Three Speed October Challenge: Week Three Finale

img_20161019_151910

1965 CCM Continental

Challenge complete! It was warmer this week, most of the early snowfall has now melted and the normal autumn weather felt like a reprieve from a winter that hasn’t officially arrived yet. I found the time to get my third three-speed bike into service to ride for the challenge and met my additional personal goal of riding each bike at least three times during the three weeks.

The last of my bikes to be used in the challenge is the first three-speed I ever owned. I bought this 1965 CCM Continental a few years back from the Raving Bike Fiend. It’s a lovely old bike that has only seen light use since I acquired it. Unlike the Superbe or the R20, and for reasons I can’t quite pin down, this one insists on being ridden at a leisurely pace. I’ve mostly used it for relaxed family rides or as a show bike for group rides.I rode it for the 2011 Edmonton Tweed Ride. I dressed it up a bit for the first 2012 Edmonton Steampunk Bike Ride. On the more practical side, I rode it to work one frigid winter morning when it was so cold that the freehub on my winter bike was freezing up – no need to worry about that with the Sturmey-Archer three-speed.

The bike has front and rear lights intended to powered by the dynamo built into the AWG rear hub but I’ve never got around to wiring them up properly. It has steel rims, a one piece crank, fantastic high bars and weighs about 40 pounds. The bike is a bit small for me and as nice as it is to have some Made in Canada content in my little bike fleet, I think I will soon sell this one. I hadn’t ridden it in all of 2016 and I don’t believe I rode it more than once in 2015. With this October Challenge I was glad to have a reason to shuffle it out from the back of the bike pile in my garage, dust it off and ride it for a few days.

Day Three: Tuesday

On Sunday and Monday I played it safe and commuted on my winter bike but by Tuesday the conditions seemed suitable for bringing out a three-speed again for the 20km round trip to work. Road construction caused me to detour onto a short segment of footpath.

img_20161018_084605

On the way home I stopped to take a few pics of the rapid progress that’s been made on the new footbridge that’s part of the city’s funicular project. Given the foul weather on the previous Friday I had been cranky about the lengthy detour this bridge construction forced me to take. However, now that the hill is open again and I can see how much work they got done over the course of four days I have to be impressed with the good job the workers seem to be doing.

That evening I also completed a second qualifying ride when I rode my Raleigh 20 on a 5.5 km round trip to Kingsway mall to run an errand. I didn’t stop to take any pictures but I did notice just how much more nimble and zippy the R20 is compared to the CCM.

Day Four: Wednesday

On Wednesday I rode the CCM to work again for another 20km roundtrip. On the way back I stopped at the southside Earth’s General Store for supplies. My bike was in good company at the rack with a Kuwahara Super Tour and a Norco Eurosport Tri-A with an appealingly gaudy pink & white splatter paint and added moustache bars. After leaving the store I indulged in another beauty pic of the CCM and a riding bike selfie. (Remember when they were called Panda Shots?)

img_20161019_145902

img_20161018_151751

img_20161018_152537

Day Seven: Saturday

I managed to get one more qualifying ride in on the CCM with a 8km roundtrip downtown to visit the bank, shop for supplies at the downtown farmers’ market, and drop in at Bikeworks North on the way home. I couldn’t let the entire October Challenge pass without getting tweeded up at least once so I dug out my Harris Tweed for this ride.

img_20161022_133833

It was a wonderfully relaxing afternoon ride under a bright blue sky while breathing in the crisp autumn air. While downtown I snapped a few pics of the recently completed Kelly Ramsey Tower. The original building was badly damaged by a fire in 2009 and was eventually demolished. However, much of the original facade was salvaged and reassembled as part of the new building. I often feel ambivalent about projects that preserve the only exterior of a building but in this case it was well done to save something from the aftermath of the fire.

img_20161022_141054

After popping in to Bikeworks to say hi to the other volunteers I rolled across the avenue to the Hungarian deli to buy a couple of links of their medium-hot sausage. This little unassuming shop has lots of interesting products and is also my source for jars of thick, tangy rosehip jam.

img_20161022_150640

That was my final ride for the October Challenge – it was lots of fun to get out and ride these pleasing and practical bikes. During the challenge I rode my Raleigh Superbe seven times with six qualifying rides totaling 106 km (66 miles). I rode my Raleigh 20 four times with three qualifying rides totaling 30.5 km (19 miles). I rode my CCM Continental on three qualifying rides totaling 48 km (30 miles). Of all the rides only one was strictly a pleasure ride – the others all qualified as utility rides.

Thanks to Portland’s Shawn Granton of Urban Adventure League  & Society of Three Speeds for creating the challenge.

Advertisements

Three Speed October Challenge: Week Two

img_20161009_110332

In this second week of the Three Speed October Challenge I completed the minimum criteria of three rides of at least three miles. A pair of autumn snowstorms and other logistical problems limited the number of three speed rides and frustratingly prevented me from bringing my third bike into play again. Next week. . .

Day One: Sunday

The snowfall that began on Saturday continued through the night and into Sunday morning. I lingered about the house once again before heading outside. I wheeled my trusty grocery-getting Raleigh 20 Three-speed out of the garage and through the garden, ducking under branches sagging under the weight of the heavy, wet snow.

This ride turned out NOT to be qualifying ride as it was less than the required distance but I include it anyway in the interest of promoting the practicality of three-speeds.

I’d like to claim that the riding conditions were like this:

img_20161009_110841

. . .but that was just a gust of wind blowing snow off the trees. It was actually fairly pleasant out and looked more like this:

img_20161009_111040

The snow was already starting to melt on the streets so the trip to the grocery store was a sloppy, slushy ride but the fenders did their job. Once I was finished shopping I loaded up the R20 with the goods. The small wheels and low center of gravity makes this bike practical little cargo carrier. That old two-stay pletscher rack has been often loaded up with far heavier loads than I suspect it was ever meant for – in this case 40 pounds of kitty litter plus two panniers of food.

img_20161009_114958

Later in the day, I brought out the Raleigh Superbe for a qualifying ride of about 16km, heading down to Whyte Ave for a burger, beer and socializing at the Next Act Pub. By that time, the roads were clear of snow and the temperature had risen to merely bracing. I traveled by way of the Legislature grounds and across the high level bridge. While on the High Level I stopped to take a pic of the new bridge being constructed to replace to old Walterdale Bridge. It’s well behind schedule, but is going to be quite impressive when finally finished – in the pic one can see both the smaller old green bridge and the swooping arches of the new one.

img_20161009_164617

img_20161009_182007

Day Two – Monday

Monday was Thanksgiving, and my only ride was to pop out on the R20 to The Italian Center Shop to pick up some feast ingredients. This locally owned neighbourhood grocery store has everyday staples as well as lots of interesting imports and is one of my regular stops. It also has a nifty mosaic outside. This trip is usually about a three mile ride exactly, but in this case I forgot my lock and had to double back for it putting it easily over the qualifying distance.

img_20161010_162311

Day Three – Tuesday

This day’s ride was another 20km round-trip commute on the Superbe. At -6°C it was another brisk morning, but beautiful under a wonderfully illuminated mackerel sky. Much of the snow had melted the previous day and now the resulting roadside puddles were frozen over with a thick layer of ice. The asphalt roads and paths, however, were dry and offered good traction. I was already close to being late for work but I stopped to make my annual frost angel.

And that was all the three speed rides I manged for the week. On Wednesday and Thursday I rode speedier bikes because I was on a tighter schedule. On Friday I rode my winter bike as another snowstorm rolled in, dumping a much greater amount snow, causing traffic havoc as cars slid and spun out on the slushy, icy roads. I chose my route carefully and avoided interacting with the city-wide bumper car madness.

img_20161014_143432

img_20161014_151115

img_20161014_153616

A spot of brightness.

BONUS THREE SPEED CONTENT!

On Saturday evening, I rode the winter bike to Bikeworks for a bit of after hours bike repair and socializing. While I was there I spotted this gem of a wheel that somebody had donated:

img_20161015_234311

Sturmey Three Speed Hub with Drum Brake

It didn’t take long for me to convince myself to buy the wheel to use for a future project. I’m thinking I’ll use it to build another winter bike. When temperatures drop below -20°C an old three speed hub keeps working perfectly while freewheels and freehubs sometimes freeze up. And of course, the enclosed drum brake is perfect for nasty winter riding conditions.

Three Speed October Challenge: Week One

The first week of the Three Speed October Challenge has wrapped up and I’ve done some respectable three-speedin’. On each day of the week I managed at least one trip on an appropriate bike. Not all met the requirements of the challenge but I will present them here anyway because in accordance with Rule#3 of The Society of Three Speeds I did indeed ride my “my three speed bicycle with pride and immense enjoyment.”. 

img_20161004_144740

Raleigh Superbe

The main bike this week was my 70’s era Raleigh Superbe. I do so love this one – for me it represents a perfect realization of one type of bicycle design. It’s no lightweight, coming in at about 45 pounds, but it has a wonderfully smooth ride and strikes that elusive balance between responsiveness and stability that is so valuable in a practical machine intended for transportation and recreation. This bike came to me in nearly factory-new condition, with pristine bronze-green paint and all thoughtfully specified components in fine working order, including the hub-dynamo driven front and rear lights. The only additions I’ve made to the bike are new tubes and tires (having replaced the cracked originals with some spiffy new Rubenas) ; a Brooks B67s saddle;  Kool Stop Continental brake pads for a bit of assistance with the steel rims; an old double-legged kickstand; and a cheap alloy bell (soon to be replaced with a nice brass Crane). Riding this bike is a true delight and makes this October Challenge no challenge at all, really.

Day One (Sunday)

Sunday’s ride was an easy 10km round trip to pick up my son. Towing the trailer with the Superbe was a snap, although with the lesser braking effectiveness of the steel rims I wouldn’t want to do this in the rain. I don’t know how many more trips there will be with the trailer anyway, as by springtime I expect I would have to fold the boy over twice to fit him in there.It’ll be the end of an era.

img_20161002_185758

Day Two (Monday)

Monday’s ride was a 20km round trip commute to work on the Superbe. I didn’t have much time to dawdle and took no photos.

Day Three (Tuesday)

Tuesday’s ride was another 20km round trip to work on the Superbe. I zipped in briskly  on the morning trip but took my time on the return and allowed myself the pleasure of riding some of the gravel trails and sampled the fading autumn splendour of our urban forest. My ride took me over and under bridges and I stopped to take several pictures.

I stopped to look at the construction progress where the City will be demolishing the old pedestrian bridge and replacing it with a fancy new one that will accommodate both pedestrians and the trains for the new LRT line. While I support the new public transit project, I will very much miss the old bridge which offered a peaceful place to linger as one crossed the river. The new bridge, while much more visually striking, will offer, at best, a practical way to get across the river. I don’t see it being the pleasant social hub that the old one was. On this day, the area was a proper hive of activity, with a stream of trucks delivering the boulders being used to construct the berm that is required for tearing down the old bridge.

On the way up the hill from the construction sight I stopped in at the Chinese Garden. I hadn’t been there in quite a while and was pleasantly surprised to see new carvings of the Chinese zodiac installed. These look quite tamper proof and should last longer than the previous ones that suffered badly at the hands of vandals. Behind these statues you can see the little bridge over the water-less pond. I don’t know if the City ever intends to fill that pond but the bridge will remain a somewhat pointless object to me if they let it remain dry.

Day Four (Wednesday)

This day was another 20km round trip commute on my Superbe. Once again, I was racing the clock in the morning but had time to enjoy the ride on the way home. This summer brought more rain than I remember experiencing since I’ve been in Edmonton. It seemed like there was a least a shower per day and many heavy downpours. The greenery in my garden thrived, but the trails in the river valley and ravines experienced accelerated erosion and many trails have been closed. The Superbe offered a civilized and refined ride over some mild singletrack and I was reminded how little difference there is between the common old standard of 26 X 1 3/8 wheels (650A) and the new bike-industry darling of 650B.

Day Five (Thursday)

On Thursday I was on a very tight schedule and didn’t commute on a three-speed, opting instead to ride a faster bike. In the evening  I did ride the Superbe to my weekly volunteer shift at Bikeworks. I’m not actually sure of the distance for this trip, but as a round trip it likely exceeds the three mile requirement of the challenge. I didn’t take any pictures but on my return home after dark I was able to enjoy the warm (if feeble) glow of the original headlamp and bulb on the bike.

Day Six (Friday)

Friday’s ride was another 20km round trip commute but this time on my 70s Raleigh 20 Three-Speed folding bike. This bike has appeared in the blog before but I will comment that it is a rugged, fun little bike that moves fast, maneuvers well and is a surprisingly good choice for hauling cargo. I’ve laced new alloy CR18 rims onto the original hubs making it speedier and also enhancing the effectiveness of the brakes. In gesture of cultural solidarity I’ve installed a lovely old French Ideale saddle on this utilitarian British bike (actually it’s there because it looks good and is comfy to sit on).

On the morning ride to work it was quite chilly at -5°C and there was a heavy frost on the ground. I resisted the urge to stop and make a frost angel in the grass. Lately my commute has been plagued with routes closed due to construction and nonsensical detour suggestions on the part  of the city. At one point I carried my bike up a short flight of stairs instead of taking the ludicrously long official detour and observed from the tracks in the frost that I wasn’t the first person to make that choice.

On the way home I stopped for a scenic bike picture against the background of the river valley.

img_20161007_150127

Day Seven (Saturday)

The view from my window Saturday morning showed fine Christmas weather outside which is unfortunate because it’s actually the Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.

img_20161008_080239

I spent a good portion of my day sipping piping hot tea and playing guitar but eventually I did stir outside and rode my Superbe to Bikeworks. While there I cut some spokes to length and used the spoke threader to roll new threads on them. These are for the new wheel I’m building for my winter bike and I felt perhaps I had delayed this project too late.

A massive group ride had been planned for that evening (one to two hundred riders expected) but it was cancelled due to the weather. That was sad and disrupted my plan of bringing out my third three-speed bike to end the first week of the challenge with a flourish.

Thanks for reading (or skipping ahead) to end of this week of challenge. Next weeks riding will include at least some snowy riding and hopefully one more three-speed bike.

Finishing the Errandonnee: Booze, Books, Yoda and much more!

I’ve been busily going about my normal, everyday cycling life and whenever I remembered, I’ve documented my errands for the Errandonnee challenge:

Errandonnee: Complete 12 errands in 12′ish days and ride a total of 30 miles by bike between March 7-19, 2014

Errand #2 – March 11th – Commuting – 10km

After the previous day’s splashing through puddles, an overnight temperature drop provided lots of icy surfaces on the morning commute. Some behemoth had crashed through the frozen LRT puddle, leaving a field of ice panes across the path.

There’s a steep hill that I pedal up every day to climb out of Mill Creek. During the spring thaw it’s a babbling brook during the day but after a frosty night it freezes into an ice slide. This hill is my personal benchmark for studded tire performance on ice. With my DIY sheet-metal screw tires I could never pedal up it. With Schwalbe Winter Marathon Tires, I can make it to the top as long as I am very careful about how I apply torque to the rear wheel – too much and it spins out. With my Nokkian Hakka WXC300 tires I can zip up the hill without even thinking about the ice, enjoying the Velcro-like grip of these aggressively studded tires. On this day, when I was almost to the top I saw another cyclist carefully heading down the hill, staying close to the side.

Errand #3 – March 11th – Wild Card – 10km

On the way home from work I detoured downtown to City Center Mall to buy a cell phone top-up for my daughter. This is only the second month with her first cell phone, so I’ve been reluctant to hook it up to any of my credit cards until I see how she handles it. On the way out of the downtown core I stopped for a pic by the LRT tunnel free-wall, a place where graffiti art is officially permitted by the city. It’s a constantly changing mural, and if there’s an image you like one day it might be painted over the next.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Errand #4 – March 12th – Commuting – 20km

On the way to work in the morning I was treated to a wonderful sunrise that peaked just as I was crossing the pedestrian bridge. It’s a perfect place to stop for a peaceful few moments to enjoy the morning. I’ll miss this bridge when it’s replaced to make room for LRT expansion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Errand #5 – March 12th – Grocery Store – 1.5km

This is about as boring as errands get. I will note that I am now a fan of bike baskets, with the Wald shown being good for bulky but light loads. The panniers are filled to the top.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Errand #6 – March 14th – Personal Care – 6km

On the way home from work I headed downtown to deposit a few checks in the bank. When I was crossing the river I spotted my first two geese of the year. It’s a good sign that spring might actually be here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I'll bet I'm not.

I’ll bet I’m not.

Errand #7 – March 14th – Personal Care – 0.5km

After the bank I headed to the liquor store, deVines, to pick up something interesting for the weekend. If you don’t think that alcohol counts as personal care, then you just don’t know me. I bought a bottle of German Schenkerla Marzen Smoked beer. The malted barley for this beer is kilned over beechwood logs and sipping this dark beverage is like drinking a campfire. I mean that in a good way. I also picked up a bottle of Kung Fu Girl Riesling for my wife, who has recently started working out and dusting off the moves she learned when we were studying the martial art more than a decade ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Errand #8 – March 14th – Non Grocery Store –  3.5km

Before heading home, I popped in to check out the new space for the Wee Book Inn, an Edmonton used book store chain with several locations. They have just recently downsized their downtown location by moved into this smaller space. There are still lots of books to peruse: I bought “The Sherlock Holmes Scapbook”. Published in 1986, this book has lots of interesting photos chronicling the use of Holmes in a variety of media , from ads for Crawford’s Cream Crackers to a great picture of William Gillette the first actor to portray Holmes on the stage back in 1901. There also also some cycling content, with a photo of Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife riding a velocipede. I’m to lazy to scan it, but you can see it here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Errand #9 – March 15th – Bike Shop – 2km

I celebrated the Ides of March by getting up early and heading to Bikeworks North to clean some of the winter grime off my bike and to put my lighter duty studded tires on. These Schwalbe Winter Marathon tires are great for when there is mostly bare pavement with a few ice patches. It was odd to see my bike emerge from under the encrusting dirt for the first time in months.

Errand #10 – March 15th – Grocery Store

After I left Bikeworks I headed to the Downtown Farmer’s Market. During the cold months it’s hosted in City Hall, another example of Edmonton’s brief and peculiar fascination with pyramids. I got a heap of food as usual.

IIn my opinin, City Hall is not really enhanced by the addition of a Wacky, Waving, Inaflatable, Arm-Flailing, Tube Man

In my opinion, City Hall is not really enhanced by the addition of a Wacky, Waving, Inaflatable, Arm-Flailing, Tube Man

A pretty swanky location for the Farmer's Market.

A pretty swanky location for the Farmer’s Market.

Errand #11 – March 18th – Wild Card – 1.5km

Before work I had to zip out to 7-11 to pick up a pack of bus tickets for my daughter who had lost her bus pass right in the middle of the month – inconvenient.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Errand #12 – March 19th – Dinner – 10 km

The categories for the Errandonnee were a bit problematic for me as three of them were for going out for meals or coffee, things I almost never do. On work days, I pack a lunch and bring a thermos of tea with me. Other meals are pretty much always at home with the family. However, I’ve been intending to try out the Burger Baron location near my home for more than a decade so I popped in on my way home from work. I’ve gone past it hundreds, if not thousands of times, without going in. Established in 1957, Burger Baron was the first drive-through chain in Western Canada and it was pretty popular until big American chains muscled in and the original franchise went into bankruptcy. The locations are now independently operated and have their own widely varying (and slightly…creative) menus. I’ve been to several in the city, but oddly, not the one a few blocks from my house. The locations are often a little shabby and run down, but I really enjoy their distinct personality, very different form the big chains. Where else can you get Donair Poutine with sides of Corn Fritters and Mushroom Soup?  I had a double mushroom burger, one of the Baron’s signature dishes that comes with a heap of mushrooms in a sort of gravy, fries (piping hot) and a chocolate milkshake. I haven’t had a shake in a long, long time and this one was so thick that I could feel my cranial sutures creaking under the vaccuum force of me trying to suck it through the straw. I was uncomfortably full by the time I was finished the meal.

In it's heyday, I imagine the drive-in was packed. Now everybody uses the drive-through.

In it’s heyday, I imagine the drive-in was packed. Now everybody uses the drive-through.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some interesting menu items: Tatertots Poutine & Deep Fried Mush. Although, It turns out that it’s actually Deep Fried Mushrooms I would not have been surprised at all if they were offering some sort of deep fried hash,

Bike of the Week: Motorized 80’s Kuwahara MTB

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This week’s bike belongs to a patron who came into Bikeworks North looking for a suspension fork for his motorized Kuwahara.

Normally, I’m not much of a fan of gasoline powered bicycles, but this one is such a tidy conversion that I had to take a picture. Also, the bicycle is a rather nice early 80’s Kuwahara. This winter I tuned up a very similar for sale at the shop, and if it had been a little bigger I’d have bought it for myself.

In the past, I’ve had  a sort of knee-jerk, negative reaction to motorized bicycles of all sorts.    This attitude was exacerbated by often having to patiently explain to  family members and acquaintances that I really DO like riding my bicycle to work and that getting a motorized one would definitely reduce the amount of exercise I was getting. Gasoline powered bikes, in particular are also loud, exhaust producing, and require trips to the gas station.

I recent years, however, I have come to appreciate the utility of the new generation of electric bikes. While I don’t have any plans to get one for myself any time soon, I can see how they are useful for many people. In particular, they let a person make commuting trips of longer distances than they would normally be capable of. My instructor in a solar energy course used his in this way: riding his e-bike he was able to greatly cut down on the number of days he commuted using his truck. He also measured the energy required to charge the battery and determined that he was only paying 12 cents a day to use the bike. That’s a heck of a savings over the price of gasoline for a truck.

Another natural application is in cargo bikes. Adding an electric motor gives a cyclist the option of hauling heavier loads for longer distances. There are a number of electric cargo bikes on the market. At a local bike shop I was recently looking at a Trek Transport Plus, a slick looking machine. The nearly $3000 price tag puts it somewhat out of my reach at this time but I could imagine myself cobbling together a DIY version, as our local RavingBikeFiend did. However, in the near future I already have plenty of bike projects lined up to keep me busy.

Bike of the Week: 1990 Rocky Mountain Fusion

WARNING: This post contains tedious, bike nerd content. My feelings won’t be at all hurt if you skip the text and just look at the pictures.

Introducing the 1990 Rocky Mountain Fusion

Introducing the 1990 Rocky Mountain Fusion

This winter I retired my old winter  ride, a 2007 Iron Horse Commuter. This bike served me well as my only bike for a couple of years before it was demoted to only winter service for two more years. By this time I was looking for something a little nicer for my winter ride. Preferably an older, good quality rigid mountain bike. What I ended up using was a slightly scruffy Rocky Mountain Fusion frameset  that had been kicking around, neglected, at Bikeworks North for several months.

About the Fusion Model:

The Fusion was first introduced in 1988. This bike’s frame was made overseas and then assembled in Canada. There was nothing unusual about this for the company, however, as in the previous year  six out of nine of the Rocky Mountain models were imported. By 1990, the year my bike was made, only the Fusion was not made in Canada. The 1989 model was made in Taiwan and I’m guessing that my 1990 bike was as well.  In the following year all the bikes including the Fusion were made in Canada. Ironically, I’m pretty sure that the pendulum has swung back and most if not all of Rocky Mountain’s bikes are made in Taiwan now. During these early years, the Fusion sat close to and sometimes at the bottom of the Rocky Mountain lineup. Even so, at  $760 in 1993 this was not an inexpensive bike.

1990 Rocky Mountain Fusion

It has Ishiwata triple butted chromoly tubing. Triple butted was a marketing term from the period and functionally it’s no different from double butted. The tubing mostly has a circular cross-section, except where the seat tube joins the bottom bracket. At this point it is shaped to an oval cross section, purportedly offering better stiffness under pedaling torque.  Looking at the bike you can see the hint of a sloping top tube, something Rocky Mountain was making a big deal about at the time. It’s nothing by today’s standards, of course.

1990 Rocky Mountain Fusion

It has sturdy rear rack bosses, eyelets for rack and fender in the rear, and for just a fender in the front. There is also nice attention to detail in the form of threaded holes for accessory mounting in the chainstay bridge, the seatstay bridge, and the fork crown

There are a few details that definitely place the era  the bike was made in. Firstly, the stem is the short lived 1 1/8″ theaded size. This size was briefly used in the early nineties but was quickly swept aside by the now familiar  threadless system. This isn’t  a big deal, but it will make sourcing replacements parts a bit more inconvenient. Secondly, while it has cantilever brakes in the front, it has a seatstay mounted U-brake in the rear. U-brakes were a fad in the late 90s, initially appearing on the chainstays, but later migrating to the seat stays before disappearing from bikes in the early 90s. There will be about that stupid U-brake later in this post.

Building the Bike:

Building this bike was the first time I’d ever started from mostly just a frameset. The only original parts are the frame, fork, headset, and probably the stem. All of the other components I either transferred from the Iron Horse or scrounged from my parts bin or the ones at BWN.

Starting off, the non-driveside crank threads were stripped. As we don’t have a puller at BWN, I cut the crank off with a hacksaw. The bottom bracket parts were worn out and I discarded them. Next, checking the frame with the alignment gauge showed that the rear triangle was bent to one side. Although this was my first time using the frame bending tools, the internet helpfully instructed me and I was able to realign the tubes, dropouts and derailleur hanger.

1990 Rock Mountain Fusion

I mounted XT levers with the shifters removed. These are great short-pull levers with good braking force and modulation. I used Suntour ratcheting friction shifters. Friction shifting is much less fussy than indexed in winter conditions, when your bike is coated in sand,salt and ice. These Suntour thumbies are as good as it gets. Levers and shifters are mounted on a Zoom 170 butted aluminum handlebar.

1990 Rocky Mountain Fusion

I used a set of older LX cantis on the front. A little finicky to set up but with good braking power.

Biopace triple crankset. Some people loved the biopace chainrings, some hated them. I'm indifferent. The front derailleur is a nice,earlier Deore. Te rear derailleur is a nothing-special Alivio. Winter is tough on the drivetrain. No  sense in using anything too nice.

Biopace triple crankset. Some people loved the biopace chainrings, some hated them. I’m indifferent. The front derailleur is an earlier Deore. The rear derailleur is a nothing-special Alivio. Winter is tough on the drivetrain. No sense in using anything too nice.

Dratted U-Brake.

Dratted U-Brake.

When I started building the bike I assumed that it was supposed to have rear cantis. Posts on the seatstays equals cantilevers, right? Wrong! It wasn’t until I tried mounting a set of V-brakes that I noticed that the posts didn’t have a hole for the brake springs. I also belatedly noticed that the posts were higher than cantilever posts, above the rim in fact. What the heck was going on? U-brakes, that’s what.

U-Brakes are a sort of caliper brake on steroids.They do have plenty of stopping power, but have a few peculiarities. When bike manufacturers started using U-Brakes they placed them on the chainstays. These tubes are stronger than the seatstays, resulting in less frame flex during braking. Unfortunately it also put the brakes down near the ground where they tended to get clogged with mud and dirt. Builders, didn’t quite give up on them yet, though, and for a few years they located the U-brakes up on the seat stays. However,in this location they didn’t really have any significant advantages over cantilevers.

The geometry of the U-Brake system causes the pads to contact the rim higher and higher   as the pads wear out. Eventually, they will start rubbing on the tires with unfortunate results. This is not an endearing feature. While riding my Fusion this winter I made a special point of monitoring the pad wear to ensure my skookum studded tires were not ruined. Also, these brakes didn’t make it easy to squeeze fat tires and fenders on the bike. If you look closely at the photo you will see that I had to grind slots in the fenders to fit them inside the brake calipers. Add, a rack to the bike and it’s a real pain to make adjustments. Enough about brakes.

The front wheel is a Mavic something-or-other rim with a DT Hugi hub. I’d rolled with this wheel for two winters on the Iron Horse before using it on the Fusion. It’s continues to be great. Winter riding is one application where sealed cartridge bearings are very useful. Next year I may do something similar for the rear wheel (currently Mavic on an 8-speed LX Hub).

I wasn’t able use my DIY studded tires with this bike as the front fork clearance is quite tight. However, I lucked into some great second hand Nokian Haka WXC300 carbide studded tires. These have fantastic traction (I was down riding on the frozen river one day this winter) but are a beast to roll when you’re on bare pavement. The narrow fork clearance meant that I couldn’t fit a fender with these tires, either. I also used a set of Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires for a while, too. These 26 X 1.75″ tires were narrow enough that I could use the front fender with them. They don’t have anywhere near the grip of the Nokians but they roll much better on pavement. I used them throughout the last part of winter when there was a lot of bare pavement but still a fair number of icy patches.

RIDING THE FUSION:

Riding through the winter months on the lighter weight Fusion was much more enjoyable than on the clunky old Iron Horse Commuter. It’s stable, fast, and nimble. I churned through deep powder, ground across pits of brown sugar, climbed hills of sheer ice, and pounded across rutted hardpack. All the while whistling a jaunty tune (or maybe not).

1990 Rocky Mountain Fusion

In the autumn, after building the bike and before the first snowfall,  I had the chance to take the Fusion for a test ride on the river valley singletrack. It flowed smoothly through the twisty trails, urging me to ride faster than my terrible off-road skills would normally permit. The difference between this bike and my previous imitation mountain bikes was noticeable. When I was racing down the the long, straight stretch leading to entrance to Kinnaird ravine I felt like I was outpacing the photons carrying  the visual information to my vibrating eyeballs. Good, clean fun.

It’s worth noting that the longish stem without much rise results in a very stretched out riding position.This aggressive stance felt great  on days when I was really digging in and pedaling hard.  However, on those commuting days when I was feeling less energetic,a more upright riding position would have been nice.

1990 Rocky Mountain Fusion

The Fusion also did a fine job of hauling cargo. I’ve loaded up the bike with panniers full of groceries on a regular basis and have hauled a few large awkward packages with no problems. These older rigid mountain bikes really are great all-around bikes. As a bonus, you can still buy them for cheap as they tend to be undervalued. However, there has been a lot more internet buzz about them in recent years so that change soon. If you are the sort that absolutely MUST have drop-bars,check out this forum thread to see some  conversions. For the summer, I’m thinking of going the opposite way and temporarily transmogrifying the Fusion into an upright city bike style. Stay tuned for details.

Whichever configuration it ends up in, this bike is now one of my keepers.

There will be a caption here

Errandonnee: Creeping Across The Finish Line.

Yes, I have finished the Errandonnee.This news will doubtless come as a relief to any non-utility cycling readers. Will my control card pass muster? Time will tell. My documentable errands had dropped off throughout the week and the last ones were completed over the course of a few days. There were a some trips that could have qualified but as in the case of shopping for my wife’s Valentine Day gift, I choose not to regard them as errands.

Thanks to MG for organizing the Errandonnee. It has put a bit of fun into the daily drudgery of chores.

ERRAND #9, Friday, Trip to the bank.

On the way home from work I detoured to downtown to deposit a cheque at the bank. The weather was so fantastically and unseasonably warm that I cycled home without a jacket, hat or gloves, just because I could. For those who doubt, I have photographic evidence.

Look Ma! No gloves!

Look Ma! No gloves!

Errandonnee #9

The Errandonnee rules state that participants must record an observation about each errand. In the Sherlock Holmes story ” A Scandal in Bohemia” Holmes points out that he is in the habit of observing his surroundings whereas  Watson is not. He illustrates this by asking if Watson knows how many steps there are in the stairs leading to the the Baker Street flat they have both walked up so many times. Watson of course does not know, whereas Holmes has the ready answer: 17 steps. In this spirit, I observed the number of steps leading up from the river valley to the Hotel MacDonald.

There are 201 steps.

There are 201 steps.

Errand completed!

Errand completed!

ERRAND #10: Sunday. Trip to the Post Office.

I made a rare trip the post office to mail a post card to the States. My neighbourhood office closed  a year or so ago and now I  usually use the one at Kingsway Mall. While there I observed that not the new LRT line under construction seems to be creeping towards completion. I imagine the winter slows things down somewhat.

A rare trip to the post office.

ERRAND #11: Monday, Trip to Bikeworks North to work on one of my bikes.

A significant perk that comes with being a regular volunteer at Bikeworks is access to the shop after hours. I could probably count this errand in the Bike Shop category but I think it’s better to use my wild card for this one.

Today I was finishing up my “Ravine Bike”. I found this abandoned bike when volunteering at a ravine clean-up last spring. It was missing many parts but over the months I managed to cobble enough together to resurrect it. Today’s mission was getting the brakes working properly. I had tried once before but it’s the first bike I’ve worked on with disc brakes and I didn’t quit get it right. I rode the nearly brakeless bike very slowly to the shop and had another crack at it. This time, partly due to truing the rotors I was able to nail it.

As of today this bike is complete and ready to ride. While riding to the shop I observed that the shocks work much better at -7ºC than in the -20ºC I last road this bike in. I’m not ready to reveal the bike itself yet, but will feature it in an upcoming blog post. You will find a small hint below.

Rotor truing.

Rotor truing.

Errand #11

ERRAND #12: Monday, Bargain hunting at a local thrift shop.

Once or twice a month I usually drop by one of the second-hand stores to look for bargains. Lately, I’ve been having a good run with the best finds being new or like-new merino wool clothing and gore-tex outerwear. The store I visited today seems to have been getting shipments of brand new clothing from a major work wear store, so I was hopeful.

I tried on a new pair of good quality steel toed work boots. They fit well but were heavily insulated and not suitable for my purposes so I left them for somebody else. The big find today turned out to be an Eddie Bauer Gore-Tex parka with goose down fill. This thing is so warm that it’ll have to be pretty cold out to use it. I certainly won’t be cycling in it. Wearing it, I felt a bit like George from Seinfeld. It was missing the hood, but for $30.00 I brought it home anyway.

Errand #12