May 12, 2011 Ride: Viva!

After the relative fussiness of the last few weeks, it’s a relief to report that the storms have all blown over and blue skies have returned to rideblog!

First, the Creme is going to be packed up on Saturday, and the return arranged with Chain Reaction. My local bike shop, GHY, is going to facilitate this and will charge me only for the box, since the bike is still relatively well-packed.

Second, The Raleigh is going to go back to the Dutch Bike Co. in a week or two to have Fritz look at the rear brake and see what he can do, before I replace the caliper. I need to take a break from driving out to Ballard, and the bike is rideable as it is right now, especially in dry weather. So that may not cost me extra. We shall see. Since it now has new rims and has been geared down, I will shortly do a rideblog entry on its glory. I really would like to wait until the braking has improved to do any serious riding on it, however, as that was the whole purpose of doing the new rims!

Third, today I picked up The Viva Kilo, which has been cleaned up, and given new grips, kickstand and saddle cover. That, of course, is going to be the subject of this blog entry.

Fourth, on Sunday The Panasonic will be travelling to GHY to be packed up and sent to a rideblog reader in New Mexico, who will be buying the bike! Hurrah! I’m delighted that he wants this bike for all the right reasons (a deep love of Panasonics from this era, and an appreciation for the beauty of this particular bike). This makes me feel much better about parting with my pretty Panasonic.

The Carradice Barley and Bagman support are still available, if anyone is interested.

But first, and lastly (that was fun to write), I need to thank all of you who emailed or responded to the last post with consolations over the proliferation of Trollish behavior on Bike Forums. I particularly want to thank Veloria, whose theory on why this happened to me, now, was so astute as to be almost scary. I have been backing off the forum naturally over time, and of course having a “new” bike will distance me further. So I figure the occasional post about The Raleigh will keep me satisfactorily engaged, but perhaps I don’t need to invest quite so much energy there.

On to my ride! Picking up The Viva today happened fairly late. Ballard is a heckova trek from seemingly anywhere else in my world (I came over from where I work, on the east side of the Lake). An hour after I departed work, I arrived at the Dutch Bike Co, ready to purchase the bike. Before leaving on Tuesday, I had casually mentioned the bike’s need for a new, heavier-duty kickstand. Well, it got one. A big, black Dutch one.

That thing could stabilize a truck. It’s not aesthetically pleasing, but I’m fairly sure I will never knock this bike over. And at $60 (shock! horror!), it better work flawlessly for the rest of my life. Teach me to ask for a component without specifying what I want, exactly, or checking on the cost. But who knew that $60 kickstands even existed? Ah well, what’s done is done.

Otherwise, the bike received new Portland Dan leather ergo grips in dark brown, to coordinate with the pre-aged Brooks saddle…

A good rust-removal from the handlebars and bell, and a general wipe-down and grease-up.

I also bought it a sunflower-covered saddle cover from BikeCap, but that isn’t pictured here. It’s pretty adorable, though, so I’m sure it will feature later. The Dutch Bike Co. said the bike was in such good condition, they warrantied it (parts and labor!) for a year. Gotta love those guys!

Here are some frame pictures, for those who care:

Chaincase!

Seat-stays!

Lugs and fork crown!

Rear dropouts!

Front dropouts (lugged! With rust to provide contrast!)!

The Burke Gilman was the trail of choice, of course, to take advantage of the glorious sunny afternoon before darkness descended. If I thought the trail was crowded before, today it was like driving on a highway. There were so many near-accidents at “rush hour,” around six pm, that I was actually nervous riding my bike on a trail for the first time in my life.

Fortunately, it was too beautiful to actually regret the ride, but let’s just say I wouldn’t pick a sunny afternoon after work to ride this trail ever again. My favorite weird moment: the girl with the amazingly knock-out figure who roller-bladed past me in what were essentially sheer tights (I’m sure she thought they were solid black, but in the light…). I think she was wearing a thong. I think. Her butt was tight enough to make me briefly wish I were a man, or a lesbian, so I could properly appreciate the fact that I could see its every dimple. But as it was, it was just sort of creepy. That’s what I get for frequenting a trail utilized by University of Washington students: twenty year-old girls with tight butts everywhere. I tried to comfort myself by ogling the 20 year-old boys with tight butts and calves but they were all a: hipsters with grungy beards and/or b: young enough to be my kid.

Ah forty… who knew I would finally feel too old to appreciate sexy young men? My grandmother used to claim that one of the benefits of being an old woman was that you could flirt mercilessly with handsome younger men and they didn’t even notice. I’m clearly in some in-between stage where I feel both way too old and way too young.

Anyway, pulling over to take pictures on the trail today was rather like pulling over on a six-lane highway to change a flat on the shoulder. Bikes nearly crashed into me, pedestrians glared at me, dogs barked at me… only this guy seemed unperturbed.

I love this spot for shooting photos of any bike, because of the glorious architectural frame of the bridge (it’s the Aurora Bridge, not the Ship Canal Bridge, as I previously reported).

The Viva and I headed out past Gasworks Park, which is a, well, converted gasification plant (whatever that means).

I loved this park as a child, and had many birthday parties here. Under a large open roof, much of the plant equipment has been painted, and can be climbed on, with the main risk being falling onto the concrete floor or accidentally ingesting sixty year-old petrochemical residue. Kids love this, of course. When I was a child, oil still oozed out of the many gear boxes and exposed seams in the machinery, and we would get filthy playing there. It was not a Superfund site, but frankly, the level of clean-up required for this place to be a park was pretty substantial. If I die of cancer at 45, it will no doubt be related to too many hours of kite-flying, scrambling, poluted-beach lolling fun here as a child.

The Viva, which is a large, not-particularly-nimble bike, was a blast to ride, but I did have to modify my behavior. Cornering is not quite the same as on the sprightly little Raleigh, and I had several near-embarassing moments turning a tad wider than I expected. No near-wipe-outs, though, except once when I tried to stop using those damn effective modern brakes.

I discovered that the Portland Dan grips needed adjustment, as my left hand kept numbing up as I rode. The nerves in that arm/hand are very badly affected by my disease, so that’s not really surprising. Rolling the grip up slightly should help for the next ride.

I received several compliments on the bike, including one from a lovely red-haired woman sitting at the outdoor bar next to the Dutch Bike Co, as I wheeled it out to the parking lot to start my ride.

“Buy that bike!” she said emphatically.

“I just did,” I assured her.

In fact, in a nine mile ride, I received at least four direct compliments, and one shouted after I passed. That’s nearly a compliment every 2 miles! Go Viva! The Raleigh is more of an acquired taste, I find. This bike just charms everyone silly. The cream-colored paint is a challenge to photograph, though, as it sort of eats light.

I finished my ride at nearly seven, with fading light and exhausted legs. I wasn’t a fast rider at all today, having started out after work instead of on a Saturday afternoon. The lack of speed was more than compensated for when I pedaled past this lovely trompe l’oeil garage door, nearly hidden behind a large delivery truck. Any faster, and I would have missed it, and what a shame that would have been!

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Love to ride my bikes!
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17 Responses to May 12, 2011 Ride: Viva!

  1. lynnety says:

    LOVE IT! I was told on BF that my Retrovelo was a “keeper of the flame.” I know it’s the bicycle that I will still ride in my old age. It cost a fortune, but I have not regretted the purchase once — and I did not get to test-ride it.

    The Viva’s chainguard makes me jealous. Can’t wait to see it IRL. Your pictures of the Burke Gilman Trail and Gaslight park made me homesick.

  2. Okay. I am jealous of your bike. Yes I know it’s wrong, because I have so many, but I am only human. That thing is NICELY made – Lugged everything and then some! And I love the chainguard! And I love the Fat Franks! Damn, you scored big time with this one. Who cares about the Creme saga if the road led to this. Viva la Viva!

  3. Kara says:

    Viva is stunning. And after the Creme incident it is nice to have a gorgeous bike on a gorgeous ride. This post reminds me that I need to put a kickstand like that on my Pashley. Just want something real sturdy.

  4. Amesja says:

    Wow that Viva sure cleaned up well. What a scrumptious veloicous cream-puff!

    As for the Raleigh’s brakes, did they put new pads on it or re-use the almost-new ones you put on in search of braking back with the old steel rims?

    They might just be filled with steel and chrome bits an oil from the hubs. My mechanic says that going from steel to alloy rims the brake pads should either be replaced or about .1″ of material shaved off the outside to get at new rubber underneith if the pads are fairly new. The outer layer might just be contaminated.

    I hope they get the brakes working. I really love the CR18’s on my Raleigh. Tomorrow I lace up another set for a bike I’m going to be selling when I get it finished I should start my own bike refurb blog.

  5. rideblog says:

    Amesja, we tried the “old” salmon Kool-Stops first. They shrieked and screamed. So he tried nosing them, filing them… nothing worked. Then he switched to a pair of cheap black break pads. They didn’t scream, but they don’t stop well. So it would seem it’s the caliper. We’ll see. I have the salmon Kool-Stops on the front, and the cheapies on the rear for now.

  6. rideblog says:

    Thanks, Kara and Veloria.

    It is really, really nice to have a pretty, working bike.

    Veloria, you clearly need a Viva. You can get a 3-speed version delivered to your door (last year’s model, no doubt :)) for under $700. Then you could take that out on the paceline ;). Wouldn’t that blow their minds!

  7. James Jay says:

    I had the same problem on my wifes brakes on her raleigh, i filed the pads down and still it was screaming. Finally took it into the shop and the Hipster mechanic toed them in and told me the caliper was to tight that there needs to be some give in it (hipster guys are good sometimes), after he explained that to me it totally made sense. It worked flawlessly ever since.

    And all in all I believe you made the best choice with this bicycle.
    I really do love cream colored bikes and your bike is beautiful. Enjoy it.

    – james

  8. rideblog says:

    I have to say that Fritz, the mechanic at Dutch Bike who said he’d like to look at the calipers himself, is a hipster guy. And he knows his stuff.

    The only time hipster guys annoy me is when they nearly kill me on the Burke Gilman by riding like jerks.

    And when they are cute and much younger than me and remind me of my (relative) age.

  9. w1gfh says:

    Great looking bike. (But wish I’d seen the aformentioned butt) ; )

  10. rideblog says:

    See, w1gfh, this is what I mean: it’s a guy thing. I’m haunted by the butt, but not in a good way.

  11. Lauren says:

    Beautiful bike! I love the last picture. You should photograph all your bikes (as in the Raleigh as well as future bikes… 😀 ) in front of that mural. I feel like it’s quite appropriate.

  12. w1gfh says:

    I agree with the suggestion to photo bikes in front of that mural. It’s a real find!

  13. Corey K says:

    Congrats! The Viva suits you. It’s as adorable as a puppy.

    I remember the sunny days in that part of Seattle. The students would go naked if they could get away with it.

  14. Tom Reingold says:

    Looks great, and sounds like it’s a lot of fun, too.

  15. rideblog says:

    Tom, it’s too much fun. I’m working evenings all week (I’ll be taking some students to Portland to visit colleges — we’re going to try to rent bikes and ride on the waterfront trail), and am already sad about not riding the bike… for a day. On Sunday, the kids and I rode our bikes to a neighborhood park, and ended up riding across soccer fields and down a dirt road… the Viva did just fine, with those Fat Franks. I miss the Panasonic, but the Viva is a hoot-and-a-half!

  16. Pingback: May 27 2011 Ride: Tire-d | rideblog

  17. Pingback: Rideblog Sale: The Viva Kilo | rideblog

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