Loading the Trek 950 MLCB Post #386, May 19, 2019

Canada Geese browsing the field, while a tractor worked nearby.

There were some downpours in my area, as a cold front tried to pass through, but it did not come far enough south to effect the temperature. Most of the rain and storms stayed off to my north. I was able to get out and test the Trek 950 and it’s load carrying abilities. I often like to use one pannier, and see how that loading affects stability. If that’s a problem, maybe there is something wrong with the bike, or how I’m using it. I went to the grocery store, and got about 15 pounds of groceries. That’s good practice for loaded riding, as well as pannier packing.

Skies looked a bit threatening.

I had some beautiful weather, although on the warm and very humid side of that equation. But storms were not nearby enough to cause concern. Cyclists were few on the trail. I was able to stay on my trail all the way to the market. I only had to cross a couple of streets and the parking lot of the shopping center. Bike parking is right next to the door, and is very convenient. The shopping center was designed to be a trail destination as well as a shopping center for the subdivisions on the north side of town.

The Trek 950 loaded with one pannier.

Returning home, I had some trouble with my panniers Those old relics need reconditioning anyway. A future post, right there. I cover about 8 miles going to the store, and it’s a good workout. I have to climb a hill most of the way out. My laden return is downhill. That’s a good arrangement. Outside of the pannier problem, all was well. The Trek was stable and capable. The next test will be with two panniers, and larger ones at that. The bike is properly geared for load carrying, and handles well to boot.

A lilac, along the trail. It produced a heady fragrance.
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Blow-Out-MLCB Post #385,May 16, 2019.

I’m rather impressed with the tires on the Trek 950. They do a good job and don’t cause a lot of drag. They roll pretty well. But I don’t think the beads are all they could be, at least on my wheels. The rating on these tires is 80-100 p.s.i., and I think I might err toward the 80 end of things from here on. I top up my tires before each ride, and my Topeak pump is quite accurate. But I got about four miles into my ride today, and I heard a familiar “Pow” and my tire was wobbling on the wheel.

You might think of blaming this on the tube, but the tire itself had worked the bead out of it’s seat on the rim, causing a foot-long blow-out. It came out again when I refilled the air, so I lowered the pressure and re-inflated to 85 p.s.i., where all was well, and the ride was more comfortable as well. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the tire or the tube. The rim is a bit old. I probably just need to operate this specific tire and rim combo at 85 p.s.i. from here on.

Sometimes, you just have to do things your own way, and use a product as it works best for you, in your own situation. I continued on my way, and did more than 8 miles on these tires without incident. I actually had a great ride, and saw a remote weather station a couple of miles from my house, and some burning going on in the fields. I also checked on the washed out bridge(still out) and looked to see if there was any progress with planting. A great day, a great ride, and a great bike. Quite a combo.

I had been reticent to try Co2 cartridge air systems, but I was pleasantly surprised by finding an inexpensive unit locally, and it was good I had it today, as it kept a good ride from turning into a long walk. I don’t know about efficiency, but it sure is nice not to have to pump up a tire at roadside. Let alone carry a pump around. Some models are nice and compact pumps, but I find I like the convenience of the Co2 system when I have problems like those of today, as well as a tube, where no patch in the world was going to save me. The blow-out was a foot long. It was also a good thing I had a spare tube. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that save a bike ride.

Raleigh Super Grand Prix-MLCB Post #384,May 12, 2019

25″ frame, just about the limit for me.

Wider tire capability, low-trail fork, fenders, and bar end shifting, as well as good looks and a classic, understated , full frame road look were what drew me to this Raleigh Super Grand Prix. It differs from the Grand Prix in the low-trail fork, alloy components, bar end shifting, and color.And 3 pounds of weight, and 700c wheels versus 27″. That’s part of what makes it so super, though. A few little refinements make this bicycle lighter and better, as well as more maneuverable.

Bar end shifters, stock 700c wheels, fancy fork crown. So nice.

I have owned Grand Prix before, and they are fine bicycles. The Super Grand Prix is really nice, and a better ride in general. It won’t be a full touring bike with the low trail fork, but it does a good job at what need there is among my many bicycles, a good frame that will take wider tires, yet have some nimbleness on the road as well. The 20-30 steel is no fine metallurgical product like Reynolds 531 or Tange or Columbus, but does a good basic job of being strong and reasonably light.

Very nice detailing and paintwork, well preserved over 39 years.

This is one of those bicycles where the wheels make a difference, and high flange Normandy hubs, like on the old Schwinns, and the Raleigh 700c rims make for a nice ride. I may change out the 700×28 Panaracers, as they look a bit tired. Good light tires and tubes will make a difference. I may try out some flat tread Kenda 700×32’s here. I think the frame, being made to work on a 27″ wheeled bike, will accomodate these. They won’t be the final choice of tire for the bicycle, but they will give me an idea of fit and usability.

When bicycles still had headbadges.

In all, I like the look and finish of this bicycle. It was built in Raleighs’ Worksop factory in 1980, right when it was closing, if the serial number coding was correct, although there is also an S imprinted near the location of the letter marks in the serial number. This is a neat bicycle for me, and I haven’t even tried the seat post. It was the right height for me when I found this bike. The bar end shifters, SunTour, like most of the components on this bike, were still on the bike and intact, seemingly a rare find nowadays.

Raleigh pantographed SunTour VGT rear derailleur.

I like the “paneling” stripes and the Raleigh Logos, as well as the engraving of the components for Raleigh, and the Bocama lugs. Soon after this bicycle was made, nice little touches like this disappeared from the affordable bicycle market, As more bicycle manufacture moved to Asia, and away from Europe, the welded frame became more popular as well, followed by compact frames. These innovations allowed manufacturers to get more people comfortably on fewer sizes of frame , and allowed those frames to be produced with less expense. Progress, I suppose.

52-42 chainrings with 14-34 rear cluster. Easy enough gearing for these parts.

Engraved stem as well. Looks like an SR stem.

Journey to Nowhere-MLCB Post #383,May 8, 2019

Over the weekend, I was going to start doing 15 mile rides on my usual course, which gives me a bit of terrain and also some varied road surfaces. I start on the trail, ride it to its’ end, and then follow country roads. I leave one town, come near to two others, and ride home. This ride provides good training and good miles for endurance, and gets close enough to town that I can bail if need be. It’s hard to find a cyclist in open country around here, without a town or some other guide point.

I was handling the ride and the miles quite well, and it was a perfect day. Not a great deal of wind, nor heat. Weather was fair. A rare day when all of these things come together. I was handling hills and curves well on the Trek 950. This bike is geared low enough so that terrain is not a challenge, especially without a load. I can keep up a good cadence, no matter what the hills may be like. So often, the wind provides the hills in this area. While it may be flat, the wind is always there. So it’s nice to find a day when it is not so windy.

But mid-journey, I came upon an insurmountable obstacle. My only road that is not a fast, often traveled road, was closed. The culvert which carried the road over a stream apparently had washed out in the big rain storms of the other day. There was no way around it, so I had to retrace my ride to the end of the trail, and then proceed on the route of my shorter ride. I’ll have to use another route for this mileage now, for it often takes some time for these low density roads to get repaired.

I have other options for my rides, but this will also be an opportunity for me to find some new routes. I can come up with some other routes, as there are numerous low density farm-to-market roads around here. The trails are still too wet for mountain biking, so that is out. But some new scenery will be an improvement, and provide some new challenges. Every season brings something new and different, even in the same area. That makes it like a whole new experience.

New uses for an Old Body MLCB Post #382, May 5, 2019

I am not getting any younger, though I’ve tried to do so. My cycling is also taking some changes in stride. I am no longer swift. I am no longer thin. I am no longer athletic. But that’s okay, because adaptations are on the way. One can always think of new ways to participate in a hobby, no matter what that hobby might be. I have long seen myself more as a recreational rider. At least for the last four years. I have no desire to race anyone, or outlast them, or prove anything to them.

This is all a part of the realization that I am now working on being the person I should have been all along. The reality of greater maturity and sociability are here. It’s not such a bad place to be. Especially on a bicycle. Shorter rides may be necessary. They may also be more plentiful, and easier to work into my schedule. I may do more gravel riding. I may do more mountain biking. Assuredly more trips and touring and micro-touring. These all seem far more healthy than not riding at all.

So my bicycle may change a bit, as may what I use to get from place to place. I fear camping gear will become heavier, so I may have to diet myself a bit lighter to compensate. Because more comfort will be nice. I’ll have to look into that, in depth. I may be converting an old ten-speed into a gravel bike. A little wider and slower, perhaps, but it still gets me there. The Trek 600 is safe. I still like a fine, fast bicycle for those times when I’m mostly on the road. But I see the tendencies for the future in the Trek 950.

Changing Plans MLCB Post#381, May2, 2019

I have been changing a lot of plans this week, because circumstances keep changing as well. We have had some epic weather to our north, first snow, then floods, in Northern Illinois. And it is not like we got off scot-free. Tuesday, overnight, we got more than two inches of rain. Places to our north got a lot more. So when I went to go riding, it was very windy, and also starting to rain. The winds were a bit too much, maybe 30 miles-per-hour or so.

But I just did some needed repair work on the recumbent, and tuned up the brakes and trued the wheel on the Trek 950. The Trek 950 is now at full readiness. I still need to add that front rack. Then it will be ready for adventures. It hasn’t been that long a road to get here, but much of the work that was done for the Raleigh was transferable to the Trek 950. The bike also has a new saddle, something from Specialized I got from my local Goodwill.

I got going on my ride, and I was still fighting some big ole winds going uphill at a snails’ pace. But the gearing on the Trek is made for just such situations. Having a good sized ridge nearby is a good way to warm up and start rides. Living where things are quite flat, any climb will do. Most people would laugh at what I consider a climb. It was a great ride, especially downhill with the wind at my back, a good pay-off for the slow going earlier.

I’m still doing short rides, trying to get some miles in before the Spring Metric. I need to do some longer rides now, to get my mileage where it needs to be by the end of the month. Since the Metric is a little later this year, I may have the opportunity to do this. If not, there are later rides on the calendar. All a part of the changing of plans, I guess. I have a few things to get used to with farther distance riding, but progress is coming along. Bicycle repairs and finishing touches are also going along well. Now for less wrenching and more riding.

When it Rains…MLCB Post #380, April 28, 2019

The Giant Yukon has now had new rear brakes and a new front shifter fitted.

The nice thing about having the skills and tools to wrench on old bicycles is that there is always something to do on a rainy day, like today. We were supposed to have rain showers, but it turned into pretty much a general downpour that had a nice gap in mid-afternoon, just long enough to entice some people out to get rained on. I had to work on the Giant Yukon, in case the trails ever dry out enough to ride on. It had a bad shifter on the front derailleur. The old flushing the shifter with WD-40 did not work. I’ll have to tear into the shifter later.

Replacing that was somewhat complicated, as the screw on the old shifter was stripped. Both the shift and brake cable were pretty trashed, as was the brake cable housing. When problems like that come at you in groups of two or three, you know you are working on an old bike. One problem creates and compounds another, and you have to solve things in the right order. I generally tend to remove and solve cable problems first. They have the ability to confound everything else.

I replaced the shifter with another old but reliable Shimano shifter, and then ran the cabling. I could not get the bike into high gear, and had to undo all my work. I had to the cable through another channel in the plastic cable guide on the bottom bracket to get the right angle for the cable to pull against the front derailleur properly. Also because the shifter and brake were integrated, I had to recable the front brake entirely. That was a good thing, though. It allowed me to have a good look at the brake and fix what may have caused some problems down the road.

I probably need to get at the front forks with some coke and aluminum foil as a finishing touch.