Wednesday, July 28, 2021

My Longest Unassisted Ride Yet

Last weekend I got in a couple of nice bike rides.

On Saturday a friend and I did about 13 miles. He has a Trek hybrid bike while I rode my Trek 820. Prior to the ride I raised the stem a bit and it's more comfortable to ride with a more upright posture. It puts less pressure on my hands so I don't get tingling.

Sunday morning I woke up and got it into my head that I was going to do 20 miles. When I was into cycling in my teens and early 1920s I did 20+ miles plenty of times but the only time I've done so recently was on my Lectric XP e-bike. This time I wanted to do it on a bike powered solely by me.

So, I inflated the tires on the Nishiki Maricopa to about 115 PSI, put it on the bike rack, and took it down to Spring Mill. I got on the Schukyll River Trail and kept going until I hit a bit more than 10 miles, which brought me into Valley Forge National Park.

I took about a 5 to 10 minute brake to hydrate, slurp down a Clif Shot, and give my crotch a rest.

Looking down towards the river from the SRT:

I have to say that the final 5 miles were a bit of a chore. The Nishiki's seat is pretty firm and even though I wore padded bike undershorts, it got uncomfortable.

That said, I wound up doing 20.26 miles, which felt really damn good.

It's been about 2.5 months since I started riding regularly and while I haven't lost any weight, my cardio is considerably improved and I can feel that my legs are stronger.

Cycling really is a great way to get good, low impact cardio exercise.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Another Reminder to Periodically Test Your Gear, and Have Backups

Last weekend I was upstate at a friend's off grid cabin. Saturday morning I wanted to make coffee on my Kovea Spider canister stove. I was able to start the stove but it ran with a reduced output and then conked out after a few minutes. I shook the canister and found that it still had fuel. Then attached a propane adapter and tried that with no joy.

We tested both fuel canisters on my friend's stove and both worked.

I think what happened is that something got into the stove and clogged it. I'm going to try to disassemble it and blast it out with compressed air.

My friend's canister stove is one of those $10 units from Amazon. They work fine but I was using a large percolator which would have made it unstable (the Kovea connects the stove unit to the fuel canister by a tube, so the head is lower).

So, we went old school for Saturday's coffee:

I can't complain since nothing is better than sipping black coffee made on a campfire in the mountains.

We keep an old Coleman stove onsite so that's what we used on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Screaming Good Deal on USGI MOLLE II Bandoleers 7/7/21 Only

 USGI MOLLE II bandoleers $3.75 each 7/7/21 only.​ 

This is a great deal on MOLLE bandoleers which normally run about $15 each. At this price they are great just for organizing AR15 magazines in storage. I ordered 10.

They also have them in Woodland camo for $16.99.

This article has some good ideas on other uses for them:

Based on that post I setup one as a supplementary trauma kit.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

More Rides on the Nishiki and a Rack

Now that I put the handlebar stem riser on the Nishiki Maricopa I've been riding it more. I've missed riding a road bike -- compared with a mountain bike or my Lectric XP, it's a lot more responsive and faster rolling.

On the 4th, I put it on my truck's bike rack and took it to the SEPTA Spring Mill station, which is an entrance point to the Schukyll River Trail. I took it west, doing 17 miles round trip. That's the longest ride on a conventional bike I've done in over 30 years.

This morning I got out and did about 8.4 miles on the same trail. It was a lot hotter and more humid today so I made sure to hydrate like crazy before, during, and after the ride. The heat and humidity were draining, despite that.

About midway, I stopped under the overpass for I-276 to drink water and slurp down a Clif Shot. If you click to enlarge you can see that I had two water bottles on the bike for this ride (I put the tool canister in my pack for this ride). The one on the down tube is a 33 oz. Zefal bottle filled with half strength Liquid I.V. hydration mix while the one on the seat tube held plain water. I drank about half of each on the ride and finished the straight water after I got back to my truck.

Train tracks parallel the SRT at this point and this train was there. The locomotive was LOUD underneath the overpass.

Hydration afterwards at home was a bit tastier ;) :

Since I've been riding it more I ordered a Planet Bike Eco rack, which is the same one I have on my Trek 820. This will allow me to mount a rack trunk to hold my tools and snacks, etc. I have another Lixada trunk on order, the same as on my Lectric XP. The rack and a replacement seat post clamp with mounting eyelets arrived yesterday and today. I installed it tonight.

It came with an L-bracket that allowed me to mount the Stupidbright tail light that was strapped to the seatpost.

For the price the Stupidbright tail lights are hard to beat. They use a single CR2032 lithium battery and have three modes: solid, fast blink, and slow blink. When blinking they are visible a couple hundred yards away at dusk. Because the Schukyll River Trail has a lot of sections that are in heavy shade, I like to run it along with a Planet Bike Spok front light so that I'm more visible. Both are really light and small, taking up minimal room on the bike.

Monday, July 05, 2021

My Take on a Mini Tool Kit

A couple of weeks ago I linked to this thread about mini tool kits on Arfcom. I liked the idea so much I put one together for myself.

The "Y-280" steel hip roof toolbox was part of my Father's Day gift this year. It came filled with an assortment of exotic jerky. You can find it on Amazon by searching for "Y-280 toolbox."

Click on the pictures to view the full size version.

The contents are:


  • Craftsman 25 piece ratchet screwdriver set
  • Craftsman 35 piece right angle bit driver set
  • Craftsman 6" adjustable wrench
  • Craftsman 9' measuring tape
  • Telescoping magnetic retrieval tool (was included with the screwdriver set)
  • 7" Irwin curved jaw Vise Grips
  • Mitutuyo 6" machinist's rule, held to inside of lid with two small neodymium magnets.
  • ~0.75" x 1.5" magnet (not shown). To hold screws when disassembling something.
  • Milwaukee combination wire cutters, wire stripper, and pliers.
  • Plastic hobbyist's forceps from Countycomm.

Misc items:

  • Ten 8" cable ties, threaded onto another one with the head cut off. This keeps them organized.
  • 3 oz. can of WD-40
  • Tube of super glue
  • Tube of blue Loctite thread locker
  • Fine point Sharpie marker
  • Roll of electrical tape
I still need to add:

  • Long nose pliers
  • Penlight or headlamp
The Craftsman sets are from Lowe's, who now owns the Craftsman brand. I bought the Milwaukee pliers thingy several years ago at Home Depot.

My first use of the kit was to reinstall the kickstand on my Trek 820 bike today. I took the opportunity to try out the ratchet set with the 12mm socket to secure the bolt after I applied some blue Loctite to it. I had planned to replace the bolt with a stainless socket head bolt but it would have needed a larger Allen key than I carry in my bike toolkit. If it ever loosens again I can secure it in place with the zip ties in my bike trunk until I get home.

Saturday, July 03, 2021

A Little Bit of Bike Maintenance Today

Yesterday I did about 13 miles on the Nishiki road bike and I noticed two things needed attention. First, the tires were a bit low. Second and more importantly, I was getting "ghost shifting." In other words, I'd set the rear derailleur to one gear and it would shift itself to the next highest gear. Obviously, this is undesirable.

I did a bit of research after getting home and found this:

"...most all "auto shifting" or "ghost shifting" is the result of cable-tension problems. If the cable is a bit loose, the derailleur will try to shift "up" to a smaller cog. If too tight, it will try to catch the next larger cog. Cables stretch, especially after a short period where the new cables stretch to the point they're stable. after that, they should be good for a long time..."


So, this morning I dug out my bike maintenance stand, put the bike up on it, and played with the cable tension until it stopped shifting on its own. While it was on the stand I also gave it a wipe down, cleaned the rims, and adjusted the brakes. 

Before putting the Nishiki away I inflated the tires to 120 PSI and did a test ride up and down the block. According to the pressure gauge on my Blackburn pump, the tires were below 100 PSI. It rolls noticeably faster now (and of course the ride isn't as soft) and I didn't experience any ghost shifting.

While I had the maintenance stand out I also used it to give my Trek 820 a cleaning. The last ride I took on it was down in Valley Green on gravel and it was pretty dirty. It needed to be hosed off, needed the chain cleaned and relubed, and the rims cleaned.

For chain lube I am using Pedro's Ice Wax, which dries to a dry film lubricant. It should hopefully be a bit more resistant to washing off if I get caught in the rain, and won't retain dirt and grit like a wet lube will.

Back the 1980s a couple friends used to lube their bike chain by immersing them in melted paraffin wax, after degreasing them in a bath of gasoline. Yeah, it's amazing we survived. If I ever decide to try the molten wax bath I'll use odorless mineral spirits for the initial clean and degrease job.

If you're going to get into doing much bicycle maintenance I highly recommend some kind of maintenance stand. I have this one. It allows me to elevate the bike so I don't need to squat and to get the wheels and drivetrain moving so I can adjust the derailleurs and brakes.

Also recommended are the following books:

There's some overlap between the two but if you have both kinds of bikes, getting both books is worthwhile, IMO.

The Park Tool YouTube channel is another excellent bike maintenance resource.

Ever since the COVID lockdowns started, bike shops have been extremely busy. If you're able to do your own bike maintenance you'll save yourself money and time in keeping yourself on the road or trail. And bikes do need periodic maintenance, probably more per mile ridden than motor vehicles do. Preventative maintenance at home is preferable to fixing something on the side of the road.