I’m definitely a ‘Glass half full’ type of person. I look for the positive energy, the inspirational people, the amazing situations and the good things all of the time. These things make me feel good, give me creative ideas and help take me to new phases, projects or crazes in my life. I like to expend energy as well, which is probably why I love cycling so much. As a change from writing one post about one thing, here’s a post that includes a collection of bite-sized, micro-posts? 

The Orphan bicycle part: Ever had one part sitting in a box for years like an unwanted orphan that spends its life being pulled out of a box full of parts and laid on the bench whilst you look for the part that you really need? You might even wonder sometimes why you ever bought it in the first place. Being a classic Projecteer, I have several orphan parts and I’ve even started a ‘bike parts orphanage’ box to ensure that a) I don’t forget about them and b) the sight of it actually drives me to either use them or get rid of them. The danger of selling or giving them away is that as soon as I’ve done it, a scenario arises where I can use it, which is a bit maddening because I then have to buy another, if it is still possible to get one.

As the saying goes “from the seed, the tree grows”, and this has happened to me when I have proactively looked for a use or location for a part. For example, I bought a ZOOM handlebar stem a few years ago because it seemed like a good price and was quite short, but not too short. Most stems like these that I see around the place are the long ones that are made for the tallest people on the planet and mostly, never get sold. I noticed that several MTB projects later, the ZOOM orphan was still travelling between orphanage box, the bench and back again. 

I decided to look a bit harder for a true home for it and I found one. You may have read the post about the Swiss designed S’Bike frames that I found. If not, see the link at the bottom of this post. I had decided to build myself an S’Bike using one of the frames and I made the pledge to use the ZOOM stem. This project started firstly with the stem and then the frame. I didn’t want to build a full-on 1990s re-creation of the specification of any of the S’Bike range, so I started looking around for parts to build it. I already had a couple of wheels, tyres, cables, a chain and my ZOOM stem along with the frame, so the hunt for other parts commenced. My friend Terrance donated some Swiss-made carbon Barflex handlebars, plus an NOS rear derailleur, NOS bar grips, headset and a pair of classic 1990s NOS purple anodised forks. 

I wanted to keep the whole budget for this project very low. My original ZOOM Stem had now fully depreciated to zero cost due to its age, the other parts had been accrued over time and now I had Terrance’ stash of freebies. I wrote a ‘parts wanted list’ and went to see Stefan at his ‘garage full of everything’. I disappeared into the depths of the garage with my head torch and emerged a couple of hours later with grubby hands and jeans and a big sense of achievement, as I had all of the parts. Ha!?

If it’s possible for something aluminium like my ZOOM stem to get excited about something, it would have been very excited as it viewed all of the parts ready to start the build. After fitting the headset and forks, I fitted the bottom bracket and then tried to attach the chainset I had bought from Stefan. It didn’t fit. I had two choices; get a longer bottom bracket or another chainset. Doh! On another visit to Stefan’s, I found another chainset that would fit and I bought it. Phew! The new chainset fitted, the bike works really well and guess what? I now have another chainset in the orphanage box! Doh! Another seed for another project and for another day.

That ZOOM stem left the orphanage and moved into a key role in a bright new world ?

Weight Gain! Right now, I’m a little bit heavier than I’d like to be, and whilst the current wardrobe contents still fits and looks ok (my view obviously), I’m not at my racing weight. Putting weight on is seen as a negative thing for most of the population, unless you are about to go on a North Pole expedition and need to load up another few kilos prior to losing them in extreme conditions. 

If having some additional weight is seen as a bit negative, why weigh yourself at the beginning of every day? When you wake up, you choose your attitude, and assuming you’ve chosen a great attitude, the first thing to test it with is the number that the weighing scales illustrates. It’s much worse if the scales don’t show a number and just show a text saying ‘only one person at once please!’. Not good, and a true test of your previously claimed ‘great start to the day’.

I’ve got an answer to this. Instead of using scales to illustrate your weight, you can use my water displacement measurement system instead, as I think this proposal is a positive thing. The first thing is to run a nice, hot bath and when it’s full, is the right temperature and ready for you to get in, draw a line or stick some tape on where the water level is. Now get in the bath and make another mark where the water level has risen to. The difference between the two is therefore your volume. No numbers here, just some lines on the bath. You can technically cheat (or alternatively, read this as; making yourself feel positive about yourself, which is always good), by breathing in a bit, holding your breath and then watching the water level drop a bit. I know this won’t sustain the water level, but the advantage is that it is good respiratory exercise, and great for cyclists. If you breath in on the scales, nothing changes. The outcome of this activity will be positive unless your partner walks into the bathroom, looks at you in the bath and comments on some recent visible weight gain. If you are concerned about this, my advice is to add lots of bubble bath, which won’t affect the water level, but will deter any ruthless, vocal observers. Enjoy your bath time! I always do?.

The duck has little impact on the waterline, unlike me?

This makes me SMILE! I found a small metal tin that has a sliding lid and has 5 bicycle Schrader valve cores. The box is quite old. I think it is from the 1970s, so it’s nearly 50 years old and in great condition. 

There are three common types of inner tube valve. The Presta valve is the long, thin elegant valve used in high pressure bicycle tyres as well as MTBs. In fact, most bicycles not on tubeless tyres use this valve as the hole in the wheel rim for the valve is smaller than other valves require, and is therefore less of a weak point in the rim. It was invented in 1880, in France, and was the first product of a company called Poutrait-Morin. This company has seen many cycling innovations since and is now called Zefal. The Woods or Dunlop valve is another type that was hugely common on British bikes.

The Schrader valve was invented in 1891 by August Schrader, a German migrant to the USA. Whilst this valve doesn’t have the fine lines of the French Presta valve, it is still universally used in most pneumatic inner tubes of every size and type. The other thing that is convenient is that you only need one pump with a Schrader valve fitting, and you can inflate your bicycle, motorcycle, car and wheelbarrow with the same one.

So, why does this little box make me smile? I like the design of the tin, the way the replacement valve cores are safely protected and arranged, it’s condition for its age, and that if it wasn’t for those cores and that valve, the world would be a different place. Also, if these tiny cores are defective in any way, wheels stop rolling, and that’s a huge problem for the world. The other innovation associated with this valve is that there are metal valve dust caps that can also be used to remove the core. Brilliant!

I don’t suppose many people appreciate the importance of this little valve core

Yesterday is tomorrow’s today: We all see images that remind us of phases of our life past, present and future. Here’s one image below that that I photographed recently on a Swiss (hence the garden Gnomes) bike ride, which is appropriate.

I think it represents my Wife and I in about 15 years time (but not as Gnomes). We have both just sat down together for a micro-mid-afternoon-break following a usual, busy day. Here’s what we’ll have done up to this point in the day:

My Wife: She has picked some sun-warmed raspberries for a Pavlova desert, just completed a complex sewing project in her studio (posh shed) and put pictures of it on social media, made 15.5 jars of blackcurrent jam/preserve (the last jar never gets filled to the top), shouted at the chickens for stealing figs off the tree, and is double checking her recipes for her ‘50% share of the cooking’.

Me: I’ve just shipped a rare bicycle off to Japan and am considering another Motorcycle project. Over breakfast and making the days bread, I knocked out another blog post, did some fan mail (?), and then went for a 112km ride on my carbon ebike. I’m ready to get our evening meal prepared with fresh salad from the garden (it’s my cooking day), and am in negotiations for a nice pension top-up with a new healthy ageing brand and product, as they’re interested in me being a social media influencer (maybe).

This micro-break image means that we’re ready for the rest of day, tomorrow and every day thereafter?. Hurrah!

Happy Gnomes together?

Here is the link to the Swiss S’BIKE post https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/sbike-prototype-more-research-required/

All photos by the Author