork is additional tire clearance. My other Habaneros fit 26s well, 28s with a bit of luck, and almost certainly nothing larger. Mark says that he can probably design the bike to take a bigger tire. But too big, and brake clearance becomes an issue. A disk brake would take care of that problem.


As I mentioned above, the rider size differential is moderately challenging.

I've no doubt that Mark can make it work though. I haven't picked his brain too much on this yet, and probably won't until after the holiday vacation.


My plan is to go with a pretty standard build. Ultegra components, and whatever is the equivalent of Open Pro wheels. I think the Velocity rims are popular for this purpose. Hopefully nice fat tires. It's not clear yet what the price will be. My hope is to keep it under $5K. Seems possible.


I really don't know what goes into a tandem build at this point. I imagine there will be a lot of questions that arise along hte way.


While poking around his tandem build info, I couldn't help but notice he's now selling 29er frames. Of course I just sold a nice single-speed 29er, but the prospect of a hard-tail geared 29er in a fetching Ti finish is enticing. Might have to wait until after I get my Motobecane Boris set up though.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Considering Going Tubeless

It's the off-season and I'm engaged in a minor reboot of my top shelf bike, the uber-comfortable and (I think) beautiful steel-framed Gunnar Roadie.  Generally that means seeking out ~one dollar per gram weight reductions, like the obvious choice of a $50 full carbon fork from Neuvation (saving 150g over the current fork) and the slightly harder choice of a $75 Thomson X2 stem (saving only 50g over my X4, but I'm pretty sure I can sell the X4 for at least $25 on eBay or find at least $25 worth of use for it on another bike).  It also means replacing the trusty Cane Creek S2 headset, which still works fine but is now seven years and maybe 12000 miles old and has earned its retirement.

One planned change, which is almost purely aesthetic, is to swap the Grand Bois 28c tires for Schwalbe Ultremo ZX.  But if I'm going that way, how about going a step further and converting to tubeless?  For the Gunnar use model -- lots of miles on road surfaces of varying quality in non-race conditions -- tubeless seems to be a natural fit.  Damon is one of the many who swear by it.

As of June 2013, Schwalbe offers those tires in a tubeless option.  A few other Schwalbe factory links:  (1), (2).  I'm having a hard time finding the 28cs in stock, but I've seen them advertised, and at least this website has them purports to be selling the Schwalbe One Tubeless in 28c, though the pull-down menu lists them as "not yet available."

What's kept me from going tubeless so far?  I'm not willing to buy new wheels just for the purpose, and I'm not willing to do so now either.  But the various work-arounds do not seem obvious -- there are rim strips, glues, valves, sealants; it quickly gets overwhelming.  So here's the question:  what parts/supplies are required for me to make this switch?  Can I just buy the "Stan's Notubes" kit (marketed for Cyclocross) and follow the directions?

There are a few generally helpful videos out there; here is an example.  Any further wisdom in the comments would be most appreciated!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

More Big Organized Rides . . .

Quadzilla map.  Starts and ends in cheery Ithaca.
As a reminder: this is intended to be a list of ideas, not a ride calendar for next year!

Quadzilla:  this event is difficult to find information about.  Whomever does the organizing does a poor job of maintaining a website.  It does appear to have moved a couple of weeks earlier from past years' mid-August date; in 2013 Quadzilla was run as four consecutive 200Ks circumnavigating all of the Finger Lakes.  As Damon can attest, up and down over the ridges between those lakes isn't Appalachian quality climbing, but it's pretty serious late in the day, and Quadzilla historically boasts in the range of 10,000 feet of climbing per century.  Certainly the elevation profile is nothing to sneeze at.  I've had my eye vaguely on this event for some years now.  That's partly because I love riding in central New York; that's partly because this is one of those spoken-of-in-hushed voices rides; and that's partly because it's about the right balance of branded versus run-out-of-some-guy's-conversion-van for my sensibilities.
Quadzilla elevation.  At least it's flat on net.

If the weather was right, this would win the
most-scenic brevet award.
Denali Dirt-Road Randonnee:  if the 600K isn't the right time, distance, or otherwise to entice one to Alaska, the 300K out and back on the Park Road might well be.  This was run in mid-July in 2010.  Here's an old ride report.  Hard to find much information about it more recently than that.  I'd reach out to Kevin, but I'm afraid he's sick of responding to my e-mails.  A better policy may be just to show up and to finish.

I don't know that Hoodoo covers that road,
but it would be cool if it did.
Hoodoo 500:  we've certainly talked enough about this bad boy to start to consider it more seriously.  There's a two-man team option which may just be possible with no additional support.  (Presumably the non-riding support car driver can catch an hour's nap from time to time.)  There's also the invitation only "Voyageur" option, which is Randonneur style.  I'm intrigued at the degree of caution associated with allowing entry into that category.  A rack is required?  This would be an intriguing capstone to a summer's riding.

Yes, there is some pretty country in eastern Ohio.  Not
exactly Denali, or Zion, or even the Finger Lakes,
but pretty nonetheless.
RAAM Challenge:  yes, back to this series.  There are four 200/400s run between mid-August and early November, which is conveniently about the time that Randonneur events are sparse and I'm frequently burned out on serious racing.  One of those is the conveniently located (for me) Columbus, Ohio, which got a good turn-out last year and had one guy just barely missing the coveted 24-hour 400.  Another of those is mid-September in Sacramento.  All of the RAAM Challenge routes I have seen have done a good job pegging the climbing at near 20,000 feet, not diabolical but not in the least trivial over that distance.  Columbus is no exception.  The course (map at same link) hits some beautiful country through eastern Ohio, about where the Great Plains give way to the Appalachian foothills.

RC Sacramento is run just two weeks prior.  Smaller turnout there, but Seana Hogan, not long after her RAAM DNF, knocked that out the park with just-over-25-hour 400 mile, just 40 minutes off the overall (male) winner.  The route?  Another well-constructed ~20,000 feet-of-climbing and assuredly beautiful scenery as you ride north, out to the coast, and back toward Sacramento through California wine country.  Sam has done some riding around Sacramento and I once spent a week, including pedaling at least 112 miles, in the area around Healdsburg, Windsor and Santa Rosa.  My guess is that's an inspired route after the summer heat has passed. 

I can see that ruminations on fall riding will have to wait for a third post.  What's left?  Texas Time Trials?  The ROMA fall SR series?  Even the Taste of Carolina 1200K?

P__'s New FC600

John Neugent had (still has) his FC600 on a great sale and we were heading to San Luis Obispo to ride anyway, so I ordered one for P__.  It prevented our renting a bike at a ~$150 cost and saved ~$300 in round trip carriage, turning the $2000 sale-price bike into a net $1850.  Putting that into perspective, this is about a 16 lb. build, which I can find elsewhere for something closer to five large.  OK, four at off-season pricing.

Pump tucks away nicely and the small seatbag is well hidden.
We've also achieved bars level with the saddle, which is
about right for P__.
Trek's may have its Project One, but for no additional cost Neuvation allows for a fair amount of design and configuration customization.  We had this bike built with brand new Ultegra 11-speed, including a monster dinner plate on the back that puts P__'s lowest gear at a hill-gobbling 34-32; a high-angle stem that brings the bars nearly level with the saddle; and Neuvation's comfortable S1 saddle that P__ rode and loved on the demo bike while in SLO.  We requested blue decals on the frame and wheels; blue nipples on the front and non-drive-side (Neuvation won't build with alloy nipples on the drive side, which I applaud); and blue bar tape to match.  (In my judgment the bar tape may be slightly over the top, but it is easily replaced).

Were it mine I'd want clearance for bigger tires,
but P__ can ride 25s at 85 PSI
I added the tail-light, without which I personally refuse to ride anymore; the speed and cadence sensor; and the mini-pump.  The only thing still missing is a computer that can receive ANT+ signals, whether that is a GPS unit or otherwise.

I love the gray Ultegra groupset.

P__ loves the bike.  (She hasn't actually ridden the new one yet, but she did get ~50 miles on a similar setup over a few days in San Luis Obispo.)  Which brings me to answer to the question, "why do you buy an occasional cyclist a brand new carbon bike?"  There are two obvious reasons.  I've probably just paved the way for my next four-digit bike gear purchase, whatever it may be.

The second is better:  I wasn't a British car guy until I bought a 1957 MGA in the summer of 1998.  I'll probably never again own a British car, but I will always be a British car guy.  P__ may not have been a cyclist but getting her this bike is making her one.  I'm looking forward to some great rides together this spring.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Big Organized Rides 2014

It's time to plot out the next year, although it won't necessarily be easy -- not all the calendars are filled in yet.  Opinions?  Interest?  Others to add?  Needless to say, the long list of unorganized rides is not included here.  For example, I'm tempted by another crack at Bremerton to Klamath if the miles stack up the way they should and Sam is available.

24 Hours of Sebring:  February 15-16, 2014.  May be tough to be in shape for that kind of mileage that early in the year, but looking at the numbers some people are putting up does make on salivate.

DC Randonneurs events:  the calendar is not yet available, I'm sorry to see.  Generally you can predict a few 200s between February and March; two 300s in April/May; a 400 in May, and a 600 in June.

RAAM Challenge Races:  this is a series of 200- and 400-mile events held in several locations at several dates throughout the year.  Most tempting from the perspective of convenience, timing, beauty, and apparent disinterest is Hillsboro, Oregon, May 10-11, 2014.

Trans-Iowa Race:  April 26-27, 2014.  Dirt road ultra.  I'm sorely tempted.

Mountains of Misery:  Sunday, May 25.  I do think I'll return for my fourth go at this great ride.  Damon lowered the bar (analogizing to limbo, not to high-jump) by going sub-8 last year.  Question:  can that be done on a metal bicycle?  Time will tell.

National 24-hour Challenge:  June 14-15, 2014.  We've discussed this event at huffmanbicycleclub before.  In 50 words or fewer, it's a casual, easy to access, low-cost, easy to self-support, and fun way to see how far you can ride as the small hand makes two round trips.  Last year was nothing glorious, but it was definitely something new.

Diabolical Double:  June 21, 2014.  A tremendous ride that I haven't done the past few years.  Tempting.

Alaska Randonneurs 600K:  date as yet not known, but this is usually targeted for the Saturday closest to the Solstice.  I would bet June 21, 2014.  This is a romantic favorite and a woman from Oregon (Asta Chastain -- not, apparently, related to Brandi) showed last year that 24 hours is a real possibility on this route.  On the other hand, it's a long way to travel and I'm 2 for 4 in Alaska Randonneurs events, cutting deeply into expected payout figures.  It also conflicts with DD, above, and is badly placed if somebody wants to ride the 24-hour Challenge.

Saratoga 12/24:  July 12-13, 2014.  This conflicts with the Double Triple Bypass (next), but does have three things going for it: it's another opportunity to try riding round the clock; it's driving distance from DC; and because there is a new course as of last year and nobody lit it up, the 24-hour course record is definitely within reach.  (One guy did light up the 12-hour, sorry to see.)

Double Triple Bypass:  July 12-13, 2014.  But for the altitude and the scenery, the Triple Bypass -- with 10,000 feet of climbing over 125 miles -- is kind of a yawn.  But riding out one day and back the next might make for a heck of a weekend!  Registration is January 2.  Also going for the Double Triple?  The organizers reserve slots for the two-day event and it historically does not fill up as instantly as the normal Triple Bypass.

Race Across Oregon:  July 18-21, 2014.  Is this the hardest of the various mini-RAAMs?  Intriguingly, the organizers run a series of serious long distance events over the course of the year.  RAO is, of course, King among them.

Second half of the year forthcoming.  Any additions, subtractions, or advice?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Explain, please? And, Christmas is coming!

Sam's post on riding in the snow, and the snow currently falling outside my window, has me surfing the Surly website and salivating.

But am I the only one that things Surly's Omniterra line is not unlike Subaru's "small SUV" line of cars?  Three that all do the same thing?

I've copied these three beautiful looking beasts here, assuming that Surly would applaud rather than oppose my doing so.  If I get a Cease and Desist letter I'll post that in the comments.

Is the difference tire size?  I can see that somewhat, with Pugsley and Moonlander bigger than Pug-ops.  Or maybe it's just build quality.

Puglsey.  This has been around for a while.

Pug-ops.  I hadn't noticed this one until Sam alerted me to the Moonlander.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Winter Wonderland

After a week of fantastic riding in California, we returned home to temperatures well below freezing. With ice on the road and a bite in the air, hopping on the road bike for a wind-chilled ride didn't seem that appealing.

So I met my friend D___ up at Stub Stewart State Park, a still developing cross-country and free-ride area. It's a small trail network, but close-by and suitably novice for neophytes like ourselves.

The half-inch of snow at lower elevations was a couple inches higher up, and the temperature had dropped to 7 degrees at the parking area. I hid some body armor under my Performance jacket, wore insulated tights, and neoprene socks with the sandals I wrote about earlier.
Better than mud!

We weren't sure what to expect from the trails, but riding through a couple inches of lightweight snow felt a bit like getting first tracks at a ski hill, but without the lift to get back to the top. We did a short cross-country loop and a half dozen 'runs' on the easy freeride trail. Any air was limited to 3-4 inches tops, but neither of us had any trouble.

What a revelation. While a bit nippy on the extremities at first, the layers kept my core warm and fingers and toes rapidly adjusted. After 15 minutes I was warm throughout, and we had a wonderful couple hours riding in the snow. No records were set, but a lot of fun was had.

Who says that biking has to stop when the snow falls?

Of course I needn't mention that riding in the snow gets me thinking about a nice Surly Moonlander.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cleaning Solution

As Sam knows, I'm building the vintage Nishiki (born-on date 1975 or so) into a single-speed cross bike.  More on that forthcoming!

Having removed the outer ring I needed to clean the old cheapskate FSA chainset from the original Cervelo tri bike.  I'm fresh out of my favorite Finish Line Citrus degreaser so I turned to what I had lying around: Five-Hour Energy.

A disturbing yet amusing lesson:  Five-Hour Energy on a toothbrush does about as good a job as one needs degreasing a 6-year-old chainset.

(Caveat:  I did not compare Five-Hour Energy with anything else.  It could well be that water on a toothbrush would have done the same thing.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

This is the idea:

I proposed some months ago that the writers and readership of Huffman Bicycle Club blog consider a "tick list" book for distance rides.  This is the idea -- with the caveats that (1) races may but need not be included (and should not comprise our entire volume) and (2) we'd be talking about cycling and things much longer than the marathon distance.

I predictably have not made much progress, but I'm still committed to the project.  Just need to start brainstorming some rides to write about.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Things have been a little quiet here at HBC.  Time to change that as I turn the Cervelo P2SL into a fixie.

First step:  new wheels.

I just received the second pair of wheels Ron Ruff at White Mountain Wheels has made for me in recent years.  Ron knows how to build wheels.  On the Gunnar I have Kinlin rims, Sapim CX-Ray spokes and White Industries hubs, unbranded shiny black all around, 32 spokes rear and 24 spokes front, weighing in at less than 1500 grams, for which I paid approximately $800 shipped.  The best part?  After much closer to 10,000 miles than to 0, neither wheel has a single wobble.  Not one.  (In contrast, both Neuvation wheel-sets I have need adjustment with shameful frequency.) Ron pre-stresses all his wheels in building.  Not sure what else he does, but at a below-shop-price $50/wheel, I can't imagine shopping anywhere else.

For the Fixie Ron built me a matched set of the beauties you see above.  That's a Kinlin rim -- a new design that has a profile nearly identical to the Hed Belgiums; a White Industries ENO hub with an Allen bolt on the axle; and 28 CX-Ray spokes.  I tried to talk Ron into basic round spokes, but he likes his CX-Rays, and I can't argue with how they look.  Total cost, including shipping:  about $750.  Odds-on bet as to how long these last?  Longer than the welds on the P2SL, in any event.

Here are a few more pictures:

Rear hub.  See the Allen bolt fastener.

Just a little bling with those blue nipples.  Photo credit:  some guy who doesn't know lighting.

And the front hub.

Next step: taking apart the old bike.  What to do with an old Ultegra groupset?  Anybody have a frame around to build?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

DC Rand 200K

Last weekend was what may have been the latest 200K I've ever completed, this one put on the DC Randonneurs starting and finishing from Poolesville, Maryland.

No, that's not really the map of the ride, but it's what comes up when I seek to save the image from Garmin Connect.  Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, is approximately the turn-around, and we did ride very near to Frederick and Thurmont, Maryland.  Data on the ride here.  (My unit cut out at about mile 112, so you have to imagine the final 13 miles.)

Damon, his friend M__ from Team Z (the Walmart of triathlon), I, K__ (who completed the Big Wild Ride last July), and two riders from the Bucks County Bicycle Club formed a loose group and rode most of the 200K more or less together.  We averaged a pedestrian 16 mph moving and weren't shy about long sit breaks at the controls.

This was a surprisingly challenging ride.  In part the temperatures were very high for October, topping out above 90 degrees and averaging over 80 for the ride.  In part the ride was objectively hilly, with better than 8000 feet of gain over the 200K.  In part the hills were subjectively challenging, with rollers that seemed to stack just the wrong way and climbs up the hard side of Mar-Lu ridge (Sam did this with me at a RUSA Anniversary 200K in August 2008) and Harp Hill, a moderately long climb that tips to around 15% at its worst.

In part it's been a while since I've ridden anything longer than 112 miles, and that 112 miles wasn't exactly easy -- i.e., 200K sounds easy after you've ridden five or ten of them, but it's always just about 15 miles longer than I want it to be.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cleaning Bike

Just saw this post on bike cleaning. Takes them a lot less time than it takes me.

Particularly interesting to me is the chain and cassette technique. While I've painstakingly avoided the use of soap and water, worrying that water on a clean chain will lead to rust, they embrace it. It's possible that pro bike teams also replace their bike chains after every race, but it's also possible that the subsequent re-greasing of the chain flushes out the water.

The brush collection is also handy, particularly that hub brush. Trying to squeeze my meaty hands between the spokes with a rag to clean the hub has never been particularly effective. That hub brush looks quite handy.

Of course I suppose that it's inherently much faster to wash a bike that gets washed every day is bound to be faster than washing mine, which if they're lucky get a wipe-down every 2 months...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Huffman Bicycles -- Deep Deep Background

Davis Sewing Machine.
The Davis Sewing Machine Company apparently branched out into bicycles in 1892, making a series of bikes branded "Dayton" (named for the home of the enterprise) over the following decades.  Those included your traditional upright moustache handlebar jobbies as well as a 1904-vintage track bike that looks rather aggressive.

The company owner and project manager (according to one report)?  George P. Huffman.*  According to Dayton historian Augustus Waldo Drury, George's older brother Frank T. Huffman was also involved with the Davis Sewing Machine Company, becoming its treasurer, VP and general manager, and ultimately president in the years leading up to and after George P.'s death.  (No source that I have yet seen credits Frank T. with involvement in the company's branching out in to bicycles.  Frank T. also ran the Huffman Publishing Company in the early 1890s.)  Howard Burba wrote an article in 1932, "When Davis Came to Dayton," that details the Huffman brothers' leadership of the Davis Sewing Machine Company.  The article recounts the transition from sewing machines to bicycles:

By 1895 the bicycle craze had reached its height in this country, so the machinery of the Davis plant was partially converted to the manufacture of the famous old “Dayton” bicycle.  Within a short time, so popular had this model become, the company was called upon to supply the wheels to a number of the country’s largest mail-order houses, and at one time, when production was a its height, more than 20 different name plates were used on the wheels turned out by this plant.  All, however, were the same models, merely marketed under the name plate selected by each wholesaler or jobber, or mail order concern, to the trade.
     By 1905 the Davis was producing 600 sewing machines and 600 bicycles every working day, and giving employment to more than 2000 men and women six days a week.  This steady and substantial payroll served for years to add much to the prosperity of the city generally, and stood the community in good stead at a time when the car works were disintegrating and there was a constant dwindling of labor forces there.

This looks very much like the old Dayton bicycle.
George P. Huffman

According to an 1889 History of Dayton Ohio:

GEORGE P. HUFFMAN, son of William P. Huffman, was born September 6, 1862, at Dayton. His English and classical education was obtained at the Cooper Academy, in which he spent eleven years. He then studied law in the office of Gunckel & Rowe from the same motive with which his father had pursued the same course, a more certainly successful business career, and with the same object in view engaged in banking for six months. For some five years subsequently he was engaged in the real estate business, and in 1887 he purchased the Kratochwill Flouring Mills, and almost immediately afterward procured the incorporation of the Kratochwill Milling Company, and became its president. This position he still retains, and is also president of the National Improvement Company, recently organized; of the Monitor Publishing Company, and of the Miami Valley Elevator Company; vice-president of the Crume & Sefton Manufacturing Company, treasurer of the Cooper hydraulic Company, director in the Third National Bank, in the Homestead Aid Association, in the Consolidated Coal and Coke Company of Cincinnati, of the Young Men's Christian Association, and is a deacon in the Linden Avenue Baptist Church. Mr. Huffman was married October 30, 1884, to Miss Maude C. McKee. They have two children, Horace and George P., Jr.

Note that in 1889 Huffman's company was not yet producing bicycles, so it is no surprise that the sketch does not mention it. I am also intrigued to see that there was a second George P.  His name does not appear in Huffman Manufacturing Company or Huffy Corp. information (based on my search so far).

Like his father William P., George P. was a lawyer, though he did not practice law.

[Somewhat amusingly, Henry M. Schmuck -- no, that's not a typo -- sued Crume & Sefton Mfg. Co. with regard to a pledge of $7500 in shares of stock made by George P. Sr. in the early 1890s.  No reason to believe this was related to the roll-out of the Dayton bicycles beginning in 1892, but it's a possibility, so I record it here.  See Schmuck v. Crume & Sefton Mfg. Co., Mongtomery Common Pleas (Snediker, J., 1905), aff'd, Oh. S. Ct., 78 Ohio St. 409.  Schmuck lost.]

George P. Huffman died not long after, in 1897 at the young age of 35.  He is buried in Dayton.

Horace M. Huffman Senior

In 1925, Horace M. Huffman started making steel bike rims with his new company, Huffman Manufacturing Company.  (Another site reports differently:  Huffman Mfg. was founded in 1924 to make "service station parts", turning in 1934 to the manufacture of bicycles.  Yet another says incorporated 1928, bicycle manufacture started 1934.  Bloomberg reports 1924.  Must nail down, including the link to the original Dayton Bicycles manufactured by Davis Sewing Machine Company.  Bicycle Bill has this page with photos of bicycles labeled "Dayton/Huffman," suggesting the Dayton brand was in use after Huffman Manufacturing had already turned to bikes in the 1930s.)

Horace was George P.'s son.  He attended Dennison University in the first decade of the 20th century and was a Sigma Chi.  He lived from 1885 through the end of World War II, apparently spending nearly all of his life in Dayton.  He died of a heart attack in 1945.  He is also buried at the Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.  Horace's mother (George's wife) was Maude McKee Huffman.  Horace married Mary Reynolds and had a son named Horace M. Junior.

Horace M. Huffman's gravestone.  Credit:  Helen L. Smith Hoke,
Horace M. Huffman Junior

Horace M. Junior ran the Huffman Mfg. Co. after his father.  He died in 1996 at age 72, apparently of a heart attack (a disturbing trend) in Baltimore on November 21, 1996.  (This was same day as the funeral of his son Michael Gordon Huffman St., who died at age 48.  One site reports that Horace M. also had a son named Tony.)  

Howie Cohen of Everything Bicycles reports that Horace M. Jr. was first elected Vice President and General Manager of Huffman Mfg. Co. in 1941.  At some point during Horace M. Junior's period of control, Huffman Manufacturing adopted the hugely unfortunate name "Huffy," which had begun as an advertising slogan.  The company history page suggests this name change may have occurred in 1949.  Another source reports the company name change did not occur until 1977.  (This latter source finds its information on  One report indicates "Huffy" began as a nickname of Horace M., although his nickname has also been given as "Huff."   His grandkids apparently called him "Chief."  Here is a Flickr photo of a sidewalk memorial to Horace M. Jr.

Horace M. Jr. was an avid cyclist, reportedly biking to work in the 1930s and co-founding the Dayton Bicycle Club in 1961 with Claire Duckham.  He served as the club's first president.  The Dayton Bicycle Club was originally a racing club.  Horace M. then "formed and founded the Greater Dayton Bikeway Committee, later known as the Miami Valley Regional Bicycle Council"; that entity pushed through plans for bike trails in the Dayton area.  One such trail, along the Great Miami and Stillwater Rivers, is named for him.  Horace M. also reportedly pushed bike trails in Michigan, his summer spot.  Horace M. was a bicycle journalist, founding the Ohio Bicycle Communicator.  He was involved with the Watershed Council in northern Michigan.  His philanthropy extended to his winter home in Delray Florida as well, where he is reported to have served as a director of a chemical dependency recovery foundation.**

Picture of Horace M. Huffman Jr., Huffy Corp. Chairman (until 1984) and CEO (until 1973).  Credit:  Steven Tynan,

Bikes Under Horace M. Junior

One brief history reports that early in the Huffman Mfg. Co.'s bicycle manufacturing history, it contracted with Firestone to make bicycles that could use Firestone tires.  Talk about reversing the usual chain of production!  It also sold as many as 4000 bicycles to the U.S. Army for use in World War II.

This beauty is called a "Dayton Huffman Twinflex":

1939 bike.  Below patent technologies obviously in use.
Lots of research to do on Huffman Mfg. Co. bicycle patents and models, but the below were easy finds on Google.  Horace M. Jr. was the patentee on a "combined bicycle tank and frame," patent filed Dec. 28, 1939.  Here is the schematic:

Combined bicycle tank & frame.  Anticipating Pee Wee Herman, methinks.
I'm no patent lawyer, but isn't there something about "science and useful arts" in the Patent Clause to the Constitution?  (Yes, there is.  I gather this wasn't litigated.)

Another one:  a "chain guard for bicycles," patent filed on July 5, 1940.

Chain guard,  That is artistic!
And this August 14, 1937 filing with co-inventor John H. Horstman:  a design for the balloon tire bomber perhaps not unlike the one Dad used to describe riding as a kid.

"Design for a bicycle."

Huffman Mfg. Co. and Huffy Corp.

According to, Frederick Smith was named President and CEO in 1962 and Horace Huffman Jr. was named Chairman.  That is inconsistent with the 1996 Baltimore Sun obituary that has Horace Huffman Jr. serving as CEO until 1973.  (One is inclined to believe the company history over the obit, but further research is necessary.)  The company went public in 1968 on the American Stock Exchange.  According to a SEC news digest from the day:

The company is a manufacturer of all principal types of children's and adults' bicycles, and a line of
outdoor power equipment for care of lawns and gardens; it also is a producer of gasoline containers used by retail consumers, and of small service equipment used in garages and service stations. Of the net proceeds of its sale of additional stock and of insurance company loans of $2,800,000, the company will use about $3,000,000 to acquire production equipment for new and expanded plant facilities as well as to modernize Certain presently existing production facilities and equipment, and about $1,000,000 to purchase tools and dies .primarily to reduce the amount of fabrication presently subcontracted out for many of the company's products. The balance of the proceeds will be used to reduce short term borrowings and for other general corporate purposes.

Smith's term as president ended in 1972, replaced by Stuart Northrop, formerly of Singer Sewing Machines.  (What is this sewing machine-bicycle connection, anyway?)  During this period, Huffman Mfg. was highly diversified, making auto parts, lawnmowers, and other sports equipment.  Bicycles had by the 1970s become the vast majority of its business.  In 1977 the company became Huffy Corp.  In 1982, Harry Shaw III became CEO and helped Huffy through the Reagan recession by cutting costs and streamlining manufacturing processes.

In the 1980s Huffy had a short stint as a custom frame maker under license with Raleigh USA.  A Raleigh bike made between 1982 and 1988 may well be a Huffman Mfg. Co. product.

Here's another timeline history of Huffy/Huffman bikes, with an emphasis on its BMX offerings.

Huffy Corp. went bankrupt in 2003 or 2004, apparently following the announcement of financial irregularities.  Good to know it was not immune from the epidemic of the times!  It emerged from bankruptcy as a private company and still exists. 

Tracking Down Other Huffman Executives 

At one point Robert R. (Bob) Huffman may also have been an executive with Huffman Mfg. Co. or Huffy Corp.  He is described by this site as the fifth generation of Huffman in the business, suggesting that he may have followed Horace M. Jr., although that is not at all clear.  (If I have found the right Robert R., he appears to have been a younger brother of Horace M. Junior, born in 1935 and died in 2013. His obituary may have been published in San Diego, California.  Census records from 1940 find one Robert R. of about that age, but he lived in 1940 in Muskingum County, Ohio, not the family seat of the Huffman Mfg. Huffmans, and not a wealthy community, belying any relationship to the wealthy Dayton Huffmans.  An alternative is that the report is incorrect.  There was a Robert R. (Bob) Wieland employed by Huffy in the '90s.  (This would be good to nail down.)

William A. Huffman may be "Tony," the son of Horace M. Jr., and brother of Michael Gordon Huffman Senior.  He was appointed Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Huffman Manufacturing in 1994, having been working for the company since 1975.

W. Anthony Huffman is apparently a member of the board of the current, privately held, Huffy Corp.  He has been a director since 1997, when he retired from employment with the company.


*According to the 1880 census, George P. was the son of William P. Huffman and Anna M. Huffman, and lived in the same household as apparent siblings with Anna and Torrence Huffman.  William P. was a banker.  The family had a servant named Ella Batt.  (Ancestry cataloged in order to find possible family connections between the Ralph L. Huffman line and the George P. Huffman line, though largely unrelated to the bicycle business.) 

There was also a Charles Huffman somewhere in the mix.  This family history website indicates William P. built Charles a home in 1869 at 49 Linden Avenue, although Charles' place in the family is not indicated.  Charles may have been an older son who was no longer living at home at the time of the 1880 census, linked immediately above.  On the other hand, the Charles who is listed as a son of William P. died as a child, according to the Drury book.

This website has some basic family tree information and gravesite photos from the Woodland Cemetery.  From it I learned that there was a George P. III, born 1941 and, like his grandfather George P. Sr., died at a young age (in 1971).  Must be the weak Huffman family coronary system!

William P. (again, father of George P., the first Huffman bicycle maker), was a man of some note in the Dayton community.  He donated the land for the Linden Avenue Baptist Church, (an interesting comparison to Ralph L. and Dale Huffman and family's being instrumental in the building of the Baptist Church in Marysville Kansas).  He also donated the land for the Huffman School at 100 Huffman Avenue, the oldest elementary school in Dayton.  

This book by Augustus Waldo Drury contains a fair write-up on him.

More to this end, a quote about the family history from the 1889 Dayton History volume:

WILLIAM P. HUFFMAN was a native of Dayton, having been born here October 18, 1813. His grandfather, William, was of German descent, and his grandmother of English descent. They came to the United States from Holland, somewhere between 1730 and 1740, and settled in Monmouth CountyNew Jersey, where William Huffman, their son, was born, May 24, 1769. William Huffman was married June 14, 1801, to Miss Lydia Knott, who was also a native of Monmouth CountyNew Jersey, having been born there January 19, 1779. Mr. and Mrs. Huffman had five children, one son and four daughters, the son being William P. Huffman, the subject of this sketch. Mrs. Huffman died March 21, 1865, and Mr. Huffman. January 23, 1866. They had settled in Dayton several years before the birth of their son, William P. Huffman, to whom they gave a good English education. After completing this English course of study, Mr. Huffman read law with Warren Munger, Sr., not, however, with the view of adopting the law as a profession, but as a means of being more thoroughly equipped for a successful business career. Early in 1837 he left the city and spent ten years in farming. At the close of this period, in the spring of 1848, he left the farm and was for the remainder of his life engaged in the banking, real estate business, and in extensive building operations. Among the local enterprises with which he was prominently connected were the Third Street Railway, Dayton and Springfield Turnpike, Cooper Hydraulic, and the Second National Bank. Of this bank he was one of the organizers and was afterward its president, as appears in the chapter on banking. Politically, Mr. Huffman was a War Democrat, but was not a strict partisan, principles being of more concern to him than any party. He was connected with the First Baptist Church until 1878, when he became a constituent member of the Linden Avenue Baptist Church. He was a trustee of Dennison University from 1867 until his death, which occurred July 2, 1888.
            Mr. Huffman was of clear and sound judgment, careful and reliable in business transactions. He was of sterling integrity and of moral worth. His influence was widely recognized in molding the Christian sentiment of the community and in forming a correct public opinion as to the value of morality and honesty in all dealings with our fellow man. Mr. and Mrs. Huffman were the parents of ten children, as follows: William Huffman, extensive stone dealer, of Dayton; Martha Belle, wife of E. J. Barney, of Dayton; Lydia H., wife of James R. Hedges,- of New York City; Charles T., who died at the age of thirty-four; Lizzie H., wife of Charles E. Drury, cashier of the Third National Bank; Samuel, who died in infancy; Torrence, vice-president of the Fourth National Bank (page 697) and president of the Union Safe Deposit and Trust Company; Frank T., county treasurer; George P., a sketch of whom is added hereto; and Anna M., unmarried and living at home.

William II -- the son of William the German immigrant and the father of William P. Huffman -- apparently landed in Dayton in 1812 with a large wad of cash, by one report $10,000, and bought up a bunch of land.  

This "Social Register" from 1920 contains a list of the descendants of William P. Huffman living in the Dayton and Cincinnati area at that time.

One great-great granddaughter of George P. Huffman is Alexandra Ollinger, a financial planner living in Cincinnati.  She is a Tuck graduate of about the right age to know Tuck graduate S__ Huffman.

A Frank T. Huffman and a John M. Huffman incorporated Huffman Co. in Dayton in 1935, capitalized at $150,000, according to the Secretary of State Reports from that year.  No indication yet that this corporation has anything to do with Huffman Mfg. Co.

**Horace M. Jr. was otherwise a noted conservationist as well.  According to a site cataloging the "History of the Little Traverse Conservancy," discussing upstate Michigan:

With each passing year, LTC grew in membership, staffing, and know-how, as well as increasing the number of its nature preserves and land protection programs. LTC produced its first annual report in 1980. In 1981 it developed the "Friends of the Little Traverse Conservancy" fundraising program, under the strong leadership and tireless efforts of Horace "Huffy" Huffman, an influential leader in numerous areas of the organization for many years.

Huffman was the son of the founder of the bicycle company Huffy Corporation and its CEO before taking early retirement and becoming active in the Little Traverse Conservancy. A Trustee as early as 1972, he served in many different capacities, including vice-president for Membership, in charge of the Friends of the Little Traverse Conservancy Fundraising Program; chairman of the Land Acquisition Program; secretary of the Executive Committee from 1984 to 1987; and chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee. Huffman was responsible for shaping LTC's organizational structure early on and was so personally involved in the fundraising process that he eventually felt the need to train others in this area so that LTC would not become too dependent on any one individual. He also served as a mentor to the executive directors, particularly Tom Bailey.

* * *

1987 was significant for the foundation of the Business Advisory Committee, which provided a two-way channel of communication between area businesses and the Conservancy and encouraged formal participation by businesses in LTC's conservation efforts. Also in this year, the North Point Preservation Project began. This project's goal was to preserve twenty-eight acres of sand dunes and 2,800 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline in Charlevoix Township. In addition, Huffman retired from his leadership positions in all areas, except for his trusteeship and his chairmanship of the Building and Grounds Committee.

Huffman and his committee undertook a major office and grounds improvement project (his pet project; LTC's office building was later known as "the house that Huffy built") beginning in 1988. The Conservancy launched a new State-Local Government Cooperation program in order to help local units of government with the purchase and planning of land for public parks. It also started a scholarship program, named the Woodbury Ransom Memorial Scholarship in Environmental Studies, at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. It was funded through the contribution of an LTC member

* * *

A great blow was dealt to everyone at LTC, professionally and personally, when Horace Huffman died of a heart attack in late November of 1996. The Little Traverse Conservancy carried on, however, and maintains its emphasis on conservation through acquisition of land rather than legal confrontation or political maneuvering.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Big Rides We've Gotta Do -- Volume II

Continuing from an earlier post and drawing from the helpful comments, here is an expanded list.

Pony-Express Permanent.  This route heads from San Francisco to St. Louis.  According to the RUSA permanent list, it boasts over 3000 kilometers and 95000 feet of climbing.  It runs from California through Nevada, into Wyoming, then Nebraska and south to Missouri.  This is not the route per se, but there ain't many roads on this stretch of the globe, so I would bet I captured much of it.  I've driven basically that route countless times. We're talking serious open country.  You get one great ranges -- the Sierras in California/Nevada -- and then you sort of wind between the Rockies through big windswept passes and arid high desert all the way across Utah and Wyoming.  Of course, by eastern Wyoming and into Nebraska and Missouri, you are first in rangeland and then in ethanol country, with nonstop cornfields having replaced the historical wheat farms.

Some brevet in Nebraska.  Credit to cornbreadblog.

Picture of the Tour of Nebraska; credit to
If Pony Express isn't your thing, the Permanent Owner, Spencer Klaassen, has a handful of these uber-permanents.  The Mormon Trail is one option, but I'd be looking warily over my shoulder at my riding partner as we crossed Donner Summit.

Get back here!  I'm hungry!
My mouth waters just looking at it.  To be clear, though, I'm not sure I wouldn't rather riding one of these.

Slightly better equipped to handle head-winds.

Skyline Drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  If you park a car at the Front Royal K-Mart and head south on Skyline Drive, you have 105 miles with ~10,000 feet of climbing before you reach Waynesboro.  That is the beginning of the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, running south through Roanoke, Virginia; Boone, NC; and into Asheville, North Carolina.  All told it's just 50 miles shy of a point-to-point 1000K and probably the prettiest stretch of road east of the Mississippi.

There may literally be 1000 vistas just like this one on this stretch of road.
Tourist traffic is a major annoyance, but weekday drives and late season present very different pictures.  By late season, I mean after this scenery has come and gone:

Not sure if this is color-enhanced, but wow.
And this:

Would be a better picture if that was a bike, rather than a car.
This Q&A offers a little comfort:

Q: What is the speed limit on the Parkway?
Maximum is 45 miles per hour, with some locations (in congested areas such as Mabry Mill) at 25 miles per hour.  

But what Q&A giveth . . .

Q: Can large RV's travel the Parkway?
Yes. Explore the list of all tunnel clearances on the Parkway.

Damon knows the first 50+ miles of the route better than most. I've twice ridden Front Royal to Waynesboro, which involves climbing nonstop to the half-way point, descending for 20 miles, and then riding rollers the rest of the way.

But I've never been on the Blue Ridge at all.  Barring one brick run that I did from Waynesboro, heading south a few miles before turning around.

Just to throw it out -- this seems like a good late October trip with a plan to spend four days in the saddle.  There's a lodge approximately 190 miles from Front Royal:

Peaks of Otter (Milepost 86) – Lodge and restaurant opening July 15th, Visitor Center, 1930s restored Johnson Farm, campground, picnic area, access to Appalachian Trail, extensive trail system to the summit of the three main peaks.

Night 2 is tougher.  If a car could meet you at the junction with Highway 58, you could camp out or catch a ride somewhere for a night's sleep and be dropped back off the next morning.  Hopefully the weather will be nice, because that creates a dangerous temptation.  Alternatively, you could plan to ride through, but the purpose of this list is to catalog pleasant-sounding adventures rather than brutal ones.

Night 3 may be in the ski resort town of Boone, North Carolina.  And Day 4 brings you to Asheville.  The stretch from Boone to Asheville is getting into some high country, with reportedly beautiful scenery.

Boone, NC, looking from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Credit blueridgeblog.
Mountain scenery near Asheville, NC
The Lap of the Lake 1000K.  Pete Dusel of the Western New York Randonneurs puts this on yearly.  It's a big big ride that crosses national borders twice (leaving and entering) and circumnavigates Lake Ontario.

Cribbed from (the site linked above).
Among other tremendous sights is Niagara Falls somewhere around Mile 500.  I know 20 miles of this route, which I've ridden 4 times, twice with Damon -- the stretch east of Ontario New York along the lake shore.  It's a pretty magical stretch of pavement.  Only this route follow that road all the way east, then north, to Canada -- before repeating the exercise on the northern side of the lake.  One danger might be that after 620 miles looking over your left shoulder at the view you can't straighten your head out for the drive home.

The familiar signal that you've reached Pete Dusel's house to start, or to end, one of his rides.
Bremerton to Klamath Falls 1000K.

Leaving Bremerton you follow the water on a busy road for a few miles before heading inland on the Olympic peninsula.  This isn't the busy road, but it is the water.
A few years back Sam and I started this ride, had a few hiccups, and spent an uncomfortable few hours sleeping roadside on Highway 1 just north of Tillamook before deciding we were in over our heads.  (We then rolled to Tillamook, ate at Denny's, and spent a very comfortable few hours sleeping in a field behind Denny's as the sun rose.)  An aside:  it was lucky for us that I took that header one month later on the Big Wild Ride, because the aborted 1000K was an inauspicious signal regarding our preparedness.

Cannon Beach.  Yes, it is that pretty.
Others have been more successful.  Here's one trip report.  Here's another.  Looking at the picture in the second link, I ask myself "how did he get to Cannon Beach in daylight?  (We made pretty good time, but found ourselves there as dusk was turning to night.)  Of course -- the organized ride starts at night.

Crater Lake.  Credit:  Cycleumpqua.
From what I've seen, it's as marvelous of scenery as any ride.  This is not exactly the route, but it's close.  The roads from Bremerton to Astoria, Oregon, the first 150 miles, are utterly untrafficked highways through the heart of the Olympic Peninsula.  The coast highway picks up more traffic, but the cars are accustomed to cyclists.  I noticed that tunnels have warning strobes when cyclists are inside, slowing cars down without pissing them off. If you can't ride in Alaska, riding the Oregon Coast has got to be a second choice.

The Race Across Europe.  OK, this may be a reach, but somebody has to point out that there are land masses larger than North America, and at least one of them has much better cyclists than we have here.  3000 miles, three mountain range crossings.  Some good pictures of this year's race at this link.

Picture from the finish of the Race Across Europe of Team Phoenix.  Rock of Gibraltar in the background.  Attribution:
Maps for next year not yet up, but the race crosses the Alps twice and then the Pyrenees, ultimately ending in Gibraltar.  Problem is, this isn't "across" Europe at all.  It's "around western Europe."  So, to be fair, RAAM has elegance over this one.  Why not ride straight from Calais to (e.g.) Magadan, rather than traipsing around France and Spain for a while?

It also turns out that this event is not the first to adopt the "race across Europe" title.  This route from the northern tip of Scandinavia to Gibraltar looks way cooler -- and way longer.

Belying the "toughest non-stop cycling race in the world" label, they give solo riders 15 days to complete the race.  That's 200 miles per day.  Not a pleasant spin in the saddle, but (unlike RAAM) not impossible for a normal cyclist.

More to come in Volume III.  Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee is one.  I'd like to include one of Sam's hypothetical routings through the Sierras, but that's probably his post if he can be convinced.