Monday, March 22, 2010

A failure is me?

OK, once again the exercise plan hasn't been working out exactly as planned. Haven't been biking much either....but I got married! That's something. Rather happy about that part.

We have been very busy lately moving into a new apartment--my tiny one bedroom was way too small for two people, two cats, and four bikes (three of which are mine).

I won't be using the separated bike path to get to work any more--the new apartment is far away from it. I have, however, scouted out a new bike route that seems like it will be pretty good. It's also been my preferred driving route to get to work every day since I like driving back roads and hate driving on the interstate.

In order to test the bike route before actually having to use it to get to work, I biked to work on Sunday. The going was pretty slow on the way there, and I was pretty worn out when I arrived, but I made it. The mileage is about the same as what I'm used to, but there are a lot more hills. That's OK, it will help me drop weight. I rested a bit and started to ride back when I noticed a noise from the rear wheel. A noise much like a flat tire is known to make.


Apparently my tire had a slow leak in it and had been losing air throughout the ride--no wonder it was harder than expected! I opened my trunk bag to grab my spare tube....and found a small road tube (700x23) with a presta valve and a large road tube (700x28-35) with a schrader valve. My tires are 700x32 and my rims are drilled for presta--the schrader tube is one I carried for when I ride with my wife. I decided to just stretch the small tube, since that's OK in a pinch.

Turns out a small rock had punched through the center of the rear tire--it's tiue to replace them, they have around 6,000 miles on them. I'll have to shop around and see what the local shops have in the way of good and affordable commuting tires.

Anyway, back to the story: I then discovered that I had no tire levers with me. I am not very god at mounting tires, so I always end up using levers, at least to get them off the rim. I dug around in my trunk bag and came up with a Brooke saddle tension wrench. Slipped the non-wrench end under the bead and levered it back, but I couldn't slide it around the edge of the rim like a regular lever. Too much friction and the bead was too tight. I remembered something I saw in Mountain Bike Action about using a quick release as a tire lever in an emergency, so I removed the rear skewer, slipped the QR lever under the bead, and had two functional tire levers. Then I was able to remove the tire without much issue and change the tube after removing the rock). The tire luckily remounted without the need for improvised levers.

The ride back was going much more easily and smoothly than the ride to work, proobably because bikes are meant to have air in both tires. Unfortunately when I got to a downhill and shifted from the middle ring to the big ring, I instead hear a loud pop and the front derailleur dumped me into the granny ring. Turns out my cables also had about 6,000 miles worth of riding on them over about three years, and one of them decided to break. I ended up riding much more slowly for the next four miles, since I couldn't go much faster than 9mph without being in a gear high enough to severely rub the derailleur cage and I didn't want that to be damaged.

I'm prety happy with the route though, minus the disasters. Unfortunately it will be another week before I get to use it to ride to work, because I took the bike to a shop to be fixed during the busiest time of the year. I should have kept it to change the cables myself, but here's a secret: I hate cables. I will do any maintenance on a bike except tuning cantilever brakes, trimming derailleurs, and putting n bar tape.I'll put on a crankset, change a bottom bracket, replace a cassette, or build a freakin' wheel, but those cables are my sworn enemies.

So next week I will have my beloved Long Haul Trucker back, with new cables and new rubber, and I will begin commuting in earnest. I have to step up the riding bigtime since today I registered for the Fat Cyclist's "100 Miles of Nowhere". I am thinking about doing the ride at work, circling around the building. As far as I can tell, 435 laps should put me just over the hundred miles. That's a lot of laps. I might take a ay off work and do it on a Friday so everyone can watch and cheer me on/make fun of me. Heck, maybe I'll set up something so they can donate. Sounds like a good plan to me.