Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Touring Series: A Look Back At The Horse That Got Me There

 Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

The following post is a remembrance from 2008 concerning the bike I used to get me where I was going to go on this tour. There will be a reference to the pre-tour happenings in the 1994 manuscript I am re-posting, but I found that there wasn't really a good telling of how that bicycle came together, so I wrote up something to flesh out that part of the story:


A Guitar Ted Productions Series
   I was in the process of putting together my first touring rig from an old mountain bike traded in at the shop I started at in the early 90's. The bicycle was a 1984 Mongoose All Mountain Pro. It was in pretty good shape, all the original parts were there, even the snake belly tires were still on it. Looking back, it probably would have been smarter to keep it as it was, since it was a somewhat collectible machine as it sat, but I didn't see it that way at the time. I saw it as a cheap way to get a tour worthy machine and head out on an adventure with some new friends.

The decision to get it and modify it was largely influenced by my co-worker at the time, Troy. He had been wrenching at the shop for a few years ahead of me while he attended college. His advice was to take the chromed beast and do the following modifications: Change out the wheels, handle bar, stem, shifters, brake levers, and fork. He told me that drop bars were the way to go, and that the bike's "bull moose" stem and bar set up had to go. He also thought the plate crown fork looked too spindly and that I should get a uni-crown fork for it. The wheels looked sketchy, and of course, new tires and tubes would be in order as well.

Sheesh! I suppose I must have gotten the bike for a song, because I was making wholesale changes to the bike. I stayed late after work making changes. It proved to be a frustrating and valuable learning experience.

I found out that the Mongoose had a BMX specific head set, owing to Mongoose's BMX roots. That was a bit of a problem since I had to order in a headset special to fit it. Then the fork needed to be compatible, which severely limited my choices. I ended up finding a chrome fork with a uni-crown in the shop's basement. All good except that it was a high tensile steel fork. Not as strong as a Cro-Moly fork. I don't think I told Troy that it was "hi-ten" since I figured he would disapprove and I'd have to try and find a Cro-Moly one. I doubted that I could do that, in the less than a week's time I had to pull this transformation off, so I kept that to myself.

The Avocet touring tires I used 24 years ago on the tour.
I used a Mongoose branded steel quill stem, seemed the right thing to do there, and a Nitto drop bar with some Campagnolo friction shifters that the shop had. The aero levers were something I think Troy had. I wired those up to the front cantilever brakes and rear SunTour roller cam. I didn't have a clue how to set up that rear brake, and for the most part it really wasn't functional. I pretty much did that fist tour with only a front brake!

I think I stole the wheels from off my Klein for this tour. A hand built set of SunTour Grease Guard hubs on Ritchey Vantage Pro rims. Shod those with Avocet tires. The ones with the inverted tread. Otherwise the bike was stock with the Avocet saddle, SunTour "AR" derailleurs, and serviceable bottom bracket with Sugino cranks sporting a 48-38-28 gearing. I had an eight speed 12-32T SunTour cassette out back. (If indeed I used my Klein wheels, which I think I did)

The bike had a triple strut aluminum rack already on it. I scored a set of rear panniers through the shop, and a front set from another co-worker. A few purchases through Campmor rounded out the set up. Inflatable Therma-rest pad, 40 degree bag, and some other small items. I borrowed a tent and a couple of smaller items from friends.

A couple of notes to clarify things: The Klein I had was a '92 Klein Attitude and the wheels were hand built for that bike. Obviously you might remember that I wasn't on this tour in the last post, but obviously I was on it. That story will get filled in with the material from the manuscript I wrote in '94 and is forthcoming here. Finally, I still have most of this bike in pieces in the Lab. Someday I'm going to resurrect it..........

Next Week on "The Touring Series": The Tour Gets A Name


Skidmark said...

It’s prolly good you quit listening to Troy.

Derek said...

Great stories. I look forward to the whole series! Have a few parallels in my past....