Thursday, May 31, 2007

Club Ride

Did the SWC Thursday night ride tonight, under threatening skies. 15.4 miles, with some relatively short but significant hills. As always, I left the group in the dust on the climbs and then slowly continued until the group caught up. After 10 days off the bike, this ride felt really good. The next several days look like there could be t-storms at any time, so I don't really know when the next opportunity will be. I'm hoping for a hill climb of some sort over the weekend, but time will tell.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Holiday Break

Rode a hard 17 miles last Thursday with SWC, into a relentless cold north wind. 6 miles north, 2 west, 6 south, and wandered a bit to get 17. As always, regardless of the direction of travel, the wind was always a headwind. Wore me out. The weekend weather sucked, but I got in a run on Sunday, again into the wind. Biked to work today with a nice tailwind in the morning, with promises of calmer conditions later. NOT. 15 mph NW headwind all the way home. And that may be all for awhile. Off to Ohio for a graduation over Memorial Day, and not returning until the middle of next week. Need a couple of long evenings at home to tie up loose ends and get ready to go, so no more commutes this week. Next ride will likely be another SWC affair on Thursday, May 31.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ride of Silence

The local Ride of Silence was held last evening in Niskayuna, and despite the threat of rain, about 175 cyclists turned out for this first annual event to honor area cyclists who have lost their lives over the years in encounters with cars.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

First hill of many

Cool and breezy today, so instead of fighting a headwind on a long haul, I decided it was time for a serious hill. Went up Rector Road from NY 5, about a 2-mile fairly steep climb, to Ridge Road, then continued up Ridge to the top of Washout Rd. From there it was a long 3-4 mile twisting downhill back to the river, a 19-mile ride from the usual parking place in Rotterdam.

It would have been easier if I had had my lowest gear, but the indexing or derailleur adjustment seems to be off, and it kept jumping out. Need to get that fixed toute suite. And mentally, I need to build up to longer climbs, because this one got a little discouraging after awhile, and it wasn't that long. About then, the grade eased somewhat, and I kept going and all was well.

Hope to ride into work tomorrow, the only chance for this week. Tuesday looks like rain, and Wednesday is the local Ride of Silence soon after I arrive home by car.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Another 100-mile week

Went to Adirondack Bicycle last evening, held up my broken derailleur spring, and asked, "Got any more of these?" Bill said, "Suntour, right?", and went into his parts cabinet and sold me two at $0.79 each. Great shop, great knowledge, and wonderful service. Described my front Sugino chainring spacing problem, and he said to look at the small chainring, and see if the teeth were offset from center to one side. If so, I might have it on backwards. BINGO! More great advice, and dead on once again. And he never calls me "dude" when I walk in either.

Installed the new spring last night, reversed the small chainring, and today replaced the rear tube and reseated the tire. Seems the flange around the valve stem on that tube was a little too bulky for my rims, preventing the tire bead from fully seating in that area. Different tube solved the problem.

Out for a test ride today on that old bike, 16 miles at a 15.9 pace, and everything seems good. Just need to readjust the inward travel on the front derailleur after reversing the inner ring, but otherwise, I'm ready to roll to work again on Monday.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another commute, another problem

Very nice day riding in this morning, with temps in the 50s and no wind. Made it in about the usual time with no major problems. Front fender was out of whack from the throwing around the bike got on Monday's flats odyssey, and the rear tire wasn't seated quite right, leading to a bump-bump-bump as it turned. Otherwise, a great ride.

Coming home, I felt strong, and was moving right along. Then, when I got past Stuyvesant Plaza and downshifted for the uphill light at Schoolhouse Rd, the chain went between rings again. I must have tried too hard to force it out, because then the spring snapped on the rear derailleur. No more shifting in the rear, the chain slack was almost dragging on the ground, and I was still a looooong ways from home. Got the chain on the middle cog in the rear, which is where it spends a lot of time anyway, got it back on the small chainring for this immediate uphill, and set out for a slow trip home. Fortunately, I discovered quickly that I could still shift front chainrings if I was careful about it, so now I had a 2-speed. Rode gingerly but at a good clip, being very careful what I did with the pedals, and made it to Plaine's Bikes in Schenectady in reasonable time. They didn't have replacement springs, and tried to sell me a new derailleur. Nope, not gonna do that. Adirondack Bicycles in Scotia had supplied the same spring once before ($0.25), so I was determined to give it another try. Continued home without incident.

Removed the derailleur and the spring, which was in fact broken, and will stop in Adirondack on Friday. If no spring, then maybe a replacement junk derailleur instead. Also bent the front fender stays just a bit to get them back in true. No luck with the tire yet, though - think I may need to remove and redo that one. A beautiful day and a good ride aside from this problem. Need only 16 miles for another 100-mile week.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A 2-Flat Day

Biked to work this morning, with temps hovering around the mid-30s. Long pants, polypro balaclava, windstopper gloves, and all was well. Or so I thought. When I came out of the office at 5pm, loaded up, and got on the bike to ride home, the rear tire was flat. Bummer. Quickly changed the tube with my only spare, and tried the only CO2 cartridge I had with me (and no pump), and didn't quite manage to get it all in the tire. So, with a soft tire, no spare tube, no further source of air, and 16 miles ahead of me, I headed down the street to the DownTube, which was fortunately open. Bought one tube and a 2-pack of CO2 cartridges, borrowed a pump to top off the tire, and headed home. But as I told the guy at the counter, "I didn't check the tire before I put it all back together", with predictable results. I'd gone maybe 4 miles and the tire was soft again. Pulled over, pulled the tire off, and removed a sliver of glass that was obviously responsible for both flats. Put in my one spare tube, had a better CO2 experience this time, and made it home OK. But I need to make a few changes on this commuting thing:
  • This route has enough debris that flats are inevitable, and so far I've just been lucky. I can minimize the risk of that with better tires, and that's something I need to explore, within rea$on.
  • Flats will still happen. I got off easy today, because the DownTube was open and had what I needed. If that hadn't been the case, or if I'd been somewhere else, I was up shit creek without a pump, a second spare tube, or any air of any kind. I need to carry the pump AND the CO2 cartridges so I don't get stuck somewhere. And 2 spare tubes, plus the patch kit. I checked the two tubes when I got home, and I think they're probably both patchable. I had another one in the basement, twice-patched, but it seems to hold air OK, so that's now one spare, plus the other two after I patch them. Need to buy an extra patch kit for around the house and avoid dipping into my one for the road.
  • I should have known better than to reassemble the rear wheel/tire without checking the tire. That was just haste and stupidity, because I'd learned that lesson already on other occasions. This was a good reminder.
  • Don't wear the clothes, at least the long pants, that I expect be working in. I inadvertently leaned against the chain at one point in the flat-fixing process, and they're pretty well trashed. Fortunately, this lesson was learned on the way home, and not on the way in. And though I now have a dedicated pair of long biking pants, I'm short a pair of good work pants.
On a positive note, this ride put me over 200 for the season. And I'm hoping for a better commute on Wednesday when I do this all again.