Uppsala Vintage Biking 2017

It was time for my 4th Tweed ride this year.

Uppsala Vintage Biking is a brand new event that was held for the first time this year. It was held at the same day as the festival Kulturnatten (Culture night) was held in the university town of Uppsala. I found out about this event early in 2017 and decided to participate juist for fun. In the summer an event was started on Facebook for Uppsala Vintage Biking, I signed up for it and paid a small starting fee.

The day for the event came, I took my lunch box with home made sandwiches and a beer (not home made), packed my bicycle bag and left home early in the morning for a ride to the commuter train station. These days you can take the commuter train all the way to Uppsala from Stockholm. It is just to add an extra fee to the regular travel card, simple and effective. For the first time I was going to take the bicycle on a train, I have never done that before. It was an experience.

Arrival of the commuter train to Uppsala

As soon as I stepped on to the train with my bicycle I bumped in to more bicycles already parked in the vestibule on the train. My first thought was “now this is just great, I can not stand here”. Then I noticed that it was old bicycles, really old bicycles. Vintage ones. Right beside them there was a gang dressed in tweed, just like me. “Hello”, they shouted. We recognized each others and I was invited to sit with them. Then we started to talk about tweed, bicycles and the new event we were going to. One hour later the train was in Uppsala, it was a quick and pleasant ride with nice company.

Exiting the train at Uppsala station, 5 tweed dressed bicyclists started their journey.

We all gathered at the old docking bay at the old Nymans bicycle manufacturing plant, a classical bicycle maker in Uppsala. There the organizers greeted us, they handed out our starting numbers and some information about the route. They also gave us rain capes in case of rain. During the time we registered other tweed riders joined us. We all talked and had fun for a while before it was time to start the ride. The route was planned not only by the streets of Uppsala, but also the rides route was in the nature and wonderful parkways.

Lovely scenery in a old tree alley passage.

A slow ride along green hedges and grass lawns.

There was a break in Botaniska trädgården (Botanical garden) with a group photo of the riders and picnic on the schedule. Now this was a really impressive picnic break. They had arranged two long tables for us to sit by under a big archway. There were a brass band playing old jazz songs when we arrived. We parked our bicycles and sat down at the tables. There we sat and had our food and drinks while listening to old jazz standards played live. It was a lovely and wonderful time! Sadly we needed to get on our way.

Live jazz and picnic, great relaxation

Bicycles parked while we were at the picnic break

A Vintage Rider, with a lovely 1920’s dress and an Uppsala build Hermes bicycle

The ride continued up around the Uppsala castle were we had a small stop. Up there we admire the view and used the time to gather up all the riders. After a few minutes we went down the hills passing Uppsala cathedral and in to the central parts of the town. Because it was the culture night festival the streets were filled with people, stands, children, music and laughs. It was a real festival feeling in all of Uppsala. We got lots of cheers and liking from people when riding the streets and over the bridges with our vintage bicycles and everyone dressed in tweed or vintage dresses.

View from Uppsala castle

Down to Uppsala cathedral

The next stop was when the entire Vintage Biking crew went in to Nymans museum to get a guided tour around the collections of bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles and boat engines.

After that guided tour we all went to the central shopping street for the finish and price ceremony. After thanking the organizers and saying good bye and promising to meet next time it was time to go home. I got company to the train by a fellow rider, she showed me the way to the railway station and there the long journey home began.

It was a excellent event! I lift my hat for the organizer! Lovely, fun and heart warming!

Thank you, see you all next year?


The first parts

The first parts of the retro racer has arrived!
Very good service from the Pelago shop and the staff there! They did an excellent job on my request and questions. One and a half week after I sent the first mail with my strange questions I could collect an rather large parcel at the local service point for parcels.

It was the frame and front fork of an black Pelago Bristol that had arrived straight from their warehouse in Helsinki. I was told it was one of the first generation of the Bristol model that now was replaced by the second generation Bristol. I got to buy the last frame that never was assembled. The frame stands here with me now and are awaiting the rest of the parts so it can be transformed into the retro racer I have in my mind. Heavily influenced by the Pashely Guv’nor and the the 1930s Path Racers that seems to be in style now. But this one will not be a English racer, more a Finland/Swedish version. Bike in Tweed 2015 is the goal. Will I make it? I hope so.

As now I am looking for parts for the bicycle. 170 mm cranks, 40-635 rims, handlebars and all that. It is a fun and interesting search.  Of course the urge for building bicycles has grown stronger. It is fun and educational. Every new step includes lots of learning for the process. It is not only to build a bike. There is lot more knowledge and special facts you have to know. Just to build a wheel is an entire science. The spokes length, the calculation for length, position, where to start, how to start, why do one start there and not there, and so on. Then you need grease to lubricate, what to lubricate and how.
Perhaps there will be more projects. After all it is fun! But will my tweed fit the style of the bicycle? It will be more of an sport version? Of course!
With a pair of plus 4 trousers and a jacket and I will be good to go.

After all, tweed goes well with anything!


Now it is close to the finish line

The last steps in the “Lady Blue” story. Well, it is just 2 more things to do. First its to fit the chain guard properly. The front bracket fitted like a charm, but the one in the back was missing from the guard that I bought as an replacement. The old bracket from the old guard did not really fit so well. But that is an minor problem, I will make a new bracket. What surprised me was that the new, never used (still got the price tag on the back), chain guard fitted so perfect. When I mounted it did not needed any form of modifying, just a perfect fit from the start. That is the moment when you start to ask what is wrong. Things never work straight away or with out problems. But this time, like a hot knife in butter a summer day. So smooth. (the problems turned up later, more of that later on)

So the final step is waiting for the handlebar that is currently in Thailand. Mount that with its new grips and then we are done. I think you all will like the new grips I got. Then I am thinking of perhaps change the head light. After that “Lady blue” is ready for the road again. After at least 20 years of storage. I will ask a co-worker to be a model for it. In typical cloths of course. But if that dont work. I have one idea that might work. A good presentation is everything!

Now to the part of the problems as mentioned earlier.
As you all by now have noticed this bicycle, since I got it , was supposed to enter the Bike in Tweed event 2014 in Stockholm. I have planned to enter the event since last years event. I checked up the dates and calculated everything. All previous years the event has been in the first or second week of October. Since this year I am turning into an old man, there is a event planned in the end of September involving other people and mandatory for me. But that was totally fine with me. Since logically the Bike in Tweed event is held in October, so I could be a part of it and everything just worked out like a charm. Because I had been looking forward to the bicycle event so much. But this year they decided to put the event a few weeks earlier! Right on the day I am planned to other things.
Now I understand why the repairs went so smooth and easy. I can not join the Bike in Tweed 2014 event.

Karma or faith anyone?

The last word has not been said in this matter!
But I got a great bicycle in the cellar, “Lady Blue” in good condition. I can always keep her in good condition until next year Bike in Tweed 2015. It is a matter of planning ahead!


Old taperecorders and new phones

It is not all about old bicycles around herein Schneebremse world. No, it is even about old tape recorders.

I had an dream for many years. Ever since I first saw a Nagra reel to reel tape recorder I wanted to own one. All those dials and buttons was very impressive to me and it was a rather good looking machine. Later on with internet, I started to do some research about the recorders and found out much information that made me even more curious about them. There was only two small things that was stopping me from getting one. First, the availability. They are rare. Not an item found in your local supermarket. Second, when finding one in working order, the price is rather expensive. But one day I saw an Nagra 4.2 reel to reel tape recorder for sale in an auction. I placed a bid and waited.

I won!

There I had it! My very own Nagra 4.2 tape recorder. Made by Kudelski SA in Switzerland in the 1970’s. The one I won at the auction also came with a large carry bag.  Sadly there was no adapter for the Nagra to work on the electrical grid. So I bought 12 (twelve!!) batteries. Not the small AA ones. No no, the large “D” ones was needed. I mounted them in the recorder, flicked the switch for power, tested the power level and started it up. It worked like a charm! Playback, recording, everything. The machine itself was a piece of art. Clear plastic cover on top, protecting the tape and reels. All metal chassis, knobs, dials and an large VU meter with scales all over. Impressive!

Later on, a friend who wanted to record a podcast, asked if I could bring the recorder along so we could try it out. “No problem” I replied. I packed a microphone in the bag along with the Nagra recorder (with it’s 12 batteries). Then we went out on the town to record “on-the-go” podcast episodes. We walked around, looking at things, recording along the way. It felt just as the good old days or reporters.
We recorded some episodes for testing. They sounded great! The feeling of an real reel to reel tape recorded working, while recording. It was a fun and “cool” feeling. It was a “genuine” reportage and recording. Later when I came home I realized a big disadvantage with recording with the Nagra. That was to get the recording up on internet, I needed first to record the recording again. That is record the recording into my computer so I could get a digital copy. It felt like a bit of double work there.

Some months after the first recording, the friend asked if we should do a new recording. But this time he had bought a small microphone made for his smartphone that he wanted to try out. We met again in town, did some recordings. Again we walked around recording things, talking and describing the town. When we stopped for lunch, he simply uploaded the recordings right away into my email. So when I came home, I simply edited the results adding theme music and so on.

I must admit, digital recordings are simple, effective, not depending on so many thing as length of tape, working electronics in the same way. But one of the heavy argument (no pun intended), a smartphone do not use 12 (twelve !!) “D” batteries . The Smartphone can easily fit in you pocket, so can the microphone. I would like to see anyone put a Nagra 4.2 tape recorded in their pocket. Or even more so, I would love to the the pocket that fits the tape recorded, also the microphone. Hey, the smartphone is smaller than the microphone to the Nagra. So now I am leaving the Nagra to a new auction. Now it is up next person who wants a piece of history and Swiss quality craftsman ship. I have owned own, so I am pleased now. After all, there is no usage for an Nagra 4.2 today, not as a recording device. Not as a play back machine either. Even that is better on the smartphone. On the Nagra there is some 30 minutes of recordings, on a smartphone you can have music for months… non-stop!

I am forced to say that the technology is advanced. Today it is simpler, lighter. It is so easy to create recordings with excellent result with an endless possibility to edit and change effects in an easy an accessible way. A recording with a smartphone is simply a small click away for the world to listen to.

But still. Nagra 4.2 is such a good looking recorder, there is no smartphone that has an analogue vu meter or shiny metal panels today.
It was perhaps not better in the old days, but they sure knew how to create great looking tape recorders.


A new bicycle, a new start

I finally made it. I took my self in to the city and bought me a brand new bicycle.

I have been searching high and low on internet after a bicycle that fills my demands and wishes. I found a few ones that really caught my eye. Both in design, style and usage of material. My demands was:

  1. Old style, roadster
  2. Modern
  3. A Brooks saddle

In Sweden there you cant find classical “roadsters”, only everything else. Now I wanted a gentleman bicycle. Preferably with rod handles for the breaks. Now there is actually English roadsters today, they are good looking but now 100%. Small details that disturbs the overall appearance of the bicycle. But in Holland, there you can find really great bicycles. I found the brand Gazelle and the “Toer Populair” model. Old style with new technology. But to find one here in the middle of nowhere. Impossible. Import? Well then the price would equal to a small car. Then I found a shop in Berlin called Hollandrad that sells the Dutch bicycles. I contacted them if they export their bicycles. Sadly I never got a reply.

I did some more search, then I found the Finish bicycle PelagoBristol” from Helsinki. That model looked just right. Clean, simple but yet classical.
So I went to the retailer Gamla Stans Cykel and bought a Pelago “Bristol” with 3 gears. When selecting a geared version, they mount a hand break for the front wheel. Now, that is the only 2 things I dont like with the bike. I think that the hand break handle should be on the right hand side. But there is the gear shifter, that is made of plastic, a sad story. I am thinking of getting an old shifter in metal and re-mount the hand break. Then there is the issue of a light. The bicycle is modern, why not a modern light. There is LED light that is really vintage looking (but with an modern twist).
The I looked at it and thought “less is more”. The bicycle is so clean in its lines now that I must git it a great bit of thinking about lights and other stuff.

When at the retailer, I asked to get a different saddle. I wanted the Brooks B135 saddle, for the comfort. Also for nostalgia. My grandfather used to have a double spring saddle (I still have it).

But when riding the bicycle home, it struck me. It is a great, really great made bicycle! Works like a charm! Now after a few weeks, I haven’t changed my mind. I will write more about the “dream bicycle” one day, if you like to that is? A great bicycle, all black, shiny and silent.

Here is she is.