Sunday, 22 November 2009

Gloop & rain

I don't normally blog about training rides, but this weekend has seen some strange weather across the whole of the UK and I feel like I've been out in most of it.

Saturday was dry, sunny and windy so I went out on the cross bike for about 24 miles. There was a huge black cloud hanging over North Kent & SE London, but prevailing winds kept it off Essex until after I'd reached home. I was surprised the trails were so dry although there were some gloopy puddles with lovely sticky mud over the wheel rims.
Almost home and I got attacked by a dog! Normally they just want to run and bark a bit or even play but this one came straight at me, teeth bared and hate in its eyes. I managed to fend it off with a fist across its nose a few time but it did manage to take a lump out of my shoe. Unbelievably its "owner" seemed to think that it was my fault and seemed to have a problem with the idea of keeping her dog under control. Its a shame that when adrenaline takes over logic goes out of the window or I'd have reported the incident at the time and hopefully had little fang put down - Its a good job I'm not a 10 year old little girl faced with that animal.

Today, it started out the same so I went for a spin on fixed. After an hour and just when I was at my furthest point the heavens opened. And I mean opened! You could hardly see across the road so I cut things short and rode home soaked and freezing but not unhappy at 15 miles out of the total of 30 against a million miles an hour block headwind. Proper Belgie today. I love Autumn.

Swallowed by a whale

Warning to everyone out there:

If you go to see the Decemberists prepare for a fantasticly inventive band on rousing top form but beware where you go to see them.

We went to see them this week at the Coronet Theatre in Elephant and Castle. The previous night they had been in Kentish Town and we made the fateful decision not to venture into North London, but to slip south of the river. BIG mistake. The Coronet theatre is a dump with repressive and totally unnecessary security, even on the balcony where it was unbelievably innefuctual. The sound is crap and the beer VERY over priced. With the exception of indigo2 to see Aimee Mann it's been nearly 30 years since I queued more than a couple of minutes to get into a venue and even at the O2 the goons are less interested in what you've got in your pockets than making the queues go in pretty lines.

In the pub before hand I paid £6-30 for a round of drinks for 4. In the venue, the same round was £16! How the hell do you justify that? Tickets for the band were about average price at £18:50 each, so the beer isn't subsidising the entry. I won't go on about the sound: It may have been better downstairs as the house p.a. was aimed in that direction, but listening to the soundman chasing the levels all night to the point where vocals were lost, the Zylophone (Jenny Conlee) was inaudible and Chris Funk's guitar levels were all over the place was irritating to say the least.

However, the band themselves were obviously on form, playing The Hazards of Love from start to finish in one set and then selections from 5 songs, Picaresque and The Crane Wife in a second. They finished with TheMariner's Revenge Song which is fast becoming a signature ending (Not exactly Meet on the Ledge, but you get the picture) and as for the whale'll have to go and see them to find out, just make sure its not at the Coronet Theatre.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Come on St Jude, I need you

Hmm.....I hope its not lost cause time just yet. Prayers to St Jude have been made and candles lit.
I recently "won" a Planet Pintail frame on fleabay. I must admit that I got it for a quite reasonable price which was just as well as I did not know anything about Planet cycles in general or even the Pintail model specifically.
It turns out that what I've ended up with is an extremely rare frame made from Accles and Pollock Kromo tubing which is an equivalent of dear old 531. Its pretty light and the tubes are joined by Nervex Professional lugs with simplex dropouts, so its no amateur job and quite high quality, although likely to be a "hand built" production jobby. My guess is that it was made sometime during the 1950's or 60's. There's a lot of deep pitting behind the bottom bracket (the first place a frame will go if you run it with mudguards on and don't clean it down properly) but it's been given the structural OK by a well known frame builder friend. I now have to decide what to do with it. A respray will involve a lot of making good of tube surfaces even before paint, a service provided more or less by any reputable builder, but I have found a specialist who has a patented process. (Of God...more expense). Then there's the problem of matching the original colour. I think I've found the nearest RAL but getting it in anything other than powder coat is proving an interesting challenge. From the very limited information available I've only found them made in 2 colours, a light grey-green or a sort of flesh tone. Mine is flesh but with bits of the green in, neither of which are obvious choices to the modern pallette. Internet searches have drawn a blank, the Classic Rendezvous community have come up with only a little less than f*** all and I'm still searching the National cycle Museum and Veteran Cycle Club archives.
So. The big question of the day is do I a) Struggle to restore it as it originally rolled out of the Tildesley Cycle Works in Birmingham or b) Restore it as best I can using modern colours and parts from the 70's or80's. The former will likely involve a good deal of beg steal and borrow, but will hopefully produce a machine that is "period correct". The latter is more of a temptation as I think I have a Shitmano Crane front and rear mechs and levers from the late 70's stashed somewhere in the woodpile and I'm sure I can build the rest up to make the finished machine a nice vintage ride.
Do I go for approximate and well ridden or an exact replica ready for a museum?