Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Henry holding the Fuji frame as we got it, April 2009
The condition of the frame as received. It looks a bit like rusting shipwrecks on Guadalcanal from 1943. I had the paint people sand blast the frame before painting.
It would be exaggerating to say we swung immediately into action on this. I did have the bottom bracket shell and headtube faced so that the opposing surfaces were parallel. I didn't, but should have, dragged the frame to some local framebuilder to get a couple of water bottle mounting bosses brazed on. This would have been trivial when it was still bare metal. I did take it to a powder coating place over in Golden Valley and had it painted a nice, fairly nondescript blue-gray color. In went a sealed-bearing bottom bracket and some cheap headset, and then the bike sat in the garage.
Henry in the meantime got taller than he was in 2009. He has a utilitarian Novarra Transit 7-speed internal hub bike that's a bit too small. He rode a mid-1980s Trek 620 until he got right-hooked and bent the fork. He got a Brompton H-model (the tall Brompton) from his grandmother. And finally, this summer, we decided to finish the built-out on the Fuji.
It's a funny mix of parts. The Fuji frame is probably from the late-1970s, which I infer from a) it's enormous size (68cm) b) it's complete lack of braze-ons and c) it's recessed front dropouts, a precursor to the 1980's "lawyer lips". Appropriately, some of the parts date back to the 1970s as well. The front wheel, for instance, is built on a 1977 Phil Wood hub, the very hub that appears in my Bike Touring Circa 1980 photos. The saddle is the Brooks Professional that came on my 1975 Motobecane Grand Record. The rear rack is a 1984 Blackburn, before racks had adjustable seatpost attachments. The rear wheel is from the Trek 620, the sidepull brakes were new because the Trek had cantilevers and this bike didn't have cantilever studs. The seatpost is new (different sizing than the Trek), the front derailleur is new, the Moustache bars were from an experiment I tried with my Atlantis, and the Honjo hammered fenders I just had lying around. The Honjos were, as usual, fiddly to install, and I had to fabricate a couple of brackets for the front fork mount and the brake bridge attachment point. In the end, though, we got this: The Coolest Bike in Winona
It's hard to classify, with classic and modern elements, but in the end, it comes together nicely. It still looks 1970s, especially with the clamp-on water bottle cage holder (and I didn't have a silver cage that worked with these clamps on hand, hence the black cage), the three brake cable housing clamps along the tob tube and the seatstay clamps for the rear rack. The black fixture low on the seatpost is an attachment point for a Burley Travois trailer.
Here's Henry riding it. Note the good leg extension on the down-pedal:
In the end, we're probably into it for $500 plus of course whatever sunk costs there were in parts lying around in the garage. That's a good value considering it's a pretty decent bike in a size that's very difficult to source these days.
Friday, August 16, 2013
See that handsome devil in the black and white photo upper-leftmost in the results? (No? Click on the image, you'll get a big version) That's me!
Which is kind of strange. I haven't toured that much, and the rest of the images are from all sorts of global destinations. Maybe it's longevity; the Bike Touring Circa 1980 page went up in 1998 or so and must have been extremely thoroughly indexed at this point.
Here's a better view of the photo:
I don't know how long this has been the case, or how long it will persist, but for the moment I'm basking in my Googley fame.
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Having said all that, I really like the Tour de France. Oh sure, the competitors are all drugged up, they just haven't been caught yet, and they are super-specialized physiques just like champion athletes in any big-money endeavour, but I like the team interplay and I really like the television coverage.
Really liking the television coverage used to be a problem because we don't have cable and the Tour used to show on Outdoor Life Network and then Versus, lesser cable channels, relegated with other minor sports like bass fishing and the National Hockey League. The Riverview Theater in Minneapolis would do free shows of the coverage on weekends, but that meant riding over to Minneapolis and getting all the stinking Subaru ads at full size, too.
Now the Tour is on NBC Sports. We still don't have cable, but for the last couple of years and again this year they've offered an excellent iPhone/iPad app. I highly recommend this. It's $15 for the whole Tour and has live video with commentary and, best of all, no commercials!
This is close to the end of Stage 3. Blue Shoes Guy won't win the stage.
Yeah, the race is fun, and provides a reason to fly all over France and take photos from helicopters ("hell-ee-coptas", according to Phil Sherwen). It's this castle- and chateau porn that is brilliant. And the lovely scenery, like Nice:
Looks pretty Nice, eh? Ho ho.
The first three days of this year were on Corsica, a place to which I'd given just about zero thought up to this point in my life, but which I'd now like to visit. The French get into this coverage, too, and in this case I was wondering what those guys were up to in the water. Fortunately, the heleecopta zoomed in for a closer look.
Water rocket boots? That actually looks more interesting than the team time trial!
Now, this app (also available in Android) does a couple of things. First, if you're at work, you can have your iPhone next to your computer and keep an eye on the Tour while looking like you're working. You might want to watch your data consumption on this. The other thing that's pretty cool is that, if you have Apple TV, you can Air Play the broadcast to your regular television and watch it full size. It's brilliant!
Meanwhile, the estimable BikeSnobNYC blog had a comment by wishiwasmerckx which captured the essence of TdF coveage, so you can familiarize yourself with the commentary. Study this list and you should be able to pick up the action in an instant no matter what time you tune in to the coverage of Phil and Paul.
A brief training exercise for watching the TdF:
Tapping out a rhythm... Turned himself inside out... Open up the suitcase of courage... He's in a spot of bother... Oh, my, he's ridden into the carpark... The colored fellow... He'll be paying for this effort tomorrow... That chateau was built in 1547... One by one, he's peeling away his competitors, and now he's all alone on the slopes of... The riders will have to look out for that traffic furniture... There's a dangerous left-hand corner less than a kilometer from the line which may cause fits for the leadout trains... I'm hearing on race radio that there has been a crash at the 135 kilometer mark. We don't know if any of the favorites have been swept up in it or delayed... And the team car has sent several of his teammates back to help him chase to catch back on. He should have no problem reaching the back of the peloton... What an unfortunate time in the race to have a puncture... The race comissars have ordered the team cars out of the gap, and our computers are telling us that the breakaway should be caught with about 12 kilometers to go... He's racing like a man possessed...
And just yesterday, there was Phil (an Englishman) saying about Stage 3 winner Simon Gerrans, who won in the final sprint against Peter Sagan by about 5 inches: "I'm told Gerrans speaks English. He's Australian, so we'll see."
Enjoy the Tour, and have a great summer!
Sunday, June 30, 2013
I went on a bike ride with my daughter Geneva, a junior at the University of Minnesota in the Honors Program in English and Political Science. She's liked bicycling for a long time, notably since the second day of our 2005 ride to Duluth when she was 11 years old and said, "Dad, I think to do this you have to love cycling. I think I only like it." Well, she's been riding to her job at the U nearly every day (using my buddy Paul's Rule of Commuting: "If it isn't actually raining at the time you leave, ride. It'll be ok") and wanted to do a fun ride. We meant to do the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota's train to Big Lake and ride back last Saturday, but the big Friday night storms dropped a huge tree branch onto, and in bits, into, our garage and two vehicles, so rather than ride with BAM we spent the day chainsawing the tree and uncovering the cars.
We decided to do the ride this Saturday, June 29, instead. So, Saturday morning, after the insurance adjuster was here taking photos, measuring things and making estimates, we rode from home down to Target Field, where the Light Rail terminates and, two floors down, the Northstar Commuter Rail ends as well. We got our tickets, took the elevator down, and waited a few minutes until the train showed up.
(Just as a reminder, the photos in this blog all are links to larger versions of the pictures. If you're deeply interested, just click on the photo)
The Northstar train cars have a couple of bike parking spots on the lower level of each car. You basically nose it up to this yellow strap and secure the bike so it doesn't roll around. I'm not sure how this works without kickstands; we both have them, and it worked fine, though the yellow nylon strap ends were frayed and a bit of a challenge to get through the metal buckle.
The train was really large and largely empty. Here is Geneva in her seat with the bikes visible in the background. We didn't notice upstairs until the end of the trip, but they have tables between facing seats up there.
The train was so big (eight cars, two engines) because there was an afternoon Twins game on. I guess they haul a lot of people down to the games, which must be extremely convenient since the Minneapolis terminus is at the ballfield. This warning sign was up, though; don't stick around for rain delays or extra innings, 'cause the train is out of here on schedule! The Northstar line uses regular Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks and must have scheduled time slots for their runs, hence their need to stick to schedule no matter what's happening in the game.
Geneva and/or I have taken trains to fun places like London, Paris, Geneva (the city, not the daughter), Chicago, Portland and now, Big Lake! Another cyclist guy on the train took this photo for us. He was going to ride around for a few hours and take the train back; we were going to ride home.
The Northstar uses the MPXpress MP36PH-3C locomotive, two of them for these longer trains. (If you want to pinch one and take if for a ride, the manual is here). When it left Big Lake headed back south, it would presumably fill up with Twins fans on what was to prove a spectacular day to be at the ballpark and a Twins win 6-2 over the Kansas City Royals.
We used the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota's route to get home, which first took us to Elk River down County Highway 14. We basically followed the Mississippi River, on the east side until Elk River, then changing to the west bank the rest of the way into Minneapolis. This photo is of Geneva on County 14.
All our rivers are high after this very wet spring and early summer. This is the outflow from the dam just above the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi Rivers. Those black bits are birds, swifts or swallows, excitedly flying under the bridge and back out.
After lunch of a too-large 1/3-pound burger at Daddy-Os in Elk River (memo to file: next time, split one between us), we crossed the Mississippi and headed south. As we came up on Dayton, I thought it looked vaguely French with the chruch steeple sticking up and took this photo. Turns out it was settled by French people and the Church of Saint John the Baptist took confessions in French into the 1950s.
The current church building was built in 1904. It's quite a looker, as churches go.
Just south of town there was what looked a bit like an abandoned plantation with these out on the gateposts. It's ok, though, they're white! Norwegians, probably. I'm not sure what the scoop is on Elsie Stephens, but I read that Dayton is buying the 23-acre estate on the Mississippi to add to its existing park.
Of course, I live in a house that ought to have "Gone With The Wind" doorbells, but I'm not sure lantern jockeys would go down well here in the Cities. Still, this looks like a nice property.
The park adjacent to Elsie's farm is touted as the Cloquet Island overlook. I'm a sucker for these sorts of things, so we stopped for a look. I don't know, I'm no outdoor recreation professional or anything, but I think a bit of judicious undergrowth trimming might enhance the view:
Maybe it looks better in this state of mind:
We pressed on, me watching Geneva disappear in the distance, then waiting for me. I gotta work on her bike, adjust the brakes so they rub or something, the girl's getting too fast for me. We stopped at the Coon Rapids Dam. Normally you can walk or ride across the dam to cross the river, but this summer it's closed for some work.
Geneva enjoying a Gatorade and hoping she doesn't start sweating green like in their ads.
The ride down through north Minneapolis isn't the most charming, though I now know where to take any copper pipes and wire I steal out of foreclosed houses to finance my meth habit. It quickly turned from grimy industrial to hipster, then we crossed the Mississippi back to the east bank on the Stone Arch Bridge, an old railway bridge now used for bikes and pedestrians...
...and wedding pictures:
Don't worry, girls, you can always use those dresses for, you know, cocktail parties and, well, stuff.
Ironically, the next bridal party waiting to get shot is beautifully lit by the evening sun. It's only when they line up to get the skyline in the background that they get that awful backlighting. They should do this in the morning.
And then home. My bike showed 59.55 miles on the day, a good outing, and more than I usually ride in a day. It was great fun to get out and ride the Northstar for the first time, then ride back along roads I haven't ever driven even after 19 years living here. It was cool to see small towns and rural areas yield to exurbia, suburbia, inner city industrial, hipsterville, and old urban core in one long continuous stream. I think it would be a terrific ride in the fall though you'd want to watch your sunset times. The BAM ride was advertised as 41 miles, that being Big Lake to a Park Department parking lot at Broadway and the River; the rest of our miles were riding to and from downtown Minneapolis. I'd recommend you give it a try some lovely day.