Archive for July, 2012

A Short Trip on Arianna

You’re never far from a creek in this county, no matter where you are:

This town also has a pretty little park:

Arianna: 10.1 miles

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New Trail

I took Arianna on a new trail, this one along a river.  There was lots to see; everything from urban blight to scenic beauty, and lots in-between.

The invasive plant below (an ivy?) has taken over an entire hillside, creating either a bizarre-looking version of natural topiary, or a landscape that looks as if it’s been subsumed by green fungus.  However you describe it, the foliage beneath can’t be faring well.  Is this what you’d call natural blight, as opposed to the urban kind?

I didn’t take any pictures of the more distressed, populated, areas in view along the trail, but liked the signage on this old knitting mill.  Ghostly lettering on the side of the building indicates that the factory once produced hosiery:

Here’s another view of the river:

Although I didn’t get a photo, the highlight of the excursion was keeping pace with a slow-moving Norfolk Southern train.  We traveled side-by-side, trail and track, for a good distance.  What fun!

Back at the parking lot, there was a new installation — a copper water fountain:

The bowl at the bottom is for canines:

Arianna:  17.1 miles

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On the Trail Again

As soon as I picked up Arianna from the bike shop, I put her on the back of the car, and returned to the trail.  I was determined to complete our previous, rather hobbled, ten-mile ride. I knew it would be a better experience now that Arianna had two functional pedals.

Done, and done.  I’m fast on Arianna, at least on level paths and mild inclines:  over 13 mph, no coasting involved.

No snickering, please.  In my world, that counts as “fast”.  (Just think what I could do with gears on a small, light bike.  Oh, yeah!)

Have I mentioned that Arianna’s model name is “week-end”?

“[W]eek-end” is in orange, just under the last two letters of her name on the frame loop:

She’s also, apparently, the “standard” version, judging from the seat stem:

It’s amazing how well Arianna’s foil decals have held up over the decades.  She’s 44 years old, and was about in the same shape she is now when I first bought her, used, decades ago.  (Which is to say, she could have been better cared-for, both before and after I acquired her, but passive neglect has not eroded any of her special charm.)

Arianna:  10 miles

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Arianna Returns

My little folder has been returned to me with its pedal restored to full use.  The guys at the shop were able to re-thread the crank without having to tap it and use an insert, to everyone’s great relief.  She’s still got her original cranks and pedals.

I love Arianna’s original pedals —  they’re white rubber with yellow reflectors.  Rubber ages so much better than vinyl, and has greater resilience, too.  Arianna’s pedals need another good scrub, but they’ve still got almost all of their original texture.  They’re comfortable to use, and nice and grippy.

The fellows at the bike shop also ran a safety check on Arianna — that’s probably something I should have had a pro do before I began these adventures, considering my (considerable) level of ignorance of most things cycle.  Much to my great surprise and joy, one of the guys noticed that Arianna’s lights didn’t work — so he hooked them up. Whoo-hoo!

No pictures of the wonderful lights yet; I  need to rustle up some help, as the wheel must turn to make them shine.

For the first time in all the decades I’ve owned her, Arianna has working  lights, fore and aft!  It was thrilling to see those lights burning, and the generator set exactly the way it should be.

When the pedal disconnected, I took Arianna to the bike shop closest to the trail where she’d failed —  and it turned out to be a great choice.   Thanks, Exton Bicycles — what a treat to deal with people who care about my vintage wheels as much as I do!

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Folder Mileage and Vintage Issues

7/22.2012 — I was working with two versions of this post, simultaneously, in WordPress (bad idea, BTW), and didn’t realize that I’d published a garbled draft until I saw it in my RSS feed. This is the correct version.  I hope.

On an overcast day, with rain expected, I took Arianna out, since the electric components of Pegasus, my pedal-assist trike, aren’t waterproof.  This was Arianna’s second trip, a ten-mile excursion meant to test my stamina and hers.  One of us didn’t quite make the grade; at about mile 4, I stopped for a drink of water, stepped on a pedal, and snapped it off.  I didn’t have a camera ready, so didn’t take a picture of the damage, but here’s the pedal in question:

I was crushed.  One minute I was cruising along, effortlessly, and the next it looked as if I’d be headed home.  Worse, I wondered if the damage was fixable.  Apparently, the bolt holding the pedal had loosened quickly; when checked at the time the tires were replaced, all had appeared well.  At some point, though, the stem unscrewed sufficiently to allow the pedal to pull out of the crank when stepped upon,  damaging the threads on the crank. As a result, I wasn’t able to screw the pedal back into place.

At the bike shop I learned that replacement pedals that closely resemble Arianna’s originals are available, though, sadly, in black, rather than Arianna’s white. The shop had a pair similar to these:

Although I was glad that an vintage-appearing replacement was available, they’re not the same. Presumably, too, the replacements are vinyl, not true rubber, which is a much nicer material. I love Arianna’s white rubber, and bright yellow reflectors:

Replacing the crank was of greater concern, as it is a now uncommon style (cottered) and size. The threads on Arianna’s pedal appeared to be undamaged, though, so the shop agreed to try tapping the crank, and inserting new threads, in the hope of saving the original assembly.

This was an outing with a companion; I was not willing to give up the excursion, so I rode the remainder of the mileage with only the one pedal in place.  Since I was wearing minimalist shoes (Merrill Barefoot Pace Gloves), I was able to grab, just barely, the damaged crank,  with the flexible sole on my left foot, and half-pedal the crank even though there was no actual pedal to use.  The process was a bit grueling, but worth the tribulation, for the pleasure of being out.

Arianna:  10 miles

Black pedal image from AAWYEAH

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Rear View Mirror

I’ve used a mirror on my Nutcase helmet, and it works, more or less. It’s small, and it’s virtually impossible for me to do a quick check using it, since my head is never in exactly the same place when I need to see behind me.   I’d read that handlebar mounted mirrors tended to be jittery, but decided that I wanted to try one, since neither of my other helmets are well-suited to an attached mirror, and I’m not thrilled with the helmet mount I do have..  I saw this on Adeline Adeline’s website, and bought one when I was in New York:

It’s got a nice retro look, which I love, but best of all, it suits my cycling needs perfectly.  It’s larger than anything I could ever mount on a helmet, and it’s stationary, meaning that it is always exactly where I expect it to be, rather than bopping around on my helmet as I turn my head.

When I mounted it, I put a strip of rubber (well, vinyl, from a roll of shelf-liner) to ensure that 1) Pegasus’s handlebars wouldn’t get scratched and 2) that any vibration would be dampened a bit by the cushion.  That worked perfectly: the mirror stays in place, and doesn’t wobble a bit.  Unlike some with a flexible stem, this mirror is very steady; it isn’t affected by road vibration at all.

Adjusting it involved a bit of tweaking.  The mirror itself rotates, but only on one plane, and the disk can only be raised and lowered in a direct line on the stem (the angle of the stem is fixed once the mirror is installed).  Neither adjustment is easy to manage while riding, so I spent a lot of time in the driveway, imagining vehicles off my left shoulder.

Eventually, it all paid off, and I’m very pleased with the way this mirror works.  I get an extremely clear view of what’s behind me,  and, since I don’t have to either orient or re-focus when checking it, using this mirror has become second nature.

That’s a huge plus for safety and awareness; knowing what’s going on behind me is an absolutely critical part of my “road-safe” practices.  It’s one way to improve the odds a bit when traveling with multi-thousand pound vehicles.  This mirror has made the rear-view check easy and its accuracy dependable.

One note:  I found that the nuts have to be tightened really aggressively to ensure that my adjustments don’t go awry.  As with fenders and all else nut-and-bolt related, I check periodically to make sure everything stays snug.

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Vintage Wheels

Many decades ago, long before folders were of much interest to anyone in the USA, I bought a used Italian folding bicycle.  It was (and is) quirky and cute, but I haven’t been able to ride it for years, owing to several disability issues.  Now that Pegasus, my trike, has contributed to masking or minimizing some of those issues, I’ve dusted off my WIP Arianna Week End folder, and am riding her on local trails.

The wire baskets, which fold nicely against the rack, weren’t original; I added them when I bought the bike.  They’re Walds, of course, and each perfectly hold a grocery bag.  A clip at the top keeps them folded when not in use.  The wicker basket is new; it’s meant for a child’s bike, but is perfectly-sized for Arianna.  I didn’t want to add a water bottle cage to my vintage folder, so I just pop the bottle into this basket.

Arianna came with a charming little bell, now (as then) somewhat marred by time and damp; it’s marked “San Cristoforo”, who is, of course, the patron saint of travelers.

Other quirky touches include the red grips

white rubber pedals

the red and white saddle (much in need of restoration)

and this adorable little sleeve for the end of the hand brake cable:

Outfitted with new tires, tubes, and brake pads (there’s a coaster brake, and an ancillary handbrake), Arianna was ready to go.  I was stunned at how easily she rolls; it was a bit of a shock to realize how hard I have to work to move Pegasus, even with his six speeds.  Pegasus tops out at about 70 pounds, not counting any cargo; Arianna is probably around 30-35 pounds.  The difference in effort required to move each is huge.

Arianna is a one-speed, so I won’t be tackling any hills with her.  Though she folds, it’s actually easier to transport her as an unfolded, small bike.  The folded configuration is a bit clumsy, and the sides of the folded bike must be strapped together to keep them from opening when carried.  On the other hand, the quick-release on the handlebars make it simple to turn them so that they line up with the chassis, which makes for a very slim profile for storage in the unfolded position.

Arianna still needs a lot of polishing and cleaning, but she is a nifty little machine, and it’s going to be a lot of fun using her to determine if two wheels are a viable alternative for some of my cycling.  I took the top picture on her maiden voyage on a local (level) trail, and I’ll now be tracking my mileage with her, along with the miles I ride on Pegasus.  I believe that my folder was manufactured in 1968, which makes her 44 years old; it’s amazing how well basic, solid, technology holds up.

Arianna, this trip:  6 miles

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