Putting My Favorite Bike Through Hell.
I went through the master naturalist program in the winter, and had to bike from home to the light rail station, transfer to a bus at the Mall of America, then take that bus as far as it would go. From there I had about a 20 – 30 minute ride up a big hill (alongside a ski jump) and into the park where the classes were held. It was pretty fun, and I would grab a beer at Appleby’s afterward and wait to time out the bus. But come spring I was in cleaning hell. I used my Trek, which is my favorite bike and which I now reserve for road touring. I spent lots of time in April at the community bike shop with a toothbrush and degreaser. Never again.

I asked one of the volunteers how I should avoid this problem next year, and she knew I already had two bikes — my Trek, and a single-speed road bike. Her answer: “If you’re already in the habit of having multiple bikes, just get a winter bike.”

The Junker.
So I remembered the Roadmaster. It was laying in the weeds at my house for over year. A former housemate got it for free and left it there. I made sure it was not going to missed and took it in. I rode it for a few years as is. Just slapped on the studded tires, took off the derailleurs and gave it a basket. It was ugly af but it worked and it saved my other bikes from the torture. I’m not that much of a commuter but I like the option. For a while I had a sound gig a few miles away and I could take it on the bus to get there, but I had to ride home at two in the morning.

The Rehab.
This ended up being one of the bigger projects during my “rehab season.” I had to move out of my neighborhood temporarily, and I had a car as a result. So it got worked on. Big time.

I discovered Evapo-Rust and treated everything. I sanded the frame. Bought all new brakes, which I was amazed you could actually find. Converted the one-piece crank to a more modern setup with a bottom bracket adapter. And then the best part: I hand-laced a rear-wheel for it, using a three-speed hub I salvaged off an old Schwinn. I was rehabbing my Trek at the same time, so the winter bike took on one of the Trek’s old rims, as well as its fenders.

All the pics of the rebuild are here, including the wheel build and the spraypainting: https://geraldprokop.com/photos/index.php?/category/8.

I just used Rust-O-Leum spray paint, but I got this nice hammered-finish gray. There’s nothing wrong with spray painting your frame, but you need to tape everything off really well, especially the insides of the tubes and anything that is threaded. You shouldn’t do it with the bike still put together.

It’s a great bike to ride during the winter now. The best part is not the studded tires as most people assume — it’s the low gearing. I’ll do a post eventually with a more complete profile on the specs and gear ratios and such, but it is ridiculously low. Take your lowest gear on a normal two-ring racing bike, and that’s your high gear. Then the low gear is about your normal mountain bike low. Because it’s an internal hub, if you hit a slush patch, you can stop, switch gears, and get started again. And there’s no derailleur to collect muck.

Eventually I got a nice seat post for it, a clamp-on rack and a couple of cheap grocery panniers. But I had to take off the pannier clips and replace them with the nice Jandd ones. That means I could set the height of the panniers flush with the rack, making it easier to take home a pizza.

(This project was posted on Facebook in October 2018 and shared here for posterity)