Sunday, 24 January 2016


I've been slowly getting on with the Vikings.  I've decided I'll have a crack at doing the Hosteller myself, strip it and rattle can spray paint it.

I've stripped them down

And I've started stripping the old paint off.

The guy who had it originally painted it red, but underneath, where he didn't strip it back properly is a gorgeous gold colour which I think I'll try to replicate.  Got most of the paint off the main tubes now, just need to do the seat and chain stays and the little bits I've missed.  The frame seems pretty solid.  There is some surface rust but it seems to be coming off with wet and dry.

I need an old fashioned bottom bracket fixed cup remover to get this off

I've entered the Eroica now, so I do need to get one of them finished.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

A Return & Vikings

I've not written anything here for 3 years.  Lots has happened in that time and I doubt anyone who used to read will still be about to do so.  The reason for starting this up again is to document my latest activity/obsession/insanity.  My friend Karl and I decided we'd enter  the Eroica Britannia next year.  Karl very sensible bought a near mint Billy Bilsland from the late 70's or early 80's with beautiful Campag Record running gear.  I, on the other hand, had a bit of a hankering for a Viking.  I my youth we couldn't afford bikes, so my friend Dave Thomas and I would scrounge bits off the local council tip and build up beater bikes which we would ride until destroyed, then build another.  It was a great (self) education in bike mechanic-ing. 

One day I found a Viking Severn Valley frame.  I was probably about 14.  I stripped it down to bare metal and my Dad and I (mainly my Dad) did a rather good rattle can respray and I built it up with scavenged bits.  I kept the bike until my university days in Manchester where it got stolen 7 or 8 years later.  I've always wanted another.

So I need a bike for the Eroica.  I saw a Viking frame, my size on ebay.  It wasn't clear what model it was, but it had the right looking lugs and seemed in reasonable condition, although largely repainted by a previous owner.  It still had the head badge and a seat tube sticker.  I stuck in a bid.  In the same week another bike came up on ebay, a Viking Hosteller apparently.  Again it had been repainted by the previous owner.  It was listed as 19", a bit small for me, but had some original components.  I stuck a bid in for that as well, thinking I'd swap the bits over and sell the frame on.

Well I won both and for £100 had a frame plus a complete bike.  When I got the Hosteller home, it turned out to be a 21 1/2" frame not 19", my size.  So now I had a dilemma, which do I build up?  And what had I actually bought?

The frame no of the Hosteller puts it as about 1960.  The other frame I think is an Ian Steel from 1960 as well.  But what its actually made from is still a mystery.  Viking at the time seem to have had a catalogue only as a starting point and pretty much built semi-custom to the individual or the bike shop's spec.

First the "Ian Steel".  These were a slightly lower end bike introduced after Ian Steel won the inaugural Tour of Britain.  I the late 50's they had frame no's starting with a "S".  Mine is S8967.  Not sure what tubing, early ones were Reynolds butted 531, probably just reused Severn Valley's or Tour of Britain's,  but then later ones were still 531 but not butted.  Its definitely post 1959 as it has the "1st Tour of Britain, 51, 55, 58,59" seat tube badge.

It has what I think are Nervex Pro lugs.

Because of the repainting I don't have any other decals to go on.

The Hosteller is H8228, which again would put it at about 1960, but I have no details other than the word of the guy I bought it off and the frame no.  Not sure what is original, I'm guessing the wheels and the brakes.

The gears are Simplex which might be just about but I doubt it, need to do more research.

The current plan is to get the "Ian Steel" professionally restored, just need to decide on colour, then rebuild it with a mix of the parts off the Hosteller and other bits as needed.

Still not sure what to do with the Hosteller.  Its a nice frame, in my size and with what I think are largely Oskar Egg lugs.  I might see if I can strip and respray it myself.

More pics...

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Holiday week

I’ve been off all week, fairly relaxed and not done a lot.

Monday we drove out to Condor Green and rode the Millenium and Lune Valley cycle paths out to Caton.  Very nice and relaxed easy day after the previous 83 miles out to Arnside and back at quite a pace.

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Tuesday we went to see Another Place, the Anthony Gormley statues at Crosby.  We’d gone a few weeks ago but went to Formby ratehr than Crosby.  The statues were very impressive, especially the ones in the surf and those buried in the shifting sands.

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Wednesday was a bit blowy.  We went up to Silverdale to do a short walk along the coast and inland to Arnside Tower.  We had a nice sandwich and chips in the Silverdale Hotel.

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Thursday, Friday and Saturday were largely rainy or overcast.  We didn’t do much.  Today we set out for a ride but the rain came down and we cut it short.  We’ve ridden out to the pub this evening btu the weekly mileage is low.

I have finalised the details of a tour or the Scottish Borders in a few weeks, 400 miles in six days.  Hopefully the weather will improve!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Italy Day 6–Passo del Foscagno

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Italy Day 5–Stelvio South Side

Sorry for not posting for a while, life has caught up with me.  Here’s the rest of the Italy trip

Thursday was forecast to be bright and sunny but rather cool.  It sounded the ideal weather to attempt the Stevio.  We had decided to just do the south side from Bormio to the top of the pass and back.  Again it is climbing from the outset with little or no respite for 15 miles.

It was rather warmer than anticipated and we stopped outside town to shed layers.  The first section is a steady 6-7% with a final few switchbacks to a refuge where we stopped for a coffee

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There were a more switchbacks before the valley opens out into a high alpine meadow.  The gradient eases and you get a bit of a respite.

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As you approach the Umbrail turn off and the snow line, the road kicks up again with steep pitches and hairpins, the road lined with banked snow.

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The final 3k took 1/2 an hour.  Although it was cold, the sunlight was intense, glaring off the snow.

Finally, after 2 3/4 hrs we got to the top and the Coppi monument.  I was frozen, tired and very short of breath.  At 2758m this is the highest I’ve ridden for 20 years.

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After a quick lunch of pizza, we set off down.  The Stelvio is very popular with motorbikers as well as cyclists and the road was quite busy.  The bigger bikes can’t manoeuvre as easily as a bicycle and I quickly caught and passed a group of Harley’s.  As I stopped for photo’s every now and then, they would pass and I would catch up and re-pass.  In the end I overtook them 4 times before leaving them behind on the lower slopes.  It took 35mins to get down, taking it easy and stopping for photo’s.

Not a long day at 31 miles, but hard.

Evening meal:

Egg tartlet

Cuttlefish ragout

Beef Goulash

Fruit Salad & Ice cream

Creme Brule

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Italy Day 4–Mortirolo

Wednesday dawned sunny and fairly warm.  We decided to head to the Mortirolo.

First was a 20 mile, 800m drop down the valley to town of Grosotto.  It was a very pleasant ride following the old SS38 road, most of the traffic going through the tunnels of the new road. Italy 007Italy 015Italy 018

Eventually we reached the bottom of the climb.  Of the three routes up the Mortirolo, this is the hardest.  It was the route up in this year’s Giro, although I don’t think they went all the way to the top.

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In total there are 33 hairpin bends, all conveniently numbered.  Each house or farm on the way up also has its altitude on their name plate so you know exactly where you are, there’s no kidding yourself you’re nearly there.

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Part way up is a tribute to Marco Pantani, apologies for the poor picture, it was taken on the move and my camera was a bit sweaty.

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At this point my average speed had dropped from 5-6mph to 2-3 mph.  Some of the sections were brutally steep, only achievable after the respite of a flattish bend.

Eventually, after 1hr 45mins of climbing, I got to the top, in one go, no stopping.  I was knackered.Italy 028

Ian was next up a few minutes later.  He and the others had stopped to regroup a couple of times, to pick up the slower riders.

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followed by Graham and Jemima

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Alison, who got a mexican wave from some Dutch riders,

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and Karl and Chris.

We were all quite proud of ourselves.

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We dropped down the other side slightly to a Cafe where Jemima “inhaled” a plate of spaghetti, there is no other word to describe how quickly she cleared her plate.  We were still cold and tired and the weather looked like it was closing on the mountains to the north, so rather than do the Gavia as well, we set of back over the top and down to Grosio.

This was a fast switchback descent, lots of gravel in the corners, but great fun.  I raced some Dutch guys down, but after one too many hairy corners let the faster one go.  The views on the way down were stunning.

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After a long drag back up from the valley to Bormio, we arrived back at the hotel weary but satisfied.

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54 miles