Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"My" Freedom Challenge

It's that time of the year again. Winter. Something I associate with biting cold, chapped hands, eating oranges by the dozen and the crisp silence of the Karoo nights. There is another iconic association that has crept onto that list. Meeting the Freedom Challenge riders.

Every year it's different, but usually a combination of cold, wind and rain along the route from Willowmore to Prince Albert make it a somewhat dreaded stretch. THAT road, 168km of relentless slog has a special surprise this year; sand and corrugations as they have not been in recent years. The road has become synonymous with the "Coffee Shop", but things have changed and now the site of the famous Annie's Cuca shop is deserted...........Annie you should know that Marnitz stood there and cried. He had ridden all the way and all he found was this.....

This section takes riders into the Western Cape (the name Koup is another story on it's own) and onto the psychological home stretch.

You Kouping ?

First rider I met was Glen. Singlespeed Gentleman Extraordinaire. I consider myself fortunate to meet people like Glen (and honoured to help sort out niggling technicals on his bike).

Exiting the mobile coffee shop

Fresh out of the Karoo Singlespeed Workshop

And then Ray, Mechanical Ray to some. The call came in to say he had a trashed rear gorilla but he was carrying a spare one (yes, I know the image of Ray riding along with a spare gorilla in his backpack may confuse some readers, but he was!) After trying to do the "over-the-phone" DIY number for a few minutes, I realised that Ray needed my help. 93km out on the road was another special meeting. Special for me and special for Ray. It gives me a huge amount of pleasure to head out there, meet complete strangers and just click. One time. Thanks Ray.

Racing again...Mechanical Ray

Two Wheels. One Dark Lord
We cruciFix your bike
Anytime. Anywhere

Saturday, June 5, 2010

If it's not your time, it's not your time.

One day I'll learn how to show the video in the blog... in the meantime check this one. (Thanks to Steve, I now can!)

A very good reason to wear safety goggles at all times while cycling!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Home

A few people have asked what my home looks like, so here it is.

I'll try and show then and now pics.

Dwyka. Don't pass go.

Construction, early 2004

Plastered, not painted mid-2004

Later. Stoep added

Construction detail.

Harry's bed

Kitchen 2009

Living area 2009

Evidence of child labour

From above Winter 2009

The North Wall. Late 2009. Unhappy wall.

The clay pits with water.

The stoep.

The sign.

Entrance late 2009

Entrance now (June 2010)

Clay pits June 2010

North wall June 2010

Stoep June 2010

Front door June 2010

OK. So that's where I live.

If you were very observant, you'll ahve noticed that I can cycle off the stoep and away. The ramp is both wheelchair and bike friendly.

Some steps forward and a little bit sideways

Simple good looks

Spent some hours last night building the rear wheel. Thanks to Julia and Pam for the effort required to collect the spokes and to Essie of Oudtshoorn Fietse for cutting them to length.
Galvanised spokes are offer a substantial cost saving (R1 per spoke and nipple as opposed to R10 for stainless), but there are pitfalls.... the nipples strip.

Anyway, the wheel, in it's raw form has worked well, four cross lacing with the coaster hub. Looks just the part. Unfortunately the uber-cool Conti Speed King doesn't fit in the frame.....bugger. So, I suppose it will be plain black for me. I like the idea.

The bing wheel-nuts are optional!

Graeme Murray is riding across the country to advise me on the bb saga. Looks like we may machine it down to the required dimension to be able to tap it to the standard 1.370 x 24 tpi thread. That will solve a lot of problems, after all, I'm making a ride-able bike, not trying to re-build a 1930's bike to original condition.

Anyway, looking good so far................

I may be able to get a Rudge chain ring, which would complete the picture.
Those bars work!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Thanks to Ron Thompson (collector extraordinaire and member of V-CC) I think I have the answer to the thread question...

It (BB shell ID) measures out at 33.0 mm (plus or minus a tad) so the closest match to that is BSC 1 1/4" 24tpi ( Brilliant. Bloody fantastic.

Walk into lbs and ask for a bb 76mm (actually 3") for the BSC 1 1/4' x 24tpi !

Chances are they'll understand the first two letter (bb) and then go rapidly blank.

Looking even more like a machining job.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Awakening

Taking Shape

After years of lying forgotten somewhere and narrowly missing being "recycled", this Rudge-Whitworth frame is slowly coming to life. More on the man himself..........

My research indicates that the frame dates back to the 1930's (that particular type of headset badge was last used in 1939). If anybody has more information, I'd be grateful.

Front End:
I've sourced a steel, twin-tube fork and the necessary headset (the frame has an integrated headset, something you'll be told is a "new development" in bike design)

The North Road bars ( are old, with a nice sweep and with their original plastic grips in what is now "ivory" or more simply, dirty white.
The bell, in contrast, is new, cheap and, inevitably, Chinese. (Sourced from the Kooperasie in Laingsburg)

Chrome. Ivory.

The front wheel is a Swift Arriv, ( deep-section rim with a 1988 Maillard hub, radially spoked and fitted with Continental Speed Kings (35mm)

That ultra sleek look of radial lacing

The rear wheel has the same Swift Arriv rim with a coaster hub (back-pedal hub to South Africans) from the Czech Republic, laced 4 cross and fitted with the same Speed King tyre.

The BB is another story which requires a detour through the history books........ When the majority of British cycle manufacturers agreed to standardise on a BB thread, they chose the BSA thread (1.370"x24tpi). Raleigh, being the Microsoft of the time, decided to remain with their 1.370"x26tpi thread)

That it 1.370" x 26tpi ??

So that's what I'm looking for right now, bearing cups for a 1.370" x 26 tpi BB shell. I will find them, but buying the Phil Woods one is not an option. Phoning a "big" bike shop in Cape Town and I learn some new stuff. That there are only two BB threads in the world, British and Italian. Wow. And to think I believed Sheldon Brown when he listed no less than 8! Maybe more bike shop owners should make a study of
In fact it would do them good to study the entire website. In detail.

Hot from the workshop: The bb shell does not measure what a 1.370" x 26tpi should. Maybe we have some predecessor here....starting to look like a machining job coming up!

Cranks and pedals will surely follow.

An old Brooks. This particular saddle is rather special because it was made in SA under licence. It appears to have been a partnership that ended when Cycsad took over the manufacturing and branded the saddles as Cycsad (a standard on many old SA made dikwiels)
Except that this one's leather is buggered, so I'll be making a replacement out of rawhide and then covering it with sheepskin (just for a little local flavour). Graeme Murray will be assisting in the shaping of the saddle because he knows about those things.

Seatpost? It's less than an inch, so probably an imperial size like 7/8" or, knowing the British, possibly even some "standard" size like 13/16" !! Update: It would appear to be 15/16". I'll just pop down to the lbs and collect "One 15/16" seatpost please" Which length would you like sir?....

That stylish contrast