Finally getting my 右前

Bicycle on balcony overlooking city

Ever since Ol’ Paint was reborn as Dionysus, I’ve been wanting to reverse the brake levers. My preference is for 右前, meaning the right lever pulls the front brake. Ol’ Paint was set up this way, as is Kuroko. Among other things, in a country where I ride on the left, it means I can use the rear brake while I’m signaling with my right hand.

I’ve written about this at length before, when I discovered it was an insufficiently curled noodle (or elbow) that prevented me setting up Dionysus as I preferred from the start. Had I realized at the time, I would have saved the old one as there was nothing wrong with it. But finally, after much searching, I found a noodle with a bit more bend.

Brake noodles and associated bits on a black work table
Those two on the right

It’s easy to see the difference with the new noodle set next to the previous one.

Rolling up the sleeves

Figuratively, of course. It’s too hot for riding today at 35C, so I gathered up my parts and tools in the Workshop in the Sky. I had some flexible noodles in case the new one wasn’t curled enough, and I had replacement brake cables. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to use the existing cable housing or if I would need longer runs.

After laying out the parts I cut the old cables and removed them from the bike. The rear cable can be cleaned up and used again as a spare for the front, but the front is now cut too short to use again.

After that I test fit the cable housings with the new noodle, making sure they didn’t bind as i turned the bars from side to side. Once I was sure it all looked OK, I inserted the new cables, cut them to length, and tightened and adjusted the brakes. I’ll probably adjust them more after the first ride or two, but for now they seem fine.

Surprising discovery

While I was tightening the rear brake cable, I discovered a bit of wire embedded in the rear tire. I’m lucky it didn’t penetrate the tread and puncture the inner tube.

Small bent wire on table between brake noodles
Pesky bit of wire

Being honest about my shortcomings

The other thing I took stock of today was the amount of rust coming through the paint. It’s just been two years since the debut ride following the repaint. There’s been a scratch or two in that time, but mostly what I’m seeing is rust coming up through the paint even where there’s been no damage.

I think it’s likely that the frame wasn’t clean enough before I started painting, or there was some flaw in the technique.

So I’m thinking now about what to do. I’ll most likely paint again, perhaps with locally sourced 2K paint. I’ll try to wire-wheel the whole thing this time around, hoping to make short work of what was a months-long project last time, and find some acetone to clean up with before starting to paint. Finally, I’ll look for some matte clear coat to go with the base color.

All that is for another day, though. For now I’ll use some rust converter on the spots.

Bicycle on balcony overlooking city
My work here is finished

I could have done a lot more today, but I was satisfied with getting the brakes routed. I didn’t wash the bike (although it really needs it), but I gave the chain a thorough cleaning and oiling.

Haneda: le Grand Retour

The weather forecast was very changeable leading into the weekend, but it looked like the temperature would not rise above 32C, which has been pretty much my limit these past few years. When I checked the evening before, the forecast for Saturday was overcast but with little chance of rain, so I contacted José and asked if he was up for a ride. He replied that he’d already made plans to visit the gym.

On Saturday morning, the forecast was for rain in the afternoon — or not, depending on who you wanted to believe. I discarded my plan to ride to Kawagoe (a destination I’d selected with José in mind anyway) and set out for Haneda with some onigiri from Nana in my bag. I’d last visited Haneda in April, before the heat turned on, and had trouble with the tire sealant on that occasion.

I’d debated whether I needed to wear sleeves or indeed sunblock, but within 15 minutes of setting out, the sun was shining through the overcast skies. It continued to shine brightly enough to cast shadows for about 80% of the time I was riding.

The going was smooth as soon as I cleared the traffic and joined the Tamagawa cycling course, but I wasn’t feeling any power. My thighs felt like limp linguine after even the modest 5-6m climbs up the levee. I soldiered on though and reached Haneda at 10 a.m. after having set out a bit after 8, so I was making good time despite my low energy levels.

I had a good 25-minute break at Haneda and ate two onigiri after wrapping them in special nori paper I’d received as a gift from the sushi master. It wasn’t yet 10:30 when I mounted up for the ride home.

The ride back was more of the same: I felt weak but I was making good time by the clock. I had a bit of numbness in my hands and while my bottom was resting heavily on the saddle, I wasn’t experiencing any of the soreness which has been an issue in the past. When I got to Futako I climbed out of the valley more slowly than usual, but I was never in doubt of making it to the top.

Bicycle leaning against shrubs with trees in the background
12km to go

At 11:25 I messaged Nana that I’d reached Nikotama and was eating the last onigiri. It was hot now — 32C — and I was running low on water. I didn’t want to dawdle, so at 11:35 I messaged Nana I would be home by 1.

There’s little more to relate about the ride home. I was slower on the modest rises than usual. There was some construction and a few sprinkles of rain. I didn’t have as much trouble with the drivers as I’d had near Marukobashi. I rolled into the plaza at 12:26 and messaged Nana I was home.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Le Grand Retour

Ride time was 3:00:17 for an average moving speed of 21.0km/h.