The Shimano story

I’ve been harping for months on the limited access to new bicycles and the components that keep them gliding down roads and on your favorite trails. However, a very rare item of a different sort — but still pertaining to cycling — recently showed up on my doorstep.

All the way from Japan, in three days, I received my “Shimano 100 Works” photo book, a 293-page publication marking the Japanese manufacturer’s 100th anniversary.

"Shimano 100 Works" ... my lottery prize.

You might remember, I applied for the worldwide lottery sale back in March, then learned in June that I’d won and had earned the chance to purchase the coffee-table tome. It was only available through Shimano’s centennial website and, what I think is rather special about the whole process, just 2,000 books were printed.

Its pages contain remarkable photographs, on heavy-gauge paper, telling the story of Shimano’s 100 years of progress through the visual description of 100 products. Featured mostly are its renowned and groundbreaking bike parts, along with a few examples touting its fishing equipment expertise. But to be totally honest, I didn't pay much attention to those items.

Images within the book that perked my interests included:

— Single freewheel from 1922

— Rear derailleur from 1957

— 3-speed hub from 1957

— Shimano index system from 1984

A more bizarre entry had to do with a Stick Shift component from 1968, which attached to a bicycle’s top tube. The package, in the photo, said, “Convert your derailleur’s lever to a sporty ‘Stick Shift.’ Easy to install.”

I noticed on a cycling website, one reviewer of “Shimano 100 Works” — from Australia — wasn’t pleased with the results. He felt with all the hype commemorating the anniversary, the secrecy over how Shimano would present it, and the lottery, that the book was a big letdown. The story’s headline read, “I paid $120 for Shimano’s 100th anniversary book and I wish I hadn’t.”

Yes, if one is looking for words to tell the story, this book would disappoint. Maybe it’s because I’m a slow reader, but I didn’t mind paying 10,000 Japanese yen for a book filled with photos. I’ve enjoyed viewing its pages and believe it is a nice addition to my cycling library.

Ready for Rangeley

I guess I'm all set for tomorrow's Northwoods Gravel Grind. The one thing the organizers keep emphasizing is making sure participants download their respective courses — 35, 50, or 68 miles — on a bike computer or phone. Otherwise, they warn, you might get lost.

There is a well-known book titled "Lost on a Mountain in Maine," by Donn Fendler. It recounts his ordeal of being lost for nine days in the Mount Katahdin area at the age of 12. I just hope I don't end up writing my own version of such a tale.

My Specialized cyclocross bike was in need of new chain for the Rangeley race. No such thing — for an 11-speed two-wheeled machine — existed at either one of our two bike shops. What was I to do? I was desperate. Despite being slightly embarrassed, I decided to call the "enemy" and was able to score such a rare part. So, a big shoutout to Gorham Bike & Ski in Waterville for coming to my aid.

My 50-mile participation category is labeled Co-Ed Fondo Ride. I'll let you know if I had fun on the Fondo!

'Thought for the day'

"It was a fact I've always wanted a bike. Speed gave me a thrill." — Alan Sillitoe, English writer

From "Words To Ride By ... Thoughts on Bicycling" by Michael Carabetta (Chronicle Books, 2017)

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