One ride away from completing my personal Three Speed October Challenge. Don’t worry folks, I’ll still be (mostly) riding my three speeds through the rest of the month!
I took out the Robin Hood path racer project again. I don’t ride this bike as much as my superb Superbe, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t love it. It’s just set up as a sportier (read: less capacity) bike. With its sexy Lauterwasser (the Soma repro) handlebars, it definitely looks like a fast bike. Nevermind that it’s still the same 20-30 HiTen steel as practically every other British three speed!*
I haven’t really done many changes to the bike since I built it up about two years ago. The only thing that’s been replaced (besides the chain) is tires. I’ve had four different sets since I built it up:
- Schwalbe Delta Cruisers in cream. These were “hand-me-downs” from the Superbe.
- Grand Bois tires. Yes, Grand Bois. 650A is still a common size in Japan, and Grand Bois is supposed to be the “best”. So I mistakenly took the advice of someone off the internet and located a pair of these impossible-to-find Japanese tires.** Yeah, they are the most supple tires you can find for 650A, but they were expensive (I paid $60 each) and yet were somehow narrower than any other common 26″ x 1 3/8″ tires, 32 mm wide. (Most common is 35-37 mm). They probably would have been the cat’s knees if they were the same width as Col de la Vies (40 mm), but at that narrowness the higher pressure I had to keep them at negated most of the benefits. I had them on for a couple months, then managed to compromise the sidewall on the front. So much for that.
- Sunlite Nimbus tires, which I believe are just relabeled Kendas. I had a set on the old Rudge (found in a free pile) and liked them fine. In fact, I think they are probably the best of the cheap tires in this size, especially with their “hybrid” tread.
- And now, Panaracer Col de La Vie. I like these tires, but decided they’d be better off on the sportier three speed vs. the more utilitarian Superbe.
Today’s ride was actually an honest-to-goodness commute. Most of my work happens at home, but on Monday October 14 I happened to cover a shift at my old job, the hostel. Yep, I stayed on the payroll and work an occasional shift (at best, once a month). Part of it is to keep those long-standing side-benefits of working at a hostel going. (Like staying for free at other hostels.) But part of it is to also remind me of why I left. There’s always the part of me that looks back on things and says, “Maybe that wasn’t so bad.”*** So I start to think, maybe I should have stuck around. Going back every once in awhile convinces me that I made the right decision, and sticking around for even two days a week would’ve been too much.
In any case, it was a nice 3 mile ride to work. A beautiful October day, sunny and in the mid-60’s. Fall has been really poppin’ here in Portland, and I paused at Laurelhurst Park to admire the color display.
Work at the hostel was, ehh. But I got to hang out with Blackie for a little bit, that’s all that matters!
The ride home was nice. It was a pleasant but cool evening, about 47F when I left the hostel. The bright B+M headlight powered by a Sanyo dynohub lit the way home.
Overall, six miles of riding today.
*Yes, I know about the fancy Lentons, Clubmans, and the like with their light 531 tubing. But let’s face it, 99% of the old British three speeds we see here in the US aren’t going to be that!
**Norther Cycles in North Portland was coincidentally placing a direct order with Grand Bois when I was searching.
***However, this hasn’t been the case for looking back at the five years at the house in Woodlawn. If anything, each passing day makes me realize how bad it all was.