Friday, April 22, 2022

The Bicycle Journey

The Trek Marlin 7 outfitted with stem and triangle bag, just enough storage for local rides.

From a touring bike to early 80's mountain bike to step through bicycles to folding bike to hard tail mountain bike, even an old revived Peugeot with 27" tires has contributed much to this 40 year old journey on two wheels.

This is only a brief synopsis, of course. The nuances of each bike seem to take on a life of their own as I adapt each one to fill a certain role. That's where the real magic happens. Outfit a bike with rack and fenders for office commuting. Use one voluminous pannier for easy toting inside, filled with lunch, clothing, purse, and alternate footwear. Or, get creative to equip a folding bike for long distance rides: how to carry a significant volume with limited space to fit a tiny frame? It's these type of challenges and creativity involved that have fueled my interest in cycling for many years. 

My greatest love is bicycle touring. But it's not only about the miles these days, it's about the mission. Where can I go to maximize the experience of discovery? What brewery do I want to visit? What campground would be interesting to stay at? Where can I go via Amtrak to boost the distance traveled? What museum have I always wanted to visit? And Atlantic beaches - don't get me started! 

What has been the greatest impact that has affected your love of cycling? 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Peugeot Saint Laurent - Big Changes and Ready to Roll

Peugeot St. Laurent step through: redone and ready to roll.

2022 is the year for reimagining the stalwart Peugeot St. Laurent step through commuter bike, my preferred choice for most rides. 

Our youngest son has helped me - indeed accomplishing most tasks and suggesting a change to the drivetrain - that otherwise would've been put on the backburner. Aging is inevitable, which has weakened my hands (a bit of arthritis) so tasks requiring hand strength are a struggle for me. I am thankful for my son's assistance. He has an interest in becoming a bike mechanic, and has recently begun working on older bikes to expand his knowledge - lucky me!

New Terry steel stem and matching housing. Formerly, there was black, blue and white!

We began with swapping the old, shortened stem with a removable faceplate variation. This enables me to easily swap bars in the future and raise the bar height. I'm embarrassed to admit I've had this stem for two years and just now getting to use it. The was an easy project and I accomplished this task, mostly myself.

It's no surprise that I dislike the tedious and strenuous areas of bike maintenance, especially re-greasing bearings, and I've lost track with the assorted wheels I have in my possession that fit this bike - 5 wheels I think - saved from previous bikes. Who knows when they were last serviced? It's not pretty, considering this is the bike I gravitate to! I attacked the front wheel after my husband loosened the axle. It's not difficult to clean, remove the bearings, just capture them in a container, then add new grease and gently put them back. My son correctly tightened the axle and placed it back in the fork blades. The rear wheel was another matter! The bolts were fairly frozen, but with leverage on a large wrench, his young strength freed it. And to note, he was able to remove the cassette and regrease the rear wheel in the same time it took me to gingerly deal with the front wheel. Oh to be young, interested, and focused!

What I didn't anticipate was converting the drivetrain to a 1X setup. 

After replacing the wheels, the chain removed, my son asked if I was ready for a single chainring. Heck yeah! Once upon a time, I had considered a three speed conversion, but felt limited by gearing. While we live in a relatively flat region where I frequently ride rail trails, the reality is I will also ride some hills to do errands or ride loops and some easy single track trails. Versatility is key with the Peugeot.

While he raided his parts stash and came up with a crank arm attached to a single ring, I lovingly washed the frame with diluted degreaser. The area where the front deraileur was removed was in tough shape: a bit rusted, so I covered it with a blue nail polish stripe. Then I painted other exposed regions with white nail polish, but refrained from overdoing it. The frame is old, no longer pure white, and has crazing, or as I like to call it "character". It's always best to preserve it from further rust and sprucing up the frame a little.

Put back together for the time being, I rode with my son, briefly assessing the setup. As I expected, I need a higher toothed cassette for lower gearing, so we stopped by Old Spokes Home, rummaged through their used parts bin, but failed to locate adequate parts. Instead we picked up a new cassette, deraileur, and more white housing for aesthetics. 

I've also added colorful Vincita Dutch style panniers. They should be easier to fasten - one buckle on each bag versus two - with my arthritic thumbs. While I was seeking a similar sized replacement to the smaller, simple style panniers, what I got can swallow a large paper grocery bag! However, they are colorful, and I'll learn to live with them. Initially, I didn't care for the hook and loop closure (nor the ripping sound this system makes) on top of the buckle closure but perhaps it will prove to be useful down the road. If not, I'm handy with a seam ripper.

My son wasn't able to index the thumb shifter, but I'm no stranger to friction shifting. The shifting cable was also replaced. However, as my mechanic warned, the thumb shifter is more difficult to operate as it needs to span a larger cassette, so for now I'm getting by with palming the shifter, much like how I operated it last winter with mittens! My son suggested trying a speed shifter - like what's on my mountain bike - should I eventually require a change. For now, in it's new configuration, it's a cleaner, simpler bike. I'm happy to have my commuter bike in operating order!