Wauhtiajot 2019, Helsinki

Wauhtiajot is a bicycle race in the spirit of past heroes of bicycling of yesteryears, that was held in Helsinki / Finland on Saturday August 17th.

There are two tracks in this race, the long track is 100 kilometres and the other, more modest and shorter track, is 25 kilometres. The riders have even a follow car so they could repair bicycles and take care of riders if necessary. There is a picnic in the middle of the ride for both the riders for the long track and the short track. After the picnic all riders can ride together across the finish line in Helsinki and enjoy some dinner, drinks, company of good friends and listen to great music for the rest of the evening


First time making this trip in the summer

Back in February, when I attended the Helsinki Winter Tweed Run, I got an invitation to join the Wauhtiajot event later that summer. It sounded really fun, after all the bicycle riding I have done in Helsinki in the winter time. Why not try riding a bicycle in Helsinki during the summer?

Wauhtiajot is an event mostly for old racer bicycles. Keepin the spirit of the old heroes of bicycling, like the early Italian and French riders that were really men of steel. Riding bicycles on narrow gravel roads all around continental Europe, while drinking wine and beer as refreshments along the way.


The bar at the start/finish line


An old poster


Number 57

I had not used an racing bicycle since I was 16 years old and crashed my silver 10 speed racer. I was going fast along the road when suddenly the front wheel gave up underneath me. The crash caused me to gracefully slide across the asphalt for a bit, transforming my clothes to shreds. But there was no worries this time, the short track of the Wauhtiajot event was easier and slower that the longer one. It sounded perfect for me and my Crescent from 1928.

Sadly it turned out that the old Crescent had some small play in the crank, most likely an issue with the bearings being worn after 90 years. So, as a final decision, I played safe, and choose the reliable old Hermes bicycle from 1955. Single geared and weighing like an old hospital bed. All other riders would fly pass me all the time. But at least, I would attend the event!

The weekend started all wrong. I was slightly ill, feeling a bit under the weather as they say. While mentioning the weather. The forecast said that on the day of the event, it was going to be rainy and cold. But it turned out to be one of the best days of summer so far, at least that how it felt for me since I am not a friend of to hot weather. So there I was, over dressed and feeling a bit down. The day was going to be a challenge for me.


One of two tandems at Wauhtiajot 2019, this one was heading for the short track..


…the captain makes some final adjustments before the start


Line up for the 25 kilometres riders. We all had numbers on our backs. The great thing with the numbers was that we only borrowed them. After the race was over we signed our number tag with our names and the date and handed them back to the organizers.


The route took us along some lovely scenery along the coast line…


…and along paths in the forest


There is no need for racing bicycles. But gears in general are really nice to have among the hills of Helsinki

After the start at 11 o’clock we took some lovely roads around the outskirts of Helsinki, along the sea shore, into the woods, along winding small roads and tracks. The tempo was rather nice. Going up steep hills, going down even steeper hills. After about an hour we had an short break.

Then about at the 10 kilometres mark, while going up an bridge to cross an road I felt the right pedal stopped to turn. Suddenly the pedal just disappeared from underneath my shoe and struck the ground hard with my foot. Parts of the pedal was flying everywhere on the ground behind me.


Disaster, I had tubes for the tires, tools for nuts and bolts. But no spare pedals with me

That was it, after some quick words with the leader of the short track I decided to walk back to the finish line and join them all there. Sadly I missed the picnic and the rest of the fun going across the finish line. A quick look at my smartphone I started to walk. An hours walk with the bicycle across Helsinki, in full blazing sun.

Finally I walked across the finish line and talked to some of the others there. The two lovely ladies that made Italian soup for all riders to eat. The crew on the vintage follow car, it was very nice and welcoming. After an hour they all came along the road, riders from both the short and long track. All smiling, happy. After some speeches and cheering. We all were handed a beer, specially made for Wauhtiajot.


Italian soup made by KahVelo, what a wonderful soup. Tasty, hot and comforting for me.


The heroes crosses the finish line


Now that is what I call a follow car


The special beer for the event

Later that night Maestro Ruscello e Gruppo Velocitá played lovely music and the party was really going. Since I was a bit under the weather and the aftermath from the pedal incident, I decided to retire early in the evening, thanking all the organizers for a wonderful event before saying say good bye and heading back to the hotel for a long rest.

The day after the event it was time to go back to Stockholm with the ferry. Even if the bicycle was broken, I needed to get it onboard the ferry. What an adventure…


Even with a broken pedal you need to get the bicycle back on the boat.
But that is another story

 

 

Where did the Pelago go?

Long ago, I bought a bicycle frame from the Finnish Pelago bicycle company.
You can find the old post I wrote, here.

The vision I had was to build an racer, somewhat inspired by old racers from 1920’s and 1930’s. Black frame, turned down handlebars and clean look. After talking to Pelago I bought an Bristol frame. Then I started to gathering parts from here and there, mostly there. An truly international bicycle. Some weeks later I got all parts that was needed to build my vision bicycle.


My finished version

After a day of building and adjusting, the bicycle was complete. The Pelago Special sure looked amazing with all the details I had got for it, first the glossy black frame, the chain in gold, all chromed parts like stem and pedals, the front break and creme white tires. Not only looking great, it was riding like a dream. It was first after a while I discovered a problem. The problem was not with the bicycle, it worked perfectly. Good breaks and riding smooth. The problem was with me! Leaning forward and riding fast for a long period of time was simply not my thing any more. Perhaps I was untrained (more likely getting old), but it should be comfortably to ride an bicycle. I did not feel comfortably at all.

In fact I did not use the bicycle as I expected to. Instead the Pelago was left standing in the basement, abandoned for weeks at end. One day I got the idea of why not rebuild it to an regular standard roadster instead? Complete with mudguards, dual kickstand, springy saddle and with the handlebars turned in a more traditional way to achieve an more upright seating position. I ordered some parts online from Classic-cycle in Germany that would fit and suit the black Pelago frame.


The second version, chain guard, mudguards. An more upright riding position

After that I started to rebuild the Pelago, from the cool racer it was, to an more regular standard bicycle. After that conversion I used it for a bit, but by that time I had bought an vintage bicycles that I was using instead. So the Pelago Special was left standing in the basement again.

One day a co-worker who also was interested in bicycles, asked my about the Pelago and if it was for sale. He liked the style of my path racer build very much. The look with the glossy black frame, creme white tires and overall clean lines. He told me that he had some visions for it, turning it into a racer once again but with a twist. One day in the summer later on we made the deal. Money exchanged hands, an hand shake after that he rode away on my Pelago.

That was when the Pelagos third life had begun. My co-worker quickly removed the black standard mudguards that I had mounted along with some other parts. The standard chain wheel was replaced by an custom made chain wheel from Bespoke Chainrings in Australia. The handlebars was replaced by an vintage Reynolds deep drop handlebar that he bought from eBay along with an old refinished Major Taylor stem.

The new look was really amazing. With few changes it became a different bicycle all together. Later on he asked me to help him with some details, I went home to his place and there in the kitchen, was the bicycle leaning against the dishwasher. That must be one of the oddest and cosiest bicycle workshop I have visited in so far.


Kitchen workshop. Notice the Reynolds deep drop handlebar and the refinished Major Taylor stem


Beautiful custom made chain wheel


Clean and stripped down look

He used the Pelago like that for a while until my he got an new idea. He wanted to change the bicycle from a racer to a more porteur inspired bicycle. He found a new made luggage rack in the porteur style, he also mounted mudguards with an hammered finish and changed the handlebars. The fourth incarnation of the Pelago Special has begun.

As for today, I think the old Pelago is still being used as an everyday bicycle around the streets of Stockholm. But with unique parts fitted to the former Pelago Bristol frame. Truly a Pelago Special.

The winter project, part 1 (Fram bicycle)

There is a new project in the loop. Since it turned out that the £20 bicycle was rather damaged, it had a crooked fork, bent chain wheel, a damaged frame and other minor damages. I decided to scrap the bicycle, it was way to damaged to renovate and repair in my opinion. But I wanted to keep some of the parts from it like the chain guard, front light, the wheels, pedals and so on. Perhaps I could use it a project later on. It is good to have a supply of spare parts. One never knows what will happen in the future.

Later on, it turned out a friend that I have helped over the years with bicycles and parts. Had made a deal with another fellow on a internet forum about some bicycle parts. The deal was about an old frame that my friend wanted to use to build a vintage styled racer.

After some dealing with the fellow he received the frame. But it turned out that there was an entire bicycle included in the deal. Since he only needed the frame in the original deal, and it was the wrong style for him to build on and he did not had any use for an extra bicycle.  So, he asked me if I would like to take the extra bicycle. He described the bicycle to me in a mail with a included photo.


New projects and parts

It sounded like an interesting project. I decided to take over the bicycle. After all, I was looking for a replacement for the £20 bicycle that I scrapped earlier. I could need a everyday vintage bicycle, that can be used during the winter months. A good bicycle in a used condition, where salt and mud do not matter for the finish of the paint. Perhaps even mount the studded tires I bought a few years back, so it will be more secure to ride on icy roads. We decided to meet up in his basement storage for a closer look at the new project.

The bicycle is an Fram made in Uppsala. The name fram is a Swedish word for “forward”, as in getting forward. It was made in about 1941-1942 according to the stamp on the German Sachs-Fichtel made Torpedo hub. It had been standing in a barn the last 30 years so I guess the colour is grey, but a good cleaning will tell more accurately.


Fram, made in Uppsala during the second world war about 1941-1942


An old sticker “verkstad” (work shop), most likely a local shop where the bicycle was sold

The bicycle turned out to be in more or less an complete original condition. But the tires had since long rotted, there were rust on all the chrome parts like handlebars, stems and bearing cups after the years in storage. The saddle as the front light was missing. But it had the original Fram design luggage rack and all the brand decals still intact. It turned out to be a great project for me. I decided to go for it!


Different luggage rack design, but all original


Lovely Ford inspired design on the brand name. The Versol gearing system is visible, it is not connected, only mounted

Since I got the £20 bicycle I had a vintage Versol Swiss made gear system laying around. It did not fit on the old £20 bicycle frame that was made in the 1930’s. The gear is supposed to be fitted in the rear drop-outs. But it fits this Fram frame made in the 1940’s like a glove.

So just for fun, I mounted it just to see if it would work. I am not to sure if I should use the gear system. Those kind of systems does not work so well with a brake in the hub. The chain tends to jump gears while braking and making it an adventure with high stakes. But, the last word has not been said yet about the Versol. After all, it looks rather dashing on the frame.

The second thing I did was to remove the rotten tires that were covered with dust, grime and bugs from the time in the barn.


Versol gear shifter. It looks really great on the frame


The city and name of the founder of the Fram brand. “Fram – A-B Josef Eriksson, Uppsala”

The next step is to clean and disassembly the entire bicycle for cleaning and greasing up all those bearings with grease from the 1940’s. There is always something to do. But on the bright side, now I have something to do during those long, dark winter months in the snowy and cold north.

There is no rush, but part two will follow.