Samasonic! MLCB Post #513, August 12, 2020

Those graphics, so 80’s

Many interesting things have happened this week, beside the Falcon Olympic bicycle purchase. I found the Falcon was an Olympic model, two up from the bottom of the line. It also does not, as I feared, have a stuck seat post. This means it will be easier to straighten the seat tube where it has a ding. I was worried the seat post ding had involved the seat post itself in place, or was caused by attempts to remove the post. But the seat post came out with a bit of persuasion and percussion I also removed and treated that saddle both top and bottom with beeswax.

A very tall bicycle.

I have been looking at Rivendell Sam Hillborne bicycles, and how people are approximating them with bikes they themselves have. I decided to try swept bars on the Panasonic. It had the original straight MTB bars. They were steel, weighed a lot, and didn’t help the geometry of the bicycle. These bars seem to help, as much as replacing the pedals did. The Panasonic Mountain Cat 2500 is a nice, lugged Mountain Bike that is light and well made. It rolls along pretty well for a bicycle with basic straight gauge tubing. It was a middle of the range, rigid framed early mountain bike. But I think with adjustments and additions, it can achieve much more.

I also had a strange experience happen to me. While I was in my garage working on the Mountain Cat 2500 handlebar change, I heard a pop. The tire went flat on the Schwinn Passages’ rear wheel. That is the most convenient flat I have ever had. It is also disturbing. What causes a tire on a bicycle to go flat, when nothing is currently happening to that tire? I was across the garage. I even had to look for a time, making sure the Panasonic tires, or the tires on my car or my wife’s car were flat. Then I found the flat on the Passage.

So we will see if the sweepy handlebar change helps the Panasonic, and what caused the flat on the Passage, and how the Pryma saddle comes out. The saddle doesn’t appear to need too much work, just some beeswax and thorough care. The Falcon Olympic needs some care taken of the corroded derailleurs, but most of the problems on this bicycle are cosmetic in nature. These little mysteries will have to take a backseat to some riding later in the week. And the usual stuff that keeps me from cycling more. There is a lot of that around at the moment.

Another Falcon! -MLCB Post # 512, August 9, 2020

A very nice bike, just arrived from the 1970’s.

I got ahold of another Falcon bicycle today. This one is more basic than the Falcon San Remo I got last year. It has a claw-attached Shimano Titlist rear derailleur, and the front derailleur is from the same level of Shimano production. Some Dia Compe brakes, some 27″ wheels, all of good quality and fine basic cycling fare for that period. The last time it was registered with the Milwaukee Police Department was 1980. It is pretty nice for a bicycle of that era. About on the level of a Raleigh from that specific time. It has a lot of work to be done on it.

Pryma Saddle-not the best, but far from the worst of French leather saddles.

A little work with cleaning rags made the purple paint shine nicely. There is a run in the paint, but that’s not inconsistent with production in that time, when frames were dipped in factories after assembly. I still have a lot of research to do on this machine to determine the model and year of the bicycles’ production. But I’m guessing it is near the bottom of the line. But that is still better than some other producers’ top of the line bicycles. That Pryma leather saddle is very nice, and in good condition. It is currently soaking up a bit of beeswax.

The little bell still works.

In all, being from before the time when bikes had water bottle braze-ons and other things, this bicycle has an add-on rack of good quality and strength, and some add-on water bottle holder of poor quality and strength. Some other way will be found to carry water around. There is a dent in the seat tube of the bicycle. That will be removed either by the long seatpost method or the block method. Or a combination of the two. But for the price I paid, I think I got a good deal on parts and accessories alone. The bike is a little short for me. But that does not disqualify it as a good all-rounder!

Touring Training-MLCB Post #510, August 2, 2020

I like to keep current with bicycle handling skills. One of those skills is riding a loaded bicycle. I find it a bit of an art to be able to balance bicycle and load well on two wheels. There are some good ideas that may help. I find that balancing the load well helps. Even weight from side to side, and 2/3 at the rear of the bicycle, with one third of the weight in the front panniers. I also try not to get too far past 28 pounds when using all the panniers. That’s a lot of weight. But the Passage is well suited to it.

The Schwinn Passage was designed in a time when we did not have access to all the ultra lightweight camping gear of the present day. When loaded, I find it has a better ride than unloaded. It also brings out the “spring” in the Columbus steel. You can especially feel it in the seat and chain stays when going over an abrupt bump. The Passage has good loaded stability when traveling downhill, and handles speed loaded well. I like the way I have built this bicycle up. I added wide enough bars and a fairly stiff and strong stem when selecting parts for this machine. That gives me a confident feeling when steering.

I rode to the local grocery store, and loaded up with about 25 pounds of food. This provides a good simulation of touring load. I was only loading the back rack. I used those Roswheel panniers I got from Amazon last year. They are very good. They turned rain well. Because I was trying to simulate touring, Mother Nature obliged by throwing rain and wind into the mix in mid-ride. Water beaded off the panniers quite well. I do not recall if I waterproofed these panniers myself. I think they came this way. They held the load well, and did not shift on the rack or make any other commotion with the trip.

A New Tour in Planning-MLCB Post#509, July 29, 2020

I was planning to do some touring this summer, just something short to keep everything working well. But I was stopped by the problem that stopped most everything, so now I have to put it back a year. Which is okay, because I like to plan tours as much as almost anything involved. It has been some time since any long rides or tours or micro tours. I find I can still handle 16 miles in torrid heat, as I did the other day. That’s only about a half day or maybe a third of a days mileage. I find about 50 miles to be an acceptable daily limit, in good, temperate weather. Some people do more, but I find that is an attainable and reasonable distance.

I wouldn’t set up a tour by that number every day. Some days have more weather situations or other distractions. I am just trying to work out a short tour or two for next year, when things are open, there is no pandemic, and cash is accepted. Doesn’t sound like too much to ask. Gear and bicycles are shaking down well. Loaded handling tests may come about soon. There are a few tweaks for the Schwinn Passage yet to come. It is close to perfect, but perfect is what I need. When you have to spend a few hours a day on a bicycle, it needs to be dialed in exactly.

I would like to take on a part of the Route 66 Trail through Central Illinois. This may be a short tour, as much progress may be stalled by current events. So it may be more of a micro-tour. But at least it will be a chance to turn some wheels and carry some stuff on a bicycle. A good introduction to the handling and packing and traveling. A good refresher course, in my case. I may also have some involvement in a larger tour for a local non-profit. And some other events. I had really hoped this year would have some more interesting cycling.

But things have not turned out that way. There is still some good riding and traveling weather out there, as summer turns to autumn. I have to get some hills going on my rides. A tour may be of the Spoon River Country in West-Central Illinois, land from which sprang Edwin Arlington Robinson’s Spoon River Anthology. That would be a hilly, gravelly little tour. I will have to scope that one out in the autumn. It may be a good tour to make, but it will be physically challenging. Rugged country and roads of varying comparability with cycle touring.

Provided good health and time enough are available to achieve the goals I have for this year and next, some more action may roll across these pages. This year has been extraordinary for us all. But that does not mean that I cannot prepare for things in the future. Less to do when the time comes, and greater likelihood of completion. Good planning makes for a comfortable and happy tour. And that is the kind of tour we would like to have them all be. May yours be all great tours and trips as well. Time on the bicycle is precious, so make the most of it.

Ready for the Unexpected-MLCB Post#508,July26,2020

Just windy enough for windmills today.

I was very impressed by the Passage today. It has some real gravel skills. I found this out because a nearby township started graveling the roads today. That is usually my time to go off oil and gravel rural roads, due to the oil tar getting on the bikes, the gravel mounds left behind by the trucks, and the general sketchiness of a situation where several tons of semi-molten oil and gravel are a road surface. This all sets up really well for most of the year, making a road surface rivaling asphalt, except when it melts a bit in the summer.

New gravel, in a spot where I could not turn back.

I got on a mile or so of the road which had received gravel, but not oil. It was a pretty difficult mile or so. It did show me that the Passage could deal with such situations well. A touring bike can easily be ridden and thought to be quite suitable when you are riding in ideal situations. In my opinion, though, it is the less than ideal situations that tell the tale. A bicycle has to be equal to the adventures it encounters. The Passage did a great job of getting me through more than a mile of scattered gravel. Well worth the miles I drove to get this frame, and all the parts I added to it to bring it up to scratch.

Some brand new gravel, just laid down.

I also got a good look at the countryside, aided by my water bottle. It was a hot one today, even though I was riding in the morning. I tried a little lime juice and less than a pinch of salt in the bottle today. A couple drops of Texas Pete were also present. I find this helps when both heat and humidity are around . I may soon be changing pedals and footwear around on the bikes. I need more stability. I think we all do. I will let you know how that goes. Our weather should cool down a bit now. The ridging that dominates Midwestern summers tends to dissipate as hurricane season gets underway. It is still warm, just not especially hot.

I hung out in the shade here, before riding home. It was pretty hot.

I see the trucking company and the farm implement factory are expanding. They do not seem to impact the traffic in the areas I ride. Pretty good, as I ride past their front gates. I suppose they have their busy times. I’m hoping I do not have to change my route, as this is a route I have ridden, in all or in part, for the better part of 16 years. But expansion of my route would lead to new rides and new routes, perhaps. So that can be an improvement. I am just glad I have the opportunity and the equipment and the roads/trails that I can continue riding.

Conveniently Located-MLCB Post #507, July 22, 2020

It was just a ride to the store to stuff my panniers and return. I always try to carry the smaller Nashbar panniers on the Schwinn Passage in these instances. I could put on the Roswheel Panniers, but then I could buy half the store. The Nashbar set limits me to essentials. But it is a good way to get used to the touring load again. Just enough weight to simulate. It was pretty hot weather , but not unseasonably so, like some parts of the country are experiencing. Although many of them have lower temperatures than us, they are in a heat wave because they are not used to such temperatures and humidity.

As I rode up the ridge near my house, I saw some Mylar balloons which had become moored to a corn stalk. They had no address label or anything, so I did not think they were bearing a message from a distant part of the country. They just presented an arresting visual I thought I would share. I also saw some wildflowers along the trail. One was rather like a purple dome, the other a very yellow flower. These are abundant in these parts. Sometimes the purple dome flowers are white instead. The trail is a great place for wildflowers.

I think some of this is because they were seeded. Others may have been there since there was a railroad here. The railroad just used to burn off wildflowers at the end of the year. But this helps some wildflowers to germinate, and it sure is better than herbicide. While I was at the store some of the clouds built up some rain. Their bases became flat and dark, and started dumping rain on me as I rode home. I stopped under a convenient tree that had been trimmed recently to wait things out a bit. It did not take long, and I was back on my way.

Trail Trip-MLCB Post #506, July 18, 2020

The Passage at the station, with little Bike Nashbar panniers I use for smaller loads. They are simple and convenient. I probably would have used front panniers, but these are good for small items, and have good capacity as well.

I set out to go to the pharmacy, as that would take me over the newly renovated section of the Constitution Trail, so I could see how the improvements to that went. The eastern section of the trail was showing some signs of wear on previous trips. I wanted to see how that had been sorted. It certainly was a warm and humid day, so I got started early. I find that a good way to avoid heat problems. That, and good hydration. In this weather, I often use one of those vitamin and flavor enhancers in water bottles. They often have a bit of sodium too, which is beneficial.

A Japanese Garden, from our sister city, Asahikawa, Japan.
A little rapids on Sugar Creek, beneath Veterans Parkway, Route 66.

I was able, with a short exception on either end, to follow the trail almost the entire way to the pharmacy. That is a nice feature of the Constitution Trail, it gets you where you need to go. A good job was done in planning this trail at its inception, and as segments have been developed. An attempt has been made to make sure it links all areas of town. I think this broadens the base of support for the trail, as well as its utilization by a broad segment of the population. I find that a good use of tax dollars, for something that benefits many at a low cost.

A hotel called The Chateau.
Snags from the torrential rains of the other day, piled up against the Low Bridge

I have to admit that I was a bit tired by the time I reached home. I think this was more due to the heat and humidity than the distance, although the distance was pretty good for not taking a break. I also was able to ride most of this in a fairly high gear. Considering that much of this trail was old railroad right of way, the grades are not too steep. But it also shows that my re-gearing the Schwinn was a good choice for my riding abilities. I should be able to ride this route in a high gear, and save the low gears for actual hills.

The Hidden Pond, almost impossible to see from any vantage point but this one.
These crocheted masks adorn the trail in this area.
Texas Eagle letting off some passengers from the front of the train.
And the passengers from the rear section. Probably one stop was for sleeping car passengers, and the other coach.

I was able to route my trip through a couple of parking lots to get to the pharmacy. All of the roads in that area are very busy. Parking lots not so much. On my return through town, I saw the Texas Eagle arrive. It made a stop at the Normal Station to discharge sleeping car passengers, then coach passengers, and it was on its merry way to Chicago, 124 miles away. We shall have to go one day, and take the fabulous folding Fuji when it is finished. Perhaps next year, when the whole situation is a bit more stable in general. I would like to see Chicago when it’s feeling better.

Hard to find many vantage points to see any distance. The corn is quite high now.

All Manner of Weather-MLCB Post #505, July 15, 2020

I’ve experienced a range of weather, both on and off the bicycle in the past week. I have had cool weather, dime sized hail, 75 mile per hour winds, hot weather, and high humidity. I still think it may be a while before the atmospheric ridge that has been keeping it quite warm here breaks down. La Nina years seem to be like that here, the heat lasts for June, July, and early August. Then it gives up. Usually with a bang. All the quips about Midwestern weather are true. Weather really is quite volatile and variable here this time of year.

I missed getting wet on Sunday, but as soon as I got home after getting groceries on the Schwinn Passage, I saw a storm and a small wall cloud off to my northeast. It got closer as I ran errands with the car. By the time I was back home, this weather, which I had seen from my car, was getting close enough to hear thunder. Then it started dropping dime-sized hail. For a good long while, as hail goes. That evening, another storm came, bringing 75 mile per hour estimated winds through my neighborhood. A good deal of rain as well.

Today, I had been warned of weather approaching. I talked with a neighbor, which held up my bicycle ride, but as I went along, I noticed the humidity was getting quite bad. Once I passed my halfway point, I heard the rain pattering on the soybean leaves to my right. I stopped, and put on my trusty old cycling raincoat which is quite compact, and folds into its’ own front pocket. I was glad I had it. It increases my visibility, being bright yellow, and turns the rain without being too awfully hot. It is a nice old piece of gear, and cost me little.

I was lucky in that I had no lightning close to me at the time. I could not hear thunder, although I did later. Usually, you are in the danger zone for lightning if you can hear thunder. Even if it is distant. Because a lightning bolt can travel up to eight miles from a storm. A good time to seek shelter is before you hear thunder. A watchful eye on the weather app, or an app that alerts you to changing weather conditions, is useful, so long as your phone is getting good service. So it helps to learn about weather phenomena so you can fill in those gaps when you may not be connected.

Passage and New Wheels-MLCB Post #504, July 12, 2020

I changed out the wheels on the Schwinn Passage last week. The old wheels had a bearing problem. Also, the axle bolts will require some doing to loosen. Among other issues with the old wheels. I prefer to take my own sweet time fixing this problem. I will then use these wheels on another bicycle. The Passage has found the wheels and gearing that work best for it. The Bianchi Avenue, which possesses its’ own set of problems, contributed the Alex rims laced to Joytech hubs. These wheels work like champs on this gearing, especially when the bicycle is loaded.

I took the Passage for a couple of trips. One I consider quite representative of standard touring, the other I see as challenging for me in spots. It also shows a couple of challenges you may face while on tour. Both trips are quite short. But both courses start with a goodly climb for the flatness of the surrounding countryside. The more challenging course also throws in some areas of often either submerged or muddy trail, a very short stint of gravel, and some sharp turns. A good test for making sure the parts and installation are done correctly on a bicycle.

The other route just follows the trail to the ridge, and then onto roads for a mix of surfaces from concrete to asphalt to oil and gravel along with gravel and gravel for a short stretch. Very good for tire and pressure and wheel testing. It also runs past the Midlife Cyclist National Proving Ground and Test Track. That’s where I test tires and wheels and stoves because it has a fully gravelled surface, and it is remote, without flammable vegetation. Near the trail, but far from everything else. These routes will do for now, as they offer safety and proximity for testing, which may be all I get done this year.

Schwinn Passage , Painting Readiness, Weather-MLCB Post #502, July 8, 2020

I could not ride this mid-week. A thunderstorm, which came from who knows where, took up my planned time on the bicycle today. This often happens on the prairies of Illinois.Especially when we are in a La Nina cycle, when the summer is oppressively hot for most of the month of June and July as the days grow long and the atmospheric ridge establishes itself over the Central States. This breaks down in the start of August, which cools things a bit. Before that, storms bubble up under the ridge, seemingly at random. Always carry a poncho in the Midwest, when riding.

Air-mass thunderstorm.

The Schwinn Passage got different wheels this week. The old ones had some issues for cooler weather. This means they require patience and cooler weather. Bike weather is for riding, not wrenching. I had some nice, low flange wheels, with Joytech hubs and Alex rims that afforded me a wider gearing range and a sturdy 36 spoke construction. This bike is ready for some local exploration. Maybe a little wider ranging next year. The Schwinn was a very straightforward, frame-up build. I have been very happy with the components and the bicycle as built.

Before…
And after.

I have been slowly gathering the components i need for the Trek 950 repaint. Paint scraper, heat gun, various sandpapers and nylon wheels, airbrush accessories and airbrush and compressor, spray primer and drop cloths are all ready for cooler weather. Low humidity and cool weather are best for this sort of operation. I am still thinking along the lines of a camouflage pattern, but something original. The 950 will be another heavy touring bicycle, this time with 26″ wheels. Much like a Trek 520 in terms of construction and geometry.

Looks alright from a distance..

All of these plans will come about because I am not going anywhere distant this summer. I also want to try and get some components fitted to the fabulous folding Fuji, and maybe even get a first run on two in before it gets profoundly cold. It is warm enough here that it is best if you ride before 10 a.m. . Let the heat and humidity build through the afternoon. Evenings are not bad for riding either. Summer has its attributes. Bicycle riding can be tailored to fit the demands of the day, if the days prove to be demanding. Unlike winter, when it is hard to cycle at all for days at a time.

Saddle up, Marlboro Adventure Team! This paint job may be re-done concurrently with the Trek 950.