Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hmmm, hmmm...

Rarely do I come across anything written complimentary about lycra-clad roadies these days, a group I have considered myself a member of since the mid-1980s. As cycle-chic and other like-minded blogs extolling the virtues of everyday dress for everyday cycling, utility cycling, slow bike commuting, el al, have proliferated over the past couple of years, the lycra wearers have become more objects of scorn, subject to derision as law breakers, road hogs and wannabe's in clown outfits. And so I took special pleasure in reading this, and will quote in full:

"You can today recognize these sport cyclists by their very toned calves, their bent headed determination and their pointy helmets, as well as the stray pieces of cycling kit they may still wear as they speed their way to and from their places of employ. We owe these men and women a debt of gratitude for helping to stake out a piece of the street for cycles."

That's right, gratitude. I figure 25 years or so of riding, training, racing, commuting and errand running, almost always clad head to toe in the latest team kit (maybe an occasional older one) qualifies me for that group of unsung heroes. You can post up your thanks here. I think I will ride home with my head held a little higher today; but not so high that I would look down on all the cycle chic late-comers.

Some vintage picks...

MAFAC's Racer centerpull brakes were the manufacturer's most common model. The little rack is not really a rack, though I didn't know any better until I looked it up (duh), but is rather support for a handlebar mount basket. MAFAC, began producing brakes, levers and tool kits in France following World War II. Their products were among the more common brake models seen on bikes from the late 1950s through the 1970s. This brake set is on an unidentified frame (there is a raised heart on the downtube, but it does not seem like a DeRosa) at the Velo.

This Olmo is set up as a smart little commuter or errand runner with that rear rack. I especially like that little "army" bell. I gave it a test ride - very comfy. However, with a little alteration this could be a cool cross-bike for certain cyclocross races. Nothing like the details on vintage Italian bikes; check out the great fretwork motif around the seatpost clamp.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Well, after an all too short hiatus from the daily commute I rejoined the throng making their/our way into the office. Somehow, at times like this, I always expect to see change, big change. Not change like "the old railroad bridge over Foothill in Rancho Cucamonga has been removed so the city can begin road realignment" kind of change, though that is big change. And yes, that does mean that the PET has a temporary disconnect along its route. I am talking about momentous change along the lines of evolutionary theory which holds that the most dramatic changes in the evolutionary past have occurred in spurts rather than gradually over long periods of time. Somehow I expect to see a major shift in the way people are getting around - bikes flooding the streets, parking lots all but empty, trains packed floor to ceiling. But alas no, reality strikes with a dull thud, the masses are still locked in their old ways, the same couple handfulls making the effort- two wheels are a viable alternative to the same old gridlocked ways. I'm not sure why this fallacy of thought persists; I am a card-carrying pessimist by nature, so there is no reason to hope that things would have dramatically improved. But still, every year after I have returned from vacation that hope is there. Maybe it is a result of time away from the grind, of having been able to relax and disconnect from everyday pettiness that leaves me renewed. At the same time, the nagging reality that nothing had changed nearly kept me from the bike. What's the use; and so I hit the snooze button twice, deciding to sell out and drive. I knew I would regret the decision, so at the last possible minute I threw everything into the messenger bag and rode out from the garage. I was greeted by the sun, the cool morning air, and nods from my fellow cyclists. Glad for the effort.

As an aside, I was able to visit Malibu over the weekend, though not on two-wheels. My sister and her family are down from Seattle and wanted to spend a day at Zuma, so we made the drive out to the coast. Controversy aside, it was great to see so many cyclists out on PCH. It has been a good 16 years (I can hardly believe so much time has passed) since I last rode that stretch. Living in Burbank at the time, taking Mulholland, down Sepulveda and San Vicente, PCH north, and Topanga Canyon back over to the Valley was a pleasure ride, especially on hot summer days. There was always a lot of traffic, but it seems like there are a lot more cars parked alongside the road now, especially in the vicinity of certain businesses. A clear example of private interests, in this case drivers and businesses, getting a free ride on the public's back; free private parking on a public roadway. This is also, of course, one of the more dangerous situations for cyclists, riding between parked cars on one side and moving vehicles on the other. If the shoulders were kept clear, I suspect there would be far less problem. I can hear the uproar, like a fog horn, over the breaking waves now.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


A friendly reminder to give a little more business to this bike friendly business,
the Last Drop Cafe, 119 Harvard Ave, Claremont.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bottecchia rebuild, part 3: last of the cleaning and a query...

Finished cleaning the last of the Bottecchia's components, those that I intend to keep (at least for the time being). Crank arms, chainrings and bolts, and the bottom bracket (not shown) cups, bearings and the spindle, and finally, the fork and crown, with stickers from King's Bike Shop (Long Beach).

And now the query; does anyone know anything about DEA 'Super Chrome' rims. These are what came with the bike. I know they were made in France, and came in either steel or alloy, the alloy ones being a step up, though I am doubtful they were used on racing frames. These are 27 x 1.25", have a dimpled braking surface, and were built with Normandy high flange hubs (as noted earlier). These rims seem to have been quite common on mid-range and maybe lower models during the 1970s; Peugeot and Motobecane used them on some of their models. Anyway, if you know anything about this manufacturer and would like to share it would be appreciated. Any little bit of information, however insignificant it might seem, adds to the greater knowledge.


One of the many attractions of the bicycle, I believe, is the simplicity of the machine. Entirely powered by the human body, there are only so many parts to make it go (the bike, not the body), and thus only so many things that could go wrong. If there was a mantra of bicycle repair I would make it a simple three-parter, as such, "lube it, tighten it, or replace it". The first two will suffice to address almost all problems that might be encountered and are the mainstays of any regular maintenance routine. The third, replace it, only comes into play when something cracks or breaks as a result of material imperfections, regular wear and tear, or (gasp) improper maintenance, or a replacement due to upgrade. There may be some science involved in keeping a bike running smoothly, but none of it is of the rocket variety, and is therefore well within the grasp of most riders. The garage has become a favorite room lately - a fold-up camping chair, a cold drink, some music, surrounded by the household's bikes and I am set for the duration. There is a certain satisfaction to be achieved by doing it yourself; self-sufficiency is a diminishing art form, but one well suited to the world of cycling. Give it a try; questions, just let me know.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bottecchia rebuild, part 2: More cleaning, a minor surprise, and a curiosity...

Have removed the rust from most of the parts now, just the crank arms to go. The lugs look nice and shiny, but have a black discoloration in areas. Maybe I need to find a polish to take care of it. The Zeus cable guide turned out really well, as did the rear brake housing clips along the top tube. Two of these are Giorgia, while the third is DiaComp. Two wow's and one meh. Not sure what the symbol is on the Giorgia two, a dragon or horse flying a banner would be my guess. I am a bit curious as to why they are even on the bike, since the underside of the top tube does have what I assume are braze on cable guides, located both front and back. The more I look at the frame all cleaned up now, the more consideration I give to repainting it, but am hesitant over the extra cost.

Ride to Baldy Notch...

Still on vacation for most of the week and the mountains are still strong in my blood so I rolled out the Felt this morning. Manker Flat to Baldy Notch is not much of a ride distance-wise, but it makes up for it in the climb. Could not have asked for a better day, the valley below was fogged in during the morning hours, but Baldy is up above all that, and the sky was just an amazing blue, and the Notch was cooled by a gentle breeze.
San Antonio Falls. Can you spot the three-tiered drop?

Looking back down the canyon.

Getting there. The lodge at the Notch.



and more cones, everywhere you look.

Resting at Desert View.

Road down the north side of Baldy to Stockton Flat. Follow the link for a description from a ride there.

The lodge at Baldy Notch; the gray peak in the back (mostly obscured) is Baldy, highest peak in the San Gabriels.

Similar to, but not quite Matilija Poppies. Don't know what they are.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bottecchia rebuild, part 1...

Now back from my week out of town and I could not wait to get on with the rebuild. Step one, disassembling, came easily enough. I removed all components in order to make attacking the rust on the frame easier, as well as cleaning up any of the components I intend to keep. Might as well start at the front and work my way back, as good a plan as any I suppose, so off came the fork and headset. These had a ton of old lube on them which had become sticky with age. A little citrus degreaser took care of the problem, and shined the headset up like new. There are no identifying marks on the headset so I do not know who the manufacturer is, but since it cleaned up so well and there are no pits in the races I might as well keep it for the time being. It has been more than a few years since I last had to deal with loose bearings and their cages; one bearing got away from me and I had to spend several frantic minutes on hands and knees searching the garage floor for it. All's well that ends well, and here are a few pics as proof:

Next step, remove rust from the lugs around the headtube.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Camping in Kings Canyon...

Well, thanks for the week off. It was much appreciated, though sometimes I do not know why I come back from these trips to the Sierra's. Don't be surprised if one of these times I don't. I think when I am in my 60s and 70s I will just spend most of the year up there traipsing around like Norman Clyde or one of those early mountaineers. Anyway King's Canyon was as spectacular as ever.

Got to do plenty of hiking with the bears, and let my hot tired dogs cool off in the river after hiking with the bears, a lot of plain old relaxing, even got in a little riding, some on two wheels, some on four legs.

I did not see a single person who did not arrive motor assisted, but once into camp it was difficult to tell which was the more popular form of transportation, foot or bike. I could have spent all day sitting in camp, taking photos of people riding by, some riding around just for fun, others making an ice run to the store, or heading over to the showers.

The National Park Service has laid down a nice new bike path linking all the campgrounds with the store/lodge. That means it is short, but it does allow people to leave their cars at the campsite. If you are like me, and that is just not enough, the roads are adequate. I wasn't the only rider out on them in the early morning cool, when traffic was non-existent. Thing about King's Canyon is, it does not get the crowds and heavy traffic that Sequoia does which makes it a more attractive place to ride. Bike parking, on the other hand is not as creative as I believe it could be.

The Monarch Divide high country, Lewis Creek drainage, from the Hotel Creek Trail

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New/old Bottecchia...

So, this weekend I decided to branch out, expand my world so to speak, and delve into the realm of vintage. This Bottecchia is now my most recently purchases bike, as well as oldest by date of manufacture. It is probably an early 1970's frame. While not a top of the line Bottecchia, it is still nice and will be a good project.

It has the usual "Campione del Mondo 1966" sticker on it that Bottecchia's of the era had. Unfortunately dating it is not so easy as simply reading the sticker. The wheelset that came with it includes a pair of Normandy hubs which, according to Sheldon Brown, were pretty standard fare of 1970's imports. The rims are not the same standard; too bad, but they can be rebuilt. The Nervor Sport cranks come with 50-46 chainrings. The remainder of the components are nothing special, Dia Compe mostly, and won't make the cut during the rebuild process. It is in pretty good shape, the rust is all on the surface and will clean up with a little elbow grease. And check out the head tube angle and rake of the fork, they make the same on my Basso, which was built almost 20 years later, look almost vertical and straight. I will be posting up changes as they take place. And if anyone has information on what model this might be, or knows a good source for 1970's Campy, or Simplex, or? let me know.

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