On this Friday evening, with the gentle cool breeze blowing across my summer garden, I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorite photos of my bicycle restorations from the 1920’s through the 1950’s:
I wasn’t feeling up to snuff today, but I could hardly not go on a ride – the weather was finally better, feeling positively balmy at 55 degrees. There was only a light mist, and even though I donned knickers for the ride, I actually had to remove my gloves once I was underway because I got too hot! I decided to take the funky winter bike as its slower speeds would match my sluggish cadence. I started out on my usual perfunctory route out to Sellwood, through Oaks Bottom and back into town – about a 16 mile round trip from my house. As I rode, I started to feel better and my spirits lifted.
On Springwater Trail at the Oaks Park junction I was treated to a crowd awaiting passage on a bedecked Christmas train – the Holiday Express. I had to walk the bike through the crowds, then re-mount to proceed back toward town. As I approached the gully that hides the hiking trail turn-off I decided to take a side trip. At first I was planning on parking the bike and walking toward the wetlands to view the wintering birds. But as I was riding I spotted an area I hadn’t explored before – Tadpole Pond.
Little did I know that this tiny pond was restored to help bring back the Pacific Chorus Frog. As I dismounted and parked the bike I quieted myself to see if I could hear anything resembling frogs calling. Well, it didn’t take long before the frogs started in, with occasional bird calls to accompany them. I made an audio clip which you can listen to here:
It was an absolute treat to feel so close to nature after such a short ride, and to sense the vibrancy of these little frogs calling to each other. There are apparently also red-legged frogs and long-toed salamanders that share habitat with the Pacific Chorus frog. I didn’t spot any, though. Maybe next time – I plan to return again.
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”.
Thanks 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.
You can see the wetlands of Oaks Bottom in the photo above, along with the carnival rides beyond at Oaks Park.
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.The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.