A tire that slips or creeps in the rim is evident when you can see how the valve stem becomes angled after a ride:
It was straight when I installed and inflated it. After a hilly 50 mile ride, this is how it looked. (The missing spoke is intentional, and is explained here. )
Having the valve stem stressed is a problem. It can damage the tube, causing a seam to split, which happened to me a few times in the past. I find the tire creeping occurs during braking on the front and rear wheels. Imagine, in the picture above, the front of the bike is to the left. When the brake is applied, if the tire is not gripping well in the rim, it will slip counterclockwise during braking. It takes the tube with it, and I am left with the crooked valve holding the tire in place.
This sort of issue is not common, and will not happen with tubeless tires of course. But I think it is common enough to put up a post about it. I could find almost nothing on the internet about a fix for this sort of problem, and no bike mechanics I asked had an idea about a possible solution (no I won’t go tubeless or boost the pressure which doesn’t help or use a different tire etc).
But I found a vague forum comment about a fat biker using tubular tire glue along the bead to keep it in place. I installed lots of sew-up (tubular) tires during my bike shop days, and thought that the sticky stuff may actually do the job, so I got a tube of Vittoria tubular tire glue from my local bike shop and gave it a try.
I put it along just one side of the tire bead, so that in the event of a flat I could access the tube from the other side of the tire. I tried to paint a thin layer along the upper surface of the bead, where it is pressed into the channel of the rim when inflated. (The picture above shows the tire after I removed it later, after finding that the glueing worked). Not much is needed apparently. But after several very hilly rides, the valve stems remained straight! Success!
Pulling the tire bead from the glued side of the rim was rather easy when I tried to do so to take pictures. When I replaced the tire, I added a bit more glue to it and reinstalled it as before.
My testing was done in cool weather. In hot weather, would the glue become ineffective after lots of rim braking and the heat involved? I know a tubular tire can “roll” off a hot rim during a turn, and the valve can get angled just like my tube, due to the effect of excess heat on the glue. I guess I will see how it fares this summer. This would not be an issue with disc brakes.
Photo above shows excess glue inside the rim. When I install a different tire I will scrape away the rim glue with a plastic card or some sort of tool. I only need to use the glue with the Kenda slant six tire; no other (406) tire I tried ever had this issue.
A cycling cap is useful in so many ways. It keeps the hair in place. Sweat is managed. It shades the head and face from direct sun. Can be micro-adjusted to block the glare from oncoming headlights. The sun protection will make your dermatologist happy. Thin fabric allows it to fit under a helmet. Pulled low over the eyes, it’s how I begin a nap.
Years ago, when my old columbus hat was starting to disintegrate, I knew there would be difficult search for a replacement. My head is big (59cm), and few hats would fit it. And I was not so keen on wearing a hat covered with commercial advertising. I find the bill on store bought cycling caps is always too small. It was time to figure out how to make a hat that fits me well and has a bigger bill that protects my nose from the sun and is easy to flip up. For a person who does not sew much, is not an easy project at first. My initial caps were not that great but they improved with practice. I am satisfied with them now, and they take about an hour to make. They last a year or so if I wear it a lot. You can make then too; make lots, give them as gifts, it’s fun!
Rather than hunting for an online pattern, it made more sense to me to get the pattern from the old cap which I knew actually fit me. So I took it apart and had the perfect pattern right there. This 3 panel style may not be as hard to sew, compared to a more complicated 6 panel hat for instance. I had to figure out the steps of construction myself. There are probably other ways to put it together too. If nothing else, this type of project will help you appreciate the effort and complexity involved in making a garment.
The templates, and cutting the main pieces
The old hat, disassembled.
I used the pieces of the old hat to make templates for making the new hats. With the visor, I drew an outline of the existing one, and then drew it a little bigger. Because I could.
Above are the current templates I use for my 59cm head. Units shown on the board in this picture are in inches. Templates are cut from picture frame matte board. When I make a new hat, I just lay the templates down on the new fabric and run a pen (or a sharp white chalk line for dark fabrics) along the edge, and cut along the lines. The templates are all symmetric.
Fabric is cut. The 2 center pieces (middle) will be sewn together. I had to orient the bird pattern so they would be seen as upright on the front and back. With most fabric patterns, the center would be one piece. The yogurt container bill (hard version) sits on top of the 2 pieces of bill fabric; cut wide. You want to have about that much material around the cap visor to work with..
Making the bill; fusible fabric interface, or plastic yogurt container material?
These days, I prefer to use the soft bill version, made of a fusible fabric interface stiffener (Pellon, Pellex ultra-firm 2 sided fusible fabric stiffener is what I use). There are other types of fabric stiffener out there similar to it. You can get this stuff at fabric stores. It’s a lightweight white poly material that you can cut to any shape with scissors. Fusible means there is a glue applied to it which is activated by a hot steamy iron. Fusible on 2 sides is what I want, so that both sides of the bill fabric are securely attached. The resulting bill is durable and machine washable. I haven’t been able to damage one yet, they can take all the wash (and dry) cycles I give them. I can fold the hat bill in half and lay a dictionary on top of it all day. The next day the cap will have no evidence of damage. It won’t crack or assume a permanent distorted shape.
While I machine wash my caps cold or warm I don’t put them in the dryer. But when I do so inadvertently, the cotton ones survive just fine, although they may shrink a bit. But if I mistakenly put a wool cap in the dryer, it will shrink a lot.
But maybe you just wanna recycle that plastic yogurt container for the bill. With the fusible Pellon, you get a more flexible and durable bill, The plastic yogurt container is subject to cracking and digging its way thru the fabric edges over time. But despite this it works well and many cap stiffeners are made with plastic. You can sew lines around the bill and through the plastic to add design and or make a better connection.
The plastic bill stiffener I cut from a 32oz plastic yogurt container. The container is just big enough for a generous sized lightweight bill, and I rough cut a slightly larger size out of it. I set the orientation using the natural curve of the plastic, but get it mostly flattened out with an iron, set on low. The natural curve of it is too much, more like a baseball cap. If an excessive curve returns (like from having it scrunched up in a pocket), I can always iron it flatish again. I don’t iron the plastic directly of course; I put a piece of fabric on top of it first. It takes just a minute or 2 of ironing on medium, and I let it cool down with a book on top of it for 5 minutes, so it will have a slight curve when it cools off. Iron mostly the sides, not the center; if you apply too much heat to the center, the bill gets distorted, into an almost W shape.
Above represents steps in making a plastic bill. Start with a yogurt/cottage cheese container (top). Cut out an oversize part of it that is the general shape of the bill you want.
After ironing, I trace the finished visor line on the rough cut yogurt container material with the brim template, and I cut it to its finished size. I make the plastic visor ends rounded so they aren’t as likely to cut into the fabric. Then I make a chalk line of the visor edge on the fabric visor material. Then I sew the 2 pieces of visor fabric together.
Next I insert the bill, either the hard plastic or the pellon version. I fit it in so that the quarter inch of fabric edge is located under the bill edge; all of it on the underside. This takes some fiddling. I line it up, using the pins, I pull and tuck, so that the edge is as even as I can get it. Looking inside the bill, I can see how good a job I did of getting all the edge material on the underside of the bill. I may need to use my fingernail to pull some of it in place.
After ironing the fabric to the pellon you may see the faint line of the quarter inch of fabric on the underside of the bill (above image). The black fabric (will be the part underneath the cap) is visible, with the lighter pattered fabric of the brim edge seen as well. The brim edge is pretty even. I ironed both sides with a hot iron for about 10 seconds each side, and about 10 blasts of steam.
Top of the bill (this is a woolen one) with pellon insert. The inside edge of it is marked with a faint chalk line. I don’t need to sew the inside edge because the fabric is fused to it with the iron. The fusion is very strong, and it would be very hard to pull apart.
With the plastic yogurt container bill version (above), I do need to sew the visor in the pocket . I go slow, trying to sew right along the edge of the plastic. The sewing machine can sew thru the plastic; and while doing this, that will probably happen.
Then I trim the inner edge of the fabric so there is about 3/4 of an inch of material beyond the inner visor edge. This material will help absorb sweat.
Sewing the liner to the bill
I like to use a 3/4” cotton/rubber swimwear elastic for the bill. It is durable, comfortable, absorbs sweat well, and keeps its elasticity better than anything else I tried.
Now I sew a strip of elastic band liner material along the inside bottom of the visor, slightly overlapping the existing visor stitches (pictured here is a polyester elastic strip). I pull the elastic material just a little bit while sewing, which give it some built-in tension. I go slow, doing several stitches and stopping to reposition as needed. I pay the most attention to where the edge of the liner slightly overlaps the edge of the chalkline.
The liner is sewn in. I like to sew it once more, right along the inner edge, because it’s difficult to sew it next to the edge in one pass. If it is not sewn right at the edge, the unattached fabric will create a ledge visible when you flip the cap visor up.
Sewing the 3 cap pieces together
With the bird pattern, I need to sew 2 identical pieces together for the center panel section. Otherwise the birds would be upside down on one of the ends.
Now I am sewing the 3 hat panels together with a simple straight stitch. I go slow, trying to make an even seam; about 1/4 inch. This step takes practice to do well. I always have the side panel on top during this step.
You could use a finishing zig/zag stitch which would prevent fraying, or just do a straight stitch like I do. In my experience, caps made from lightweight cotton broadcloth don’t last long enough to benefit from having the edges finished. A loose thread here and there on the inside of the cap is not an issue for me.
Panels sewn, hat is taking shape!
Next I sew the edge of the cap. I roll the inside edge about 1/4 inch and sew all along the edge of the cap.
Putting it all together
Now I need to sew the cap on to the visor. First I center the visor and cap. Above you see a chalk line along dead center of the visor, and a pen dot in the middle of the front edge of the middle cap strip. If it is not well centered, the mistake will be obvious when all is done. I also rubbed a chalk line along the inside edge of the visor to help me sew the curve with accuracy.
Starting from the center, I sew the cap on just slightly in front of the existing stitches, so no stitching will be visible on the top of the bill.
I don’t want to see the visor stitching when I pull the material back. I see a little of it here in the above picture. I can sew that inside area again, just in front of the existing stitches, to make that stitching disappear on the outside.
Then I sewed the other side, going from the center to the edge. Cap and visor are connected now.
Now I sew the rest of the elastic band along the inside of the cap. I pull it a little as I sew, to add some built-in tension. You can see how the edges a bit puckered/wavy. This makes the cap gently hold on to my head.
At the back/inside of the cap, I fold 3 layers of elastic together along the length of the back part of the center panel. I pin it in place, and try the hat on, making adjustments to how firmly it holds to my head as needed.
Now I sew the 3 layers along the pin line, on each side.
Now I stretch the material with the elastic and sew it down the middle. I do the same thing, 2 more times.
I am aiming for an even looking puckered area along the back of the cap, like this.
There are lots of ways to finish the back to get it to hold on to your head. You can make a cutout that a ponytail can go thru, or use velcro, or a strap.
After 2 years and a lot of use, the original Sunbrella plus rain cape started to leak in the areas that see the most abrasion, like the handlebar area and where my arms and hands are. While it remained a protective cape, it didn’t shed water as readily and I could feel and see some water seepage during heavy rains.
Fabric guard 303 is what Sunbrella recommends to renew water repellency. It really works. Water practically jumps off the fabric after application. It’s easy to spray on from the pump sprayer. To apply it you need to have a sunny warm day to do it, at least in the 70s. First wash the fabric (I just used ivory dishwashing soap) and let it dry. Then pump spray it on. Takes a minute. Stand downwind of the strong fumes. It dries quickly and there is no residual fume smell. Outstanding water repellency is the result. I imagine I will need to reapply it once each season from now on if I use it regularly.
My old cape treated with Fabric guard 303 was now functionally like new. But it was discolored from dirt which I could not scrub out, so I made a new cape out of black Sunbrella plus fabric. The black fabric was about 15% heavier. This was odd, because it was the same fabric other than the color. The cape ended up being about 23 oz, compared to 20 oz for the green cape. It seemed to have even greater water repellence than the green material. Giant beads of water just wanted to jump off the stuff. While the new green fabric had great water repellency, the black stuff took this to another level. The new black cape is quite a bit stiffer than the green one. It stands up by itself!
Nothing propping that stiff cape up! Looks like a giant wizard hat.
It is a sturdy tent-like shelter against whatever form of falling water or debris I can pedal in; mist, rain, sleet, hail, etc. A reflective stripe was sewn in along the lower edge and along the collar. I like how sturdy it feels, and how it drapes. It is more than worth the extra weight.
Below, rolled up. Considering that it replaces a jacket, pants, and waterproof gloves, it’s not really that big or heavy.
The next cape; Sunbrella supreme?
To take this cape to the next level would be to use Sunbrella supreme fabric, which is completely waterproof and has a flocked interior finish to the fabric. I am guessing that would make a cape which weighs about 26 oz. Periodic waterproofing treatments should not be necessary. The cape would not “breathe”, but air circulation under the cape would be excellent. It might even protect me from falling pianos and cougar attacks. Thats a project for another year.
After riding my 2 speed folder around Mt Hood last year (168 miles, 10,500 ft climbing, 15 hours) it struck me that this versatile bike has a lot of potential, and worthy of a specific build of its own. The frame was left over from a previous frame upgrade project. I needed to bend the rear end of it from 135mm to the 110mm width (for the BMX type single speed hub) and I altered the fork to fit the narrower 74mm front hub. That got it on the road, but making a frame from the ground up would make a better, lighter, and smaller (when folded) bike.
The basic design for folding is the same as my previous portable bikes. This 2 speed version, discussed on a previous postfolds down to 28 x 19 x 11″ in one minute. I can put it in my lap on a bus. Makes a solid package that is easy to carry. The new version is one inch shorter when folded, and a pound or so lighter. The current one is about 24lbs and a bit overbuilt. Some tubes on the new one are of a smaller or of a thinner gauge.
This 2 speed format is simple, light, and is really all I need for day rides or commuting. There are 2 chainrings, and one 15 tooth freewheel cog, tensioned by a derailleur that is set to stay positioned below the one cog. The main gear (66″, 52×15) gets me pretty much everywhere. I use the lower gear (48″ 39×15) on longer, steeper hills. I shift it manually by deflecting the chain onto the smaller chainring with my foot, or guiding it into the bigger chainring manually with my finger (while riding usually). The upshift is not as easy; I can do it while riding by reaching down and guiding the chain. But it gets my fingers dirty so I tend to avoid shifting unless I really need to. But having the low gear makes climbing mountain passes so much easier. And there is always one more gear- walking. Sometimes thats a nice change of pace!
The old bike
The old 2 speed folder at Buzzard Point, on my 168 mile day ride this past fall. Mt Hood in the background. Black tote bag hangs from brake levers and straps to head tube.
The old one, at a bus stop, with tote bag. It’s way too easy to bail out of a ride…
The New Bike
The most obvious change with this new bike is the triangulated seat post extender.
When folded up, this bike is a steel fortress. I can stand on it without bending/breaking anything. The exterior is mostly just blunt and durable.
Folded up, it’s eleven inches wide. It can sit upright like this, or on its side as seen below. It’s 27 inches tall. I could throw it down a grassy hillside,watching it tumble down to the bottom, and it would probably still look like this. All the components are clamped together.
19.5 inches tall on its side.
Traditional drop bars are what I wanted, and are a necessary part of the design. These are 42mm wide, and a perfect fit around the stuff above above the wheels. One side offers up a flat stable space to rest the folded bike on the ground.
A little video of how I fold it up. Takes about a minute. I made fenders for this one, because I live in Portland, OR, and it rains a lot here. That negated most of the weight savings I managed to accomplish, but it had to be done.
Here are the numbers and details of the new finished bike: 71 degrees head and seat tube, 42″ wheelbase, 17.5″ chain stay, 13mm fork offset, 10 3/8″ bottom bracket height with 40mm tires. The trail calculates out to 59mm, which is in the same range as big wheel bikes. Stability with a capitol S.
Fork steerer is a 1″ threadless. Sellwood cycles machined the fork crown and head tube, thanks guys! Brakes are 500 reach side pulls, and frame is designed to have them contact rim at fullest pad extension. This will allow up to a 406/42 tire. A studded Schwalbe winter tire (406-42) fits with about 4mm clearance below the brake. Fenders are set at about 8mm clearance. The rear brake is on the chainstay, so the fender does not have to fit beneath it. For the front brake I made a part brazed to the fork which allows fender attachment on either side of it, so the fender does not need to fit under the brake. Tubing is mostly 4130 cromoly steel from Aircraft spruce, brass fillet brazed. Sleeved joints and most small stuff is silver-soldered. Almost all the tubing is .035″/0.9mm wall thickness. Exceptions are clamping tubes, .058; I try to keep them short. Seat tube is 1 1/4, 7″ long, a beefy .065 wall thing reamed to fit a 1 1/8 seat post extender. Fork blades, dropouts, and head tube are from Nova. Steerer is 1″ .058 cromo tube. The 1″ steerer commonly avaliable for bicycles typically has a thicker lower section, but with the reduced leverage of a shorter fork and my 160lbs I think I can get away with this .058 straight gauge tube (and have been doing so for years). One inch .035″ tubing is used for the truss-like frame part that connects the front and rear of the frame. The whole thing was built using straight edges, squares, and a drawing on a board. I don’t have any frame-building jigs like the pros use. Fork was jigged up on a piece of flat plywood, using squares, shims, and pencil lines.
I took an inch off it’s height by making the seat tube shorter. The rear triangle has a shallower triangulation, and the seat post extender is longer now, but I think it’s plenty strong. I could take another inch off the height because there is room to do that. Maybe for the next one… if that ever happens.
Steel as a frame building material
Why use steel? One reason is that steel is the only material I have the skill to work with. But it may be the ideal material for a bike that will see rough handling. Aluminum and carbon fiber for framing material are lighter, but have compromises I am not willing to accept. Carbon fiber abrades easily; aluminum needs heat treatment after welding, and the tubes need to be bigger for similar strength. Neither material is a good choice for clamped slip-joints, which are all of my frame connections. Steel just makes sense for a project like this.
I could drop the weight a little (probably less than a pound) by using the hardened thin wall steel bicycle frame tubes wherever possible, but it doesn’t seem worth the effort. The tubes would be more vulnerable to dents, and working with that stuff is harder for a hobbyist like me. Harder to cut, file, and cold-set, no thanks; straight up aircraft 4130 cromoly works just fine.
Titanium could save some weight on a bike like this, but there are many barriers to using it. It is costly, and many of the tube sizes I would need are unlikely to be available. My design uses a dozen different diameters and gauges of tubing. Also, I don’t have the machine shop to cut the stuff; let alone the equipment or skill to weld it. Using titanium may save a pound or so, but the cost benefit ratio is just not there for me.
Very expensive parts could pare the weight down maybe a couple pounds (carbon crank, titanium seatpost, spokes and bottom bracket, Chris King hubs, carbon rear derailleur). Going tubeless may lighten the wheels a bit. But I am okay with the final weight of 23 lbs (before fenders). If it ever got stolen, that would be a lot of $$$ down the drain. A lighter bike is nice while I am carrying it, but I spend very little time doing that. Most of my bike time is spent riding the thing, and I would hardly notice the difference then.
The old 2 speed was over-built, stronger in areas than necessary. I used some smallerand thinner gauge tubes with the new version, where possible. Ended up saving about 1.5 lbs over the older bike. But the new one still seems durable enough for endless miles on terrain so rough I can’t see because of my shaking eyeballs.
I remember in the 1970s the general advice for bike buying was to tilt a bike to the side and push against the cranks with your foot to see how springy it was (it was better to do it when the salesperson wasn’t looking). A springy bike would have lightweight tubing and be more fun to ride, where a stiff feeling indicates a heavy bike with no flex. The Schwinn Paramount was springy, while the Varsity felt as unyielding as a concrete wall. My older folder, while not unyielding, was closer to the Varsity, while the new one seems springy enough. The new frame/fork/seat post extender with all its nuts and bolts on it weigh about 7 1/2 pounds, while the old one is 9 lbs. To compare, a good quality butted steel frame (with the steel fork) of a road bike may weigh 6 lbs. The extra weight of this folder is not that much of a compromise, considering this bikes impressive multi-modal capabilities.
Some construction pictures:
A new bike always starts with a fork, and there isn’t anything quite like this one out there.
The side pull brake bolts on to a collar that extends down from the tube which clamps onto the steerer.
backside of the fork crown.
The steerer has a cutout that nestles on top of the brake mount tube. This indexes the steerer-fork connection. Makes putting it together quicker, and if the clamp bolt ever failed, the fork would not rotate.
front of fork, with steerer inside it.
Some bike tubing, getting ready to come together.
Bike frame in progress. Folding chainstay done. The drawing for the bike is on the plywood in the background. The main tubes connecting the front and rear are 1″ diameter .035 wall.
This picture shows the pivoting connection of the chainstays. It allows the rear wheel to fold under; the tire resting against the bottom bracket shell. I had to take this joint apart and re-do it, because it was almost one degree off, making the rear wheel crooked compared to the seat tube line when folded under. I suppose at the time I was not that focused on getting that important joint right. Fixing that was was possible to do with brass fillet brazing. I heated the brass, brushing it away and removed the tube. Then I mitered it correctly and brazed it in place again. If I had welded that joint it would not be possible to fix it.
Now that’s a busy fork, finally finished except for paint. Lots of attachments going on. Brazed on pieces for securing bike parts and fenders are seen. A fender reach-around is visible, providing attachment points for front and rear fender halves while avoiding the caliper brake and the steerer clamping functions. 2 items to the right secure the fork to the side of the folded unit. A short fat tube on the left holds the handlebar stem. 2 small tubes behind the right (your right) fork blade connect the main boom to the inside of the folded bike. Near the dropouts are small curved tubes that accept the front and rear fender struts. Small pinch bolts will hold the struts in place.
It’s built with all standard off the shelf stuff with the exception of the following: A Phil Wood 74mm 32 hole front hub is used. These may still be available from the company even though it is not seen in the catalogue. Rear hub is Shimano DX, with single 15 tooth freewheel cog. Old grand comp 500 reach brakes. Sun CR18 406 rims. 26.8 seatpost fits perfectly in the 1 1/8 .035 seatpost extender tube. MKS quick-release pedals.
My first thought was to just do without them to save weight (and the considerable effort involved in making and fitting them). But that limits how much riding this bike will see by too much. Summer is the only season I can count on dry roads and small chance of rain. I don’t like getting sprayed by dirty road water, so I have to use fenders. I doubt I will ever take them off unless I move to a drier place.
These fenders are flat strips; 1/16″ thick cheap hardware store aluminum strips. I bent them around a paint can to give them a curve. While a curved and rounded fender will deflect the water better, there are advantages to a flat strip. Any objects stuck on the tire are more likely to be ejected out the side, rather than jamming somewhere in the fender space. Cleaning mud out of the fender is much easier; all it takes is a stick.
On the negative side, although I find them as effective as rounded fenders most of the time in keeping me dry, speeding thru standing water can cause spray to escape off the sides. I go slower thru standing water to keep from getting wet. Rounded fenders do a good job of keeping the bike clean; flat fenders less so. Another consideration is that flat fenders may need an extra strut because they are more flexible.
The front fender struts are attached to the fork with pinch bolts. If a stick gets trapped in the wheel, as it rotates it will push against the strut, bending it, and causing the fender to jam against the tire. This could stop the wheel if the strut had a no-slip connection (like an eyelet). But with a pinch bolt connection, the strut will pull away, and not jam the fender against the front wheel. Some over the counter bike shop fenders like the ESGE come with an emergency release built into the struts, in case this occurs.
Seat post extender
The new triangulated seat post extender uses only .035 tubing throughout, and is much lighter. The main tube extends into the seat tube only about 2 inches. The rearward part of it is braced against the tube extending from the rear of the seat tube. There is a wooden dowel inside the bottom of it that contacts the ground when the bike is folded , keeping it upright.
The upper part of the seat post extender triangle is silver soldered (vs brass brazed) against the main 1/1/8 .035 tube, to reduce distortion, and allow good seat post fit. It provides a lot of strength where the end of the seat post is. So far it seems quite stiff and is probably a better design than the previous, heavier, straight post.
Some folding attachment details
I’ll end this post with some photos of the little metal gizmos I made that allow me to fold the bike up quickly and securely. Nothing fancy here, just simple bits that work every time and don’t get in the way. I’ve make a lot of them over the years, trying to improve them with each version. They take a long time to make.
Boulder lake, a wilderness lake at the southeast flank of Mt hood, has been a spot I wanted to visit for a long time. I thought it would be a good out-and-back, or overnight ride. It’s a long days ride from Portland, but there is a bus that can give me a boost up from Sandy to Government Camp. I can ride the 20 or so miles to Sandy mostly on the springwater trail, get on the bus, and then get off at Government camp and ride the 15 miles from there to the lake.
The Mt Hood Express bus costs $2 and taking your bike along is free. There is a bike rack in the front that holds 2 bikes, and during the summer months there is a trailer on the back that holds a dozen bikes. Nevertheless, I folded my bike up and put it in the seat next to me because I can. On the one hour ride up the mountain, we stopped in Rhododendron, where we picked up about 6 mt bikers and their bikes. The idea is that you get the bus ride to Timberline and then ride down various trails all the way to Rhododendron, where you can stop at the Dairy Queen, and then do it all again.
The lake itself is in an unspoiled area of the forest that has never been logged or developed, where towering stands of fir, cedar, and hemlock dominate the area. But it is not (yet) designated as wilderness. That means that you can ride your bike to the lake! I suggest you do so before it gets the wilderness designation it deserves.
Following my planned RideWithGPS loop route I got pizza and a caffeinated drink from the general store at Government Camp, and headed east on 26. The Old Barlow route at mile 3 is paved, and a nice 3 mile alternative to the busy highway. Arriving at Bennet Pass turnoff, I rode to the far end of the lot to start my ride up the dirt Bennet pass road.
The Bennett Pass snopark. With pit toilet. The dirt road is just beyond.
Narrow gravel road works it’s way along a ridgeline with expansive views of Mt Hood
This narrow cliffhanger of a road sees little use.
You need to be rather brave to drive your 4WD on it
The road becomes quite narrow and off camber at spots, with a yawning chasm off the side here and there. It is used as a ski route in the winter, and is also known as the “Terrible Traverse”.
Bonny Meadows campground. Trees, creek, tables. Nobody was there on this perfect late June weekday.
The start of the 2 1/2 mile trail from Bonny Meadows to the lake.
Yes, bikes are allowed, just not the ones with motors.
Windfall trees were very frequent.
I spent a lot of time lugging my bike over obstacles, or doing hike-a-bike over jumbles of rocks. I was able to ride perhaps half of the distance, which was all downhill. This trail is best with a bikepacking setup. Panniers would make it harder to heave the bike over the frequent windfall tree trunks.
I heard pikas (a small furry mammal related to rabbits) squeaking along the bouldery slope on the way to the lake. Check out this short documentary about them.
I was alone at the lake on this perfect weekday. It has about 8 primitive camp spots. I suppose it gets more use on the weekend. There is a dirt road leading to it, which ends at a trail on its east side. But the 1 mile of trail hiking reduces the numbers of those who would otherwise visit it.
Leaving the lake the next morning along the trail on the east side, I reached gravel road 4880. Turning right on 4881 (signed: To Hwy 35) pavement resumed for the rest of the route.
Mt Hood forest has lots of narrow paved roads like this one.
I took the bus from Government Camp back to Sandy, and I then rode home. The whole trip took 27 hours.
Where I live in Portland, OR, the air is generally clear. There are very few days each year that I consider smoggy, although that’s coming from someone who grew up in the Los Angeles area in the 60s, where on one of the many bad smoggy days, you could only see about halfway down the block..
I want to show you a palm respirator I put together. You can make one too. Grab it when you hear the diesel school bus preparing to pass you, before the noxious cloud descends. But first you must read my diatribe.
We are all exposed to the concentrated toxic fumes of motor vehicles. Cars emit less fumes compared to years past. But when the engine is cold, or an old model car chugs its way past you, the air you are forced to breathe is about to get very unhealthy.
But the worst fumes come from diesel vehicles. You can hear it coming. It sounds like a bucket of bolts rattling, and evolves into an ear-splitting clattering with a whistling sound before it roars by. Next come the poisonous sooty fumes as it passes.
And when the clattering sound of a diesel approaching from behind tells me that I am about to get soaked in a cloud of carcinogenic particulates, all I can do is try to get a few deep and relatively clean breaths before the deluge. After it passes and I can’t hold my breath any longer, I am forced to breathe the toxic cloud into my lungs. Somehow we just accept these sorts of toxic fumes in our public spaces, even though the technology for drastically reducing diesel exhaust can simply be bolted to the vehicle. It’s painful to see a crowd of children lingering about the school bus, breathing the carcinogenic soot deep into their developing lungs. Here is an interesting primer on diesel air pollution in Oregon.
I grew up in an era where walking or bicycling to school was the usual thing to do. It was the age where nobody used helmets. Or bicycle respirators. My grade school had a bike rack complex that could hold up to a hundred bikes! Even on rainy days there were dozens of bikes there. Today, that school has no bike racks. At all.
Meanwhile, to avoid the toxic fumes we must filter the air we breathe. While big and awkward, a face mask respirator is one option.
This stylish device will eliminate the fear you have of motor vehicle exhaust pipes.
It’s the perfect device for pedaling around Beiging, China, or where the air is uniformly terrible. I have found the GVS elipse works the best for me when I work around a table saw or in dusty conditions. Low profile and very comfortable. I can pull it down and out of the way easily, as needed, but leaving it on for hours is not a problem.
There are bicycle-specific masks you will find on the internet. They tend to make you look like you are fleeing a hazmat incident, or are preparing to rob a bank. The smaller ones lack an exhalation valve, which is a problem. If you are going to the trouble of filtering your air, you want to do it right.
But I was looking for something to get me through the minute or two after a smoky diesel vehicle passes me until the air clears. So I attached a nasal CPAP nose mask to a single respiratory cartridge.
A CPAP nasal mask
A nasal CPAP mask nose fitting, with a respirator filter attached. I just taped it on the back. CPAP masks are medical equipment normally sold by prescription. Maybe a medical equipment supplier will sell you or give you just the nose fitting. Or you can find one on craigslist. Or your uncle has a spare.
Taped to a single standard replacement respirator cartridge. A single cartridge is enough. Barely.
When that blue cloud is headed my way, I grab this unit and slap it on my nose, and hold it there every time I inhale. The air I breathe thru my nose then becomes sweet and clear! I exhale thru my mouth.
It’s a bit weird to do this and I have to hold it over my nose with each breath. Doing this leaves only one hand on the handlebar. I ease up on pedaling effort since I don’t want to breathe in thru my mouth. The key is having it accessible, like hanging on the handlebar, or in a top tube bag.