January 2nd, 2011 Ride

This is the first ride I’m posting to rideblog, so how appropriate that it’s (roughly) the new year, and the first time I’ve ridden the trail in question. There’s nothing like glancing at the giant thermometer on the back fence and seeing a sunny 35 degrees to make one want to get out there and ride! I exaggerate!

But though it really was 35, I’d been cooped up in the house for almost two weeks during my break, due to snow and the unremitting presence of The Boy (who is six and therefore cannot be left alone), and I’d lost all sense of reason. A ride must be accomplished. The Boy was at his father’s. The Raleigh Sports, which claims stability on icy trails or lightly dewy grass, beckoned.

The day before, I’d attempted said ride at the ungodly hour of 2:30pm, just minutes before the descent of darkness here in the northern climes. Having never tried hoisting the Sports up on my bike rack, I ended up fiddling with it until my frozen fingers could take no more, and the window of daylight had closed. The next day, glancing at that thermometer and seeing the sun shining wanly overhead, I knew it was now… or never. I headed for the Interurban Trail, because The Beloved said it was more likely to be sunny there. There was parking to be had near the local Doubletree or Comfort Inn or whatever hotel it is (it’s telling that I’ve driven by it every day for at least two years and cannot tell you what motel chain it actually is).

In the parking lot, I was greeted by this cheerful fellow, disembowling a small animal.

Did this bode well, or no? I wasn’t sure. The Sports was unintimidated, and we set off under the raptor’s watchful eye (actually, he paid no attention to us whatsoever).

The Interurban Trail is bordered on one side by warehouses, and on the other side by train tracks. It is arrow-straight, paved and features only the occasional slight incline to break the monotony.

This would be a perfect go-fast trail, were I actually on a bike that would go fast. However, given that the trail was white with frost in spots, the Sports was adequate transportation. In fact, it was downright fun. There are many hints along the way of this trail’s previous incarnation:

When riding in this sort of weather, I don’t spend a great deal of time pondering whether or not my clothes are cute. As you can see, the trail was packed with attractive men looking to meet hot chicks cycling in high heels and cocktail dresses. So I threw on, in no particular order, a pair of knee-high wool socks, snow boots, nordic ski pants (why do I own these? I have never, nor have I ever intended to, cross country ski in any way), a fleece, my insulated jacket, a fleece hood, my Gore lobster bike gloves, and my helmet. Oh, the hotness! Stand back, crowds of slathering singles!

After I snapped this charming self-portrait, I dashed back to the other giant concrete pier-thing to retrieve my camera. The icy crust holding up the Raleigh from sinking slowly into the swamp then gave way, and the bike crashed onto the concrete. Oh no! My beautiful hand-shellacked Portuguese cork grips were done for! Or at least one of them was.

That’s okay, though, as I always loathed those grips, because they were rock hard. I had attached them with automotive glue, per the instructions from Rivendell, so I sort of thought of them as melded with my handlebars. Guess I was wrong. I decided that this was a sign from God: He hates cork grips too! Perhaps I should have taken hysterically funny photos of my cracked grip, but I didn’t plan on blogging about it at the time, so the humor will forever live only in my words.

On the way home, the Raleigh and I paused to admire more vintage steel.

Then we headed straight to the local bike shop, GHY Bikes, and one of the kind gentlemen there spent hours delicately prying off my grips with a screwdriver (five minutes flat), then we replaced them with extremely cheap padded leather grips, “hand-sewn” (by underpaid women in China). Success! New grips, and it’s all good.

Twenty visually appealing miles.


About rideblog

Love to ride my bikes!
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6 Responses to January 2nd, 2011 Ride

  1. Amanda says:

    I love your new weblog! It makes me think that I need to take a trip down to South King county to experience these long expanses of flat smooth trail!

    As for your grip problem, I saw somewhere you had been talking about not being able to find suitable grips somewhere on BF– The solution I used for my Raleigh DL-1 was to use the black DARE rubber grips available from Harris Cycles. They are really nice and soft and look the part.

  2. rideblog says:

    Hi Amanda. I’d love to see you down here. The Interurban is an experience in flatness, that’s for sure.

    I saw the original grips that Harris sells, but I long for them in brown. Occasionally I see old Raleighs with brown grips, but I haven’t seen new ones. If the “hand-sewn” ones don’t work out, perhaps the black DAREs are the next step.

  3. Liz says:

    The local bike shop I go to uses an air compressor to remove old grips but your old grips must have been tough to remove. I love the new grips. I have that version in black on my 1979 Schwinn LeTour. Very comfy. Love your bikes.

  4. Sue says:

    Hello, this is the first time visiting your blog and even though I keep telling myself I’m not going to add another blog for me to read, I couldn’t stop reading this one once I started. Your bike journey is a little similar to mine and we are roughly the same age. Love the Viva and the Raleigh. I’m contemplating adding new rims to my Raleigh Lady Sports bicycle. I wanted to keep the original hub, so I’m going to have my local (small) bike shop build the wheel set around the existing hubs. I’m just curious if that is what you are having done to your Raleigh?

  5. rideblog says:

    Hi Sue, that’s just what I did to The Raleigh. Once I get the rear caliper fixed, I’ll write a rideblog about it :). Thanks for the lovely note, and welcome!

  6. Sue says:

    Excellent. Thank you. There’s not much out there about replacing the wheelsets when i was trying to research this… Most of the recommendations I have read discuss replacing both wheels. I first asked S, at Simply Bike about this and she said she would also write a post about it as well, since she also had this done. Look forward to reading your perspective and whether having this done enhances the braking power of your Raleigh.

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