Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for January, 2008

How not to fix a flat tire; windy commute this morning

Friday, January 11th, 2008

I worked from home yesterday, and I thought I’d try something new on my lunch: a bike ride. Some people whose blogs I read have mentioned riding at lunchtime, and some of my coworkers go to the gym at lunch, so I thought I’d try it. Since I was working from home, I didn’t have to worry about changing out of my work clothes (business casual) and back again upon my return.

My ride seemed doomed from the start. It was around 40 degrees and while it hadn’t rained all morning, a few drops started falling as I was getting ready. Undeterred, I headed out, figuring I would do my Mount Gilead Road route, which is about 13 miles and so can be done in under an hour. I was probably 2-3 miles into my ride when the rain started in earnest. I was getting wet, but I sure was enjoying my ride. I had to be extra careful going down the big hill since the roads were slightly wet, and very slippery.

After I climbed up out of the valley, I noticed a weird sound. At first, I thought something was rubbing somewhere, perhaps my fender rubbing the tire. It wasn’t. I realized my front tire had a leak in it and was hissing slightly as the air leaked out. It wasn’t the telltale sudden lound hissing sound that often accompanies a flat tire.

I pulled over and grabbed my pump so I could find the leak to patch it. I pumped some air into the tire and yanked the pump off, in the process tearing the core from the Presta valve stem. I had used the inner tube from my saddle bag on the previous ride and not replaced it, so although I felt prepared with my patch kit, I was completely screwed. Naturally, I was about halfway through my ride, placing me 6-7 miles from home. I wasn’t about to walk that kind of distance, so I called Sarah and she looked up a cab company number for me. While I was waiting for the cab, two different cars stopped to see if I was OK. So if I hadn’t had the cell phone, I’m sure I would’ve figured something out, but I was glad that I didn’t have to count on anyone else. And now the cab company number is in my cell phone.

Lesson learned (twice!): having a patch kit is not enough. I’ll carry a spare tube with me whenever possible. I’m a little baffled that two rides in a row, I had flat tires that I couldn’t handle with my patch kit. Even if the second time seems to have been my fault, it’s a little weird.

This morning’s commute was in the mid-30s and windy. I was dressed mostly appropriately but could have used my neck gaiter. I intended to take it easy, but I was battling 30 mph head- and cross-winds, in an upright position on a mountain bike. A few drops of rain fell, just enough to remind me that it could be much worse and be glad it wasn’t actually raining.

One piece of clothing I’ve found works really well for me, but that I haven’t seen or heard many other cyclists using, is a pair of jogging pants. I have a few pairs now of these, nylon pants with a mesh lining, and I think they’re great. They do a great job of shielding me from the wind and some are water-resistant.  The two layers provide warmth, but the mesh also keeps the outer layer from sticking to your skin. They dry quickly, too. These are great, and inexpensive. The only downsides I see are that they aren’t very aerodynamic, and sometimes I wish the legs were a little longer.

Good commute today; bike cleaning

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

I haven’t ridden much since Sunday. I worked from home on Monday and drove yesterday due to thunderstorms. It’s weird, I have fun riding in snow, but rain gives me pause, even if it’s 60 degrees. Usually I’d ride anyway, but I wasn’t feeling it yesterday.


This morning’s commute was a little more normal but still warmer than you’d expect for this time of year, in the mid-30s or so.  It felt great to be back on my bike, even though I rode my old mountain bike with the knobby tires. My bike also looks great, since I hosed it down while it was so warm outside. I don’t like taking a hose to my bikes, as it seems like things are always a little funky afterwards, but I figured it was better than leaving all that road grime, salt and sand residue all over everything. And, the biggest problem I have seems to be with the disc brakes on my mountain bike, which didn’t get the hose — the rotors and pads tend to rust when cleaned with the hose. That strikes me as a bit ironic, since one of the advantages of disc brakes is supposed to be better all-weather braking. That’s true, so long as the rotors and pads don’t get too wet and rust, which leads to some horrible squealing. In all fairness, my disc brakes are pretty low-end …


I did hose down the road bike, but I haven’t ridden it since; we’ll see how it fares. How do you clean your bikes?

Cycling goals for 2008

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

I won’t call these New Year’s resolutions, exactly, but I’d like to set some cycling goals for 2008. Here are my goals, in no particular order.

  • Ride 4,000 miles.
  • Ride at least one century.
  • Complete at least two Sub 24-Hour Overnight (S24o) camping trips. Preferably more.
  • Go on tour.
  • Ride with Sarah more often.
  • Ride with my friends and family more often.
  • Make some new friends with whom to ride.
  • Run more errands by bicycle.
  • Do the Brown County Breakdown again.
  • Do the Hilly Hundred again (this may get traded for a short independent tour).
  • Ride in some real mountains again.
  • Improve my photography and writing.

The only potential problem I see is that I also want to do more hiking this year, and I’m not sure I can find time for both more cycling and more hiking. So, some cycling miles may get traded for hiking miles.

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