Hammer time

My custom Nobilette

The better-than-ever Nobilette.

The weather gods have been toying with me lately.

No matter what time of day I finish my chores, that’s when the rain starts. All I have to do is look at a bit of cycling kit, or envision the door to the garage, and it’s like thunder! Lightning! The way it loves me is frightening! I better knock (bam bam bam bam) on wood. …

But Thor must have been in a meeting or on an early mead break this morning, because I slipped out for a couple of hours and just made it home before he clocked back in and started swinging that soggy ol’ hammer again.

Highway 24

Looking east from Highway 24 near Marksheffel.

I was aboard my only custom bike, the Reynolds 853 Nobilette, which underwent a bit of a transformation on Thursday down at Old Town Bike Shop. I decided to swap out the industrial-looking Race Face compact crankset for a prettier and more functional Sugino XD2 triple, and finally found a handlebar that I like (a wide, short-reach, shallow-drop Torelli). While we were at it I picked out a stem with a little less rise to it than its predecessor.

Everything else remains as is: nine-speed Ultegra with bar-cons; Mavic Open Pros, Ultegra hubs, and Soma New XPress 700×32 rubber (made in Japan by Panaracer);  Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis with SwissStop Viking pads and Cane Creek levers (reg’lar and top-mounted). The saddle is a Selle Italia Flite, of course. The pedals are Shimano XT. And yes, it will accept a rear rack and fenders.

The next thing is to swap out the Giant stem and Ritchey post for some L.H. Thomson bike jewelry. But that will have to wait for the next time a spare dollar rolls around, if ever.

Meanwhile, the Nobilette is better than ever. I took it out east for a short shakedown cruise that got even shorter when I glanced over one shoulder to gauge the weather. Man, you can see company coming a long ways off from Highway 24. Storm clouds, too.

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20 Responses to “Hammer time”

  1. Larry T. Says:

    Rode my favorite bike yesterday morning, the first Mondonico ol’ Antonio built for me about a dozen years ago. Like you I had one eye on the skies most of the time, but escaped getting rained on. This is still my favorite bike of all-time. Still looks like this, though the black chainrings are gone, but now the wheels are black.
    http://cycleitalia.blogspot.com/2010/10/saturday-afternoon-bike-wash.html

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ooooo … purdy. I’ll have to snap a closeup of the seat stay/seat tube interface on the Nobilette for your inspection. That’s pretty nifty, too.

      • Larry T. Says:

        You caught one of the reasons this is my favorite of the 3 bikes Mondonico made for me. The other ones have beefier seatstays brazed on in a more conventional way with plug-in, vertical drops at the other end. Probably all in my head but these slimmer stays seem to result in a bit smoother ride. Same with the fact that I did a LOT of great rides in Italy on this bike when it was orange (aranciata, Mondonico called it) before I brought it back to the USA to get repainted. Subjective rather than objective I guess you’d say?

  2. Pat rick O'Brien Says:

    Just got back from 20 miles on the Saga; my partner riding her flat bar 520. We were dodging the storms as well, but we had a tailwind all the way to the diner. Then blueberry pancakes. Life really is better on a bike.

  3. Pat rick O'Brien Says:

    /Users/Pat/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Originals/2013/Jun 24, 2013/IMG_1634.JPG

  4. Khal Spencer Says:

    Nice eye candy, guys.

    Didn’t quite dodge the deluge today. I rode the loop from Bombtown down to White Rock and was headed towards the Jemez on Rt. 4. Halfway up to Back Gate (i.e., NM-501 intersection), the lights were going out and there was this black mass towering above the Jemez with curtains of rain coming down and great zots lighting up the skies. Spent about three miles in a massive downpour before clearing one edge of the storm. Its actually quite beautiful, but an Old Guys jersey doesn’t help much when the thermometer is plummeting.

    Got home to flash flood warnings. No shit, Sherlock! At least there was some hot coffee left from breakfast.

  5. James Says:

    Rain, thunder, storms, hail?? What in the world are those things? Here in SacTown, Cali it was dry, windy and warm not to mention somewhat smokey due to the hinterlands bursting into flames from lack of water. Which makes for perfect weather/terrain for the new “cool thing” in cycling: gravel road riding!

    My once Frankenbike is now perfectly suited for this type of riding: mondo gearing, brifters, 28c tires, cantis and two bottle mounts. Granted I have been taking the Ventana out on these types of rides for 14 years but now it is “cool.” As in: how CX used to be back before Saturn got involved. Ah…jungle cross….what memories.

    Anyway….back at the ranch….what is it about this kind of riding? Why is it cool now? I mean, didn’t we do it before and just called it Paris-Roubaix (or Flanders) type of riding? WTH???

    Anyway…the once Frankenbike looks now a lot like the Nobilette minus the triple, barcons and CX levers. It is the “goto” bike for everyday rides and is so comfortable to ride…anywhere! Now if only we could get some of the nastier weather out this way to at least water the fires down a bit.

    • Larry T. Says:

      It’s called MARKETING James. When MTB sales cooled off it was ‘cross they chose to sell folks yet another bicycle. When that started to slow down, everyone jumped on the “endurance” bike (as in the big S Roubaix) and now that everyone and his fratello has one of those, it’s the “gravel” bike we’re told we gotta have. Folks like you and me and OG already have bikes that do all that stuff, but the folks who show up at the bike shop and say “I’ll take one of those” and still have credit cards that are not maxed out need to be informed as to what the next “gotta have” bike is.
      Insane specialization like this is often a sign that an industry has way more supply than demand. They don’t care much if you have a “go to” bike that you ride 99% of the time as long as you have garage full of the rest of their product line up, even if they’re collecting dust.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Don’t forget the fat bike, guys. Everyone has to have one of those now, too. If you don’t, you’re practically half a communist.

      • James Says:

        Which half? I thought about a fat bike a few weeks ago after riding up in Tahoe on the local XC ski trails. It would be fun but why spend $$$ on something which is only useful 3-4 months a year? Like Larry says “marketing” … and to make Sinyard even more wealthy. Ironic that the big red S used to tell everyone “Innovate or Die” but all that they can come up with is riding the coattails of smaller builders.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Yeah, I feel the same way. I fiddled with one of the Salsas once and could see the appeal. If someone gave me one, I’d probably ride it now and then. Useful in certain conditions? To be sure. But buy one? Naw.

        And everyone and his granny is doing one this year. It’s even worse than the cyclo-cross craze, like clowns piling into a VW.

        Likewise gravel grinders, which are basically beefed-up steel ‘cross bikes with disc brakes, or drop-bar 29ers. All those years I spent living miles from pavement outside Weirdcliffe, riding ‘cross bikes everywhere, I was apparently a gravel grinder. A trend-setter. I coulda been somebody! Who knew?

  6. Grumbly Oldguy Says:

    As an old greybeard once told me when I had just started to ride….. “Any bike, any road, any time. Shut up & ride.”

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hah. Grumbly, that’s what an old teammate of mine used to say whenever one of us in the bunch would start sniveling about this, that or the other. He’d screw his face up into a sneer and growl in an Eastern European accent, “Shod dop an’ ride!”

      Dude was nearly always suffering a touch of margarita poisoning from the night before, but it never seemed to slow him up much, especially on hills. If he was hurting, he figured you should be hurting too, and often saw to it personally.

  7. Grumbly Oldguy Says:

    There must have been either one very active eastern european crumugeon or one in each & every bike shop in the country. I think I have begun to take the temporarily discarded mantle…

  8. Derek Says:

    On the fat bike thing. Most of them are rigid and fit 700c road wheels quite nicely turning your fat bike into a road bike if you don’t look down. Two sets of wheels, two completely different personalities. Still very simple and low maintenance.

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