Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Riding the Rails, and some Long Haul Changes

I've recently rediscovered the old railway tracks. There is no train system in Newfoundland anymore, and over the past couple of decades the old railway bed has been transformed into a walking/biking trail that runs from downtown St. Johns clear across the city and most of the Avalon Peninsula. The railway runs right across the province, but it is not groomed or specifically bike/walk. Due to having a hybrid with skinny tires initially, I guess I never considered this as a viable travel method. I had forgotten about it and recently rediscovered it with my Surly Long Haul Trucker and it's 37mm tires.

For those of you who don't know, St. Johns is very hilly. So riding anywhere can be a challenge. I always say that if I lived in a flatter city I'd have a cargo bike. But there is hope. Due to the way the old trains were they could not go up very steep grades, so coming from downtown St. Johns to Paradise (where I live) is uphill but a very slow grade so I can make like 20km/hr the whole way! Not to mention no traffic, no stop lights, so angry drivers. It's awesome.

Speaking of my Surly Long Haul Trucker, I've been trying to make some changes. I had some concerns.
-My handlebars are a little to high compared to saddle height
-My braking power is not that great

So I tried flipping my stem to bring me lower, but it made me feel like I was stretched WAY too far. So I set out to Harolds bike shop to check out a new stem. I picked up a 100mm stem with a smaller rise angle. Turns out the stock stem is not a 110mm as the surly website says for 58cm frame, it's a 100mm stem! Well anyway, the new stem is black and I got some black spacers so it looks nicer, and due to the difference in rise it does bring me a little higher and closer than my flipped stock stem. I'll give it a try over the next couple of days and see how it goes.

I'll wait till my Nitto Randonneuring handlebar gets in to make a final decision on stem height/angle etc.

Oh right...I ordered a Nitto Randonneuring handlebar

I got a 45cm bar, and I'm interested to see how the flared out drops and rise angle on the flats feels. If it doesn't fit nice, I'll sell it. Meh.

So hopefully all that settles my handlebar issues.

Now to the braking.
I've done a lot reading from the Surly LHT and Cross Check Owners Group about brakes on the LHT. It seems to be a common thing to switch from the very squishy, not powerful Tektro cantilever brakes, to standard Shimano Deore V-Brakes. The only problem with this is standard road brake levers don't have the travel for V-Brakes, they only work for cantis. So you can get an adapter or get one of the few levers that go on drop bars and work for V-Brakes. So I did.

On the way all together is
-Nitto Randonneur Bars
-Shimano Deore V-Brakes
-Tektro RL520 Levers

This evening I got to spend some quality time with my LHT tonight. She was awful dirty so I striped her down and gave her a good cleaning. NAKED LHT!

Lots of dirt and grime to get rid of

All clean

So this entry was a little convoluted. It's just because I don't make enough blogs! So I jam a lot of stuff into one. A couple of things will hopefully change that. Hopefully the weather will continue to improve (although it's raining again for the next day or so) and I will get out more to interesting places to talk about. The other thing is that once I get my V-Brakes I am hoping to setup a second stem to carry a handlebar bag for my camera. Getting more pictures and nice weather should give me more things to talk about.


  1. that looks like a great option for riding. I've been riding the old canal service roads around my house for the same reason: irrigation canals can old have so much slope to them.

    I'm quite interested to hear you thoughts on the V-brakes. I feel the same way about the stock cantilevers, but I've just kind of accepted it as something that I have to live with. If the v-brakes make that much of a difference, I'd consider upgrading mine too. It just doesn't seem right when you can't grab and handful of brake and not be impressed by the power with which you stop.



  2. those stock cantis aren't that great; I'm sure surly specs them just to meet a price point. you will probably like the V brakes, you'll gain more clearance (leg, bags) as well.
    I'm in a similar spot, setting up some new handlebars. no pictures yet, but I talk about it here: http://raisingwheels.blogspot.com/

  3. You're new blog is on my read list Easton, looking forward to the new Pacer setup.

    Also, I'll let you guys know how the brake change over goes. I'll make a blog about it when I put the new parts on.

  4. Hughie,
    I saw you on the list, welcome as my first follower!
    I actually completed it (more or less) just haven't snapped any pictures.