This is the techie bit – I won’t be upset if you skip it! On the other hand, the bike was fine throughout the trip
My brother had decided that he was travelling on roads, rather than on the walkers’ path, so using my road bike was the obvious choice. (Using my Trice Classic, a tricycle recumbent, would have been OK on the road, I think, but transporting it would have added more complications than I needed!). The road bike is a Woodrup handbuilt frame, about 10 years old, in steel 531 tubing, equipped for commuting – double TA chainrings, 48t & 38t, and a 6 speed freewheel, 13t to 30t. The gear shifters are on the down tube, with a Shimano Deore XT rear mechanism. The front changer was a rather worn Shimano, older than the frame – the cage was wearing very thin! The 700 wheels weren’t too bad – the rear had a few bashes from curb hopping with panniers, while the front one was only a couple of years old – both its predecessors had been run over by cars… The tyres, 25mm, were fairly worn, the rear especially. The mudguards were ancient and often repaired (pop rivets secured lap joints securely though not stylishly), so were a little shorter than standard. Brakes are Shimano Exage sidepulls, again, older than the frame, but effective. The saddle is a Brooks Professional that I bought in the early seventies. I like it, it is comfortable, but the leather has torn away from a couple of the big brass rivets. The rear carrier is an old chrome plated steel one, with just one fixing point at the front, onto the rear brake bolt.
What needed renewing?
Basically, the transmission, the wheels, the mudguards, bottom bracket spindle and bearings, headset bearings and the saddle!
The transmission was both worn and not my preference for touring – I needed lower gears! My rear mech could cope with an 8 speed cassette, (a Shimano LX) and by using a mountain bike chainset (front chainwheels and cranks – Shimano Deore) I could have a wide but closely spaced set of gears, as in the table below.
Even though the old one might have been wide enough to cope with 3 chainwheels,
I renewed the bottom bracket spindle and bearings – they come in one ‘cassette’
unit nowadays. I needed a new front mech anyway, so having a triple made sense.
I bought a Shimano Ultegra, which is for road bikes, because the one for mountain
bikes wouldn’t fit – the clearances on my frame are fairly tight.
With the nice short cable runs from the down tube gear levers, the shifting
was always easy and reliable. Retaining levers on the down tube meant I didn’t
have to buy new brake levers, as modern road bikes have brake levers and gear
shifters all in one unit.
The wheels needed to be strong, so I had Mavic T224 rims built onto Shimano LX hubs with double butted spokes. There seemed no point in refitting worn tyres, so I bought a pair of Vredstein Perfects, and of course, new inner tubes. The new headset bearings were Shimano, and I used a saddle from a mountain bike. Advice, parts and fitting were from Bob Jackson Cycles, Stanningley. One of the things which really improved my comfort on the ride was the spongy foam handlebar covering – much better than handlebar tape!
Of course, the bits that were removed weren't thrown away; they were put on my previous road frame (retired approx 1990- given to me in 1962/3, a handbuilt Evelyn Hamilton - small S London firm), along with mountain bike handle bars, and thus made a low cost town bike for my middle son Luke. He spoilt the tatty "dont steal this bike" looks by an attractive paint job - gold Hammerite.
(Obsessional stuff about packing the bike!!!)
My nightmare was that my bike would be mangled en route, so while I had a plan
B (buy a bike in Spain), I adopted a solid belt and braces approach to packing
the bike. It needed to be protected from the evil machinations of aircraft baggage
handlers, and needed to be wrapped up respectably to be able to travel by train.
The basic idea was to take the bike to bits, and pop it in a bike bag. (I borrowed
one from a friend). Then I decided to add bubble wrap and a large cardboard
box (the sort used by manufacturers to send bikes to shops).
The details: I removed wheels, mudguards, handlebars with stem, and pedals, then detached the rear mechanism from the frame (but left the cable still connected). I learnt that the commonest form of damage is that forks get bent, (without the wheels, the blades have nothing to hold them apart) so I used a couple of old q/r hubs to put in place of the wheels. I did not want to be fiddling about adjusting the brakes when I reassembled the machine, and with the brakes and mudguards sharing a common fixing bolt, this was a problem. (It can be tricky getting the brake blocks equally spaced either side of the rim). I used two extra nuts, so the original held the brake, then the mudguard bracket, and a washer and new nut fixed the mudguard in place. (The ‘new’ nuts were from a pair of worn mountain bike brake blocks.) This way, I could take off the mudguards without affecting the brakes. The mudguards were taped to the wheels with electrical insulating tape, then put into the wheel bags, and strapped to the frame. I used zip ties to hold the handle bars firmly on the frame. Then everything went into the bike bag. This was wrapped in a large sheet of bubble wrap – 2 metres by 4, before being put in the cardboard box. I fixed an old length of car seat belt webbing around the box so I could carry the bike on my shoulder.