Sunday, January 27, 2008

Progress on the Gitane

The weather being awful this weekend, no riding happened. So I spent this afternoon taking the Gitane apart.

Set up in the living room, borrowed a worklight from my dad, brought in a box of random wrenches and screwdrivers and set to.

box of tools from the garage

Mostly everything came off fairly easily. It all needs a very thorough clean.

practically stripped frame

Once I got to removing the front derailleur cable, it was time to go to Bike Gallery to buy a tool - I need my own cable and housing cutter now, what with 6 bikes to oversee. I thought I'd take the Gitane along as well; and get the crank and bottom bracket removed - the new crank (Stronglight Impact compact double) will have self-extracting bolts, so I'm not needing to buy a special crank puller.

box of parts

BG was very quiet. I practically had to wake Mechanic Mark up from a nap :-) Off with the crank. Off with the bottom bracket (a Campy clone, so it used the Campy tool). The original grease was still in there. Looked like mud. But the bottom bracket is in fine shape, and there is no rust inside.

For fun, Mark also pulled the freewheel, because he's got the Very Special Tool, although he mostly uses the bottle opener feature these days.

I forgot to have him remove the headset - it is indexed, and needs an adjustment as well as a cleaning and new grease and all that.

The rear freewheel is a 14-16-18-20-22-24. In concert with the soon to arrive 48-34, it still doesn't give me the gears I want.

This bike won't be for brevets or other long rides. It might be a daylight commuter, errand bike, and ride around to coffee shops on the east side sort of bike. Still trying to arrive at a combination of cogs that work. Yes, some are available. I'm thinking a 14-16-20-24-28-32.

What it will look like when I'm done. Well, less surface rust. Shinier chrome. I'm replacing the brake levers with Cane Creek SCR-5C in pewter/gum hood, and replacing the crank with that Stronglight Impact. It will have a new seat - a Terry-something. Probably black Bontrager handlebar tape, because my uncle tossed some in the box.

A rack. Fenders. But Planet Bike Cascadias or Velo Orange? Hard decision. Should I move the rack from Bleriot once the weather gets decent?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Forgot to mention a milestone

Yesterday evening, somewhere just after Salem, in the dark and cold, Bleriot rolled over 3000 miles.

Scio Covered Bridges Permanent

Cecil talked me into joining her on the Scio Covered Bridges 200km permanent. The weather forecast changed over the week from really bad to pretty good to probably not going to rain much but won't get very warm.

Shimanek Covered Bridge

With that in mind, I ordered some REI waterproof taped overmitts and a Smartwool long-sleeve base layer.

Met Cecil in the Wilsonville City Hall parking lot at 6am. (Sunrise at 7:45am) We got organized and rode over to the Starbuck's to get a start time receipt. Bill found us there.

And off we went. It was dark and cold, as expected, just above freezing. But dry. The first bit of the ride was pretty interesting - we hopped onto I-5 to cross the Willamette River via the Boone Bridge. No other way across for miles and miles (the Canby ferry is currently not operating). Lots of junk on the shoulder, but it was only for a mile. Then off the freeway, heading south, west of Canby, through Aurora, then onto Meridian Road for quite a distance.

Street sign on Meridian

My new light worked wonderfully. I just left it on. A very liberating feeling, knowing that your batteries will NEVER run out.

Finally, into Silverton, where Bill wanted to take pictures at a friend's restaurant, then into a coffee shop for snacks and a restroom. In retrospect, we faffed too much in Silverton.

We had a headwind all the way there - couldn't ride much faster than 11mph. I would have chalked it up to my new generator hub, but Cecil and Bill weren't going too much faster.

The climb out of Silverton was special, and a harbinger of things to come. This route has 3000 vertical feet, and I think most of them are between Silverton and Scio. Specifically, Cole School Road has some seriously vertical rollers. Cecil and I had to walk the top part of one of them.

I thought I saw a cyclist up ahead and figured it was Cecil, but we caught her and it wasn't her.

Richardson Gap was a fun little downhill (steep, 4 sharp turns), and then we were at the first covered bridge - Shimanek. Picture stop, then on into Scio. And found the cyclist in front of us - Marcello! He was slurping down an Ensure (rando Drink of Champions).

We got there Just In Time. (5:12 from the start). Don't faff. The cashiers at the Scio Market kept leaving to do stuff, so it took forever to get a timestamped receipt. Go the the bank ATM down the street!

Ate my peanut butter/butter/jam sandwich and a banana. We couldn't stand around too long - it had warmed up to all of 37 by this point. And it started to rain. Not heavily, but definitely rain.

The route had us do a semi-loop south and west of Scio to go through two other covered bridges. Marcello rode out with us. I wa a bit worried about Hungry Hill Rd, after the earlier climbing, but it was very gentle, with nice farm views to the south. At the bridge, Bill, Cecil and I stopped to take pictures, but Marcello pressed on. That was the last we saw of him.

I pulled out my REI overmitts, as the rain seemed inclined to stick around. They've got long cuffs, so Cecil got to be "mommy" and tuck them in for me.

I had purchased a big Payday bar in Scio, and ate a chunk of it every so often.

Then a detour into the hamlet of Crabtree, for an info control question, and off to the Gilkey Covered Bridge. Which was closed. Given that we had no local road information, and would probably have to head back into Scio to move onward, we investigated. The roadbed was fine, if one didn't mind detouring around construction debris. So we went on through.

Gilkey Covered Bridge

At this point we had turned and the wind was behind us. Yeah! Speeds of 15mph became possible.

Still rural, farms and ranches. Large expanses of "nothing" but the occasional farm. I contrast this with the our summer vacation in Central Europe - villages every 2-5km. No isolated farms.

Then onto Parrish Gap Rd. Note that "Gap" is keyword for "some climbing included". It was pretty. It stopped raining somewhere along here.

Then into Turner, where I bought some water and Cecil made a stop. Bill wanted to keep moving, as his knee was hurting; he said we'd find him at the Salem Safeway.

Heading into Salem, traffic was slow, and the car behind me not inclined to pass. So I signaled that I was turning left and moved into the lane. Easy turn onto Airway Dr, and a nice ride behind the airport. The rain returned.

We somehow got to the Salem Safeway, found Bill's bike, and took turns going inside to get receipts. The nice workers at the Starbuck's in the store filled my thermos with hot water so I could make more Gatorade Tea. 40 more miles in the cold - I needed my hot drink. Ate half of another sandwich and another banana.

Off again, passing the Justice Center (Cecil: "I work there!"). Broadway was closed, so we wandered around awhile to get to the other side of the closure, and proceeded on out of Salem, following the Monster Cookie Ride route in reverse.

Somewhere on Ravena we stopped, so I could put my night gear back on - turn on helmet light and reinstall reflective vest. Not that my jacket and Camelback didn't have tons of reflective strips on them already. But rando rules are rando rules.

Then a lot of riding around in the dark for another 30 miles :-) Mostly deserted roads, so I could sit up and ride no-hands to unkink my shoulders and neck. One should note that Keene Rd (right turn off Hwy 219) is the ONLY street not marked or indicated, until you get there. Easy to miss, in otherwords. But we didn't, because Cecil was alert.

Stopped about 8 miles before the end for snacks. I was running on empty. I shared the remains of that massive Payday bar around, and Cecil produced a big Tootsie roll and broke off a chunk. I figured I'd spend the last 8 miles working it out of my teeth :-)

Rode along, then on Boone's Ferry Rd (which, if followed to the end, would take one to the river, and no ferry), then up over I-5, and down the on-ramp, for the 1.1 miles of I-5 freeway shoulder riding.

The shoulder IS wide, but interesting in the dark. Then into Wilsonville, and back to the Starbuck's where we all started. Hot chocolate all around.

Cecil's pictures here (and you should look!)
and her blog writeup

Gear notes:
The temp for the day never got above 40, and it rained sporadically
Smartwool ls base layer
OrRando ss wool jersey (extra warm because it is slightly felted)
Ibex wool armwarmers
Showers Pass Elite jacket
Smartwool liner cap
Descente Wombat gloves, with handwarmers in the pouches on the back of the hand (and this was INSPIRED!)
REI taped overmitts (for about an hour, in the rain)
Defeet thicker wool socks, with chemical toe warmers
Shebeest shorts
Pearl Izumi Amfib tights
Pearl Izumi X-Alp Mid GTX shoes
Sugoi Resistor booties.
(gosh that is a lot of clothing)
I did have a Shebeest thermal vest on as well, but pulled it off about after an hour. I was too hot with it on.

This clothing combination worked perfectly all day. I'd get cold when we stopped, but would warm up quickly once we got moving again. I never felt clammy.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Let there be light...

Temporary Lumotec IQ Fly installation

Today I went to swap out the tire and tube onto the new wheel. The bike was SO dirty, it needed a bath first. Those Park Tools bike brushes a friend gave me as a holiday gift came in very handy. Makes cleaning wheels go much faster.

Tried to connect the light to the wheel, just to see it light up. Mmmm. Someone said "no, you don't need to solder the wires to the connectors; just crimp them". If someone ever tells you that, ignore them, and solder anyway.

Off to the hardware store, where the helpful elf found me clamps, bolts, more little connectors for the hub and more heat-shrink tubing.

Then over to my parents' house. Yes, we have a soldering iron and all that, but Fitz wasn't home, and I didn't know where it was. My dad and I retired to the workshop, and got the soldering done. He even had a heat gun for the tubing. Then I finally connected the light and we gave the front wheel a spin. Success!

Home to construct the mounting bracket. Turned out I needed Fitz to make some openings in the metal struts a bit bigger, so I sanded the paneling on the garage wall and moved laundry around while waiting for him to get home.

I had him do that the instant he walked in the door. He pointed out that he did not share my urgency with this project, but did it anyway. :-)

After much tweaking around with the struts, I had a workable light mount, and rode up and down the driveway. Oh my. The light flashes when I walk, but the minute I come up to speed - BAM! It is like a car headlight.

Took it out in the dark and fog around the block. Very bright, but there is wheel shadow. Once I get the front rack, I can mount it further forward.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

And on the Gitane front...

I haven't actually DONE anything yet, except take the bike in to Bike Gallery and show it to Mark.

I did get the caution: "Remember what happened the LAST time you were riding a steel-frame bike from that era...."

We looked it over. The double crankset has enormous chainrings - 52/42. My knees hurt just thinking about it.

Research on the crankset reveals that it is a Sugino Mighty Competition, and wants a square taper bottom bracket.

Velo Orange has this compact double crankset (French even!), and on sale. Still not sure I can justify throwing that kind of money on parts for this bike. Although I could repurpose that crank on Bleriot, if I felt like it.

I picked up some new brake shoes, some citrus degreaser, and frame protector, in preparation for the eventual complete dissassembly. I'll need new cables and housing, but that can wait until I know how much housing is required.

Mark is researching ordering the Cane Creek SCR-5C brake lever set in pewter with gum hoods.

I want immediate gratification!

I have a lovely new 650B wheel with a SON hub. I have a B&M Lumotec IQ Fly, all ready to go.

Mark and I brainstormed ways to mount the light, and he cut up some metal mounts for me.

When I got home, Fitz further refined them to fit the light the way I wanted it.

I can use P-clamps to mount them to the light and the fork. This will be a temporary solution, until the front rack I have been waiting for is available for purchase.

The new front wheel, of course, does not yet have a tube and tire. I can move a tire over from my existing front wheel (except it is so dirty from today's ride, I don't even want to TOUCH it.)

An additional tire cannot be had until Monday.

The sticking point is the P-clamps. I have lots of them, but none quite large enough. I'm pretty sure I couldn't waltz into Freddie's and get them anyway. The local hardware store is, of course, closed right now. They may be closed tomorrow.

If I was 4 years old, I'd be having a tantrum.

Instead, I'll go sort laundry.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Gitane Project


When I was a teenager, I would have killed for a Gitane bicycle. My uncle owned a bike shop, lead bicycle tours, did all that cool stuff, and now you know why I ride. It is entirely his fault.


He's cleaning out his garage, and I have somehow found myself the proud, yet bemused owner of a 1971 Gitane Tour de France 12 speed. 700c wheels, lots of clearance for fenders. Maillard Helicomatic hub. Simplex derailleurs and downtube shifters. Weinmann side-pull brakes. Rack/fender eyelets. Reynolds 531 lugged steel frame. Probably French-threaded everything. Pedals with Christophe toeclips.

Simplex rear derailleur, 6 speed

It needs a complete overhaul before it even contemplates being rideable. Spousal unit is less than thrilled. (What, ANOTHER bicycle?) Stay tuned.

Intake photos here

Our Summer Vacation, Osli to Gyor

Had breakfast with Tom; we talked about the Adventure Cycling loaded touring course and randonneuring. I hauled my suitcase down the steps - I didn't want Bohumil to think he had to lift it!


Out to Osli, about a 45 minute drive from Sopron. It is a quiet little town. Fitz had a flat before we even left (this was the only flat among all of us the whole trip); Marian and Bohumil did a TdF wheel swap. The initial stretch of road was potholed.

Walking home

War memorial in Hungarian village

We saw lots of storks today. I was taking pictures on Arcsalag, and an older couple walking home made sure I saw all the stork nests. The houses all had a long yard, with a garden in the back. And I finally found a thatch-roof house. We were riding through Bosarkany, and saw Kris sitting on the steps of the pub - she said the guys were inside. Pearce and Bohumil appeared shortly thereafter. Kris and I elected to press on; the guys followed later.

Everyone stopped here for a break

Thatch roof

I took more pictures while riding (I'm getting better), including a picture of the Frog Crossing. There is a HUGE frog migration every year.


Frog Crossing

Heading into Lebeny, we passed a large group of younger cyclists, with some adult escorts.

We had an excellent picnic lunch by a 13th century church in Lebeny. However, as we arrived faster than planned, lunch was not quite ready. So we had a walk around, looking at the church, the war memorial, the gardens, the pub...

St Jacobs Church, Lebeny

Marian and Zuzana make lunch

Bicycle outside a pub

Off again, a short stretch of road, then onto a bikepath, pretty much the entire way into Gyor. Fitz was on a mission; Rich, Kris, and I just hung on. Bohumil, too. (Although I expect he welcomed the chance to pick up the pace just a bit).


I had not heard good things about Gyor (industrial, not pretty), but our route in was quite nice. We went through some residential areas, and then dropped right into the center, car-free, part of town.

Lynne arrives in Gyor

Zuzana directed us to the hotel, where we checked in, and set out to find the main attraction - the thermal baths. It was a new, modern complex. Getting checked in was interesting, but we worked it all out. We got space-age bracelets with RFID chips, which let us in, assigned us a locker (we held it up to a sensor, which told us which locker to use), let us IN the locker.

Directional signs

The hottest pool we could find was 37degC. Not hot enough, really. We did score some time on the jets, and camped out there for awhile, then laid around on some lawnchairs and had cold drinks.

Thermal baths in Gyor

Fishermen in Gyor

Pedestrian area in Gyor

Hiked back to the hotel, by way of a synagogue we saw (now a museum), and an ice cream stand.

Synagogue in Gyor

We had our final group dinner this night.

More pictures from day.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Our Summer Vacation - Neusiedl am See to Sopron

Map of the bike trail around the lake

We started out the day with a wonderfully substantial breakfast - this is a much larger hotel, with many bikes for rent, a clothesline in the back for all the cyclists to hang out their laundry, and a spa.

We rode out from the hotel on bicycle route B10, which will take us into Hungary. We rode along the lake, but it was often hard to see from ground level, as there were wide bands of reeds between the path and the lake. the path went to pebbles over a hard packed surface for a few km, then went back to asphalt. We passed through a resort with a swimming beach, then pack into the countryside. The tops of sailboats could be seen over the reeds.

Cyclists on the bike trail

Us by a vineyard

We stopped at an observation tower and climbed to the top to see the lake and lots of waterfowl.

View of the lake, sailboats and windmills from the lookout tower

Lots of groups and families out cycling here - this is a popular route. Cyclists wear what we'd consider cycling clothes here, even small children.

Crops on the left were vineyards, corn, vineyards, wheat, vineyards, sunflowers, vineyards, veggies...

In Illmitz we needed to decide if we were going to take the long (9km) or short (3km) route into Apetlon. We found Tom in a park at the decision point; and waited for about 15 minutes in the shade for everyone else to show up. It was HOT. We voted for long.

Little Pink Bear takes a break in the park

I had an EXCELLENT hammer on the bike path - flat, flying past vineyards (occasional car, very strange). I suspect the tailwind and faster tires on the Bleriot helped out some. I stopped a couple of times to take pictures of storks.

Ducks in the lake

The group found me at the main road, then Rich, Kris, Fitz and I took off again for Pamhagen. Rich and I traded pulls, then just entering Pamhagen, his front bag took a dive. Pause to reassemble. (signs for Pannonia - Latin for Hungary - pointing off to the left).

We rode through town to find Zuzana, who directed us to the restaurant. It was Sunday and stores were closed, so they couldn't get groceries for our excellent picnic lunch today. Parked our bikes in the Radlerrast (bike rack) and went on back.

Lynne parking her bike

Choice of goulash, noodle soup (hausgemacht nockerln!) or liver dumpling soup. We got tureens and tried all three. We were in a nice shaded patio with flowers. At this point, Tom discovered that his wallet had fallen out, and he and Zuzana went off to the police to report it and cancel the credit cards.

Pamhagen - the back garden where we ate lunch

The boys did not finish their soup...the waitress: "You don't like it? You didn't finish!" I have relatives like that... After a long lunch (ice tea comes in bottles here), we started riding out to the Hungarian border, minus Tom. Many cyclists were heading both ways over the border - circling the lake is a popular ride. After some persuasion the border guard produced a stamp (silly Americans!), and Rich couldn't locate his passport (!). After a conference, he and Bohumil headed back to see if it fell out. Bohumil gave us the repair kit - not necessary, except for the spare tubes, but he insisted. I had the same stuff in my bag.

Hungarian Border Crossing

The bike path in Hungary was less well maintained. I did get my camera out and successfully took pictures while riding.

Fitz on the bike path just after crossing into Hungary

There were big rainstorms threatening, but didn't get us. The countryside became hillier. Lots of little villages with wheat and sunflower fields. We were riding by the Ferto-Hansag National Park. The towns had upgraded bike paths. Little houses with similar architecture, and thatch roofs on the bus shelters. More black tile roofs (as opposed to red tile) and a little more run-down.

More wheatfields, and a lot more rolling countryside. We finished the ride in Balf (Hungarian for wolf), now a suburb of Sopron. We were the first to arrive. It was HOT, and there was a little pub right across the street from the church.

Balf through the hayfields

House with rosebushes

Kris: they have beer
Me: and ice cream

Zuzana and Marian arrived with the good news that all the missing documents had been located (let's just say pilot error and move on), and Rich, Tom and Bohumil were riding in.

The woman at the pub spoke a little German, as did Zuzana. They would take Euro (we had not acquired forints).

Kris: I have Euros

Post-ride refreshment in Balf

So 2 beers (Soproni) and I was jonesing for a coke float. 1 Coke, 1 vanilla ice cream scoop in a glass and a spoon. Hit the spot. The guys all showed up, and Zuzana told us about Sopron.

We then loaded up and headed into town.

Sopron dates back to the 4th century - the Roman Scarbantia. It was on the amber trade route. Dinner was on our own. We explored the area, and foun dthe old town wall, Roman road and various ruins, all nicely displayed. We also found the ATM and got forint (about 180HUF=1USD), then walked back and had dinner at the hotel.


Sopron - Roman ruins


Liszt Ferenc (Franz Liszt) gave his first performance at age of 9, just down the street. The Hotel Wollner is the coolest hotel ever - 300 year old building, flowers everywhere, patio restaurant and a nice back garden with the old city walls as part of it.

Hotel Wollner courtyard

Many more pictures here.

Our Summer Vacation - Malacky to Devin

Every breakfast should have this view

After a breakfast on the patio with Rich and Kris, we all loaded up and drove to Malacky, which is in Slovakia (passports stamped all around at the border crossing).

Synagogue in Malacky

Our ride today was to be all in Slovakia. We started out riding 15km on the road, rather like our Washington County roads, in terms of surface and traffic, but with deciduous trees, wheatfields, sunflowers, cooler-looking villages (heck, villages!) and flat. There was a long line of massive construction equipment blocking the road - we inched up and around it. It was a wonderfully hot and sunny day.

church in Jakubov

We arrived in Zahorska Ves, to be intercepted by Zuzana and Marian, making sure we did not miss the turn onto the bike path.

Zahorska Ves, start of the bike path along the Morava River

We got onto the bike path - the plan from here was to follow the Morava River until it joined the Danube River. Except we didn't quite. There was an unmarked choice - ride up on the dike, or through some wheatfields. We picked the dike. It was crushed gravel; the 34mm tires on my Bleriot had no problems.

The unpaved part of the day - 13 km?

We saw storks flying. The path then went through forest, but it was clear. Then we popped out into wheatfields, with a church and village visible in the distance.

Fitz heading into Vysoka Pri Morave

Then we were in Vysoka Pri Morave, and a bit puzzled, so waited by the river, wondering where to go next. Bohumil rode up and asked if we were last. We knew we weren't, so we waited.

Fitz and Bohumil in Vysoka pri Morave

He hadn't seen anyone else. After awhile, Kris, Rich and Pearce showed up; we'd all gone by way of the dike, which was not the right way. Tom and the boys were ahead of us somewhere. Another long direction-getting conversation with a passerby, which pointed us back onto the bike path.

The map distances were off, but we did find the left turn into the forest, with lots of educational signage throughout about the the Morava River floodplain, which we would be riding on for the rest of the day.

Morava Floodplain

Popped out into endless meadows. It was beautiful - meadows for miles. Austria was on the other side of the Morava River.

Morava Floodplain

We stopped to explore a Cold War border bunker and a section of barbed wire fence (Iron Curtain remnant). This part of the trail is the Iron Curtain Greenway.

Iron Curtain bunker

Iron curtain barbed wire remnant

More riding through the meadows (a cherry and plum tree stop) and then the path got lumpy going around Devin Nova Ves. We finally arrived at the confluence of the Morava and Danube rivers. There was a memorial to those killed trying to get out during Iron Curtain times.

Then a left turn put us by the ruins of Devin Castle. Another excellent picnic lunch, then we put away the bikes and climbed up to the castle and had a great time exploring. There were some archeological exhibitions (this spot has been inhabited since forever), and a breathtaking view of the confluence of the two rivers.

Devin Castle

Devin castle

Fitz at Devin Castle

We then walked down to see a medieval combat exhibition (WWF meets the SCA).

Medieval Combat Demonstation

We then had an hour-long drive through Bratislava and into Austria (passport stamps all around). This border had a major police presence, but our crossing was uneventful.

Dinner was a buffet at the hotel, where I got to pull out what was left of my small knowledge of German for maximum effect :-) Ja, bitte!

And finally, Real Vegetables at dinner!

Many, many more pictures here. It is not possible to take too many pictures of a castle and the Danube River.