Big reveal, & back in the basement after a long and full absence
Time to catch up. You may have noticed several comments along the lines of, "life is too full right now," or "lots of things going on." I didn't want to say much online, as it could potentially cause problems for us - but now the process is complete and I can do the big online reveal.
Ana and I adopted a baby boy from Russia, a process that has pretty much governed our lives for the last year or so. Eli is home and doing very nicely, thank you, and growing like a weed. He'll be one year old before too much longer, and we're absolutely delighted to have him here. He's a sweet kid, with lots of personality. He sees everything and is adjusting rapidly to his new life. He's still a little leery of having his bare feet touch the grass in the front lawn, and don't get him too near bushy green plants, as they spook him right now, but he LOVES riding in the stroller around the neighborhood. Here's a photo of him with his proud papa.
And all you cycling folks out there - yes, he does seem to have strong little legs, but it'll be a while before he's out there riding around. I do plan on seeking out a baby trailer of some sort or another for him, though, as he really likes riding in wheeled vehicles. I'll find something, and then he can ride around the neighborhood in style. Oh, wait. I'll be pulling him behind one of my hopelessly retro bikes, so style goes right out the window, doesn't it?
I'd better get used to pulling babies around or carrying them and caring for them in general - turns out that Ana's pregnant. Surprise! So we'll be bringing TWO infants into our home in 2008. And, no, we don't yet know if we're expecting a boy or a girl, so those of you out in blog-reading land will have to just wait a while, just as we're getting to wait a while. Patience is a virtue.
Oh, yeah - this is, in theory, a cycling-oriented blog.
Apart from commuting, the only riding I've done in many weeks was the last two Saturday mornings. I slipped out last week aboard Julius, and rode with Connie, Jan and Barbara until Ainsley caught up to us. We had let the fast group go on up the road, figuring (rightly) that their pace would be a bit much for us. I, at least, knew I didn't want to dawdle too much. We did the usual loop out to Ninety Six, taking the old route down Scotch Cross Road and looping out Lowden road to Star Fort before taking on the little jog out past the high school. When we stopped at Star Fort, there were a couple of re-enactors hanging out at the old tavern. While we were relaxing, one felt the need to touch off his long-barreled flintlock - you know it's a flintlock when it makes the distinct two-stage tish-boom sound. It gave me a chance to tell the story of Ken Henderson taking target practice in his back yard in Ninety Six with a .75 caliber Brown Bess musket, the city police officer, and the legal definition of a firearm. We headed on soo after, but we were too late to stop at Hardee's, as they'd stopped serving breakfast biscuits. Ainsley and I sighed deeply and pointed our Mercians towards home. I had a little over 30 miles for the day when I got home.
Wednesday I did not ride - Eli was having a bad day, and Ana needed some backup in dealing with him. We had finally gotten him to bed and were about to eat when Dieter and Ainsley showed up. Dieter had crashed his old, too-small Daccordi, and had replaced it. When I asked if he was interested in selling me the sewups from it, he offered to give me the whole bike - and here it was. I thanked him, and need to thank him some more the next time I see him. The parts kit on it is mostly older, 7-speed era Dura-Ace, and therefore obsolete in most of the world's eyes. However, old Stripe the '82 Mercian Colorado racebike is sitting in the basement, and those Dura-Ace parts would be a nice upgrade I could use to keep him up and running smoothly for a couple more years. Yeah, I've got Campagnolo parts for that bike, but I was planning on fitting those after I get Stripe repainted and realigned for use with a wider rear hub - with one child here and another on the way, I suspect that project is going to have to wait for a while. The tubulars, complete with the spare, are bound for the Peugeot project - we'll get to it, I promise.
Yesterday, I knew that Ainsley would be occupied, and Connie and Donnis were allegedly going to be unavailable. There had been rumors of folks gathering to ride off-road at 1:30, but that doesn't work too well with Eli's current schedule, so I rode Belle downtown to see if anyone else wanted a 9:30 ride. Nyet.
So I rode alone, back out the same old route I've done zillions of times before. I took it easy, focusing on a smoother pedal stroke and just sitting up and admiring the countryside. I wound up down in the drops a bunch to cope with the wind, and was grateful for derailleur gearing for a change. I'll admit it - some days I'm not completely up to the epic, heroic, stoic fixed-gear experience, at least not after the first full week home and working with a new baby in the house.
I shifted up onto the 50T chainring on the way down the driveway and stayed there the whole ride, shifting around a small range from the 17 to the 23T cogs. Part of it was laziness, part was being used to standing on the bike after riding fixed gears, and part of it was preparing myself for the Peugeot PX-10 project - more on that below.
I stopped at the traditional point at Star Fort and looked around. No re-enactors touching off flintlocks, nobody wearing a bonnet, just a ranger zipping around in a golf cart. Feh. So I mounted up and headed into town, hooking a right and hitting 246 for the run into Ninety Six proper. I didn't have time to check out the new bakery on Main Street - maybe next time. Instead, I put my head down and settled back into the drops for the ride back. I finished with something like 30.3 miles for the day.
Last night, while Ana chilled out and watched ETV, I went down into the basement and worked on the fabled Peugeot project. There's a little rush, now - I want a bike I can take with me on this year's beach trip, and this is the likeliest machine, and the least likely to be stolen.
I had gone back and forth on how to do this build for a while, torn between another fixed-gear as a backup commuter, the idea of a multi-cogged freewheel bike without a derailleur (a la racing bikes in the '20s), or using the collection of appropriate French parts to build it up as a period correct, if unrestored, 10-speed. The last course of action won out - despite the scars and wear and rust, it's a proud old bike that ought to have at least a couple more seasons as a rider.
Lo and behold, I got the vintage Simplex SLJ rear derailleur to mount correctly - I had been afraid it was missing pieces. After breaking one pushrod Simplex front derailleur and coming up with a home-brew mounting bracket for another, I found an unbroken, functional third unit in the parts box. Success! The Stronglight 93 cranks went on to the original pattern bottom bracket (later on, I'll get the right tools to mount the Phil Wood BB with the French mount rings I got off eBay). I pulled the chainrings and tweaked the spider some to get rid of some runout, and I suspect I'll do that once more before all is said and done.
The shifters and cable stops went on correctly. After looking over my options, I fitted the 13-21 SunTour narrow 6-speed freewheel to the rear hub. The wheel placement has to be just so, or the dropout adjusters will foul the edge of the mechanism. I've already trued the wheels, so I just need to clean the rims and glue on the tubulars. I also fitted the Mafac brake levers to the bars, finding a sweet spot that isn't too far down the curve to be useful, but lets my fingers reach the levers while in the drops.