As I alluded to a couple of posts back, my Atlantis has been under the weather and I’d been riding on my backup bicycle. Well I’m happy to say that after two months in the shed the Atlantis is back and riding better than ever. So what happened and what have I changed in the last couple of months? Well lets just enumerate what has failed, been replaced or updated this year. Before I dive into that I should stress that a lot of the failures I’ve had had been on components that have > 15,000 miles on them and frankly doesn’t seem so unreasonable that they are wearing out. Others though were replaced before last years tour and barely lasted a year – not so great. As usual the frame itself is rock solid and I’ve had no issues with it.
Either the last weekend in April or the first weekend in May I was out on a nice sunny spring day doing the Lake Washington Loop when the rails on my Brooks saddle broke. Now I have to say I’ve never heard of this happening before and while I’m no flyweight I’m not a Clydesdale either. So rather disconcerting. ti makes me think about the seat post and leverage and how stress are put on it. Fortunately I was only a couple of miles from a place with a hardware store where I bought a truly dreadful saddle that I was able to ride home on. I put my b.67 on the bicycle and proceeded to think about how to replace it (the b.67 is a bit wide for me I think and the springs squeak driving me crazy).
A weekend or two later I was heading toward Issaquah and about five miles from home the housing surround my left shift lever dramatically burst open. This house is rather integral to the operation of ones shifter as it is actually plastic around a metal sheath that allows the shifter cable to keep the needed tension through the curve from the h’bars to the derailleurs. As this is for the front derailleur it put me in the small chain ring on which I was able to limp home. I then spent the afternoon removing the bar tape, replacing the housing and shifter cables, re-wrapping the bars and finally shellacking them. While I was running back and forth to my LBS I discovered that they actually sold Brooks saddles and impulse bought an B17 Aged saddle. This is a sweet saddle, it has pre-punched holes with a lace in them in order to deal with flare (which did occur a bit on my previous) and comes with an adjustment wrench and cover. I have to report that pre-aging aside it still took awhile to break in, but I’d hazard it’s definitely a quicker process. Already its almost as comfortable as my old one. I also at this juncture swapped out my Hobo Bag for my Candybar Bag, as the Hobo Bag’s zipper had broken on my 2009 tour and I’d been riding with it safety pinned closed. I was hoping to get it fixed as Rivendell seems to no longer make the Hobo Bag (which is a real shame as it is the best h’bar bag ever IMO, especially for the m’bars, Duluth Pack, who made it for Riv, makes a version of it still, but they rendered it useless by putting the mounting straps on the back). While I was doing this work I also replaced my rear brake pads which were quite worn down.
A couple of days before the end of my 2009 tour my rear wheel became very wobbly, to the point where it was rubbing against the brakes. On one long descent where I was forced to ride the brakes it seemed to reset itself and was okay for the end of the tour. Post-tour I fell into a kind of cycling malaise and didn’t do much riding beyond commuting. Early 2010 I was getting back into it and there was two noticeable issues going on; the said floppiness of the wheel but also this creaking sound when I’d apply any torque to the cranks. Checking it out before one ride I noticed that my rim was severely cracked in several places with one of the spokes flopping loose. Well planning to tour at the end of the summer I decided to order a new wheel from Rivendell – they had made the wheel that had lasted the longest and since that wheel’s inevitable wearing out I’ve had poor luck. Well as I mentioned in my Safari post Riv gave me a month+ estimate for the wheel but wanting the quality build I decided to wait for it. During that time they also added a new touring oriented Shimano Cassette to their catalog on with a 12-36 range. I added this to my order as well.
While I was waiting around for my new wheel and riding the Safari I did do one bit of work on the Atlantis: I applied more shellac to the h’bar tape I’d recently added. I hadn’t done quite enough coats that time and it was seeming to wear fairly fast. So I threw on three more coats and now it both looks great and seems more durable. I’ve noticed from other segments of the h’bars that when I layer the shellac like this it becomes much more waterproof and durable. It takes on a glossier appearance as well. The above photo also shows the aforementioned Candybar Bag.
After a good amount of waiting I finally got my wheel August 6th and installed it August 7th. I had bought a new chain as well so with the new cassette I was had an almost new drivetrain. I also took that opportunity to replace my front brake pads (I’d replaced the rears in the May update and hadn’t put a lot of miles on them). However in my test rides around the neighborhood I found that my middle chainring was skipping with the new chain. Annoying. I ordered a new middle chainring from Rivendell which arrived a few days later with their normal super fast processing and shipping (the wheel order was so late because they have one wheelwright and I think he was on vacation). Wanting to put some miles pre-tour on the new wheel I’d spent the week riding my normal commute on the Atlantis but avoiding the middle chainring. It felt great to be back on the bicycle but not using the primary chainring was so annoying. Also it that horrible creaking sound caused by putting heavy torque on the cranks was still occurring. I’d hoped this was an artifact from my old cracked rim, so this was disconcerting. As soon as my new chainring arrived I pulled the cranks and put it on. I also replaced the large chaninring which had a few worn down teeth from an older crankset I had pulled as I had accidentally stripped the threads putting on a new pair of pedals. The small chainring was perfectly fine if a bit dirty so I also cleaned the cranks, chainring and that part of the frame while I was at it. Putting the cranks back on, with fresh lube and nicely tightened down solved the creaking issue! And the bicycle rode so great now, with basically an entirely new drivetrain, it is now so smooth, so quiet, it is so great.
The next day I replaced the tires I’d been riding on with a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Plus 38×700 tires which also necessitated an adjustment to my front fender. I got this tire in preparation for my forthcoming tour but I hope this can be my permanent tire. I really like the Panaracer Pasela TG 700×37 but they just didn’t last with their weak sidewalls. Last years tour I used Schwalble marathons in the 41×700 size and they were a) a bit too big to really fit under my fenders and b) not really durable enough – I got a piece of glass rammed through the front tire on day 1 of my tour last year. So these Marathon Plus’ are true 38mm which is pretty much just right for my fenders and have quite the protection against flats. So I’m hoping these guys work great for the tour and if so I’ll keep using them for touring. The header picture shows the bicycle just after I put these tires on.
I did a fifty mile ride on these tires and all the above changes last Saturday and everything was fantastic. The bicycle rode great on a variety of surfaces and I think after months of tinkering and waiting, my Atlantis is back and ready to ride. Oh and I found a place to repair my Hobo Bag, Rainy Pass Repair, and my bag is there right now getting a new zipper. I’ll pick it up on Friday and then everything will be just right.