Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hoodwinked and other stories

starting point - zero hood
I had a bit of time today and decided to do some bike stuff, starting with getting brake hoods fitted to the bare Campy brake levers on the Ritchey.  I had some reproduction hoods from Velo-Orange that I had purchased a few years ago for an older set of brake levers and I thought they would work for this set.

My first step was to remove the levers from the handlebar and I discovered someone had been kind enough in the past to mark where the top of the lever should go.   On most brake levers if you open the lever all the way up you can see the hex nut inside the lever body which loosens or tightens the band that attaches the lever to the bar.

My next step was removing the band from the lever body for easier access to mount the new hoods, Be careful here as you want to A) remember how things attach and B) make sure you don't lose the small nuts or washers that may be part of the assembly.  The final step was spreading liquid dish-washing soap on the inside of the hoods to make them easier to slide on, a trick I read about somewhere. I went from the back of the lever body forward toward the front, I had to do some stretching and some trial and error but it did eventually slip on.  I took it slow and avoided using a bladed screw driver to help things along, instead using just my fingers to avoid any accidental punctures to the gum hoods.  The soap trick does help btw.

The Campy parts on the Ritchey fall in between the Classic (friction shifting) era and the Modern (Brifter -Ergo power) era, from what I can figure out its the C-Record era of the late 80s early 90s when indexed shifting came into vogue but before brifters.  As you can see above the brake hoods fit....but they aren't perfect.  They are 100% better than what the bike came with, which was zero hoods but you can tell they aren't an exact match for this brake lever.

When I compare the repro hoods to the older drilled Campy lever I originally bought them for you can see they would be a better match. When I checked on ebay for the era of hoods I think would match the levers on the Ritchey they are $40 a pair and up, so I am sticking with what I have.

I also decided to put the final polish on the seat post I got for the Ritchey, which came to me in the condition above.

I did some rubbing with brass wool, then applied some mothers and wiped it off and then used a polishing head on my Dremel.

It's much better than when I started but I would still like to learn more about cleaning and polishing alloy parts and especially how I can get the most out of my Dremel to do so.

While I was on seat posts I decided to adjust the angle on my Brooks Imperial that is mounted on the Motobecane Grand Touring.  With Brooks saddles I have found if they are level I feel like I am going to slip off the front so I tilt them up a bit, however after the last ride on the MotoGT I realized it has too much tilt - in the picture above you can see it has a reach for the sky angle,  I was able to temporarily sing a few soprano parts from my favorite Earth Wind and Fire tunes.

One of the things I love about Laprade seat posts is the one bolt adjustment, however the MotoGT comes stock with a SR seat post which takes a different approach.

The SR uses two bolts and since they mirror each other they tighten and loosen in different directions, which kind of made my head hurt just thinking about it but I took it slow, breathed deep and got through it.  I should note that it was only the angle that was bothering me, since the saddle height was just fine I carefully measured how much post was showing before I removed it from the bike.

After making adjustments it was time for a short test ride.  You can see the Brooks is no longer reaching for the sky and that I swapped my front bag from the Handsome Devil onto the rear rack of the MotoGT with a small pump inside just in case.

When I returned from the ride I had the vague sense on the saddle that I could slip off the front and it occurred to me that if I was going to keep adjusting it would be good to have a frame of reference,  I took the measurement above -bottom of saddle nose about 4.75 inches above the top tube -after I got home, I wish I would have taken this measurement before I started the whole process.

I made a slight adjustment to closer to 5 inches above the TT. but ran out of steam so I will give the latest adjustment a test at a later date.  Until next time Ride. Smile. Repeat.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Spokane River Centennial trail - a Sibling Ride

Trail Map
I went to Spokane last weekend for a gathering of the Siblings.  The two middle siblings both live there, my oldest brother drove up from Portland and I, the youngest, drove from Seattle - about 250 miles.  I have, at one point or another, ridden will all three siblings individually as an adult but never with all three at the same time and was looking forward to a first ever group ride.  That is going to have to wait for another time, as it turns out my sister has been having some mild dizzy spells and as a trained Physical Therapist she is smart enough to listen to her body and my eldest brother didn't think he was far enough along after knee surgery to go for a ride.

My brother Steve my host for the weekend is a recent transplant from the greater Seattle area.  His wife grew up near Spokane and after raising 5 kids in Seattle they parlayed their modest rambler in the red hot Seattle market into a river front home in Spokane.  The view above is from their dock on a glorious June evening.  Part of the reason for my trip was to see the new house.  I am 95% thrilled for them and only about 5% jealous.

believe it or not I am the "little" brother

Fortunately I had not schlepped my bike 5 hours one way for nothing.  Not only does my brother commute to work on his bike most days but his house is about 200 yards from the trail at about Mile 16.  We got an easy 6.5 mile (10.4 km) ride in on the evening I arrived, after I fixed a brake issue he was having. We went from about mile 16 to just past mile 19 of the trail on the map above, construction prevented us from going much further but that was fine with me.

trail motif
The Spokane River Centennial Trail is a great public resource, per the website:

Forty miles long, the Centennial Trail begins at the Washington/Idaho state line and ends at Lake Spokane in Nine Mile Falls, Washington. Our one-of-a-kind Trail has its metropolitan center section in downtown Spokane in Riverfront Park, and branches out to more rural east and west endpoints. The Trail’s path generally follows the contours of the Spokane River, allowing access for many types of outdoor non-motorized recreational activities.

lazy section of river viewed from the trail
On Saturday morning we went for a longer ride, 18.5 km from mile post 16 to about mile post 10 on the trail,  It was a pleasant mild morning before the heat of the day.  The trail was being used by cyclists, walkers and joggers but didn't feel as "over loved" and congested as the Seattle trails sometimes do.  My impression is that  I would have never known I was near a city if we had not had to ride a short ways on roadside bike lanes to get to the path part of the trail, for most part it feels like you are out in the country.

The path, as the name implies. mostly follows the Spokane river and even crosses it a few times, the picture below is the "lock" bridge where engaged couples come leave a lock on the bridge as a symbol of their love.

I would certainly be utilizing this resource for exercise and just getting around if I lived in Spokane, for now, at least for the next 4 years while my daughter goes through high school, I am a happy Seattlite but who knows maybe some day?  In Spokane I might actually be able to afford a house, with a detached garage for bike tinkering, which is not happening in the crazy Seattle market.

Its easy to just do the I-90 straight shot from Seattle to Spokane, but since I didn't really have a time table I detoured to Cheney, home of Eastern Washington University on the way there and to Ellensburg, home of Central Washington University on the way back home.  That is where I spotted the cool College town bike shop above, ReCycle Shop, in business in Ellensburg since 1971,  It's the kind of place I would like to hang out/explore but unfortunately they were closed on Sunday.  I guess that's an excuse for another visit.

Until next time Ride with family.Smile.Repeat.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wheel Day - Ritchey Project part IV

Before I get to the Ritchey I thought I would share this fatbike I walked by in the neighborhood the other day.  I know our local roads are crumbling and I sure love fat tires but it seems a bit much for a city bike!

Today was wheel day for the Ritchey, something I have been meaning to do for about a month, but I took care of a few other things too.

Filthy front brake before

After some Simple Green and toothbrush, its still going to need some detail cleaning and some mothers but its a lot less filthy.

I also stripped the last of the Triathlon bits off the frame

No more CO2 canister holder on the seat tube.  I may just put all the triathlon bits together on CL for $5 and see if anyone wants to get areo on their old road bike.

I also used my first ever Park Tool, a chain scrubber, to get the chain cleaned up,  It will have a long weekend to dry out before I lube it.

I had already stripped off all the old rubber from the Ritchey wheel set the last time I worked on it, the first step was to put each wheel in the truing stand, the front needed a few minor tweaks but the rear needed zero so it was on to wheel clean up.

As you can see the front hub is dull,  I went over the whole wheel with Armor All wipes to deal with the dust and dirt and then put some polish on the hub.

Its not going to blind anyone but its an improvement, one of these days I am going to figure out the buffing wheels for the Dremel but this wasn't the hub to experiment with.

Rims before a good wipe down

And looking much better after.

Because its on the dirty end of things the rear hub got a scrub a hub treatment with Simple Green and a tooth brush to get all the grime off.

A bit of hub polishing and a Cassette cleaning and the rear is looking ready for some new rubber.

However I couldn't forget the skewers, they had some rust spots that I dealt with via the Dremel and a brass wire brush,

 And finally it was time for the new rubber I have had for a few weeks, I think I mentioned I got a great deal on the tires from Nashbar and then I got the rim strips and tubes locally to support my LBS, all in I was able to outfit the wheels for a little over $40 total.

I was so excited to get the new rubber on that I had one tire half on before I realized I'd not put on the rim strip - oops - did a bit of back tracking and here we are.

Many tires have directional tread so you want to make sure you have that figured out before you start mounting the tires on the rim, especially if your a bit anal and like the QR for both tires to be on the same side.   The other thing I like to do is have the PSI info on the sidewall oriented above the tubes stem so its easy to reference if you are putting air in your tires or heaven forbid you have a flat.

Now I can check wheels off the list of things to do, I realized its probably been about a decade since I mounted tires this skinny or pumped up tubes to over 100 psi.  I run low pressure high volume tires on the HD and rarely pump the 27" tires over 80 psi.

I am headed to Spokane for a 3 day weekend to visit with my siblings, little brother  has already had a few "could you look at this on my bike" requests so I will be bringing a bike and some tools with me. Next week I hope to make more progress on the Ritchey so we can get it on CL with the weather warming up.

Until next time. Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ride me out to the Ball Game

Duwamish river with Mt. Rainier in the distance
One of my goals while I am on my "work hiatus" was to ride my bike to a ball game.  I was inspired by the excellent "A few spokes shy of a wheel" blog where "Rootchopper", a resident of the greater DC metro-plex, regularly rides his bike to see the Washington Nationals.  I did some research and found out that the Safeco Field, where my beloved and beleaguered (15 years with no post season appearance) Mariners play, is only 5 miles away and has bike parking in one of the stadium garages.  The route is mostly downhill or flat on the way there but it's a fairly gritty and industrial route going by the port and rail yards.  You do get a nice view of Mt. Rainier from the summit of the bridge crossing the Duwamish river though, and it was peaking out on my ride.

About a mile from the stadium I had to pause for this train whose end was just in the intersection when it stopped, fortunately they backed it up and we were able to get through, the final part of the route to the stadium runs on 1st avenue which is a busy 4 lane surface street whose only nod to bikes are faded sharrows.  I am not usually a fan of riding on the sidewalk as I think it comes with it own set of issues but in this case I made an exception.  I used to commute to downtown and used a better bike route but that was a decade ago and lots of construction has happened in that time so I just took the route google maps laid out.

Once I got to the stadium I dismounted and walked the bike as I was close to the garage and there were swarms of pedestrians making their way to the game and/or the beer garden you can't see in the photo above that was on my right.

On my way to the garage I spotted these racks but since I had read the bike parking was inside  I kept going.  As I neared the entrance to the parking garage the attendants must have seen my "this my first time and I don't what I am doing" look and kindly directed me were to go.

no lolly gagging!
The bike cage was really more of a cave, its a low spot in the garage with support beams running through it and any car that wasn't a low rider would have a difficult time parking in that area.  I'm just shy of 6 feet and I had to duck to get in and out. but it is nice they have a secure place for bikes.

I got the HD all locked up and squared away and swapped my bike helmet for my new Mariners cap.  I do like having a pannier for carrying stuff.  I thought I was going to do this trip back in May but between the rain, cold (48 degrees) and dark I decided to bike another day.  In anticipation of that game I decided to order a new ball cap after I realized I had been using the old one for 17 years.

The bike cage reminded me of ones I have used at various employers over the years and although it didn't have a keypad at the gate being inside a garage with parking attendants felt much more secure than outside.

With summer having not truly arrived yet in the PNW the bike parking was under utilized with less than 10 bikes in the cage but I expect things will be different in July.  I thought I had left home early, but by the time I got the bike secured and crossed the street to the ball park I only had 20 minutes to gain entry, grab a beer and a dog and make my way to my seat high above.

While waiting in line to get into the stadium I got to check out the new statue for hall of famer Ken Griffey Jr.

On my way in I took this shot from where the well heeled folks sit.

And the perch my 1/2 price ticket got me.  It was actually very pleasant, a mild 65 degrees, a good crowd for a Monday night but not jam packed.  A beer and a dog and the crack of the bat.

downtown skyline with the space needle peaking out on the far left

Olympic range before sunset
One benefit of being on the 3rd deck of a downtown ball park are the views.  The home town 9 ending up winning 6-2, on the back of two, two run home runs from catcher Mike Zunino.  This kid was struggling so badly at the plate to start the season that he was sent to AAA, but since he came back he's been so hot that they are starting to call this month Junino.

photo credit Washington Post
I felt comfortable enough with a 4 run lead entering the 9th to start making my way back to the garage, I left the stadium with the Tiger's down to their last out and by the time I had my bike out of the garage folks were streaming out of the ball park with the contented glow of a hometown win.  I walked my bike a few blocks away from the stadium and towards my old bike route, I wouldn't have been able to get there by car but as a pedestrian/cyclist  I was able to thread my way to it.  My old cycling route follows the road that runs past the port of Seattle, during the day its busy with big trucks but at 10:30 at night its pretty deserted and it has a real honest to goodness bike lane.

Since I knew I would be coming home in the dark I took my "night helmet", its a bit Rube Goldberg but it allows me to run lights fore and aft on both the bike and my helmet and it gives me light where ever I point my head, I just have to remember to keep my head pointed slightly down so I don't blind folks.  I had forgotten how fun it is to ride on a warm June evening at 10:30 pm, much different than a chilly, rainy, pitch black ride at 7:00 pm in February.  It was so mild I took off my light rain shell as I knew I would be heating up climbing the incline on the bridge.  Back in my kinda go fast roadie days I could big ring this incline but tonight I was lucky to be all alone so I could paper boy it (zig zag) in my lowest gear to the top.

Since I have a bus pass, no climbing chops currently and the last mile was mostly up hill I decided to go multi-modal for the end of the trip as the bus literally delivers me to my front door.  That gave me about 13.5 km of riding this evening and it also gives me an excuse to seek out another game so I can bike door to door next time.  As it was it felt good to sit out on my balcony after I got home, among the bike projects lol, and bask in the warm glow of a goal accomplished.  Ride, Eat Cracker Jacks,Smile, Repeat.