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Archive for December, 2008

Bottom bracket update

I took apart the bottom bracket on the hybrid since it felt grindy.

So it turns out that, on my Specialized Crossroads, the bottom bracket is sealed. That part feels all right by itself (and by “all right” I mean it works but there’s some friction), but its outside is covered in gunk that I can’t get off without scraping it, and since it’s not necessary I didn’t bother. When I put it back together I found that the grinding feeling gets worse the higher gear you use, and I’m not sure what that means. It might mean that the cassette needs to be replaced; I already know that, because when I got the bike I didn’t realize that shifting with pressure on the pedals was bad for it and some of the teeth are worn down a bit because of that. It might just mean that the bottom bracket needs to be replaced.

So the grinding gets worse with higher gear, but I think I noticed that before. What’s new, now, is how bad it is. I swear it’s worse now, but I also swear I put it back together correctly, so I don’t think that it’s out of line any more than it was. I’ll have to ask more bike co-op people about grindy gears and see what they suggest.

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Holiday post

Man, it’s good to see family. In addition to seeing the usual family members, I got to see my cousin and aunt who live in Oregon; they’re in town for the holiday. I haven’t seen them in ages and can’t wait to visit them on our honeymoon in June — apparently that’s also the best time to visit Portland. We’ll have to train a fair bit to keep up on the hills out there.

I suppose I should explain in case anybody’s reading who doesn’t know this already: for our honeymoon, C and I are driving Route 66 all the way to Los Angeles and then going north along the west coast to visit family (and wine country, redwoods, Mt St Helens…). We’re taking our bikes since so much of the west coast is so bike-friendly and because, whenever I visit a city without a bike, all I can think about is what it’d be like to ride a bike around in it.

My dad was kind enough to offer three frames, two pretty little Raleighs and a repainted frame that I’d guess was a Schwinn if it weren’t so light. And by that, I mean in relative terms, because Dad’s also got a gorgeous old orange Falcon frame that’s so light you feel like you could play catch with it; that’s going to be his fixie and I’m building the wheels for it (at least the rear one, because the original rear wheel is bent beyond repair) in the co-op’s upcoming wheelbuilding class. That reminds me — I need to look at the websites for a few local (to Naperville, since I’m still there) bike shops to see if I should stop in and check their prices on parts.

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This is a followup to ARGH.

I was informed by several people on the local bike co-op mailing list that the fix for my slipping freehub was to take the thing apart, soak it in degreaser/WD-40, dunk it in tri-flow, and put it back together. Granted, I only sprayed it with WD-40 (a lot of it, though) and dripped tri-flow onto it where it would go into the moving parts (again, a lot of it), but this morning after it had been sitting outside in the cold while I ate breakfast, it seemed to work fine. Didn’t slip once on my way to work. So if you’re curious, that’s how to fix it. Thanks to everyone who offered their expertise!

The problem was either that there was some moisture inside the freehub (entirely possible, since the bike spent a few years outside before I started bringing it inside so that drunk frat boys can’t dent the wheels again) or that the lube that was in the freehub was too thick for winter and the cold was making it even thicker, so that it got in the way of the pawls.

Another interesting tidbit: to get the freehub off the wheel after you’ve taken the cassette off, use a big honking hex key, probably a 12 mm. It goes into the middle of the freehub where the axle goes, turn it the normal way (I think). There’s a little hollow cylindrical part (the fixing bolt) with threading on one end that screws into the hub of the wheel (not the freehub).

On a somewhat related note, the bottom bracket on the hybrid feels and sounds grindy. I think repacking it should take care of the problem, but that’s going to have to wait till the next time I can get to the co-op — probably not till January 3rd.

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Quick detour into politics

I’m not going to go into a rant or anything, but this is an interesting explanation of the Shoe Thrower from a religious studies professor.  Briefly, it’s not just a shoe, it’s a symbol — shoes are considered unclean in the Muslim world; they’re removed before prayer as part of the ritual of cleansing oneself, and they are not allowed in sacred places.

(Then again, this comment on Reddit where I found the link to the article explains that many Muslims consider shoes to be only materially dirty, not spiritually, and do not remove them for prayer if they’re not in a mosque.)

Watching the video again with that in mind makes the entire incident much more significant.

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Pedals are slipping on the hybrid and it’s driving me BATSHIT CRAZY. It happens only when the bike gets cold, only when I’ve coasted for a bit, and only SOMETIMES.

[inarticulate sputtering rage] I can’t trust the damn bike. I haven’t sat right on it since the original seat was stolen; right now I have a fairly comfortable seat but it’s slippery so I keep sliding forward anyway (I asked for a frictiony seat cover for Christmas, and if I don’t get it I’ll go buy one), and now that the pedals are untrustworthy I have nowhere to reliably put my weight. As a result, most of it ends up on my hands.

I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t recreate the problem in the shop and I’m never looking down when it happens, so I can’t tell exactly what’s happening — is the chain slipping on the gears or is the freehub slipping on the wheel? If I can’t fix it I’ll turn the damn thing into a fixie, that’ll teach it. It’ll be a pain in the ass, though, because it has vertical dropouts (for non-cyclists: here’s why that’s significant), but I’ve seen devices that you can use to adjust chain tension on bikes like that, so it might work…

But I hear from fixed-gear riders that fixed gear is best in slippery conditions because it gives you a better feel for the road, since the back wheel is not just correlated (as on a geared bike) but completely locked with the pedals. So given that the hybrid is my all-weather bike, if I’m gonna try a fixie I might as well do it on that bike.

Then again…my dad has some old frames in his garage that I’m gonna take a look at when we go up for Christmas, so I’m not making any decisions until then. If I make a fixie out of a new frame I’ll see if I can’t get snow tires for it and it’ll be my snow bike till winter’s over.

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First snowy commute

Well, that was interesting. We got an inch or two of snow total, but it was still pretty much all on the road when I headed home at 7:30.

Well, I left my desk then. When I got to my bike in the stairwell where they let me keep it, I discovered that I needed to rewrap the lights because they were getting loose enough to get caught in the moving parts. That, plus bungee-cording my lock to the rack and getting bundled up, took about 20 minutes (for some reason, I’m slow at these things).

With the snow I was going all of 5 miles an hour most of the way. I’m kind of proud, though, that I didn’t fall over, because there were a couple of times I nearly did. I stopped at Walgreens to see if their rechargeable AAs were still on sale (they were) and found that their lights are already half off and it’s not even Christmas yet. So I got a string of 25 plug-in LEDs that I’m going to try and convert to DC power and attach batteries to. And a Reese’s peanut butter Christmas tree, because, well they’re good, what more reason do you need?

I was amazed to find that it was quarter to nine by the time I got to Neil and Hessel (just north of Kirby, about four blocks from home. I work just south of Mattis and Kirby). I didn’t think I took that long in the store or on the road.

And now: pepperoni pizza from Domino’s.

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Yay snow!

Once again Chicago is getting dumped on after I move away. Didn’t happen often enough when I lived there. But we get snow too! And for all I dislike the cold, I do love snow — at least for the first few months of winter.

Someday, though, we’ll get enough that I can ride my bike without worrying too much about falling off. Course, if we have that much snow, chances are I’ll be staying inside with a cup of hot tea, my softest blanket, my kitty, and a computer (for work if it’s a weekday, my gaming rig if it’s not).

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