A Trip to the Bike Shop

Bridgestone MB-4 and Jamis Supernova racked and ready to go to the bike shop

Bridgestone MB-4 and Jamis Supernova racked and ready to go to the bike shop

Today, I’ve got present at traffic court to answer to a judge for the particulars of a citation a local policeman issued to me back in late August.  Proof of registration and financial responsibility may serve to keep me from having to pay a fine; that’s the outcome I’m hoping for in the matter.

Since I’ve had to schedule the time, I also plan to use the day to pick up the Miyata 610 from the bike shop, about 45 miles distant, where I left it last week to get the hubs serviced and whatever is bent near the back axle corrected – derailleur, hanger, I don’t know what.  The wheel’s been a bear to reinstall when I’ve removed it for cleaning, the last couple of times.  Furthermore, when riding on the middle ring, in front, and shifting while pedaling hard up a hill to the small front ring, the chain tends to bang down onto the smallest of the freewheel cogs at the back.  On steeper hills that I know I’m able to climb on the Miyata, I’ve lost headway and had to walk a couple of times.  It’s irritating.

Because my local bike mechanic (this town has no local bike shop) has had to go back to working nine-hour days with only two 15 minute breaks during the workday (that doesn’t sound legal, does it?), he hasn’t had the time, energy, and joie-de-vivre necessary to tackle the problems that arise when a 33 year-old bike gets ridden an hour or two daily on good to crummy pavement.

Yesterday, the bike shop called and told me the Miyata is ready for pickup – they were able to service the hubs, so the races were probably not blown, I think the term is.  Additionally, the caller said the shop was able make necessary adjustments to ensure proper shifting, this at no cost.  Good, yes?

Today, I will take them the Jamis Supernova for complete tune-up and Mavic hubs service (if that works, I won’t get a new wheelset for the bike for awhile), and the Bridgestone MB-4 to see about getting the headtube refaced and another Tange Levin headset installed if the one I installed cannot be salvaged.  I don’t hold out much hope for my installation.  Finally, I think I’ll see if they can install the little replacement dials for the shifters.

MB-4 and Supernova on the repair stand for examination

MB-4 and Supernova on the repair stand for examination

It’ll be at least a week before I get the bikes back and it’s been rainy the past four five days with not much prospect of drier weather for the next few days.  I will probably ride the Miyata in the wet, although the Jamis is the bike I’d hoped to subject to inclement weather.  Ordered some Tri-Flow last week on the advice of my mechanic, to replace the waxy chain cleaner/lubricant I’ve been using.  Perhaps that will offer better wet-condition protection to the Miyata’s moving parts.

Friday Rain Ride


A pretty day for a ride – Gate 16

Friday 3 October 2014 – a blessed event occurred – a day of wind and rain without a thunderstorm.  I lost no time in getting out to ride the disused military roads at a nearby Air Force reservation.  The place has thousands of acres and has been in continuous use by the military since about 1926.  During the Second World War, portions of the base were used as P.O.W. camp that reportedly housed Axis prisoners taken in the North Africa campaign, and possibly Sicily.  None of the camp structures remain, that I have seen, beyond foundations and chimney stacks.  Some of the roads out there are concrete, others gravel, many have become overgrown with grass and scrub.  The Air Force keeps the grass cut on many of the roads.  I saw a hunter’s truck near the unexploded ordnance warning sign, so pretty much stayed on the roads after that.

Even though I’ve had some concern about the Bridgestone’s headset, I thought some easy riding on mostly graded, if rough roads and across some fields wouldn’t shake anything loose.  I was wrong.  The bike’s front-end shuddered and squirreled as I braked to a stop at the bottom of the third rough-and-washed-out gravel road descent near where the power lines cross overhead.  That was toward the eight-mile mark.  I didn’t bring a wrench, so I rode back to the car.

I’ll probably put the Bridgestone out to pasture – easy paved trail rides with my wife and son.  Doubt I can justify the expense of yet another headset, in addition to refacing the headtube, to my wife – at least for a while.  Here’re the pictures – click on them for full-sized images:





Three Years on Two Wheels

Why I Ride

I recently wrote, in another venue, that I ride to explore my environment, urban and rural wild places.  What I didn’t write, because it only struck me upon reflection, afterward, is that I ride, I canoe, I kayak, because the nature of these activities is not only that they are self-powered, they are self-directed.


We live in a society that restricts our freedom by demanding insane degrees of commitment and effort in exchange for a wage, and that freedom is further curtailed by legal requirements touching upon every activity we must engage in to earn that wage and live within the boundaries of society – licensure, insurance, taxes on every purchase in addition to some types of property owned, and our tax diminished incomes.

But if I buy a used bike, or a used canoe, or used gear, and then put that stuff to a use I, myself, choose, and use it to go where I like, when I like, I wage war against the constraints of an increasingly statist society.  I invite those who wish to constrain my movements and interests to experience the absurd extreme of their philosophical bent and make animal sounds moonward.  And I tread upon the idea that I require the permission of others to move about freely and freely observe and consider the environment in which I find myself.

That said, I’d buy a new bike from a manufacturer or retailer if I got a really good deal and could justify the expense – two conditions that have gone unmet for a longish time.  And if I win a bike or the use of a bike, you can bet I will subject it to frequent use, abuse, will photograph it and publish the snapshots and accounts of my exploits.

To Recap


Eight wheels, I count eight wheels; two don’t count, though – I no longer have the Trek…

Sometime in mid-August fell my third anniversary as an adult cyclist.  I took to two wheels three years ago while at a completely worthless employer mandated training at Murfreesboro.  After the work day, on two consecutive days, I drove downtown to MOAB and I bought a couple of comfort bikes – one for my wife and the other for me.  Since then, I have taken to riding really old, lugged steel friction-shifted road bikes.  A couple of years ago, my father-in-law gave me the coffee-colored Raleigh Sprite he had while stationed in Honolulu in the early Seventies.  I finally got the frame to the soda-blaster and need to finish sand it and get it to the powder-coater.  I’m thinking British Racing Green with silver or gray fenders.  A little over one year ago, I got a fairly serious injury that gave me an opportunity to rethink my hopes and dreams, to get back on course to reach goals I’d been neglecting over the previous year (2012 – 2013).  Early this year, I bought my friend’s spare Bridgestone MB-4; its top-tube was too short for him, but the bike fit me fine.  I spent a long time learning about headsets, hammers, mallets, woodblocks, jigs.  The Bridgestone’s mostly sorted out, now, but I think the headtube may need refaced and the headset further monkeyed with.  Still, the bike suits me fine so far and I’m not racing singletrack with it.


I got some 3M spoke reflectors for the front wheel

Also, back in 2013, I spent $40 at a garage sale for a Suteki Track 10 mixte in nearly NOS condition, and gave it to my wife.  A very pretty blue, lugged steel frame with 27” wheels, Shimano 600 drivetrain, Tektro brakes, etc., circa 1979.  A tune-up, some new cables, new tires, and the bike was as ride-able as the day it was first assembled.

Bikes versus Boats


That’s the RZ-96 on the roof of Thursday, probably the best car I’ve ever owned

Those are a lot of bikes.  I’m down to one tandem kayak – a Pouch RZ-96 – and one canoe – a 1974 Grumman 18’ aluminum.  I haven’t been paddling much since I started riding bikes.  It’s the convenience factor, and I’ve mentioned it before on this site – I can set off from my driveway, spend two or three hours monkeying around on the road, and return to the house (Southerners say that a lot – “the house” – when they mean to say “home.”  I have a theory about the tendency’s origins, but have not thought about it enough to write about it).  With a canoe or kayak, even a folding kayak, I have to load boat and gear into a car (if I’m smart, I do this the night before), drive to a put-in, assemble or unload the boat, rig the boat, put gear in the boat, in cold weather change into immersion gear, set out, paddle about thirty minutes beyond the point where I know I can easily turn around and make it back, then turn around and paddle back to the put-in, usually against a howling, white-cap churning headwind.  I do that to test my manly strength and determination – I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to risk their survival in tests of endurance?  I feel pretty certain a lot of women do that sort of thing, too.  But, since I am a man, it is my manliness that I put to the test – I’ve always come back without having needed assistance.


I brought this back for my wife from the furthest point I’ve paddled upstream on the Elk River

Serious or Recreational?

Because there’ve rarely been people of my personal acquaintance much interested in the things I like, I’ve corresponded via Internet message boards with others who share my enthusiasm for kayaking, or “messing about in boats.”  There’s nothing half so pleasant as messing about in boats, to paraphrase, I think, Mr. Badger or Mr. Toad or another character from those old stories the names of which I now no longer recall, but which is the source of the phrase.


Wind in the Willows – found the name when I found the image

That’s a phrase I’ve seen used a lot by people at the Folbot Forum and at FKO – foldingkayaks.org.  Many of the people who exchange ideas, information, comments on both boards don’t seem to identify as “hardcore” or “serious” paddlers (although some do) and, as paddlers of folding kayaks, most mainstream paddlers of Kevlar, plastic, fiberglass kayaks would consider us, almost dismissively, “recreational” paddlers.

Anyway, I’ll take the advice of my old friend, Diana Hardin, and let other people categorize me and my pursuits without giving the matter too much thought.  Let others ‘define’ you; you go and live (a life that makes ethical and logical sense to yourself) without regard to their rules, strictures, and opinions.

I find there’s not much I like more than exploring waterways and wild places.  In a kayak, or in a canoe (although a canoe is more difficult to manage in winds), you can get places where power-boaters cannot and hikers usually do not go.  The drum-song of paddle drip rhythmically striking a folding kayak’s fabric deck or one’s spray-deck like a metronome marks the beat of each paddle stroke making forward movement easier when tired.  Good it is to see and be present in places most people cannot imagine exist.

In the same way that I’ll not be categorized as a serious paddler, no one who categorizes will categorize me as a “serious” cyclist.  I like monkeying around on bikes finding it a good way to explore the world around me and get to places others don’t or won’t go because it’s not convenient for them; it requires effort, some physical exertion.  My most-used Cyclemeter route is “Monkeying Around.”  I’ve done about 2000 miles, so far, this calendar year that I’d so classify, and the route changes every time I ride it – usually a route I choose when I’m getting under way.

About ‘Selfies’

Orbea-SelfieYard King

Activities:  Paddling; Cycling; Mulching Leaves in the Yard – this is how I look when I’m smiling

I mentioned, above, that I don’t usually find other people much interested in the same activities that interest me.  I think that’s the reason I take photos of myself while out in a boat or out on the road – there’s usually no one else along to snap a picture of me doing stuff I really enjoy.  This may be true of others and may partially explain the “selfie” phenomenon.

Define Serious

Okay.  I did join the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association and maintained membership for a few years, attended a couple of workshops, participated in a couple of activities, but most of those folks, locally, are interested in whitewater paddling, and I could care less about that activity.  Also, a lot of them seem to be all into some kind of advocacy or other.  I tend to be unmoved by that sort of thing.

I do prefer a Greenland style paddle and made one of my own out of Tennessee red cedar (it didn’t turn out very well, but I used it for a long time until I could justify the expense of one made by someone else with actual woodworking skills).  When I take a day trip by kayak or canoe, I usually paddle boats designed to cover long distances, dress for immersion, carry a spare paddle, and carry sufficient gear and food to see me through in the event I get stuck somewhere overnight, paddling doesn’t occupy the place that religion occupies for people who adhere (more or less faithfully) to the tenets of a religion. I haven’t learned 83 different types of Greenland rolls, I don’t spell “kayak” with a “Q” – I mean, you’re spelling a consonant sound from a language that didn’t until recently have a written form using a 26-letter (it is 26 letters, isn’t it?) European alphabet, right?  Why would anyone imagine it’s more “authentic” to write “q’ajaq” than “kayak”?  Additionally, I don’t venerate my paddles, I use them to move my boats through water, and if I occasionally use the paddle to push off from the bank, I don’t imagine I’ve transgressed against the ‘spirit’ of my paddle by having used it like a “shovel.”   Honestly, some people.  But that’s the religious bent of humanity.

And I’m not serious about messing about in boats.  When I got to the point that I felt guilty about not paddling on days I had time to do so, I backed off.  And, truthfully, I’d rather spend time with my wife and son, most days.

Wheelmen (and a woman?) 1895

Stepford Bike Club

I joined and maintain membership in a local bicycling club, attend meetings, and am slightly active in the club.  I can do some basic bike maintenance.  When I bicycle, I usually bring along a multi-tool, spare tube, a patch kit, a lot of times wear lycra bicycle specific garments, wear a bike helmet, wear cycling gloves, make it a point to be seen by motorists, have no fear of riding in traffic like a vehicle, ride every day, ride distances that would have seemed mind-blowing and impossible to me three years ago (but which are like a ride around the block for many cyclists).  But I tend to think of myself as more of a “budget cyclist,” meaning I try to justify every expense and spend as little as possible on bikes, equipment, clothing, maintenance, and so forth.  Sometimes, my wife is willing to join me on a bike ride.  She hated monkeying around in kayaks and canoes.  My son joins me on a lot of extended neighborhood rides.  Until last week, the only bike we owned that was manufactured in the current century was my son’s Trek Jet 20.   The only new bikes I’ve ever purchased where those two comfort bikes from MOAB about three years ago – both of which we’ve sold.  Until last week, the only bike we owned that was capable of indexed shifting was the ‘89 Bridgestone.

On the other hand, I could care less about competing against other cyclists, I have blinking lights (fore and aft) on my bikes when riding because I want to be seen by motorists, I’m annoyed by glaring jack-ass cyclists who take up position in the middle of the only, fairly wide, directional lane of traffic to self-consciously and self-righteously ride 16 miles an hour while holding up a line of eight motorists trying to get to work, I wave “Hello” or speak to other cyclists I meet on the road, I tend to move over to the right side of a lane of traffic for cars when I can do it safely except when closing up the gap to a red light or stop sign or about to turn left, I stop to take pictures, I ride through neighborhoods because I want to see what’s in them, I don’t wear lycra sex-organ baring garments when I know I’m going to be riding around kids, and I don’t wear those clothes when I ride my bike to congregational meetings, I have no interest in banning automobiles, I like automobiles and like driving them.  So, I probably don’t fall into a “serious” cyclist category, by many measures.  Almost forgot – I don’t use clipless pedals.

Too much information, and too few pictures – another post published.  A couple of more on the way, soon.

1989 (or 1988) Bridgestone MB-4

Completed, Tested, Ready to Ride

Several months ago, I bought a 1989 or 1988 Bridgestone Trailblazer MB-4 from my friend, Adrian.  He’d bought it thinking the bike’s top tube would better fit him than the MB-6 he’d bought a few years ago.  These bikes were intended to replace the MB-5 he bought new when he was a much younger man and rode hundreds of miles a week.  The one I bought turned out not to be a good fit for him and he offered it to me at a price too good to refuse.


I say it is a 1988 or 1989 because it appears an amalgam of both – it’s the battleship gray color bike with black, white, and red trim.  The Bridgestone name appears in white on the downtube, but the color scheme is otherwise not precisely that of the ‘88 model.  Also, it’s got the same geometry as the ‘89 model, so that is probably the clincher, as it were.  It does have the Shimano Biopace chainrings, which I actually like (I have them on my Razesa roadbike, and they work just fine).

Stuff I’ve replaced on the MB-4 are cables, tires, pedals, grips, and headset.  Because there is no local bike shop at Stepford, I’ve purchased almost every replacement component from Jenson USA or Nashbar, but last week, while sojourning in the Great State of Indiana, I bought grips and pedals from Michael O’Neil at Greenway 500 Bike Shop.  Every town should have a shop like Michael’s owned by someone like Michael.

The Tange Levin headset was a bear to install, but seems to be holding up very well, although I’ve only subjected it to minimal abuse.  That said, the previous headset would’ve come loose after every ride, even easy seven or eight mile extended neighborhood rides with my young son in tow on the trailer bike or riding his own small bicycle.

Velociraptor tires replaced the Schwinn tires that were on the bike when I got it.

Shimano shift cables have replaced the original shift cables and have black housing.  Jagwire Mountain Pro brake cables in red replaced the original brake cables.  The original Avenir “Touring” saddle I replaced with the red and black Mongoose mountainbike saddle I that used to be on the Miyata 610.   A pair of Specialized grips replaced the torn and uncomfortable foam grips that were probably not original but appeared to have been on the bike for a long time.  Instead of the plastic pedals off of which my feet several times slipped during damp, muddy, or plain wet rides, I changed out a set of black Wellgo B102 BMX Pedals 9/16″ with replaceable studs.  Here are some pictures of the how the bike looks now.  Although I’ve got a new set of dials for the shifters, I’m not sure if I’m going to monkey with them.

Bridgestone-Bars-View Bridgestone-FrontviewBridgestone-Specialized-Grips


Yesterday (7/10/14) I installed the pedals, finishing the bike for the foreseeable future.  From what I’ve read, the Bridgestone MB-4 is not one of the “collectible” Bridgestones.  Even if it was collectible, I’d probably still ride it because it’s a bike and bikes are for riding.  I tested the completed bike by trying to evade an active six-year-old bent on attacking me with water gun, frisbees, Nerf dart gun, invisible arrows, and at one point, water from the garden hose.  The lot’s filled with trees and has numerous, unpleasant surface irregularities.  Everything held up fine – headset did not come loose, grips were comfortable, shifts were easy, brakes functioned, tires gripped, and pedals held my shoes in place when jarringly surprised by one of those irregularities mentioned in the previous sentence.  Below are the test-ride stats and ride-map generated by Cyclemeter:

Bridgestone Test Ride StatsBridgestone Test Ride Map

Thunderstorm, Rain, Beginner Trail

This past week, on the day I’d planned to mow, thunderstorms came through Stepford and rain spoiled my planned yardwork.  The clover, oniongrass, bees, and squirrels out there are pretty happy about it.  The robins, less so, as they like to forage after the mowing.  I was pretty angry at first, then suited up in my silly looking MTB kit consisting of Fox red and gray jersey (purchased several years ago for spring and fall kayaking), gray Endura shorts (silly-looking, plain shorts – super comfortable and functional), black Dickies ankle socks (LOVE them), and 10 year old New Balance Eight-Oh-Something trailrunners (easily the best, stiff-soled non-bike specific cycling shoes).  Padded mesh liner shorts underneath, as well as old compression T-shirt (another colder-weather kayaking garment).  Road helmet and cheap crochet-back fingerless road gloves.  Check.  Gatorade in the cage-bottle, random Cliff Bar, Power Bar.  Yup.  Ready to go.

Clothes for MTB ride

Clothes for MTB ride


New Balance 806 - dunno how many years old.  Best shoes I own.

New Balance 806 – dunno how many years old. Best shoes I own.

Briefly indecisive and moody about potential safety concerns vis-à-vis thunderstorm, then I decided thunderstorms are not dangerous and set off.

TVA Access Road

First destination was a TVA access road other side of a yellow gate on a dead-end street near a water treatment plant located above a reservoir.  I’d ridden part way down it on the Miyata once, but turned back when probability of a crash became clear to me.  I drove out there and parked by the yellow gate.  While still in the car, I applied bug spray to my exposed skin (it’s bug season in Middle Tennessee).  About a half mile down the road, I turned off to follow a brush and grass covered lane, following it to a point where I stopped, took a swig of Gatorade, and stood still for a couple of minutes.  Buzzing is the sound I heard and focusing my eyes upon the plants growing all around me, I saw that I was surrounded by about a hundred bees.  Thinking they’d soon be attracted to the red sleeves of my jersey and sweet Gatoradey goodness in my water bottle, I slowly and calmly turned around and went back the way I’d come.


Then, I rode the rest of the way down the hill.  Not trusting completely in the work I’d done on the Bridgestone’s headset, I descended cautiously downhill as the road’s surface condition became characterized by large holes, deep ruts, wilderness debris.  My top speed, I think, was less than 19 mph.  The bike’s front-end seemed to be holding together pretty well, but I wasn’t sure about it.  I became acquainted with my bike’s need for replacement handgrips, an acquaintance that would renew itself later in the day.  Also brought to my attention during the descent was my need for new pedals when my right foot came off the cheap, plastic platform pedal it was pushing when the bike’s front wheel made contact with the far side of a pot-hole-rut across the path.  Made steering difficult, that whole foot-off-the-pedal incident, but I didn’t cash, then.

At the bottom is fenced and gated pumping station I’ve seen many times from the water, while paddling.  Riding back up the hill was less eventful, even though steep the ascent.  The entire ride was registered less than three miles.

Mountain Bike Trail

My second destination was a group of purpose-designed mountain-bike trails I’d read about online.  Familiar with the location, I drove out there and found the access point without difficulty.  Mine was the only vehicle parked in the gravel lot near the trailhead.   While taking the bike from the rack, I again heard thunder.  The ground and foliage here was wetter than the TVA access area, and it looked like the bike trails were all back in the trees.  Although the information board had a box and plastic case for trail maps, the person tasked with keeping it filled with same had failed to complete that mission.  A notice on the board declared a “Beginner’s Trail” of one mile could be identified by orange markers.  Okay, I’d try that first.  Underneath the information board, I discerned a painted ceramic gnome in repose; it didn’t look like anyone’d been leaving offerings to the idol, which was okay with me.


In the woods was sufficient light to see the path, stupidly narrow, and winding between large and small trees, hard-packed clay soil, shiny smooth roots, rocks, all slick-as-snot from the earlier rainfall.  I seemed to quickly lose the orange path, which I thought would make a good warm-up, and started coping with steepish descents, countless slick roots across the trail, avoiding trees, using the brakes way too much.  I was grateful for any ascent and happy I’d got a set of Velociraptor tires for the bike; the back wheel spun a few times on roots and slippery track, but quickly gripped and never let me down.  My feet during this ride did not come off the pedals because I was more careful to keep them on; still, I’m thinking Sun Ringle ZuZu pedals or the Nashbar knock-off will be needed.  Constant wrist-rattling bumps on the trail reacquainted me with the need for new grips.


While riding, I remembered reading that these trails were opened in 2009 and my mountain bike dates from 1989.  The sales catalogue for the Bridgestone MB-4 refers to it as an “almost custom” bike that is almost suitable for racing, as opposed to mere recreational riding.  I thought it might be a good idea to ride this bike on the sorts of mountain bike courses laid out in the late ‘80s.  I remembered reading snippets of reviews of bikes going on about “technical” portions of trails and wondering what that meant.  I also was thinking, “Without these Velociraptor tires, I’d be totally dead, or something.”  Also remember thinking the entire course is probably beginner-grade, super easy trails most nursing mothers would be able to ride with their babies held to the teat with one arm while easily steering with the other, clipped in to pedals and spinning effortlessly through the trails.

Besides having no real confidence in the bike’s headset and steering, what I found most difficult about riding the trail was having to figure out three or four twists ahead what to do by the time I got there.   Average speeds on a road bike are a lot faster, but the decision-making process is slow-motion in comparison to what I think is probably termed ‘singletrack’ riding.  At one point, I came out of the woods under crackling power lines and drank some Gatorade and ate a Cliff Bar.  I took a picture, you can see it above.  I checked the locknut on the headset here, and found it way loose; having no adjustable wrench, finger tightened it.  I had to to that a couple of more times during this ride.  The adjustable race or whatever, though, wasn’t loose at all.

The most annoying thing about riding in the woods was constantly riding through spider webs and not having the time to brush them away.  No time to scratch my head when it itched, and no time to think about taking pictures, although on one totally flat and  nonthreatening section, I did snap a couple.  Too busy trying to stay on my bike and keep pedaling to drink when thirsty was also irksome.  Descending through a left turn with soggy leaves filling a rut at the outer edge, I slid out on the leaves and crashed.  Does a middle aged man cuss in the woods when he crashes?  The spiders, bugs, and trees know.

Thanks to Cyclemeter, I was able to find my way through the maze of trails back to where I’d parked the wagon.  Under seven miles, top speed of 15.83 miles per hour, but average speed of 6.17 mph.   I was happy to see this upon emerging from the woods:


Headset, Suteki, Jet 20, Tooth

Bridgestone MB-4 Headset replaced (mostly) with Tange Levin headset, but for spacer had to use an additional lock-washer from the original headset as well as the original headset's locknut.
Bridgestone MB-4 Headset replaced (mostly)
with Tange Levin headset, but for spacer had to use
an additional lock-washer from the original headset
as well as the original headset’s locknut.

Yes, I know it looks rough, but it is finally done.  You have no idea how difficult it was for me to get the fixed cones set into the headtube and that other part pressed onto the fork.  After that, about four attempts to assemble the headset, fork, handlebars were required to get everything put together correctly with brake and gear cables right and left of the headtube and fork.  Also, I learned that the locknut that came with the Tange Levin replacement headset wouldn’t tighten down very far on the fork’s steerer tube, so I used the locknut that came with the bike’s original, generic headset.  One more disassembly after I discovered there remained a gap between the shiny new lock-washer and the locknut, which I resolved by adding the original black lock-washer as a makeshift spacer.  I rode the bike around the neighborhood and my bumpy yard, yesterday, and the repair seems sound enough.  It’s good to have the Bridgestone back – I haven’t had it to ride since Easter weekend.


Shiny reflectors

Because the Bridgestone had been out of service for so long, I started riding my wife’s Suteki around the neighborhood and local bike path with my young son.  Because the seat’s already been adjusted for The Cautious One, I didn’t raise it to suit me, just pedaled with bent knees like a supplicant or one of those morons who ride bikes made for children.  There was a funnier thread about those guys at prince.org – a Prince fan-site (that doofus has fans?) – but my browser quit responding every time I opened the page. 


Anyway, that Suteki bike is a pleasure to ride, early Shimano 600 derailleurs and shifters work so smoothly and predictably that indexed shifting would seem clumsy in comparison, and for $40 in nearly new condition is more than a match for Public’s mixte and has a lugged steel frame that’d cost an arm and a leg if made by the serious cyclists at Rivendell.   A couple of weeks ago through Craigslist, I located and bought an older Trek Jet 20 with Alpha Aluminum frame; cost way less than half the price of new.  Needs new grips but is otherwise in excellent condition.  My son’s learning to ride the bike without training wheels, but isn’t ready yet to take it out in the neighborhood or on the bike path with me.  The features he likes best about the Trek are that he can ride it on the grass in the yard, and that it has a kickstand.


Finally, instead of needing a root-canal, my dentist was able to repair my molar with a filling – a lot less time and money spent and I can eat normal food again.  Ate my first salad in a month, last night.

Ride to School and Ride for Reading


Above: Fifth grade students browse Ride for Reading books at their school

Ride to School Bike Train

The local bike club last Wednesday helped out with a Ride to School Day at one of the elementary schools in the town where I live.  I volunteered to help out and was assigned an assembly point where I would assist in some way and ride along to escort the kids along a pre-determined route to the school.  After our warmer weather here in Southern Middle Tennessee, the early morning temperature of about 55 degrees felt too cool to me as I wore shorts and a T-shirt.  I met a crossing guard on site who told me he has for 10 years stood at that intersection shepherding children across the street on their way to school.  As kids rode by on their way to middle school or arrived with their parents for the bike train, he greeted many of them by name and remarked how quickly they grow up.

The elementary school’s principal drove up and I helped her unload about 15 bicycle helmets as she had “bought every one they had at Wal-Mart” knowing that most of the children who would show up for this activity would not have helmets.  Her school has the highest number of children on the free-and-reduced breakfast and lunch program and was the one that held the first Ride for Reading, which I mentioned in this post.

I got the helmets out of their packaging and arranged them in rows for the kids to choose from.  Kids started to arrive with their parents and the parents stuck around until we set off.  I helped a few of the kids get their helmets adjusted.  A note to helmet manufacturers:  Make helmet adjustments easier kids’ helmets.  One little girl had a push-scooter, most had children’s BMX-style bikes several of which looked like they’d been repainted by hand according to the preference of the owner.  A girl, the one with the scooter, talked about how happy she was that a few pink helmets because girls like pretty, colorful things and she had decorated her room with peace-signs.  One little boy had a set of pedals on his bike that I envied for my mountain bike. 

We set off for the school with a police escort – our local officers who ride bike patrol for events have some pretty good Trek 29ers – at the front and I rode along at the end.  We had a couple of stragglers and late-arrivers, as well as a little girl who walked and trotted along beside one of her friends most of the way.  Because my Bridgestone is in pieces now due to headset trauma and difficulty fitting replacement parts, I rode the Miyata 610 which turned out not to be a good choice for riding slowly with numerous stops on sidewalks.  We had no crashes or other mishaps, and all the riders from three different assembly points converged on the school at about the same time.  They were welcomed by the principal and teachers, were given certificates and breakfast.  Here are a few pictures from the ride:

0630 Wednesday 7 MayKids-ArrivingRiders-get-Ready


Ride for Reading

Last Thursday, bicycle club members again participated in a Ride for Reading book distribution at another of the city’s elementary schools.  I rode the gold Razesa, for the first time riding it with heavily loaded panniers.  Handled just fine.  This time, instead of trying to set books neatly on tables only to see them slide off in piles, we were able to place the books on the lawn for easier browsing.  Here are a few pictures from the event:


A Few April 2014 Ride Photos

Pollen’s been filling the air since early April, this year.  I’ve been braving the pollen storm and riding quite a bit in spite of feeling like I’ve got poison ivy in my sinuses and on my eyes.  Here are a few pictures from some of my April rides, as well as a close-up of the NOS Suntour Symmetric downtube shifters now installed on the Miyata 610.  although I miss the ratcheting clicks of the Suntour Power shifters, I much prefer downtube to stem-shiters.