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Confessions of a Retro Grouch
Last Post 09/24/2018 01:02 AM by 79 pmooney. 7 Replies.
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Nick A

Posts:562

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09/06/2018 11:24 AM
I had an REI Novara commuter bike. I turned it into a grocery getter with tons of baskets and cruiser bars. Now, a few years later, I pulled the baskets, fenders, kickstand, and put on drop bars to make it a gravel bike. To make things work, I used friction bar end shifters. Boy, not as awesome I remember. LOL. Of course, the fact that they are "backwards" (up for for a bigger cog) from downtube shifters doesn't help. Also, they have a ratcheting mechanism that may be responsible for losing some "feel". And of course, with eight cogs, instead of five or six, well....I'm now officially spoiled by brifters.
DonnaMobile

Posts:52

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09/08/2018 03:53 PM
I too like to be frugal, and find it satisfying to repurpose old components and frames. For years I had been using a cx bike for gravel rides, but wanted a frame that was more stable and comfortable on long rides and tours on the long-distance bike paths that we have in the Veneto region, many of which are partially or totally unpaved. I just wanted to transfer all the parts from my cx bike to a new frame, but all the new frames were made for disc brakes, which I didn’t want. Not only would it mean having to buy brakes and wheels (I could have used mechanical discs and kept my existing shifters), but also I wouldn’t be able to just whip off the wheel and throw my bike on my fork-mount roof rack (I’d need an adapter). Not to mention that discs would be totally unnecessary for the kind of riding I do on that bike. The owner of a LBS found me an "outdated" (i.e. not for disc brakes) trekking frame (for 200 euro/$250) and I had him transfer everything to it: Campy 9-speed shifters and derailleurs (vintage 1998!), and Sugino compact touring triple (26-36-46), bought in 2009, and an old set of wheels built with Campy Chorus hubs. I already had my favorite handlebars, Ritchey Evo-curves, and an SMP Lite 209 saddle. I just needed a new seatpost, and replaced the cantilevers with a set of TRP mini v-brakes found on walmart.com for half price ('cause everyone wants discs now). I also needed a negative angle stem to offset the tall head tube and found it on ebay. The whole thing, including labor, new cables, etc, cost me a little over $400. Last week I did my long-awaited first mini-tour on a wonderful rail trail that runs north and south of Cortina d’Ampezzo. I used lightweight bikepacking seat and handlebar bags. I got there by train, which was ecological and relaxing. The bike rode great: smooth, stable, and comfortable, just what I wanted.
longslowdistance

Posts:1696

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09/08/2018 09:10 PM
More about the “trekking “ frame please.
Nick A

Posts:562

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09/08/2018 10:06 PM
This basically the equivalent of an 80's steel mountain bike frame. I have 26x1.5 city tires and V brakes. You can get road levers that have the correct pull for like $30 (Tektro). I put the rack back on. Doesn't look as cool, but it may be more versatile.
DonnaMobile

Posts:52

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09/10/2018 05:57 AM
Here are pix of the bike and of me on the rail trail. (The mountains in the background are Pelmo and Becco di Mezzodì). The frame had no name on it because it's a generic frame that bike shops put their own names on. I came up with the name North Star and made the vinyl letters myself with a cutting machine. http://www.biciveneto.it/photos.html

The word "trekking" is used in Italian to mean multi-day hiking and also multi-day bike touring. The term "cicloturismo" is often used to mean long distance riding that is done for enjoyment and is not competitive (such as non-competitive fondos) but not necessarily with panniers, etc. (though it can mean that--it depends on who's using the word). Most of the laden-down bike tourists you see here are foreigners. Gravel bikes and events (on the order of randonees, but on bike paths and trails as well as roads) are becoming popular, as is bikepacking. Italians use the English terms for these.
79pmooney

Posts:1956

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09/16/2018 01:41 PM
Donna, are you set up for a several day hostel/hotel tour in that photo? (What we might call in the states touring by credit card?

I like that bike and your setup,\. That's quite a negative angle stem! Looks like something I would do. But in your hands, the bike just looks right.

I just got back last night from a very different tour, Cycle Oregon, where one of three semi-trailers hauled my bag each day and I rode light through the mountains of northeastern Oregon, the Wallawas and the Blue Mountains.

Funny, on the retro-grouch side, I rode my geared TiCycles, steel forked (1" threadless for now but it might get threaded for its next headset) ti bike; 32 spoke wheels. On the chip seal which we saw a lot of, it is a sweet ride! The first day, two other riders told me their strongest memories of past rides were specific stretches of chip seal or cracks. I remembered them after the mention but they were not a big deal.

One of the high points of this ride happened Friday on the last good downhill of the week, coming out of the Blue Mountains. At the summit I latched onto a single rider behind a tandem. Got one of the downhills of my life! About 8 miles. Not super steep, but with a tandem driving the pace, not slow! Chip seal with gentle, sandy potholes. That ride was fast! I had to pedal nearly the whole time, hard in places. Twice I came off, first in traffic, then when the single bike I was following came off and I had to go around him. Shades of racing long ago! 53-12, out of the saddle, nose on the stem, trying to catch the race going up the road! I made it and revisited the exhilaration and high (literally) of the post-catch. The bike was my perfect ally. I've spent a lot of time thinking and second guessing myself for not going 1 1/8" on the steerer, just to get better, more positive steering and less chance of shudder. Not going to sweat that one anymore. I had no way of missing the potholes. Going way too fast! I went over one of those potholes with my hand on the DT shifter. Nothing happened. There were only three things I could have done to make the descent better, faster, easier. More aero (if it didn't compromise what I had), a 13 tooth cog (I had my cassette set up 12, 14-19, 21, 23; perfect all week except I could have used a 25 or more training and on two occasions the 13) and more weight (downhill, duh!). But really, I didn't need any of that. I stayed on that wheel. The bike was perfect. Doesn't get any better!

This bike is a mix of old and (relatively) new. 9-speed but 53-42-28 in front which I have been using for 40 years. Modern clinchers but aluminum rims traditionally spokes. No carbon fiber. Rear brake turned around; forward of the seat stays just because I like it that way. (Looks cleaner in my eyes and I get to work on both from the same righthand side of the bike. Under BB cable guide, top mounted DT shifters and a turkshead knot/ring around the DT at the bottle cage to keep the cable off the paint.

I brought and rode one day big Paseslas, a 37 in front and a 32 in back. (Absolutely the biggest tire possible! ~.5 mm clearance each side and less to the derailleur clamp. I put on glass catcher set to ride on the 32 but miss the regular 28 entirely, just to minimize the chance of a pebble jamming my rear tire. Sadly, I missed the turnoff to the gnarly gravel option so it never got the real test. On the 1 mile stretch of gentle gravel, it did rule!

Ben
DonnaMobile

Posts:52

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09/23/2018 01:55 PM
"Donna, are you set up for a several day hostel/hotel tour in that photo? (What we might call in the states touring by credit card?"

That is correct, Ben. I am using a bikepacking seat, handlebar, and top tube bag, all made in our region of Italy (Veneto) by a company with the unlikely name of Miss Grape. I had wanted to do a minimalist tour for a long time (at least 20 years!) but a number of factors finally made it possible:
--bikepacking bags, which are lightweight and do not require racks (and bikes with eyelets). I can use them on my light road bike if I want to do a tour or ride which includes mountain passes on paved roads.
--a road bike that can be ridden on unpaved roads
--the completion of the Ciclabile delle Dolomiti rail trail and other long distance bike paths, which eliminate the need for route planning and navigation, pass through interesting areas, and offer sights and views that roads cannot.

A big plus is the national railway system, which has an app that lets you see train schedules and order, pay for, and receive tickets instantly on your smartphone. The beautiful new passenger cars all have hooks for hanging bikes, as well as USB chargers, handy for phones, Garmins, and GoPros.

This was a shakedown mini-tour, so I was only away for three days and two nights (though I realize that if you're going minimalist anyway, you need to take the same amount of stuff regardless of how long you’re away). I was pleased that I only need to make a couple of minor modifications to my packing list and equipment. I finally got to use my Timberland Radler folding shoes, which were compact and very comfortable. I was running Panasonic Gravel King 32’s with a file tread, which have been great for almost all surfaces (though I am not very demanding either). However, I have encountered a lot of stretches, also on trails and unpaved roads near my home, with large chunky rocks, which I felt unconfident about negotiating, so I’ve since switched over to Gravel King 35’s, which have a more aggressive tread, but still run fine on pavement.

I stayed in inexpensive B&B’s in small towns next to the trail (which still has the beautiful old railway stations). The owners were of course locals who were happy to answer my questions about their language (their original language is Ladino, a cross between Rhaetian and Latin), culture, traditions, and history. One of the great pleasures of touring is meeting and conversing with all sorts of people along the way. Most asked me about Trump and I was glad to have the chance to tell them that we are not all deplorable supporters of his bizarre reign, as well as try to explain why people voted for him. (Think Hitler and Mussolini all over again, I tell them).

"I like that bike and your setup,\. That's quite a negative angle stem! Looks like something I would do. But in your hands, the bike just looks right."

When I picked up the bike and realized the bars were too high, my only choice at the time was an adjustable stem the store had on hand. It was really ugly, but it enabled me to determine the length and angle I needed. I spent a long time searching and fortunately found it on eBay.

Ben, I consider your approval and appreciation a real compliment! Thank you! Only a creative and detail-oriented (obsessed) person like you, who likes to modify, improve, create, etc. would appreciate all the thought that went into it :^) In fact, when I was telling (and boring) friends and family about the various choices I made, finding the parts I needed, etc., I was thinking, "I am sounding like Ben" :^)

Now I just need to make a support or harness for the handlebar bag, to keep it from touching the brake. I will also get the new Miss Grape accessory bag that can be strapped to it, for all the small items like chargers, toothbrush, remedies, etc.

I just got back to the US, so I’ll have to wait to continue my touring escapades. But now that I have everything dialed in, I’ll be able to hit the road from the get-go.

One more thing...I am putting together a video of the trip, and will let you know when it’s up on YouTube. In the meantime, here’s one of a short but fascinating bike path/route near Belluno.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9oE3suMJ7A&feature=youtu.be
79pmooney

Posts:1956

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09/24/2018 01:02 AM
Thanks, Donna. You made my day!

Ben
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