A Town Ride on a Townie

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With the temperatures dropping into the 70’s and overcast skies, today seemed like the perfect day for a town loop – out to Oak’s Park via 26th to Bybee, and then back into town via the Springwater Trail.  From my house, that’s about a 16 mile trip – perfect for the Panasonic MC 7500 that I had built into a low-maintenance errand/winter/do-it-all bike – a “townie”.

Panasonic MC 7500Thanks to the fatter tires on this bike, I can take the gravel shortcuts I know, and spend some time away from traffic.  On the way to Oaks Park there’s a great viewpoint of Oaks Bottom – a Portland wildlife refuge, minutes away from downtown.

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You can see the wetlands of Oaks Bottom in the photo above, along with the carnival rides beyond at Oaks Park.

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If you’re not in the mood for the festivities at Oaks Park, you can head to the Willamette River side of the park, where it’s a little quieter.006The river was nice today – not overly crowded with boats.  It was a gentle summer day, and it felt good to be outside on a ride.

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Heading back toward town on Springwater Trail, I was enthralled by this beautiful ring of lavender wildflowers outlining the wetlands.  I didn’t see a lot of birds – just a few Great Blue Herons.

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And I did see this skinny little fawn, along with her older brother or uncle (who was too shy to be photographed).  I hope she gets enough to eat today.

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There are many hiking trails along the path, both on the river side and on the wetlands side.  Bald eagles and other rare birds draw lots of birders.  The last time I hiked here I saw two Lincoln’s Sparrows scrapping around in the brush, as well as several bald eagles and all kinds of water fowl.

1987 Panasonic MC 7500

I didn’t know much about Panasonic Bicycles until I bought this frame and fork a few years back.  I was impressed with its apparent quality and began doing some research.  This model is the Mountain Cat 7500, made in 1987.  It has Tange Prestige double butted tubing, and very nice lugs.  The rear stays appear to be fully chromed underneath the paint.  This particular model was the top of the line mountain bike back in its day.

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The frame was cosmetically challenged, with a lot of chain suck damage to the paint on the chain stay, and at some point it lost its original fork.  I decided to build it up using inexpensive but reliable components, with a simple 1 x 6 drive train in friction mode.

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I used some parts-bin and vintage components, such as this old Peugeot crankset. The kitty-approved bear claw pedals, are new however.  The other new components are a Tange headset, funky $7 shifter, and townie-style handlebars.  I also sprung for new full-coverage fenders, and a new rear rack and kickstand.  The wheels are a mismatch with the front being an Araya rim on a Joytech hub, and the rear being a Weinmann rim on a no-name hub.

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The original bike had a lot of nice features, as shown in this 1987 catalog – not to mention the 80’s color scheme.  Currently, vintage Panasonic bikes are sought after (at least some models), and the company is still making beautiful handmade lugged steel frames from their Osaka factory in Japan.  Yellow Jersey has some of these frames available through their website.

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