Saturday, January 29, 2011

Old 24 Almost Done

I rode east today, toward Ohio, then headed south toward Woodburn. It has been several months since I've been down that way and I wanted to check on the progress of the "Fort to Port" highway project. That would be a 4-lane, divided U.S. 24 from Fort Wayne to the Port of Toledo on Lake Erie.

The reason I am interested in this project isn't so I can get to Toledo 15 min. faster, but because I will feel safer riding on old U.S. 24, a two-lane highway which was built on the old Wabash and Erie Canal Right-of-Way. The old highway is a scenic route which follows along the south bank of the Maumee River. It is twisty and is wooded along much of the north side, between highway and river. It's also a very dangerous road to drive, with many semi trucks and people in cars who want to pass the big trucks. Passing on a twisting, two lane road isn't a good idea for many people, and many people have lost their lives, or taken other lives on this road. But for a two lane road, it has wide shoulders, so I'm thinking it'll be safe for riding a bike on.

East of Indiana 101, the open portion of the new highway is open. West of Indiana 101, it looks like this all the way to New Haven (a small suburb of Fort Wayne):

On the way back, I rode many miles of gravel roads, which are packed snow and ice this time of year. Riding in the center, without studded tires, is actually pretty good. When a car passes, I scoot over and stop, since the snow on either side is an oatmeal-colored dry mush that is difficult to remain upright.

Most of the time, I am quite a bit faster than the Amish buggies in my neighborhood, but on packed snow, they are faster. I tried to catch up to this buggy to draft, but could get no closer than this.

I'm happy today got up to 31F, but I am looking forward to when it gets a little warmer. Biking is helping to keep cabin fever at bay, but another couple months of winter, plus a month of winter/spring transition after that, usually with lots of wind. Well, I digress.

Happy riding!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bicycle Museum of America Redux

It was another cold day on the flat land today, and Alex and I were up for some adventure. Once again, I took advantage of her good nature and drove her an hour and a half south to the Bicycle Museum of America.

This was her first visit to the museum, my second. I visited here first last October, although the museum has been open here since 1997. Many of the bikes in the collection are Schwinns, and just about all bikes in this room are Schwinns.

I particularly like this Schwinn Paramount track bike.

A little farther back. That's a big-looking frame, isn't it? I suddenly don't feel quite so freakishly large.

Just off of the front room, full of Schwinns, is a door and stairway leading to the basement. My favorite part of the museum. All kinds of bikes, all eras, and even tricycles are stored down here.

There were a couple beam bikes that caught my eye. Hmm, sponsored rider on this bike.

A sponsored rider for this bike. Methinks these were not ridden by normal humans. I'm guessing these bikes belonged to elite triathletes.

Ahh, more my speed. A mid-70's Peugeot. With a Simplex derailleur. Nice. Probably should snip the end of that cable.

I enjoyed looking at the components - here's an early Campy derailleur on a bike hanging from the ceiling.

Upstairs were more and more bikes.

Another Peugeot. With lots of miles. Still looks like a sweet ride.

Look at this derailleur. Before 1962 or there-abouts, most rear derailleurs looked something like this. The two bogey wheel assembly slides back and forth on a spindle, instead of the pantograph-style derailleurs of today. A very nice, French machine.

Hey, I don't think you're supposed to sit in there!

Jeez, you almost hit me! I think the curator is coming, get out of there!

I did find the Country Bike Shop in Celina, about 15 miles away from here. I had a delightful, hour-long discussion with Dick, the owner's father. They had many, many Rivendell bikes set up in different configurations and sizes. If I had the money, I'd have taken home a sweet Sam Hillborne that was set up just for me, and in my size!

No riding for me today, but it was a great day!

Happy riding!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Kuwahara's New Purpose

A year ago last fall I purchased a 1983 Kuwahara from a second hand shop in Butler, Indiana, for $20. It appears to be a touring model, with double holes on the rear dropouts and on the fork dropouts.

There is a great deal of clearance for wide tires - look at how much room there is at the seat stay.

There's quite a bit of room at the chainstays as well.

I haven't been able to make up my mind, until recently, what to do with the bike. At first, I wanted to convert it to a fixed gear bike. But I have a Scwinn LeTour III that I've already converted. Then I thought I'd put skinny tires and fenders on it, and use it for a rain bike on fast club rides. But finally, the clouds have parted, and the sun has shone through, making it absolutely clear what this bike is meant to be: a country bike. I don't think it'll ever look as nice as Alan's at Eco Velo. But for now, I like it as it is.

It has a big frame, maybe just a hair too big for me, but I can stretch out on it and it feels very comfortable. I need to lower the seat just a little more. The steely, flexy goodness is welcome on our rough, frozen roads.

This will be the bike with which I'll do quick club rides, but I'll also use wide tires so I can ride gravel roads. I'd like to add fenders and maybe a hub generator some day.

In the meantime, I wanted to install the VO compact crankset I bought a couple weeks ago. The crank that came with the bike had some issues. The non-drive crank doesn't line up exactly with the drive side crank. This is the original Sugino crank that came with the bike. It cleaned up well.

The problem is the crank arm hole has been jingered, probably from riding too long with a loose tightening bolt.

So, I bought a new Shimano, sealed bearing bottom bracket from my LBS, and installed it. Only to find that the new VO crank sits another 10 mm too far out away from the bike. The front derailleur won't shift on to the larger chain ring. So, for now, the bike has the new non-drive VO crank arm and the old Sugino crank and chain rings until I get a shorter bottom bracket. The new bb should fit one of my other bikes.

Here's my new helmet mirror:

Keep looking forward!

Happy riding!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Camera Craps Out

Well, actually the battery pack does whenever it gets cold. I went for a ride this lovely, sunny morning, but it is recorded for posterity only in my brain. And don't count on it being there long.

I don't know if the battery pack is really dying, or if it just doesn't like the cold. It works OK in the house, but after the camera is outside for even a little while the battery pack fails. I guess I need to keep it warmer.

I bought a helmet mirror yesterday at a nearby general sporting goods store. I mounted it this morning before the ride, and I was impressed how well I could see out of that dime-sized piece of reflective plastic. Will try to post a photo after my camera battery is warmed up and recharged.

On the weight front, I've lost 31 pounds since Oct 1. Only 12 more pounds to my goal! I gained a pound last week after being off at a conference for three days. Lots of "regular" food and beer, although I was able to moderate my consumption.

We've gotten some snow last week, and wind yesterday, so the roads are so-so. But it was good to get out anyway, especially while everyone was in church (although the churches I passed didn't look too full).

Happy riding!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Hoar frost on the old apple tree at sunrise.

Happy riding!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Latest Project

Yesterday I received a box from Velo Orange - there were a couple of specials they offered that I could not pass up.

I've been thinking about re-fendering my Tricross again - several years ago I had plastic fenders that cracked. Velo Orange had a set of their own 48mm fluted aluminum fenders. They advertize them as being heavier than the Honjo fenders they stock, which, in my book, is good. Maybe they'll last a little longer?

The nice thing about these fenders is they are pre-drilled in the right places, so mounting was easy (I suppose about as easy as mounting fenders gets).

I like the new bling. But I may have emasculated the tricross. I could have used the fenders on my ride home yesterday. The highway crews were out in force yesterday afternoon spreading sand, some of which my front tire kicked up and got in my eye. Not anymore!

Maybe not the rough-and-tumble life this beast was built to live, but it gets lots of love.

I also ordered a compact crank that was on sale for a ridiculously low price. I may put this on the Kuwahara, or maybe the Trek. I haven't decided.If I put it on the Trek, that could spark a whole series of upgrades I'm not ready for.

Well, now you know what I'll be thinking about for the next week.

Happy riding!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

First Commutes of the New Year

It's been a while since I've ridden my bike to work, so this week I thought I'd begin commuting again. The lack of snow and dry, ice-free roads lured me out on Tuesday, and again today (Thursday). My commute is 20 miles each way, and I've been whining to myself that it's been too cold or too dark or too windy or too... You get the idea. Many excuses not to ride. Once I got out on Tuesday, all the excuses seemed to fade away.

It snowed all day today, but we only wound up with a skiff of snow. The roads were in good shape all the way home, although they were a little slick for my work truck today. I had no trouble with my regular road bike tires - they gripped the road with no problem. I think the truck tires were wide enough that the weight was distributed over a much wider area than my bike tires. Of course, my work truck will get stuck on wet grass.

This below is in Auburn, just around the corner from my office and on the way home. It's amazing once I turn this corner on my bike, I forget about all the stuff I need to get done at work.

My worn Schwalbe Marathon still has claws for the road.

A few miles south of Auburn. These two tracks (Baltimore & Ohio Line) run a lot of freight. It's not uncommon to get stopped by a train here. For some reason, there are several trains that run between 7:00 & 7:30 am. On my way to work, I've been stuck at this crossing many times, sometimes in the rain, sometimes when I really have to pee, and sometimes when I am running late.

Here's the mile of gravel.

Here's my winter face. No whiskers this year - my beard makes me look really old (white fur). I bought a mesh reflective vest last week at Meijer. I'm glad I chose the mesh, it does a great job of keeping me cool!

I've got two bike projects coming up, now that my package from Velo Orange arrived today. You'll have to wait for another couple days to see what I've got going.

Be sure to get out there - once you get pedaling, it's not as cold as it seems.

Happy riding!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chili Challenge, 2011

Another New Year's Day and another Chili Challenge ride, sponsored by the 3 Rivers Velo Sport Club and the Fort Wayne City Parks Department. We met at 1:00pm, just north of downtown, and rode to the west, then north.

We stopped by Johnny Appleseed Park for the annual Polar Bear swim. At swim time the temp had dropped to the low 30's. This was much warmer than last year's swim. My daughter, Georgia, swam this year with the Polar Bears, but she swam at 12:00 noon. We arrived here for the 2:00pm dunking. I don't know why they have 2 different swims.

That water's gotta be damn cold! Crazy nuts!

I don't know how many cyclists rode this year, but it was a large number. We overwhelmed the city streets, and it was great! I learned a few years ago to stay at the front of the pack. With numerous traffic lights the bike crowd gets split into many groups, and once separated from the lead group, it is impossible to stay on the route. There are so many turns that the street map provided by the club is not very helpful.

I hope all of you folks were able to get out and ride today, or at least thought about riding.

Happy New Year!