London Calling

I guess this bike (frame set) was released last year, and sold out, but I didn’t hear about it until some time this winter.  I decided I had to have one, and made a pre-order.  A bike swap was attended and items purchased, the pre-ordered frame set arrived in stock and shipped early, and a very promising looking weather forecast had been revealed, which clearly seemed like the end of winter.  And so I find myself, a few weeks later, with a completed Planet X London Road, custom build.  And riding it around in balmy Spring weather.  Awesome!

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This is what it looks like.  How ’bout that color, huh?  Zesty!  So what is so great about it?  Well, if it isn’t obvious…

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Planet X kind of pitches this bike as a full time commuter and part time cyclocross bike, and potentially a bike with which one could do some touring.  But here in the US, gravel racing is kind of a big thing.  I’m sure there must be dirt and gravel roads in England, but perhaps not to the extent of rural North America.  So calling it a “gravel bike” to an English audience would not make a lot of sense.  Fair enough.

But this is indeed a gravel bike.  And a commuter, a tourer, and a cyclocross bike.  It is a disc road bike, with rough road and off road capability.  Because of tire capacity (40mm+) it can offer a greater measure of comfort than other road bikes, if you desire or need.  But no reason it can’t go fast, too, with the skinny tire bunch.  I think it is a brilliant design, combining things in a way that I don’t think has quite been done before.  In the early days of gravel racing, people were adopting bikes that already existed, but now there are bikes and frames designed and optimized for this kind of riding, and I think this is one of the best.

 

 

 

 

Ride Race Rest Rinse Repeat

It’s been quite a while.  Last post was after the Almanzo, way back in June.  Can’t help but thinking some times “really, do people actually read this blog?”  But you visitors do keep coming (and my devoted regulars).  And so, if your curiosity and your search engine brought you here, I will try to bring you something worthwhile your visit.

IMG_1616Who am I?  I’m a guy who spent a lot of time building things.  Homes, garages, townhouses, commercial buildings.  Then I renovated and remodeled buildings.  Then came the time that my body, back, and mind had its fill, and it was time to move on.  But move on to what?  That is a question that is still being answered.

But for the last 5 years, my life has been filled with bikes, and cycling.  Cycling has been a part of my life, since I was a kid, but has become a renewed passion, more than it has ever been.  I’ve been busy tuning, repairing, building, rebuilding all kinds of bikes for a lot of different kinds of people.  And for myself!  I’ve got a nice little collection of bikes, all of which get ridden in different venues and different times.  Some more than others.

Although I did a fair amount of riding on my road bike, and another bike for commuting, it is my gravel bike that has gotten a lot of miles lately.  (What is a gravel bike, you ask?  That is a good question.  Stay tuned for more on that subject.)  This is my gravel bike.

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In 2012, I learned about gravel racing.  I rode 2 events.  The first one I didn’t even finish.  I missed the registration of a couple more.  I made it into a second race late in the year, and finished.  Last year, 2013, guess what?  More gravel.  And my bike changed, pretty radically, like three times.  And above is the result of the changes and experimentation last year.  I’m really happy with this bike, it has served me well.  But I will curtail talking more about it for now.  And try to talk about what has transpired this year, which is, basically lots of riding, and racing.

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At the Filthy 50, I was with this group, for a few minutes…

Yes, racing.  It became apparent that certain folks would show up at these events, and amongst themselves things were quite competitive.  Last year, I found my times and results getting better as the year went on.  My appetite was whetted for more.  I began to pick the events I would attend in 2014.  I tried to maintain or improve my conditioning through the winter.  I lost some weight.  And I entered a bunch of races, the last of which will be tomorrow.  And sometimes I find myself riding with guys like the above.  And other times, I’m chasing.  Make no mistake, this is a work in progress!  But there is progress.

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But I don’t want this to develop into something too painfully long, and so I will cut it short.  Let’s just for now consider this a preview to a few more posts going into more detail about this cycling season, now drawing to a close.  One more race on my calendar, the Dirt Bag.  October 25, 2014.  Tomorrow!  So stay tuned for more, now that the summer’s silence has been broken.

October Gravel Update

IMG_20120401_120931Well, to any new readers, or to refresh the collective memory, it was last year that I developed the interest in “gravel grinders”, and entered my first event.  (Well, actually it was two, but I try to forget about the first one…)  And that first event was The Heroic, to which I brought my wonderful old ’73 Raleigh International, and rode.  And I didn’t do too bad.

And this event and the emerging gravel racing “scene” rekindled in me a desire to race bikes, which I had abandoned (regretfully) 25 years prior. Give it another go.  And I discovered that all kinds of people show up for these events, but some race their bikes in other “disciplines”, and take these events pretty seriously.  They show up to not just finish, but to race.

IMG_20121006_130952Like this guy–

This is Mark Skarpohl.  He won the Heroic last year, on his vintage Raleigh International.

I don’t know him personally, and haven’t seen him around this year.  But his ride last year was a pretty big inspiration for me.

If he can do it, maybe I can.  And I don’t mean win, necessarily, but be competitive (reasonably), at least.  Train, and become fit, and fast, and race.  And age is not an excuse.

And this year, I set out to do it.  To enter several events, to train and push myself farther than I have before, and to see what happens.  And below, a list of events, in the order they occurred in 2013, the last of which will occur in just a few days.  (Ha, my “race calendar”, if you will…)  And then I’ll do a quick synopsis of each one.

  1. Dairy Roubaix (April, gravel)
  2. Ironman Bike Ride (April)
  3. Dirty Benjamin (June, gravel)
  4. Southside Sprint (July)
  5. Lifetime Gran Fondo (August)
  6. Inspiration 100 (September, gravel, 1 day before my 45th Birthday)
  7. The Heroic (October, gravel)
  8. Filthy 50 (October, gravel)
  9. Dirt Bag (October, gravel)

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The Dairy Roubaix.  65 miles. Early in the season, and late snow made it tough to get enough miles in the legs.  I rode a new bike, the course and day were beautiful.  I did pretty decent, and passed the guy on the fat bike in my finishing kick.

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Ironman Bike Ride.  A week after Dairy Roubaix.  100 miles was the tentative plan, but was shortened to 78.  Had a strong ride, and rode with and then dropped some pretty “racy” characters.  It was one of best Ironmans, weatherwise, ever.

Dirty Benjamin.   This was to be my first 100 mile gravel ever undertaken.  And only the 3rd time, ever, I would cover 100 miles on my bike.  I pushed a little too hard for the first half, and there was not much left for the last thirty miles.  A pretty violent and windy storm blew through, too, which I had no choice but to endure and pedal through.  I was alone for most of the second half of the course.  Sheer determination got me to the end, and in almost exactly 8 hours.  I was really glad I left that rear mudguard on.

Southside Sprint.  A circuit road race in my town, Minneapolis.  I had known about this race earlier on in the year, but didn’t give it alot of consideration, until a couple or few weeks before.  I didn’t train well, and showed up with tired legs.  The clouds were gathering early that morning, just as predicted.  Much rain fell, just before my race, and continued through my race.  I worried about crashing, and was scrubbing a lot of speed in the corners.  But honestly, I would have likely been dropped no matter the circumstances.  The race was going very fast, and I just couldn’t keep with it.  And then I was pulled from the course, because I was getting lapped.  I left there pretty frustrated.  A small consolation — I made the local news.

Lifetime Gran Fondo.  This was a road event, and a little more racy folks than at the typical century events.  The mileage for this course was 60.  I had done a lot of road riding through the summer, and tested myself with time trials nearly every week.  I thought this would be a good test of my legs, and a bridge to my next gravel event in early September.  I did ride with a pack early on, but more treated this as a long time trial.  I faded a bit towards the end, but I was proud of my time, finishing 60 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes.

And some time during the summer, ideas started to simmer about a new bike, and this was the result of those ideas, ridden in the Inspiration, and for two more events that year.  It has worked well for me.IMG_20130911_150237

2636763824_535398a1d3The Inspiration 100.  A day before my 45th birthday.  100+ miles of gravel.  Turned out to be a very hot day.  The roads were soft and loose, and some pretty decent hills on the course, to boot.  It was a very tough day.  I overcooked it a bit, again, and the last 30 miles were pretty grim.  Even “Our Lady of the Hills” couldn’t deliver me from the suffering of that day.  But I managed to finish on a day when others had to abandon the race, and still managed to better my best 100 mile gravel time by more than 20 minutes.  Progress?  God, I hope so.

Then in the beginning of October would come again The Heroic.  65 miles of gravel.  The race that one year before had started all this madness.  I finished not a huge amount behind the winner, and I was included in the “leader’s group” officially, despite having not seen another rider for perhaps the last hour.  I put in a time of 4 hours and 10 minutes.  It wasn’t terrible, but still left me a little discouraged.

f50-lgThere were going to be two gravel events for me in October, two weeks apart.  But then somebody decided to host a brand new event called the Filthy 50, in Stewartville, MN, just south of Rochester.  50 miles of gravel.  (Officially, by my record, 51.84 miles)  And I got myself registered, and I was in.  And there was more than a little buzz about this new race, and 300 people fairly quickly filled up the roster.

And I felt really good at the start of this, and thought I might have a good day.  I really wanted to be ” in the race”, even if for just a while, instead of just “completing the course”.

And I got what I wanted.  I wasn’t going to try to go with the fastest group, I’m not a fool.  But with as many riders as showed up for this, I had hoped a 2nd, or 3rd or 4th group might form on the road, that I could join with and ride and contribute, and maybe get to the finish a little faster with our collective effort.

So as is typical, the lead group went away, and I found myself in a smaller pack, which seemed to be disintegrating quickly.  I tried to not panic, but I was determined to hold a wheel as long as possible.  I watched a smaller group form and start to split and drift ahead of mine.  That’s okay, I told myself, just ride your race, and stay with these guys.  And that’s what I did.  But it wasn’t long at all, and my group was starting to split up and disorganize.  One guy was surging forward, only to drift back again on a hill, or after a turn into the wind.   Other guys one by one were dropping away behind us.  This group was soon not going to be a group at all.

And then the unthinkable happened.  I don’t exacltly remember making the decision, but I just started to ride away.  And as I was going ahead, I thought, “maybe I can bridge to the next group”.  And I worked hard, but within my ability, and not at my limit, and the group that had gone ahead of us, starting drawing closer and closer.  And then, BAM!  I was with them.  I got in the rear of this line, and was able to collect myself.  And I rode along in this new group, usually at the back.  And I started thinking, “these guys seem pretty good, how am I riding with them this fast, and not cracking yet?”  And I stayed with this group, for quite a few miles, and I felt fine.  The pace was quick, but I could do it.  I even took a turn at the front a time or two.  But then the unthinkable happened again!  I don’t remember exactly if our group had slowed or what, but I found myself on the front again, and then, I went again.  I rode off ahead.  And I bridged again, to another small group.  I don’t remember exactly, but I did this 3 or 4 times.

I found myself with another two riders, who were going okay together, but not great.  And then we caught some other riders, and our group grew to 6 or 7.  I thought most everybody would stop at the first water stop, and I didn’t need water, but had planned to grab some food then.  But nobody stopped, and I was like, “okay, I have to eat”.  And I dropped off of this little bunch just a bit, hoping I could get some food into myself and rejoin them.  And then an important turn was coming up, and this group of 5 or 6 all blew right by it.  But I didn’t.  I made the turn and suddenly I was alone.

I was pretty sure the group who had missed the turn, would eventually catch back to me.  I took a look behind me from time to time, but never saw them.  It was going to be a solo effort now.  Towards the end of the big climb of the day, at which mile I can’t remember,  I was caught and passed by one rider, “a young guy” I thought to myself.  I might have caught him again a little later.  And then more lonely miles, nobody seen ahead or behind me.  Until somewhere 10 miles or so from the finish.  A group of two were behind  me, both wearing the same kit it appeared.  I could see they were gaining on me, I was going to be caught.  And I was, and tried to stay with them, but I couldn’t keep their pace.  They dropped me, I was alone again.  But I was totally okay with that.  I had set myself the goal of 3 hours for this race, or as near to that as I could.  And looking at my computer, I started thinking it was going to be close.  I continued on, and then, the two that had passed me, there they were again, on the side of the road, taking a “natural break” (peeing).  So I rode by these guys, and thought “how long before these guys catch and drop me again?”  Well, it wasn’t long before they caught me again, but this time, I wasn’t dropped.  I don’t know why, but I stayed with them this time.  And then 2 or 3 miles to go, we picked up another guy.

So there we were, the four of us, surging towards the finish.  I was happy to be with these guys, but honestly I was just racing the clock at this point.  It was coming up on 3 hours, and it was going to come very close.  I rode with these 3 and took a turn or two on the front, and then two of our four sprinted ahead for the finish.  And then I finished!

My time was 3 hours 52 seconds.  My placing was 34th of 184 riders who finished.  25 of the 209 riders who started did not finish.  I finished about 32 minuted behind the winner, and less than 15 minutes behind some pretty accomplished riders.

At times, throughout the season, I doubted and felt like I wasn’t really getting anywhere. And it’s hard to not ask yourself “why the heck am I working so hard?” when you aren’t getting the results you are hoping and training for.  But in this race, for me, things came together in a really satisfying way.

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And then the Dirt Bag would be the final gravel race of the year.  The course was set at 88 miles for this year.  The forecast was looking a little grim, with rain and cold temps possible, maybe even some frozen precipitation.  I was tempted to drop out, no doubt.

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But I didn’t.  I showed up.  And the rain did come, but not right away. (on right- my filthy bike at the finish)

Well, the race unfolded in the typical pattern.  I got to hang with the cool kids for about 6 miles.  And I found myself in a second group which became whittled down to three.  And the three of us hung together for about half the race, sometimes joining or being joined, but then becoming three once again.

And somewhere near halfway, one of our three went ahead.  And the other dropped behind me.  And then I saw the guy ahead turn off in the wrong direction.  When I got to the intersection, he was gone.  And John joined me again for a little while.  And I think it was right around this time the first rain started.

Well, it rained, on and off.  The roads became wetter and sloppier.  The winds picked up, and became pretty fierce at a couple of points.  The temperature seemed to drop.  At one point there was sleet.  Dirty water and sand was flying up from my tires, often flying right into my eyes.  I had to put the eyewear away.  Eventually the cold set in, but fortunately with not too many miles.  But the last miles were some pretty tough ones.

And I had hoped to finish at about 5 and a half hours, a time that I could be happy enough with.  Even 6 hours wouldn’t have been a terrible day (for me).  But I pulled it off even a little better, and covered 88 miles in 5 hours and 16 minutes.  I finished 49 minutes behind the leaders, and my placing was 17th overall.

And so, this was my gravel season.  I’m pretty happy with it, and am looking forward to more of this next year, and for a long time to come.  I enjoy the challenge, and it is rewarding when your hard work pays off.  For me, that payoff was improving my times and placings, and I really couldn’t have asked for more.

And of course, as always, thanks and gratitude are always owed to the people who give of their time and energy and resources, to put on these events.  You are some fine people!  See you next year!

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Gravel Bike v.4 — Think I’ve Got it This Time

IMG_20130729_162349Okay, so here was the idea, and the challenge — Put together a bike, with disc brakes and drop bars, and road type shifters.  Design and build it, so that it handles well, fast enough on the smooth and straight, but also capable enough for any type of adverse terrain or surface, or weather conditions you can throw at it.  Make it light enough to be quick and responsive and climb well, and comfortable enough to sit on for 100 miles or more on sometimes smooth, but oftentimes bumpy, washboardy, or otherwise not the smoothest of roads and trails.  And then added to the above criteria, use the 650b wheel size.  And of course, it has to fit, and feel right.

Well, truthfully my goals at first were not as clear and concise as the above (but foggily close), and the 650b factor was more of a function of being able to use a mountain bike frame as the base for this bike.  And the final choices for components and tires evolved, with trial and error, and what I had available at the time.  I had just built an older steel hardtail mountain bike (Balance), and took it on some rides, and out on the gravel.  But the fit and feel of it wasn’t quite right.  And I remember hitting some nasty washboard that made the bike and me shake so hard, the whole world went blurry.  This bike was close, closer to the goal, but not quite there.IMG_20130723_120303

The tires, unfortunately, were a little disappointing.  They provided a nice cushion of air, but other than that, didn’t do anything particularly well.

The frame was long, typical of these type of mountain bikes, but too long to be set up with drop bars to my satisfaction.  And the fork was very stiff, and unforgiving.

I needed a different frame.  And I found it.

A shorter top tube.  Disc brake.  Steel.  And higher at the head tube, because of the suspension corrected geometry.  And I had a fork for it.  And, as it turns out, this frame is lighter than the last one, too.  The Soma Groove.

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And I’ll go into some detail, starting with the tires.  Pacenti Pari Moto tires, 650b x 38c.  Very little tread, just a fine herringbone.  Run at 40 to 45 psi, these grip all kinds of surfaces well, and still have very low rolling resistance (fast).  And a superb ride quality that you really have to experience, but as true as others have claimed.  And on dry gravel roads, I think more than adequate.  It was only on the softest sections these tires struggled, but I feel no less than other tires with more tread.IMG_20130911_150237

And some more highlights of the build

-The frame, nicely made and finished, with Tange Prestige steel

-Fork, Exotic carbon fiber, rigid suspension corrected

-Salsa Cowbell 3 handlebars

-Campagnolo Veloce Shifters, 10 speed, coupled with a Shimano 8 speed drive train (shimergo)

-Hayes CX 5 disc brakes, with Ashima rotors

-Hand Built wheels, cheap (but nice!) DiaTech hubs, Sun Inferno 27 rims, and Sapim spokes

-Carbon Fiber Bontrager seatpost

The Inspiration 100 would be the first real test for this bike.  And the course provided plenty of challenges for the bike, and it’s motor (me).  More than a few rolling hills, and plenty of soft gravel to suck the life out of you.  And washboard, sometimes washboard with soft gravel.  Now that was a treat!2636763824_535398a1d3

Well somewhere around or before mile 70, we came upon Our Lady of the Hills.  I can only speak for myself, but it was just at about this time I found myself in need of inspiration, and possibly even divine intervention.

And near the feet of the Lady was found friendly well wishers with a cooler of ice and icy beverages.  Maybe not a miracle, but an icy Coca Cola quickly consumed felt like a godsend to me.  And upon leaving the Lady, and resuming the race, suddenly the roads descended, became smoother and more forgiving, and the winds became favorable, simultaneously.  Morale was boosted, and confidence returned, at least for a few miles.  And I felt grateful.

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Tired travelers often stop and sit at the feet of Our Lady of the Hills

So the bike worked really well.  And I finished the race, and bettered my Gravel 100 mile time significantly, on an arguably tougher course (than the Dirty Benjamin), with an associated greater degree of suffering.

And the 650b gravel bike I will call a success.  Version v.4 Soma Groove.  I think I’ll keep it for a while.

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Short Post — Recent Ride Photos — Shimergo Monkey

Not a big story, but thought I would upload some recent ride photos.

This is (was) my Shimergo Monkey.  It was great, but several things were borrowed to build another bike.  This set up was pretty fun, though.

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Here is Chris trying out her Rocky Mountain Hammer.  I think she likes it.

 

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This is my latest gravel bike, on a recent ride in the countryside.  And some scenery.  That’s all.  Thanks.

 

 

 

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650b Gravel Grinder Midsummer Update

IMG_20130723_120303Well, as much as I enjoyed the last “gravel bike”, I became inspired to try something new (above) and found an appreciative owner (buyer) of the last one.  Found a 90something mountain bike frame, with nice light steel tubing, and one day started to imagine it as a gravel bike.  Built to accomadate the once standard 559 ISO/26″ wheel size, the frame seemed like it had the room for the bigger 650b/27.5″/584 ISO wheel, and a fairly fat tire. Not a lot of 650b tires out there still, but a niche growing in the mountain bike world right now.  And then I found the Vee Speedster in 1.95″ size, and thought “this could be a gravel tire”.  And then I started imaging this bike being a pretty versatile and capable off and on road, gravel or paved, machine.

Some of these parts I had, some were borrowed from another bike build (Karate Monkey), which was great and super fun, and I never posted about!  The Karate Monkey will take a different form soon, but I wanted to get the new gravel machine ready for September and October events.

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Build highlights–

~Eric Noren at Peacock Groove happily obliged to weld on for me a disc brake mount.  And wicked fast he did.  Thanks, Eric.  This solves the brake problem…

~Vintage Shimano 600 crankset, and derailleurs, with Salsa and Ritchey chainrings in 38 and 48 tooth

~New SRAM chain and cassette, 8 speed ~Campagnolo 10 speed Ergo shifters (do they still call them that?)-(YES, 10 speed Campy shifters shift a Shimano/Sram 8 speed cassette, with a Shimano derailleur, Perfectly!)

~A Kona Project 2 Disc only Cross fork was pretty key in making this all work without blowing the budget, allowing a disc brake, with room for the 650b wheel/tire in width and height, without disrupting the original geometry and handling of the frame, and with the bonus of rack and fender mounts, should I ever gear this thing up for longer than one day events.  The frame has rear rack mounts, too.

~New hand built wheels.  I love building wheels for my bikes.  I’m always a little budget conscious, though.  Wishing I could spring for more prestigious and probably better hubs, I chose an Ebay find which seem very nice and a good value, and I hope prove to be a durable hub.  They do spin nice and look pretty good, too.  The rims are Sun Inferno 27 in 650b size.  I think the rims are great, and were one of the easiest to build ever.  And Sapim Race double butted spokes to tie them together, also a great spoke, if you ask me.

~Hayes Disc Brakes, good brakes

~And the Rubber—Vee Rubber Speedster tires.  Kind of new, a company not previously prominent but coming out with new products now, and hitting the 650b size with some interesting offerings.  These are cool tires, I like them but need to put them through some more to reach my full opinion.  I am setting these up tubeless, BTW. IMG_20130723_124021

 

So how is the bike?  It’s pretty cool.  I like it.  Actually, I was riding it around with 700c wheels, and 38c tires, for a while, while waiting for my 650b wheel parts to all come in.  And it worked really well like that, too.  And I think that might be a cool twist, that this bike could accomadate another wheel size and tire, which might be more appropritate for a particular race or ride.  An interesting idea. I had a good ride yesterday, a trail that runs through our sister city, St. Paul, in which you encounter mud, rocks, deep sand, railroad ties, broken bottles, and sometimes garbage and various dumpings.  There is a nice stretch where it goes down giving you some speed, with some really deep sandy sections, which are very dry now.  And the bike handled it all really well.  I will say that I did notice the wheel size changes the ride characteristics, from 700c to 650b.  The smaller wheel feels different.  And the tires both had tubes on that ride, but will soon be both tubeless, and I think will feel and handle a little differently.  So, so far so good.  I think this might be a good gravel bike.

Gravel Bike Baby!

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Snow Bike

I did a couple gravel events last year, and in the snowy dark depths of winter, I started to think about the new biking season.  Actually so much so, that I started biking in the snow and ice, but maybe that should be another blog entry. I put this together (right) with a home made studded front tire.  Salt is brutal on bikes, though.

And I caught wind of the Dairy Roubaix, and signed up.  And started thinking about the upcoming season, and what I wanted to do, and to accomplish, on my bike.

And I needed a bike.  I rode my old Raleigh on a gravel event last year, and had a great ride.  But I don’t want to beat up the Raleigh, so needed something similar, that had the same kind of ride and fit as the Raleigh.

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The Raleigh International was a “sport touring” bike, if you will, with a longer wheelbase and slacker angles than the sportier racing models.  And built of light and lively steel tubing.  It wasn’t a racing bike, but wasn’t a full touring bike, either.  Somewhere in between.  And on gravel, in my opinion, all these things come together beautifully.

Roughly a year ago I started a project.  I had an old frame with bad paint, and decided I could practice brazing on it.  If I wrecked the frame, not a great loss.  If I succeeded, possibly a nice bike that could serve a variety of purposes.  I purchased all the little frame parts from a place that supplies that stuff to bike builders, a cheap brazing torch, and silver solder (and flux).  Learning to Braze and Part II.

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A couple of quick notes about the frame, why I thought it might be ideal.  One, the right size.  Another, steel, which can be brazed, and the ride quality, as previously noted.  And one more thing, but important–  the frame was originally made for 27″ wheels, a little bigger than the now standard 700c.  This creates an oppurtunity, as switching to the smaller wheels can allow a bigger tire and fenders, if desired.  And adding cantilever brake mounts gives the desired brake alignment to the smaller wheel size, and an all conditions brake.  One more thing, this lowered the frame which was really a size bigger than I usually ride, but helped to make the fit just right.

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Other things came up (last summer), personal things, and this project was hung up (literally), and almost forgotten.  And it can be hard to start again a project, there is a momentum that is lost.  But I needed a bike for the gravel races, and it occurred to me that this frame might be just what I needed.  After repair of some brazing errors, it was off to the powdercoater.

This is what the bike looked like completed.

IMG_20130425_105829

IMG_20130425_105813The color is an olive drab with low gloss, a color actually used by the military.  The bike is a mix of old and new.

The old, summarized-

  • vintage steel frame and fork
  • vintage quill stem and handlebars
  • vintage (80’s) hubs
  • vintage 7 speed cassette (customizable for gearing, longer lasting than modern 9, 10, or 11)

The new, summarized–

  • tubeless tires (awesome!)
  • modern cantilever brakes with advanced brake pads
  • modern crankset and pedals
  • very comfortable and effective brake levers
  • cartridge bearing headset (no longer offered by Shimano, though)
  • modern rims and spokes

The end result?  Well, I love the bike.  It eats up the gravel roads.  Just the right gearing for hills, mushy patches, or whatever.  Tires are, dare I say, the perfect combination of ride comfort, speed, and traction.  Tires did not slip on steep climbs, and helped me not go down when I hit a slippery section downhill at high speed.  Tires also are quite fast on pavement as well.  Steel frame absorbs road buzz and shock, and gives just the right amount of spring.  Brakes strong and confidence inspiring when going downhill and fast. Shifting  functioned without flaw.  Wheels strong, light, and compliant, adding to the comfort on a long ride or race.

IMG_20130425_105956

redneck ingenuity

I’m looking forward to more riding and racing this summer.

One more thing about this bike.  See the pulley?

I brazed on a post to mount a pulley, but managed to snap off a bolt in it, trying to fix the threads.  One prototype and then a second attempt resulted in this pulley, made from the clamp from an old front derailleur, and a derailleur pulley.  Works great.

All for now…