Monday, June 29, 2009

Commuter Challenge

So far, so good with the Activate Omaha Bicycle Commuter Challenge.

Since May 16th I have 15 trips logged, for a total of 405 miles. I've been trying to get at least two days a week in, three when I can squeeze it in.

An advantage to signing up for this program: my employer provides 'full size' lockers in our fitness center for commuter challenge participants. I can load up with clothes for the week, drive in on Monday to swap dirty for clean, and I'm ready for the remainder of the week. I don't have to haul clothes in the Carradice bag, which means I can ride other bikes not set up with my bag mount. The Schwinns have been getting a good workout lately...I've been riding the Tempo and the LeTour into work. I think I even rode Juicy in one day.

Riding in warmer weather has other advantages besides not freezing your hands, face, feet, and nuts off. No layers of clothes to wear, just put on the cycling shorts and a t-shirt. Less to wear, carry, or pack, thus less to hassle with. No ice or snow to slip, slide, and crash on. The trips seem to go faster. Fewer strange looks and comments from fellow employees: "You rode your bike today? It's February and it's below freezing!" More comments like "It's 90 degrees out and you rode your bike?" So I drink extra water on those days. And we have a fitness center with showers! :>)

Yeah, you don't know what you're missing.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Squeaks and Creaks

Rode the LeTour to work this morning.

As I was tooling down the Lake Manawa trail, I noticed a squeak while I was pedaling. When I stopped pedaling, the squeak went away.

Of course, when you hear a noise while biking, you immediately begin to diagnose the problem. Where the heck is that noise coming from? Seat? Handlebars? Bottom bracket? Hitchhiker mouse?

On the ride home, the noise seemed even louder. Okay, now I'm going to have to figure this out. I threw the bike up on the stand and started cranking. I immediately ruled out the bottom bracket, the sound definitely wasn't coming from that area. It sounded like it was coming from the rear derailleur, so I immediately assumed jockey wheels.

So the derailleur came off, the jockey wheels came apart. Into the sink they went, with a bit of degreaser to clean them up. I greased the bushings and shafts, smeared a bit of grease around the perimeter of the wheel and put the whole mess back together. During this process I noticed the cable ferrule into the derailleur was broken and I just happened to have one in my random pile of bike parts. Replaced, cleaned up, reassembled and back on the bike. I cranked the pedals.

Squeak squeak damn! (Bike, Bike, me)

Okay, where is this noise coming from? I spent the last hour or so fiddling with this thing, and I was sure it was coming from the rear derailleur. I know I lubed the freewheel, but it only squeaked when I pedaled, not during coasting. I grabbed the chain and flexed it.

Squeak! Drier than a popcorn fart.

I lubed the chain thoroughly. After two good squirts of Pedro's Dry Lube, the squeaking magically disappeared.

Note to self: check the most obvious stuff first. D'oh!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I see hits...


I see more hits on my I'm not sure if it's humans or search engines, but if you happen to stumble in don't be afraid to drop a quick, friendly word or two in the comment box, even if it's just to say hello. Hi neighbor!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A few good parts

Found a box on my doorstep today!

A few components from my Rivendell partners in crime :>). Two nice Velocity 650B rims, a Nitto seat post, and some Dia Compe centerpull brakes. The seat post went into the seat tube right away. I was somewhat paranoid about leaving the seat lug unprotected...I was either going to accidentally bend the seat lug point or drive it into my palm. This way, I'll feel a bit more secure handling my frame.

Next on the agenda, I need to get my Nexus 8 hub for the rear wheel and calculate some spoke lengths. Lickton's will probably be my spoke source, as they sell spokes in bundles of 36. I'd like to have a few extra though, just in case. My LBS might be able to help me out there, or maybe I can order the spokes directly from them if the price is reasonable.

As I said, I'm in no great hurry. Lots of great bikes for me to ride this summer! The wheels will be the first major component I assemble and the rest will fall into place naturally.

My wife went for a ride with me last Saturday! Hurrah! The Giant Hybrid doesn't get out much, and she mentioned something about 'possibly thinking about going for a ride'. That was my cue. The bike came down from the rack, chain cleaning, lubing, tire inflation, and various and sundry adjustments occurred. Saturday morning I loaded the bikes into the truck and we headed for the trailhead and the pedestrian bridge.

Jenny has usually ridden the Wabash with me to Mineola. This was a different experience for her, the route here is relatively flat and paved. It was easier for her to pedal and there were no big hills for her to climb. Dodge Park Golf Course and the clubhouse (Riverside Grill) is close to the pedestrian bridge and directly adjacent to the Lake Manawa trail. We had a very nice lunch, headed to the ped bridge and then went back. She told me she had a great time, and she liked this ride much better than our Wabash trips. I take that as 'I want to ride my bike more with you' and I'm glad! I'm definitely going to try to make leisurely rides with the wife a more frequent occurrence.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Just enough is almost just enough

Took the QB out for a spin today.

A quick 40-miler :>).   I run a bit longer on this usual route but unfortunately...I flatted.

This happens. You just have to take it in stride.  Last year, the QB flatted on the MS150 ride but I managed to finally get the tube changed and back on the road.  The QB is fully fendered, and with horizontal dropouts I ended up removing the entire rear fender, fixed the tire, then replaced the entire fender.  Yeek.

This time I flatted on the rear, again, just about halfway through the ride.  It was a slow leak, because I noticed the bike gradually getting squirrelly.  I wasn't looking forward having to remove the entire rear fender but I resigned myself to this arduous task.

I pulled off the road into a field driveway (we callem 'gateholes' here in Ioway), flipped the bike upside down and commenced to loosen the rear wheel and remove the chain.   As I pulled the rear wheel back in the dropouts, of course the wheel stopped just maddeningly a half inch or so before the dropout opening...pushed up against the fender of course.

Wait a minute.  SKS fender mounts are basically stainless steel wires passing through a piece of hardware consisting of a nut threaded to a small shaft with a hole drilled perpendicular to the shaft.  Loosening the nut allows one to position the fender closer or farther away from the wheel.   Maaaybe if I loosed the mounting nuts and moved the fender out, I could get enough room to get the axle to fall out of the dropouts.

Eureka!  Pushing the fender out that extra half-inch or so did the trick.  I got the wheel off, tube out and began to inspect the tire.  What the heck poked a hole in my tire?

Since my Speedblends are tan on the inside, it was easy to see a small black mark near the centerline of the tire.  Running my finger over it revealed a small, sharp object.  It didn't seem like a nail, just a small diameter sharp piece of wire.  This might be a challenge to remove. However, one thing I always carry in my repair kit is a Leatherman tool.  This tool includes a needlenose pliers, and every farm boy knows you can repair almost anything with a good pair of pliers.  It was just good enough to grab the end of the wire and pull it free. 

The tube I carry with me was a bit small (700c 20-28) and I was running 700c-35 tires, but it was just good enough to work.   Oh crap, no compact pump.  I left it in my Carradice bag.  However, in my small kit I carry a CO2 inflator and two 16 g CO2 cartidges.  It was just enough to air up the fatter 35mm tire and get me on my way.

On the road again.  I got about 3 miles from home when I noticed the bike getting squirrelly again.  Damn!  I pulled out the CO2 inflator and pumped what was left of the last cartridge into my sagging tire.  Maybe it would get me home, maybe not.  Not!

Only a couple of miles from home, flat rear tire and no air.  I pulled my last resort tool from my bag of tricks.

The cell phone.

Yeah, it was time to bite the bullet, swallow my pride and call the wife.  Yes, she was home and  it only took her a few minutes to run out and pick me up.  

Okay, so what about the tire?   I pulled the tire apart after I got the bike home, but didn't find anything else sticking out from the inside of the tire.  I stuck the tire in my sink to find the source of the leak, and found it was coming from the same area I pulled the wire from.  But there was no wire...but there was a slightly elongated hole.   I theorized as I rolled down the road the hole expanded as the tire rolled over the ground and closed as it passed, opening and closing the small hole and pinching the tube.  My solution?  Use my small patch kit which contained a patch 'just large enough' to cover the hole left by the wire.  

We'll see if it works.  -D

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gone over to the other side

The posts have been a bit scarce, as of late.

I have a lot to blog about, but time has been short.  Lots going on at work, great weather for biking, and so on.  I like to get as much time in the saddle as I can.  RAGBRAI is coming up, and I'm trying to ride to work as much as possible for our Commuter Challenge at work.  

Oh, and I've gone over to the other side.  Let me explain this statement.

For years and years and years, I've been a PC guy.  Since the budding days of DOS, 8 inch floppy drives, 5.25" 256K floppies (dual sided!) the magical IBM PC with the 10mb hard drive, the Intel 286, 386, 486 processor series, I could go on but I'd sound extra nerdy.  

My gosh, I've even programmed Fortran with 80 column punch cards!  Punched on an NCR machine!

You know where I'm going with this, don't you?  Yes, I purchased a Mac Mini and I'm writing this blog post on it.   I've owned several iPods, and I've always liked them.  And my slow, aging, leftover, patched together, homebuilt (yes, I put this stuff together myself!) archaic PC equipment just wasn't cutting it anymore.  

I've just powered up this evening, and I was up and running in no time.  So far, so good.  I still have three PC's at home, one desktop running XP (the one I'm replacing), one desktop running Windows 98 (once I get my data off this one it's retired), and an old boat anchor Toshiba Satellite laptop.  The laptop will be next to go, if it doesn't crap out first.  I'm waiting to see what Windows 7 has to offer...maybe I'll go PC  with a laptop 'cause it's gobs cheaper.  

Definitely doing the dual OS on this machine.  I purchased VM Ware so I can run Windows XP concurrently with Mac OS X.   Should be xtra cool!

-Mac D :>)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

MS150 Ride - Nebraska

Rode the MS150 from Omaha to Lincoln and back last weekend. I did the century ride on the first day, and rode the 66 mile route back on the second.

I rode the Ramby on this trip. Needless to say, the bike ran perfectly.

I've been riding the MS150 for the past three or four years, and I'd have to say it's one of the best supported organized rides I've been on. Water and food stops every 10 miles or so, police and volunteer escorts, bike shop and sag service. Besides that, it supports a great cause!

The weather was great in the morning both Saturday and Sunday, though the wind picked up in the afternoon. We managed to make it back on Sunday before a storm front blew through. I was a bit tired the next day, but I think my commute schedule has helped maintain my general level of bike fitness.

RAGBRAI is in six or seven weeks. Our RAGBRAI team, aptly named 'Lost In Iowa' has been meeting and we are putting together logistics. As it stands, we won't be renting an RV for our group so we will put our gear on a SAG (an acquaintance taking an RV with no extra beds but extra storage space), and we'll be tenting it. We have a southern route this year and it looks to be hilly, but our group will only be riding the first three days.

Looking forward to new bike adventures! - D