In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A New Bike and a Box of Bits.

My Adi wants a lighter long distance bike. I don’t blame her really. Her GT urban / touring bike is not the type of bike to do effortless 12hour rides on. The day after her return from an overnight ride I was asked to convert her carbon road bike into an Audax bike. Her GT was described as too heavy and too slow. Initially I thought this would be a simple enough task given that the carbon Genius had the Ultegra triple set up we wanted making for relaxed gearing ratios. However we couldn’t get the more relaxed riding position needed for a long distance bike. In addition to this the Genius had no room for fitting 25C tyres, and certainly no room for mudguards should they be needed for a long wet event.
Carbon Verses Steel. Steel Raleigh is 500g Heavier.

So it was back to the drawing board. My suggestion of using my 1980’s Raleigh Panasonic Team bike and putting all the Ultegra gear on it, with some race wheels was quickly given the thumbs down. I might be the retro man, but my Adi is firmly in the 21st century where ultra-light is right. Adi and the Panasonic would never have seen eye to eye anyway. She hated the frame colour and the Raleigh refused to accept Adi’s choice of carbon bars and stem. As far as that bike was concerned it was Cinelli bars and stem or nothing at all. I had a set of 3T bars and stem that may have been acceptable to the bike, but not to carbon minded Adi. The deal breaker came once I had fitted the Ultegra group set and ascertained that a set of narrow mudguards would work, with race brakes and 25C tyres. Adi said that she’d consider it if we repainted the frame!

Over my dead body!

So I was on the phone to Mitchell at Avanti Richmond where I work, to see if he could find any old-stock cyclo cross bike for a good price. I thought a cyclo cross bike would meet Adi’s requirements of light but strong, with low enough gears, and the clearance for long mudguards. She wanted carbon fibre but the reality of the situation was that a carbon fibre frame would not stand up well to the rigors of overseas travel, and the possible need to combine a bike tour with a long distance event like the Paris – Brest-Paris.
Loading the New Bike at Avanti Richmond. There is a BOB Trailer Under there Somewhere.

Mitchell came up trumps with an Avanti cylocross bike with alloy frame, carbon forks, Tiagra 30 speed and enough other carbon fibre to keep Adi happy. And most importantly the price was right. A couple of days later and the Mercian and I were at the bike shop for the pickup and ride home. The previous days were spent disassembling the Genius road bike and cleaning all the bits ready for either selling (to fund the Avanti) or storing. Knowing full well that today’s junk is tomorrows retro I am very hesitant at selling the Genius carbon frame and American Classic wheels that make up most of the Genius bike. The Ultegra triple and other group set parts will never leave my possession. I may be a Campag nut but I also know quality and versatility when I see it. But the wheels and frame I will begrudgingly sell to help fund Adi’s Avanti. If they don’t meet their reserve I can always peel their labels off and use them at a later date.
15kms along the Cycle way and we were Home.

All this bike building just served to distract me from my training for the Kiwi Brevet. I was supposed to go on my next overnighter this week but have, due to a chronic lack of enthusiasm, postponed it until next week. I was hoping to use a poor weather forecast as an excuse to postpone but as usual the weather was fine. My bike also badly needs a new chain and cluster along with a new large chain wheel, making for a further delay. This is a job needing to be done before I go out of town again. The chain and cluster is easily sorted through work, but the Campag chain wheel is NOS. Fancy that! I’ve been soldiering on with it and had promised the Mercian a new one if it got me across Canada. It did, and I’m still using it.
Assembly in the Bike Shed.

While climbing out of the saddle today in the big ring the chain decided that it would rather be in the small chain ring and promptly went there. This action nearly had my nuts on the crossbar. At my age I don’t care too much about not having children, convinced even that it was the best decision of my life. I don’t however want to suffer the pain of doing my nuts in on the crossbar just because I was too tight to change my crank set. So it was down to the bike shed to put on one of the 4 pre loved sets that I have horded in my used but lovely Chain wheel set area. And could you believe it, none of them would fit without altering the bottom bracket bearing ! Bugger. After trying all my pre loved bearings I had to admit defeat or put on a Jap crank set. Shimano / Sugino both stored for a rainy day might be nice, but not on my Mercian.
More Bike bits.

Having found a near new / used ring on line, tomorrow will see if my bid will be successful and my nuts will be out of danger. Otherwise I can re jig bottom brackets to fit one of the others in the shed or rob Fort Knocks and buy a new carbon triple chain wheel set from Campag. , Then, in three years’ time, I would be looking for replacement chain rings for that on eBay. I may wait for a couple of years and buy the whole thing on eBay / Trade Me for a song.
So many options for the Campag enthusiast. But life would be easier if cycle component manufacturers produced stuff for more than 12 months before deeming them to be obsolete.

Adi is so happy with her new Avanti Audax that she thinks I should get a something similar and two time on my Mercian. A subject we were discussing while riding the local cycleway a couple of days ago. I couldn’t cover my ears while cycling so had to find some other distraction to make her desist from tempting me (La la la.. I’m not listening). Coming around a corner there was a seal sunning itself on the track. Cute seal, problem solved.
Relaxing on the Cycle way.

I may have a whole shed full of bike stuff, but there can only be one bike for me. Me and my M.U.M (Mercian urban machine) do everything together. I’d have been lost in the Andes or some similar hostile spot if it wasn’t for my MUM. Everything I own in the bike shed is just a spare part for my bike. I can’t say that I’m not tempted at times. I’ve ridden plenty of the latest models through work. And nice as they are I can’t imagine spending a lot of time on them myself.


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  2. Thanks Muhammad. After 40 years of cycle touring I feel I am fully cognitive.

  3. I really like your blog. And I love your table. It looks like the rollers made the table the perfect height for all your multi-purposing!

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