We took delivery on a Boskey Shuttler today and it looks to be a great find. Boskey is a very small company northeast of Beijing in Shunyi and they specialize in adventure bikes. They also have some other models and the Shuttler is one that my wife thought would be a good fit. Once we got her on it and riding she was really excited and truly loved the bike. Its fun seeing someone who has never owned a real performance bike suddenly realize what it means to be able to go fast. And have something that actually fits her. I really like the bike, it has some nice details and of course I am a believer in steel frames.
It was a huge relief to have the air clear up after January 1st. Today was crystal clear and I took off on a 30 mile ride through the city even though it was only 18F. It was a super cold ride and my toes were not happy by the end, but it was absolutely worth it. You know its cold when there isn't any crowd in front of the Forbidden City. Coming home I tucked in behind an electric scooter that was carrying two parents and a baby. We rode for about 4 miles before they turned.
I had a nice ride up in Wisconsin on Sunday doing the Harmon Hundred. It was a beautiful day, a little cool but only a 9 mph wind. The hills were tough at times but only one that was a real killer. I am looking forward to the North Shore Century next weekend.
Ever since I purchased a Campagnolo Athena group for the Serotta it has been NOTHING but problems. It is a triple set, and I picked it up a little over 3 years ago because the chrome matched the Serotta perfectly. It was installed and I put about 120 miles on it before putting the bike away. It was nothing but a mess, the front derailleur would bind and lock up constantly. Finally this year I wanted to ride the bike so the first thing I did was take it to Spokes out in Wheaton because they are a Campy Pro shop. Its a long story, but they refused to service the set under warranty because it was not purchased from them. A call to Campagnolo North America confirmed that it WAS under warranty but that it might take 2 months for the part I needed to be shipped from Italy. So I bought new levers, had them installed and took it for a test ride.
The first very short ride was fine, so I waited until this week to really start shaking it down for the North Shore Century next Sunday. Bad decision. It shifts like crap, binding if there is even the slightest load on the chain. And the best part is they decided to use Shimano SIS cables instead of either proper Campagnolo cables or the matching silver Jag Wire cables that I had put on for the brakes. Here is a pic of how the binding happens when it is at its worst. This causes a complete lock up of the chain and mashes the piss out of the FD.
Some more shots of the FD setup. The chain came back from them unbelievably cruddy.
I broke a Wellgo pedal during my mountain ride, and weirdly enough on the descent. Each section broke one at a time over about an hour period during the ride back. At least I got home. No more cheap pedals in my future.
I met a new riding friend on this trip. His name was Tito, and we met while riding down Chang'An avenue. He was a taller guy, with a larger frame bike similar to my own so it was natural that I tried to strike up a conversation with him. He doesn't speak much English, but he is a strong rider. We did a great ride that day, and then followed that up with a big ride up into the mountains north of Beijing. We ran into some fun people, and I clocked 55 mph on the downhill! Not bad for a 72 mile day.
I have come to enjoy bike riding as much in China as the US. It is true that it can be a little dangerous, but I feel much safer than in the US. Bike lanes are very large and as long as you keep your eyes open and don't act stupid everything should be ok. The entire city is huge and almost completely flat. I once did a full century (100m, 160km) and only had a total elevation change of 900 feet (300m). I see exciting and strange things every time I ride and it really helps me to understand the city and how people live.
The bike lanes are shared with 3 wheel vehicles, electric scooters, pedestrians, taxis dropping people off and the occasional parked car. So it is a challenge, but that is part of the fun.
I returned to Beijing for a couple of months and the first priority was rebuilding the hubs on my bike. I have a Giant XR2 Roam that has been modified with a Surly solid fork and it was just under 1000 miles (1600 km) on the factory Giant hubs. A full season in Beijing consists of a lot of dust, combined with some heavy rain in the monsoon season. Since they had never been torn down it seemed like a good time to do it. I took over all the tools, but the truth is most bike parts and tools are about 30% cheaper than in the U.S. if you just buy them off of Taobao. The bearings for front and back were easy to find and cost me 4 RMB (about 75 cents) total. Packed them up with Park grease and the bike was ready for another season.
The first night after the rebuild we had amazing clear air, less than 100 AQI and so I hit Chang'An Avenue for a quick ride. I stopped for some pictures at the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
I finished up the North Shore Century and the Apple Cider Century on the Serotta with the triple crank... and wow... it makes it so much nicer to ride. Hills are no longer as scary, and the smoothness of the 11 speed is just amazing.
Earlier this year while still living in China I picked up a used Surly Crosscheck frame from a member of the Paceline Forum. He packaged it with a pair of DT Swiss rims laced to XTR hubs. So that, plus all the other old parts left in the shop were used to build the Crosscheck. Originally I had wanted to take it to Beijing and the Ultegra groupset that is on it now makes it a great urban rider. With the fenders, and stealthy look it is perfect for that city. Beijing is an urban rider's paradise, but you need to keep the bike low profile to avoid thieves. The Surly already had all of the decals removed, and that, plus its scuffed up condition makes it look like just another bike.
Those Velo Orange fenders really make it look sweet though, and I love them. Riding through/over anything is not a problem, but at 31.8 lbs (14.42 kg) it is a weighty bike. I did 55 miles along the Fox River last week and at the end I could really feel it.
Tomorrow is the Evanston Bike Club's North Shore Century ride. Last year this was my first organized ride, and really the one that convinced me this was what I wanted to do. The new wheelset and Campy drivetrain is on, and I cleaned the bike, lubed everything and we are good to go.
And here's a shot of the White Industries hubs built up with HSons+ rims.