The Yellow Peril

The Yellow Peril tandem

My husband always likes a project on the go, especially during the winter, and this winter was no exception. Now anyone who has been following my posts will know that we have more bikes than you can shake a stick at, as the saying goes, but that never stops hubby deciding we need one more (N+1). So, being mechanically minded, he decided it would be fun to have a go at building a tandem from scratch – well, out of two scrap bikes to be precise.

He took himself along to our local bike ‘re-cycling’ charity shop, Back2Bikes, and came home with two mismatched scrap frames which he then proceeded to saw up and reassemble as a tandem frame. You might wonder why we need another tandem, as indeed did I, however the frame used for the back of the bike is quite a small one and the idea is that it might suit our grandson who is too small for our current tandem but had enjoyed sitting on it.

The conversion job was finished at the end of last week, having been painted yellow and christened ‘The Yellow Peril’ (see photo above), so yesterday, a cold, misty and damp day, we went out on a shake down ride (in our thermals and well wrapped up). The plan was to meet up with the Sunday Gang, who we have ridden out or met up with in the past. We knew they were making for a café stop at Morrisons in Stone so that is where we headed. We took the scenic route out, going up past our eldest son’s home – no-one in so we didn’t stop. About a mile into our ride we heard and then saw a flock of geese flying in formation overhead and I was reminded of Rachel Field’s poem ‘Something Told the Wild Geese’:

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, “snow.”

Not that these geese were going anywhere yet. I think it is probably the same flock that has flown over our house several times, just going from one waterhole to another. We rode on, negotiated a crossing of the busy A34 main road and arrived at the café stop shortly after the Sunday Gang, enjoyed a bit of a natter and a cup of coffee with them, then set off once more on our own way home, this time by the more direct route. Our round trip was about 14 miles so was a fair test run for the ‘new’ tandem.

There is some tweaking to do! When we set off I felt fairly insecure at first. We had a bit of a wobble on the first couple of corners as hubby adjusted to the steering, which he found a bit twitchy. After the first mile or so, when we had got the feel for it, we relaxed and enjoyed the ride – except for the fact that the back end, being a bit small for me, either found me sitting fairly comfortably on the saddle and banging my knees against my thumbs on the handlebars or sitting uncomfortably further back on the saddle to give me a longer reach. This of course, won’t be a problem for our grandson. There also seems to be some room for improvement with the gear changes, so this too needs tweaking, but overall it all worked very well and was a fun ride.

This morning hubby has gone off to get some name transfers printed; his own name to go on the downtube and ‘The Yellow Peril’ to go along the front crossbar. Then, after attending to the few tweaks needed, it will be time for son and grandson to try it out – but that might have to wait for better weather!

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N+1…or 2

I have written before about N+1 in the context of bicycles, where N is the number you already have and you are asked how many you need, so now I have a confession (or 2) to make. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our participation at the Eroica Britannia (here), what I didn’t mention is that we bought a bike. There were several trade stands at the Eroica, selling bike parts as well as ‘vintage’ (i.e. Eroica suitable) bikes.

One particular stall, which we visited on the Saturday and which also hired out bikes for the event, had for sale a Claude Butler Mixte bike. For those who may not know what it is, a Mixte (pronounced Mix-tee) is a sort of cross between a ladies step-through bike and a man’s crossbar bike, they have a downward sloping pair of thinner tubes rather than one thicker tube, which gives strength to a lighter weight bike. Often considered a ladies bike they are really unisex and multi-purpose. We were rather taken with said bike, which was in excellent condition for its age and my husband offered to buy it as it wasn’t very expensive. I was tempted but eventually said that I didn’t really need it so why buy it? However, overnight I thought about it and decided that it would be useful to me as a winter bike and for some minor off-roading as the tyres were fatter and more ‘grippy’ than the skinny tyres of my race bikes. So first thing Sunday morning, before our Eroica Classic ride we went back to buy it – it had been sold!

Henry Burton Salmon MixteThe stall owner showed us another bike he had, a salmon-coloured Henry Burton Mixte. Now Henry Burton bikes were made in Stafford not far from where we live, (the shop is still there but they no longer make their own bikes); indeed the bike I was riding for the Eroica was a hand-made Henry Burton bike. He suggested we thought about it on the ride (we needed to get to the start). While we were out I saw a girl riding the bike having hired it for the event and I spent a little time talking to her about it. To cut a long story short we bought it. Then we had the problem of getting it home as we already had two bikes and our bike rack couldn’t take any more. Fortunately the seller’s business premises were only about half-an-hour’s drive from where we live so we arranged to collect it from him once back home.

We collected it on Tuesday afternoon and not being one to hang about my husband began fiddling with it straight away. On Wednesday morning he went to our local bike charity shop ‘Back to Bikes’ in Stafford to find some bits for the bike. What did he see there but another similar Henry Burton Mixte, this time in a sort of aqua-cum-pale green, which had only just come in and not yet been through the workshop. It is built to a higher specification than the salmon one, having amongst other things 18 gears as opposed to the 10 of the salmon one, and was cheap – half the price! So he had to buy it didn’t he? After all he is quite capable of doing the necessary refurbishment himself. I came home from my visit to the local supermarket to find him fiddling with a bike I had not seen before. His suggestion was that he did them both up and then I could decide which I wanted to keep and we would sell the other.

Henry Burton Green MixteHaving done some minor work on the second one he decided to try it up the road to see if it was okay. Fatal! He came back saying that he thought he might keep it for himself, for the same reason as me – it might be useful for ‘roads, tracks and trails’ riding such as we did at the York Rally last week.

So there you are, we now have N+2 and we hope to try them out on the Tissington and High Peaks trails next week – providing he has fitted my new chain and got the gears working properly. I’ll let you know.

Bikes

I haven’t written anything about cycling for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t done any. I must confess I am a bit of a fair weather cyclist though and lately it has been too cold, dank and miserable for me to go out much. Our rides have been fairly short, about 10 miles at most, sticking to main roads at quieter times (the lanes are just too mucky). Last time we went out I was wearing pretty well two of everything – including leggings! I have to say two pairs of gloves does tend to make gear changing a tad difficult.

One thing I have noticed recently while thinking about more than actually riding is the number of bikes that we own between us. I have written before about mine, and shared pictures on this blog (no new ones today, sorry, but I am trying to get this post scheduled quickly as I shall be away for the weekend and back too late to post for Monday – ie today if you are reading it). I have, as you know, Captain Beaky (my Motobecane classic road racing bike), a clunky old Raleigh mountain bike and my more recently acquired Fifi (my Forme Longcliffe road bike) as a winter bike.

In addition I now have my son’s girlfriend’s lovely Raleigh Capri One road bike on loan. She has borrowed a mountain bike from him, hasn’t room to store both so we are storing it for her with her permission for me to try it out. It’s a super bike, fits me better than Fifi, being a slightly smaller frame, and I am going to be reluctant to give it back!

Now to my husband: he has his classic road racing bike – a Freddy Grub, for those in the know, dating back to the late 50’s/early 60’s and also a clunky old Raleigh mountain bike of the same era as mine. Recently he fished out an old classic road-race type frame that was in our barn (having been rescued many years ago from a ditch) and discovered it to be a Claude Butler of similar age to the Grubb. So he has now restored it and has ridden it a few times,  however the frame is a bit big for him, though it fits our son quite well. He has also since bought another Raleigh mountain-bike, not quite so old and full-suspension this time – a friend was selling it cheap and he can’t resist a bargain!

So I have three, plus one on loan, and he has four. On top of that, as you know, we also have a tandem. Then there are a couple of folding bikes on board our yacht, for use in port when we have no other transport. That makes five and a half a piece. Our youngest son who lives at home also has several bikes (I haven’t dared count them), mostly mountain bikes, plus several more in various stages of renovation including at least one road bike.

The bad news is that many of these are actually overwintering in our conservatory as they are probably better protected from the cold and damp, with the bonus that they are ready to hand when required. It does mean we can’t use the conservatory, but then it is a bit cold out there right now. At least most of the mountain bikes are down the garden in the shed.

Thinking about owning all these bikes it does beggar the question – why do we need so many? Well, you know the answer to that already, we have discussed it before (read about it here) – you need N+1, where N is the number you already have.

N+1

Last Tuesday, as I had promised in my Monday post (which you can refer back to here), I went on the Breeze ladies evening bike ride. This time I left the trusty old Raleigh MTB at home and went on my classic road-race Motobecane. What a difference a bike makes! I had no trouble keeping up at all, no mega struggles, no breathlessness. Admittedly we didn’t go quite so far as the daylight was fading fast, but we did keep up a reasonably fast pace.

This was to be the last Tuesday evening ride due to the loss of daylight. From now on the rides will be on Sunday mornings starting at 8.30 am, the first one being on 16th October, and will cover around 20 to 25 miles with a café stop. I’m not sure if I will do the Sunday rides as I usually go out for a ride on Sundays with my husband, often on the tandem, but if I can get myself up and to the meeting point in time I might go on the odd one now and then.

While out last Tuesday the ride leader mentioned that next time she would bring her winter bike. Winter bike! I thought. Do people have a special bike for winter riding? Apparently so. I had, in fact, previously considered that I didn’t want to risk spoiling my classic bike by riding it over the winter and thought I would use the old Raleigh for winter riding. This would then, I suppose, make it a winter bike, but as I have already proved, it would be no use for keeping up with the ladies if I go out with the group; there is no way I will manage to keep up on it for 20+ miles.

Now we get to where the ‘N+1’ of the title comes in. My youngest son, also a cyclist, seems to fairly frequently decide he needs another bike, (usually an MTB) whilst also seeming reluctant to sell any of his existing ones. When asked ‘How many bikes do you need?’ his answer is ‘N+1’ where N is the number you already have.

It is time to own up. I have just bought my ‘+1’ (which now constitutes part of ‘N’ I suppose). I have bought a second-hand (2-year-old) modern light-weight road bike to be my winter bike – it weighs about the same as my classic bike – so that I can keep up on longer rides and my lovely classic road-race bike can stay tucked up warm indoors. Here is the new one:

New Road Bike

The bike is a Form Longcliffe 5.0 FE. It is a ladies specific road bike produced by Forme, a relatively new manufacturer based in Derbyshire and founded in 2010. Their bikes are designed specifically for the UK roads and all-year-round UK weather conditions, which can be grim, grimy and variable! The bikes are rigorously tested in the Derbyshire Peak District and the company offers a lifetime guarantee, such is their confidence in their product.

This bike is recommended by reviewers as an ideal winter bike. We collected the bike yesterday morning and, after lowering the saddle for me, yesterday afternoon we went out on a 7-8 mile round-trip stopping for a cuppa at my eldest son’s home to show it off. The gear shifters are on the brake levers and this is taking a bit of getting used to but it was a comfortable ride. It is in need of a bit more tweaking to fit me properly and so we have now also put on a shorter handle-bar stem and adjusted the saddle slightly further forward to shorten the ‘reach’. I have yet to try it out again because it has been raining today and I don’t want to get it wet do I? I have also ordered some new toe-clip pedals for the bike, the previous owner had the sort that you clip your shoe into and I’m not sure I fancy those – though as I have the pedals for them now I might give them a go sometime in the future.

As I write my husband has the bike in bits up on the work-stand in our lounge. He is trying to fix the mudguards better as they rattle rather and he thinks some of the fixings are missing – new ones are on the way from the engineering department. For most of the year I will not use the mudguards but they are a useful addition for winter riding. Hopefully it will be all back together and I can test it properly within the next few days, weather permitting! Now I wonder what my next ‘N+1’ will be?

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PS: Just another little reminder of my daughter’s cycling blog – Mad Cycling in the Midday Sun – about her cycling exploits in Spain.

 

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