Tin Tuirtle Design

Switching to Campagnolo

clock September 5, 2013 06:14 by author Bald Turtle

I had a lot of issues in the hills in Wisconsin and Michigan with not having a low enough gear to get my fat rear up the hill. I looked at compact cranks, but what I really wanted was a triple crankset. It's not "cool" but a triple is really versatile. I also wanted to go Campy on the Serotta, so I decided to try and build a set of bicycle wheels myself. Yesterday the White Industries T11 hubs came in and those will be mated to some H Plus Son rims next week.

White Industries T11 rear hub

Wow.. its been a while since I posted

clock August 28, 2013 08:40 by author Bald Turtle

Back home in Illinois and a lot has been going on. In the process of building a pair of wheels, so I did a quick spoke calculation.

92 mile Mountain Ride

clock May 12, 2013 16:36 by author Bald Turtle

Yesterday I took a great ride up into the mountains north of Beijing. The total ride distance was 92 miles (149 km) and a total elevation gain of almost 4k feet (1200 meters). It was a group of about 20 riders hosted by the KHS bike shop and included a support vehicle that trailed us about 3/4 of the way. When I was invited I was told only that it was a 120 km (60 mile) ride and no mention was made of going up into the mountain area. We hit the first hills and at the first stop someone pointed to the top of the mountains and said, "we are going up there." ?!?! But the fact that there was a SAG van as well as a great group of fun riders gave me the confidence to go for it.

Ming Tomb and Great Wall bicycle ride

Here we are at that first stop. You can see that most of the group is on folding bikes, though there are a few road and mountain bikes in the mix. I had problems with my right knee ever since the last century ride, and I was pretty nervous about what would happen even with a normal 60 mile ride. But though there was some pain once in a while, for the most part I did not have any of the leg cramping or other problems that were present on the century ride. I carried extra Gatorade this time (4 bottles) and a full water bottle.

We had a nice lunch at some fish place. At the lunch the shop had organized games and everyone played. I won a nice pair of titanium skewers and it was totally a lot of fun. After the 1 hour lunch stop we regrouped for a second climb. The first climb had been very, very difficult and ended with a downhill run that saw me shatter more former speed record I had set on the Serotta. I topped out at 49 mph (79 kmh) in the middle of a really tricky switchback route. The disk brakes were smoking at the bottom.

great wall bicycle

The second climb was gradual, but the last 2 miles were very steep and I finally failed near the top and had to push the last 200 yards. At the top we grabbed a snack, regrouped and took a photo before the final descent.

At the bottom of the descent we rode for a while longer and then the group split. About 5 of us went for home on the east side of Beijing, passing the Ming Tombs and a lake. Finally the last 3 miles I was by myself and it was here that my body started to break down. I noticed I was shaking when I stopped at stop lights, and I knew I had to go straight home. I really felt that I was at my total limit. It was a really wonderful ride and I was probably the happiest I have been since moving to China.

Century Ride

clock May 2, 2013 17:11 by author Bald Turtle

I had a big day and achieved my first century (100 mile) ride. It was a big achievement for me and helped to soothe the pain of turning 49 the next day. I was invited on this ride by a guy I met on Weibo. He and a group of Chinese riders invited me to join with them and do a full 160 km ride out to PingGu. This is an area to the east of Beijing and well know for their peach orchards.

bike ride to PingGu

The ride was really windy and we were hung up for almost an hour at around the 40 mile point waiting for another group to join us. I felt myself tightening up but really was not paying attention. I did not hydrate enough, and when we took off my right leg started to cramp. It was a real problem, and the guys held back and helped me work though it in about 15 minutes.

beijing bicycle group

But throughout the rest of the day and the long ride, it would continue to resurface. I tried to hydrate constantly and not bend too far over the handlebars. The wind was just brutal and in our face the whole way home. The last 30 miles were some of the toughest I have ever ridden. Mentally I was really pushed to keep going, but that is why I ride.

PingGu Peach Orchard

The most humbling thing was the ride leader did the full 160 km on a folding bike. Here I am dying, and the guy in front of me is on a bike designed to fit on a bus, no comfort or efficiency. And he was in front of me all day long, many times pulling away.

Ride to the Edge

clock April 16, 2013 00:45 by author Bald Turtle

I began trying to scout out a route from Beijing to Tianjin yesterday and completed my longest ride to date, about 76 miles. The objective was to see what the roads and cycling is like beyond the boundary of Beijing, which is not easy to do. I got within a mile or so of the border yesterday, but still not officially outside of Beijing. The city is over a 100 miles wide and tall. But still, once you are beyond the 6th ring it is a different world.

bicycle to Tianjin

I have been steadily making changes to the Giant XR2 Roam, and I had a Surly 1x1 steel fork shipped from the U.S. to replace the cheesy Suntour suspension fork. I will have two Surly racks here in a couple of weeks. I also had the brakes reversed as they were opposite (left/right) as in the U.S. The basic day ride rig is shown in the pic. I carry tools and tire repair items, camera, lights and everything I need to ride at night. Once I have the racks in place I will start to build out an overnight rig. The Roam is really awesome, very responsive in traffic and very fast with the 700c tires.

Giant Roam XR2

In the morning after I passed the 5th ring I came up on a kite dealer parked on the corner. Check out not only the kites, but the assortment of line winders next to him. He was on one of the typical 3 wheel vehicles that are everywhere here.

Once I was beyond the 6th ring things were pretty quiet. I was on a long stretch (still with a bike lane) and almost no houses, just fields everywhere. All of the sudden I started hearing someone in the distance singing, like as in full blown concert singing. I came up on this building and there was a guy in front of the doors in a complete, gilded, white Elvis suit singing full blast. The beautiful thing about the bike in China is you can just stop and check it out. I went in the front area and there were two long rows of vendors selling fruit and a few villagers hanging out enjoying the afternoon show. As I stayed more and more people showed up, and you could tell they were surprised to find this going on, and very happy to see it. None were in cars, they were all on 3 wheelers or bikes. Some person came out and started doing gymnastics and martial arts so I took a pic after I bought a couple of bananas for lunch (about 30 cents). I still don’t know what was going on or what this building was. It was just one of those random bizarre things in China that makes you laugh.

I stopped after this when I reached the farthest point I was going to go south east. This was where I was within a couple of kilometers of the Hebei border. There was a row of green houses and I stopped on the corner to take my own pic. I hesitate to send this cause it shows the 15 pounds of China winter fat I packed back on since December (uggh) but the group of guys behind me staring at the procedure is hilarious. Like I said, beyond the 6th ring it’s another world. People are really friendly and you see the coolest stuff. But nobody, and I mean nobody – speaks English.

expedition bike in China

Cutting back to the east I was able to cross over the G2 highway that goes to Tianjin. I wanted to see if it was possible to ride a bike on the highways (tollways) because from the high speed train it had looked like they had bike lanes. There was a traffic officer at the G2 and she indicated that it was a no go, but there were plenty of roads going the right direction that still had bike lanes. They are mostly unmarked on my GPS map though, so a compass is really more useful. And another problem is I don’t have a data feed out there, so I have to use the maps I downloaded and I don’t have detailed maps beyond the boundary of Hebei.

I stopped at a Sinopec station to get something to drink after I burned through the 3 containers I had. I was really surprised that they had real urinals. Not toilets (still had the squatter hole for that) but knowing that Sinopec stations have at least clean, semi-modern facilities is cool – but you still have to bring your own toilet paper. They were so nice at the station. You never pump gas yourself in China, always an attendant does it. So the attendant guy just stood there and held my bike for me while I went to the bathroom.

I cut back north and saw a bunch of kites being flown in the distance, some really high in the air. I decided to go down into this graveled area even though it was strewn with glass and who knows what else. That’s the thing about riding here, you never know what you are going to end up riding through/over. Down in this area there were people flying kites. There were there on 3 wheelers and bikes, and kids standing around watching. As I took pictures more and more people started showing up. Sometimes they would have 4 people crammed onto one of those 3 wheelers. And in the background of one of the pics you can see the guy tending sheep, and the carcasses of kite flights gone bad up in electrical lines.

Beijing Kites

Beijing Kites

Further north there was a site being setup for the Beijing Strawberry Festival. It was really strange the site was almost completely empty, but the buildings and restaurants were fully staffed. I stopped in and road around once and then left. The decorations and buildings were crazy in that wacky sort of China way.

Beijing Strawberry Festival

Finally I made the turn to come back into the city and home. Sometimes (well mostly) I am just blazing in traffic, typically I pass everything, motorized or not. The Roam is really a quick bike. Everybody carries their little kids on the back of their bikes or scooters, and sadly none of them have helmets. The little kids are the funnest, they just stare and if you smile and wave at them they always grin. And a lot of them will try to speak English. So on the way back this little girl was riding on a scooter and her dad was riding pretty fast, and I came up behind them and she was so surprised that a bicycle was riding beside her. Then I grinned and gave her the peace sign with a hello and her jaw just dropped. It was SO funny. So I passed them and then a while later we stopped together at a light and she was just smiling away. But the best part was when I took off with them and she just started bobbing her head to my pedal strokes and smiling. Just one of those moments that make it so much fun to ride here. I can’t wait to get my sport cam hooked up.

New Bike in Beijing

clock February 24, 2013 19:11 by author Bald Turtle

I had really wanted to bring a Surly Ogre to Beijing, but the many other items I needed to bring here just did not allow for it to happen. So I went down to the Giant store and picked up a Roam XR2 and some accessories to get started on my version of an expedition bike. The goal is to build something up that can be used to ride to Xian, or maybe even Harbin. There is a lot of work to do as the quality of the components and the tuning of the bike leave something to be desired.

The main thing is the maintenance on the bike. Mechanics here are just not up to speed on how to properly tune a bike for maximum performance and durability. I watched them flatten a headset surface with a flat file and just cringed. The last thing you want is to be 300 miles from home and have a bearing failure. So I will have to invest in the tools to do the maintenance myself. Not a big deal and I am really glad I took the Park Tool classes while I was back home in Chicago.

So today was the first ride, and I did a short 15 mile run out to the 798 Art District to see what has changed. The bike really performed well, and I think that with a little work this will be a great ride for the next few years. It was a snowy day, probably the last one this year, and I was glad for the fenders.

Bicycle in Beijing

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