more rides, more fun with French bottom brackets
So, Wednesday evening I went home and headed straight for the basement to spend some time with the Gitane and a bunch of wrenches. I pulled both cranks with the cool old Stronglight tool, eschewing the thin-wall socket and ratchet wrench and instead using the funky little rod through the hole in the cylindical tool for both removal and re-installation. I cranked, cranked, CRANKED the fixed cup into place using the only tool I have that will fit - an ancient Model T automobile wrench from a pile of tools we inherited. ON there, dang it! I fitted everything back together with a re-positioned adjustable cup and re-locked lockring.
Thursday Ainsley rolled up on Death Trap, a c.1970 kinda-racey road frame of unknown history - he bought it off the big auction site for cheap, and it shows signs of probably being somebody's one-off custom bike with some indications it might, perhaps, have come out of the old Proteus works. As kitted out in its current incarnation, it features black spray enamel with many scratches, a lone sidepull brake up front operated by a time trial lever stuck into the end of chopped-and-flopped handlebars, aero-bar adapters featuring much electrical tape, and a nice set of IRO's best wheels from back when they were a going concern. The bike gets its name from a post-test-ride comment by a bike shop employee - "This thing is a death trap!"
We rolled through town and I was feeling frisky and actually pulled for a while, breaking out of my usual wheel-sucker role. On down the trail, down through Wisewood and around to 225 and Scotch Cross Road, a route we had ridden more times than can be counted. I was feeling better than I had in a while, and was able to spin the bike up to 31 mph without paying too much for it. I got my adrenaline rush for the day when I managed to smack the pothole near the bottom and felt the back of the bike lift up just a touch before juddering back into line beneath me.
We avoided all canines, equines, bovines and other -ines on the slow incline up Mt. Lebanon Church Road, and the motorists were civilized as we rolled in on the Canadian Mist Highway. It was a good ride, and I had 21 miles at the end of it ... and a loose bottom bracket.
Enough. I put the bike in the rack and pulled the right crank. I used the Model T wrench to remove the "fixed" cup and broke out the Zippo lighter fluid and a rag and cleaned the threads. I reached into the BB shell and cleaned those threads, too. I put a big dollop of blue faux-loctite (some off-brand out of a pile of stuff I had been given) near the outside edge of the cup and screwed it all back in and readjusted and hung the bike up for the weekend.
This morning I rose early again, dressing in cycle shorts and my ancient blue jersey before devouring a huge bowl of cereal for breakfast. Maybe I shouldn't say "huge" - I had an associate nearly 30 years ago who used to eat Captain Crunch out of a large brown dog dish every morning, and I'm not to that level. Anyway, down the basement, down came the Gitane, and out the door I went, warily moving past the wasp's nest they've built in the upper corner nearest the hinges. The wasp on the outside might have been asleep, I couldn't tell, and I wasn't in a mood to mess with him.
I rolled out at 6:10, taking the usual route downtown to the rail trail. Turning off Spring Street onto the trail, I was just starting the little descent when I spooked (1) a grey fox, (2) a squirrel, and (3) a young black cat - all within 10 seconds. Maybe 15 seconds later I startled a deer that ran off into the brush where the straightaway starts. There were other critters later, but I heard rather than saw them. Some helpful soul had removed the downed tree that had halfway blocked the path, and I thanked them and rolled on.
I went left again, down Florida and over to New Market, eluding the canine menace and feeling pretty good. I stood on the bike for the climb up to Marshall Road, feeling pretty good to maintain 12 mph on the first part of the climb and being at peace with it when I could only manage 11 when the climb resumed. I missed the green light, so I pulled a Gerald Dorn and went right on red, checked, then did a U-ey and made another right turn on red - all of this a very legalistic way to avoid blowing through a red light that is technically a defective signal that does not register all lawful traffic. Heh.
I decided not to go through the old Main Drag but spun down Phoenix Street, being surprised at how fast the descent was. I waited at the light at Seaboard Coast Road as traffic moved around me, hearing a train coming in the distance and looking at the crossbuck. Would I get to cross before it came down for a train to pass by? My luck was good, and I the light went green and I stood on the Gitane and went. The crossing is much smoother now, a gentle bump unlike the horror it was in the early 80s. I had no mishaps today, either - in 1982 I rode over those tracks on my old Raleigh rodbrake roadster and got a horrific puncture when the blade and shaft of a screwdriver bounced up out of the track and perforated my rear tire. Yes, perforated, as in, in-one-side-and-out-the-other, looking for all the world like one of those arrows people wear on their heads when they're trying to be funny.
Onto Cambridge, then down Jennings Avenue, taking the route I used in the past for midnight test pilot rides on freshly-built bikes, then back on home. I had 10.5 miles for my troubles - and the bottom bracket is still holding. Down the basement steps to put the Gitane away, where I gingerly unlocked the door. The wasps were awake now, and one of them was watching me as I watched him. He stayed put on the nest, though his wings seemed to draw together at one point. I moved steadily and judiciously and opened the door smoothly and gently, slipped in the with the bike, and closed the door the same way while the wasp's partner watched me. So far, so good, but I foresee a can of Raid in the future, because detente with wasps never lasts long.