Archive for September, 2010

Fit Kit – 1986 Gardin Road Bike

September 27, 2010 2 comments

gardinlogo (Large)  I have had this bike since I am pretty sure 1986. I was just heading off to University and was joining the University Cycling team. I had an old Peugeot at the time which just wasn’t of a level that would work in the more serious world of University cycling. I knew a bit about what I wanted and I headed down to a then well known Bike show on Bank Street in Ottawa. While a few bike shops seem to last forever, a lot of good ones come and go and this one was gone by the mid 90s so the name of the bike shop escapes me now but their high end brand was Gardin. The most important thing I knew about Gardin was that Canadian Curt Harnett used one to win the Silver in the 1000m time trail at the 1984 Olympics. That seemed good enough for me. I made my decision and started the process. Unlike my previous purchases in the bike department this one I spent a lot of time on. The bike shop folks sat down with me and asked me how I was going to use this and there seemed to be a fairly complicated fitting system!  Then they brought out the brochure. Really wish I had kept that for the bikes were gorgeous! Since I have been young I have loved things Italian, and while I was never able to get a Ferrari an “Italian” bike was a nice option.  So I knew that I wanted Campagnola parts.  But I have never been one to go all the way to the top of a given brand and Record and Super Record seemed a little over the top for me. At the time Campy was offering their Victory gruppo, a few notches below the records but still quite beautiful and definitely funcational.  There were a number of colour choices and frame choices but I decided on a Columbus Matrix frame, red and white Canadian theme and victory gruppo. Based on the fitting the 52cm frame was best for me. (Interestingly my new bike is 54cm, also “professionally” fitted) Cost was about $1200 CDN in mid 80s so wasn’t cheap, my dad gave me a loan (I choose this over a car) and the deal was sealed. If I recall the bike took about two weeks to arrive. I got hardly wait and finally the big day arrived.

Below is the bike I got.  For me it was beautiful, it was comfortable and fit me, it worked and it was fast!  Almost immediately I was winning time trails, being competitive in races, putting in 4-6 hour saturday rights and was and continues to be one of the best purchases I have ever made. Did one 40km time trial at 41kph average. Can’t do that today but goes to show you that the engine is still more important than the bike. My new bike can’t help me reach that speed without my being in the shape for it. 20+ years later I still use it on a regular basis and until I bought my new bike I was still racing this in Triathlons. I never stopped using this bike. How many things can you say that about 20 years and more after a purchase.

1986 Gardin Road Bike

In researching a bit for this blog entry I saw a number of posts from people who “knew” Joe Gardin or had Gardins and said that they could be a bit quality challenged. Well I certainly got one of the best and it has been crashed, fallen over ditches, hit curbs, and pounded on thousands and thousands of kilometers of crappy roads and still looks and feels great. It is one of the good ones and if you can find such a Gardin get it. They aren’t making any more and Joe Gardin died a few years ago. I never met him but his bike was magnifico!

Very few things have changed over the years. The rear derailleur packed it in fairly quickly, I think within 2 years of purchase. I remember talking to the bike shop where I bought this and they said that wasn’t uncommon and suggested I get the Mavic derailleur I have on it now. Mostly because it was in stock really! Since I didn’t have a lot of money after I bought the bike the Mavic seemed fine.  Haven’t really seen one before and since but it has worked fantastically for me.  Not sure what I did with my original victory derailleur but have begun a search on ebay as I would ilke it to have a full victory drivetrain once I finish “restoring” it. Amazingly the seat was only changed this year. It was a threadbare Selle San Marco which fit my butt absolutely perfectly, hated to part with it. The new one is a specialized unit and is fine, no real complaints, but just not quite right. The biggest thing keeping this bike down is the wheels. It still has the original front wheel, untrue and pretty bent, and the back wheel is one I stole off my brother’s Fiori (a Norco Italianish brand from the 80s) and its done. I have tried to true it in a number of different ways.  Still this bike was so perfect and continued to perform so nicely I was willing to overlook this, but finally when I saw just what was available in a new bike decided to shell out for something from this century.My new bike is better is every possible way but my eyes always wander to this one.

One interesting topic is shifting. I have always shifted on the down tube. My new bike, like 99% of most new bikes it seems, has the integrated shifting/braking thingees. And this is good, except that it means I can be a bit lazy in a sense. On the drop done tube shifters, you seemed more willing to keep at it and see if you can keep the speed up, now I just click. Next summer when this bike is back up to snuff will be interesting to see which appeals to me more.

Time for some pictures. Below is a gallery of some of the tasty bits.


Mavic made derailleurs?

Brakes are beautiful and functional

Yes, we used to shift like this

Seat isn't original


Columbus tubing


Anyways the recent purchase of a new bicycle (to be blogged on later) has meant that this bike can now be semi-retired. I still plan to ride it a lot but I plan to restore it a bit. Definitely the worst off bits are the wheels. These are the older wheel style with a screw on freewheel and 126mm spacing. I could get the rear triangle to spread but that would be wrong and really this is a bike that deserves to stay as close to the perfection that was delivered all those years ok. Thanks to the internet found these wheels up at Harris Cyclery. They have been purchased and are on their way to me and I will give a full report when I get them.

June 2012 Update

Realized that I lot of people came to this site and just saw the old tired version of my Gardin. Here is how it looks today and I still try to ride it once a week if I can! Seat is new, wheels and crank are new, color matched tires etc. I am biased but I think it’s one sweet looking ride.

Gardin Refreshed

This is how my Gardin looks today, nicely refreshed

Categories: bicycling, Fit Kit

Project 188

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment
Current Weight 194 Pounds
Goal: 185 Pounds
Pounds Lost: 19 Pounds
Pounds to go: 9

I find that sometimes after making a breakthru on weight I hover for a while. This happened at 200 pounds, stayed there for quite some time. In that case had to make a specific two week effort to get below it, then continue in general what has been keeping my weight steady. And this has been working for me. But now I have been stuck at about 194-196 for a few weeks.

So it’s time for Project 188. This is a short two week effort to get below 190 pounds. Then back off a bit and hover probably for about 2-4 weeks hopefully averaging between 187 and 189. Now I have not been below 190 pounds since, well can’t really remember. A couple of years back I did get down to 192 pounds so I would be just at that level again. So this will be monumental for me. Wish me luck!

In general have been keeping up my daily efforts, mostly biking and swimming. Since running can be harmful to my knees I have decided to wait until Spring before I start running training for next year’s tri season.

Categories: Uncategorized

Make a public statement

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment
Current Weight 195 Pounds
Goal: 185 Pounds
Pounds Lost: 18 Pounds
Pounds to go: 10
Summer is winding down and I wanted to finish off my “general” posts and get into some specifics on what worked and what didn’t work. Now I am not a expert but one thing I wanted to do in my fitness plan was make it extremely generic. You don’t need to have complex menus, fitness plans that are timed to the minute or a weekly plan that requires a small computer to track. You just need to weave it into your life. Your muscles don’t really care if they get protein in a little bar or complain much really when you have a beer as long as in general you are doing things better. This is a long term plan, starting with 100 days (that’s 3 and a bit months).  In general my plan has worked, I am generally more fit then I have been in a while and 18 pounds, while below my goal, is still pretty good. Could I have done better, sure, but I still did well.  And I feel great!  I as now going into the winter mode, the most dangerous part of any fitness program and I have some plans to keep at it. Based on what I learned this year I hope to have a much stronger and powerful 2011. It will also give me some time to do some more interesting specific posts. But before working on a series of posts on the specific activities I did this year I wanted to talk about probably the best motivation I had this year, the fear of embarrassment. Like the best TV shows of the Biggest Loser genre making a public statement is a powerful tool. I felt that I needed to make a very public statement that 1- yes I am a tubby hubby and 2- I can convert! I found I think the perfect event for that.
 Back when I was fit a number of things added in this process. First off I didn’t have a car so I needed to bike everywhere. Secondly I was a lifeguard so swam all the time and thirdly I was a dork so had to run away from bullies all the time (actually this last part is untrue and is reflected in my suckee run times!). All of this lead to become involved in triathlons. I was also an avid cyclist and did well with the Ottawa Bicycling Club (I wonder if they are a bit less snobby these days? I hope so. In my days if your name wasn’t Gord Fraser you tended not to get much help and yes he did go one to do the Tour but I think a lot of talent got left unnurtured) but I loved the extremeness of the triathlon. And I was pretty good at it. Had at least one top ten finish that I recall and always did well. I really enjoyed the time I spend in the swim/bike/run during my high school and university days. And while it was a bit of a struggle to find Tri events in the past, now there is at least one or more to choose from every weekend. So Tris it was going to be.
If you have read (and looks like your haven’t based on my stats) you will see that I am doing swimming and biking but still not running. God running is painful and every runner I know is pretty much crippled by 30, but since I am not specializing in running I hope I can ease myself into it. Biking is fairly low impact and swimming is basically the only low impact sport you can do without launching yourself into space to get some zero gee. That will be a winter goal, do more running to at least get competitive.
But getting ahead of myself again. In late spring I took a major step and signed up!  In the end did three triathlons over the summer and progressively did better in each one. I just finished my last one yesterday and it was great, with some semi- competitive times in the swim and the bike, run is what is killing me right now. Now I am hooked and ready for next year. But my next Tri is at least 7-8 months away so goal is to see if my mental toughness has grown so I can keep going during the time that traditionally fattens everyone up again!
Triathlons aren’t for everyone. First off I know a lot of people can’t really swim and it’s hard to learn that later in life and be competitive. I understand that. But if you can swim the other run events, biking and running, are more about building up your strength while swimming competitively is a fairly complex task that I still notice some folks just can’t get right. There are increasingly dualathlons and other types of combined events that fill this need. But I am a purist. It is also a very individual event, well unless you do a relay, but again we are talking the classic single man (or woman, lots of woman doing these as well) swim your guts out, pump your legs over the pedals then run like a madman towards the finish line.
Also being in an event like this means that you have to make a certain level of commitment that is a bit higher than say a fun run or charity ride. Everything is timed, photos are taken and results posted. You can’t fake your way thru a tri and it’s not meant for the faint of heart. I will post my times and comments on each of my tris in the coming weeks. 
Categories: Uncategorized