Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Raleigh Tourist - Day 1 impressions

I rode the Tourist in to work yesterday for the first time.  It was rumored to be the nicest day of the rest of the week and I was dying to get it on the road.

The morning was cool and I decided rather than dress in my typical road cycling gear (wool/chamois cycling shorts, Smartwool T-shirt and a wool long-sleeved cycling "jumper"), I'd go street clothes.  I'm lucky that I can get away with jeans and a button down shirt with black Ecco shoes at work.  I threw on a black North Face jacket over that and took off.

My ride route to work is basically flat for the first 3 miles, then a long downhill to Lake Washington.  From there, I cross the I-90 bridge to Bellevue, WA with a small, but significant hill into Factoria, where my office is located. Overall it's 6.5 miles one-way.  Coming home is the exact reverse, and the "long slow downhill" becomes a REALLY long VERY slow uphill...

First thing I noticed is just how comfortable a broken in Brooks B-66 can be.  How to say it nicely... it just melts into your backside like you are part of the bike. In a nice way.  Oh, come on, you know what I mean!!  It is squeaky though.  I need to lube up the springs and other metal points to try and eliminate the squeak.

The Tourist steers like a boat - long, smooth and graceful.  The long wheelbase holds its line very well.  It is not meant for agile turning.  There are a couple sections of trail where you need to make a pretty tight turn and I needed to really think this through before carving a line.  I just made the corner as wide as I could.  The handlebars just barely missed my knees...

There were a significant number of rattles, I think primarily coming from the fenders.  I spotted these leather washers on Velo-Orange the other day and wondered if they might take out some of the rattles.  I'm going to be taking her apart this weekend to install my new Schawlbe Delta Cruisers and tubes from Calhoun Cycle in Minneapolis.  I might try and find some leather washers locally, possibly at Dutch Bike.

The other big mistake I made was pumping the tires up.  They are original Raleigh Roadster tires rated for a max of 50 PSI and I took them up to this pressure, as I usually do with my road bikes.  But I think these tires are meant to ride a little softer.  The ride felt a little stiffer and bumpier than before when the pressure was lower.  I need to let a little air out.  What do you all ride at in terms of pressure on these?  I've had bad experiences with "snakebite" flats on my road bikes.  The I-90 trail has a couple expansion joints in the bridge that really play hell with tires and tubes if the pressure is too low.

The way home was a challenge.  The day warmed up to mid-70s and I had to ride the long slow hill in street clothes.  I got my coat off and into my messenger bag, but too late.  I'd already started to sweat.  Cotton blue jeans are horrible to ride in when you have a bit of sweat going on - sticky. The Tourist is no lightweight and I could really feel the extra weight on this hill.  I just dropped it into 1st and plodded along, eventually making it to the top.  I think I'm going to need to find some more appropriate cycle attire for summer riding that is work friendly and yet not too hot for the rides home. Any suggestions?



  1. Ahhh the ride of the roadster! Yup they are a bit on the slow side going uphill, but will rock and roll downhill. I doubt you will ever completely eliminate the rattles, I usually don't worry about them.

    For summer riding a very light pair of wool slacks is my choice, I usually source mine from a thrift store.


  2. Thanks Aaron...

    I wondered about the rattles and figured this was par for the course. I may try the leather washers, if for no other reason than the fact that they may save the connectors to the fenders. I've had newer connectors actually break due to the vibration from our crummy bumpy trails.

    I am HUGE into thrift stores for riding clothes. We live near a pretty affluent area, at least our neighbors are pretty affluent ;-) The thrift store near us has things that rarely see at typical thrift stores.

    In fact many of my bicycles came from the local thrift store. The Mercier I have came from there (check the labels for a link to it). I've fixed up a number of bike and sold them on craigslist to "feed my habit" for other, nicer bikes... Keeps the family CFO happy.



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