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.
New frame for the 2 speed folder
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 post folds 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 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 most obvious change with this new bike is the triangulated seat post extender.|
|19.5 inches tall on its side.|
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.
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.
|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.
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
|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.|
|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.
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.
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|
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.
A year ago, I took the Boltbus to Eugene, OR to ride the famous Aufderheide forest road (FS 19). It’s a very low traffic paved byway thru the Willamette forest, about 60 miles long. It’s reported to be one of the best bike rides you can experience anywhere. Most people get a shuttle to ride it, which eliminates the “transit” stages from Eugene on highways 126 and 58. I don’t like to drive a car to ride my bike if possible, so I had planned to ride those busy highways.
Even an experienced and fearless rider will find those highways to be especially evil. For much of their length, there is very little to no shoulder. And the truck and RV traffic can be relentless. Close calls happened often when I rode the highway loop.
Once off the hellhole highways 58 and 126, the Aufderheide itself was like a green carpet of trees and ferns. An occasional car would slowly go by. What a contrast.
So I wondered; could I enjoy this road; riding from Eugene, without using those highway arterials? I used ridewithgps.com to help me find out. Turns out there are other gravel/dirt forest road options that would make this possible. I mapped out a route that included a blizzard of forest roads snaking themselves over the mountains. I downloaded the route onto my phone (iphone 6), and headed down to Eugene.
|I took the folder for this ride. However, Boltbus does accept whole unfolded, bikes in the luggage hold on a space available basis. No bike box needed, but someone may lay their bike on top of yours if space is tight.|
As a paying member of ridewithgps ($50/year) I get the voice guidance feature along with the offline map data. I followed the schoolmarm-like voice directions on the pleasant bikeways thru Eugene, and into Fall Creek. A harpsichord sound would alert me to turns, or if I went off course. The old lady was looking after me.
Soon enough the traffic petered out, and I found my self alone on a paved, forested road riding up a valley. Eventually, the road became gravel/dirt, and began to climb in earnest.
Ferns, trees, birds chirping in a tranquil environment.
My first camp site at hidden lake in an old growth forest. This is designated as a day use area (no toilet, fire pits, or tables) but it was a nice spot, nobody else was there, and I was too tired to move on.
|A fire pit spot in a pull-out, seen on Military road.|
After riding the Aufderheide road and stopping in Oakridge for food, I returned on Boundary/Military road, following the north side of the river and reservoir. It was gravely and potholed, but almost devoid of traffic.
My second and final camp in the woods along the north side of Lookout Point reservoir.
I had promised my wife a chainguard for her city bike way back when I was building it. Finally after a couple of years waiting, I put one together. No more need for pants clips!
|I cut out a chain guard shape using tin snips from a sheet of .032″ thick sheet steel I had. You can see the dark blooms from where I attached tabs at the back with brass.|
|3 thin (less than 1mm) douglas fir strips were laminated together with gorilla glue to make this wood crook shape which will cover the top of the chain.|
|I bolted the wood strip in place with small brass bolts. The rings with rod sticking out the side will hold the guard in place at the front of the bike.|
|It is attached at the rear to the rack/fender braze on.|
|There was not much clearance between the chain and crank arm, so the placement of the guard had to be spot on. No adjustable option here. But it turned out very solid. I can’t imagine it will ever rattle or come loose.|