Monday, April 30, 2018

Out with the Old, In with the New

Spring, as in other parts of the U.S. has been slower to show it's warmth and floral color than in years passed. We are still encountering snow in Vermont, though not along what I deem the banana belt of Lake Champlain, where I live. Rivers are high and there's 83" of snow on top of our Green Mountains, reminding me of Northwestern snow pack! However, salt-free roads abound and the street-sweeper has cleared most of our bike paths and lanes, so I retired the Trek winter bike and brought out my beloved Peugeot St. Laurent.

During the winter, I missed the ability to stow belongings in a basket so come late fall I plan to rectify that problem on my Trek. Until then, happy Spring riding aboard whatever bike you ride!

*Holy moly, this is my 1001 blog-post since 2010!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Addressing a Rusty Peugeot St. Laurent

Motivated by an upcoming transportation-cycling adventure with my son, and feeling bad about his neglected Peugeot, which had become rusted, I set out to give his frame some TLC. The main goal was to sand what I suspected was surface rust - he doesn't use a rear fender - and preserve the bike for a few more years. I concentrated on the seat tube, rear fender support, and chain stays as primary areas in need of help.

Tools of the trade: Windex to clean frame. clear, white, teal, and sparkling nail polish - just because, steel wool, and  anniebikes's patience enhancer: beer of choice.
With a quick search, I followed a simple tutorial on Girls Biking to Work which made the process sound easy, though to be fair, I believe I first heard about using clear nail polish from Ryan at Ryan's Rebuilds.  I hadn't set out to use multi-colored nail polish, but white and teal were easy to locate.

Bike Nashbar's 50.00 tool kit - a bargain!
Both my and my son's Peugeot St. Laurents don't have rear quick release and so, to ease working on his frame, I removed the rear wheel nuts with our youngest son's handy Nashbar tool set. I found a brilliant rubber-handled wrench (left collection, tool on right). I might have to get my own set!

Upper right: rust, left: sanded, lower right: 3 coats of polish.
I used steel wool (my husband says I bought a life-time supply, and who knew there were so many grades to choose from?) to lightly sand major rust spots, then apply polish. I put 3 coats on the fender bracket, while other areas required one coat with a second coat of clear polish.

To be expected: the teal is not a perfect match and, as the pictures indicate, painted areas will show. If you're picky, as the tutorial stipulates, apply polish, using a finer brush than supplied applicator. Since the teal polish was slightly lighter than frame color, I painted a light coat so the teal blended and darkened slightly on top of rust/bare steel, then went back with a second coat of clear polish for double measure.

Before and after photos.

The finished product is a cleaner looking and rust-free bike! I had originally promised my son a new set of gumwall tires, but his front wheel sported a nearly new flat-proof Continental Ride tire so I swapped tires and put a new Panaracer Pasela on the front. You can bet I'll be paying more attention to wiping and oiling his frame during the next bout of wet weather riding!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Eat Snowflakes in April, Because You Can!

The first opportunity to ride my bike in a week and I awoke to fat snowflakes falling! However, the road and bike path were merely wet and not slippery, so getting to work became an adventure. I gobbled snowflakes and cut across a field just because it was fun.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

What's Up, Flats?

A rag for wiping grease, a pen for making an X over hole to be patched,
and trusty red toolbox to keep all my tools organized.

I am proud to announce that I set a personal record for getting the most flats in one week - 3, all in the rear tire! (Insert eye rolling.) And so far, the streak continues with number 4 during the second week...

In all seriousness, it's been an unlucky rash of incidents, attributed - I think - to debris strewn bike lanes, paths, and streets. Couple that with wetness and tires retain enough grit to eventually puncture the tube. There's a local contingent of regular commuters who've asked the street department to sweep the streets earlier than the typical mid-April so I suspect I'm not the only one with this unfortunate problem!

The first three flats were fairly easy fixes: I hoist the bike onto our bike stand, then pull out enough tube, without removing the tire, and inflate until I locate the leak. Then it's simple to patch, leave overnight (because I can) and install and re-inflate for the morning commute. I always make sure to inspect the tire for anyting sharp still emebedded in the rubber. After 3 patches, I replace the tube, which of course is more difficult, more so because on this bike I need to slightly spread the rear triangle to fit onto the axle, easier with a partner. However, I can accomplish it myself, aided by groaning and swearing, to get the axle seated into place.

Beer run, stored in the pannier while I clip my purse onto the handlebars. I stopped to redistribute
gear and admire the ocean-like waves on the lake.

And now that I'm fearful of getting another flat, the slightest squishy feeling on these already cushiony Kenda tires makes me wonder if I'll make it home. But lately, it's been good and you bet I'm avoiding the filthy bike lanes, edging into the traffic lane. On top of that, with only a rear rack to carry gear, I'm storing my lock on the handlebars and sometimes my purse, to evenly distribute the weight over both wheels.

I'm looking forward to clean streets and riding the Peugeot beauty very soon!

Have you ever encountered bad luck with flat tires?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Errandonnee 2018 - A Reluctant Finish

A collage of work commute photos during the 2018 Errandonnee, including a few night time rides.
As mentioned previously, I've had difficulty finding motivation for completing and documenting errands. Part of me feels this challenge is for riders who need a jump-start to doing most errands by bike - something that comes naturally to me. I've written about that process a few years ago.  By far, the most frustrating aspect is deciding which errands fit particular categories, and this often affects my enjoyment. After completing a couple rides at lunch, just to tick off one more errand, I decided to quit thinking about the challenge and just ride because, as the author notes, if it isn't fun, stop the challenge. (Coffeeneuring Challenge is more my style.) And I suppose it also didn't help that I had 3 flat tires in one week - a record I hope to never repeat!

On the bright side, I donated several items and cleaned out my closet, which wouldn't have happened as efficiently, if I wasn't looking for a couple more errands to fill a variety of errandonneering categories. And down to the wire, a stellar Saturday was all I needed to finish off the remaining errands plus spend 2-3 quality hours with our youngest son, doing all kinds of crazy exploratory miles.

Errands 7-12, 43 miles

March 26 (photo above)
Category: Work or Volunteering, commute to work
Observation: Flat number 1 of 3 occurred at my workplace. I couldn't pump the tube enough to limp home so I put my bike on the bus. Good thing I know the bus schedule!

March 28 
Category: Personal Care, riding along the waterfront for peaceful views
Observation: Flat number 2 of 3 occurred, just after I took this photo. I walked 1.5 miles and fortunately caught a bus so my husband didn't have to rescue me.

I love the smell of hyacinths.
March 30
Category: You carried WHAT on your bike?, buying flowers for myself
Observation: It's been a long time since someone's given me flowers...and sometimes you have to buy your own! Flat number 3 occurred on my return from work, close to home, but the flowers arrived safely. Time to ditch the problematic tube!

First ride of the day includes visiting family members who we also meet up with later at camp. 
March 31
Category: Personal Care, riding in blessed sunshine

Observation: The afternoon was the best yet for weather, 50+ degrees.

Clockwise: our son and I getting drinks (his is the black dirt jumping bicycle), my red Trek on the deck at camp, exploring Ethan Allen Tower, our son and his monkey business at camp. What an afternoon!
March 31
Category: Social Call, riding with our youngest son and meeting up with family members at lakeside camp.
Observation: Out of the wind on the deck, it felt like summertime lounging - I was in a t-shirt!

At left: donating bicycle gifts (bracelet, picture frame, spoke bobbles, mechanical wheelie thing) to Old Spokes Home to benefit their bicycle programs. Above: leaving with items acquired from gift card dollars.
March 31
Category: Wildcard, donating bike kitsch and spending remaining gift card money
Observation: I picked up tire levers, lubricant, patch kit, and smaller cargo net - perfect size for my folder's rear rack.

Challenge complete - 71 Cumulative Miles, 9 categories