Friday, September 14, 2012

Lite Touring - 137 Miles to Elkhart Lake, WI

Bicycle - First Day After Build


     Tomorrow is a big day for me.  Life has been a mess and my bike has always been my savior when things are bad.  So tomorrow I am planing some lite touring to give me some time to clear my mind and just be on my bike riding.  I will be traveling from here in Gurnee, IL to Elkhart Lake, WI for a family function.  I will have to hitch a ride home with family Sunday because of time restraints on Monday.
     You may look up the route on Google Maps.  Just enter Hillside Court Gurnee, IL and Elkhart Lake, WI and make sure you select traveling by bicycle.  The route will be taking me up through Kenosha and Racine, where I have lived for the the last 12 years and know the route quite well.  The Milwaukee stretch of the route makes me a little nervous, but it should not be to bad, Milwaukee has a nice path system along the lake.
     The route I will be taking is the Ozaukee interurban Route.  Over all the route is 137 miles and Google says it will take 11 hours 53 minutes.  The weather forecast is for 75 degrees with a 5 mph wind from the west south west, so conditions will be perfect.  I think I am a lot stronger cyclist then Google has figured for the 12 hours they estimate.  I think I will be in the 9-10 hour range.  If it was a multiple day tour I would be a lot slower conserving energy for the following days.
Here is a list off all that I packed.
2 Tubes
Tire Patches
Tire Levers
Park Tool Multi Tool
1 chain Tool
Bike Pump
6 Bottle of Water
2 Bottles of Water in the cages
6 Granola Bars
1 lb Dried Fruit
1 lb Almonds
1 Canister of Gatorade Powder
1 pair of jeans
1 pair of shorts
1 pair of riding pants
2 t-shirts
1 dress shirt
1 sweat shirt
Under ware and Socks
1 phone
1 IPod
1 IPad
Bag for my pills

Bare Bike


All That I need To pack

Loaded Bike

     I started riding at sun up.  The bike at first was out of balance, I had to stop and move some things around.  The ride was moving fast.  I did not think to take any photos until after Milwaukee, I have ridden the area from Gurnee to Milwaukee so many times that it just didn't seem photo worthy.  I rembered to start taking photos around Port Washington Wisconsin.
     The air was pretty cool at the beginning, started by wearing riding pants and a sweat shirt, but quickly shed those around the 20 mile mark.  I do not really like the first 25 miles through Gurnee over to the North South path and then through Kenosha.  There are a lot of busy roads and the scenery is all the same.  Around Washing road in Racine around where I use to live, is when the ride starts to get interesting.  I love the section of trail from Washington road to Milwaukee,  there is a lot of trees, twists and turns and parks along the way.
     The Milwaukee section does nothing for me either.  Skyscrapers, cars and pollution don't really interest me.  But the Ozaukee County Interurban trail is really nice, scenery is not much yet, but the trail is very interesting, and there is a lot of city stuff to look at.
     Just out side of Port Washington is where the trail and scenery gets interesting, in my opinion anyways, I love the rolling farm country and small towns of this type of trail.  I arrived in Port Washington around 11:00.  The trail was closed for construction so I had to take the detour on a gravel road for about 4 miles.  It was all new loose gravel with no area packed down.  It was slow going and I worried about getting a flat, but I lucked out.

Port Washington Scenery

Gravel Road Detour

     The first small town I reached was Belgium, WI.  I really liked this section of trail, the weather was getting warm and there was a lot of dips in the trail where the cool air has not warmed yet.  It was refreshing to hit the coolness.  The path from Belgium through Cedar Berg and into Oostberg was tree lined and beautiful.  With all that has been going on this summer with my family, this was about the time in the ride that my spirits really started to lift and my body was getting into a very fast and efficient rhythm.  I am not sure exactly, but this must have been in the 80-90 mile range of the ride.
     I love the small towns along the trail.  Belgium, Cedar Grove and Ooostberg is like looking back into time.  There is just small main street with a few small stores.  The sad part is most of the buildings are empty and run down.  It makes me think of what could be.  Oostberg looked like it was trying to revive a little with restaurants and a beautiful train depot turned into a bicycle trail head.  It is amazing what can happen when a community embraces cycling.
     This part of the trail was not well maintained, a lot of weeds, flowers and grass was over growing the path, but it had a beautiful affect.  I snapped a few photos of flower and grass all the path.

Belgium Farm

Small Town of Belgium, WI

Abandoned Belgium Mill

Trail Side Daisy

Trail Side Grass

Path from Belgium to Oostberg

Oostberg Trail Head

      The next 10-12 miles was from Oostberg to Sheboygan Falls.  At Oostberg according to the map, the bike trail turns north east into Sheboygan, I just needed to continue north because I was eventually turning west, the trip into Sheboygan would have added around 10 miles to my route.  At this point I left the trail and took County Road A and then Hwy 32 into Sheboygan Falls.  This was a very nice road, the speed limit was 55 mph, but there where hardly any cars, I saw more tractors and bicycles then I saw cars.  This was also a demanding section of the route, it seemed as it was all up and down on very steep grades.  When I got into Sheboygan falls I took a 20 minute break in a park to eat and drink and let the muscles loosen up.
     I liked Sheboygan Falls, it felt like a classic American town that still felt small.  There where signs around town for the falls, I road around a little looking for them, but could not find them.  On the north side of town I  turned west catching the Old Plank Road Trail that follows Hwy 23.

Sheboygan Falls River

Sheboygan Falls Bridge

      I rode Old Plank Road Trail for about 6 miles into the town of Plymouth.  The trail is very nice, but it follows along a four lane highway, so it was loud and unscenic.  In the town of Plymouth I turned north on Hwy E.  Hwy E was a beautiful ride.  No traffic, but huge hills up and down with a lot of curves and trees.  This was near 130 miles in and I was getting pretty tired.  I am embarrassed to say I had to walk a few hills at this point, legs where just dead, and I was to close to my destination to stop and rest.
     The last mile into the Osthoff Resort, where the family gathering was, may have been the best part of the ride.  It was all tree covered winding roads and little bridges.

River Along Old Plank Road Trail

Hwy E

Last Mile to Resort

     I was extremely tired by the time I made it to my destination, but my spirits have not been this high in a very long time.  I left a lot of mental baggage out on the trail and having time with all my family, aunts, uncles and all really help.  This was exactly what I needed to re-enthuse myself for life.  I am so proud of myself for making it this far, and only in about 9 hours.

My bike & I at the End

I will be adding a few more thoughts about the trip after it sinks in for a few days.

Until Later,

John Z.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Help Support the Blog with Amazon


     Please help support the blog by doing your Amazon shopping in the Amazon search link to the right of the blog page.  It will not increase your price and will give me a small commission.  With support I hope it will allow me to take more time for the blog.  I would like to expand the blog with more how to posts, and in the future how to videos.  Hopefully the how to posts will give people more info on how to repair or restore there bicycles.

Thanks for all the interest up to now in the blog. and thanks for looking.
John Z.

My new Blog for displaying your bikes and bicycle talk


     I have recently added a new Blog connected to this blog.  It is a blog for displaying your bicycle, giving a little info why you love your bicycle and why you love to ride.  You can get to the blog by following the logo to the right called "Chicagoland's Bicycles & There Riders", or click

     I hope this blog will become a place to share bicycles, talk about bicycling, review new bicycles and bicycle gadgets, and to meet some off the great people I have met through bicycling.

Please submit your bicycle soon, I can't wait to see what people are riding.

John Z.

Early 80's Nishiki Restoration

Nishiki Side View - Before

Hello Again,

     With the new shop being much smaller then the old shop I have a lot less space for storage.  With a lot less storage I need to get to work on some restoration so I can free up some space.  I decided to start with this early 80s Nishiki.  It is surprisingly lite frame for the time, with a little restoration and updating this should turn out to be a pretty nice bike.  I figure it would be a good bike for running around town or to lock up at one of the transit station out in the suburbs with out to much worry.

Nishiki Handlebar View - Before
Nishiki Rear Brake - Before

Nishiki Front Wheel - Before

Nishiki Head Badge

     The bicycle will get new tires and tubes, new brake levers, new seat, new brake pads, new bar tape and all new cables and cable housings.  There might be a few other new things as I go through the bike.  I started by stripping all parts down to the frame.  The frame is in good shape, a few nicks and chips here and there.  The paint cleaned and polished out nicely.

Frame Stripped of Parts

Frame Before Cleaning & Polishing

     With the frame cleaned and polished I started work on the bottom bracket.  The bottom bracket was dry and dirty, but it cleaned up very nice with a soak in soapy water and a little PB Blaster.  I then ran the components over the bench buffer.   I greased the bearings, and installed the bearing cups and gave the bracket axle a thin coat of grease to help prevent corrosion.  Over all the bottom bracket turned out very nice, it shines nice and turns very smoothly.

Bottom Bracket Before Cleaning & Polishing

Drive Side Bearing Cup Polished & Installed

Bottom Bracket Polished & Installed

     With the bottom bracket installed I moved on to the headset, stem and handle bars.  Again, the bearing and components where dry with a lot of dirt and grime.  I cleaned all the components and then polished all the components on the buffing wheel.  The stem looks beautiful polished and so does the handle bars.  I am very pleased with the results of the headset and bars.

Headset,  Stem & Fork Before Cleaning & Polishing

Headset Cups Press

Headset Cups Installed

Fork Stem Greased

Stem Greased to Prevent Seizing

Stem Polished & Installed

Handlebars Polished & Installed
Next I will start work on the wheels and will post photos soon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Afternoon Ride & an Additional Blog I have created

My Trek 1.5 - Touring Test Ride

     This is my Trek 1.5  Road bike.  I found the frame bare and \a box of parts.  I was just going to assemble it and sell it but after seeing all the eyelets for racks and fenders i decided to turn it into a lite touring bike.  I originally had 23mm tires on it but have recently changed over to 28mm touring tires.  I have a Bontragger Deluxe rear rack on it along with the messenger pannier, I also have a set of touring rear panniers for it.  I have recently installed the handle bar bag. The frame is aluminum, so not my favorite, but it isn't bad.

     I test road it for 24 miles on the lake county paths and it performed very well.  The weekend of the 15th I have trip planed from here in Gurnee to Elk Hart lake in Wisconsin to visit family.  About 126 miles one way, because of time restraints I will have to hitch a ride home on Sunday.

     I have also included some photos from the 24 mile test ride.  From where I come from it is mostly wooded roads and rolling hills, these Savannah like views are new to me, I am sure everyone has seen them a million times around here.

     I would also like to announce the creation of a new blog.  I meet so many great people and there bikes in my line of bicycle repair and restoration, and so many of them love seen there bike up on the blog,  that I created a blog connected to this one for people to submit there bicycles to.  Just send a few photos, a paragraph or two about your bike, why you like it, any changes you have made to it and where you like to ride it.  That blog can bee seen here  Check it out, submit a bike and soon you will see it up in "lights".  I am in the process of posting some of my bikes there.

John Z.

Rollings Savannah Trail

Rollings Savannah Trail

My Trek 1.5 - Touring Test Ride - Front View

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Customers Specialized Hardrock Overhaul

Specialized Hardrock  Before Overhaul

     I recently started work on a customers Specialized hardrock.  The photos are not perfect.  I have to get better photo lighting for the new shop set up. The bike has been stored in the weather at times and shows some were and corrosion.  The rear cassette, chain and brake pads will need replacing.  Also the rear derailleur shift lever will need replacing.  I started work on the rear of the bike.  There is quite a lot of grease, dirt and corrosion on the frame.  Most has cleaned up well, the paint is pretty faded so waxing has only brought the paint back so far.

Drive train - before

Some Grease, Dirt & Corrosion on the Frame

Rear Brake - Before

Corrosion on the Wheel Rims

     I started work by overhauling the rear wheel.  The bearing grease was not dry but very dirty.  I repacked the bearing with fresh grease and set the cones just right.  With the bearing rolling smoothly I set the wheel in the truing stand.  the wheel was very straight it only took a couple of adjustments.  With the wheel straight I cleaned the tire and added a coat of Armoural.

Old Grease
     With the rear wheel off I cleaned and polished the rear half of the frame.  The frame took a lot of Goop off to remove the grease and dirt.  I then polished the frame with wax,  the paint is not perfect, but ok.  It is faded and has some corrosion still.

     With the labor day Holiday it took extra long to get the new parts in.  I still have not received the rear shift lever.

New Parts - Minus the Shift Lever

     With the new parts in I went on to install the rear cassette,  The rear cassette is a Sram and matches the range of the old cassette.  

New Cassette Installed

Rear Cassette on the Bike
     Next I started work on the rear brake arms.  They where very dirty and gritty.  I removed the arms, cleaned everything and tried to remove some of the corrosion.  The corrosion did not remove the best.  I then installed the arm back on the bike and installed two new brake pads.  With the rear brake overhauled I installed the rear wheel to test the brake.  The brake works wonderfully.

Rear Brakes - Before

Rear Brake Completed
     At this point I removed the crank and arms and decreased everything.  There is a lot of rust on the chain rings,  at first glance the crank looks like it can be disassembled and cleaned, but that is just for show.  The crank is a riveted crank and can't be disassembled.  I removed as much rust as i could trying to get the Dremil tool in the tight places, but it is not perfect.  A lot better then it was, but not perfect.

     I have also overhauled the front wheel.  The bearings where descent but have been cleaned and overhauled.  I cleaned the rim and tire.  The rim corrosion did not clean up as nice as the rear wheel, the front had a lot more corrosion.

Overhauled Front Wheel

     At this point I have left to do is clean and polish the front end of the bike, overhaul the front brakes, wait on the shift lever to arrive, install the crank set and chain and overhaul the rear derailleur.  Should go quick once the shift lever arrives.

Thank you,
John Z.

     The rear shift lever arrived late last evening.  It did not take long to install.  I finished cleaning and polishing the front end.  Installed the new chain and gave the front brakes an overhaul with new pads.  I had some trouble tuning the front shifting.  The front derailleur was bent and also the large chain ring was bent.  I did my best to straighten them out,  but there is a little rub still in the extreme cross chain positions.

Specialized Hardrock After Overhaul - Side View

Front Brake after Overhaul and New Pads

New Shift Lever
Over all the bike turned out pretty nice.  It rides very smooth, shifts well other then the bent derailleur and cleaned up okay.  They is some weathering to the bike, but does not affect performance.  It should be a good bike for flying down the trails around here.  Thank you to the customer for bringing it to me.

John Z.