Thursday, October 30, 2008

I eat bicycles

We have had a bit of flurries the past few days, so I dug our the mountain bike yesterday to commute to work. While heading down the hill, I thought the derailleur cable snapped, as it wouldn't shift at all. I was stuck in the lowest rear cog. I have exposed cables on the top tube, so I just grabbed it and held it to shift to a steeper gear--- otherwise it would have taken all day to bike to work. I must have been quite a sight.

Last night I picked up a new cable, and I started working on the bike. I needed to know which cable end to snip, which required me to see the old cable first. What was odd was the the cable was still stuck in the shifter. Having some sense about me--- which is rare when I am impatiently trying to fix this bike, I disassembled the shift mechanism. It was pretty much exploded on the inside. I could see that everything was loose--- that the nut holding it all together had come off. After an hour of messing around with tiny parts that rivaled the innards of a mechanical watch, I had everything back in working order. I am amazed how many parts have blown up on this bike. It really reinforces that fixed gear is the way to go--- when possible.

This morning it was below freezing. I was patting myself on the back for having the foresight to fix the mountain bike. The fixed commuter would have been no match for the heavy frost on the streets. My self-congratulatory tone was quickly shattered as I was sliding uncontrollably down our street. The frost was too thick for the knobby mountain bike tires. Usually there are no problems with frost when the temperature hovers around freezing. I opted for the bike path and a slow decent down our street. I watched as a woman crashed on the road-- riding a commuter bike in street clothes. On the path an old Norwegian woman told me I should be using studded tires. I would never hear a comment like that back in the US. I hobbled in to work, riding off-road as much as possible. It was a bit slick-- and the studded tires will be on next time. It is too early in the season for this!

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