Of Never-Ending Winters, Girly Italian Foldies, and a Fixation

17 05 2013

It’s been far too long since I made a post, mostly because I’ve been ridiculously busy (I’ve had one day off of work in the last 6 weeks thanks to multiple jobs). Still, it’s been a relatively short amount of time since the landscape looked like this:

Joyriding on the Fixte through a wet ravine on a warm April day.

Joyriding on the Fixte through a wet ravine on a warm April day.

And only a week after the following picture was taken, the temperature had increased by 30 degrees Celsius:

This is me getting close to losing my mind during a late April snowfall.

This is me getting close to losing my mind during a late April snowfall.

After what seemed like a never-ending winter, the seasons changed as if a light switch had been flipped, and suddenly the weather is summerish.

I’ve been mostly riding the Fixte. I love the speed, the engagement, the challenge, the feeling of connection between woman and machine and the road. It feels a little weird to go on about it, because I feel like I’m saying the same things the fixed gear riders would rave about to me, the same things that wouldn’t convince me to open my mind to it being something that might actually be safe and fun. I get it now. After riding fixed for a while, when I get back on a bike with a freewheel it feels like the bike is out of control, like “holy crap, this bike is moving all by itself and I’m not even moving my legs!” Yes, I’m liking this fixed gear thing. I’m even planning to convert another one of my bikes to fixed.

The Fixte and some lovely art of the night.

The Fixte and some lovely art of the night.

I had built up a front wheel to match the back, a high flange hub and a white deep-V rim, but was waiting for the gravel to be cleared off the roads and for the city to get a start on patching potholes to install it and my new tires. They even came to my street and very crudely filled some of the worst offenders, so my bikes still rattle and bump uncomfortably every time I leave the house. I guess feeling like your fillings are going to rattle out is still better than worrying about dieing on the street after wiping out in a pothole. Deciding that things weren’t going to get any better and that I wasn’t going to wait any longer, I upped the hipster quotient of the Fixte.

Mixte Fixie version 2.0

Mixte Fixie version 2.0

I wouldn’t say that the 700 x 23 tires are ideal for E-Ville’s cratered roads, but it sure is fun and looks cool. Bright lime green is a colour I’d never wear but I thought I’d try a pop of brightness on the bike, and if it gets old, it’s just rubber and can be easily changed. I have a goal in mind, though. I’m working on how to skip-stop, and I plan on leaving a trail of bright green skid marks around this town by the end of summer.

In other bike related news, there was a Critical Lass Ride to celebrate CycloFemme, a Global Women’s Cycling Day. A small group of us took a jaunt across the High Level Bridge and around the Leg Grounds.

Critical Lass at the Leg

Critical Lass at the Leg

Thanks to Deb for organizing and scoring some really cool temporary tattoos!

This time has gone by in such a blur. Always busy, always something interesting going on, always another challenge. My job at the Bike Library is finally over, and though I’ll miss it, I should have a little more time for myself, to enjoy riding, instead of spending nearly every waking minute encouraging other people to enjoy riding.

Another night, another river crossing.

Another night, another river crossing.

With my fleet of bikes feeling full and my joyriding time close to nil, the last thing I expected was to feel the need to acquire another bike, but guess what fell from the sky?

What's that? A vintage Italian loop frame foldie with a Duomatic hub?

What’s that? A vintage Italian loop frame foldie with a Duomatic hub?

This bike was donated to EBC after it didn’t sell at the annual Bike Swap. How could so many people looking for bikes pass over this gem in the rough? Sure, it needed quite a bit of work. I switched out the saddle and tightened the bottom bracket to make the bike rideable, but it was only after I’d been working on it a while when I discovered its secret. That worn down sticker on the seat tube that I initially read as DOOMATIC was actually Duomatic! Much to the amusement of the rest of the folks in the bike shop, I freaked out. For years, I have wanted to get my hands on a 2 speed kick-back hub to build into Porta-Bike, and here was a bike that had one, that had all the features of Porta-Bike plus more, was prettier and in better condition, and it didn’t have a sketchy looking home weld job at the hinge.

So, I bought it.

Annabella, near the end of a joyous night ride.

Annabella, near the end of a joyous night ride.

Meet Annabella. I’ll be posting more detailed pictures soon and as I fix her up. She needs a new saddle, tires, chain and everything overhauled, so I guess I’ve got another bike project. It’s so little to ask to get this lovely Italian Annabella back on the road.

Ciao for now!



6 responses

18 05 2013

That little foldy bike is so darn cute. I;ve been ogling this size bike for sometime now, especially after following LittleBikeBlog, but I’m concerned I would look like an amazon on one of this size, you know, being 5’8″ tall. I’ll await your update on this little smacker.

20 05 2013

I’m 5’9″ – just sayin’. I’m definitely riding with the seat posts and stems extended to the limit on these bikes, but I never feel like I’m out of proportion to the bike. If you get a chance, try out a small wheeled bike – they’re really fun!

30 05 2013

I’m 6’1″…… any ideas? haha…

27 10 2013
Peter Milsom (aka Pedal Pusher)

I rode an Italian folder for about 20 years.
mine is a 3-speed SA hub Cinzia.
Loved it.
Still do – but it would be hard to see how it would be a remotely economic repair.
Looks similar to yours, except the geats and the colour.
Mine broke recently – structural failure 😦
I guess I’m just too big and heavy 🙂
6’3″ and currently about 230lbs, dressed for cycling.
I had the seatpost changed, and the seat, too.
It has a few odd sizes for parts (as bikes used to before almost everything was far eastern in manufacture)
– 25mm seatpost tube size, not 1 inch (25.4)
– 36mm “Italian” bottom bracket, with rhs threads on BOTH sides.
I, much later, fitted a Shimano hub dynamo to the front, with a modern LED lamp powered from it, but the rear light is still the mudguard-mounted one that came with the bike, I kept the back light, with the “old” type of bulb, because I like the look of it.
Being a “multi-modal” transport user, I have taken that folder on the train and stored it in the corner of my office (years ago, when I had an office!)
More recently, I commuted daily on my little folder after I moved to a local job (THAT dropped my CO2 footprint by a LOT!), and used it whenever I took my automobile into the garage for a service – drive in, cycle home, and do the reverse when I picked it up.
I got a folder when I changed from a station wagon to a “city” automobile, and wanted to continue my practice of putting my bike in the back when it suited me, (I took a “regular” bike on a decent trip to France, inside the station wagon, and once I had camped, I cycled to all the local sights. I also drove to the historic site at Carnac (France), and cycled round it – it is a big site, so a bike was handy, and you can stop where you want for photos on a bike!).
Anyway, a smaller motor vehicle meant a change to a smaller bike – so I got my folder
more is here:

2 08 2014

I am thinking of getting a vintage folder, because they’re so darn cute. I had hard enough time getting new wheels built up for a ’63 vintage Schwinn, I wonder how hard it would be for a vintage folder. Did you find new tires easily? From other people’s videos on vintage folders, they just fold in half and than you can’t wheel them around while folded. Anyways, yours is very pretty!

2 08 2014

Some tire sizes on foldies are very common and some quite rare. If the tire size has a width expressed as a decimal such as 20×1.5, modern kids bike and bmx tires will usually fit. If the width is a fraction, such as 20×1-3/8, it will be much more difficult to find replacement rubber and rims. Both my vintage foldies have 20″ decimal tires, so I do have some choice as long as I don’t go wider than a 1.75.
And yeah, if you’re looking for somthing that you can fold up and carry, these old style folders aren’t ideal as they’re heavy and clunky when they’re folded. I think they were intended more to be easier to store or put in a car. They’re still super fun to ride, though.

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