Winter riding is hit or miss in Missouri. We’re pretty much central in every way possible – geographically, politically (well, maybe not so much as we’d like to believe), climatologically. The weather either cooperates or it doesn’t… and when Mamma Nature decides to get ornery, I find myself pacing around the house, walking in and out of the studio, desperate for something – anything – to keep me from going stir crazy. I hate being house bound.

Setting up shop at a table in my studio, I arranged an old toothbrush, clean rags and paper towels, and a container of Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish near at hand. Situating myself comfortably in a chair, I pulled my 1966 Paramount over beside me and set myself the task of making the shiny bits and pieces just a bit shinier.

This is such a fun bike to ride, and the restoration underscored a particularly understated elegance. The white frame harmonizes well with touches of red, and it’s all nicely complimented by the classic silvery components. And doesn’t a clean, shiny bike simply go faster?

There are times when I truly enjoy keeping the ride simple: No bags or extra gear, just a lightweight frame and downtime shifters, something that responds quickly, and I’m off and down the road. This is a bike for those times.

As the morning waned, the afternoon promised warmer temperatures – albeit with a bone rattling wind. Flags whipped straight out from the poles – not lazily, but with incredibly violent energy. Layers were definitely called for!

I enjoyed a chance to christen my new wool Paramount jersey by using it as a top layer. Bob Freeman of the venerable Elliott Bay Cycles organized a group buy of these jerseys and I jumped at the opportunity. He wanted an appropriate jersey to wear when riding his early 60’s Paramount, and who am I to argue with that sentiment?

When the thermometer is hovering around the freezing mark, I find my normally long, luxurious rides tend to evolve into something that is faster paced and shorter. And so it was on this particular afternoon. Only two other cyclists to be seen, one of whom caught up with me on the return route. Breathing out gouts of steam and sniffling wetly, we chatted about different roads, steep climbs, and warmer days – exactly the sort of conversation in which cyclists tend to engage. I’d made a few small adjustments to the Paramount before heading out, and I was pleased to suddenly realize that no further adjustments seemed necessary. Often enough, I find myself hyper-aware of small changes and this simply wasn’t the case: the adjustments were “invisible,” which means everything felt in perfect alignment.

Back in the studio later that afternoon, I opened my email and read the first of what has developed into a rather remarkable correspondence these past couple of days. Unexpectedly, I’ve been gifted with some very interesting background information relating to my 1946 Hobbs of Barbican Superbe. I need to get my thoughts together about how best to organize this information, and will be sharing the story soon.



6 thoughts on “Shinier.

  1. Tom A Howard says:

    That bike is a beauty, and the jersey looks good as well. All matchy-matchy with the handlebar tape. Just curious: are the wheels 700C or 27″?

    • Tom, I’ve currently got 700c wheels on this bike. I also have a nice set of 27″ clinchers with high flange hubs that fit very well. Original spec for this bike is for sew-ups – which I still have as well. Those original wheels are quite nice, with high flange Campy hubs. I don’t ride tubulars any more…haven’t done so in years, and have become quite lazy about the thought of gluing, stretching, etc. It’s likely I’ll never ride tubbies again, so I’m considering lacing those Campy hubs up to clincher rims. They’d look right for this bike, and I’d have the convenience of clinchers. Or maybe I’ll glue up a set of tubbies for Sunday afternoon rides. 🙂 Anyway, I digress…your question was about the wheel size, and I’m currently running 700s (nominally the same as the original tubulars.

  2. Phillip Cowan says:

    If you’re truly desparate my Raleigh Roadster needs some tlc. The westwood rims are crying out for the CocaCola/aluminum foil treatment. All the rod brake parts need a bath in evaporust. I’m debating whether to rebuild the wheels with stainless spokes (I hate cad spokes). There are a dozen other things that need attention. Some winter projects have a lot of inertia. That is to say it’s hard to get started because you know what’s involved. Once I break the ice I’m alright. Ever feel that way?

    • “Ever feel that way?” Oh yeah. In fact, that’s kind of at the heart of why I’ve not rebuilt the original wheels for the ’66 Paramount. Turns out I have waaaaay too many wheels out there and once I get one set started then there’s an entire herd waiting to stampede.

      I cleaned up a set of Westwood rimmed wheels a few years ago, along with all of the ancient gunk covered chrome brake bits on an Ellswick-Hopper light roadster. I do get a certain satisfaction in making that sort of thing gleam again, but just getting started can be daunting!

  3. Ah, yes, the joys of polishing un-anodized aluminium. Sure, between polishings it gets dull for want of caressing. But a little Semi-Chrome or Autosol polish and some elbow grease works wonders. Achieves a depth of shine unknown to anodized aluminium or even chrome plating.

    There is an amusing Freudian slip in your writing: “a lightweight frame and downtime (sic) shifters” That “downtime” could have been the title of the post. Speaking of downtube shift levers, I was wondering about the position of those on the Paramount. Not their location, but their angle as photographed.

    In the first three studio photos, both levers are fairly far back, selecting the big chainring with the front derailleur and possibly one of the larger cogs with the rear. That’s approaching the odd “big/big” combination. Back ‘in the day’, we were taught to store a bike with the derailleurs in the small chainring/cog positions to unflex the return springs. Don’t know if their is any scientific truth in that custom.

    By contrast, In the outdoors photo, the front derailleur appears to be on the small chainring and yet the lever is not fully forward, close to parallel with the downtube. Is that just a matter of adjustment of the slack in the cable? I apologize for these fussy questions; guess I too am suffering from the downtime stir craziness.

    • Man, I completely missed “downtime shifters” …you can see how well I proofread that particular passage! No idea if that was a Freudian slip or if Autocorrect tossed in a monkey wrench, but I agree that it’s an appropriate malapropism. I almost wish it had been intentional!

      The answer to your question about the position of the levers is an easier one, though. I’d been polishing all the shiny bits, including the shifters and the derailleurs, both of which I’d been moving around indiscriminately as I spun the cranks and shifted up and down the cogs. I’ve heard the same thing about storing the bike with the shifters positioned to take the tension off the RD spring. No idea if there’s anything to it, but it sounds good to me. I should probably say that I’m diligent about doing that, but to be honest the shifters are usually in the position I’d been in coming off the bike. Normally, that’s small chainring and middle of the cluster.

      Fortune smiled upon us today and although the wind was (and still is) pretty fierce, the temps hovered around the mid-50’s… in other words, spectacular December riding weather for Missouri! I won’t get used to it though, because I see we’re supposed to be back down below freezing again in a couple of days. Then back to suffering from cabin fever…

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