Sunday, July 31, 2005

Bike all set?

I picked up the bike from the shop this afternoon. They put on the fenders and the racks. I'm not too happy with the front rack: it's supposed to be a low-rider (an Axiom Journey), but it sits awfully high. They screwed it on to the brazon, but apparently there's a lower fastening necessary for the racks to not swing around: that, it turns out, was not big enough to go around my fork. They had to jury-rig something (which is why I had to leave the bike overnight) and it doesn't look too pretty. The rack also interferes with sharp turns; luckily, those only happen when I carry my bike, not when I'm riding. I wonder if my frame cross section really is inordinately big, though that would be surprising for such a classic touring bike as the 520. What's interesting is that the bell I had on my old bike won't go onto my new handlebars: they're too large! Some good is definitely coming out of the front racks, though. On top of the horizontal metal bar they used to stabilize the two racks together, I set up a little platform for my front light using parts I bought at the hardware store. Now the light does not take up valuable handlebar space, it is centered along the axis of the bike, and, most importantly, it is not blocked by my handlebar bag. Surely I win points for practicality, if not aesthetics... Overall, I'm pleased with my experience at International Bicycle Centers, but this front rack issue makes me very uneasy. I think maybe they ordered the wrong rack for my bike. They should have known better. We'll see how it pans out.
Ahh, I Googled the racks. This is what they are supposed to look like. Looks like the bike store screwed it up. They put on the top brazon what should go on the bottom brazon, jury-rigged a support on the bottom of the rack (which now lies above the bottom brazon), and put the horizontal metal strip on top. Oh, and they switched they left and right sides to boot! I wonder why the did that. They said something about the fork being too wide, but all I can see is that there is only one bottom brazon on each side, and that's being used by the fender. Still, it seems that by using a long enough bolt, it should be possible to attach both the fender and the rack to the bottom brazon. If that's the case, it will really make me mad. How dare they pass off their slapdash job as the real deal? I'm going to try doing it properly Monday or Tuesday; maybe I'll be able to understand why they couldn't do it.
Here's the instruction sheet for a rack similar to mine. Not too complicated. Piecing together what they told me, it sounds like the fork was too wide for the metal plates to fit behind the top brazon. But given that I do have a top brazon and the schematic doesn't, why not simply screw the rack onto the brazon?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Lobster, ice cream, and Hamlet

I'm trying to get as much riding in as I can to prepare for the Newfoundland trip. Unfortunately, given all the other stuff in my life that I "need" to do (you know, like work, errands, and such), my training has consisted solely of biking the 30 miles round trip to work everyday. Today, though, I did manage to get an extra ride in. Karl had emailed me earlier in the week wondering how my training and new bike were coming along, and asking me whether I'd like to join him for a "Lobster Ride" of Cape Anne. I jumped at the chance: I think going on a tour with other people can often make it a lot more fun, and I'd been desparing about getting any of my friends to join me. We drove to Manchester-by-the-sea, and from there biked through Gloucester ("Gloustah" to you) to Rockport: me in my shiny new, halfway set-up Trek 520, Karl on his recumbent. The ride was perfect--- much easier than months ago when I tried it on my old bike with Knox. The weather was sunny, gorgeous. Once in Rockport, we stopped for freshly-boiled lobster and ice cream, before pedaling around the peninsula back to Gloucester. The evening turned out just as perfect: after droppping the bike off at the shop, I met up with Bill to have a picnic dinner on the Common and watch the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet. It was excellent!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Preparing for "The Rock"

I'm getting ready for the trip to Newfoundland ("the Rock"), where Knox and I will be biking and biking for three weeks. Here are some facts: This, this, and this is why we're doing it. Take a look at some of the sights we hope to behold first hand. Look at this topographic map to see the hills we'll be up against. Here's information from Atlantic Cycle Canada's 2005 Newfoundland Tour Info (all emphasis in quotes has been added by me):
  • Seven full days and one partial day of cycling from Deer Lake to St. Anthony, at 73 km (45 miles) per day, which they estimate at 5 hours or less. Biking to work from Boston to the suburbs in traffic, I cover 15 miles in an hour, so given the hillier terrain in NF, this sounds reasonable
  • "Terrain on the western part of Newfoundland ranges from flat to rolling. Our days in Gros Morne National Park have several small mountains. These are challenging, but feasible, even for moderate cyclists."
  • Their tour goes through Gros Morne National Park and visits L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Park, which has an original Viking settlement.
  • St. Anthony is the only real town on this route
  • They note that all their campgrounds will have warm showers. I would like to find out what their campgrounds are; I need running water for my contacts.
  • 'Known as "the rock", Newfoundland is forested in its interior, but quite rocky and barren along the coast. Often there are barrens, with vegetation and conditions resembling Canada's north. Winds can be strong. The prevailing direction is from the south, and strong tailwinds are expected for almost every day.' Although we were thinking of taking the ferry from Sydney, Nova Scotia to St. Johns, NF, and return from Channel-Port-aux-Basques, it seems better to take the ferry to Channel-Port-aux-Basques, do the northward tour with a tailwind, catch a ferry back to St. John, and bike West across the forested part of NF.
  • Archeological sites along the way
  • Here's their itinerary (more details here). We should be able to match this:
    Monday, July 4 - Deer Lake to Trout River Tuesday, July 5 - Trout River to Rocky Harbour Wednesday, July 6 - Activity Day in Gros Morne National Park Thursday, July 7 - Rocky Harbour to Cow Head Friday, July 8 - Cow Head to Hawke's Bay Saturday, July 9 - Hawke's Bay to St. Barbe Sunday, July 10 - Optional day ride to Labrador Monday, July 11 - St. Barbe to Pistolet Bay Tuesday, July 12 - Pistolet Bay to St. Lunaire Wednesday, July 13 - St. Lunaire to St. Anthony
  • Mostly camping: "A limited number of Bed and Breakfasts and motels are along our route."
From Eric Praetzel's vacation diary:
  • Prevailing winds are from the South; they let up later in the day
  • This, I think, refers to the bus: "When the bus driver dropped me off I was told that they do not take bicycles that are not in a box." Need to investigate bus line policies
  • "Ferry Terminals in Nova Scotia have showers"
From Great Canadian Cycling Adventure:
  • These guys mention winds from the NW(!) in the segment from Argentia to St. Johns
Accommodations: Sights to see:
  • Cape Spear National Historic Site, just south of St. John: the easternmost point in North America
  • Viking village at L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Park
  • Signal hill
  • Western Brook Pond looks spectacular. Where is it?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

My new Trek 520

Today, I picked up my new Trek 520 from International Bicycle Centers. It is a thing of beauty: Here are the factory specs:
FRAMETrek butted Cro-Moly
FORKCro-Moly Touring
WHEELSShimano LX hubsBontrager Maverick rims
TIRESBontrager Race Lite Hardcase, 700x32c
SHIFTERSShimano Dura-Ace, bar end control
CRANKSETShimano 105 52/42/30
CASSETTESRAM 970 11-32, 9 speed
PEDALSShimano 520, clipless
SADDLEBontrager Race Luxehollow Cro-Moly rails
SEATPOSTBontrager Select, offset
HANDLEBARSBontrager Select, 26.0
STEMBontrager Select, 26.0
HEADSETCane Creek BL, sealed
BRAKESETAvid SD5 w/287 levers
On top of this, I installed three water cages and a kickstand. On order:
  • 24/38/50 chain rings
  • Axiom Journey Rear Panniers (75lbs, 550g)
  • Axiom Journey Front Panniers (33lbs, 580g)
  • fenders
  • replacement tire