Introducing Cornelius

I hit a roadblock while assembling my Peugeot folding bike this afternoon. The tires have flat spots, cracks, and dry rot. The rear hub is seized. The frame was damaged in shipping and the rear dropouts are bent. The hinge is also seized and the bike won’t unfold. And to top it off, the tubes have Presta valves… and all my pumps have Schrader heads.

It’s pretty obvious this bike was either on display or in storage for the last decade (at least).

Thus, my plan of putting the bike together and riding all evening was shot.

Since my bike tools and repair stand were out and set up, I decided to work on Cornelius, my vintage Centurion road bike, instead.

Cornelius was my first road bike, a gift from a friend. It belonged to her elderly father who was no longer able to ride it. Knowing I was looking for a road bike, she rang me up.

I’d only ridden the bike a couple of times before putting him into storage. I’d never ridden with drop bars before, and had never used stem shifters. I found Cornelius was lighter and faster than my mountain bike, but also tough to steer.

A couple of years later, I gave Cornelius another shot. I wiped out (bad) on my first turn at speed, and ended up walking back home (bloody). Undaunted, I did a bit of research and found that the bars were likely too narrow for my body. So, to eBay I went. I’m 6ft tall and have a broad-shouldered build, so I bought myself a set of Nitto drop bars that were 10cm wider than the previous set, and I found the wider bars made all the difference.

I got tied up with other projects last year, and never finished Cornelius before winter. Today, I made it a point to get him rolling again. A quick lube job, a new Brooks saddle, new leather bar tape, new pedals with toe clips and matching leather straps later, and Cornelius was back on the road.

So I took him out for another test ride. Rode around the block and “down a ways”.

Some reflections:

  • I like drop bars, but they handle differently than MTB bars.
  • If you can’t do a trackstand well (or at all), toe clips will suck and you’ll probably fall over when you stop.
  • Falling over sucks. It hurts, and neighbours will laugh.
  • The position of the brake levers took a little getting used to, but I find it comfortable.
  • I’m leaving the “suicide levers” on until braking becomes second nature.
  • Tires (well, tubes) don’t hold their pressure over the winter. Check tire pressure before riding off.
  • Pinch flats suck.
  • Not a fan of stem-mounted shifters. Will need to get used to these, too.
  • My bar tape, brake hoods, saddle, and toe straps are different shades of brown. This is why it’s best to buy these in person rather than online.

All that aside, I really like this bike. I’ll use it whenever I want to go fast, or when I just want to go for a ride… purely for pleasure, not for errands, work, or commuting.

It’d make a nice café racer, too…

Project Felix update

I had a bit of time to work on Felix (my Auto-Mini folding bike) this afternoon, so I decided to install the pannier rack that came in the mail a few days ago.

New rack and grips!

Unfortunately, the rack mounting holes on the frame are either too small or too big to accomodate the rack. I’ll also need to find/build an adapter plate to attach the upper rack supports to the frame securely.

I put the rack aside for the time being, and decided to have a look at the bottom bracket instead. Having watched an informative video by Danny P Robinson on YouTube, and another by my go-to channel RJ the Bike Guy, I figured I knew enough to get started.

I removed the crank cotter using a tool I bought from Bikesmith Design, rather than use a hammer and punch (and risk damaging the cotter). Not to be smug, though, mostly because I’d rather not take a risk.

Getting the bottom bracket apart was easier than anticipated. The previous owner had attempted to repair it himself, and put it back together wrong. The cone adjusting nut was on the outside, holding the dust cover in place. The locknut and washer weren’t even installed (tied to the frame by a twist tie), and one set of the caged bearings was missing entirely!

Bottom bracket, all clear!

At least I know what I’m dealing with now. A quick phone call to my local bike shop told me they didn’t stock the caged bearings (nor did my backup bike shop), so I ordered a pair from eBay. I put the bottom bracket (properly), and I’m confident it’ll run smoothly once the new bearings arrive.

I’m hoping to have Felix on the road by next month.


The snow is almost gone, the roads are relatively dry, and it looks like we’ll enjoy above-zero temperatures this weekend. I’m planning to break out one of my bikes for a short ride tomorrow morning.

Weather forecast for this weekend.

The view from our living room window.

Introducing Felix

I had a lot of spare time this weekend, so I decided to work on my folding bike project.  I installed the rear wheel assembly I’d put together a few weeks ago, bent the rear fender back into shape, routed the chain, installed the new cotter into the crank, and voila, the bike is back on two wheels!


Granted, Felix (the bike is of Austrian manufacture, so I chose an Austrian name) still needs a lot of work until I can take him for a spin.  The chain needs to be shortened and the drive train re-tensioned, the bearings in the front hub need to be replaced, the seat has seen better days, I need shorter brake calipers for the front, and I’ll probably need to fix or replace the bottom bracket.  But, it’s coming along quite nicely.

Once all that’s done, I can work on the cosmetics…


A Quiet Saturday Morning

It’s a quiet Saturday morning at our place.  My daughter is sitting quietly(!) on the couch, playing with my tablet.  My wife is sleeping, and I’m enjoying my first coffee of the day as I log onto Mastodon.

Things were pretty quiet in the Fediverse overnight, so my first instinct was to point my browser somewhere else… until I remembered that I’m not here solely to be entertained, I’m here because I wanted to be part of the community.  So, I re-opened the federated timeline and started reading a little more in-depth.

I found a couple of posts to be rather timely.  Someone was posting about decluttering, which is what we’re doing here at home today as well.  We’ve accumulated a ton of stuff that should be repurposed, recycled, or donated – some electronics, some old clothes, but mostly toys and kid stuff that our daughter has outgrown.  She’s been spoiled rotten by pretty much everyone, being the only grandchild on both sides of the family.

But, the cleanup won’t start until my wife gets up, so to kill time, I pointed my browser to OpenStreetMap.  I’ve been a Google Maps junkie for the past couple of years, and really wanted a Free/Open/Libre option over Google’s commercial model.

OSM surprised me on two levels:  they have a decent Cycling map, which includes (and designates!) the Trans Canada Trail, and they have topographical markings underneath everything.  I’d never noticed the topographical layer underneath before, so I’ve made a point to clean my laptop screen (and glasses) more often as the markings are very faint.

I’ve frequently used Google Maps to plan, plot, and tweak my cycling routes to various destinations, trying to find routes that offer the best combination of efficiency, scenery, and safety, preferably along routes without a lot of traffic.  While my area is a quiet, low traffic area (we’re in the West-North-West portion of the map above), I’ll typically need to forge across/along at least one major artery to get where I want.  Google Maps (and now OSM) helps me to avoid inconvenience and/or death!

While the topographical feature isn’t particularily useful in a relatively flat city like Winnipeg, it does help immensely when plotting routes outside of the city and along the trails.  I’m teaching myself how to read a topo map so I can more readily plot efficient routes: by identifying hills, drops, climbs, and which areas are likely to flood (or retain pools of run-off water) during spring thaw or our annual floods.  All because some fool decided, ~130 years ago, to build a city on a flood plain at the confluence of two major rivers.

Not that I’m complaining, mind.  I love this city and (most of) my 3/4 million or so neighbours…

Well, sounds like Mrs. IPX is awake.  Time to put on another pot of coffee and get to cleaning.


Changing Things Up a Bit

I’m making a few changes around here.

I’ve scaled back my computer hobby over the last few years, and have been focused on cycling.  I’ve been teaching myself bicycle mechanics during this time, and am at a point where I can repair and maintain my own bikes.

I’ve also been going on longer and longer rides, taking pictures and mapping my progress using the Strava app on my iPhone.  But, as fun as Strava is, it’s not much fun from a retro-computing point of view.  So, I’ve decided to resurrect an old idea of mine – track my rides using my Handspring Visor Deluxe, the CotoGPS app, Magellan GPS Companion Springboard module, and upload the data to the GPSVisualizer site.  It’s a roundabout way of doing things, but I don’t care.  It lets me use my old hardware that would otherwise be sitting in a box.

I may also use my PalmOne Treo 650 and Palm Bluetooth GPS to do accomplish the same thing.  We’ll see how it goes.  It’d be nice to use OpenStreetMap as well, so I can skip Google Maps…

What does this mean for this blog, you might ask?

Well, I hear you ask.

The long and short of it is, there will be an equal focus on cycling and computing, and I’ll try to combine the two whenever possible.  In addition, I’ll be incorporating Mastodon and my Phlog as much as I can, maybe even T00bnix.  I’m trying to incorporate SDF more and more into my routine, as I value this community and what it wants to do.