Foggy Day-MLCB Post #474, March 29, 2020

I got out for a ride Saturday. I was surprised at the number of people running and walking on the trail. Fewer cyclists, but many walkers and runners. It may be one of the few pastimes left many people. It is good that it is available, as well as cycling. A quick look at the weather radar confirmed the warm sector of a storm system was approaching, so I figured I would get out before all the weather action started. Because around here, you want to be wary of the weather in spring, if caution is called for. It can be a bit extreme at times.

As I rode along, I noticed something. While birds are not frightened of cyclists, they do seem to have a problem with runners. The runner does cause a bit more noise and commotion. Tires on pavement are a more natural sound. Like running water. That is, as opposed to the clump of running shoes and the waving of arms and legs associated with running. So maybe birds are a little less jarred by the appearance of the cyclist. I also had the advantage of a rather long lens digital camera. Fog was also a factor on this ride. Low visibility kept me on the trail today.

As it was so foggy, I knew when the fog thickened it was time to head on home. It became really dense as I rode, with visibility well below a quarter-mile. So I knew the rain would be approaching soon. And sure enough, it arrived just as I was a block from home. It started pouring as I was getting my mail at the roadside box. The Dawes did a fine job today, although it is going to need an overhaul after a rather busy winter of wet and slushy riding. Once the Bianchi is ready for summer duties, I’ll have to get on that…

The Warm Up-MLCB Post #473, March 26, 2020

Well, I’m looking at getting back on the roads more regularly. The sun is out, the weather is warming a bit more, a bit earlier than last year. Hopefuly, we will have a spring with spring weather, instead of wintry weather until nearly summer, as last year seemed. Both have been milder, but longer lasting lasting winters. And the bikes are ready to go. I took a trip to see my doctor, as he was in Northern Illinois today. So I got a look at the Route 66 Trail, a multi use trail that runs north and south out of Bloomington, so far. We will be exploring that further this spring or summer.

I may suddenly be given a lot of time on my hands, but currently, my work hours remain the same, except for no work or bike co-op on the weekends. I don’t care very much for this situation, but the money may be very beneficial to those around me who may need it. Or to my own family. I take every precaution, and follow safe practices when out and about. But enough about that. I am still okay to bicycle, and I intend to do more of it in the coming times. I am hoping that weather and bikes hold up well and make the outdoor riding and social distancing work out well.

I am still readying the Trek Elance for the spring season, and hope to start on the Raleigh Sojourn soon, as well. I am planning on using the current beige paint as a basis for a camouflage scheme. All of this, and any build-up of the frame, must wait until the weather warms enough for painting. It’s going to be a complicated build, and bring this big ole frame a bit more into the 21st century. I think it will be successful adaptation for this frame. I am a little hesitant about disc brakes, but they may prove to be a great thing. I wish you all the best in these times. Stay happy, stay healthy, ride bikes.

Solitary Cyclist-MLCB Post #472, March 22, 2020

I have to carry more stuff when I cycle alone. I’m on my own. I need 2 tubes, an air pump, and a good many tools as well. I have wider, more reliable tires on my bike, because of my size, as well as my need for reliable tires that will get me where I am going. I also replace tires a little earlier than others. I check my spokes often, and carry some as well. I just strap them to the chainstay. A lot of touring cyclists do the same, unless they have braze-ons to hold them. All of this is a little cumbersome. So is the current epidemic.

I just thought I would mention all this, because people are being told to cycle alone without a thought for the fact that you are on your own, and maybe an hour or so from a ride as well, if you have phone signal. If I’m going any distance, I take one of my tarpaulins as well. They make a good shelter. They are light and compact. They keep the sun/rain/whatever off you until a ride arrives. But the best situation is to be able to fix what ails your bike on the spot. So you have to think like a cycle tourist. An extra cable or two carried along is easier than riding a bike in one gear.

It seems like a lot of extra stuff to carry, but it is easily added to a seat or bar bag. And it sure beats waiting for a ride. It danged sure beats walking home. I have had to change out tubes and tires on a five mile ride. I should have checked them more closely in the first place. But it was hard, with traffic, to avoid the strip of sharp metal that caused the puncture. I have also had the rear derailleur cable fail on a bike I was testing. I just screwed in the low and high limit screws on the rear derailleur. It gave me a gear in the middle of the cog. Then I had a two speed bike. That got me back. Speaking of getting back, I’m quite confident things will get back to normal, with time.

But until then, keep on cycling.

Okay, It Can All be Spring and Nice Again-MLCB Post #471, March 19, 2020

I’m hoping to get some riding going this week. As I have few other outlets left to me by the virus outbreak. All our restaurants and bars and pubs and cinemas are closed, with good reason, I believe. But the bikes are ready to go. I am ordinarily a solitary rider, and have been practicing social distancing for better than a month now. My job has removed overtime from my schedule. The bike co-op has been closed for the emergency as well. All of these things will reopen in time. But this is a good time to make the most of the situation, and that leaves me with cycling.

Which is really a good place for me to be, rather than not getting exercise. I have never been a great group rider. I am not fast, I am older, so I usually get dropped from group rides. I don’t mind. Those who want to make a ride into a hammerfest may do so. I am about riding for enjoyment. And keeping the elegant old bikes on the road. I have not run across many interesting finds lately, except for a Trek /Cycleops Fluid II trainer I found at a local Goodwill. But this may well be a great time for cycling, as I have few other opportunities for exercise and entertainment, and spring is progressing.

It may not seem like much progress, but at least the temperatures are warming a little, and we seem to have much of the snowfall past us. There are lots of routes and bicycles and equipment to test out during these temperate and torrid months. I am not seeing any reason this should, in my case, be affected by the virus outbreak. I am laying low socially, but I plan to range a bit farther afield geographically. I also have plans to research a route a bit north of me, when I have to travel this week. I can then see if sufficient progress has been made on this trail to be worth a trip.

Sorry I’m Late, I was Held Up by the Basket..MLCB Post #470, March 15, 2020

Sorry, I was going to write and post this yesterday, but I had some administrative concerns and the like that I was dealing with, and I totally let the blog slide. Our bike co-op has been closed for a while, until things get better, and my parish church has postponed its book sale, which is kind of a bummer, as it can be a source of good cycling and exercise books. It also has a lot of DVDs, mostly epics from the 1960’s. I hope that all is going well for you, and wish you all good health. As I know little about epidemiology and virology, I’ll let it go at that.

I did get a new bike basket for the Dawes and Univega combo yesterday. The Dawes is the winter errand bike, and the Univega is the summer errand bike. I got a Topeak metal mesh bike basket for the front of these bikes. It can hold a bag of groceries, or some beer or wine, or what have you. It has 16 liters capacity, and weighs a shade over three pounds. It is a great basket. It is durable and , at least to my eyes, stylish. It does not make a great to-do with bike handling. It has some stand-offs, so it could work with drop bars. It is pretty versatile, and convenient as well.

The bike basket is attached by a quick release plate that is held to the handlebars by some split arms which encircle the handlebar. These are attached by bolts which also tighten the arms around the handlebar as you tighten the bolts. This makes a very solid mount. Then the basket bit simply slides over the plate, and is held in place by the quick release lever. That way, you can just undo the quick release to remove the basket and take it into a store. This is a very simple and effective way to do this. It is also easy. That makes me more likely to use it.

I like the idea of front baskets on errand bikes. They make the bicycle into an urban or rural hauler of small packages. A weeks shopping, I have found, on the one or two occasions when I have not used the gigantic Nissan, requires a bicycle trailer like my Burley. I have found a lot of use for all the cycle touring gear I have squirreled away in the last week or so. At least it is there, so I don’t have to go out and buy it now. Many others are. I have a good stock of dehydrated soup (pun) and some other long term storage food around. Such is the way of the touring cyclist.

While I am not a prepper, there is a lot one can learn from them. They have an extensive knowledge of hiking and camping and preparedness. Gadgets are extensive among them. many of them are quite useful for cycle touring. I am glad of having some of their expertise to guide my usage of camping and hiking gear. Much has changed since I learned the basics from my outdoorsy parents. I plan to keep on blogging through this situation, as my time permits. My schedules may change, so I may have changes to my posting schedule

The old basket.

I Skeert a Squarl! and Other Tales from a Windy Sunday-MLCB Post #469, March 12, 2020

I had a good ride on Sunday, my first without a coat in some time. It was about as windy as it gets. It was just about too windy to ride. I got to see fields of silage being harvested by tractors and balers. It was great day to be out and about on a bicycle…..

This hay bale was taking in the scenery.
A closer look.
Crows found something of interest.
A front end loader and a rake.
A salt store.
Front loader and a hay baler

I stayed on the trail after witnessing all that haying has to offer. I rode through an industrial area, where there was a salt store made of concrete blocks and a arched tent structure, a very common sight around these parts. There was also a farm field in the industrial area. A rather large squirrel was running away across the field when I approached. I enjoyed a nice but windy ride around the industrial area, and on my way home, I saw a hay baler. I had seen the bales, and a truck removing them, as well as the hay rake, but not the baler itself. Just when I thought I had seen all that haying had to offer!

Elance/Elegance-MLCB Post # 468, March 8, 2020

I finished my refurbishment of the Trek Elance today. I added some SLR brakes and brake levers. They were original equipment on the Elance. The SLR is for Shimano Linear Response. They are a dual symmetric pivot brake, and they are still quite effective, despite their age. I’m impressed, but once again, it shows that good equipment lasts longer and performs better. I would rather have old, great equipment than new, middle or low end equipment. I just find it does a better job and lasts longer. I am very happy with that.

So many people find it humorous that I love these old parts so well. I know new, high end parts perform better. I also know the limitations of my wallet and ability. High end investment is not for my level of performance and income. More power to those who have either, or both. I can get my enjoyment with a side order of elbow grease and historical perspective. My newest bike, the 2011 Dawes Eclipse City, has been doing a great job this winter. Well worth the investment in some used shifters and a wheel set. I traveled a few miles by bike today on the Dawes. It could have been warmer, or less windy.

There will still be a few housekeeping items for the Trek. There are a few paint chips and cosmetic issues that should be dealt with. Fenders and a rack may be called for. With the shorter wheelbase, it may require something special. But that may already be in my possession. The good thing is that I know the Trek has a lot of good things going for it. I upgraded a lot of parts as the bike came to me with lesser parts than I wanted to run on this. Indexed shifting and a seven-speed rear cassette will prove more useful than the original six-speed friction set-up.