Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Maintenance time

After a couple of weeks of cold weather, I've decided to call it a season, and catch up on some much needed cleaning and maintenance. Tonight, I installed two new front chainrings that just arrived. I always knew that just changing my 52-42-30 to a 52-42-24 wasn't going to be good enough. So I bought a 48 and 38, for a new combination of 48-38-24. That should give me better shifting to/from the low ring, and a lower range of gears overall, more suited to touring and hills. That much was easy.

Now comes the cleaning. I did the chain first, before removing the crank and swapping the rings, so that's done. I need to clean the bottom bracket area before I reinstall the crank, so will probably go over the whole frame at that point. Then it's the wheels, so they'll be clean when I disassemble and lube the hubs. I probably have close to 2500 miles on the bike now, and this is the first real interior maintenance I'll be doing.

Once it's all back together, I'll need to adjust the derailleurs and indexing given the new gearing, and be sure everything works. And it wouldn't hurt to adjust the brakes either. Finally, I need to retape the handlebars once again. The double-sided carpet tape spiralled underneath seems to be the trick to keeping it from sliding around and unraveling, so I'll give that a try again.

Then there's the old bike. It's time to try again to get the cranks off so I can give the bottom bracket an overhaul, the first in probably 15 years or more. If I'm going to rely on it for occasional commuting, this needs to be done, along with those hubs as well.

Plenty to do in this relatively snowless winter, along with regular riding on the trainer.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Looking back and looking forward

With over 1100 miles in 2006, it was a pretty good year in the saddle. But I learned some things, and want to have 2007 turn out a little differently. In no particular order:

1. I need to do more 50-plus-mile rides. I did a larger number of shorter rides in 2006, but never really got in enough rides with extended time on the road. That hurt me when I tried to take on a tour that I just wasn't ready for. I'm setting an arbitrary goal of 1500 miles for 2007, a substantial jump over the past several years (1000, 1350, 1000, 1136).

2. The same can be said for hills. Many of my rides were relatively flat, like the multiple excursions along the river. While that's better than not riding at all, the lack of hill work also hurt me on that aborted tour.

3. About that tour - there's been a thread recently on the Phreds Touring List related to the most common mistakes made by beginning bicycle tourists. Almost universally, contributors mentioned "unrealistic mileage expectations", "carrying too much weight", and "insufficient pre-trip training". So there you have it. Although the diuretic blood-pressure medication may have been a contributing factor to my hitting the wall on that extremely hot July day, it wasn't everything. I'm not sure excessive weight was really a problem, but carrying it was certainly a new experience. #1 and #2 above were definitely involved. And expecting to cover 55 miles, fully loaded for the first time in decades, via that extremely hilly route, even under normal summer conditions, may have been a little over the top. As it was, I covered almost 40 tough miles, and under extreme weather conditions at that. That's not bad at all for a first attempt. Plus, I learned a lot about planning, packing lists, and carrying the load. But next time, I'm going to focus more on pre-training, and also scale back my expected mileage, at least until I settle into a routine where longer distances are comfortable.

4. I need to replace my front chain rings. While substituting a 24-tooth ring for the 30-tooth I originally had (52/42/30 to 52/42/24) gave me the low gears I needed, in order to do this right I really need a matched set that will shift more consistently and not derail as frequently as this combo has a knack of doing. Maybe something like a 44/34/24, or something in that general range. I don't need those high-range gears very often, and more lower gears would make the hills that much more palatable.

5. Is it time to plan for Lake Champlain? If I scale back my earlier proposed daily mileages, and train until late summer, am I ready to take that on? Or should I once again try something shorter that requires less of a commitment? If so, where? Thompson's Lake? Moreau? Other? The distance and elevation to Glimmerglass may just be too ambitious as a first attempt. I'm going to take another look at the Champlain route in the near future, and see if I can break it up into shorter segments. Better to plan and not go, than to be ready later without having planned at all.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The wacky winter continues...

Today was in the upper 60s and mostly sunny, and no snow anywhere in sight. Parked at Indian Meadows Park and biked 4.4 to Holly's house from there. We rode about 9 miles together, and then I took a longer way back to the car for a total of 21 miles. IN JANUARY!!! Big changes coming tomorrow, dropping back into the upper 40s. Still not bad, and I may get out again. Need to get in some hill work. New Year's Resolutions to come in a future post...

Monday, January 01, 2007

1136.2 Miles

That's where I finally ended 2006, after a couple of rides in a snowless December.