Getting Ready for Spring-MLCB Post #455, January 23, 2020.

I have a few things to get going as I get ready for spring. Over and above getting the Univega and Raleigh put back together and ready for the road. I have to clear and clean my panniers. I also take this opportunity to examine the panniers for rips and tears and hardware issues. I will also try a test pack of the new backpacking stove . I’ll share some results and thoughts here.(Of course) I think it will lighten the load nicely. I will also need to familiarize myself with the operation and care of the stove in the field. That will keep me busy for a bit.

The next thing I will have to do is take stock of my cycles, to see which ones may be gifted on. This will make room for storage and the bicycles I do ride. I do not think there will be much culling this year. I have the bikes I need. I also do not think there will be many more additions. All the bikes will be examined for any damage or maintenance needs. Changes to accessories and components will be considered as well. A general greasing and lubrication will take place for each of the bicycles. That will be done as the bicycles get closer to cycling season, which can be from March onward. I ride in the winter as well, but it sometimes is done indoors on an exercycle and trainer, or for short trips outdoors in moderate weather.

I am also working on reducing my touring load as well as my general cycling load. By losing weight off the easiest bit of cycling gear it is to lose weight on. By losing weight off myself. I have been successful up to this point by limiting carbohydrates and eating sensibly. I am also looking at greater amounts of exercise. Especially as the weather improves. I am also considering rearranging my touring and camping gear into a more organized and purposeful situation. I can then access things more readily, and make up my pannier loads in a more sensible manner for each trip, as requirements demand.

I figure all of these changes will make things easier for me to establish a more organized shop situation in my garage. This will make everything going forward easier. It will also allow better photography, and maybe a better method for conducting reviews of new items and found objects, as we are wont to do here from time to time. Speaking of found objects, the VistaLite VL400 has had the batteries replaced by some NIMH AAs, and it seems to be doing quite fine with this arrangement. With it’s easy to change attachment, I think it will be good for moving from bike to bike as necessary.

Headsets and Headaches-MLCB Post #454, January 19, 2020

We had an old Trek come in to the co-op the other day, and no one could find a bottom headset race that fit it in the whole co-op. Eventually a shim was made. I had a race that fit, but it was needed for the Bianchi Squadra. I needed it to fit that Trek fork I spoke of so I could use a 700C instead of a 27″ fork. It is a size just a tad smaller than the usual size of bottom headset race. Some of the earlier Treks had some interesting components on them. I think that was a factor both of how they were made, and how the bike shop or owner built them up. Truly early Treks were often sold as a frame alone.

But this one was later, a 400 series Elance, but it seems they had a smaller headset even then. The Trek 600 I own, also built of Reynolds 531 steel, has a Hinault-Stronglight headset. This is also a smaller headset race. But, to my chagrin, I found that there are many different sizes of headset out there. I knew there were a few, but the mystifying number of head tube bores, headset race sizes, and cup nomenclatures sets your head to spinning. Most are 30.2 mm, but J.I.S. are 30.0mm. This seems to be where our problems lay. There are many other sizes, but these seem to be most prevalent on road bikes.

That is, until you get to threadless headsets. Then, it becomes a multitude of sizes. A lot of innovations seem to be going on. These seem to spawn more headset designs and that seems to spawn more sizes of cups and races. I am sure that this will all standardize some day. Hopefully some truly superior designs will win out. I personally love the Plain old 30.2 headset. I also like the J.I.S. headset, because I like the bikes it is found on. I suppose a lot of the feelings we have toward components derive from their reliability and our liking for the bicycles they are found on.

Here’s some more information regarding headset components and dimensions:

In Search of Light..MLCB Post # 453, January 16, 2020

I sometimes fuss a bit about camping gear, considering how little I take with me when cycle touring. Which hasn’t been for some time. But I keep my gear up to date, and sometimes test it quite a bit as well in household circumstances. No surprises that way when out on tour. I ran across a headlamp in our grocery store a few years ago. These are sold under many names. They seem pretty sketchy. Usually I don’t go looking for camping equipment where I buy chicken. But this little headlamp has held up well in daily service for a few years.

This headlamp does not throw a lot of light. I added rechargeable AAA batteries to it to make it rechargeable. It takes three batteries and has three modes, high, low, and red. The red light is so you can still see outside in the night. It has enough light for me to do what I need to do. It has a two position fitting on the frame to hold the light to look forward or down where you are walking. That has become a bit iffy recently, but for a $6 headlamp I bought in a grocery store, it has done yeoman service. I think it has been a good value.

I also ran across a Lantern/flashlight from a company called LitezAll which is quite nice. It has a carabiner from which the lantern hangs via a USB cord about a foot long. It recharges from USB. You can slide the shade down to narrow the beam for a flashlight, or leave it shorter for a lamp effect. It is a pretty simple little item. It can run for up to 15 hours, and has two modes, high and low. I will assume the 15 hour run time is in low mode. I think low mode would be plenty bright enough for a tent. I think this little item cost me all of $3.

You could get a few if you had more lighting needs. It seems like it would be good for a few things around the home. I always have a few lanterns ready for power outages, because I want to use my phone for other things. Like calling the electric company, or looking at an outage map. A lot of the gear I use for touring also has some uses around the home. It is all good to have, in case of emergency, disaster, or inconvenience. Things we use for cycle touring can be quite versatile stopgap measures when situations are not what they could be in the best of circumstances.

Looking for Progress-MLCB Post #452, January 12. 2020

I have a few projects going this winter, as I have fewer opportunities for riding. I’m just trying to keep them contained. That way they don’t intrude on the days I can ride. The Raleigh Sojourn, Bianchi Avenue and Squadra, and the Univega Supra Sport all need completion for the spring. Luckily, they are all pretty simple and straightforward projects. I also have to lose some weight for my health, being a midlife cyclist and all. I may take up some more indoor exercise outside of my exercycle. While an exercycle is great as a form of exercise, I may need to add some variety to my exercise plan

I may start going back to a gym as well.. A local senior activity center has a nice gym. I’m on the low end of the age requirement. But that may offer some opportunities for exercise that I cannot get just at home. Social interaction may be helpful as well, as I don’t get to see as many folks as I do in summer. I am also looking toward spring, though. It looks like we may not have a terrible winter this year. As I write this, snow and sleet are falling again. But that sure beats what a lot of people are getting this winter, some as close as 60 miles to my north.

If we get some good weather, the plan is to get the Bianchi Squadra up and running with the Trek fork, as soon as I transfer the bearing race. That may be all that is needed there. Then the Bianchi Avenue will get some new shifters and a needed clean-up, and the Univega Supra Sport will soon follow. Then the Raleigh Sojourn, which will be the heavy touring bike. Provided I can work out the disc brakes which, admittedly, I have little experience with. If you remember the Gary Fisher Marlin of some time ago, that was my last encounter with disc brakes. But learning about bicycles often involves leaving your comfort zone.

Crock Pot!-MLCB Post #451, January 9, 2020

I found an old plastic lidded crock pot the other day. I knew just what it would be good for. What it is not good for is crock potting., in my opinion. I would prefer to have heavier glass keeping the steam in, and I would rather not have plastic involved with my cooking. That being said, I do have a use for it. Crock pots, on a low setting, with grease removing detergent, make an excellent parts cleaner and degreaser. Like on that Bianchi Avenue. Those parts need some stratospheric-level degreasing. When dirt and grease interact, they definitely can create some stubborn sticky stuff. Just keep plastic parts out of it. Heavy degreasers don’t often help longevity of plastic parts anyway, if allowed to dry on them, so wash it off if you need to use it for plastics.

My previous mode of operation was to use a toothbrush and grease cutting dish soap. That is still necessary after the cleaning with the crock pot. But to a much lesser extent. In this manner, I am getting the parts cleaner with less effort. After using grease remover, one has to strip everything down, rinse it, and dry it out before regreasing. It is a good way to reclaim a few parts you may not otherwise want to put the time into. But I have found that sometimes parts function as well or better than new with a complete cleaning.

If you have trouble remembering what parts went where, video the process of disassembly, or lay the parts out in order. I recommend doing each process of cleaning in one sitting. That way you don’t lose track of things, and can better remember the sequence of assembly. Using a crock pot can be helpful. Just keep the plastic parts out of it. I usually tear down derailleur jockey wheels anyway to to clean and degrease them. A crock pot may also take decals off of parts, so be aware. But with care, a crock pot can be a helper in the bicycle repair shop. A small parts basket may help out in the use of the crock pot. You can keep all the parts together and not have to empty the crock pot until it has cooled.

Something like a crock pot, which can be gotten cheaply second-hand, can allow you to have parts cleaning while you are doing other things. As always, keep an eye on things as they progress. Crock pots are made to run all day, but that does not mean I would let one run without supervision. Shop safety would be a primary concern. Show it care like you would a parts cleaner. Of course, keep it away from kids and pets. The usual shop safety rules apply here, but that goes without saying. But if heavy cleaning can be accomplished while other tasks are going on, that cuts the time expended in the shop area down. More riding time!

Wintry Mix-MLCB Post # 450, January 5, 2020

I had some snow today, and it stayed slick outside much of the day, so I exercised indoors. I use an elderly exercycle much of the time for this, because it gives me good statistics and feedback from it’s built in monitor, and it is easy to set up and maintain. Riding a bicycle is one thing, riding a machine in your basement is another. Riding an exercycle is uninteresting. I have to read, or watch video, or some other activity just to keep me going on the exercycle. So it isn’t interesting, let alone fun to read about. So we’ll move on from here.

I got some old Nitto mustache bars this week. They will go on the Univega. Mustache bars look like racing handlebars, or Maes bars, squashed flat. Often folks use bar end shifters and upright bike brake levers on them. But they also cover the whole bar in tape as well. So it is an interesting mix of handlebar attributes that make up the mustache bar. I think they offer a place between drop bar and upright bar posture. They are definitely for a more mellow ride. I am adding them to the Univega, because I think it will give me the best position for the short range touring this cycle will do.

I’m also planning some more rides soon, so long as the winter weather continues to be so changeable. They may have to be short rides. But they will be outdoors. The winter has turned mild for a while. I feel I have to take advantage of that. Here, the weather may turn mild as winters go. Then it will throw some cold weather at you, as well as some snow, for a few weeks. Sometimes, it does not. Cold weather may hit a few days, off and on, until spring hesitantly approaches. Best wishes to all for a Happy New Year!

New Years Ride-MLCB Post #449, January 2, 2020

I took one of my longest New Years Day rides in many years today. I had to dress warm, and it was still pretty uncomfortable. It was cool, and very windy. I think it got a high around 44F, or 7C, with 16 mph winds. Brisk, but pretty agreeable for January. I took the Dawes out for a spin today. It’s a good bike for this sort of thing. It now has the flat bars pretty well dialed in. It is no speed demon, but it is good for those days when you are not seeking to set any speed records. I had too may clothes on for that. Layering does seem to slow you down a bit.

There were a good many walkers on the trail. I was not on the central part of the trail close to town, so I may have seen fewer people due to that. I rarely see the trail empty for as far as the eye can see. When I started my return trip, the only one there to see it was a squirrel. It is always amazing to me how tame the wildlife along the trail is, when approached in a non-threatening manner. Even more so when you are alone. I think the wildlife spooks more easily when there are many people around doing many things. Our behavior probably looks random or threatening to them.

I covered 7.5 miles today.That’s not a lot, but it is okay for a ride on January 1. I have done a lot less in years past. This has been due to snow, cold, or a mixture of both. Some years I have just ridden to meet the local cycling club from about a block away. But this year was warm enough. I did not have to wear my mountain biking boots. Cycling shoes were good enough, and warm enough.But it was a fun way to ride off a holiday meal. The weather was sunny. Glare was still a problem on my way south. But it was good to get a 7.5 mile start on my yearly miles. It is also a good way to start the year!