Disappointment is Waning.

It’s been two weeks since mounting Clement Strada LGG 28 x 700 tires onto my 1966 Paramount. In my last post I voiced disappointment that the tires came nowhere close to a measurement of 28. I hoped the tires would stretch over time, and in fact a reader wrote me with an assurance this would be the case.

Taking calipers to tires this morning I find that the tires have indeed stretched. No, they are still not quite 28 – the front is 26, and the rear mics out at almost 27. But that is, ultimately, a whole lot better than the skinny initial result after installing them.


OK, so I’m more than a little disappointed to discover that these “28” x 700c Clement Strada LGG tires actually measure approximately 23.5 rather than 28, even after having stretched on the rim for 36 hours. To be certain, the gum wall version of this tire sure does look right on my Paramount, but in addition to an appropriate appearance I was really wanting the extra width…the Vittoria tires I took off measured a true 25, and rather than gaining girth I actually lost some. I’ll measure again in a couple of days to see if anything has changed.

These tires get good reviews, but I’ll hold off commenting on ride quality until the snow is cleared from the roads.

Small British Builders

(Continued from yesterday) If you’re a regular reader of The Early Morning Cyclist, my fondness for vintage lightweight road and touring machines is no secret. The history of these bicycles is as much of interest to me as the machines themselves, and equal to the fascination I have with the blending of functionality and aesthetics. My own collection has ebbed and flowed, occasionally threatening to overrun my studio. And I’m always very interested to see what other enthusiasts have collected. There’s a fellow a few miles from me who collects bikes and focuses on vintage track bikes. He’s not a rider at all, yet his basement is filled to overflow with very desirable “rode and put up wet” road bikes; the main floor of his house has bikes leaning against every single wall. It is, in fact, a bit difficult to navigate through the place. (As I recall, he’s unmarried!) He has collected back stories on many of those bikes, as much as he has the physical bicycle itself.

I’m generally interested in knowing more about the bikes in my keeping. What was their place in the bicycle world? Where did they come from? Who rode the machine before it came into my possession? What is special, unusual, unique? These two-wheeled machines were built for use and that is what interests me most about them. Very occasionally I come across a time capsule – a bike that was ridden a couple of times and then put away for decades, forgotten. Aside from scratches acquired from thirty or more years of other objects leaning up against them and hardened lube, these are often in “like new” condition. It’s easy to get excited about that type of find, but also – ultimately – quite sad. They have never really been a part of someone’s life, never been a mode of conveyance for whatever reason, to whatever place. Not so oddly, they have made me think of The Island of Misfit Toys, from the animated Christmas television special Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. The bikes that interest me most are those that have been used, and that show some earned scuffs and scratches as part of their history of use.

My long distance conversation with Shaun continued, and began to evolve.

Hello Mark,

First of all I am delighted that Dick Poole has been able to help you and I would say that your ownership of the Hobbs has a great deal of meaning and sentiment to him.

I thought you might like to see my latest effort of returning an old frame back to its proper use (above and at top of post.)

It is an F H Scott of Ealing, West London and dates from the late 1950’s or early 60’s.  They were one of many small independant frame builders in the London area and had gone out of business by the mid 1960’s.  I can’t recall ever seeing another.  The frame had been refurbished at some point by Hetchins as it has their transfer on the seat tube and I would assume the original F H Scott transfers could not be obtained at that time.

The frame came from a friend who like me is keen on these sort of bikes and I added the ivory, black and deeper purple panels.  Lloyds Decals supplied the appropriate transfers.  The equipment fitted is a varied mix which sits reasonably well with the period of the frame – Campagnolo gears and shifters, GB Bars and headstem.  Fitting a suitable seat post wasn’t entirely straightforward – mm’s are everything and the only one that would fit was a 25.8mm size.  Even then it was slightly loose – my first trip felt like I was riding one of those office swivel chairs and I’ve had to insert a sliver of brass to prevent any movement. The frame size is 22 inches though some others I have are 23.

My small collection of bikes are all steel framed, the sort of beauties I would have loved to have owned as a schoolboy but could never have afforded.  A new bike in the 1960’s was never cheap.  Early retirement means I am so very lucky in being able to ride out most days but looking at the thick frost outside now I may leave that until at least noon.

If you are not a member have you ever considered joining the V-CC,  Veteran – Cycle Club?  Membership has the benefit of receiving a superb magazine and journal which are published quarterly.

Best wishes


I find the many small mark builders of 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s Great Britain to be very interesting, and Shaun’s collection emphasizes those very bikes. To my eye, his F H Scott is quite a sharp looking bike that very much appeals to my own aesthetic tastes. British bikes of this period 60’s have a look and feel all their own. The exuberance of tube color seems to blend in so nicely with the classic graphics. In particular, there’s something quite “right” about the crest-like designs that are often present in head badge and seat tube artwork. The head tube lug work on the F H Scott frame is intricate and elegant. As a designer myself I appreciate the idea of taking something that is purely functional and endowing it with elegance. I praised the lilac color of the tubes, in particular – it catches my attention at the moment because it’s similar to the color I’m leaning toward for a new build that’s currently underway.

Hello Mark,

Thanks for your kind comments regarding the F H Scott.  The frame was already finished in the lilac / purple colour when I bought it but being quite artistic myself felt it needed a little more enhancement hence the additional panels.  Actually I came close to selling this frame and had put it on Ebay, thankfully no one was interested and I’m very glad I kept it.

I entirely agree regards the style and finish of these bikes; the badges and lug work can be like works of art.  Certainly I’m no lover of logos which applied to modern bikes look quite tacky and cheap, little or no style in my book.  One of the most imaginative badges for me has to be the Mal Rees ‘Ahead of Time’ which is just superb and so original.   I’ll dig out some pictures of my various bikes and email you them over the next few days.  In the meantime here are some of my Major Brothers of Thornton Heath (above) – please excuse the poor composition of them, also the Mal Rees badge (above) which is slightly damaged in the picture and has since been replaced with a new one.

The yellow and green bands on the Major are the club colours for the former Ravensbury CC which was located near Mitcham in south London.  This is the bike that I traced its former owner who bought it new in 1956.  He passed this classic bike onto a cycle charity shop where someone recognising the potential acquired it for probably very little, totally stripped every part – shades of your Hobbs, and sold the bare frame and forks (not even the headset) to me for quite a lot but I was so pleased to get it.  What is particularly nice is that I have a picture of him racing it when he was a young man and I in turn have raced the bike on time trial events.

Best wishes


My initial reaction: Wow! Those graphics are amazing!

Hi Mark,

A couple of pics – my Jack Sibbit bike (above.)  He was a famous track cyclist up in Manchester and built some very nice frames in his day.  Very attractive looking transfers on the forks, it is a pretty looking bike

If you like I can send you the pdf download of the Middlesex club journal – now in colour and we can add you to our regular mailing list.

Best wishes


That Jack Sibbit is another very interesting one. I was really enjoying the opportunity to see Shaun’s bikes and appreciated his willingness to share. These small British frameworks might seldom – or never – be seen on my side of the Atlantic. It’s fascinating to me how various countries or regions tended to develop their own history and philosophy of bicycle design. Many enthusiasts Stateside have a decidedly Italian taste, so quite a few of those venerable bikes are well represented in collections both small and large. With the renewed interest in 650b, low trail, and randonneuring, there is also a American revival of interest in French constructeur bikes. I find it intriguing how British bikes followed a very different path of development in which fixed wheel and IGH transmissions were favored for a time over derailleurs. Where French cycle-touring and constructeur designs leaned toward front loads, British designs balanced things nicely with rear load. Even today, there’s a fundamental difference between what one might consider to be a randonneur vs. a sportif design.  I like how nicely many of the frames from the smaller British builders fit my own personal concept of lightweight sportif or spirited rider.

Our correspondence continued in this vein:

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your email.  Britain has long been a place where the varying types of cycling thrived.  Whilst there has been a long tradition of touring and using bikes for a means of exploring far off places there has also been a  strong competitive and club orientated element that in particular enjoyed a golden age after the last war.  Sadly traditional clubs such as ours are waning though the enthusiasm for cycling remains strong.  Traditionally sons would follow fathers into a cycle club but that is now largely, a thing of the past.

If you are unaware of this website it may be of interest to you  www.classiclightweights.co.uk/   It is a goldmine of information and pictures both of the bikes and about the people who built them.

Here are some pictures of my H E Green of Fulham (above.)  H E ‘Doc’ Green also had a shop in Morden, South London from where I also have an example.  One of my other cycle clubs is the Morden CRC hence my interest in this marque.

Like your Hobbs this 1957 frame had a club name ‘Silchester CC’ painted on the top tube though sadly no other name.  I assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that this was the Silchester not far from where I live.  The club no longer exists but I was keen to find out what its club colours had been as I wanted to paint them on the seat tube – the original paint was badly worn there.  After much asking around I found this out and also that the club had originated in London circa 1930’s – from Silchester Road, North Kensington.

I noted with a smile your comments on that US forum about the weather where you are.  It isn’t any better here – freezing fog and frost.  I managed all of two miles today before accepting it really wasn’t worth the risk!

Best wishes


It had indeed been cold. Apart from a couple of days of unseasonably warm December weather, I’ve been stranded indoors. Today, in fact, school is canceled due to heavy snow and below zero temperatures. Our correspondence had become a very welcome diversion from the otherwise tedious conditions.

I found myself enjoying the unusual combination of colors on the H E Green frame. It looked to me like Shaun was using slightly later period components on some of his bikes. I know some feel very strongly about everything being all “matchy-matchy” and from the same time period as the frame, but the way I have always looked at things is that most cyclists would have updated components as better/affordable stuff came along, without any concern about “originality.” It’s certainly what I and the cyclists I knew did in the 70’s and early 80’s. I don’t agonize too much about such things today either – for instance, my ’66 Paramount sports late 70’s era Japanese wheels and an early 80’s crank set.

I enjoyed a bit of immersion in the Middlesex cycling club that evening, diving into the excellent journal Shaun sent my way.

His mention of Silchester made me curious. I understand the Middlesex club is based out of the London area, and my own family hails from Watford, which is perhaps twenty miles north-ish of London. I was curious if the club members are centrally located or come from all over the city. When I was in my teens, the “club” I rode with was a loose group of the like-minded, and we all lived within five minutes of each other. Fast forwarding to today there are a couple of local clubs with members from all across our metropolitan area. We’re a fairly automobile-centric culture, so it’s not a big deal for a cyclist to strap his or her bike onto the back of an SUV. I do find it a bit ironic that we may drive 45 minutes or an hour from one part of the city to another to join the “local” club for ride. I was curious if there’s a parallel in Shaun’s part of the world.

Hi Mark,

One way or the other I was quite lucky that the Silchester’s colours were orange and black and not say, cerise and pale blue!  The frame itself is an unusual bronze tint of dark green that almost looks brown in very bright light so the colours work well together.  I was able to get a paint match which was useful in touching in other small areas of paint loss.  On my other H E Green I’ve likewise painted the Morden’s colours on the seat tube.

As for period equipment, one reason why I don’t go on V-CC runs is because of the total adherence some members have to only using 100 per cent correct parts.  Rod Boot aka ‘Das Boot’ in the Middlesex belongs to them and gets a little irritated with the nit picking aimed at him – and his old bikes are absolutely show room finish quality.  They’d probably want to burn me at the stake as a heretic.  I try and keep things within reason but have a liking for drilled chainsets and large flange hub wheels, I also much prefer the look of alloy as opposed to steel.  A while back I briefly owned an Ephgrave that had the whole period set of parts including Lauterwasser bars but I didn’t enjoy the clunky, heavy ride;  tyres on it looked liked they had come off a tractor – again my own preference is for 700 x 23’s though the Fulham H E Green has 27’s.  But you’re right, these bikes were often upgraded in time as we all wanted better parts for them.

Watford; we pass through there sometimes on club rides usually with a cafe stop at Cassiobury Park. 

Historically our club drew its members from the part of Middlesex that lies to the west of London particularly the suburbs of Hayes and Southall.  Riders in say, Hendon probably joined clubs like the Edgware CC or the Willesden.  When the Silchester folded in the mid1960’s many of the surviving members joined the Willesden CC.  Nowadays our membership is spead out between Ealing, Hayes and South Buckinghamshire out to where I live in Berkshire.  Much like you and your friends do though, we’ll stick our bikes in the backs of our cars and meet up wherever, we couldn’t ride in any numbers otherwise.

Here’s another bike – something of an oddity.  It is a 1950’s or early 60’s S. Roland – Jones of Acton (above.)  This was a cycle shop albeit one that had an elaborate badge which they used on frames built and supplied from elsewhere.  I’ve no idea who originally built the frame which is quite standard for its day with Nervex lugs- possibly Wally Green who built for just about everyone perhaps and so far I’ve failed to find anything about the cycle shop itself, even through the local history society there in West London.  Many of the parts are original to the bike but it had a strange hub gearing system combined with derailleur gears, a more recent addition which I replaced with Campagnolo throughout.  The bars are GB, a particular favourite that I use on other bikes.

All the best


(To be continued…?)

An Unexpected Unfolding of Events

(Continued from yesterday.) Shaun’s timing was nothing if not impeccable. In fact, I had the Hobbs up on the bike stand the very afternoon I received his email enquiring if I’d learned anything else about the bike, the original owner, or the cycling club painted on the top tube. A quick response on my part led to an equally quick retort from Shaun:

Hello Mark,

Nice to meet so to speak.

I’m often surprised where these bikes can turn up so I guess there must be a story behind your frame travelling so far across the world.

I will pass an email around the older members of the club and see if anyone can help with memories of this former member.  Dick Poole was a near contemporary of Mal Rees and our president Mike Crane has been with the club since the early 1950’s, not bad going compared to my mere 6 years.  As soon as I hear anything that may be useful to you I will pass it on.

Older bikes are a passion of mine though I’ve never owned a Hobbs.  A couple of years back I was lucky to acquire a lovely 1956 Major Brothers of Thornton Heath which is in South London.  The frame had a person’s name and club painted on the top tube much like yours and I was lucky to trace the former owner who is elderly but happily alive and well.  The information he gave me regarding the frame was priceless so it is possible.  I will see what I can do for you. Something of interest for you Mark, I’ve just had a brief email from Mike,  Alistair Burnet is the full name pertaining to your frame and I’ll get more facts tomorrow when he’s free.

Kind regards,


Dick Poole? I recognized that name. Wasn’t he a record holder in the Land’s End to John o’Groats route? Before I even had a chance to Google it, Shaun had followed up:

Hello Mark,

This is proving to be a fascinating subject.

First of all Mike apologises, the name should be Andy Burnet and not Alistair.  Andy Burnet was no less a founder member of the Middlesex RC in 1937.  He lived in St Albans, Hertfordshire which is a few miles north of London.  In 1949 he became a vice president of the club – there were 8 of these which gives you an idea of the large size of the Middlesex RC in those days.  Mike suggests that Hobbs bikes were rarely seen in the area of West London which is where the club drew most of its members from.

Dick Poole has also replied to me and has asked me for your email address so he can contact you directly, I have forwarded it to him.  I would add that Dick Poole is something of a living legend in the Middlesex having been a record breaking 24 hr racer and holder of the Lands End to John O’ Groats record, just two of his many and varied feats.  He says that Andy Burnet used to assist him on the 24 hr events.

I think it is remarkable that a bike which has a connection with our club and above all, a founder member still exists and it’s fortunate that it is owned by someone like you who appreciates this sort of thing.  Hobbs bikes may not command great sums of money but what you have I think is priceless.  Do you know how it came to be in the States?

Hope this all helps.

Best wishes


As for how the bike came to be here, I’m at a loss. At one time there was a website dedicated to the Hobbs name, and by happenstance the webmaster mentioned a completely intact bike with a serial number that matches mine exactly. At the time I came across that mention it appeared the site had not been updated in several years. Despite sending messages to the email address on that site, my queries went unanswered. Clicking on the saved link for the site shows that it has disappeared entirely. That is frustrating because unless the serial number was typed incorrectly, there was a good chance of a direct connection. Somewhere along the way the various parts were pirated. When I found the bike, it had been in the hands of a dealer in the American South for several years (of all places) and then sold as a complete warehouse to a fellow in St. Louis, Missouri. He, in turn, sold the frame, fork, bottom bracket, and partial headset to me.

Our correspondence was taking off and it wasn’t much longer before my phone chimed again, letting me know I had mail. But this new message wasn’t from Shaun:

Hello Mark,

I saw the mails concerning Andy Burnet and as one of his closest friends felt I had to reply. I think it must have been in 1947 when I first met Andy, and it was he that in fact introduced me to the Middx R.C. who that year won the team National Best All Rounder time-trial competition. I was 15 then and very impressed with the presentation of the national prizes which was then held at the Albert Hall. I believe Andy was then riding 24 hour time trials and I remember riding about 50 miles out to Bedfordshire to hand him up a drink in the famous North Road C.C. event – I shall never forget what he said to me at the time “ one of these days I shall be doing this for you “. A very prophetic few words because in 1959 I rode my first of 13 24 hour events and Andy helped in at least half of those – he was utterly dependable and would always be where I wanted him to be.

Perhaps I should at this stage tell you that in 1965 I tackled the Land’s End to John O’Groats record a distance of 868 miles and was the first rider to complete the distance in under two days, and of course Andy was one of the helping team. Later that year I rode the National 24 hour Championship and finished third with a distance of 480 miles. It was Andy that first suggested that I should go for this record, but unfortunately due to business problems he was unable to organise it. I shall never forget Andy – he was truly my mentor early on and guided me into riding distance events. A perfect gentleman – I never ever heard him swear ! As I said before he was completely dependable and a great clubman, a man I was privileged to know. I was away on holiday when he died and was unable to attend his funeral – I was completely devastated when I heard the news- even now writing about him brins tears to my eyes – he was such a great mate.

Well Mark there’s not a lot more I can add, but I’m attaching a photo of Andy (at the top of this post) that one of his daughters kindly sent me – I don’t know if it’s the Hobbs he’s riding, but I suppose it could be. I’m 85 in February but still managing a few miles now and then but a lot slower than I was !

With all Best Wishes,

Dick Poole

This was certainly an unexpected unfolding of events. (To be continued.)






The rest of the story.

“I was admiring your Hobbs frame and look forward to seeing any pictures of it fully restored for the road. In particular the reference to my club, Middlesex RC which will soon be celebrating 80 years of continued existance. Did you have any response to your approach regarding the former Middlesex RC owner of your Hobbs? If not please advise and I will check further for you. The bike of choice for many in the club was a Mal Rees, he being a founder member back in 1937. Kind regards, Shaun.”

And thus began a very interesting correspondence this past week. I’m going to share a story today, one that is all the more remarkable because it came about so unexpectedly. But to better follow the narrative, it’s important to understand the backstory first.

I initially wrote about acquiring my 1946 Hobbs of Barbican Superbe in November of 2014. It came to me as a frame, fork, partial headset, and BSA bottom bracket by way of a fellow in St. Louis. He, in turn, had purchased a warehouse full of old lightweight frames and complete bikes from someone else – in Tennessee, I seem to recall. His purchase included quite a few vintage British bikes of interest to me, and on my “short list” – a Flying Scott, Bates, Hobbs, etc. As happens so often, none of them were large enough to fit me…except for the Hobbs. We agreed to a price, and the bike was soon further west, in my studio near Kansas City, Missouri.

I was curious how a venerable British frame had made its way from its homeland, across the ocean, to the States, and eventually into my hands. A lot happens in seven decades, but to my knowledge Hobbs was small and were never an export item, like Raleigh was. Curious, I began to research.

The internet immediately yielded results. The serial number was one of the early, most important clues. First off, the number informed me that my frame was from 1946. Secondly – and very curiously – the serial number is the exact same one referenced on a Hobbs enthusiast website. I reached out to the webmaster who described the bike in loving detail as being complete and in excellent condition. The site had not been updated in several years, and my hopes of finding more information about the complete bike and where he’d seen it turned to dust when my repeated queries went unanswered. Sometime over the past two years, the site has been taken down.

But there was more to investigate. The original owner’s name and club affiliation was painted along the top tube: “A BURNET MIDDX R.C.” I correctly interpreted the latter to mean “Middlesex Road Club,” which led my internet research in a new direction. The club website, in turn, listed an “A Burnet” on the MRC Club Records page for the 24 hour men’s solo in 1947. I reached out to the club in hopes of discovering a bit more information. Few other internet references turned up, except for a chance discovery that “A Burnet” actually referred to Andy Burnet.

After that the well ran dry in my search: One uninspired email response, and then nothing else. Crickets.

Until a week ago.

Piece by piece, I’ve been building up the Hobbs. Not having anything else to go by other than examples on the Classic Lightweights website, I began to collect parts that I speculated might have been an appropriate build choice. What I didn’t have at the time was substituted for with later components. I planned for them to be place holders until a better option presented itself, and meanwhile I would have the bike rideable.

I’m not a hard and fast stickler for absolute authenticity. I figure that most cyclists would have upgraded components as better stuff came available, and so it’s not out of character to find a pair of ca. 1960’s bar and brake levers on a mid-40’s bike. My Hobbs has worn various parts these past two years, the most recent changes including a modern repop of Lauterwasser bars and a period-correct GB stem. I’m already rethinking the Lauterwasser bars in favor of GB bars when I find a pair that fits my vision. Meanwhile, I continue to ride the Hobbs in the current build.

British sport bikes of the forties, fifties, and early sixties look right to me. I love the simplicity. I love the colored bands and “flamboyant” tube colors. And I love the often complex lugs and classic “crest-like” graphics and head badges that often accompany otherwise rather austere frame work. I love these bikes as much as – but for different reasons than – the elegant designs of French constructeur bikes.

I’d pretty much given up on finding out anything further relating to “A BURNET” and the “MDDX R.C.” Yet here we were at year’s end, an unexpectedly new and enigmatic clue dangling from the Comments section of The Early Morning Cyclist blog. Just who was Shaun? And what information did he have to share?

Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. (To be continued.)

Cold New Year’s Day Ride.

It’s New Year’s Day, and brunch with good friends ran long. I’d planned on joining one of the local clubs for a 2017 kick off ride, but that wasn’t to be. By the time we’d parted company, the ride had already begun. I was looking forward to a ride from the River Market, through downtown, and looping around The Plaza, followed by an hour of libations.

After brunch, I spent a few hours in the studio finishing up an illustration. The sun that had promised a better looking day was hidden behind gray banks of clouds. Although not as windy as the past few days, nevertheless the breeze felt cold. I knew my ride wouldn’t be a terribly long one before I gave up the ghost, but I needed to get outside and put in a few miles of road time.

Heading out, my first thought was “Brrrrr!” Almost immediately my stocking cap crept up on top of my head and my ears were exposed. I can’t seem to keep the darned thing low enough on my head when I ride. Coasting at speed down the first long hill, the cold air rushed in around my eye glasses and I immediately teared up. My nose was running like a faucet, and my fingers were only passably warm, despite the heavy gloves that covered my hands. But my saddle position was excellent and I felt comfortable spinning on the big ring. Before long, my legs were starting to warm up as the revs added up.

Near the edge of town there’s a small lake. There are literally no cars on the road today – perhaps people are at home, in bed, nursing a hangover or catching up on lost hours of sleep. I pause briefly to make a photograph, to document the ride. The temps are hovering just above freezing, although the breeze makes it feel a lot colder. I enjoy stopping here beside the water, if only for a moment. A short stop and then I’m off again, spinning quickly, feeling pretty darned good, moving along at a decent clip.

So 2017 has arrived. I’ve shared a meal with good friends. I made artwork in the studio. My Chiefs won the Division. And I got in a good ride. I figure it would be pretty tough to top that as a beginning to a new year.


Adieu 2016

After an hour or two of reorganizing, the studio is looking a bit less like a bike shop and more like…well, like the artist space it is supposed to be. With the holiday season drawing to a close I need to get more than my work space sorted out: Students return from break next week, I’ve got drawing and design lessons to organize, and there are a couple of design commissions that I really should begin working on.

Semester break passes very quickly. I’ve enjoyed the luxury of keeping my own schedule, with a few large chunks of that time having been dedicated to bicycle mechanics. Three more frames were placed on the auction block after Christmas, and because they were completely built up I needed to strip them down, then clean and store the components and wheels. It always amazes me how much less time it takes to tear down a frame than it does to build one up!

And so we come to the last day of 2016. Yesterday was another blustery, blow hard kind of day. But aside from gale force head winds, Dame Fortune blessed us with surprisingly nice riding conditions for late December. Not so much today though, and I’ll be back to layering up again for a therapeutic ride following the annual Anderson family holiday feast. Three generations of food will be in attendance – mercifully, the final gorging of the season. I look forward to the traditional Molloy fare that my mom contributes: sausage rolls, cheese straws, and of course the Yorkshire pudding. A hearty beef brisket prepared by our daughter, pastries and pie are in the final stages of prep in my wife’s pastry kitchen. Brothers and sisters, and very likely at least a glass or two hoisted in good cheer as we bid adieu to this bastard of a year.

And after the dishes have been wiped clean and the leftovers divided up, I’ll head out for a few miles to settle the digestion and stretch my legs.

I took full advantage of yesterday’s opportunity to do a little local exploration. Having felt like the stem height was off I had made a slight adjustment to my 1971 Raleigh International. While everything looks good in the stand, and feels good test riding it up and down the road in front of the house there’s simply no substitute for a shake down ride that takes in a variety of road conditions. What feels acceptable for five minutes may actually turn out to be quite unacceptable after leaning on the bars for ten miles. And as it turned out, I stopped on the town square, leaned the bike against a corner of the Jesse James Bank Museum, and tweaked the height up a tiny bit more.

Earlier this year I installed 700 x 38 Compass Barlow Pass tires with the option of extra light casing. I experimented with tire pressure for several weeks before identifying a front/rear combination that works well for me. The ride is cushy without feeling like things are dragging. The larger tire diameter with 700 x 38 doesn’t seem to spin up as quickly as 650b x 38, or even 650b x 42. But the configuration isn’t a dog either. I’ve got Compass supple extra light casing tires on this and my Boulder Brevet and have really come to appreciate these as my tires of choice.

I’ve previously hinted at a new frame. All I’ll say at the moment is that Jeff Lyon is working on a L’Avecaise 650b project for me, and that it will most certainly be sporting Compass Baby Shoe Pass tires when it hits the road this spring.

My Raleigh holds its own in many situations. The geometry and choice of tires work well for riding the gravel pack of the KATY Trail, it’s a good choice for leisurely road miles through the hills of Clay County, and I like it for running errands or just riding around town. It’s this latter purpose where I feel it excels. But sometimes I really feel the need for simplicity: moderately speedy and responsive riding. And that’s when I roll down the driveway on my 1966 Paramount.

After wiping down the Raleigh, I pointed the Paramount directly into the wind and pedaled down the road. I really enjoy riding this bike, and at least in this case the Paramount reputation seems well deserved. First off, one of the most important considerations is that the frame and points of contact fit. I’ve engaged in quite a bit of action research over the years and know very precisely what my optimum target measurements are. Making the base adjustments are easy for me, assuming that the starting point – the frame – will accommodate those adjustments.

Every bike needs to be fine tuned though, because geometry and compliance are variables. None of my bikes – this Paramount included – are nearly so compliant as my Boulder Brevet. It simply responds the way I anticipate. My Paramount does come close though, and it provides a racier, “sportier” ride.

The Paramount’s original tubular wheels have been boxed up for years. The high flange Campagnolo Record hubs are quite beautiful, light, and spin smooth as silk. I’ve been thinking about re-lacing them to clincher rims so I can pair them back up with the bike. I’m pretty certain they will polish up nicely.

I’d set out on yesterday’s Paramount ride with 35 or 40 miles in minds, but the stiff 35 mph head winds really beat me up. There were times I felt like I was standing still, particularly when I came to a point where no natural windbreak existed to ease my ride. I buckled a lot sooner than planned, and turning down a road that put the wind at my back I immediately felt like I’d been fired from a sling shot. The wind behind me, I quickly began to chew up the miles.

One thing about a racing bike – I really don’t have anywhere to store things, other than in my jersey. Stopping to catch my breath, I peeled out of one underlayer and stuffed that shirt into my jersey pocket. It’s a functional solution, but crammed in with a spare tube and tire levers, I always feel a little like I have Quasimodo’s hump on my back, and that it has somehow slipped down near my butt. I’d much rather have  the weight on my bike.

40 miles is no-brainer for me, but yesterday I settled for somewhere around 25. Tomorrow, day one of 2017, there is a New Year’s Day club ride out of the River Quay with a planned stop for a pint at the end of the run. I’m thinking there are a lot worse ways to begin the year.