Another quick run to Hamura

Kuroko at the Hamura Intake Weir

The day dawned cool and partly cloudy. Checking the forecast, with a projected high of 19C, I was almost ready to set off wearing shorts and a long-sleeved T under a wind breaker. But Kuroko was on the balcony following a gear adjustment yesterday, and when I went out to stuff things into the saddle pack I was struck by a blast of cold wind. So I quickly modified my plans and dug out my winter riding tights and thermal undershirt.

The Halfakid and I had planned to meet at 8 a.m. to get in a quick 100km today. But we’d been out last night with our respective main squeezes, and so needed a bit more time to get rolling this morning. I was finally ready, with fresh onigiri courtesy of Nana, just before 8:30, and rolled up to the Halfakid’s flat at precisely 9 a.m.

Mechanicals — none of them mine

The Halfakid had lost a bar end plug previously, and I’d bought him a replacement set. He wanted to take care of those this morning, as well as replacing his bell with one that I’d given up on — I kept breaking it, but he’d managed to resurrect it. So we spent about 20 minutes putting those bits in their places.

The Halfakid had also lost a cleat screw on our previous ride to Miura Kaigan. I’d forgotten about this and failed to bring the spare I have at home. So instead we decided to stop at a bike shop along the course.

I wanted to get in 100km today but I had a deadline: Nana and I were meeting an overseas guest at 5:30 to go to dinner. So to make a quick and easy 100km, I had to cycle up the Tamagawa from Futako to the end of the course at Hamura. This is usually no big deal, but today we were battling a headwind, and I knew that we were bound to encounter some of the detours around damage resulting from Typhoon No. 19, the same as I had discovered on my ride last month.

Fujisan in the distance
Fujisan in the distance

Once on the trail, and battling a fairly stiff headwind, I managed to keep a steady 21-22km/h pace. The Halfakid, riding close behind my rear wheel, said he wasn’t feeling any headwind. I was tempted to tell him to get in front and pull. But after our first rest stop, when we got back on the cycling course, he took off ahead and was soon out of sight. I concentrated on keeping my pace steady, and even stopped en route to take a quick snap of Fujisan off in the distance.

Midway between the first and second rest stops, I was greeted by a bizarre procession coming in the opposite direction: a man on a bicycle, with two children out front in seats on a kind of platform hanging off the frame in front of the front wheel. As he passed I saw two more children in a trailer on the back. And with this load he was climbing out of the switchback! He was followed by a woman (presumably the children’s mother) on a more conventional bike, laden front and rear with full panniers.

Finally I caught up with the Halfakid where he was waiting for me just 1km or so before the bike shop where we’d agreed to stop for the replacement cleats. We got there 10 minutes before opening time and so took advantage of a couple of Nana’s onigiri while we waited. Once the shop opened we quickly found the needed bits and were on the road again to our usual rest stop, where the Halfakid swapped in the new cleats and made sure they were good and tight.

Back on the course, we soon came to more detours around typhoon damage. At a lengthy detour where we were forced to leave the path and head into traffic, I managed to carve out a clearer route this time than I had a month ago, passing a familiar shrine along the way as a landmark. With just 10km to go until our turnaround point, I was eyeing the average speed as reported by the GPS: a hair over 21km/h.

The course took us into a park with just 3km yet to go, and there was a large event going on. Suddenly we were dodging children and careless adults strolling along the path. We had to proceed with some caution, and we both made good use of our bike bells.

I kept the steady pace going up to the end, with the Halfakid content to sit in my slipstream. We rolled into Hamura and broke out the remaining onigiri for lunch.

Selfie with statue of the Tamagawa Brothers
Tamagawa Bros

After lunch we headed home with the breeze to our backs. While the tailwind did not provide a completely unmixed benefit, with occasional stiff gusts blowing us sideways across the path, it did grant an overall boost that we deigned to accept. Our 5km splits dropped from nearly 15 minutes on the outbound leg to less than 11 minutes, or nearly 30km/h.

I pressed the advantage the wind was giving us, urging the average speed on the GPS up from 21km/h to 22. Of course at this point we already had 65km under our belt, so even multiple successive kilometers at 30km/h translated to barely a nudge on the gauge. With the Halfakid hard on my rear wheel the entire way, I managed to coax the GPS up to 22.4km/h by the time we returned to Futako.

A 50m climb will affect your average speed more than 30km of good, straight and level pavement with a tailwind.

At this point it was a matter of hanging on to gains we’d made. Crossing the Futako bridge, dodging pedestrians and cyclists in the opposite direction, always takes a toll. Then it’s city traffic and signals until we reach the climb out of the river valley. With the effort I’d put into racing downwind along the river, I was content now to drop to my lowest gear and wend my way slowly up the hill. When I reached the park at the top, the GPS read 22.1.

After a brief rest I filled one water bottle halfway and we set out across the city. I try not to keep one eye on the meter as I ride through traffic, but I could tell it was going to be a challenge to keep up my average through the congestion and lights. When I dropped off the Halfakid at his home I was squarely on 22.0km/h. There’s a long, flat stretch immediately after that, but I knew it was followed by a brief climb, a succession of lights, and then a pedestrian-choked shopping road with a train crossing in the middle. Even as I pushed my weary legs to do more, I had to temper my speed to the conditions.

I came out the narrow back streets onto a large boulevard with 21.9km/h on the clock. Timing the lights, I pressed my speed up towards 30km/h again. There’s a downhill next where I can really get some speed up if I time the lights carefully.

When I pulled into the home stretch, with 3km to go, I’d been seeing the meter flicker between 21.9 and 22.0km/h. I knew that a busy intersection could pull me back down across the mark, as could being caught behind a bus. As I pulled up to the Yamate Avenue crossing, I watched the meter dip down to 21.9. I was determined to make the most of the remaining straight run towards Central Park, and then the long descent to home. And then — the light in the middle of the descent turned red. I had no choice but to stop and wait it out.

Finally the light changed and I raced ahead of the traffic. There are delivery vans pulled away from the curb here, cross intersections, and faster traffic coming past my opposite shoulder, so I had to pay attention to the traffic and not the GPS. But when I pulled up at the light at the bottom of the descent, the clock said 22.0km/h. I hit the save button and wheeled Kuroko toward the basement parking.

GPS record of Hamura Round Trip
Hamura Round Trip

Compared to the same ride a month ago, I’d finished more than 13 minutes quicker. The total elapsed time, though, was half an hour longer, owing in part to about 40 minutes spent taking care of the Halfakid’s mechanicals. As for Kuroko, there was no hint of trouble this time around. Shifting in particular was a dream (following my maintenance on Saturday), often happening in total silence or with a single, satisfying tick as the chain flicked from one sprocket to another.

Shimanami Kaido gets National Cycle Route status

サイクリングしまなみ2020
Cycling Shimanami 2020

Shimanami Kaido, the island-hopping cycle route from Onomichi in Hiroshima to Imabari in Ehime, has been named a National Cycle Route.

Pictogram map of the Cycling Road
Pictogram map of the Cycling Road

The Halfakid and I cycled the route in April 2018. We got lucky with the weather and hit peak cherry blossom season. The course was not challenging, with well-marked roads and gentle climbs to the bridges along the route. It will probably have been the last time I’ll ever drop the Halfakid on a climb, too. Our nemesis proved to be the unforgiving saddles on the rental bikes, though.

Omishima Bridge
Omishima Bridge

Cycling Shimanami 2020 is a group event that will be held Oct. 25. I’m not sure I’ll join, although the Halfakid would like to do the ride again (on our own bikes this time) and Tomo would like to join. Ideally we’d like to do the ride as a two-day event, there and back with an overnight onsen stay. The group event is a single day, and although the 140km round trip is one of the course choices, that might be a bit over the top. On the other hand, I’d love to have those sensu in the photo at top.

National Cycle Route
National Cycle Route

Shimanami Kaido cycling road is the third national cycle route — the others are Tsukuba-Kasumigaura ring-ring road and Biwaichi. Tsukuba-Kasumigaura looks like it would be a fun two-day ride. Alternatively, as the start is about 80km from here, it could be a three- or four-day ride setting out from home. Fearless Leader Joe, Sanborn and I did Biwaichi — circumnavigating Lake Biwa near Kyoto — five years ago. It’s another ride I’d love to do again, although getting the bike there and back is always a challenge.

Shore of Lake Biwa at sunset
Lake Biwa at sunset

Speedy Haneda ride

I’ve had a stuffy nose and raw throat the past few days, so I spent a couple of hours this morning debating whether I really wanted to ride today. In the end, the beautiful weather convinced me. It was still about 12 degrees while I was preparing to ride, but the temperature was warming and I took my jacket off before I even reached the river.

Biker and pedestrians on the cycling course under a tree
Beautiful day for it

I was fighting a crosswind on the way down the river, but I put my hands on the drops and pedaled on. I picked up a follower for the final 8km or so, but when I reached my destination he had disappeared.

Bicycle under a tree with helmet on a rock
Lunch spot in the shade

I reached Haneda just before noon, meaning I’d spent less than two hours getting there. I sat down to a meal of Nana’s world-famous onigiri and wondered if I’d be able to maintain the same pace on the return trip. Having started out at a leisurely pace, thinking that I might have a cold, I was now contemplating a sub-4 hour ride.

For the return upriver, the wind was a bit more on my side. The GPS was showing that I was averaging more than 22km/h, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to keep that up all the way home.

By the time I reached Futagobashi, the bridge across the Tamagawa river at Futako, I’d racked up 48km at an average of 22.6km/h. But crossing the bridge means dodging pedestrians, and the lane gets very narrow and tricky at the far end. Following that there’s a good climb up out of the river valley. When I reached the park at the top of the climb, I’d gone 50km and my average had dropped to 22.2km/h. The challenge then was to maintain that in the remaining 12km of urban riding to get home.

Inspired by the goal I’d set myself, I pushed harder whenever I had the chance, and begrudged the stretches of road where I had to be wary of cross traffic. I probably glanced at my GPS just a bit more than I should have been doing. And when I got caught behind a bus on the final stretch before home, I impatiently looked for an opportunity to pass it.

That chance finally came, and I flew down the last hill towards home. At the bottom of the hill I stopped the clock, and there it was: 22.2km/h.

By keeping up the pace, in the end I’d done 62km in 2 hours 48 minutes of riding. Furthermore, my total elapsed time was well under 4 hours at 3 hours 50 minutes. When I’d left home at 10 this morning I told Nana I’d be back between 2 and 3 p.m. She said, “Probably closer to 3, right?” I agreed. But in fact I was home just a whisker before 2.

GPS record of Haneda round trip ride
Haneda Round Trip in less than 3 hours

Miura Kaigan

Three cyclists wave before departing

This year instead of reprising our Okutama two-day adventure, we decided to try Miura Kaigan, past Yokohama and Yokosuka, near the tip of the Miura Peninsula.

The route was mostly flat, with some climbs (and lots of tunnels) in the final 10km. More importantly, though, it was almost all urban riding. The final 10, hilly, kilometers were more rural, but still not very scenic. It was just climb up to the tunnel, descend, climb up to the next tunnel. Tomo was taking her time on the climbs, but she was getting to the top every time, not having to resort to getting off and pushing.

When we finally arrived at our destination, there was a steep descent off the prefectural highway on a concrete road pock-marked with anti-skid features. We were all thinking the same thing: Tomorrow we have to climb back up this!

The hotel offered a nice view of the sunset over the sea, but I didn’t take any photos. After 80km of riding, we just wanted the bath and then dinner. After dinner we watched the latter half of the Rugby World Cup finals in our room.

Mechanicals

I had met the Halfakid in the morning and then we proceeded to the Tamagawa cycling course. The toll from Typhoon #19 was evident here as we passed great mounds of mud and dead vegetation that had been cleared from the playing fields along the river banks. The cycling course itself was covered with mud and dirt in places, and in a couple of places the switchbacks leading under bridges were blocked off and we had to route around them.

At our first rest stop, the Halfakid noticed he was missing a screw from one of his cleats. I have spares — in my flat. As we didn’t have any way of dealing with things on the spot, we just shrugged and continued on. The Halfakid was able to clip in, and we didn’t give it much more thought.

When we left the cycling course at Rokugodote to meet Tomo, though, the Halfakid wasn’t able to free his shoe from the cleat. He ended up unlacing the shoe so he could pull his foot out! Tomo pointed out a cycle shop not far from where we’d met, back in the direction she’d come from, and we made our way there.

The shop doesn’t handle cleats and they didn’t have a spare screw to match, but they were able to free the shoe from the clip. So the Halfakid just asked them to remove the cleat from the shoe, and he stuck that in his pocket and rode the rest of the way with only one cleat.

That was our only issue until the final 10km of the day, where I found that my front derailleur wasn’t behaving again. As we were mostly climbing at this point, and just coasting on the descents, I didn’t worry about it. In the morning I spent a few minutes adjusting the cable tension and all was right once more.

Day 2

Our return trip indeed started off with the go up the steep, pockmarked street leading to the prefectural highway. Tomo had announced her intention from the start to simply push up this climb, while the Halfakid and I were determined to give it a go. It turns out to be a rise of 19m over a run of just 250m, for an average of less than 8%. It certainly seemed steeper than that! The Halfakid — with the steepest gears among the three of us — made it straight to the top, while I made it over the steeper portion and then had to take a rest with just a couple of dozen meters to go. I rested until Tomo (pushing her bike) had nearly reached me, and then pressed on to the top.

Once at the top, the Halfakid realized he hadn’t turned on his Garmin before starting, and so his effort up this climb hadn’t been recorded. And with that, he turned on the Garmin, descended back to the bottom, and climbed it again!

Three cyclists wave before departing
Preparing to depart

After that, we were on our way. As luck would have it, the climbs up to the tunnels were more gentle on the way home than they had been the first day. As we also knew our way around by this point, and weren’t led off on wild goose chases by the route I’d programmed into the GPS, the ride home was smoother sailing. We felt we were making better time, but at the same time we were racing the threat of rain, which was coming up on us fast.

We got to Yokohama without incident and stopped to rest and snack in the same park where we’d had lunch the day before. On our way from the park through Yokohama’s Minato Mirai, I realized I hadn’t been taking any pictures this trip and so I fired off a couple of snaps as we were waiting at a traffic light.

Yokohama Landmark Tower
Landmark Tower

It’s a straight and very level ride from Yokohama back to Tokyo and we made very good time apart from the traffic lights. We had a brief break at Rokugodote and said goodbye to Tomo. From there we were back on the Tamagawa cycling course, and the Halfakid rocketed ahead in the race against the rain. I caught up with him half an hour later where he was waiting at the end of Futagobashi bridge, and we crossed together and climbed up out of the Tamagawa valley. We had our last rest at the top of the climb.

The ride home after that was uneventful. We all made it home before the rain. Although our average speed on the return trip was slightly lower than on Day 1, our overall elapsed time was half an hour less as we spent less time faffing about Yokohama lost, while the GPS was telling us one direction and our common sense was telling us another. (In the end, our common sense proved to be correct. This time.)

All in all, we had a fun ride that everyone enjoyed. At the same time, everyone said they’d prefer to go back to Okutama next year.

GPS routes to and from Miura Kaigan
Miura Kaigan

Fork out, more sanding

Partially sanded fork and headset adjacent to head tube of bicycle frame

Yesterday, after having given up previously, I was able to remove Ol’ Paint’s fork from the frame. After stripping the frame at the start of this project I had tried hammering on the steerer tube (actually, on a block of wood placed atop the steerer tube) without any luck. I’d decided to let it be, as I was content that the headset bearings were in fine shape, but then I stumbled across this post. The suggestion involving snipping up an old pair of jeans seemed to make sense (on the second read; although I think an old belt would do the trick as well), but then there was the update by the original poster about turning the frame upside-down and hammering the whole thing down so the steerer tube strikes a block of wood, and that sounded worth a try as well.

Bicycle frame head tube with fork and disassembled headsetPartially sanded fork and headset adjacent to head tube of bicycle frame
After one good bang

I gave the latter technique a try and to my surprise, after the first rap on the wooden block, the headset popped right open. It was stunning how little force was required given that I’d hammered on it before to no avail — leverage!

The headset seems to be in fine shape, but I’m still glad I now have the chance to give it a good cleaning and packing with new grease before reassembly.

With that done, I tackled the sanding with renewed enthusiasm. The parts of the frame I’ve already sanded are rusting quite quickly, so I’ll have to hurry up and get the frame ready for painting. In my mind, it’s all clean shiny steel when the prep is done.

Partially sanded bicycle frame showing recent rust
Rust never sleeps

Partially sanded bicycle frame
Shiny shiny!

But given the time constraints and my skill level, I may now settle for less than perfection. I want to get all the existing paint at least roughed up with sandpaper, if not removed down to the bare metal, before painting. I’m glad to say that my chosen paint is specifically formulated to work on a bare frame or painted, with or without primer.

Bicycle frame showing rust inside seat tube
Rust in the seat tube

In addition to getting the main frame tubes this time around, I began working on some of the detail bits. One priority was the inside of the seat tube, where rust had held the seatpost locked in place. I’d gotten a wooden dowel specifically for this purpose, and wrapped the sandpaper around it before taking it to the inner end of the seat tube.

Wooden dowel and sandpaper in bicycle frame seat tubeRust flakes on workbench next to sandpaper and bicycle frame
Shaking the rust out
Bicycle seat tube after removing rust
A big improvement

With that done I turned my attention to other detail places, such as the brake bridge between the seat stays. The wooden dowel also came in handy for cleaning up the rear dropouts and the bottom bracket shell. With the latter I just have to take care because it’s threaded for the bottom bracket bearings.

Brake bridge with paint sanded off, between two seat stays
Newly shiny brake bridge

Sanded rear dropout, with rust showing on the stays
Rear dropout

Bicycle bottom bracket shell partially sanded
That’s some of the rust knocked out

Finally, I spent more time with the fork, particularly the rounded shoulders. The wooden dowel came in handy again with the lower end of the steerer tube, although it was a tight fit here.

Sloping-shoulder bicycle fork with most paint sanded off
Getting to the crux of the matter

Sloping-shoulder bicycle fork with most paint sanded off
After the wooden dowel had its way

After a couple of hours of work on a number of different bits, I felt I’d made good progress despite not having much energy.

Bicycle frame with large amounts of paint sanded away
Shiny steel light at the end of the tunnel

I brought the various bits of the headset home with me, and had a go at them today with a brush and some degreaser. They all cleaned up fine, which reinforced my impression that this headset can be reused. I thought I saw a model number on a couple of the spacers (which would help with the specs if I had to replace the unit), but it just turned out to be a fairly generic patent number.

Bicycle headset parts and brush in a dustpan
Yes, that’s a dustpan

Brief post-maintenance ride

Snow-capped Fujisan

Today dawned bright and clear, with Fujisan showing off the first snow of the season. I had the day off work, so it was a great chance to wash up Kuroko following the post-typhoon ride and to have a look at the front derailleur issue.

The clean-up was very straightforward. I made use of all the bike cleaning brushes I bought recently, and I cleaned and oiled the chain. Then I checked the shifting, and all seemed fine. I inspected the front derailleur and had a close look at the shifter cables where they run under the bottom bracket (and had been choked with mud during Monday’s ride). All normal.

Finally I pulled back the hood on the shift lever to inspect the cable head for fraying. The cable is in fine shape, but I found that the little plastic cover over the pulley to which the cable attaches had worked loose. It just took me a moment with the screwdriver to tighten it up again. It’s possible that this was getting in the way of the shift lever moving.

Once that was done, I wanted to have a ride to make sure all was in order. I didn’t have a lot of time — I could have done one of my two 60-65km routes, but that would be pushing the deadline as I had someplace to be this evening. So I set out on the Tokyo Landmarks ride with a shortcut in mind that would lop at least half the distance off.

Ginkgo trees line bouldevard at Meiji Jingu Gaien
Meiji Jingu Gaien

Tokyo tower rising over trees in park
Tokyo Tower
The emperor’s enthronement ceremony finished yesterday, but there were still policemen on every corner. At one stoplight I was choking in the fumes of three armored blue buses idling along the curb (and a VW minibus right ahead of me). I know the coppers had their minds on security more than anything, but I still took care to obey all the traffic laws and — as far as possible — avoid drawing attention to myself.

I was traveling light. I’d taken off the saddlebag and tire pump to clean Kuroko and hadn’t put them back on. I was also carrying only one water bottle. That probably adds up to about 1.5kg at most (including the spare innertube and bike lock that I carry in the saddlebag) so it doesn’t make a huge difference in performance. But Kuroko did feel more nimble and unencumbered with those bits left out.

Imperial Palace and moat
Imperial Palace

Chidorigafuchi
Chidorigafuchi

Usually when I go this route, after passing the Imperial Palace I turn off through the financial district and head southeast to Tsukiji and Tokyo Big Sight. Today I just kept on the street that follows the palace moat until I got to Kudanzaka and Budokan.

No mechanicals!

Sum Bum lotion and cream
Sum Bum lotion and cream

After the cleaning up and tightening of the little cover under the shifter hood, Kuroko behaved beautifully. Once or twice the shift lever stuck for a moment, but I just gave it a stronger flick and over it went. I’ll have another look to make sure there’s nothing binding.

I also remembered to put on sunscreen today. I was only out for two hours, but the sunshine was very bright. I recently got some heavy-duty lotion and cream from the US, and I used that on my face and neck today (with my usual local stuff on my arms and legs). It seems to have done the job as I arrived back home as pale as when I set out, and I didn’t use my mask at all.

GPS map of today's ride
Abbreviated Tokyo Landmarks route

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!