Lviv, Ukraine; August 18-19, 2014

Velo Haven:

Terrific insight to a country in the intern’l spotlight.

Originally posted on gypsy by trade:

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Following a few days at the hostel in Kolochava, and a few more days of riding, I finally received word from my mom that she was coming to visit us in Ukraine, again.  Last year, as we selected an eastward trajectory from France, we conspired to set a date and she bought a plane ticket to Ukraine.  We would meet just before my birthday.  We planned to visit her father’s family in the southwest, and her mother’s family in the far east, near Luhansk. 

Last Monday she wrote, telling me that she would not be able to come visit again this year, regretfully.  On Wednesday she wrote again, telling me that she had bought a plane ticket.  On Friday, she and my brother arrived in Kyiv and immediately boarded a train to Lviv.  Lael and I composed a roundabout route back towards Strij though the mountains.  We boarded an electro-poyizd

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Dirt Riding

Earlier this summer, I set on a course to slim down the Campeur and have a more speedy version of itself.  What began as a good idea to be always conscious of my speed fizzled out to a goal of having fun.  I was never going to be “fast” with the equipment I am locked into.

Now having Resist Nomad tires is a testament to the style of riding I’d like to be doing as much as possible.  Rambling around the community without worries of punctures due to road debris or gravel is a good feeling.  My first couple of test runs with them on pavement rocked! 42mm of goodness kept the ride bone-jarring free around these Birmingham “roads”.  The weight is a little more with the wire-bead tires but the resistance is less than I thought. Photos of the clearances and tires are in my previous post.

To test these tires out to the max, I took a trip over to Red Mountain Park. I immediately encountered large sharp gravel, sand, dirt and unsteady ground.  Frankly, I was just waiting for a flat but it never happened.  The wide body of the tires kept the bike upright even among dirt and sand conditions.  The park itself didn’t off much of dirt only gravel so I abandoned the trail and went down the powerline strip to get more dirt action.  Although, the tires could handle gravel, there was some minor slippage on hardpan dirt when taking sharp turns or steep ascents.

In the park itself though, I had sort of a freak accident. A large twig was caught between the spokes and eventually ended up being wedged in the fork.  The result was a bent spoke near the rim that I ended up not worrying too much about although I am replacing it now at the LBS. I thought that it was a bad luck sign to my eventual dirt riding days but I also believe this would’ve happened anywhere.

In all, the first dirt riding experience was positive and a good change.  However, I’m sure 650b wheels would offer an even better experience when it comes to off-roading.  The VO Diagonale wheels pack a punch though, enough to handle the rough stuff so I’ll keep on riding on these surfaces.

As always, I have more plans for changing gear on the bike! I soon will replace the white Velox handlebar tape that has lasted beautifully to a leather or least, a brown tape to match the saddle.  This is to work to the goal of drifting away from a classic constructeur bicycle.  I’m playing around with the idea of dirt drops. Possibly the Soma Portola but still looking at where my hands would be compared to what I have now.  On Instagram, the colorful gent, ultraromance has some he sports.  Sweet idea maybe?

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New Shoes

This week, I received the Resist Nomad tires in 42mm (actual) width.

Last night, I escaped to do a 45 min romp among the neighborhood to test the rigors of what the tires would see. I sought out gravel, right asphalt, grass, even jumping off uneven sidewalks. It was nice to not worry about the ills that tires usually suffer from these conditions and just have fun. I felt exhilarated.

Due to my busy work schedule I haven’t done a morning ride yet but, tomorrow looks promising for a direct comparison. It seems as though the rolling resistance is more from what I’m used to. The higher volume tires might be the cause of that perhaps.

Some pictures..look to do better shots soon.

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Pertinent Questions

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned the need to be faster with the different people and landscape Birmingham presents me with. Since then, I’ve become concerned with being, shall we say, swift . In short, I have gotten at least a tad faster, even among the hills. In fact, I have gained a thousand feet on my rides with the same ride time. Going up hills faster than ever has been eye-opening.

I have to admit though, on an overall standpoint I don’t care for it, due to my fault entirely. Now, I like that there is less “stuff” on the bike. But, being faster has made me think of things like wanting to buy bib shorts and jerseys, being Strava obsessed, counting grams in my tires, and even wanting a bike with racing geometry. Stuff that isn’t me.

Only a few years young with being in love with cycling, I suppose it is only natural to sway back and forth about what it is I want from the hobby. A few things are constant –  the camaraderie with others, seeing surroundings in a different light, and the benefits of being more fit and healthy.

While I am teetering on finding my own path, my mind repeatedly goes back to a post Mary at Chasing Mailboxes posted several months ago in her “On Writing & Riding” series. In this post, she interviewed Nicholas Carman of Gypsy By Trade. Particularly this caught my attention:

More importantly, I got tired of the classic friction wool lugged steel lobby, even though I have chosen to use a lot of this equipment. The idea is to make my own decisions, and to share them with others.

I write somewhere on the blog: “I am perpetually infatuated with bikes; old bikes, new technology that makes life better, and cheap creative solutions to problems. I love bikes, but they aren’t sacred. Make your bike better for you. Make it yours.”

Full Interview

At first, I was a little taken back that Nick would work at VO then make these comments. But he is right. We should build our bikes to our needs. Not build them according to what the manufacturer routinely shows in their bike catalogs.

I had to get over my own bike build. My pretty Honjo fenders and rear Constructeur rack were on my bike at a point when I did not need them. After much contemplating, I removed them. But, why was it so hard? What was I holding onto? I was holding onto the “idea” of what my bike should look like, not what would allow me to have the most fun and be most functional. Editors note: I’m probably just going to put on a rear clip on fender or SKS fenders. *gasp*

Coming full circle, I’m reminding myself, “What is it that I want from cycling?” and “How can I make this MY bike?”. After all, when I truthfully answer these questions, that is when I am going to experience the fullest extent of this great lifestyle. It might be easier if I could drop some money for another bike to satisfy my different tastes when I wake each morning. But then, I wouldn’t be answering these pertinent questions before me.

Things Change

Things change, including bicycles. I’ve decided to go ahead and change the Campeur into more of an all-round bike than it was previously.

The beautiful fenders, the non-rusting rear rack, the classic bell were removed. There is simply no need for these items as Birmingham. Respectfully, the summers are dry, needing to carry more than absolutely necessary is minimal, and there are no pedestrians to speak of. I also need to be faster with all of the exclusive road cyclists in these parts.

So far, I’m loving the feel of less weight and more lively frame. On its way are some new tires by the company, Resist. Model is the Nomad. What’s awesome is that the width will be (actual) 41mm compared to my present 33mm.

Pictures of the tires soon, but for now..

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