Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fixing the Dahon's Fender and Discouraged by Summer Heat

Cargo hook saves the day to temporarily fix a broken fender bracket.
With my regular Peugeot commuter needing attention, I pressed the Dahon into service, and lacking carrying capacity, on a whim I jerry-rigged my smallest panniers on the rear rack. But because there is scant heal clearance, only one of two pannier hooks fits, with the rear hook quasi-bungeed in place. The bags were pretty light so I thought nothing of my temporary solution. As I cruised to work I was smugly pleased that my panniers might actually work for the Dahon as back up transportation.

As luck would have it, I heard a loud crack and an ugly flapping noise so I pulled over to investigate. My first thought was that a pannier hook had somehow come loose and snagged the spokes - a fear that frequently haunts me whenever something goes wrong with the rear wheel - but it wasn't that bad. I'd apparently stressed an already weak fender bracket that connects to the frame near the brakes which keeps it above the wheel (my bike fell on our NYC trip and I had to bend the fender back in place) because, as it turns out, that was the only trouble - the fender was still intact (though rubbing on the tire) - so I used my trusty 4-hook cargo net to raise the fender for the remainder of my ride to work and then back home.

With much research, I also discovered these sturdy aluminum fenders are no longer available. Instead, only black plastic replacements are it - and I cannot go there with black fenders! Chrome-colored fenders are attractive on this dark green folder, and speak "commuter" to me so I will do anything to save the ones I have.

After removing the axle bolt, can you spot the extra problem?
The Dahon is an unfamiliar bike is many ways. As much as I like it's portability and comfortable ride, I knew the mechanics would be quite a bit different than my usual 1980's mountain bikes. To start with, I had to remove the rear wheel to assess the underside of the broken bracket and see if it could be unattached (only the rivets were showing).

I imagine there are other Dahon owners of this particular vintage who do their own maintenance and have stumbled on the same peculiarity: the derailleur needs to be removed along with the wheel. I took a picture of the alignment, though I knew it was still going to be a nightmare to put everything back together correctly. I tried not to think about it while I worked on the fender.  One thing at a time...

I knew I'd saved a rather unsightly, though perfectly serviceable fender bracket from a previous run in with sticks that's snapped a fender on another bike. My husband says I'm jinxed with fenders, and he's right, I've had more than my share of mishaps (or fenderamics as I like to call it)!

I was unable to pry off the broken piece - rivets on both sides - so I bent the replacement snug against the existing bracket, which seemed to work fine. See below.

 And, while I had the wheel off, I set about also replacing the rear reflector that I'd somehow smashed - how do these things happen? Again, the Dahon's reflector appears to be proprietary but I keep a stash of extra parts, including reflectors of all shapes and sizes.

While not as sturdy as the original reflector, it'll do and I'll just have to be careful when folding the bicycle.

Of course being the parts collector that I am, I also kept the smashed bracket because, well you just never know if I'll come across the right-sized reflector that I can epoxy in place!

After much adjustment and angst (more than likely my patience was lubricated by a beer), I fit the wheel and derailleur back into semi-usable position. It's not perfect. Gears are not shifting as smoothly as before, but the bike is ride-able until I figure how to adjust things or bring it in for a quick tune-up. I did some research but failed to come up with anything remotely close to this model that would be of any help. However, interestingly, I noticed that newer Dahons attach the derailleur in a separate frame hole, in front of the axle. Makes sense to me!

I have new tires for the Dahon, but, as you can imagine, I'm not keen to tackle that project until the current tires wear out.

As a side note, I'm having a terrible time this summer getting to bike projects. I have lots of ideas, sewing and otherwise, parts are in-house, I even got a new saddle, but this humidity has caused a general malaise. I'm still commuting as much as possible, but rides often end in air conditioned comfort or I jump into the lake to cool off. The last thing I want to do are bike projects!

Can a person hibernate in summer?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Two for One Weekend: Nashua River and Cheshire Rail Trails

My husband and I attended weekend-long wedding festivities in mid-June in southern New Hampshire, and also explored two rail trails: 12.5 mile Nashua River Trail that spans southward into Massachusetts and a 10 mile segment of the 42 mile Cheshire Rail Trail - that journey stretched northwest from Keene towards Walpole.

The Nashua River Rail Trail was surprisingly all paved and mostly shaded - very welcome on a hot weekend. My favorite part was through a long stretch of forest with pine needles covering the path.

Pedaling beside ponds was a pleasure...

...especially when we discovered a couple snapping turtles near the shore.

Mid-point on the trail.
There were plenty of signs...

and we soon reached the southern terminus in Ayer, Massachusetts.

After a quick snack in the shade, we doubled back to complete 25 miles.

Sunday morning, we located a trail pretty close to where we were staying in Marlboro.What the Nashua River Trail lacked in drama, the Cheshire Rail Trail made up for in dramatic landscapes, steeper climbs, and a few rugged spots. Leaving a hot parking lot, not long after we crossed a well-made and artistically welded bridge over a busy highway.

I appreciate creative benches - this one could double as a bike rack.

Heading north, this paved section quickly left bustling Keene, and passed a golf course...

for nice, shady dirt surface. The incline was noticeable so I took my time. There were many
single track crossings, which made for musings about a local mountain bike community.

We caught up to a couple (or did they catch us?) on suspension mountain bikes, who explained that there was an interesting Narrows section up ahead. My husband and I made that our goal before needing to turn back in time to attend a wedding.

The Narrows was rather dark and inviting, an area near a summit that the railroad appeared to have blasted through. Water seeped down the cliffs.

Unfortunately, it was rough and slow going for our rigid bikes. Pointed rocks protruded from a hard ground - I spent most of my time out of the saddle to gain any momentum.

But we made it through, only to turn around, however the downhill ride made it more manageable on and we noticed rock climbing bolts affixed to the cliffs.

As more and more rail trails are created in this country alone, there's so much to experience! I'm glad we attended the wedding to catch up with old friends, of course, but seizing extra opportunities made the entire weekend worthwhile.