Archives for the month of: June, 2014
yes! nicely bound and out of the shoe box in the closet - this is a coffee table book worth putting out and collecting the ooohs and aaahs.

Yes! Nicely bound and out of the shoe box in the closet – this is a coffee table book worth putting out and collecting the ooohs and aaahs.

With the passing of On the Wheel, Dirt Rag ruining itself by going from black and white to full color and Velo News going ‘all Lance all the time’ there was nothing bike related worth reading except the occasional Rivendell Reader. That was when Grant gave his subscription list to Jan Heine who offered us Vintage Bicycle Quarterly.

racing stripes of a different color on this fine coffee table book for my atelier salon

Racing stripes of a different color on this fine coffee table book for my atelier/salon

Vintage Bicycle Quarterly was such a revelation! Lost bicycle secrets and history in every issue! I would devour each issue and attempt to adapt my high trail bikes to look like the old 650b bikes with big tires and big fenders. My Ramboulliette and my Gunnar Crosshairs gained fenders but never the style, grace and good handling of one of those old bikes. Sigh.

the first cover and the first interview - Ernest Csuka gave Jan a bunch of cred

The first cover and the first interview – Ernest Csuka gave Jan a bunch of cred

It took three years before Jan did a bike test in his magazine, that on a Heron, but he started on his pet thing ‘planing’ from the very start in his recounting of one of his intrepid adventures on a 400k, poor guy. Almost all the bikes that Jan featured during this time had relatively skinny (28cm) 700c tires.

What makes a good randonneur bike? Why Jan's own bikes - that riv of Jan's later had the fork crown break and Jan does not even use it for cyclocross or errands.

What makes a good randonneur bike? Why Jan’s own bikes – that riv of Jan’s later had the fork crown break and Jan does not even use it for cyclocross or errands anymore. Note all those skinny 700c tires – not a 650b bike to recommend yet, as there are no supple tires available.

I learned about low trail and the theoretical advantages thereof, the technical trials and how so many of the ‘new’ ideas in cycles were already tried and scrapped. During this time I also moved to California, did my first (partial) brevet – the light house 200, starting two hours late and skipping the Marshall leg – and also tried to get a Singer camping bike through Jan. It was going to cost me $5k, but Euro shock happened while it was being built (it was going to double in price) so I cancelled the order. I also did my first volunteering for SFR, pulling the final volunteer shift for the 400 in 2003 for Darryl Skrabek.

Geometry!

Geometry!

Instead of a Singer for my first low trail bike I purchased an Ebisu 700c bike, standard tubing size and low trail, just like Jan said I should in his review of the bike in VBQ. Hiroshi and Jitensha were local; just a short bike ride away and that bike started me off in my official randonneuring career. Hiroshi’s bikes are really something special.

This is the test article that got me to go out and get my own ebisu

This is the test article that got me to go out and get my own ebisu

Bookbinding notes: The early issues were only around 20 pages, similar to On The Wheel. After a couple years heavier paper was used for greater durability during the harsh printing and mailing processes.

top of the binding, all lined up, note the thicker paper of the issues on the right.

Top of the binding, all lined up. Note the thicker paper of the later issues on the right.

Bottom of the binding. Like On The Wheel, sizes of the different issues are all over the place.

Bottom of the binding. Like On The Wheel sizes of the different issues are all over the place.

See, all the issues fail to line up or to plane - binding is very supple though.

See, all the issues fail to line up or to plane – binding is very supple though.

This time period, the first four years, is what I liken to the golden age of VBQ, when everything was newly discovered and newly appreciated. The issues of Jan’s magazine that are titled ‘Vintage’ are truly that, the good stuff from earlier times.

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A while back, there was some discussion here what would be the best – or fastest – cycle and tyre for the La Ruta Loca 200-kilometeur gravel rando/ride.

The event was last weekend. (Quite possibly a number of riders probably are still out there.) The roads were among the most difficult gravel roads I’ve encountered anywhere – it really was a punishing ride.

Carlos D. came third on a 559C cyclocross bike with $5 reflective sidewall 38 mm tires. I was fourth on my Steve Potts with Loopity Loop Pass Extrathick 700 x 38 (actual 34mm on 23mm rim) supple tires. I feel that a little wider tires would have been beneficial on the soft gravel and sand (and I truly wished for even a hint of tread numerous times), but direct comparison to mountain bikers showed that their stiff sidewalls and lack of give in the forks (almost all were on rigid setups) slowed them down more than our relatively narrow tires even though some dude on a mountain bike 29’er finished two hours ahead of me.

My randonneur cycle and supple tyres truly kicked ass. Purchase them here. Cudos to all the event participants and volunteers.

A full report of Carlos’ ride last year is here:

http://bike.duque.net/2013-sfr-la-ruta-loca-randonnee-mixed-terrain.htm

I posted mostly about my feelings about the ride here:

http://quarterlybicycle.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/and-now-a-poem/

Tailwinds!

Editor
Bonk if you don’t know Velocio
https://bonkifyoudontknowvelocio.wordpress.com/