Sunday, May 30, 2021

In the Brain Trust: minor adjustments required

I got this Burley Travoy last year and I really like it.
Only problem is, the trailer hitch won't work on my seatpost. But fear not! Burley has thoughtfully provided an adapter so the hitch can be mounted on top of a full-size rear rack.
And that has definitely made it possible for me to use and enjoy the trailer.






The only issue is that, when mounted according to the (easy-to-follow) instructions, the hitch sits very low -- TOO low -- on smaller bikes, meaning there is a less-than-optimal engagement between the hitch and the trailer arm.

So after looking at the thing for awhile, I hit upon the idea of making a riser block from some scrap wood, and inserting it just above the rack and below the top half of the adapter.

I cut a section from a large piece of scrap plywood of roughly the right thickness, sanded it, and applied primer and paint.

When it was dried, I then used the top of the adapter as a template and drilled holes for longer bolts to go through.

Then, I reassembled the adapter on the rack, with the riser block where I wanted it.
The plywood was cheap and old, and still broke off a little bit after all the filling and gluing and painting. So I wrapped that end with gaffer tape, poked holes, and proceeded.

It definitely improves the angle of entry for the trailer arm, though it's still not quite optimal.

But it's much better than it was, and hopefully will lessen the strain on the nylon piece that feeds into the hitch. I'll live with it for awhile and see what happens.

If I think it's still not working well, I swap in a nicer, taller block of hardwood to further improve the hookup.

Today, I take a load of drums up to WestCraft Drums for refurbishing anmd see how the trailer handles the load. It's the last nice day for riding before we get hit with a few 90-degree days.

Happy riding!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Out of breath and out of shape

A entire winter off the bike (from those eye surgeries), combined with Seasonal Affective Disorder, IBS and Eating My Feelings has led to where I am now.
I am trying gamely to ride my bike every day. Once I've gotten going it'sa pleasant and enjoyable, though horribly slow. But the first half-mile is awful. My knees hurt, I am out of breath and out of shape, and I resent myself for all the ways in which I've let myself go.

This narrative alternates with the one where I feel lousy and underslept (almost every day), where I still can't eat a balanced diet because of my autoimmune issues, and where some days I get so depressed and/or fatigued that it is all I can do to get dressed and leave the house.

Somewhere in the middle is a more accurate combination of all the whys and hows that got me to this point.

Still, the days are longer now, the longest they'll be all year very soon, and the weather is warming up. As more people get vaccinated, masks are coming off. We had a lovely visit in the yard today with my Mother-In-Love (who was finally able to fly up and see us and HUG us after 15 months) and a dear local friend whose husband died in January. Masks off, hugs, smiles and stories.

Last night we went out for dinner to a favorite restaurant whose seating indoors and out was so spacious that no one wore masks once they were seated. And it felt, well, normal again.

Sweetie and I are going to visit her mom next month, one of several visits to help her clear out the pile of detritus left over from Roger's death (and lifelong penchant for saving everything). If possible, I may play a gig while I'm there; or just take my guitar into town and busk a few hours each day.

It has been very challenging to come up with new material, to write new songs, without self-censoring every five minutes. But I'm hacking away a little at a time and hopeful that eventually the creative juices will flow again.

COVID has done a serious number on me, on my life and livelihood and well-being. I wonder if I will gain back everything, or even most of, what strength and flexibility and endurance I've lost.

Tomorrow, I'll go for a ride and try to get myself back a little bit more again.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

I tried to have faith, but it made me nervous: update on Nitto saddlebag Q/R

Some months ago I invested in a Nitto saddlebag quick-release unit for my All-Rounder. My hope was that it would make it easier for me to deal with wanting to tow my Burley Travoy and have a Carradice Saddlebag on my bike. But having to mount the bracket on the saddle springs made me too nervous to keep it there for too long; and the fact remained that I still had to remove my saddlebag in order to tow the trailer.

I wanted both.

So today, I removed the Nitto bag support-mini rack from underneath, and removed the Q/R unit from the saddle springs. Then I installed an older, very nice Blackburn touring rack that sat very close to the top of the rear fender, meaning that I now had all kinds of room for the trailer's tow bar.

I then used the adapter to install the trailer hitch directly onto the rear rack, which positioned it lower and further rearward. The end result is that now I have both, at the same time; I can tow my Travoy without having to remove my saddlebag.

It still isn't perfect; I have to lift the back of the bike a little bit to wiggle the trailer into the hitch. The trailer's tow arm attachment is nylon, and the hitch is metal, so at some point the nylon part may wear out or break from heavy use; but I actually don't use the trailer that often. Also, the trailer sits almost a foot farther away (rearward) from the bike than it used to. That doesn't seem to be as big an issue, since the narrow Travoy tracks so well behind the bike.

All I have to do now is secure the adapter so it doesn't get stolen. Probably the way to do that for now is to put a little blue locktite on the threads of the bolts, and then stuff the allen key holes with tinfoil.
I think this will work for quite awhile. 

Brooks Flyer springs, with Nitto Q/R saddlebag bracket removed.

I suppose the springs are stout enough to have handled the stress, but I didn't really feel comfortable testing how much stress over a period of time, especially considering the cost of the saddle and wheter or not I'd be able to get replacement parts when I needed them.

With the Q/R bracket gone, I could once again run the bag's straps through the saddle loops.

Above: The adapter allowing the hitch to sit on top of the rear rack. This requires a full-size rear rack for the hitch to clear the saddlebag it's there to support.
Because I insist on using a Camper LongFlap  (the largest saddlebag in the Carradice line) with a 53cm frame, I need the support from a rack underneath.
The repositioned trailer hitch sits behind the saddlebag with enough room to open the bag while the trailer is attached.

The end result is not bad at all.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Today in the Brain Trust: Bike hacks

I love making bike hacks, for my bike and others' bikes.

Today, It was both.

1. Before handing off my Bridgestone to a new human this evening, I replaced the thumb shifters with pure friction shifters that would be reliable and smooth. But one of the plastic ferrules at the end of the cable housing broke into pieces, and I did not have a replacement on hand.
So I made one out of a Presta valve cap by carefully poking a small hole in the top, ran the cable through that hole and then through the housing and down to the derailleur. The cable tension holds it in place and causes no hangups when shifting, making it a suitable replacement for 4mm shift housing.

2. The primary flap straps on my Carradice Camper LF bag have been showing wear for awhile -- the bag is over 15 years old -- and so today I replaced one that was about to give way. I used an orphan leather strap left over from another saddlebag, cutting it down and making pinholes for the needle to pull through. I used waxed dental floss to sew it on. It worked well.
They don't match, but whatever.

Even as we prepare to open up more this summer, and I prepare to (hopefully) play out more, I'll be working on bikes all summer. So I am still here to take old, dead bikes and make them work again, to answer your bicycle questions, and to tune up your bike if needed.

Happy riding!