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Messages - geegee

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Thanks! Interestingly, I went with the stem shifters specifically for the aesthetic. I think it adds a bit of "steampunk" style along with the other vintage parts  :D .  I tried putting on brifters but they really don't work well with bullhorns which are my preferred style for handlebars over drops — the positioning of the brake levers give me so much more confidence since I control them with my stronger index and middle fingers instead of relying more on the weaker ring and pinky fingers that are more prone to cramping. Brifter cabling gets a bit messy on bullhorns, as on my Trek 520:

Another huge plus for me with bullhorns is the superior unobscured positioning of a mirror. Much of the highways in my area do not have shoulders, and being able to easily spot transport trucks behind when another is coming ahead greatly improves my personal feeling of security. After two decades of using drop bars, I havent come across a mirror that worked satisfactorily.

I will be using this bike for lighter tours, as canalligators correctly deduced!

Thanks for the advice, thought I'd post some pictures of what I've done to the bike and some of the decisions I made.

I still need new wheels but the old ones still look OK after 20 years. The paint is nice and bright now and I've cleaned and overhauled a few of the old components.

I decided to keep the obsolete 8 speed Campy derailleur because I like its sculpted looks:

Since I might get Shimano-based hubs when I buy new wheels, I went with Silver friction shifters mounted on the quill stem which I got through Rivendell. This will give me a wider choice of cassettes, over the 3 expensive and hard to get 8-speed Campy cassettes available.

I like the way this has simplified the cabling! I also kept the old center-pull cantilever brakes:

I bought a new Brooks saddle which I will have to ride a lot to break-in :

Routes / Re: Trans Canada
« on: May 13, 2014, 09:08:45 am »
You can easily pick through the Route Verte maps to get from the border to Montreal and into Ottawa.

Highway 17 between Ottawa and North Bay is terrible (especially Petawawa to Mattawa), it's some of the worst stretches in the entire Trans-Canada Highway. it is hilly and narrow with no shoulders. Having said that, I've cycled it twice, and you will need a very good rearview mirror to spot trucks coming up behind you and exercise good judgement on when to get off the road.

You might find portions of this route useful to get towards Sault Set-Marie. some of the gravel portions can be really annoying though.

My blogs aren't technical, but you might get an idea for what parts of your route are like from my ride last year. If you find yourself in Ottawa and need a place to stay, let me know.

General Discussion / Re: Cycling in Alaska
« on: May 12, 2014, 02:46:46 pm »
The Klondike, Top-of-the-World, and Taylor highway route has been one of my most memorable rides, filled with rugged beauty.

That's a pretty sparsely populated area to be doing a trash awareness ride though. You'll also find Yukoners already a pretty environmentally conscious bunch — the recycling program in Whitehorse is even admirably run by the community as a non-profit business.

One option you could consider if you want more relevant communities to hit is to take the Klondike Highway to its southern terminus at Skagway where you catch a ferry and even stop at Alaska's state capital Juneau before heading to Prince Rupert. The Yellowhead Highway heads inland from there towards Jasper where you can take the Icefields Parkway towards Banff.

Canada / Re: St John's to Bar Harbor
« on: May 04, 2014, 11:08:02 am »
There aren't that many back roads in Newfoundland, the ones shown on most roadmaps are pretty well what you can take. If you have time and want to see some Newfoundland coastline, take the Southern Shore Highway (#10) — you can connect to this after going out to Cape Spear which the easternmost point of North America. Hugging the south shore of the Avalon Peninsula (10-90-91-92-100) instead of doing a beeline from St. John's to Placentia is well worth it if you're spending money and effort to fly out to Newfoundland only to take the ferry back to the mainland. Cape St Mary's is a good detour. Newfoundland can be very hilly and windy, so make give yourself some time and patience.

You can cycle on the 100-series highways in Nova Scotia (with the exception of the ones in Metro Halifax). They have shoulders but are high speed and skip much of the scenic shoreline. The trunk roads have no shoulders but have mostly low traffic. I personally would recommend taking NS 7 to Halifax then the 3/103 to Yarmouth where you can take a ferry to Maine. It is much more scenic than heading into New Brunswick, unless you are thinking of making a detour into PEI. You can also go farther around and take the ferry at Digby and ride to Maine from Saint John NB. The south shore of Nova Scotia probably has the some of the prettiest coastal roads in eastern North America.

Routes / Re: Erie Canal Bike Trail - Stone Dust trails
« on: April 14, 2014, 06:00:20 am »
I got separated from the trail several times, onto weedy, narrow single track; maybe my error.

I don't think it was your error. East of Canastota, it looked like this in 2010:

There should be no problem doing it with 700x32c tires, though. I rode it on a folding bike with 20 inch wheels towing a kayak  :)

General Discussion / Re: Where to go when there's no place to go?
« on: February 28, 2014, 06:01:59 pm »
That's when you splurge on a motel  :)

Often, nobody will bother you if you pitch a small tent in a highway rest area. If there are no bugs out, you can even just roll out your sleeping bag on a picnic table, it's no different from anyone parking their car to sleep. I've also devised a way to set up my tent as a more inconspicuous bivy sack when there are lots of mosquitoes.

A couple of times when I was dead tired and caught up in a built up area without options, I searched for truck stops and camped behind where trucks art parked. It can be a noisy affair, but truck stops usually have conveniences like showers and late night food. Sometimes those odd experiences make for weird memorable moments.

General Discussion / Re: Any advise on Bicycle choice greatly appreciated.
« on: February 25, 2014, 05:23:23 pm »
Does anyone know whether you can put a handlebar bag on the Butterfly bars?

Some people replace spacers with a second stem and a short bar for a handlebar bag mount. You can search around for examples, like this

General Discussion / Re: Any advise on Bicycle choice greatly appreciated.
« on: February 25, 2014, 11:28:33 am »
=1 on the Novara Safari. If your wife wants a more upright stance, go for a smaller size and an angled stem to raise the handlebar.

The fork on the Sportster is pretty mediocre, and setting a coil spring suspension on a loaded touring bike is an odd thing because it's usually based on the rider's weight. Plus, I've never seen shocks that lock out properly, there's always a bit of play no matter what. Fatter tires and good padded gloves will help absorb the vibrations — plus when you adjust the bike for a more upright stance, weight shifts to the seat rather than the handlebar.

I usually readjust my bike in the middle of a long tour. I find as I get used to the daily riding routine and gain strength and endurance, I tend to raise the seat so I get more leg stretch and shift more of my weight on the handlebar for improved control.

Routes / Re: Cross Canada Tour - looking for route advice
« on: January 17, 2014, 07:25:39 pm »
I've cycled acros Canada twice, taking different routes. The first time I took the Trans Canada from Vancouver to Calgary and meandered through some small roads in the Prairies on my way to Winnipeg, then went across the north shore of Lake Superior. Last year I took the Yellowhead through Edmonton and Saskatoon, and then crossed into the USA along the south shore of Superior.

There is a big difference whether you go across the south or the north of the Prairies. The south has more interesting towns but the north has more varied scenery and landscapes. Unfortunately, a lot of the small towns in the Prairies are pretty depressing, they are tearing down wooden grain elevators and consolidating services in larger centres. If you intend to avoid the TransCanada east of Calgary, I enjoyed riding out to Drumheller (awesome collection of dinosaur bones) and then crossing into Saskatchewan at Alsask towards Rosetown. From there you can cycle towards the massive Gardiner Dam (one of the largest embankment dams in the world) which holds back Lake Diefenbaker. Traffic will be super low on the roads that cut diagonally from Elbow to Moose Jaw. Moose Jaw is really interesting, make sure you soak your tired legs in the mineral pool at Temple Gardens and take at least one of the tunnel tours.

Cycling in Manitoba is terrible all around but if you take SK13/MB2 from Weyburn SK to Winnipeg, It would probably be one of the better routes with nice small towns . Many of Manitoba's highways have no shoulders, so get a good mirror and watch out for trucks.

It is really tough riding in Northern Ontario, the climbs around Lake Superior can be steeper than those in the Rockies. It is well worth doing once, though. When you get to Sault Ste. Marie, go to Velorution bike shop to ask for advice heading east. They have a quiet route that meanders through Mennonite country and skips the busy highway at least up to Sudbury. They also have a free campsite in the back of their store. There are a lot of options depending on whether you decide to go to or skip Toronto. I'm in the Ottawa area, let me know if you need specific advice on the area.

Cycling in Quebec is much more convenient with the Route verte system which goes to practically every region of the province. As for New Brunswick, I particularly liked cycling through the Acadian shore (Campbellton-Shediac) better than the St John river valley (via Fredericton). It is more off-track and gets you close to the bridge to PEI.

Cycling the long way through Newfoundland From Port=aux-Basques can be tedious, so if you decide to take the ferry to Placentia instead, ride around the south of the Avalon Penninsula via Cape St. Mary's to get a good taste of island life before heading to St John's.

Routes / Re: Jasper, Golden, Kamloops loop
« on: December 25, 2013, 05:03:43 pm »
British Columbia's main highways are generally excellent for cycling, with ample shoulders. Where you have to watch out is on the downhill stretches through steep passes prone to gravel being washed onto the roadway. Sand and pebbles often accumulate on the shoulders and if you are coasting really fast, a pile might catch you by surprise. The Kicking Horse and the Rogers passes in particular are susceptible to landslides.

Also watch out for the Texas gates going in and out of Lake Louise, they are made of tubular metal. I made a mistake thinking I could ride over them in wet weather — I slipped and fell but was lucky I did not break a bone as my right leg went into the cavity.

Here are some photos of typical road conditions on Highway 93, the first is on the Icefields Parkway, the second is along the Kootenay Valley heading towards Radium Hot Springs.

This is Highway 16 heading up the Yellowhead Pass last summer with Mount Robson looming ahead. Despite looking so daunting, the climb around the side is not too steep, I did it on my middle chainring.

Routes / Re: Jasper, Golden, Kamloops loop
« on: December 19, 2013, 08:42:59 pm »
The climbs are generally less steep in the direction you described (clockwise). I've cycled on most of the roads you mentioned except for the 5 between Tete Jaune Cache and Kamloops. The northern 93 aka the Icefields Parkway is probably one of the most scenic bike rides around. Lots of campgrounds along this route but it will cost you being inside the boundaries of national parks. The Trans Canada Highway (#1) is quite busy and there might be continuing construction on the Kicking Horse Canyon, so if you have a bit of time, I would suggest continuing on the 93 through Vermillion Pass and Radium Hot Springs where you can stop for a soak. There are generally less headwinds here, too because you zigzag through the Kootenay valley and always have tall mountains baffling the prevailing winds

I rode into Jasper last summer from Prince Rupert on the Yellowhead (Hwy 16) and it is the easiest pass to climb over the Rockies even though it goes beside Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. You will likely have a tailwind pushing you up.

Gear Talk / Re: Opinions on refurbishing/re-equipping a 20-year old bike
« on: December 08, 2013, 01:15:27 pm »
The bike originally had 8 speeds, and has a 130mm dropout spacing. I'll probably keep it at 8 or maybe upgrade to 9 at most. I get the impression that 10 speed chains are just not as robust for loaded touring.

@ DaveB, I am intrigued by the Retroshift, have you seen or tried it on bullhorn handlebars? I also looked at the 105 crankset but  the bottom bracket could be problematic for my older frame. I will likely keep my old bottom bracket which is still in great condition but has a square taper interface.

@dkoloko, I mostly do solo self-supported fully loaded tours. The frame is touring-specific and was custom measured to me (albeit a younger 30-something me). However, when I'm done refurbishing this bike, I will probably ride it mostly close to home, which could mean anywhere around the Northeastern US or Eastern Canada. For the trips that require airplane transport, I'll take my newer, easier-serviced bike. I'm learning a few lessons sourcing parts that will work, and finally realized why my LBS advised me to buy a new bike 5 years ago!

Gear Talk / Re: Opinions on refurbishing/re-equipping a 20-year old bike
« on: December 08, 2013, 09:44:33 am »
I was thinking of Paul Thumbies or this quill stem mount, both of which are basically re-mounted down tube shifters. I will be installing pursuit bullhorn handlebars which prefer over drop bars.

Gear Talk / Opinions on refurbishing/re-equipping a 20-year old bike
« on: December 08, 2013, 12:19:05 am »
I got my first real touring bike back in 1994, a custom made steel frame from Marinoni with an all Campagnolo drivetrain. I rode it for 15 years through several continents until the paint started to crackle and rust, and the most of the parts just got too worn out. I reluctantly abandoned it five years ago, stuffing it up in the rafters of the shed before riding off to Alaska with a new Trek 520.

In a fit of nostalgia, I decided to dust off the old beast, striped it down and sent the frame back to the builder to get it completely repainted. I just got the frame back and it is better than new, even its rusted braze-ons were replaced, and a superior quality paint was used. I will slowly rebuild the bike with new parts as a labour of love through the winter. I've ordered a new wheel set, using Velo Orange Grand Cru hubs with their RAID rims to retain a bit of the vintage feel of the bike.

Looking back, the Campy parts were beautiful, but I hate the range of their gear cassettes, and how relatively limited and expensive it is to obtain replacements. So I'm going to switch over to Shimano. I had Ergo shifters, but I'm leaning towards low maintenance thumb shifters — any opinions regarding these?

Since it's a chance to start from scratch, I'm also looking to get some recommendations on a new triple crankset and other aspects of the drivetrain — should I lean towards Deore, SLX, Tiagra or 105 etc? As most of us learn over the years, expensive isn't necessarily better, and my experience is limited only to the group sets I've used so it would be great to hear from other touring cyclists regarding reliability and robustness. Any personal opinions on where the current line is drawn between the various components — where what you pay for durability ends, and you start wasting money on light-weightness is ?

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