Archive for July, 2012

A Short Trip on Arianna

July 31st, 2012 No comments

You’re never far from a creek in this county, no matter where you are:

This town also has a pretty little park:

Arianna: 10.1 miles

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New Trail

July 26th, 2012 No comments

I took Arianna on a new trail, this one along a river.  There was lots to see; everything from urban blight to scenic beauty, and lots in-between.

The invasive plant below (an ivy?) has taken over an entire hillside, creating either a bizarre-looking version of natural topiary, or a landscape that looks as if it’s been subsumed by green fungus.  However you describe it, the foliage beneath can’t be faring well.  Is this what you’d call natural blight, as opposed to the urban kind?

I didn’t take any pictures of the more distressed, populated, areas in view along the trail, but liked the signage on this old knitting mill.  Ghostly lettering on the side of the building indicates that the factory once produced hosiery:

Here’s another view of the river:

Although I didn’t get a photo, the highlight of the excursion was keeping pace with a slow-moving Norfolk Southern train.  We traveled side-by-side, trail and track, for a good distance.  What fun!

Back at the parking lot, there was a new installation — a copper water fountain:

The bowl at the bottom is for canines:

Arianna:  17.1 miles

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On the Trail Again

July 25th, 2012 No comments

As soon as I picked up Arianna from the bike shop, I put her on the back of the car, and returned to the trail.  I was determined to complete our previous, rather hobbled, ten-mile ride. I knew it would be a better experience now that Arianna had two functional pedals.

Done, and done.  I’m fast on Arianna, at least on level paths and mild inclines:  over 13 mph, no coasting involved.

No snickering, please.  In my world, that counts as “fast”.  (Just think what I could do with gears on a small, light bike.  Oh, yeah!)

Have I mentioned that Arianna’s model name is “week-end”?

“[W]eek-end” is in orange, just under the last two letters of her name on the frame loop:

She’s also, apparently, the “standard” version, judging from the seat stem:

It’s amazing how well Arianna’s foil decals have held up over the decades.  She’s 44 years old, and was about in the same shape she is now when I first bought her, used, decades ago.  (Which is to say, she could have been better cared-for, both before and after I acquired her, but passive neglect has not eroded any of her special charm.)

Arianna:  10 miles

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Arianna Returns

July 24th, 2012 No comments

My little folder has been returned to me with its pedal restored to full use.  The guys at the shop were able to re-thread the crank without having to tap it and use an insert, to everyone’s great relief.  She’s still got her original cranks and pedals.

I love Arianna’s original pedals —  they’re white rubber with yellow reflectors.  Rubber ages so much better than vinyl, and has greater resilience, too.  Arianna’s pedals need another good scrub, but they’ve still got almost all of their original texture.  They’re comfortable to use, and nice and grippy.

The fellows at the bike shop also ran a safety check on Arianna — that’s probably something I should have had a pro do before I began these adventures, considering my (considerable) level of ignorance of most things cycle.  Much to my great surprise and joy, one of the guys noticed that Arianna’s lights didn’t work — so he hooked them up. Whoo-hoo!

No pictures of the wonderful lights yet; I  need to rustle up some help, as the wheel must turn to make them shine.

For the first time in all the decades I’ve owned her, Arianna has working  lights, fore and aft!  It was thrilling to see those lights burning, and the generator set exactly the way it should be.

When the pedal disconnected, I took Arianna to the bike shop closest to the trail where she’d failed —  and it turned out to be a great choice.   Thanks, Exton Bicycles — what a treat to deal with people who care about my vintage wheels as much as I do!

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Folder Mileage and Vintage Issues

July 22nd, 2012 No comments

7/22.2012 — I was working with two versions of this post, simultaneously, in WordPress (bad idea, BTW), and didn’t realize that I’d published a garbled draft until I saw it in my RSS feed. This is the correct version.  I hope.

On an overcast day, with rain expected, I took Arianna out, since the electric components of Pegasus, my pedal-assist trike, aren’t waterproof.  This was Arianna’s second trip, a ten-mile excursion meant to test my stamina and hers.  One of us didn’t quite make the grade; at about mile 4, I stopped for a drink of water, stepped on a pedal, and snapped it off.  I didn’t have a camera ready, so didn’t take a picture of the damage, but here’s the pedal in question:

I was crushed.  One minute I was cruising along, effortlessly, and the next it looked as if I’d be headed home.  Worse, I wondered if the damage was fixable.  Apparently, the bolt holding the pedal had loosened quickly; when checked at the time the tires were replaced, all had appeared well.  At some point, though, the stem unscrewed sufficiently to allow the pedal to pull out of the crank when stepped upon,  damaging the threads on the crank. As a result, I wasn’t able to screw the pedal back into place.

At the bike shop I learned that replacement pedals that closely resemble Arianna’s originals are available, though, sadly, in black, rather than Arianna’s white. The shop had a pair similar to these:

Although I was glad that an vintage-appearing replacement was available, they’re not the same. Presumably, too, the replacements are vinyl, not true rubber, which is a much nicer material. I love Arianna’s white rubber, and bright yellow reflectors:

Replacing the crank was of greater concern, as it is a now uncommon style (cottered) and size. The threads on Arianna’s pedal appeared to be undamaged, though, so the shop agreed to try tapping the crank, and inserting new threads, in the hope of saving the original assembly.

This was an outing with a companion; I was not willing to give up the excursion, so I rode the remainder of the mileage with only the one pedal in place.  Since I was wearing minimalist shoes (Merrill Barefoot Pace Gloves), I was able to grab, just barely, the damaged crank,  with the flexible sole on my left foot, and half-pedal the crank even though there was no actual pedal to use.  The process was a bit grueling, but worth the tribulation, for the pleasure of being out.

Arianna:  10 miles

Black pedal image from AAWYEAH

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Rear View Mirror

July 18th, 2012 No comments

I’ve used a mirror on my Nutcase helmet, and it works, more or less. It’s small, and it’s virtually impossible for me to do a quick check using it, since my head is never in exactly the same place when I need to see behind me.   I’d read that handlebar mounted mirrors tended to be jittery, but decided that I wanted to try one, since neither of my other helmets are well-suited to an attached mirror, and I’m not thrilled with the helmet mount I do have..  I saw this on Adeline Adeline’s website, and bought one when I was in New York:

It’s got a nice retro look, which I love, but best of all, it suits my cycling needs perfectly.  It’s larger than anything I could ever mount on a helmet, and it’s stationary, meaning that it is always exactly where I expect it to be, rather than bopping around on my helmet as I turn my head.

When I mounted it, I put a strip of rubber (well, vinyl, from a roll of shelf-liner) to ensure that 1) Pegasus’s handlebars wouldn’t get scratched and 2) that any vibration would be dampened a bit by the cushion.  That worked perfectly: the mirror stays in place, and doesn’t wobble a bit.  Unlike some with a flexible stem, this mirror is very steady; it isn’t affected by road vibration at all.

Adjusting it involved a bit of tweaking.  The mirror itself rotates, but only on one plane, and the disk can only be raised and lowered in a direct line on the stem (the angle of the stem is fixed once the mirror is installed).  Neither adjustment is easy to manage while riding, so I spent a lot of time in the driveway, imagining vehicles off my left shoulder.

Eventually, it all paid off, and I’m very pleased with the way this mirror works.  I get an extremely clear view of what’s behind me,  and, since I don’t have to either orient or re-focus when checking it, using this mirror has become second nature.

That’s a huge plus for safety and awareness; knowing what’s going on behind me is an absolutely critical part of my “road-safe” practices.  It’s one way to improve the odds a bit when traveling with multi-thousand pound vehicles.  This mirror has made the rear-view check easy and its accuracy dependable.

One note:  I found that the nuts have to be tightened really aggressively to ensure that my adjustments don’t go awry.  As with fenders and all else nut-and-bolt related, I check periodically to make sure everything stays snug.

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Vintage Wheels

July 17th, 2012 No comments

Many decades ago, long before folders were of much interest to anyone in the USA, I bought a used Italian folding bicycle.  It was (and is) quirky and cute, but I haven’t been able to ride it for years, owing to several disability issues.  Now that Pegasus, my trike, has contributed to masking or minimizing some of those issues, I’ve dusted off my WIP Arianna Week End folder, and am riding her on local trails.

The wire baskets, which fold nicely against the rack, weren’t original; I added them when I bought the bike.  They’re Walds, of course, and each perfectly hold a grocery bag.  A clip at the top keeps them folded when not in use.  The wicker basket is new; it’s meant for a child’s bike, but is perfectly-sized for Arianna.  I didn’t want to add a water bottle cage to my vintage folder, so I just pop the bottle into this basket.

Arianna came with a charming little bell, now (as then) somewhat marred by time and damp; it’s marked “San Cristoforo”, who is, of course, the patron saint of travelers.

Other quirky touches include the red grips

white rubber pedals

the red and white saddle (much in need of restoration)

and this adorable little sleeve for the end of the hand brake cable:

Outfitted with new tires, tubes, and brake pads (there’s a coaster brake, and an ancillary handbrake), Arianna was ready to go.  I was stunned at how easily she rolls; it was a bit of a shock to realize how hard I have to work to move Pegasus, even with his six speeds.  Pegasus tops out at about 70 pounds, not counting any cargo; Arianna is probably around 30-35 pounds.  The difference in effort required to move each is huge.

Arianna is a one-speed, so I won’t be tackling any hills with her.  Though she folds, it’s actually easier to transport her as an unfolded, small bike.  The folded configuration is a bit clumsy, and the sides of the folded bike must be strapped together to keep them from opening when carried.  On the other hand, the quick-release on the handlebars make it simple to turn them so that they line up with the chassis, which makes for a very slim profile for storage in the unfolded position.

Arianna still needs a lot of polishing and cleaning, but she is a nifty little machine, and it’s going to be a lot of fun using her to determine if two wheels are a viable alternative for some of my cycling.  I took the top picture on her maiden voyage on a local (level) trail, and I’ll now be tracking my mileage with her, along with the miles I ride on Pegasus.  I believe that my folder was manufactured in 1968, which makes her 44 years old; it’s amazing how well basic, solid, technology holds up.

Arianna, this trip:  6 miles

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Renting in Central Park

July 16th, 2012 No comments

I ran up to New York City for just a couple of days a while ago, basically to run a couple of errands — and to test ride the Tern Link D8. Also on my (brief) itinerary was taking a ride in Central Park.  I ride Pegasus, my six-speed trike, to compensate for several physical problems that have made bicycling inadvisable.  The year I’ve spent on my trike, though, and doing ancillary exercises, has made me stronger, and I’ve begun to explore the idea of riding on two wheels, at least some of the time.

My few days in NYC happened to coincide with a heat wave.  Hot weather and I are not friends, and I ride a pedal-assist trike, in part, because my body responds very, very badly to high ambient temperatures.  I managed to ride the Tern in a leafy park for twenty minutes or so on my first day in the city, but, due to the heat,  I couldn’t have ridden any longer on that particular day even if the bike shop had been willing to let me take my time.  The next day was even hotter (I spent part of it on a ferry on the East River, which was a lot of fun, though not as cool as you might imagine, temperature-wise).

I ended up at Columbus Circle around 7 PM on the second day, and saw a bike rental kiosk when I emerged from the subway. Temperatures had dropped just a slight bit, so I decided to take my chances on a bicycle.  It was the last moment for rentals — but the staff agreeably signed me up, and I was quickly outfitted and pedaling away on a 21-speed Trek 7300:

During mid-day, and after 7 PM, the roadway in Central Park is closed, and becomes the domain of pedestrians and cyclists only, so I had no concerns about traffic or going too slowly.  And I was slow; I rode about 4.5 miles in forty-five minutes, which is no land speed record.  But I did do it in  91-degree heat, without pedal-assist.  (And, yes, I nearly died, and was wrecked the next day — but hey, I did it!)

The loop I took — the loop everyone takes — went from 59th street up to 104th, across the park, and back down.  In the map below (the image is from the free NYC 2012 Cycling Map, widely available all over the city), I started from the lower left corner, followed the red line around to the right, and then took the squiggly green line (second green line above the reservoir) across the park (at about 104th street), and then returned down the west side of the park.

The area above 104th apparently gets really hilly; that wasn’t an option in the heat, and I was also concerned about getting the bike back before the kiosk closed.

In theory, it’s only one way, but a few people didn’t know this, or didn’t care.  Riders of all ability levels were on the path — including, even in the heat, some who appeared to be first-timers.  Packs of cycling club members were circling, too, showing the rest of us how it’s really done, even in scorching temperatures.

I liked the Trek.  It was easy to ride, shifted well, was comfortable and sturdy.  Weirdly, it didn’t feel any lighter, or any  more  nimble, than my 65 -pound trike, but that didn’t mean that the ride was at all compromised.  I’m guessing it’s around 32 pounds or so with the extra rental panels on the back; you’d expect it to be heavy  as these rental units have to be workhorses, ready for any rider, and for rough use.

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Brass and Beautiful

July 14th, 2012 No comments

I went to New York City’s Adeline Adeline partly because I was curious about the shop, but also because I wanted several accessories for Pegasus, and Adeline’s website seemed to offer just what I wanted.  First on the list was a bell.  Although I’d picked up the noisiest one I could find at REI, it was useless on the trails I ride, where oblivious walkers abound.  I needed something that would startle and surprise.  Something short of an air horn, but nearly as effective.

Adeline Adeline has a huge selection of bells, most of them whimsical, and all of them imbued with charm of various sorts. But this one is loud — and it has a marvelous, classic beauty.  Note the beautiful brass of the dome, and the lovely arc of the striker arm.  Two smart taps on the lever, and all but the most oblivious turn, curious to know what’s behind them.  Did I mention that it sounds just like an old-time ice cream vendor’s bell?  It does!  The end result is that pedestrians not only hear the bell, but are amused, too.  And doesn’t it look beautiful on Pegasus’s handlebars?

(Screws were provided, but they were too short for Pegasus, so I picked up longer, brass, ones at the hardware store, and that did the trick.)

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Mileage Report 15: Half-Century and Various Issues

July 13th, 2012 No comments

Yesterday I rode 51.30 miles — a “half-century”.  That’s a huge milestone, especially since I’d set riding 50 miles as a goal I’d hoped to reach by October; it’s rather amazing and wonderful to realize it in July.  The trip was not without its tribulations, though.  More about those later.  In the meantime, a few photos.

Here’s a shot, from the nearest intersection, of a local inn and restaurant which offers fine dining in an historic building.  The range of meats served almost harks back to colonial days (think boar, among other things), but I’ve eaten there, and as a non-meat-eater, was extremely surprised when my vegetarian entrée turned out to be delicious.  (Admittedly, the menu does not make pleasant reading for vegetarians, though.  You’ve been warned.)

Further on, the signpost for a Quaker school (Pre-K through 12):

And another educational institution, with a rather different religious affiliation.  This one used to be a college, but it seems as if everything is a “university” these days:

The trip, however, was marred by a couple of other issues.  First, Pegasus lost a fender to, of all things, metal fatigue, when the support strut broke off at 19.5 miles, and the fender began slapping the tire.  Here he is, by the side of the road, after I’d removed the fender entirely:

The fender is inside an insulated Trader Joe’s bag I normally carry at the bottom of Pegasus’s basket, and the protruding bits are wrapped in a microfiber towel so that they won’t be scratched by the basket (or vice-versa).  A sad sight, indeed.  Fortunately, after the man-made fender debacle of my Ann Arbor trip last fall, when I now carry a couple of wrenches in the front pack, just for occasions like this one.  This time, the bolts held perfectly:

The strut was so flimsy that it vibrated itself apart.  I’m not feeling optimistic about the other fender.  This is very much too bad.  I’d love to lose the weight of the fenders, but I regard them as a serious part of my safety gear:  it’s hard to miss all that red in the rear with those large reflectors.  Motorists seem far more inclined to see Pegasus, and smile, than to have the usual hostile reactions to cyclists.  Since I’m slow-moving, that’s a definite advantage on our narrow roads.

My milestone ride was also marred with difficulties with the chain; it popped off four times during the trip, beginning at mile 12.5.  Getting it back on the gear is a bit tedious, as is kneeling in gravel, which the process required twice, but it’s possible.  Pegasus is now on his way back into the shop.

This ride would have been impossible without Pegasus’s new switch, which extended my previous range by 15-20 miles.  On this hot day, in my present physical condition, the battery was nearly completely run down.  (The manufacturer gives the maximum battery range as 30 miles, presumably in optimum situations, which would not include the substantial hills and inclines of my county, however frequently the battery was turned off.)

The switch allows me to flip the battery on and off with no effort; I’m able to use it only when absolutely necessary.  I use it as little as possible – my goal is good health, not an easy ride —  but I could not pull what is now a 70 pound trike — a vehicle significantly more than half my own weight — up some of our hills without pedal-assist.

Today I’m walking a lot like someone who has spent too much time on a horse, which, I suppose, is pretty much what I did.  My legs weren’t particularly sore while I was actually riding, but ohh, did I feel each and every muscle once I stopped.  I have a feeling that today is going to progress in slow-motion.

51.30 miles, winds about 5.8 mph, 86 degrees, city, “rural suburban”

Total recorded mileage for season: 373.23

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