Monday, July 31, 2017

Lets ride some gravel Pilgrim!

Friend of the Blog Jim, is constantly posting awesome photos of his gravel rides over on his blog, including a recent trip on the GAP trail (which he conquers on his Surly Ogre).  Inspired, I wanted to get in some gravel riding myself this summer.  The original plan was to ride on the Wilapa Hills trail on the Miyata trail runner, but I did some figuring; 1) the Miyata needs alot more tweaking and test rides before I am comfortable going on a remote trail with it so the Handsome Devil got the nod, and 2) when all is said and done the Wilapa trail is about a 200 mile round trip to the trail head and I was only going to go about 15 miles on the trail ride.  It occurred to me that the John Wayne Pioneer trail - that's the Iron Horse to you and me pardner- was only about a 70 mile round trip to the trail head and I had done a part of it once before.

Someday I would love to go to and through the tunnel, but a 40 miler was in not the cards today.  I was aiming for a 20 km round trip before the day got hot.

The trail uses an old rail road right of way and the section I was on is a steady 2% incline up to the tunnels at Snoqualmie summit.  A 2%  incline isn't too hard but it never lets up for about 20 miles, or in my case the first 10 kilometers of the ride.  That can be a bit of a grind but I had a nice shady trail.

The occasional trestle

And sometimes the HD would get a breather while I took in the view.

Although the trail palette is mostly cool greens I did see some occasional color.

I made a note of this picnic table on the way up and stopped on the way back after I had ridden to my 10 km turn around.

The view was great and I wanted a little snack to stave off the fatigue I felt on my last long ride.  Overkill probably for this ride but a good excuse to stop and admire the view.

The beauty of putting in the work to ride 10 km up a 2% grade is that you get to fly back down with very little effort.  With 20 km of gravel in the books I went to the McMenamin's Anderson School in Bothell for lunch and a pint.  They have been open for 2 years and I keep meaning to go but they are on the other side of town, traffic, life, blah blah, so today I finally made it and I will definitely go back.  With any luck the Wilapa Hills trail on the Miyata will happen in late September or early October.

Ride gravel. Smile. Repeat.

PS this is post 19 for the month, a new record and not one that will be broken anytime soon.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Riding for the Cycle

To borrow a term from Baseball I rode for the cycle this week.  In my case that means I rode all four bikes in the fleet.  Last Sunday I rode the Handsome Devil in Portland on the Sunday Parkways ride.

On Wednesday the 1986 Schwinn Passage got the nod for a 22 mile ride around Lake Sammamish where it performed admirably.

On Friday the 1986 Miyata Trail runner got a short shake down cruise to a local pub, still undecided if the next step should be tweak and ride for the next 2 months or go straight to the tear down.

Today is farmers market day and the usual domain of the HD since its a pack mule, however, I noticed when I wheeled it in from the car last weekend that it had the hiccup/stutter of brake rub on rim, so I made a note to put it in the stand before further use.  I have a feeling this is a result of an incident from driving through Mt. Tabor park in Portland.  A combination of large speed bump and (I think) pothole was jarring enough to shift the rack - the strap and hooks on the lower part of the trunk came loose - and pop the bike off the rack.  Fortunately I was going less than 5 mph so I stopped immediately to fix the situation.  I did some work on it before the parkways ride but it felt like it was harder to ride than it should have been.  In the bike stand the rear wheel was fine with a minor tweak but I decided the front needed some looking at.  To get the pads to not rub I had to set the noodle wire so loose that the brake lever need full depression to work.

As soon as the wheel was in the truing stand I knew I had an issue...

The very fat 47c tire, which I had to deflate to get the wheel out of the frame, is too big to allow for truing without removing the rubber first.  It needs to be done but not right now so I went with another solution for the market run.

The 1978 Motobecane Grand Touring is my lightest most racy bike but it's rear rack makes it a good back up for when panniers are needed.  And so to complete my cycle MotoGT got pressed into service.  While shifting the RD I was reminded this bike could really use/deserves an overall this winter.

Since today was more about beer tasting than produce shopping one pannier was more than adequate.

I started off with a Ruud Awakening IPA

followed by a Hop 15 Imperial IPA - probably my favorite from today

I moved into non-IPA land with an American Wheat

And I finished things off with a Czech Pilsner from a local brewery.  In retrospect I screwed up the order but it was nice to make up for not being here last week on my birthday.

Hoping to have a gravel ride tomorrow to report on.  Ride. Smile. Taste beer. Repeat.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Miyata Trail Runner shake down cruise and a Reckoning

Friday started with a trip to the hardware store to find a nut for the seat-post QR and a M6 nut with the right thread pitch was found.

And it was too big to fit the recessed hole in the frame, I could probably try sanding it down some but didn't want to tackle that yesterday, it could be the original set up was with a smaller QR bolt with a M5 nut or it could have been a custom size.

So I ended up just using what I bought at bike works to secure the seat post with no nut.

And bingo I've got a saddle and seat post mounted on the bike.

With the seat-post set up I decided it was time for shake down ride to a local pub for dinner, about a 8 block round trip so easy to walk in case something went off the rails.

First my nits to pick:

  • Saddle nose was a bit too high
  • I think the bars need to come up and back a smidgen.
  • I notice that there was a slight slip in the seat post from beginning to end of the ride so either the QR needs tightening or maybe the 26.6 post is the way to go.
  • The FD wouldn't shift to the big ring
  • The brakes were mushy because I'd not spent the time fine tuning them, the front straddle wire carrier needs to come up so it isn't resting on the front rack stay.

The good stuff
  • The fat tires just floated over the pavement which is what I was hoping for
  • Despite the need for tweaks I am in the ball park for fit, the frame is the right size, and I think will be very comfortable once I get things dialed in.
  • Pretty easy to swap the front bag from the HD over to the Miyata.

I am at a bit of a cross roads with the bike, what it really needs it a complete tear down and rebuild but there is the temptation to make some small tweaks and do some gravel/trail rides in the next few sunny months.  We'll see.


One of my goals for my "free" time during unemployment was to de-clutter because A) the apartment needs it and B) in a worse case scenario I would need to move and having less stuff would make that easier.  I'm starting a new job next week so option b is off the table but I still have work to do.

A big part of de-cluttering is dealing with bikes and bike parts which are in every room of my apartment, including the balcony, except for the kitchen and bathroom.  And that is with the caveat that the Kitchen has the sonic cleaner which is only used on bike stuff and the bathroom, due to a quirky layout, has a two bike rack.  I decided that storing steel bikes in a place that gets lots of steam is maybe not a good idea but rack is still there.

I have some ideas around moving bikes, selling off parts and going to the scrap yard to make things look a bit less like an episode of vintage bike hoarders but I also started to think about the bikes that have come through the apartment in the last five years.

In thinking about it I came up with about 30 bikes:

2009 Handsome DevilGo to workhorseMotobecane Mirage FrameIn queue
1980 Peugeot UO-10Sold in 2014Schwinn Traveller III FrameIn queue
Miyata 912Sold in 2014Schwinn Le Tour IIIBuilt for sister-in-law
Curb find Raleigh Frame scrapped parts to Mello yellowSoma SmoothieBuilt up for me then economics forced a sale
Raleigh Ladies 3 speedSold in 2014Raleigh Reliant Sold in 2013
Raleigh Men's  3 speedSold in 2014Peugeot AO-8Sold in 2014
Raleigh Record MixteBuilt up for my Niece
Fuji RoyaleSold in 2013
Velo Orange RandoSold in 2014
Torpado AlphaIn queue1968 Raleigh Supercourserebuilt for friend in 2016
Peugeot UO-8  sportssold in 2014Peugeot MixteBuilt for daughter
1998 Cannondale Saecocleaned up and sold for friend70s Motobecane MirageHalf way through the rebuild process
Motobecane Grand TouringIn quiverRaleigh Rapide MixteIn queue
1970 Takara SportFlipped
Raleigh Junk bikedestined for scrap1986 Miyata Trail runnerrideable
Gitane TdFparted out in 20171984 Nishiki CascadeIn queue
1986 PassageIn quiver1992 Ritchey Roadawaiting sale
1974 Nishiki Professionalframe will be scrapped and parts sold

I hope to get to a stage where I have my own bikes and then take on projects one at a time, that's the plan anyway.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Goldilocks and the 4 seat posts

Once upon a time there was a Miyata Trail runner, which for the purposes of our story we'll call Goldilocks.  For some reason a DIY bear had replaced Goldilocks' original seat-post with a longer but smaller one.  DIY bear used an inferior post and clamp type post and because it was too narrow for the seat tube he used pieces of tin cut from a pop can to shim it.  The solution was functional but sad.  That post measured 26.0.

So your intrepid author searched to find the correct size for Goldilocks, but he found no reference.  He put out a request to a collection of bike gear heads and helpful but clueless Bear told him he had the same bike and it had a 26.8 post.  Oh Joy! that sized post was purchased.

Clueless Bear was wrong! that seat post wouldn't even slide into the seat tube because it was too fat.  Sigh.

So it was decided one size down would work and Almost Bear was purchased.  And unlike Clueless Bear, Almost Bear did slide into the seat tube but something didn't feel right, Almost Bear felt forced like it was just a bit too big.  That post measured 26.6.

The good folks at Bike Works had provided the previous two posts at a very reasonable price but had no just a bit smaller posts in stock.  Amazon Bear said "I have one" and so I gave Amazon Bear half the purchase price of Goldilocks herself and soon it arrived....

And finally it was a seat post, 26.4 that was JUST RIGHT.  Thanks Amazon Bear, the end.

There is still a bit to do with the seat post, as you can see I got it married to the Brooks flyer but I need to do some work on the QR clamp for the post.  The QR above top came with the bike but its a bit clunky and nothing like what the bike had originally.  On one of my many recent trips to Bike Works for %$&ing seat posts I picked up the QR above bottom, a specialized QR more in sync with the original style.

If the seat post on the 1984 Nishiki Cascade had stayed stuck I would have used its cool SunTour QR but that is going stay so the Cascade can get built back up into a bike.

I noticed after removing the as found QR that the binder area had a recessed spot for a hex nut so tomorrow I will go to the hardware store and see if I can find one that will work.  And then I can get to work fussing with the seat post and saddle to get it dialed in.

While waiting on the last seat post to arrive I took care of some other issues.  The out of true rear wheel got a trip to the truing stand.

 I replaced frayed brake cable and the frayed straddle cable both front and rear.

I though initially that the cable housing looked fine but part of the rear brake housing was kinked and the cable didn't run smoothly through it so it got upgraded too.

And all the new cables got cable ends crimped on so they don't end up frayed like the last set.

When I originally mounted the front rack I though the tolerance might be too tight for the front Canti's to operate smoothly.

So off came the rack.

And original Canti brakes, which will get mounted on the Nishiki when I build it.

I had a set of Tekro canti's left over from the Passage build, front fork too narrow, and I think their design will work more smoothly with the front rack.  So that's two items originally intended for the Passage that made their way to the Miyata.

I am hoping to get the saddle mounted, secured and dialed in tomorrow so I can test ride the bike and hopefully take it down to the Wilapa hills trail to ride a portion of it early next week before I go back to working full time.  The Miyata will need a full overhaul but I really want to ride it some before I do that.  As always, Ride. Smile. Buy a seat-post. Repeat.