Between the typhoons

Hamura Intake Weir showing high water levels following flooding

Today, with Nana out of town and the Halfakid beating up other people’s children, I had the perfect chance to take advantage of the nice weather and put in a quick (lazy) 100km. It’s been a couple of weeks since the last ride, and I’ve fixed the broken spoke meanwhile.

Flooded baseball field by Tama River
Flooded baseball field by Tama River

I was expecting some leftover signs of flooding from Typhoon #19 (Hagibis), as Tama River was particularly hard hit, and perhaps some puddles. But I wasn’t quite prepared for how quickly Kuroko was thoroughly spattered in mud. I did expect to see some damage and perhaps to encounter a detour or two, and I wasn’t disappointed in this regard.

Barrier across cycling path
Route blocked due to flooding

Bicycle path buried under mud
There’s a bike path in there

Footbridge covered in flotsam with barrier and detour sign
I guess I can’t go this way

Large section of pavement missing from cycle path switchback
This is supposed to be a switchback

Sign by cycle path knocked down and covered in flotsam
Clean-up crew hasn’t got to this one yet

In a couple of cases, one rather lengthy, I had to leave the path in favor of public roads. I did my best to parallel the river and find my way back once the path opened up again. In the case of the path buried under the mud, I just followed the route through the grass that many bikers had taken before me. In all, I was impressed with the amount of clean-up that had already been completed.

Selfie with statue of Tamagawa Brothers
Hangin’ with my homies

The weather was mild today, and cloudy. I felt there was a crosswind on my way upstream, but the fact I clocked three personal bests during this leg leads me to believe there was a tailwind component. (Certainly on the way back I was fighting a headwind.) I was making good time and arrived in Hamura almost before I knew it. I had a brief rest there while I ate onigiri (store-bought this time, with Nana out of town).

On the way home, recharged with rice fuel, I continued to make good time despite what had become a headwind. I got a bit off track during one of the diversions (where the footbridge was covered with flotsam) but I soon made my way back to the path. The sun came out for a bit and I ended up with a red nose. Despite having ordered special sunblock from the US, I left home today with a speck of protection given the overcast skies. (And yes, I assure you that the red nose is from the sun … )

With temperatures in the upper teens to low 20s, I wasn’t sapped by the heat. I was able to skip some of my usual resting places, only stopping when my hands or butt were crying for mercy. I could feel my energy slipping away and I knew I was getting hungry, despite all the onigiri I had eaten, but by this time I just had a couple of dozen more kilometers to go. I stopped in a park and drained my water bottles and had a close look at Kuroko. Oops.

Bicycle bottom bracket area spattered with mud
Not as bad as that time in England

They call me Mr Mechanical

Up until this point, Kuroko had been performing flawlessly. No noise apart from an initial brake squeal as we burned off the accumulation of moisture from a typhoon and subsequent rains. On the return trip, one of the pedal cleats got a bit squeaky, but that’s not a big deal (and can be nearly impossible to get rid of). The new thru axles were locked in place with no slipping. But when I left the cycle path after nearly 100km, a grinding noise started up in the crankset. Sacré bleu! Are the crankset bearings going already? I just replaced them a bit over a month ago, less than 350km. I continued on, listening carefully as I went. And then I tried to shift the large chainring and … nothing! The lever wouldn’t even budge in the proper direction. I gave it a couple of clicks in the other direction and tried again: same result.

As I rode along, I stole a quick glance down at the front derailleur: Yes, it was certainly rubbing the chain. Well, that accounts for the noise. I haven’t yet had a look to see what the problem is (I’ll no doubt give Kuroko a bath tomorrow and have a look at that time), but at least it’s not the bearings. I was stuck on the lower chainring, but that’s not a bad place to be (as Tomo can attest). I typically only use the larger chainring in a couple of places during the ride home through the traffic, and this time I just did the best I could — and took it easy.

Jig time

I made it home in a touch over 5 hours of riding time, or 6 hours 44 minutes total elapsed time. Not bad for an overweight ojisan who hasn’t been on the bike in more than two weeks. I parked Kuroko on the balcony (because she needs maintenance and a bath), where she may remain for at least another week.

GPS route for Hamura round trip ride
The GPS doesn’t lie

Next weekend may not be so great for riding.

Projected routes of typhoons #20 and #21
Typhoons #20 and #21

Christmas in October

Shipping box containing various Sram bicycle component boxes

Some long-awaited components for Ol’ Paint’s rebuild arrived today. Ol’ Paint was originally a triple: three chainrings on the front and eight cogs on the back. But as a central part of the upgrade, I wanted to convert her to a 1x: a single chainring with an 11-speed cog. After some research I decided on the SRAM Apex 1 line. Then the only problem was that no one who listed the parts would ship to Japan.

With some more searching I found the required bits through a Rakuten shop. When I ordered they quickly responded that the parts were out of stock and it would take more than a month to receive them. Knowing that I would still be in the process of prepping the frame for painting, I agreed to wait. And today, it all arrived.

Sram 11-speed shifter
Flat-bar shifter for 11-speed derailleur

Sram 11-speed rear derailleur
SRAM Apex 1 11-speed derailleur

Box for Sram crankset
This last box must be …

Sram Apex 1 crankset in box
SRAM Apex 1 crankset

Sram 11-speed chain
The finishing touch: 11-speed chain

I’d already received the rear cogs and the bottom bracket bearing set quite some time ago. I’ve got the brakes, handlebar, stem, pedals and seatpost. The hand grips arrived earlier today. About the only thing missing now is the saddle, which is also on back order, and perhaps a few cable housings (depending on the color I choose to go with the new paint). I’ve even got the wheels built and am in the process of truing them.

I’ve got the next four days off work, but — sad to say — I don’t have access to the workshop where Ol’ Paint’s frame awaits.

Fork in the road

Bicycle fork with most of the paint sanded away

I had some time before starting work today so I got some more sanding done on Ol’ Paint. I concentrated on the fork, which had more than its share of dings and rust.

Partially sanded bicycle frame with rust reforming on the sanded areas
Rust never sleeps

It’s been less than two weeks since I last worked on the bike, but rust is already forming again on the parts I sanded off. I decided to ignore that for today. When I’m done with the whole bike I’ll go back over it again, this time with a finer grit. It should go a lot more quickly.

Bicycle fork before sanding
Let’s get started

Rusty bicycle fork dropout
Rusty dropout

Bicycle fork with one side sanded nearly clean
After just a few minutes

Bicycle headset with some of the finish sanded away
I didn’t think to protect the headset

Bicycle fork showing rust and scratchingBicycle fork with most of the paint sanded away
From rusty and scratched to clean in … about 45 minutes

In all I spent about 45 minutes getting the fork to this stage. I’ve saved the hardest parts for later: the bendy bits and the tight corners.

Bicycle fork with most of the paint sanded away
Saving the hardest bits for last

Almost like I’m a real bike mechanic now

Park Tool truing stand

I debated with myself for months whether I needed a wheel truing stand. Is this something I really want to do myself vs having a professional do it right? Is it something I’ll be doing often enough to justify the expense? And more importantly, do I want to explain to Nana why there’s another bike thingamajig taking up precious balcony space?

After rebuilding Kuroko’s rear wheel a time or two, and faced with the task of building a new set of wheels for Ol’ Paint, the answer to the questions was a resounding “Yes.” (At least for the first two questions — as for the last one, let’s see if Nana just gives this blog a thumb’s up without reading it, as usual … )

Professional Wheel Truing Stand TS-2.2
Professional Wheel Truing Stand TS-2.2

After looking around a bit, I found a good price on this Park Tool stand and placed the order. After waiting nearly a month for word of delivery, though, I got notice it was out of stock. So I had another look, and this time I came across another Park Tool unit, but this one was a bit more compact, and cheaper — in fact, designed for the home mechanic. Plus it was available for delivery within a couple of days. Sold!

Park Tool TS-8 Wheel Truing Stand in the boxPark Tool wheel truing stand -- opening the box
One heavy box

The box, when it arrived, was much heavier than I expected, and I soon found the reason why: the uprights are made from 4mm steel plate and the base 5mm. That mass keeps the whole shootin’ match from wobbling or tipping over while truing a wheel. (There are holes in the base to allow screwing it down to a workbench, but that’s not an option for me.)

Wheel truing stand parts laid out on wooden floor
Massive steel bits

The stand went together quickly enough, although I soon discovered I didn’t have an 11mm combination wrench. I made do with an adjustable wrench, but it was a tight fit.

The other tool that goes with a wheel truing stand is a dishing tool, which makes sure the rim is centered between the lock nuts. I was debating whether I needed one of these as well, but as this helpful how-to video demonstrates, all I need to do is turn the wheel around in the truing stand to achieve the same result. And when I got the stand together and put Ol’ Paint’s new front wheel in for a spin, I found that, indeed, the rim (hitherto only trued according to spoke tension) was centered between the hub flanges and not the lock nuts.

I haven’t actually started truing (or dishing) the rim yet, but I’m all set for the next rainy day!

Replacing a spoke (again)

Measuring spoke tension with a gauge

With the typhoon clean-up in progress throughout Tokyo, I thought this would be a good chance to fix the broken spoke. In addition to simply replacing it, of course, I wanted to make sure that the break wasn’t caused by hub damage.

Tools needed to remove sprockets and change spoke
Tools at the ready

Inner hub flange showing no damage where spoke broke
No damage on the inner flange

Outer hub flange showing scratching
Some scratching here from the earlier failure

The spoke appears to have broken right near the head, so I had a close look at the hub flange. The inner flange, against which the spoke pulls, shows no marks. There’s a shallow gouge on the outer flange from the original mangling when the chain came off into the spokes, but it felt pretty smooth to the touch.

Bicycle wheel with tire removed and rim strip partially removed
Tire and rim strip off

Broken spoke lying alongside a replacement
You’d better straighten up, young man!

Bicycle hub after broken spoke is replaced
Checking the spoke / flange interaction

To replace the spoke I had to remove the rear cassette, and then the tire, tube and rim strip. With those items out of the way, I threaded the replacement into place. Then I checked the fit of the spoke head in the flange carefully. As expected, it doesn’t touch the gouge in the outer edge of the flange at all.

(And yes, that’s still English mud there on the hub … )

Measuring spoke tension with a gauge
Checking the tension

With the spoke threaded in and properly tensioned, it was time to check the wheel trueness. The truing stand I ordered hasn’t arrived yet, so I popped the wheel into the bike frame and used my index finger to eyeball it.

With the wheel more or less true, all that remained was to remount the tire and inflate it, put the wheel on the bike a final time and check the shifting and braking. All done in almost less time than it takes to say (or it would have been, but the tire pump took a few tries to get a good seal on the valve).

Bicycle wheel and pumpBicycle wheel with tire fully inflated
Time to pump … you up!

And we’re done. I put the tools away and washed up. From the weather forecast, it may be Thursday or Friday before I have a chance to ride to work. And after that, there’s more rain forecast for the weekend.

Integrity in bicycle blogging

To tell the truth, though, I bodged this repair the first time around. I took a look at the spokes adjacent to the broken one and came to the exact opposite conclusion than I should have about the spoke’s direction. I didn’t discover my mistake until I was giving this blog one final proof.

Bicycle hub with replacement spoke fitted -- backwards
Some mistake, surely …

I did the whole thing over, and this time I got it right (and took the picture that appears further up the page showing the correct orientation).

Picking up the dropped ball

Partially sanded bike frame on a wooden work table

It’s been nearly two months since I started sanding the old paint off Ol’ Paint. In my defense, this is the busiest time at the office.

Proper tools for the job

My initial go at sanding off the paint was so frustrating that it was difficult for me to get back to it. So when I realized I would have time opening up today for this, I checked online to see what sort of sandpaper I should be using. The answer was clear: aluminum carbide with a cloth backing. I was able to find some for immediate delivery, in #80 and #240 (but not in #120, which I thought would be a good starting grit).

Bike frame, sandpaper, chemicals and green tea on a wooden work table
Ready to get started

As soon as I got to work today with the higher quality #80, the results spoke for themselves. Previously I’d gone through several sheets of generic #120 just to get a few rust spots cleared up and a couple of decals eradicated. Today, by contrast, I was taking out much larger areas of paint, right down to the bare metal. I continued to concentrate on areas of rust, or where I’d scraped off emblems.

Rust-pitted chainstayChainstay with rust and paint sanded away
Down to the bare metal in minutes

I was still going through sandpaper — I went through four sheets today in something like an hour and a half. But the paper is not that much more expensive, and I have a lot more to show for my effort.

A ludicrous number

As I worked, I kept finding more decals, and even another emblem. This bike has a ludicrous number of decals and emblems! The last one I found (so far!) was the chainstay protector.

Autodesk decal on chainstay
There’s a decal right there!

Chainstay with decal scraped away
Decal B Gone

Bicycle frame showing glue left over from emblem removal
Leftover emblem goop

Scraping glue off bicycle frame
Putty knife to the rescue

Bicycle frame after scraping away emblem glue
Ready for more sanding

Damaged emblem on bicycle forkBicycle fork after scraping off emblem
Last emblem falls prey to putty knife

Remains of the chainstay protector
Remains of the chainstay protector

Safety warning on bicycle fork
Do not remove this label!

Chainstays with most rust and paint sanded away
Making real progress on the chainstays

Rust spots on the bottom bracketBottom bracket sanded clean, showing serial numbers
I’m not going to file these off

After working an hour and a half, I called it a day. The workshop was open for another half hour, but I was giving myself a headache from the effort. Overall, I’m quite pleased compared to how things were going back in August.

Chainstay after scraping and sanding protector off
More chainstay cleanliness

Partially sanded bicycle frame standing on work table covered with paint sandings
A good day’s effort

Partially sanded bike frame on a wooden work table
Definite signs of progress

Kuroko, meanwhile

GPS bike results for morning and afternoon commute
To and fro

I thought I’d have a nice easy commute to and from the workshop today. I didn’t even put on cycling shorts, although I did wear my helmet and cleats. But the mechanical gods had other ideas. Just as I reached the top of a hill on the way home, with about 5km to go, I heard a pop and then some sproingy noises. I stopped immediately and investigated. Sacre bleu! Another broken spoke. I twisted it around its neighbor so I could continue on my way home.

Rear bicycle wheel with broken spoke
Can you spot it?

What’s going on here, anyway? I certainly wasn’t overloading that spoke (apart from asking it to carry me up that hill … ), and it wasn’t a case of the chain coming off the sprockets. It’s no doubt some combination of the thinner gauge spokes I used when I rebuilt the wheel following the last disaster and my own amateur status as a wheelbuilder. There’s also the possibility the hub is damaged from the initial spoke incident and that’s notching the new spokes. I’ll have a close look at it — if I decide that’s the cause, I may just order a whole new wheel from the maker.