Archive for the ‘Cycling frustrations’ Category

Would have just been a normal day if not for the rain that started as I got on my bike to go home. Halfway home I was drenched, and when it’s raining that hard, your bike’s brakes don’t work that well. Of course this is the day a driver pulls out in front of me, but I was able to slow down enough that there was no collision. I admit, I gave them the finger.

But I was screaming curses at the rain (“NO! I said fuck YOU!”) on the last northward stretch, because it was nothing but headwind and the rain was stinging my bare arms and getting in my eyes (by the way, that hurts) so I could barely see.

So much for taking the long way home. I’ll have to take a ride in the country tomorrow if we still don’t have our van back (we don’t have time to go to the gym after I get off work when we have to ride; also, it’s hard to ride a road bike after you’ve used up all the muscles in your arms — not impossible, but hard).

My Chrome bag is as waterproof as advertised: my knitting, handbag, portable hard drive, and lock/cable are quite dry, and an hour later most of the outside of the bag is dry also. My clothes are still hanging wetly in the bathroom; even my helmet is wetter than the outer fabric of my bag.

Good deal. Maybe $140 wasn’t completely ridiculous after all.

Note to self: put a baseball cap in the bag.


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Runner on the MUP (multi-use path) ahead of me, running about as close to the edge of my side as he possibly could. I assumed he was going around the woman walking on the other side and stayed to my right so we wouldn’t collide when he moved back after going around her. Apparently, though, that was not his intention, because he stopped — still on the side of the path that would be his left — and said to me, “the fuck!” as I hit the brakes.

Taken aback, I didn’t get words out till he had already gone around me and was (I think) back to his right side of the path. I located them and spat them out: “You’re on the wrong side, jackass!” and as I turn back to the forward direction I hear his “fuck you!” behind me.

So that’s what happened. The message I probably sent was “I’m staying on my right to make a point because you’re not following the rules and I have a stick up my ass.” The message I intended to send — or would have intended to send if I’d had more time to think about it — was, “I was trying to get out of your way, but you’re a self-important twit who expects everyone else to instantly recognize when he’s not taking part in the social contract.”

Fucking frat boys.

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Too damn cold!

I need to write a letter to the editor or something explaining to idiot drivers that no, I will not move over for them, because I’m already riding as close to the right as I can — in the tracks made by the cars where the road is mostly visible. I will not ride in the packed snow where my wheels go all over the place just so your self-righteous ass doesn’t have to wait for ten seconds for an opening (which it doesn’t, because there’s nobody coming on the other side of the road). Stop trailing behind me at 7 mph flashing your lights; there’s plenty of room on the other side of the road. You know, the side you use to pass other cars? The side that oncoming traffic would use if it were there, but it’s not, so fucking use it and pass me already!

Boss is letting me work from home tomorrow, thank God. It’s 2°F right now and only going to get colder. My gear is about limited to the 5° that it was for my ride home yesterday, without snow, and with snow I can’t go as fast to keep my cadence up because I’m too afraid of falling, so probably 10 or 15° would be the lower bound. I was too cold tonight.

So, too cold for a bike tomorrow, but we’ll see if we can borrow the future-in-laws’ van and get some food, because we’re about out of groceries and I’m hungry and can’t take my bike to go get food.

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Yay snow!

And more to come!

Can’t say I’m really in the mood for it, though. After that first fall on ice that I thought was water, I’ve been pretty nervous about hitting the ground. And with a few inches of snow having been packed down into an inch or so of …stuff (not slush, just packed snow, I guess), I have to be pretty careful. My tires slip whenever I cross a tire track, and I’m grateful that Champaign has plenty of residential roads that are well used, because otherwise I’d be riding on the two-lane not-wide-enough-for-bikes road that is Kirby, trying to go as fast as I can and battling the fear that some crazy bitch or jackass going too fast for conditions while talking on a cell phone and drinking a latte is not going to be able to avoid hitting me.

I want a recumbent trike for this kind of weather so I don’t have to worry about falling over. It’s scary when your wheels slip out from under you, even if you don’t fall. Especially when cars like to give you three feet of space, not nearly enough to avoid you if your bike suddenly decides it would be more comfortable lying flat on the ground.

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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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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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