Perigee-Syzygy Ride

I’m sorry about the clunky title of this blog post. I was originally going to title it “Supermoon Ride”.  However, a quick trip to Wikipedia informed me that the term supermoon was coined in recent decades by an astrologer. As I am pretty firmly in the NON astrology camp my choice seemed obvious.


On Saturday night the sky was clear, the moon was bright, and I was awake at one a.m. A bike ride seemed in order. When I woke my wife up to tell her I was headed out she sleepily told me to take pictures of the moon. I was doubtful that my little point and shoot camera would be able to capture anything worthwhile, but I dutifully tucked it into my shoulder bag. I was planning on taking my recently purchased Norco Magnum GT for a fast ride so I decided not to pack my somewhat bulky tripod with me. In retrospect, this was an obvious mistake.

The riding was fantastic. The night was cool without being cold, the traffic was light and the bike was ridiculously smooth rolling and fast. And, of course, the moon was brilliant and beautiful. I must say, however, that any increase in the apparent size of the moon was not discernible to me. I zipped through quiet residential neighbourhoods into downtown. There was still a good amount of carousing going and I had a pretty amusing short conversation with an intoxicated pedestrian while I waited for  light to change. I headed back North along the top of the river valley enjoying the moonlit view of the river.

While the ride was great the photographing was only OK. Without the tripod, it was more than a little difficult to hold the camera steady enough to prevent blurry photos. It mostly involved a lot of holding my breath and trying to find objects to steady the camera against. Sometimes that object was the ground, requiring me to lay flat in the grass. In all, the results were at least as good as my Midnight Photoshoot last year when I did bring the tripod but was using my older and lesser camera. That’s progress.

I was back home by 3 a.m. and postponed the photo culling until the next day. A keen eye will be able to guess which photos I took for my wife (hint: there are no bikes).

80s Norco Magnum GT Road Bike

It’s Spring in Edmonton and the bikes are multiplying in the Tuckamoredew household. This latest arrival was the result of an uncharacteristically instant decision on my part. Normally, I delay and loudly agonize over any bike related purchase until my wife tells me to buy it or be quiet. While most of my purchases come via Kijiji classified ads, this time it was from Pinkbike.  I usually only check Pinkbike for parts and not complete bikes, particularly not road bikes. Any road bikes listed are usually quite new and are typically at least $1000. This is well outside (think astronomical distances) my budget for casual bike purchases. However, on impulse I checked and spotted this nice vintage road bike listed for $75.00.  After a quick flurry of electronic communication with the seller I had agreed to buy the bike and pick it up early the following morning. The seller was a second year university student who had bought the bike to covert to fixed gear but decided instead to stick with his trials mountain bike. This was fine with me as this bike is in such good and original condition that it would be a shame to fixify it.

What did I get for $75.00? Quite a decent mid 80s road bike with nice components:

  • Tange Mangaloy double butted tubing
  • 700c Araya alloy rims (schraeder drilled) with Suzue 36-spoke cartridge bearing hubs
  • Sugino Super Maxy triple crankset with drilled chainrings
  • Suntour  ratcheting downtube shifters
  • Suntour ARX derailleurs
  • Dia-Compe side-pull brakes with drilled levers.

It was the drilled chainrings and cartridge bearing hubs that caught my attention in the sellers ad. They are pretty much identical to the components on my much loved ’83 Nishiki Continental. At the very least, I thought, I would be able to use this bike for spare parts for Nishiki-san. As it turns out, the bike is in excellent shape and except for the decrepit tires it’s in good riding condition. I haven’t taken it for a long ride yet because of the shabby tires but the short neighbourhood jaunts I have taken have shown it to ride light, very  smooth and fast. It handles nimbly and stops quickly. It is, unfortunately, perhaps a tad small for me. Not so small that I won’t ride for a while before making up my mind if I’m keeping it.

Mangaloy was Tange's brand name for a manganese-molybdenum steel. Quality wise it lies between Hi-Ten and Chromoly. Its chief virtue compared to chromoly was that brazing temperature wasn't as critical and was therefore better suited to automated manufacturing.

I'm always unreasonably impressed by cartridge bearing hubs in older bikes.

I like these factory drilled chainrings, though they aren't quite as fantastically improbable as the real serious cases of drillium. Doubtless, they are sturdier.

I have Suntour ratcheting thumb shifters on my winter bike and they are as nice as friction shifters get. I have a couple of sets of these ratcheting downtube shifters in my parts box but I'd never got around to installing them on a bike. The small amount of riding I've done on this bike indicates that they are also very nice, as expected.

I'll be replacing the hoods and electrical tape bar wrap.

This is the worst bit of paint damage. Otherwise, there are only minor scuffs and scratches.

Norco, based in British Columbia, is currently  the ubiquitous Canadian brand with bikes for all ages, of many types, at a range of prices. Although they’ve been around since 1964 there’s not a lot of information online about their early days. They seem to have been involved with a number of Japanese manufacturers before they ever marketed bikes under their own brand: my ’83 Nishiki Continental has a decal that reads “Designed by Norco”. This Magnum GT is likely from only a year or two later and definitely has similarities to the Continental. Norco acquired the Japanese bike company Sekai in 1983 and later phased out the brand in favour of their own. I have found pictures online of several Sekai Magnum GT bikes and they are unsurprisingly nearly identical to this Norco bike. The GT apparently stands for Grand Touring and some of the bikes seem to support this. This one however isn’t a convincing touring bike except for the triple crankset. Whatever it is, I’m enjoying it so far and I’m looking forward to getting some new tires on it so I can rack up a few kilometers. This may be my best bike score to date. I do wish it was a little bigger, though.

I like the old Norco head badge.

Somebody was a little extravagant with the cable housing.