I still haven't glued the Panaracer tubulars onto the Peugeot's rims, but I did have time to go through my stash of old tubies. Surprise, surprise, surprise - I appear to have some good spares!
Well - sort of. What I've got is an ancient Gommitalia with somewhat abraded sidewalls but a good rimstrip that holds air. I've also got a pair of Continental Triathlons left over from the last time I rode sewups, which means they've been kicking around unused for seven or eight years. They both were rebuilt by TireAlert, which means the rim strips are a little dodgy. That may not be TireAlert's fault - apparently, Continental's tubies are noted for being hard to fit with new rim strips. At the same time, I still remember July 4, 2000, when I spent almost an hour in the sun picking damaged rimstrip bits off my rim so I could fit a spare and ride home from the middle of nowhere, Abbeville County.
There's a third Conti Triathlon, but it appears to be shot, and has no rimstrip. Adios. And finally, there's a nice Wolber that Dieter gave me that needs yet another rimstrip, but appears otherwise sound and whole. At any rate, I'll have something I can strap up under my saddle when I ride out, just to be sure I can crawl back home in the event of a flat.
All of this is a real flashback. I first started riding tubulars in, what, 1978? 1979? I remember the bike - my much-missed Puch Royal X, the first bike I ever had with a Reynolds 531 frameset. It was pretty much an Austrian version of a PX-10, even down to having less than perfect finish work and white paint that chipped if you looked at it crossly. I'd been riding the bike's stock wheels, which were frankly pretty junky. Normandy Sport hubs laced to basic Weinmann 27-in clincher rims. I'd been trying to use the newly introduced Michelin Elan tires, and no one was telling folks that those required a hook-beaded rim. I was having lots of blow outs - heh - and finally decided, enough. I'll go to tubulars.
I had my first sewup wheels built by George Crook at Bikeways of Atlanta, the same guy who sold me the Puch. They were Mavic Montlhery eyeletted rims built up onto Weyless sealed bearing hubs, a pretty trick combo for the time. The hubs were considered suitable for riders weighing 155 or less, which worked fine for me at 125, my adolescent weight. The tires were Hutchinson Super Sprints. The standard tires on assorted French and English bikes, the Super Sprints were much maligned. Mine worked beautifully, especially the front one, which had a latex tube. It was the only Hutchinson I ever encountered with one of those.
Later on, I tried early Panaracer nylon tires. Too fragile. I didn't get much use out of my first one, which succumbed to a sidewall cut. The funky black Wolber I used on the back for a while worked pretty well, at the expense of being really ugly. I think those were on the tires that were on the Puch when I sold it in '87 to buy a Fender Vibroluxe Reverb amplifier.
When I got back into the cycling world, and tubulars, I bought some cheap Clements, basic vulcanized rubber things. They were okay, and I can't remember where those went. I know I used them on various PX-10s and Gitanes I had, and I think I was using some on my old Trek fixed-gear c. 1999. Then I got out of the tubular world sometime in late 2000, and went to clinchers only.
Sure, I didn't have to sew up tires after repairing punctures. But I missed the springiness of tubies. I just hope I feel that way the next time I have a flat somewhere with one ...
a new bakery run
I met Ainsley at his house a few minutes before 10:00 Saturday, and we talked of many things while he finished getting ready. We made good time through town and worked our way out to Scotch Cross Road. Of course we had both left our cameras at home, so we missed the chance to get a photo of the first really good snake of the year - a juvenile black rat snake, I believe he called it.
We did the traditional route down Scotch Cross, then right onto Lowden and out by Star Fort and thence into town by the high school. The new bakery in Ninety Six is all right, but nothing really called to me. I wound up getting a cup of coffee (which was coffee, but that's about all I could say for it), while Ainsley got himself some sort of sticky bun and a loaf of fresh bread to take home. The latter fit almost perfectly into his Carradice Barley saddlebag.
We lolled for a few minutes drinking our coffee at one of their outdoor tables before riding back home. The only dog we encountered was a female pitbull who ran along with us, wagging her tail the while despite our earnest efforts to shoo her back home. She eventually turned for home, and we worked our way back through sometimes stiff winds.
This afternoon I managed to get into the basement for an hour and a half. One sub project has been to free the 14-23T freewheel from the loose Normandy Sport hub that was thrown into a deal I did a while back. It is the proper, correct freewheel for the PX-10, but some prior owner had clipped all the spokes while leaving it all hooked together. Eek. I wound up lacing up some spokes on the non-drive side to an old rim, and lo and behold, it worked. A little Tri-Flow squirted into the freewheel and it sounded reasonably good and went onto the sewup wheelset.
I have plans for the hub, sort of. What I really want is the axle and its spacers. I've got a set of mismatched clincher wheels that would work nicely on this bike, and swapping out those parts and a little tweaking will set me up for whenever I locate a trailer to tow Eli around in.
I broke out a used but still serviceable chain from the used bin and hooked it up. Shift cables came out of the stash pile, and the Simplex derailleur system worked - flawlessly. I was kind of surprised, but the rear needed only the tiniest of tweaks to shift perfectly. It had been a long, long time since I'd worked on a pushrod front Simplex, but once I remembered how to hook it up it all came together nicely.
Time to rob the bike Dieter gave me for its tubulars. They're not glued on yet, but they're in place and the bike looks like a bike, for the first time in who knows how long. All that's left to do is glue up the tires, fit new brake pads, cables and housings - and go ride it in all its battered Gallic glory.
Lots of things change when you live with a baby and a pregnant wife. Way down on the list, but appropriate for this blog, is cycling time. In essence, there isn't much time for it. I manage the commute easily enough. The weeknight rides are kinda out for the time being, though - I come home from work and take over childcare from Ana to give her a break. By the time the boy goes down for the night, it's 7:00.
One of my duties is taking him out for a leisurely journey in the stroller. It's okay, and I think most days he likes it well enough, but I think we both might like it better if I acquired a cycle trailer and pulled him along in that throughout the neighborhood. He doesn't like it that he can't see me while he's traveling around, and while my back and legs and a drivetrain might be boring, it still might be reassuring. For my part, an hour or so riding at low to moderate speed in the area neighborhoods beats walking.
I do get to ride on Saturdays, so long as I wait till 10:00. This gives me a chance to keep Eli from when he wakes up sometime until he goes down for his morning nap. Ainsley rode fixed with me the week before last, as we did the traditional loop, including Star Fort and the high school jog. He had his daughter last Saturday, so I wound up riding solo aboard Belle and repeating the same route.
I need to find time to stop into the new bakery in Ninety Six sometime soon - maybe this Saturday ...
paving part of the commute
So, yesterday morning my boss came out of her office and said she had to move her car from where she'd parked it behind the library. It seems the city is reworking some sewer lines, and one of them runs along the length of Sproles, then up Lawton. Uh oh.
Going home for lunch yesterday I weaseled my way down the narrow strip of asphalt they hadn't yet ripped up, bumping over the grooves they'd cut to make the new stuff adhere better. Coming back to work was more interesting. They were using some machine that carved up asphalt and created huge black clouds of dust. Forget that. I decided to hop up onto the sidewalk, then muscled my way up the steep little dirt hillside to the loading dock, rocking over the roots and transitioning up onto the ramp.
I had a flashback to six or seven years ago and falling down after botching a crossing of a tree branch - now I was mixing cyclo-cross moves, trail riding, and fixed-gears, making the 28mm tires do what they were meant to do.
Today was even more interesting. The surface as I rode in a little after 7:00 was scarred and striped and grooved, full of old patches uncovered by the road work. I stayed loose and spun my way along and nodded to the guys in hard hats setting up for the day. Coming back home for lunch today involved going down the dirt hillside, then back to the service entrance for the dining hall. From there, over the nice new sidewalks with their sharp turns (watching out for pedal strikes!) and over the nice new footbridge that leads to the back of Centennial Hall. Across the parking lot, down Barksdale to its dead end on Henrietta, then home from there. Not too bad, and that's how I went back to work after lunch.
Ah, but when I left for the day today ... they'd finished the paving. I rolled out the back driveway, and lo and behold, they'd fixed that nasty transition between street and entryway. Smooth, easy, no more swearing under my breath when someone parked one foot further forward and forced me to bunny hop or post over the gap. Buttery smooth.
The asphalt was still slightly tacky under my tires, and there was a little clattering of tiny pebbles kissing the insides of my fenders, but the road was smoooooth.
Let's hope it stays that way for a while.
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.