Friday, January 7, 2011

what it's all about

Check out this photo (from the tour divide website) of some intrepid cyclers on the great divide somewhere in Canada, circa 1910 by my guess.
The handlebar mounted roll-bags are reminiscent of the bags that these days hang from the carbon fiber handlebars of the bicycles of today's elite great divide racers. Also notice that these are all fixed-gears - see the foot pegs on the forks? Some of the bikes appear to have rod-actuated spoon brakes, which didn't work any better in 1910 than they work today (which, I assure you, is shitty). But what the heck did these guys know? It's not like Avid hydraulic disc brakes were an option. But I imagine these guys took a certain amount of pride in their steeds, and by standards of the day, they were probably on the bleeding edge of bicycle technology. I wonder if their friends and relatives thought they were crazy.

All this brings to mind my favorite all-time old photo:
This is William Fay and Bob Drake on a 600-mile bicycle adventure through northern Minnesota in 1935. I wonder if these guys are still alive. If they are, I bet they still have fond memories of this time. Anyway, unlike the great divide guys, these young men actually had bikes that would coast down hills, and tires that were inflated with air (instead of solid rubber) and fat enough to give good traction on unpaved roads. Can you imagine what these two would make of the Google Group discussions of best tires for "touring"? Can you imagine what they would make of any of our neurotic bicycle-related concerns? It was the middle of the Great Depression. Times were tough, but these two had bikes and a sense of adventure. I assume that it rained. I assume there were mosquitoes. I assume they had to patch their tires and tubes. I assume that there was difficulty and exhilaration (two sides of the same coin).

Despite the snow and cold today, summer isn't far off. None of us are getting younger. What are your bicycle adventure plans for 2011?

11 comments:

Snakebite said...

Lacombe, AB west to Banff National Park, south through the park to Calgary, AB. Six or seven days of unsupported riding. Hope not to get eaten by a bear.

Anonymous said...

My plans for 2011 include a super randonneur series, possibly a fleche and a 1000k, definitely some S36Os (longer distance S24Os) and a week like bike tour in Aug that will hopefully end in Glacier National Park.

--Leaf Slayer

Chad Parrish said...

I'll probably go to work every day and read about other people's adventures on the internet.

Anonymous said...

Jim -

Great Divide - leaves me for wanting. Looked at web page can I be serious for a minute? Are what you saying the race has occured since depression time? Clearance on bikes needed for mud must have been in vogue for the riders to negotiate, right? And for the boy riders, I don't think riding great divide be too great for them, or am I missing something.

Please look forward to your reply.

Bezo

Daniel said...

I'm crossing my fingers for either Iceland or Nepal in 2011. It's been a couple years since the last big one, and it's certainly getting to be about that time! Anything big planned for you?

Jim Thill said...

Bezo: the boys in the Depression-era photo toured Northern Minnesota. I am not aware of them riding the great divide. The modern-day incarnations of the great divide races seem to be just a few years old. I do not know what bike events went on along the divide in earlier days.

Daniel: That sounds exciting. My current family/financial situation does not allow for any international adventures. I am hoping to do some locally-based trips with my kids on our tandem.

All The Way Ray said...

Is that Kevin in that picture?

Anonymous said...

Jim - my plans for 2011 include a more diligent bicycle maintenance schedule -

Here is my plan/resolution:

Before every ride:

Check tire air pressure.
Check brakes and cables.
Be sure your crank set is tight.
Be sure quick release hubs are tight, but not too tight.
After every ride:

Inspect tires for glass, gravel shards, and cuts on tread and sidewall.
Check wheels for true.
Clean the bike’s mechanical parts as necessary.
Once a week or every 200 miles:

Lubricate chain (with dry lube; or every other week or 400 miles with wet chain lube).
Once a month:

Completely clean the bike, including the drivetrain if necessary.
Inspect chain and freewheel. Measure the chain for wear, check for tight links and replace the chain if necessary.
Inspect and lubricate brake levers, derailleurs and all cables.
Inspect pedals and lubricate SPD style cleats.
Inspect and check for looseness in the:
stem binder bolt
handlebar binder bolt
seatpost binder bolt (or quick release)
seat fixing bolt
crank bolts
chainring bolts
derailleur mounting bolts
bottle cage bolts
rack mounting bolts (use thread lock on these)
brake and derailleur cable anchors
brake and shifter lever mounting bolts
brake mounting bolts (do not alter brake centering)
Inspect tires for wear; rotate or replace if needed.
Every three months:

Wax bike. A clean, shiny bike always seems to go faster and farther.
Inspect frame and fork for paint cracks or bulges that may indicate frame or part damage; pay particular attention to all frame joints.
Visually inspect for bent components: seat rails, seat post, stem. handlebars, chainrings, crankarms, brake calipers and brake levers.
Every six months:

Inspect and readjust bearings in headset, hubs, pedals and bottom bracket (if possible; some sealed cartridge bearings cannot be adjusted, only replaced)
Annually:

Disassemble and overhaul; replace all bearings (if possible); and remove and if necessary replace all brake and shift cables.

brother yam said...

Anonymous @1:11 -- I read your comment as "clean the bike mechanic's parts" and was a bit thrown off after that...

BrotherTrucker said...

I've been looking for the "perfect" panniers for 2 weeks but those fellers make me feel a little ashamed of myself. Maybe time to simplify my accouterments.

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