I went out for a ride today with my oldest daughter. She's fourteen and turns fifteen this week. I'm amazed that she's still willing to go on a ride with her father. But rides like this are pretty meaningful to me. She's a great student, promising artist and an all-round wonderful kid! She is also a Leukemia survivor. Diagnosed in 2007, she has been off treatment since July 2009. In some ways, she's still trying to overcome the ravages of the two half years of treatment. But today, she showed her strength and determination by climbing some pretty steep hills in extremely hot and humid conditions!
Several years ago, I picked up a Claud Butler Dalesman touring bike. I’m not sure of the exact vintage, but I’d guess it to be a 1986 or so. It has Reynolds 531ST (the “ST” is for Super Touring) tubing… nice riding bicycle. Three or four years ago, I re-sprayed it and set it up with a TA crankset, Huret derailleurs, Simplex Retrofriction shifters and an assortment of other fine accoutrements.
Despite the fact that it rode like a dream, I found that I rarely took it off the hook. I diagnosed my rejection of this bicycle as a persistent aversion to downtube shifters. Now, understand that I have logged many a mile with shifters on the down, but I think that period of my life is over. Furthermore, while I feel friction shifting is great for 5 and 6 speed clusters, I am growing more accustomed to the clickety-clack of indexing.
So, a few weeks ago I came to the conclusion that I’m wasting this CB Dalesman and need to retrofit this thing with some 8 speed Shimano bar-ends. In preparation, I get together a wheelset and shifters. But as I get ready for the build, I remember just how much I love the original wheelset. They’re Campy Nuovo Tipo hubs – nothing special, but nice – laced to some Wolber Modele 58 touring rims; and they’re in pretty great condition.
Now I could re-dish this thing and slap an eight speed freewheel on it, but I weigh 215lbs and I’m not sure I’d trust it with that kind of dish. I’d like to keep them original and I don’t really want or need more than a six gear cluster. So I start to ponder the possibility of 6 speed bar-end shifters. I have a set of 6 speed Suntour indexed bar-ends, and while I love old Suntour stuff, indexing was not their best thing. And I’ve never seen a set of Shimano bar-end shifters in six speed.
About the same time I’m preparing to start the build, I discover that Sunrace is making 6 and 7 speed indexed clamp-on shifters, so the wheels start turning. I pick up a set of the Sunraces for evaluation. I also had a set of those Shimano bar-end pods that Rivendell sells.
So, I disassemble the Sunrace shifters and everything appears to fit together. Even the cable position coming off the levers seems to line up pretty well with the cable hole on the pods, which can be a problem. Next I mill down the boss that slides through the bar-end pod so that it will fit the clamp-on style shifters. My process for milling this piece was pretty primitive, but effective enough and it all goes together smoothly. As a finishing touch, I add some rubber covers salvaged off an old set of stem shifters. And…. presto! Six speed bar-end
I stumbled upon the Ironweed campsites at Saylorville Lake this past May. I was on a day ride with friends from Des Moines to the High Trestle Bridge; a former railroad bridge that's been converted for trail use. It spans the Des Moines River valley... an impressive one half mile long and 13 stories high! I believe RAGBRAI will be passing over the bridge this summer.