Friday, August 31, 2012

Reynolds 531 double-butted tube; an ad from years ago and a profile of a butted 531 tube

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Reynolds 531 (pronounced 'five-three-one') is a brand name, registered to Reynolds Cycle Technology of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, for a manganese-molybdenum, medium carbon steel bicycle tubing.
Introduced in 1935 and for many years at the forefront of alloy steel tubing technology, 531 tubing has been superseded by more complex alloys and heat-treatment/cold work cycles as Reynolds continues to compete with other manufacturers of steel for the bicycle industry.
The approximate alloying composition of 531 tubing is 1.5% Mn, 0.25% Mo, 0.35% C, and is similar to the old British BS970 En 16/18 steel. Its mechanical properties and response to heat treatment are broadly similar to the AISI 4130 standard alloy steel, also used for bicycle frames, among other applications. This material was used to form the front subframes on the Jaguar E-Type of the 1960s.
Reynolds 531 is now only available to special order, but in the past was used by many bicycle manufacturers for their racing cycles.

Redline Westbound and Broke Down Road Trip

Gary Cooper and Babe Ruth ride a bike.

Back to Earth

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gunnar Sport - Commuting to work and take the long way home

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Gunnar Sport

My Gunnar Sport is a great bike to ride to work on. It's fast, has a smooth ride and is equipped with the right stuff for commuting to work. 

It was foggy and a little damp this morning. The weather forecast was one of those when you just couldn't tell if it was a good day to ride to work or not. I went ahead and took my chances, since the Gunnar Sport has fenders on it. Once I started riding in I knew I had made the right choice. Everything seems a little better when I arrive at work on a bicycle.
The bag on the front of the Gunnar Sport is just right to hold my lunch and a couple of  other items.

It turned out to be a beautiful day. When I left work I was enjoying my ride home so much I decided to add a few miles and take the long way home. I turned off into the neighborhood I lived in when I was in elementary school. That was back in the 1960s. In those days most of the children in the neighborhood either walked or rode bicycles to school. I always choose to ride my bike to school. I took the same route that I used to take when I rode home from school. The hills seems much easier than they used to. Of course, I was riding a bicycle with 20 different gears instead of only 1 gear. As I rode through the old neighborhood specific memories of riding bicycles on those same roads came back to me. One of the rides I remember was a day when I was seven years old and I felt like I could ride anywhere with no hands on the handlebars. I passed by a corner I remember turning without any hands that day. It all seemed like it was only yesterday. 

I stopped as I passed by the house I lived in from 1963 through 1972. This house has two driveways. One on the upper level of the yard and one on the other end of the yard that went to the basement. The driveway in the picture below is the one I learned to ride a bicycle on without any training wheels. That was labor day 1964. I was riding a short distance back and forth between my parents on one of my older sisters's 16 inch solid tired bicycle. One parent would get me started and I would ride to the other parent who would catch me. I remember the feeling as I knew I had it mastered and rode past my father and keep on going. I knew riding a bike was something I loved to do. Since then I have ridden a bike every chance I have had. Riding a bicycle still gives me the same feeling of freedom.

I was enjoying my ride so much I decided to take a spin out through the country side and ended up adding an addition 15 miles to my commute. This made my ride home a total of 25 miles. Every once and awhile it's just nice to take the long way home. 

 Rodger Hodgson (Supertramp) - Take the long way home.

Road To Valor - Gino Bartali

Road To Valor, the story of Gino Bartali during World War II

Road To Valor is the amazing story of the bravery of cycling great Gino Bartali. It details the life of Bartali from his early childhood through the rest of his life. The book focuses on Italy during World War II. During the War he used his bicycle to transport papers and documents to save those persecuted by the government. Being a sports hero, Bartali was recognized by all and could pass through check points while riding his bicycle without being questioned.

 Gino won the 1938 Tour de France at the age of 24. During the 1948 Tour de France he was written off as being too old to win. After a phone call from the Prime Minister of Italy, in which he was asked to win the race, Bartali attacked and won the overall Tour de France.

I have always enjoyed history and especially when it involves cycling. This book is one of my favorites. The book is the culmination of ten years of research by the authors Aili and Andres McConnon. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Click here for more on Gino Bartali.
Click here for more information on the book.
Gino Bartali

1937 Elswick Cycles Poster

Monday, August 27, 2012

The New River Trail - Foster Falls, VA. to Galax, VA and back 8/26/12

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Out of service Norfolk and Western Caboose on display at Foster Falls, VA.

It's been about a year since I last rode on the New River Trail. I always enjoy riding there, so I headed that way Sunday afternoon to go for a ride. I parked at Foster Falls and rode to Galax, Va and back. My ride totaled 50 miles.  Between Foster Falls and Galax the trail goes through two tunnels and crosses two long bridges. There are many short bridges along the way as well. The trail runs from Galax to Pulaski, Va. and is 51.5 miles long in one direction and parallels the New River for 39 miles. The New River is one of the few rivers in the world that runs north. There is a branch of the New River Trail that goes to Fries, Va. that is an additional 5.5 miles. In Fries there are a couple of restaurants close to the trail. This makes Fries a good destination or place to start and end your ride. The trail is open to bicycles, hikers and equestrian. Motorized vehicles are not allowed. Click here for more information on the New River Trail. 

History form the New River Trail State Park web site: In December 1986, Norfolk Southern Corporation donated a 57-mile tract of abandoned railroad right-of-way to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the establishment of a new state park. Because railroad tracks had previously been on the strip of land, the cinder roadbed needed very little grading. With the help and support of volunteer groups and chambers of commerce in the region, the park was able to open in May 1987 with four miles of trail. Since then approximately 57 miles of the park are open to the public.

Foster Falls, Va is a good access point for the New River Trail. There is a state run store with clean restrooms and plenty of parking. The parking fee is $2.00 on weekdays and $3.00 on weekends. 

The town of Foster Falls was built around the iron industry in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There was a large iron furnace built in 1880-1881 by the Foster Falls Mining and Manufacturing Co. The railroad was used to ship pig iron to far away manufacturing centers. During it's peak Foster Falls had the iron furnace, a large hotel, a railroad station, a grist mill, a saw mill, a dry goods store, a distillery and more than 100 homes. All that remains of the community today are the Methodist Church, a post office, a few homes and deserted buildings along the river.
The train depot at Foster Falls, Va has been converted into a park office and store.
An old railroad trestle converted into a bridge for the New River Trail
The structure of the bridge over Indian Branch.  There are over 30 bridges on the trail.
One of the two tunnels on the trail.
The tunnel behind me is 135 feet long and carved completely out of stone.
The Ivanhoe Bridge over the New River is 670 feet long.
The view of the New River looking north from the Ivanhoe Bridge.
The view of the New River looking south from the Ivanhoe Bridge.
A view of the New River from the trail. It's difficult to see but there is someone fishing from the rocks in the middle of the river.
I zoomed in on the rocks to photograph who was fishing in the river. It's Mr. Great Blue Heron.  I look for Blue Herons as I pass by ponds on my road rides through the country side. I see the Blue Heron quite often but it is rare that I see a Great Blue Heron. The Great Blue Heron is the largest North American Heron. They have a head-to-tail length of 36- 54 inches and a wingspan of 66 - 79 inches. This Heron was suspicious of me as I took my camera out and took a couple of photographs. It flew away above the river, looking like a giant pre-historic bird, and calling in a harsh voice.
There are many shorter bridges like this one on the trail.
The Byllesby/Buck Hydroelectric Dam at Ivanhoe, VA.
Where ever the trial crosses a road there are these yellow gates that slow trail users and helps to keep motorized vehicles off the trail. At this point the trail crosses a gravel road.
This is a typical section of the trail.
The Fries Junction. It's 12 miles to Galax, VA and you cross the longest bridge on the trail to the left. If you turn right here it's 5 miles to Fries, VA.

There are restrooms approximately every 10 miles on the trail. The one in the photo above is at the Fries Junction. That's a hitching post for horses in the foreground of the photo.
This bridge at the Fries Junction is 1,089 feet long and the longest bridge on the New River Trail.
The Fries Junction Bridge over the New River.
The view of the New River from the Fries Junction Bridge.
This tunnel is on the way to Galax, VA after passing the Fries Junction and at 193 feet it is the longest tunnel of the two on the New River Trail.
Inside the longest tunnel on the New River Trail.
There are many tidy places to take a break along the trail like this one above. It features a covered table, bike rack, hitching post and trash cans. I didn't see any litter along the trail at all.

This is a curved bridge over Chestnut Creek. The trail crosses Chestnut Creek several times.
The sun was making the tar bubble up out of the railroad ties used on this converted trestle.  The   smell of the tar made me imagine an old steam engine crossing this bridge.

Another bridge over Chestnut Creek.

A view of Chestnut Creek from the bridge.

The trail head at Galax, VA. There is plenty of parking and clean restrooms here. There is a CVS drug store across the street from the parking area in Galax.

A hill side of cows grazing at the Triple C Farm alongside the New River Trail.

Shortly after leaving Galax and headed back to Foster Falls I saw my friend James and his wife riding on the trail. They rode from Galax to Fries and back. That is James's authentic dutch Gazelle brand bike on the left of the photo. My first good road bike was a Gazelle made in Holland.
A view of the New River from the trail.

I had a great time riding on the New River Trail. Be sure and take more food and water than you think you might need when riding on the trail. Opportunities to buy food and beverages are few and far between on the trail. I saw many different types of bikes on the trail. Most of them where comfort or mountain bike type bikes. I rode a cyclo-cross bike with 700x28mm road tires inflated to 80 psi. Most any  type of bike will work well on this trail surface. From previous experience I have found that if the trail is wet your tires will sink into the surface and it can be very hard to pedal. It takes more energy to ride on soft surfaces than it does to ride on paved surfaces. Be conservative when selecting your route and distance.

When ever I ride on a rails-to-trails I always imagine steam powered locomotives following the same route. I can almost here the distant whistles of long retired steam engines. Below is a serious of informative videos on steam locomotives.

The Golden Age Of Steam Trains

Cecil Yates, six day bike racer for Camel Cigarettes

I'm not sure what year this ad came out.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How to Pack Your Panniers

Evel Knievel

Evil Knievel in front of his house in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Evel Knievel (Robert Craig Knievel) (1938 - 2007)  was an American daredevil who was famous for his motorcycle jumps between 1965 and 1980. He had an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of the "most bones broken in a lifetime" with a total of 433 broken bones.

 Because of his popularity in the early 1970s he had an endorsement deal with Ideal Toys for a line of toys with his signature colors. The Evel Knievel toy line was their best selling toys at the time. He also endorsed a line of bicycles produced by AMF Wheel Goods. 
Below is a TV commercial for Evel Knievel bicycles

A teen-aged Evel Knievel on a bicycle in Butte, Montana

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lone Peak Packs - RP-350 Basic Rack Pack

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Front view of the Lone Peak Packs Basic Rack Pack

The Lone Peak Packs Basic Rack Pack is a great way to carry your lunch to work when commuting by bicycle. It is fully padded with foam to hold it's shape and for insulation. This rack top has a total capacity of 500 cubic inches. It's available in black, blue, red and steel colors. I was able to fit all my food in it for while I was at work with some room to spare. I didn't have a chance to eat all the food I had packed and at the end of the day it was still cool inside the pack. I mounted this one on the front rack of my bike instead of on top of the rear rack so as not to obstruct the view of the two red flashing lights attached to my seat post. I didn't notice any effect on the handling of my Surly Long Haul Trucker while riding to work.
Side view of the Loan Peak Packs Basic Rack Pack shows the side mesh pocket. There is one on each side.

This pack is held to the rack by four Velcro straps, two on each side of the pack. It's quick and easy to remove and has a carrying handle on top. This rack top pack makes a great lunch box once removed from the bike.
My Surly Long Haul Trucker loaded down with everything I can think of that I might want while at work.

Lone Peak Packs are manufactured by Lone Peak Design Ltd. in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more information call 1-800-777-7679. Click here to go to their web site.

Planet Bike Cascadia Fenders

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My Path Racer with Planet Bike Cascadia Road Fenders

It never seems to fail, it's my day off and a chance to ride my bike and the weather forecast is for showers all day. Thank goodness I have a bike with fenders! Most of the grime and mess that gets all over  you when you get caught riding your bike in the rain comes up from the road. A good set of fenders keeps you and the bike cleaner and dryer. I've ridden with Planet Bike Cascadia Road Fenders on wet roads and greatly appreciated the job they did. These fenders are Planet Bike's top-of-the-line fenders for the road. They are made of polished aluminum bonded to Superflex unbreakable all-weather polycarbonate. The hardware is all stainless steel and pre-installed for hassle-free mounting. Try a pair on your bike. I think they look great too.
The 130mm mudflaps provide ultimate coverage and are double-riveted for durability
I was lucky today and got in a little over 40 miles and never got rained on. Once I got home Poor Ole' Joe kept me company while I wiped my bike down.

Click here for more information on Planet Bike.