Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tales of The Ride - II

8:00 am, Saturday, 18 June

The speeches and pep talks are finally over, and we’re off. A pack of 2,800 riders slowly oozes out of the casino parking lot and down the road, heading for the border. It’s a relief to be riding, and even though it’s a pretty slow pace, we’re starting to warm up.

Half a kilometre down the road is a sight we’ll see all weekend - someone fixing a flat.

Team Blazing Saddles gets split up in the crush of the pack. I find myself riding with Shanna and Kristina, the Kamloops contingent, and we ride together to the Peace Arch border crossing, where we wait like cattle in a big soggy field for nearly an hour, getting cold and wet all over again. Ugh.

Kristina & Shanna

Shower Caps & Garbage Bags

Our turn finally comes, we roll down through all the car traffic to the checkpoint, a quick passport scan, and we’re off again. There’s a pit stop right in Blaine, and we debate whether we should wait for the rest of the team or keep going. It’s a short debate - we’re just too damn cold to wait, so we roll out and head south.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tales of The Ride - I

6:00 am, Saturday, 18 June

It’s raining.

Driving east on Highway 1, heading to the Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino, the start of this year’s Ride. There’s a lot of traffic, all heading in the same direction, all carrying bikes. I guess I’m not the only one who wants to get there early.

Traffic at the track is a total clusterfuck. No signs, no directions, nobody really knows where to park. I pull in next to someone unloading a rack full of bikes, ask him if we can leave our vehicles overnight - he shrugs, and says that’s what he’s going to do. Sounds good to me, so I unload my bike and gear, lock my car, and start looking for my teammates.

It’s still raining.

I find the rest of the team, looking cold & wet. Some are huddled under a big trailer, waiting to get on the road. Nobody is particularly happy.

Hundreds of cyclists mill about. Some are woefully unprepared - cycling shorts and short-sleeved jerseys. Just watching them shiver makes me cold. Volunteers are handing out green plastic garbage bags to use as rain gear. Oy.

Still raining.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Five Days + Two New Bikes

Five Days

So. Five days left before this year's Big Ride. I'm feeling pretty good, pretty fit. Just a mild case of the jitters. Our team did a dry run last Sunday - we rode the first half of the first leg of the ride, and it all went well. There were 15 of us, all in our team kit, so we looked very official, which probably helped to grease the skids at the border, going down and coming back.

I've decided to lay off the riding this week (maybe do a couple of loops of Stanley Park Tuesday after work), drink lots of fluids, load up on carbs (love my pasta), do lots of stretching.

And, of course, give the Talbot a good going over - check the tires, adjust the brakes, oil the chain, make sure all the nuts & bolts are tight. Clean it all up, and maybe even wax the spokes!

Two New Bikes

Thanks to some hot tips from my Saturday compatriots, my measly collection of two has suddenly doubled!

First, Brian S. pointed me in the direction of a Crescent up for auction on eBay.

I had the winning bid, and a few weeks later it showed up at the door in a big box. The paint is a bit rough, there's a bit of surface rust, but the frame is sound, no dents, Reynolds 531. Drive train is all Campagnolo Nuovo Record, brakes are Universal 61s. Everything needs to be cleaned up, and I need to put some good wheels together before it's ridable, but that's all good fun. Pics here.

The second new addition is a '74 Ellis Briggs, thanks to David H. who spotted it on Craigslist.

Just your size, he said. I looked, I rode, I offered, & I bought! It's a real British classic, Reynolds 531, Campy Record & Super Record components, and a really great paint job. I've replaced the bar end shifters with down tube shifters, and re-wrapped the handlebars. With some new lightweight wheels, it will be a real treat to ride.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gios Torino Super Record

Last summer, I started riding with a group of guys who have a common interest in collecting, restoring and riding fine old steel frame bikes. Every Saturday there would be a different collection of bikes outside the Calabria - Colnago, Masi, Bianchi, Zeus, Harry Quinn - stunning examples of old school road bikes. And every Saturday, without fail, I would show up on my Talbot, from my collection of one.

Now, my Talbot’s not a dog by any stretch - hand-made in 1981 at Carleton Cycles here in Vancouver with Reynolds 531 double-butted tubing, Campagnolo Nuovo Record components - a real classic. It’s a very pretty bike, and I love riding it.

But the pressure to get another bike was mounting - subtle digs, rolling of eyes - it got to me, and I finally succumbed.

Enter: Gios Torino Super Record.

I bought the frame & forks last October, and then set about acquiring all the bits and pieces you need to have an actual bike that you can ride, like wheels, pedals, handlebars, brakes. Hello eBay, goodbye paycheque.

For the past six months I have been noodling away at it, dipping my toes into the deep and somewhat arcane waters of the vintage bicycle world, where things are not always what they seem.

The frame isn’t perfect - the original brilliant cobalt blue has been painted over with a darker blue, purplish in some lights, and there is a small dent on the down tube, but it’s my size, and it’s very pretty. Best guess is that it’s from the early 1980’s, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.

A lot of dismantling, degreasing, scrubbing, cleaning, buffing, polishing and careful reassembly (am I doing this right? Maybe I should do it again...) has gone on over the past few months. Getting from this:

to this:

and this:

and eventually to this:

Kind of fun, actually, and very satisfying.

I tried to stick with period correct parts as much as possible, and I think I did okay (thanks to Brian S. for advice & parts). Super Record front and rear derailleurs, crankset, seat post and brakes, Cinelli stem and handlebars, Brooks saddle, Mavic GP4 rims with Campy Record hubs and Servizio Corse tubulars (my first tubulars - a bit of anxiety here!). I found some nice blue bar tape that is a perfect match for the original cobalt paint and some bar end plugs with the Gios crest - just to cap things off.

So, how does it ride, I hear you ask. How about "like a dream". It's a great ride - smooth, quick, responsive, effortless. Shifting is smooth and quiet, the front brakes squealed at first but I shimmed the shoes to give them a little toe-in, and it's all good now. I'm still a little nervous about riding on tubulars and having to deal with flats, but so far, so good.

I've put about 130 km on the Gios, and it gets better every time. I still like my Talbot, but I can kind of see it becoming my utility bike, for rainy day rides. I'll probably ride it on the RTCC - it's comfortable, has good clincher tires, and it's done it before, so it knows the way!

I've been trying to get some decent pictures of the Gios, but without much success. I'll keep trying, but this will have to do for now:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In no particular order...

here are some random topics that we'll cover over the next couple of months. There will be no exam.

Falling Lessons
First tubulars
Jersey of The Week
Carleton (no longer Cycles)

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Chapters

Little did I know what was ahead when I revived my old Talbot in the summer of 2009. Since then, I have ridden about 6,000 kilometers, repaired many flats, lost 10 pounds, crashed 4 times (not including just plain falling over twice), acquired many new friends, a closet full of jerseys, and another 3 bikes. I seem to have been bitten by the bike bug.

Not only that, but I’ve also signed up again for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, 2011 version. I’ve already reached my original goal of $2,500.00, so I just set a new goal of $4,000.00. With 47 days left (as of this entry), and with your generosity, it should be a piece of cake, right? Right!

So, let’s get on the road.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Last Chapter, Part 3:

So, there you have it, folks - Steve’s Big Ride of 2010.

It was hard, easy, fun, boring, hot, cold & wet, uphill, downhill, exhausting, exhilarating, painful, exciting, frustrating - and a huge success, physically, mentally and financially.

When I signed up for The Ride to Conquer Cancer 2010, I pledged to raise $2,500.00 for the cause; thanks to all of you who contributed, my final total was $4,443.00. Team Napier’s goal was $12,000.00; in the end we managed to raise a grand total of $13,645.00. Pretty damn good!

The Happy Team: Steve Holmes, Ben Coli, Michael Tucker, Erin Millar

A Very Dirty Bike

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed & made this ride such an enormous success - I couldn’t have done it without you. I am still overwhelmed by your generosity and wonderful support for this cause.

Now what, you ask? Well, I’m going to do it all over again. This year I’ll be riding with Team Blazing Saddles, and we’ll be aiming to raise $68,800.00. Sounds like a lot of money, doesn’t it? Again, with your help, and with some hard riding on our part, I know we can do it.

So, hop on, and let’s go for another Big Ride.