It’s been a while –

and boy, has it been busy at the bike shed.

Where to begin?

Well, for starters, after the doctor ordered me not to ride for a while in my last post, I was somewhat grounded. So I scraped together parts for the Mukluk frame I’d had hiding in the shed all winter, got it ready to go, and took it in to the shop in April. I got it back in June, and have been joyfully riding it. I love teh fun looks I get, the “How big are those tires, anyway?” and the jealous looks I get from people who know what they are! I even had some policemen pointing at my bike as I drove through town one day. Entertaining!!!

Then another addition to the fleet – I got a really good deal on a Long Haul Trucker frame (Surly number 3), got parts, and had that built before my favorite bike shop closed up. Trucker is army olive green – 2009 vintage I think. In excellent condition too – picked it up down in DC from a guy who had bought an Atlantis and moved over the parts.

Finally – I picked up a 1985 – I think – Raleigh Tamarack Mountain Tourer – why? It’s one of the early attempts at 650b integration. Got a good price and brought it home. It’s in pretty good shape, no really big scratches, no dents. However, it came with a seatpost that is two sizes too small, and beautiful tires that were too big. So, bought new tires, and am going to trade the others for something else. I wish the Continental Town and Country tires that were on that bike hadnot been so large – they ride beautifully!!! Also am going to get it a new seatpost that fits, different handlebars with new cables/housings and put fenders on it – it will be a fun cruiser!!!

I didn’t get to go on my long bike ride to my friend’s house this summer – the surgery rather prevented me from training the way I neede to, and the arm wasn’t strong enough for long, continuous brake work down the sides of mountains. It’s better – much better – now, but I still have some work to do with it.

Been doing some riding with several people over the summer and early fall. Lots of fun short trips and in general, good fun has been had by all. Most recently, I did the Seagull Century with 6,000+ other riders.

I am looking forward to a good fall season and a fun winter on the Mukluk. Enjoy the leaves, color, and beautiful fall weather.

No biking allowed

No-Bicycles

So – last winter, around Super Bowl Sunday, I took one of my many toys down a fairly steep hill, only to find the brakes weren’t any good.  I didn’t crash the (then new) bike, but  I tore the tendons in my elbow in the process of braking the bike.  I fooled with the elbow for most of a year, with various tries at curing, and finally ended up having surgery on Feb. 6, 2014. 

The nice doctor says no outdoor biking until probably June. 😦  The good news is I can ride the trainer and not lose my mind!!! 🙂  thankfully I am healing well and looking forward to the nice weather ahead, but there have been several days where I would have willingly suited up and gone riding, if the arm were up to the task.

So while my season won’t start until later in the spring,  I will at least have a season. I will hopefully make up for it on the trainer, watching movies.

Go ride some miles for me!!!

Terry Chrom

Terrybike1

Back in the summer, I found a cute, little Terry Chrom in Frederick, Md. Although not my size, it was a really good price and I thought I’d do some TLC and then sell it. However, my Mom rode it once and bought it from me, so those plans never materialized.

Some time later, another one showed up on the same list. This one, however, was in my size (53-54) and looks like the one in the above picture. Screaming pink, white decals. It will have white tires and saddle as well, when I’m finished. I bought it mainly because I didn’t have a nice steel 12-speed in the stable at the moment, and I have always wanted a Terry bike.

Nice Tange 1 tubing and Shimano 105 components. Although it is an older bike, I don’t think it has more than 50 miles on it. The stock Continental tires – dry-rotted and flat – still had the nubs on them and looked brand new, excepting above dry-rot. 1 or 2 scratches on the frame.

Nice springy ride even on not-so-good tires. I also bought it some bright and fun, mulit-color anodized butterfly bottle holders. 🙂

Randonneuring bike

green frame

Some time ago, I decided that I had delusions of grandeur and wanted to do some serious long-distance cycling.  To that end, I had a bike built to spec for that intended purpose.

I thought a great deal about what I wanted in that build.  Relatively light weight, comfortable, and easily maintained were some of the variables I decided on for this bike.

I started with a brand new-in-the box dark green metallic aluminum frame and fork from Nashbar tha I acquired from Craigslist.  Truly NOS – not even out of its wrapping.  The color is a dark green – like British racing green – metal flake metallic.

 The bike is sitting on a custom set of wheels with sun rims and 32 spokes apiece, with a Son 28 dynamo hub to power the lighting. Panaracer Pasela Tour Guards in 700 x 35c handle the roads nicely – not much loss of roling resistance, but easy on the body and soak up road nasties easily. 

Velo Orange hammered fenders keep the garbage off the bike and me, and a Velo Orange Pass Hunter rack holds the front bag.  No name silver aluminum rack does duty on the back.  A Planet Bike ARD saddle keeps my toosh comfy. 

I had wanted Nitto Randonneur bars, but they came in as the wrong size.  I ended up with Bontragers that have a bit of an extension at the ends – good for bar ends and easy on the hands.  Shimano 3 x 9 bar ends (Dura Ace) do shifting duty, Origin8 brake levers handle stopping pressure, and tektro brake calipers handle the actual stops with ease.

I have ridden the bike some miles- for an all-aluminum ride it is surprisingly comfortable.   Very stable handling makes it fun to ride and also fun to travel with.  I have a pretty huge 9 speed cassette on the back – 12-36 -and it lets me climb  hills with ease.  While I wasn’t sure how the rig would turn out, it has suprised me with being beefy, yet light, and comfortable and stable, yet easy to move.  Overall, for this application, it gets a good solid “thumbs up” rating. 

 

Curse the wind . . .

My friend J. and I went riding on Saturday afternoon, 4-20-13. I don’t think I have ridden in worse winds in a very long time. There were times in our 17 mile loop that the wind pushed so hard against my handlebars that I was wobbling on the road. Thankfully we were on back roads out around Creagerstown, MD. There was little traffic, and lots of hill work.

It was a pretty ride, with lots of interesting animals and scenery. I am actually looking forward to doing some more of it at another time.

We ended up cutting the ride short due to time and other constraints. But, I do want to do the whole 42 mile loop.

A Word About Fenders

Fenders are an integral part of my own personal riding preference. Of the 10 or so bikes that I own, better than half of them have fenders on board. If they are ones I have built or have had built, I make sure there is room for fenders before I ever build them. The bikes that I own that do not have fenders on them typically do not have room under the brake bridges to include fenders as part of their daily appearance. For those bikes, I keep a set of SKS Race Blades (strap-on fenders) around so that if the weather has been unpleasant or wet, I can still keep the road grime off me and my drive train.

Why the fixation with fenders?

Several reasons.

1. Protection from road grime and objects. I personally hate have road grime, small pebbles, and other garbage sticking to my legs. In the summer, I sweat enough that dirt and small stones stick to my legs and leave me looking as if I have unreasonably dark legs and nothing else. I also just don’t like feeling that sticky, if I can help it. Additionally, I don’t have to worry about the skunk-striped appearance of the back of my jacket or jersey if I have fenders on the bike.

2. Protecting paint and drivetrain. Fenders are good protection against things jumping into the drivetrain of your bike and also from keeping larger objects from impacting your down tube, fork crown, fork legs, and other areas. Fenders also will funnel water away from you and also your drivetrain should you be bicycling in foul weather. Instead of having wet, clammy feet that are uncomfortable and also having a wet and then rusted drivetrain, you will be some drier if you have fenders on the bike.
3. Appearance. Some bikes just beg for fenders. For instance – I have a late 70’s – early 80’s Kabuki Bridgestone HT that just absolutely begged for a set of fenders in chrome. I obliged, since I had an old set, and it really added to the vintage look of the bike, as well as adding the functionality of protection against the elements. I also have three touring bikes that wear fenders constantly (a giant OCR touring, custom-built Nashbar frame, and Salsa Fargo) and, to my eyes, wouldn’t look right without them. I’m also putting fenders on my Surly Troll just as a matter of personal preference.

Types of Fenders

I’ve ridden with many types of fenders. I’ve used everything from SKS Raceblades to Cascadias and multiple narrower styles on various types of bikes. Some were better than others. For instance, the Cascadias I have on the Fargo are some of the best I’ve had as far as coverage and prevention of wearing mud and objects. They were also some of the easier ones to install, even over disc brake mounts. The hammered Velo Oranges I have on the Nashbar touring frame, on the other hand, are quite attractive and get many compliments. Once they were properly fitted, they were fine, but they were hard to put on and required a lot of fiddly work to get them right. There have been several other types and styles, but they were close enough in type and size that those areas were non-issues. For the most part, if you have the proper size fenders for your brake bridge and tire size, the fenders will offer protection from the wet and also from dirt and other objects.

As far as added weight, most fenders are light enough that unless you are a road racing sort, or doing serious downhill, the weight is really a non-issue. If your bike has appropriate attachment points, you should consider adding fenders to your bike. For a minimum trade-off in weight, you can have reasonable protection from dirt and other elements while you ride.

Lesson well learned . . .

Sometimes you have to learn things by doing them or having them happen to you. I had one of these grand lessons happen to me on Saturday.

Friday we had a blood drive at the school where I work. I initially wasn’t going to give, but decided at the last-minute to go ahead and donate blood. I have been donating blood since I was 18, and have been pretty successful and comfortable doing this for a really long time. This time was also okay – no immediate after-effects, no dizziness, light headedness, or anything else. I went home, had a quiet evening, went to sleep.

I got up Saturday, had breakfast, ran a few errands, and then went to meet a friend for a ride. I wasn’t feeling bad when we began the ride, but I got to the 3rd mile and thought I was going to keel over. My heart was racing, the blood was pounding loudly in the veins, and breathing was labored. By mile 5-7 I was not doing well – I was overheated, still breathing hard, starting to feel sick, and still having the pounding. When we got to where the road turned back towards town, my friend and I went back to town.

The lesson here was: Don’t give blood on Friday and then expect to ride much, if at all on Saturday. It’s fundamentally a bad idea. I won’t make this mistake again, that’s for certain. I hadn’t given my body enough time to recover, and boy, did I pay for it!!!!!

Disappointment – or Trolls live in garages, not just caves.

Well, with the advent of the new furnace that got installed at our house the week after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, my bike plans to adopt a fat bike have changed. I just really couldn’t see dropping the extra hundreds to own the machine. The dollar signs just weren’t there.

So, I had to consider options. What could I do with that nice store credit I had? Use it for parts? Practical, but no romance, none at all. Buy something else? While the store credit is significant, I’d have to do some serious research to see if I could get something in the ballpark of what I want.

Which brought me to the question of – What did I want? I had to think about that one.

I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want another roadie. I have my carbon Madone, my funky purple Specialized Allez, the Schwinn Fastback, my rando bike, and my heavy tourer, the Giant OCR Touring. I think I have my on-road options covered.

So what do I want/need? I looked over my off-road options, only to find some gaping holes in that work force. Technically the only “real” offroader I have is the Fargo. I do have my beloved, vintage, late 80’s Bianchi Axis cyclocross bike that I have reconfigured I don’t-know-how-many times and it does do some off-road duty when I need it to – but it isn’t strictly in the off-road category.

Okay – well that narrowed down the search a bit. I definitely want something that is off-road capable. I also like versatility in a bike – like the aforementioned Axis and Fargo. I want something that can be a grocery getter, a campeur, a tourer, and a trail bike as well as being a mountain bike.

Hmmmmm – a bike with all those capabilities. Enter the ….

black troll

I looked around for something like that, and lo and behold, I found it. I ended up purchasing a 16″, black, Surly Troll as a frameset. It can do everything I want and then some. Steel frame? Check. Rack and water braze-ons? Check. Extra braze-ons on the fork? Check. Three water bottle braze-ons? Check. Suspension corrected, just in case? Disk Brakes? Canti bosses? Fenders? Big, wide rubber – both mountain and road? And a slew of ways to configure the rear wheel and use Rohloff hubs? Reconfigure from mountain bike to tourer – yup, in spades!!!

I’m now assembling parts to put with the frame – more on the build when I get it together. It will be a budget build, for certain. I am trying to stay on my budget and the specter of the furnace looms large over the financial things right now. I can’t afford to get truly insane with new parts – I have a feeling that most of the parts will be good used ones from friends and C-list. No shame in that – as time passes, I can always upgrade if I want.

Here are some reviews that helped me to make up my mind about this – check out the links. These people mostly had pretty good things to say about the frame – some were seriously impressed, others were more objective, but all were favorable. The 2013 Troll made some improvements over the initial frame, by offering more braze-ons in more/better places. They also offered it in new colors – purple and black. Last year’s frame was produced in orange.

If you’re considering an all-arounder type build, the Troll may be your friend. Have a look at the reviews and then decide.

http://www.bicycletimesmag.com/content/review-surly-troll

http://www.whileoutriding.com/bikes/surly-troll-review-a-few-thousand-kilometres-down-the-dirt-road

http://www.mtbr.com/cat/bikes/xc-hardtail/surly/troll/prd_458628_1527crx.aspx

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?page_id=266978

http://northernwalker.wordpress.com/tag/surly-troll/

http://www.joe-bike.com/cargo-bikes/surly-troll-frameset/

Muddy Fargos – or Wow! I didn’t know they used glue in the mud when they built the C & O Canal

So . . . . last week, my sister and I took our Fargos on Sunday and rode from Cushwa Basin in Williamsport to Fort Frederick, 12 miles up the trail, and back. It was cold – for her – at around 36 or so at 12 when we started. I was quite warm and bundled up – matter of fact, I resembled Linus’s little brother Rerun – with my arms practically straight out from my sides. I used my North Face heavy rain jacket as the outside layer, and this really upped the warmth factor. Sis also bundled up appropriately and was warm.

The real fun came from the trail itself. It was like riding on half-thawed glue. The double track was thawed, the center, not so much. It felt like the tires were sticking to the trail – and maybe they were. Mud flew everywhere with each turn of the cranks. I was most grateful for the big fenders over the big tires. They kept the worst off of me and my gear. What I really need to do is take the bike up to the car wash and clean it – Man! Is it Nasty!!!

I took a slow fall when I steered incorrectly and the tires slid instead of grabbing – thump!! on the grass, at least. Only small mud stains to deal with.

One guy passed us on a non-fendered cross-bike style animal – he was wearing a mud stripe from the bottom of his rear to the top of his shoulders. He didn’t have fenders. 😦

We had fun, but the trip took us twice as long as usual. We got a good workout and also had a nice time outside on a beautiful sunny day.

I never tire of riding the trail – it changes with the season, and the Potomac adds an extra dimension to the ride.

Better well than sick, but . . .

I missed out on all the fun warm bike-riding weather and all the good snow as well. I had 3 days or so of fabulous weather and since I’m still recovering from bronchitis, I chose not to go get sweaty and possibly cool off and get sicker.

That being said, I’ve started seriously thinking about some epic rides I want to do this year. I think I want to do the National Road from Baltimore to the Maryland/PA border. I’m also looking at doing either the entire C & O Canal or the G. A. P. with my sister and one of my other riding partners. I had been considering the Erie Canal, but since my sister is new to bike touring, I think we’d best take it easy the first time. She plans to take her 2011/12 Fargo, aptly named “Green Tea” (Fun Guy Green – according to Salsa) as do I (mine is called Large Marge – after the tires and the Pee Wee Herman story involving a ghostly encounter with a trucker by the same moniker) and our other partner will probably bring her white Miyata 100 that she uses for trails and such. Any of these rides will be fun, so I am looking forward to the planning stages of them.

Anyway – in the midst of winter, I am planning some fun for warmer weather. Helps me stay sane and gives me something fun to look forward too.

Enjoy the weather, before it gets too frigid again.
Go ride Your Bike!!!!