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.




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..


Saturday Mornings

Saturday mornings have become my favorite day of the week. This past Saturday was pretty solid as well. I headed out to the usual fog and humidity and arrived downtown on 2nd Ave S around 6:30. As I headed east, the morning sun which had been hiding for the past several weeks showed itself off. The warehouse district I pass through on my rides is pretty neat as I pass through Pepper Place and other mid 20th century signage that for some reason is still in relatively good condition.

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Next stop, I decided to explore a little more and went to the Sloss Furnace rail bed. Sloss was a major iron plant producer back to even Reconstruction days. The stop turned out to be the perfect place to bring Walt later on in the day to check out the Diesel Train Engines.

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Turning South toward Red Mountain I decided to take another route to go over this large hill (in other parts of the country). The past route over this mountain is quite busy on some mornings. This time I took a road with awesome views and even a switchback or two. This route also features an alley road. There are many of these types of roads here for some reason. They’re in between a driveway and an actually road and mainly serve as a connection between larger streets and groups of houses. I love riding them because their so intimate in setting and no traffic to speak of (immediately below).

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And back down.

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Per usual, I then met the family at Continental Bakery. This bakery resides in English Village and has some of the best bake goods I have ever had as well as coffee provided by Octane. I’m not a foodie either so that’s probably a reliable statement. :)

Equipment-wise, I received some VO Alloy handlebar plugs today to replace my existing Whiskey bottle corks that were used. Like ’em.

Parts Parts Parts

Not much posting lately, blame it on the elections.

Updates to my VO Campeur build include the following purchases pictured below.

Dia Compe Downtube Racheting Shifters

Long Setback Seatpost

Gran Compe 80mm Stem and Non-Aero Dia Compe Levers

Gear and Brake Housing and Cables

Canti Brakes

Brooks B17 Narrow Saddle

42cm Gran Compe Bars

So my saddle came tonight and because I’m a bit crazy in the head I took it out for a spin after Walt went down for his bedtime. Pitch black out but boy did it feel nice.

Some might think why did I go with Non-Aero levers? Simple answer is, that’s what I wanted. A better reason is because that is what I am used to and like the classic look. Other reasons – cheaper, less mechanical small parts, more reliable and can easily repair cables instead of being caught under the bar tape. Downtube shifters? Well they worked for Eddy Merckx and I like to be able to not be locked into index shifting. If something goes wrong on the bike and I’m caught a 100 miles from home I like to think my friction shifting could get me home better than a messed up index shifter. Never know what will happen – case and point. I was 40 mi away this summer and my brake cables snapped at the lever. I took it to a bike store, they replaced the cable and I was quickly on my way and they did it for free.

What’s left is the drive train and the wheels/tires. I plan on getting Shimano derailleurs with a double crank but not sure which crank I will purchase. Wheelsets here. Tires here. I planned on getting 35mm Clement tires but will slim down to 32mm due to the Panaracers being less nobby.  Fenders, hammered – here. Might go smooth though. Anyone have an opinion on that? What’s left would be handlebar tape, small stuff.

I plan on getting a long cage rear derailleur. My friend Reis Costa who lives in Chattanooga, TN and has been providing suggestions to me and has really been helpful, (Not to mention the VO staff – IGOR!!). Reis sells vintage bicycles and refurbishes them. If you’re in the area shoot him a message here.

Almost there. Looking forward to the finish.