Friday, January 9, 2015

A little late aren't we, December?


As if anyone needed proof, I don't take it easy on my Raleigh Sports.  I mean, I take care of it and I want it to live a long life (heck, it's already 56 years old) but I use it for what it was made for.  A few weeks ago, during finals week, I found that the old pre-architecture studio had resurfaced its drawing tables so they had a pile of vinyl that was about to go in the trash.  I rolled it all up and brought it home to use as work mats for my bikes.  That whole roll weighed about 25 pounds, not including the textbooks in the basket.  The old Raleigh handled it just fine, although the "ladies'" step-through frame flexed and sprang noticeably side-to-side just as it does when I come home with a heavy load of groceries.  That's the major reason why I chose a "men's" frame Superbe as my third bike.


The only actual problem I had been having with the bike this year was the old shifter, which is a replacement unit probably about 30 years old.  It kept bouncing out of gear and it never seemed to shift at the same increments.  It always seemed like first gear was too loose and third was too tight and I could never find the balance, even after three or four adjustments during certain commutes.  I usually held the lever down into first gear during climbs so that 3rd gear could have enough slack.


For fear of damaging the SW hub further, I finally broke down, bought a new shifter, and hooked it up a few days ago.  Compared to the previous unit, the new one was so smooth.  Increments were spot on and not easily overshot.  On top of that, I think it only took two tries to get the adjustment spot on.  I think this shifter should last another thirty years at least, judging by the history of this bike.


Finally, now for the topic of this post: Snow! It had only snowed once previously this school year, and I think that was on my last day of work.  It snowed for most of the afternoon and night today and we got at least an inch in most places.  It finally seems like December has come, although a month late.  Since I park the Sports in a secure garage in the furthest apartment building, I leave the Ross beater outside the door to shuttle me in between.  In just that eighth-mile stretch, I nearly fell off the Ross a few times because of footprints in the snow.  During the hour that I was out tonight, I rode about six miles at a slow average moving speed of 9 mph.


Riding over footprints or tire tracks proved more difficult than on fresh snow, naturally.  They all try to tear the front wheel out from under you.  I wouldn't say my sense of balance is particularly good, but I guess my driving skills translate well to other wheeled vehicles.  Hauling up snowy hills involved a lot of quick counter-steering when my rear end started to creep out; however, due to the weight, the Raleigh handled much better than the Ross would have.  The sideways skills I acquired last year were a bit rusty but they improved as each mile passed.  On the way back, I made sure to stay on the more-snowy and less-salty sidewalks to avoid what happened to the Ross, which is pictured further below.


I finally got a bright idea about how to install the cheap analog speedometer onto the Ross.  Since the fork tubes are wider than the dropout, I filed grooves into the gray plastic.  I had to file out a lot more than is shown above, and on top of that, another groove had to be made for the fender bolt.  The quick-release axle was also not wide enough so I removed the locknut and washer from the left bearing cone.  Probably not a smart move, so the speedo was temporary.  Although it did work, it was very draggy and I took it back off after 25 miles.


Surprisingly, the new speedo doesn't look too awkward or out of place on the bike.  Also, the old inner tubes I kept are proving to be extremely useful. I've been using them as rubber bands for index cards, tying them on coat hangers to keep sweaters from sliding, even for patching my shoes. Here, I used it as a grip and cushion for the speedo cable and zip tie.


One small thing I did earlier was curve the ends of the fender stays.  I know you can cut them, but that would still have left a sharp edge to poke my knees.  Bending them eliminated the problem once and for all. Just today, I attached a denim scrap with a copper staple to use as a mud flap.  I then masked off the rear fender and sprayed white on it to make myself a little more visible.  It was a quick job and the paint bled under the low-quality masking tape I had, so I just touched up the black with a Sharpie.  No big deal.


Finally, a new rear brake cable! After riding for maybe a month or some more with the bolted-together one, I put a new one on for the sake of what's left of the paint job.  But wait, what's all that white stuff?


Ew, salt! This happened after I rode the bike to the U-haul rental and back.  Less than four miles.  See what I mean when I say Ann Arbor goes crazy with the salt? I mean, jeez! This is painful to even look at.