Let’s Make a Deal

One of the limiting factors in my bike riding during the pandemic has been the availability of restrooms. As a male I can get by for number 1 but number 2 is fraught with peril. Today I discovered that Maryland gas stations with convenience stores have opened their restrooms. Ahhh.

Today I drove nearly three hours to Princess Anne, Maryland on the Eastern Shore. It’s a lovely little town with many old brick buildings and many more rather run down frame houses. At one end of town is an old home with a boxwood garden in front. The boxwoods haven’t been trimmed in a while but it’s still a lovely sight. I am biased because the perimeter of my backyard when I was a kid was a boxwood hedge. We had seven kids and a dog. We gave those boxwoods a beating and they held their own.

The ride I did was from Princess Anne to Deal Island on the Chesapeake Bay. It was a straight shot along highway 363. The road has rumble strips about three feet from the edge of the pavement for the first seven miles. I managed to avoid hitting them but they definitely detracted from the riding experience.

After some farms and woods, I rode through salt marsh with plenty of bird life. Red wing black birds and ospreys protested loudly as I passed them. Egrets and herons flew silently way. Turtles seem to be losing the battle with big metal things. I saw one living turtle on the road and three who had been gruesomely crushed by passing cars.

Once through the Deal Island Wildlife Management Area, the road winds through the towns of Dames Quarter and Chance before crossing over to the island and it’s historic district. A mile later the road ends at Wenona. In Winona there are stacks of crab pots and boats to charter for fishing trips on the bay. These towns look like working and middle class towns; there is little sign of the kind of moneyed living you see farther north on the Delmarva Penninsula.

Wenona was nearly deserted and rather underwhelming. I rode half way back to Princess Anne before turning off the highway to take some backroads through farmland. The land here is so flat and the weather so agreeable that the 39-miles I rode was effortless.

Here are some pix.

The harbor at Wenona
Trolling and chumming. I think I’ll pass.
The water table is so high that the graves are not buried.
The highway through the salt marsh.
More salt marsh
Poultry is big on the Eastern Shore.
Back roads through some woods
Spacious skies and amber waves of grain.

11 thoughts on “Let’s Make a Deal

  1. Hey, I got myself a 1993 specialized sequoia around a month ago now and I love it! Since I recently got in a bike accident on it (the bike survived perfectly with only 2 bent spokes and came out of the accident still sparkling clean, since I cleaned it the day before. My face didn’t fare so well) I’ve decided now would be a good time to make some upgrades.

    Since I’m pretty new to fixing my own bikes, and the specialized sequoia in general, I was wondering if you could maybe answer some of my questions about it and give me advice on what I should to do upgrade it. Is there an email address or Facebook contact where I can easily reach you? I don’t check WordPress too often. 😀


      1. Awesome!
        So I guess a first few start questions
        Have you ever considered installing a carbon fork? I heard it reduces the vibrations quite a bit but I do have to admit the original one looks nicer.
        As well the idea of a threadless fork setup also peaks my interest since my particular setup is the original quill stem but there’s a nut below the stem that always comes loose. Vintage parts are hard to come by so would it be better to do an upgrade? I think I saw you also upgrade your handlebars, what was wrong with the original ones.

        As well, what tires do you use on your bike (since I so times take mine on gravel trails but the hybrid tires are not very suitable I think) and what major upgrades have you made to the bike? Or what other changes did you feel improve the bike as a whole?

        I know the feeling of owning a vintage bike, and its amazing. However steel is very heavy compared to lighter materials used today and the components sometimes make certain terrains a bit more challenging. But the beauty of the frame and the feeling of riding a bike older than me is worth it.

      2. Perfectly happy with my steel fork. I rear ended a car once and a mechanic bent my fork back into position. Once overheard a guy returning his third carbon frame. All three had carbon failures. I prefer my frames (and forks) to be reliable.

        My headset had the same problem. It drove me nuts. Nobody could fix it. I was about to get ride of the bike when I was referred to an eccentric mechanic in DC. He knew immediately what I needed. There are two nuts and a washer holding things together. Replaced the washer with a thinner one. Worked for me.

        The original handlebars were quite narrow. I replaced them with wider ones. Opens up your chest for breathing. Better leverage for out of the saddle climbs. Much more comfortable.

        I changed the stem years ago because of back problems. Mine rises a bit more than the original. (This exacerbated the headset problem as will adding weight such as a heavily loaded bag to your handlebars.)

        I ride Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires on The Mule. I hate changing tires especially on tours. They are very heavy but nearly flat proof. I used to use Schwalbe Marathons (lighter, but less puncture resistant) or Panaracer Pasellas with TourGuard (a kevlar belt). The latter are quite light and give a nice ride but the sidewalls fail. I carry a folding Pasella on tours for insurance.

        Other changes:
        Mini V-brakes in stead of the old cantilevers. The original cantilevers were useless in the rain. I had many close calls not to mention the car incident above. Mini Vs work much better but are finicky. I now know how to fix them so not an issue.
        Brooks leather saddle. Either a B17 or Flyer. Not perfect but far more comfortable than anything else I’ve used.
        I tossed the intergrated fenders and headlight after damaging the fenders. Headlight was pretty useless anyway (3 watts!). Now use black Planet Bike fenders. Light and Motion Urban 500 light on my helmet. Red blinkies attached to the back of my rear rack.
        I added a Tubus Tara lowrider rack on the front. Properly loaded (heavy stuff low and in front. Panniers mounted as far forward of the axles as possible) this bike rides better fully loaded! It feels like it’s on a rail. Descending big mountains was a blast. No shimmy whatsoever.
        I replaced all the wear items with same or better quality. The best improvement may be the smaller chainrings. Nobody needs or uses 100+ gear inches on a touring bike. And a low granny near or below 20 gear inches will save your knees.
        I have no idea what brand my rear rack is. It came with the bike.
        It’s been a very good bike for $600. 57,000 miles and still going strong.

      3. mine was 300! Amazing what workhorses you can find for so little money!

        I’m looking into some SRAM red caliper brakes for around 60 bucks to replace the cantilevers. I think mine are pretty worn, the pads don’t touch in sync anymore. I think SRAM red’s is a good brand, but 60 is pretty expensive in my books (I’m a broke high school student going into first year uni so I think my type are a bit strapped on cash) Are V Brakes better than calipers?

        I do like the steel fork, but vibrations when going on gravel trails are extremely annoying, maybe wider carbon handlebars? The fork’s curve really does give an element of elegance to the bike so aesthetic wise it makes sense to keep it.

        I believe we have the same rack, I do find it’s a bit small to fit a lot of big bags. I saw an article about your bike on Bikes to Like, and they look really similar.

        A friend of mine who works on mountain bikes told me the sequoia had a place to install a kickstand. Do you know if that’s true? From your blog it seems you tour a lot so you likely don’t need a kickstand (or maybe the weight of all the bags don’t allow it to stand up :D) but I was wondering if you ever put any thought into it. I’m going to primarily use it for commuting and double it as an exercise bike. The steel frame makes for a great workout!

        I’m not sure if you’ve had to deal with any paint chipping or having to deal with rust on the bike. HAve you had to repaint areas and what would be the best way to deal with it?


      4. The v-brakes were a good option because I needed to clear the fenders. They stop pretty well.

        I suspect there’s some rust and the paint is worn in several areas but I don’t worry too much about it.

        I don’t know what material my handlebars are but the increase in width was definite beneficial.

        It blows my mind how long this bike has lasted. I almost sold it for want if a 10 cent washer!

      5. Nice! Caliper brakes might work better for me, slightly smaller I think?
        I think carbon handlebars in the future will work for me.

        What stem did you end up using? Still the classic quill stem?

        Do you have the exact measurements for the washer you replaced and could you maybe explain how to find one? Hopefully, I can find it at my local hardware store!


      6. Yes, it’s a quill stem. I did the replacement about 20 years ago so threadless headsets were novel.

        I don’t know the measurement of the washer. The mechanic reminded me of Gyro Gearloose. He had all kinds of stuff stashed away but he knew exactly where the replacement washer was.

      7. Hey, so I made an elementary mistake, I forgot to measure the reach of the brakes! Now I’m stuck with calipers attached by 2 stainless steel plates. Not the most glorious setup but it gets the job done, for now. Obviously, it’s no long terms solution. Any well-priced cantilevers or v brakes that you’d recommend?

        I’ve been eyeing Suntour SE Cantilever brakes but they’re pricey, however, they’re a novelty and they don’t make them anymore.

        Still trying to find a washer that will fit, maybe in the plumbing section…

      8. No idea about brakes. I just went with whatever the bike shop recommended. Full size v-brakes would work with my levers so I got mini v- brakes

        Good luck with the washer. Ask around at bike shops. It took me forever to find one. If you’re in US call Bicycle Space in DC. Ask for Paul the mechanic. That’s who I got move from.

  2. I hate to dampen your boxwood memories from the back yard. The hedge,was not boxwood but privet. Boxwood is a much nicer plant but far less hardy in the cold. An interesting story about the hedge on the Sporborg side is that Dad planted the entire side and Mr. Sporborg told him he planted it on his land. Dad dug it all up and moved it. A couple years later when Dad was buying the lot in the back from the church, a survey was done and Mr. Spielberg was wrong. But Dad left it as it was.

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