Monday, December 28, 2015

Legends of the Tour (Book Review)

Legends of the TourLegends of the Tour by Jan Cleijne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't read many graphic novels - this is in fact a graphic work of non-fiction, documenting some highlights of the Tour de France's history.

Graphic novels can vary widely in amount of text included, and this is at the (very) low end. That was fine for me since I have read at least a dozen different books about the Tour, but I'm not sure that this would be so good for someone who isn't already familiar with the Tour.

The author's style is mostly dark and for the most part he focuses a lot of attention on the dark aspects of the Tour's history (dark in the sense of forbidding and/or foreboding) but the Tour takes place in July, in France, and much of it doesn't have the look and feel of most of this book. That says more about the author than about the subject, I suppose.

The low-text graphic novel approach results in some simplification of what you might read elsewhere - the competition with Hinault and Greg Lemond ends with the two of them riding hand-in-hand, celebrating their sort-of-joint-victory - hmmm. Published in June of 2014, he deals with the problem of doping and Mr. Armstrong's interview with Oprah at the end while expressing hope for redemption for the Tour's future - that the challenges will come from road and the race and not the challenges of doping without discovery, I suppose. Well maybe it will work out that way.

The nice thing about a book like this is it is possible to read through the whole thing in several sittings. It is also interesting to go back and page around and look at it later.

View all my GoodReads reviews of cycling books.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

"The Best Gift of All"

1922 Christmas Bike Ad (Detail)
1922 Bicycle ad before Christmas
The herald. (New Orleans, LA), December 14, 1922, Christmas, Image 23

I like that the bicycle is said to be "right up to the minute." The prices seem quite reasonable.

Times Boy and bicycle 1921
The ad is from the same period as this bike, the early 20s

Note headlight connected to battery under one of the two top tubes, horn, and tire pump. Pretty nice.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

New Old Bike - Trek Singletrack from 1995

I happened to read in a blog post (elsewhere) that a "bicycle cooperative" (non-profit) in Alexandria (Virginia) not far from where I live would be having a "house cleaning sale" of old used bikes, at Velocity Bicycle Cooperative. I went over yesterday morning and found a 20 year old Trek mountain (sort of) bike for $60 and bought it.

The condition was remarkable - it was missing one pedal and also the seat post and saddle, but otherwise everything was there and worked. The bike was incredibly dirty, however, and with the missing seat and uninflated tires it looked pretty sad. The front of the bike frame is green and the back part is blue. This sort of paint scheme was common in the 1990s. A quick check suggested that little work would be necessary to make the bike ride-worthy. Put on some pedals and a seat post and saddle plus clean it up and off you go. The bottom bracket and headset both seemed fine and the derailleurs and brake systems appeared OK too.

Trek Singletrack 1995?
Just purchased Trek Singletrack bike after some cleaning and refurbishing

I wasn't too sure about the age when I bought this but it seems to be a 1995 model, looking at a 1995 Trek catalog someone has helpfully digitized. This has one of the two color options offered that year; "dry ice green-dry ice blue fade."

Trek Singletrack 1995?
A simple bike that will do what I want it to do (but at a more reasonable weight)

I had a CroMoly Giant mountain bike from one of my sons that has shocks on the front fork and is rather heavy - over 35 pounds. It hasn't aged very well, unlike this bike, so I wanted a replacement - ideally one that was lighter and without the (pointless) shocks in the front fork. This bike is just about exactly 30 pounds, which isn't too bad, although it too is CroMoly (steel) frame. Something that I can ride in snowy weather, to use with some studded mountain bike tires I already have mounted on an extra set of rims. This bike will work great for that. (I need to clean it up after such riding, though, to avoid components rusting.)

It is hard to know what to think of a used old(er) bike like this. It was extremely dirty and the rings and cogs showed some wear, but I'm guessing they were original. The wheels were original, in fact pretty much everything except the tires seems to have been part of the original bike. The 20 year old wheels were absolutely true, so even it was allowed to accumulate too much greasy dirt it wasn't abused. Nice that it all works well.

I had a seat post that works and an (ugly) saddle and some pedals, so I had little to do before taking it for a ride. I was pleasantly surprised that the tires and tubes hold air fine. I did a first pass at cleaning the worst of the dirt but I'm going to have to make another go at cleaning the thing.

60 bucks! Good deal!