Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rose Valley Ride

Well, on Tuesday Steve was nice enough to round up some of the local guys for a ride that he calls Rose Valley. I pictured riding through pristine valley covered in wild flowers, but as it turns out, we never even go to Rose Valley on this ride, we just turn around at the road that goes to there. That being said, it was an amazing ride!

We started from Patagonia in Ventura, so roughly sea level, and started to head inland and upward. The early miles were rolling, but all pretty much tilting up to some extent, and once we had ridden about 15 miles or so, the real climbing kicked in. Mark rode alongside and stressed that I should take it easy and pace myself as the climb proper would take about an hour, but even that was hard to process, not sure I've even been on a climb for that long? Well, he wasn't kidding, after a short steep section at the start, the grade settled down and we quickly split up to climb at our own pace. While it was easy at first to spin a 19t cog, as the miles wore on, I found myself working my way up to the larger cogs as the miles and elevation piled up. By the top, I was using that 28t quite a bit more than any of the others!

I regret now that I didn't stop a couple times to take pictures, the scenery from the numerous switchbacks was incredible, but I was worried that if I stopped, I'd have a heck of a time getting going again!

Here's a shot of the road to Rose Valley, aka our turnaround spot at roughly 3500" of elevation, and Ben, Steve and Mark waiting for the rest of us slowpokes! Chris apparently didn't get enough climbing, as he's in the distance heading up a bit more of the remaining climb.

Steve rolled in a just a bit after I got there, not looking too much the worse for wear. After we all regrouped, it was time for the downhill back home, and that was a BLAST! I should have kept track of how long the climb took vs. the descent, but my GPS was acting a bit sketchy in the canyons yesterday. It sure didn't take long to get back down, and even after we got off the mountain proper, most of the way home was downhill as well, so we were making pretty good time.

Unfortunately, with just a couple miles to go, Steve flatted his front tire just before a quick turn in the bike path, and he took a tumble right in the middle of the group. Thankfully, there didn't seem to be any serious injuries, and no one else went down either, so that's good. Above is a shot of Steve checking to make sure everything is still where it's supposed to be!

Nice fist sized hole in that jersey though! There's my brother laughing at the poor guy! ;-)

As we were loading the bikes back up in the car, we noticed that Steve had skidded right though his rear tire trying to avoid the "other" Steve's crash. That tire is toast!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Riding in Southern California

I've managed to escape the fast approaching Wisconsin winter by heading out to visit my brother Steve in sunny Ventura, CA for a week. I've been to Ventura quite a few times in the past, but I've never had my bike with me to try any riding out here, so this trip is a first in that respect.

When I got here on Sat afternoon, I had just enough time to get my bike unpacked and back together in time for a quick shakeout ride with Steve. It was kinda gray and windy, and we got sprinkled on a just a bit as well, but it still felt great to be riding in the warmth.

As for Sunday, the weather cleared up and as you'll see in the photos, it was beautiful and sunny for our whole ride. We got together with Steve's friend Mark around noon, and headed out toward Santa Paula and later Fillmore on 126. The wind was blowing in off the ocean and so we had a decent tailwind pushing us inland, and it also doesn't hurt to have Mark pulling, as he's a Cat 1 racer on Team Clif Bar! Once we hit Fillmore, we turned right and started heading for Grimes Canyon, and what had been a pretty flat fast ride was about to get quite a bit more vertical...
As soon as the road started tilting skyward, Mark dropped Steve and I like a bad habit, and about halfway up Grimes Canyon we stopped for photos and I took this quick shot of Steve in his snazzy Ellis kit.
Near the top, I stopped again to take a couple more quick shots of the winding road up the Canyon. Now I probably didn't have to stop, but taking a photo was a nice excuse for a break from suffering on the climb for a few moments! After plummeting off Grimes, (one of my strong points, seeing as how I weigh about 30-40lbs more than Mark and Steve), we continued our loop toward Balcom Canyon road, and while it was certainly shorter than Grimes, the last bit was much steeper! I needed to go to my "Suitcase of Courage" for this one, and luckily I had just enough to get to the top. Once again, Mark dropped the Wages boys, but he was nice enough to wait for us at the top.

Here's a shot of Mark and Steve waiting to head down from the Summit of Balcom Canyon Road. I will admit that I'm glad we came up the south side of Balcom, because the north side looked pretty darn intimidating, and Mark warned me as we rolled away to be careful...

If you look to the right of the photo, you can see the downhill that we're about to do. There are some really steep pitches near the top, and I was riding my brakes for the first half of the way down just to be on the safe side.

One more quick shot of Team Ellis before the descent!

Once we got back down to the valley, we took a quick detour through a Limoneira , (a lemon orchard). A beautiful old building, and it is amazing to see all the rows of fruit trees heavy with green lemons.

By this time, both Steve, myself and Mark were all starting to feel the affects of the long ride, so we slowed it down a bit, and Mark pretty much pulled our sorry butts the rest of the way back to Ventura! When we left, I thought the ride was going to be around 40-50 miles, and I figured that would be plenty, as I haven't been doing many long rides as of late anyway. It turned out that when we rolled into Steve's condo, my computer read 62 miles, just a tad more than I had anticipated, and we were both pretty wreaked!

My last shot of a huge Eucalyptus tree just as we were leaving the Limoneira.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Winter Bike

The old cross bike is setup for the crappy weather to come. I fitted up a set of Honjo fenders along with some 32c Vittoria Randonneur Hyper's to deal with the sketchy road conditions, and I added a front and rear light for those nights where the sun sets at 4:00pm! I managed to get out for a couple rides, and while it's not the fastest bike in the world, it still has plenty of get up and go. I sometimes forget how much I like this bike.

Once I get some winter shoes, I'll switch the pedals for some SPD's, but other than that, I hope I'm pretty much set to go.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

John's Modern Classic

I know, I haven't been updating like I should, but that doesn't mean I haven't been building and sending out cool bikes! Just finished up John's Modern Classic this afternoon and did the hand off at Ben's Cycle this evening. He choose to go with Dura Ace Di2 and my DRB (dirt road bike) geometry with long reach brakes for a super cool and also versatile bike.

My brother and I posted up lots of new bikes in the gallery on my site;, and you can also check out some of the bikes I have in process on my Picasa page. I'm working on another Modern Classic for Mark, and a cool road bike for Mike with stainless lugs and a stainless rear triangle. Lots more fun projects coming up too, so check back once in a while!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

D2R2 / Good Night Irene

Well, it's been quite a week. I headed out for D2R2 early (4:00am) Wed. of last week to beat the traffic in Chicago, and ended up doing the whole drive to my folks in Schenectady, NY in one big day. Thurs. was a bit disappointing, as it rained the better part of the day, but I spent some time helping Mom out with some odd jobs she'd been saving up for my visit.

Friday I spent some time getting the DRB ready along with my cross bike for Henrik to ride. Cleaned them off, (the cross bike was pretty gross), and then headed out for a short spin before dinner to loosen up my legs. Got to spin around Schenectady a bit and saw some areas that I haven't been to in years. Some things change, but so much of it was just as I remember it, funny to do a loop around Central Park, the same one that I first raced on maybe 20 years ago?

A shot of me, post ride with the DRB.

Henrik arrived later Friday evening, and I got the cross bike set up with his pedals and the right seat height so we were ready for the early wake up on Sat. morning. We headed out for Deerfield around 5:30am, and when we rolled into the big field at D2R2, it seemed everyone was already there! We both grabbed out registration stuff, queue sheets, some food and hustled to get ready to go. As I was tightening my shoes up, poof!, the wire popped out of my Specialized Boa dial... I had messed around with this the night before, and thought I had it fixed, but apparently not. Now I'm dripping with sweat and stressing out about my shoe before I even leave the parking lot! I finally tied the wire off and managed to get the shoe reasonably tight, so I rolled out with my fingers crossed that it would stay on my foot for the next few hours!

Last year, I remember leaving the start with a fairly large group, and we stayed together up until we hit Old Albany hill, but this year it was just Henrik and I for this beginning part of the ride, not a problem, and once we got to the hill, it was nice to have the road to ourselves and pick the best line up the dirt and gravel. As we worked our way up the hill, we overtook a few folks and this seemed to be the way it would work the rest of the day, not huge groups, just ones and twos that we would see as we passed or got passed ourselves.

Here's a shot of Carl's DRB from early this spring in Mass.

Just before the first rest stop, we caught up with Carl, the proud owner of the yellow DRB that I built for myself last fall, and at the rest stop I ran into Bill T. (longtime D2R2 aficionado) and Dan from Maryland, both friends from Cirque. I guess Bill had talked Dan into coming up for D2R2, and Dan was coming to grips with the hills (or should I say mountains) that D2R2 serves up. For my own part, I was feeling a bit rough, I don't know if it was the humidity or just the hills, but I was having a heck of a time getting up the hills without feeling like I was going to toss my cookies. In a way, I think that having done the ride last year worked against me, first, I knew that I was suffering on those first couple climbs, and then I could imagine all the climbs yet to come, and I was having trouble mentally preparing myself for that. Last year, it was blissful ignorance all the way...

Henrik seemed to be riding quite strong this year, and I'm going to blame him a bit for my lack of pictures. Last year, I would get up the climbs a bit ahead, and then I'd have a chance to break the camera out and take some pictures, this year I was struggling to stay on Henrik's wheel!

Well, we did make it, and while it was a struggle, all that has started to fade from my memory already, and I'm already thinking about next year!

Henrik, post ride, "Where's the beer"?

So, we finished up around 3:00, and after we had gotten ourselves together and had some food, we headed back for my folks around 4:00. Just as we were rolling out, the first wave of rain started falling, and I couldn't help but think of the folks who were still out on the course, that couldn't have been too much fun. We had been concerned about when the first rains from Irene would hit, and I think everyone involved was pretty happy that it held off as long as it did. I can't imagine heading down the descent on Hawk's Rd in the rain. I knew that Henrik was interested in getting back ASAP, as he still had to drive south to New Paltz and he'd potentially be heading right into the storm.

When we got back to my folks, the rain was just spitting, and as I unloaded the bikes to get Henrik's pedals off, it occured to me that I should probably just reload them back up right then and there, as it wasn't likely to be raining any less any time soon. After I headed in and got cleaned up, I made the decision to start out for home that night to try and outrun the storm. I had already cancelled my visit to NYC Velo on Fri, (sorry guys!), and it just didn't make sense to hang out for the storm, who knew when I'd be able to get out of town after the storm rolled through. So, at 8;30 I headed out for Rochester, where I had a reservation that Mom had made at a Microtel. I had a couple cans of Coke to keep me awake, and I cranked the radio too, but that was not a fun drive. When I finally got to the motel, I barely made it to the bed before I collapsed.

The next morning, I headed out under gray skies and northerly winds that lasted all the way to Cleveland, OH, quite a span that Irene had. Well, it seems that Irene lived up to the hype as well, sounds like the section of road along the Green River at D2R2 is no longer in existence, and I can only imagine what the roads around the area look like with downed trees. Around my folks in Schenectady, most all of the main roads were shut down in some area or another, and thousands of people were in the dark. I'm glad I headed out when I did, it was quite a trip.

My thoughts are with all the folks who are cleaning up the devastation that Irene left behind. Glad to be home...


Thursday, August 25, 2011

D2R2 Weekend!

The DRB!

It's almost here, the infamous Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee! I packed up the car on Tues. night and headed out early early on Wed. morning, (4am?). After a fun filled 16 hour car ride, I pulled into my folks house in Schenectady, NY. I've got a couple days to hang out here before Henrik and I head over on Sat for the ride.

My pal Dave Schlabowske also wrote up a nice article about the DRB on the Wisconsin Bike Fed website recently, and I should also credit him with the nice photo of the DRB shown above! You can check this article out here; Over the bars in Wisconsin

I've brought my camera along, so providing we're not riding in the eye of Hurricane Irene, I'll try to snap a few photos for an update after the ride!

In addition to D2R2, I'm also planning a stop at NYC Velo on Sun evening, there will be a chance to chat with folks and a chance to pick my brain about framebuilding, the sport of cricket, and walrus'. (Actually, we should probably stick to framebuilding, as I hardly know anything about cricket or walrus'!)

Check out the link here; NYC Velo


Monday, August 1, 2011

RV's Gran Fondo

Lisa hiked over to the top of the final climb, (what I've nicknamed the "Will Crusher"), and took this photo of me! It was one heckuva hot day, and after three laps of the 22 mile Gran Fondo course, I was ready to call it quits. Unfortunately, even when you decide you've had enough, there's still the 1/2 mile? climb back to the park/finish line that was at least as steep as any climb on the course.

The course for the Gran Fondo was the proposed road race course for the 2016 Olympics, had Chicago won the bid. It would have made for some interesting racing, and I can only conclude that the big sprinters would have had a hard time, this seemed like a climber's course.

Maybe next year it won't be quite so hot, and I'll be in better shape... It would have been cool to finish a full five laps, but I did have a good time and met some nice folks to boot!

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My New DRB!

It took a while, but it's finally done! This frame is actually the one that I'm brazing in Chris' video in Vimeo, and I displayed it at NAHBS as a "raw" frame, but since then it's kept sliding onto the back burner as Jason worked on frames for customers. If you haven't seen the video, definitely take a couple minutes to check it out, it was filmed over the course of one day in my shop this past Jan, and it features both of Ellis' furry mascots, Woody and Chuckles!

Ellis Cycles from Chris Harris on Vimeo.

Getting back to the bike though, it's my personal DRB, and I designed it to accept mini v-brakes for maximum tire clearance and it features fully internal wired Di2 components. It's perfect for exploring dirt roads, and with a skinny set of tires, it certainly doesn't hold me back on the smoother pavement!

In the next week or so I'm hoping to get some better pictures of the complete bike, but if you're heading to Blue Mounds this Sunday for Robbie Ventura's Gran Fondo, you can check it out in person. I'm also looking forward to D2R2 in about a month's time as well, can't wait to try out the DRB there!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Three Dirt Road Bikes

As usual, I've been neglecting the blog, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been turning out bikes. If you check out my Ellis Picasa page here;, there you'll see some of the newest bikes to head out into the world.

Right now, I'm working on parts of the next 3 bikes in the queue, which all happen to be DRB's (Dirt Road Bikes). They're all a bit different, but I managed to get the forks built together and yesterday I worked on all three sets of chainstays.

Here I've got 2 sets of blades for the two forks that will be getting chromed. The third fork will be painted, so it gets different dropouts.
All 3 forks brazed and ready for finishing.

Here's my chainstays and dropouts. All three bikes are going to have stainless steel chainstays and seat stays, so they require a bit more work to prepare. The longer stays are KVA's round oval round stays and the shorter oval stays are Reynolds 953.

On stainless chainstays, I grind the dropout tabs to a point and then slot the stays into a point as well. I'll finish the stays with this point slightly proud of the stay so that the silver braze material doesn't get polished out during finishing, leaving a low spot. Below are all the stays, slotted and prepped for brazing along with a bunch of stainless washers that will make up the dropout faces.

On the Reynolds 953 chainstays, I'll be leaving the reveals open on the end of the stays to allow for Di2 wiring.

All three sets, brazed up and ready for finishing. Two of these sets will be heading out for pre-polishing, and then I'll concentrate on finishing the one bike that will be getting a "brushed" finish.

More soon!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Three New Ellis

Things are moving right along here at Ellis, and I've got a few new bikes to share.

First, Jim's green on green light tourer is headed to the Great White North! He's promised some complete bike photos once it's finished.

Han's touring bike will be hitting the road in Switzerland soon! His request for the paint scheme was simple, "autumn". We also designed it for the Map/Ahearne style bars, so Hans could be a bit more upright than a true tourer.

Finally, Tom's DRB/Seattle Commuter, on it's way to the rainy Northwest! I set up the fenders so they can be installed and removed in a matter of minutes with a 4mm allen wrench so Tom can do double duty, commuting and longer weekend rides.

There are lots more photos of these 3 bikes on my Picasa page here; Plus you can see the build progressions of each one as well.

That's all for now, but Jason just sent me a note to say that the next Ellis will be ready on Thurs. morning, so I'll get pics of that one up soon!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Classic Rendezvous!

It was only a short 14 hour drive to Greensboro, NC this weekend for the Classic Rendezvous this past weekend, but completely worth it! Got to see some old friends and do some nice rides in the warm weather that so far has been lacking in WI.
Wayne and I posing with our Ellis frames and outfits!

Sydney and I with my large white Ellis and her "petite" Ellis.

At Sunday's swap and show I shared the love with some Ellis t-shirts. Scott's got his, when are you gonna get one!

Thanks to Dan for sharing his photos with me, there's lots more at the Classic Rendezvous website here;

I'll have some pics of the latest Ellis' soon!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Ellis 29'er, First Dirt!

I'm a bit sheepish to admit it, but yesterday was my first day out on the new 29'er. It's not that there haven't been opportunities to get out before this, but it has been a cold, rainy spring here in Wisconsin. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

As for the ride, I wasn't sure how many miles my legs had in them, but once I got going, I did the whole blue loop, the connector trail and Emma Carlin at the Kettles. All told, 28 miles and change, and I was kinda dragging on that last bit of the blue loop, sore legs today!

What can I say about the bike? I may be a bit biased, but it really rocks! The combination of really light wheels, (Stan's Crest rims with tubeless Schwalbe Racing Ralph's) and the XTR parts is amazing. I couldn't believe just how powerful the XTR brakes are, just one finger and I can totally lock the wheels up with almost no effort. The 2 x 10 is cool too, but I have to admit, I don't think I used the big ring at all yesterday, the 30T with an 11 x 36 cassette was plenty for the ups and downs at the Kettles.

I think if I had been on my old Rockhopper, I'd have maybe ridden the blue loop and the connector, but this bike just begs to be ridden longer and faster! (pretty cliche, right?)

Well, that's all I've got for now, here's to more warm weather here soon!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Dirt Road Bike in it's Natural Habitat!

After I had built my first DRB (Dirt Road Bike) last fall, I decided to tweak the design just a bit and make one that would be my full time road bike for the upcoming season. This worked out great for Carl, he had just moved to Western Mass, home to lots and lots of dirt roads. I shipped the yellow beauty off to him last winter, and now it's happily traversing the gravel and dirt roads just like it was designed to do!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Ellis #3 For Sale (New Price)

I've got a new road bike at paint, and with my limited bike storage space Ellis #3 has to find a new home. Here's a great chance to own a piece of Ellis Cycles history, and a pretty sweet bike!

53cm ST c-c
60.5cm TT (effective)
72.5* ST angle
73.5* HT angle
19.4cm HT
7* TT slope
42cm Chainstays
(If anyone wants more info, I can send a copy of the drawing)
Frame weighs just under 4lbs, but is super solid with the XL tubing

The tubing is XL diameters (31.8mm TT &ST, 34.9 DT) of True Temper S3 and OX Platinum.
This bike has the very first set of Ellis Cycles stainless dropouts. It's also the first bike painted with the "Team Ellis" paint scheme, and the first bike with internal derailleur cable routing through the chain stay. Lugs are heavily modified Llewellyn Slant Six's in my "Classic" style.
Like all my frames, I maximized the brake reach so this frame and fork will accept 28c tires. In fact, that's what I used for this past year's D2R2 with no problems.

Bike also includes;
1 1/8" Silver Chris King headset
Silver 30.6 Thomson Post (brand new)
110mm Ritchey stem (painted to match)

More pics available at my Picasa page here; The frame does have some small nicks and scrapes, but overall it's very clean with no rust at all. I treated it originally with Framesaver, and I'll give it another coat before I send it out.

A nice shot of the "Classic" style lugs.

A frame and fork like with the same options, paint and parts would cost $4000+ new, I'm asking $2700 for everything. If you'd like to have it built as a complete bike, I'm happy to quote it that way too.

Feel free to call or email with any questions!
262 442 6639

Thursday, April 14, 2011

COG Magazine profile

Last Oct, Pete from COG magazine spent a couple days hanging out and taking photos while I built a frame. Later I got together with Pete and John (the writer), for an interview about Ellis, and after a long winter, here's the finished product. It's got some great photos of the cats, a centerfold of my vintage Campy bike for all the geeks out there and some nice pics of me building. You can check out COG's website here; If you need to get a copy, Ben's has them here;, and if you place an order, it's only $2!

Back to work now!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Frame and Bike pics

Drew sent along some new pics of Justin's and Pete's frames, you can see more of them at my Picasa page here;


Edward also sent along some finished pics of his Waterford refurbish, lots more on Picasa too!



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thank You UPS!

What's the last thing you want to see when your new Ellis arrives? This...
I shipped the show bikes off to their various destinations over the last week, and Wayne dropped me a note on Tues with this picture. All I can ask is, did the UPS guys aim specifically at the "High Claim Item" sticker, or was that just pure irony? As it turns out, the only damage was a bent spoke and Wayne seemed to think that it'd be an easy fix, could have been much worse.
In other news, the "Best Road Bike" rando is on it's way to Bicycle Quarterly for a test and review. Since it's a quarterly, the review probably won't show up till fall at the earliest, but I'm really curious to see what Jan thinks of the latest from Ellis. As anyone who reads BQ probably knows, Jan has some very clear preferences when it comes to bike design, so while my bike incorporates some of these, it's very different in other ways, and I hope he keeps and open mind.
Finally, I'm back to work building, and I'm currently working on Jim's light touring bike. He's requested lots of pictures of the progress, so I'm trying to record it as closely as possible on my Picasa page with captions. You can check it out here;

Chuckles has also been stepping up to his new duties as "Inspector"! He really checks out every last bit of the process, here he's looking over my jig setup, "ALL WRONG"!



Sunday, February 27, 2011

Best Road Bike!

I'm honored once again to have one of my bikes picked for an award at the Handbuilt Bike Show. Travis' randonneur took the honors as "Best Road Bike", and I couldn't be happier!

The show was also a huge success from a business standpoint with quite a few orders taken and lots of interest from others. I look forward to working with everyone who's either on the list now, or thinking about sending in a deposit.

2011 "Best Road Bike"

Now to get a good night's sleep and prepare for the 20+ hour drive home, I hope the weather cooperates, I can't wait to get home and see Lisa and the cats!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Travis' Rando

Well, Travis made the drive over from MN on Saturday, and we managed to get all the lights and wiring dialed in. Then I finished running all the cables and got the bars taped today. It's ready for the show!
I'll just give you a tour of a couple of the highlights! To see it up close, stop by my booth at NAHBS this weekend!

I used the Schmidt SONdelux front hub, it has the contact built into the front drive side dropout, so no plugs to worry about, just install the wheel correctly and your generator is ready to go. The dropouts are stainless plate, so I finished them with slightly raised points and Jason masked the whole dropout.
The custom front rack with internal wire routing and Edelux front light, super bright!

We made all the wiring connections and then slid them up inside the steerer tube. All that's visible is a small wire heading into the frame for the taillight.

That's all for now, I'll see you in Austin!