New touring bike

My 'new' Waterford 1200 'touring bike'

I've had my Waterford 1200 frame since 1997 when I bought the new frame and fork from Gary Hobbes. It is a semi-custom frame with a 54cm seat tube and a 57cm top tube made with double butted Reynolds 753 tubing, silver soldered lugs and Henry James investment cast lugs. A thing of great beauty and the best fitting frame I have ever, or will ever, own. This weekend I took it on its first inter-state tour.

The Waterford 1200 frame was not designed for touring. It was designed for going fast on long rides. The wheelbase is short, with barely half an inch of clearance between the tire and the seat tube when running 700x23 tires which are the biggest tires that will fit in the frame. It has no brazeons for mounting fenders or racks.

The rack and a fender segment with which I converted a Waterford 1200 into a 'touring' bike ;-}

I've ridden this bike on many overnight trips from Asheville to points 50 or 60 miles away and back, carrying my stuff in a large fanny pack, sometimes with things strapped to the back of the pack. I rode it once outside of North Carolina, doing a flatland century ride in South Carolina. I also rode it on many long day rides - 70 to 100+ miles - in the NC mountains.

A year ago, when I was stuck in atrial fibrillation for a couple of months, I put touring gearing on it so I could still ride in the mountains. In the spring I added a rear rack which mounts to the rear brake bolt and the rear quick release skewer so I could carry a pannier. I also added beer can cooler padding to the handlebars.

Last Friday night I added a partial fender mounted to the rack. On Saturday I rode it 75 miles to my younger daughters house in Greer South Carolina. On Sunday I rode back by a slightly different, 78 mile, route.

The offset mount and big cogs which make it possible to do loaded touring on a short wheelbase bike

On Saturday, I headed south through Asheville along the rivers and then through Biltmore Forest to the the Blue ridge Parkway. I rode the Parkway south - really west - across the French Broad River and then rode south on US 191 to Hendersonville, NC. I had a good tail wind, so I got to Hendersonville in about two and a half hours. I rode US Bus 25 through Hendersonville to East Flat Rock where I had a great lunch at Otis Family Restaurant. A meat and three sides for $5.25 (!) and excellent food.

Just after East Flat Rock, I got on US 25 - a divided four lane highway at that point - and rode down to South Carolina.

The first half a dozen miles on US 25 are flat to gently uphill on a narrow shoulder outside a nasty rumble strip, but, starting at the SC border, there is a 1000 foot vertical descent on a 6% grade. A nice long 35 mph ride on a wide shoulder with no rumble strip.

At the bottom of the hill, just after US 25 crosses SC 11, the shoulder goes away and the road surface becomes rough. I didn't really notice this roughness when I rode this section on 700x37 tires, but on 700x23s it was quite noticeable. I was very thankful for extra padding on the handlebars ;-}. I rode US 25 for another five miles or so before turning east on US 290 which goes near Greer, SC. Traffic was light - it usually is - and South Carolina drivers almost alway change lanes when they pass me. Getting to 290 is a bit of a grind because this section of 25 is a mostly gently uphill. 290 is good, fast, bicycling with only a few hills and a small shoulder part of the way. This route is OK riding on weekend and riding it on the Waterford was faster and more fun than riding it on either of my conventional touring bikes.

Kudzu covered land on Old 25

On my way home, my route was the same except for the big hill on US 25. Just north of SC 11, Old US 25 goes off to the east from US 25. Old US 25 is a very popular bicycling route with very little traffic other than motorcycles and bicycles. I rode it up past the North Carolina border - roughly fourteen miles - and then got back on US 25.

On Old 25 about three miles from the south end. This is where the serious climbing starts.
Callahan Mnt Road is a neat, 500 foot vertical, climb over a ridge with a steep descent back to near SC 11

About eight miles up a road goes off to to Saluda NC.
I haven't been on that road, but it should be a really nice ride over to Saluda and back
to East Flat Rock or down the Saluda Grade on US 176. 176 is very nice riding.

Thanks to the wind and the 1250 foot loss of altitude, the ride down was much faster - five hours of pedalling vs six and a half hours - and much easier, than the ride back. On the ride back, I was exhausted after about sixty miles and facing another twenty miles of riding in hilly country and into the wind. I've been touring without caffeine since last fall, but yesterday I stopped for a cup of coffee and a candy bar. That made a huge difference in my ability to make it home!

The Waterford 1200 handled fine with a single rear pannier weighing about ten pounds. I really forgot that the pannier was back there for all of the ride except the climb up Old 25. I've thought about doing a long tour on this bike and, except for the lack of a suspension stem, I think I would enjoy doing a long credit card tour on it. The extra padding helps a lot, but I'm not sure my wrists could take the abuse from rough roads.