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Archive for the 'Working on bikes' Category

Gravel Grovel

Monday, November 28th, 2011

This past Saturday, I was supposed to ride the Gravel Grovel with Tim, David, Patrick, and Timothy (RCCS). Unfortunately I waited until the night before to get my stuff together, and when I went to get my bike ready, I realized the front brake wasn’t working well at all. I tried to replace the brake pads but something went wrong and I couldn’t get the damn thing working. I worked on it until after 2am, and eventually gave up. So, I wasn’t able to do the ride. It turns out Patrick got sick and he wasn’t able to ride, either.

It’s worthwhile to check out writeups from Tim and David. From their descriptions, I glean that it was very, VERY difficult, and involved a lot of suffering. I’ve had little time for training lately, so it may be a blessing in disguise that I wasn’t able to ride. Even so, I’m still irked that I didn’t get to go.

Saturday night I came down with a cold or something, just in time to be sick for possibly my busiest week of the entire semester. I’m hoping winter break in a few weeks will allow me to decompress and maybe even do some recreational riding.

Damn.

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

I was supposed to go mountain biking with my friends Dave and Jeff tomorrow. I have been loving having my 29er back in action.

But it needed some work. My brake cable was rusty, and my brake pads weren’t grabbing well, both on the rear brake. I’ve been getting better at working on my bikes, and I stopped and got some parts the other day. Tonight, I went to work and I was making great progress. I was following a particular method for adjusting my Avid BB5s (first article, second article).

Long story short, the first article tells you to “tighten down as tight as you can with out breaking it,” speaking about the adjustable brake pad. I did this and went through the rest of the steps, but it turned out to be too loose and it didn’t work right. I tried again and tightened a little more this time. Made some adjustments, everything seemed good. Then I went to back the adjustable pad back out and I stripped the head of the screw! I couldn’t get it out. It’s still stuck there. I also busted the red hand knob that goes around the head of the screw.

Naturally this means I won’t be going mountain biking tomorrow. I’ll probably do a road ride instead, so all is not lost, but I’ll miss out on mountain biking with friends. And now I’ll have to pay my LBS to bail me out. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had to buy a whole new brake at this point. Damn.

Tough day

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Thursday was a tough day, cycling-wise.

It started out well enough. We finally had a break in the heat, after something like 23 days with 90+ temperatures. My morning commute was downright cool, and the lower temperatures were just wonderful.

However, less than a block from work, a truck nearly hit me. They ran a stop sign, then, as I was signalling for a left turn, they passed me literally about six inches away. They nearly hit me, and it made me mad. I had to keep going straight, actually veer off further right, to avoid being hit. I was mad enough to file a complaint. It was an IU Physical Plant truck that cut me off. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the truck number or license plate, so there was little they could do. In all fairness, the manager seemed to take it seriously.

So, I wasn’t hurt, but the close call certainly highlighted the dangers you face when cycling, even if you’re doing everything right. In fact, the incident reinforced my habit of not hugging the right edge of the lane. I was about in the left tire track when this happened, which meant I had plenty of room to move over when the truck got too close. If I had been close to the curb, it could have been much worse.

My commute home was uneventful, and pleasant.

In the evening, I met up with a guy at Brown County State Park. He had a spare 29er wheel, and we had arranged to meet there so I could buy it from him. I bought the wheel, and brought tools with me. He helped me install the cassette, and I got the disc brake rotor installed just fine. Then I managed to get the brake and shifting adjusted adequately — all of this in the parking lot. For me, this is quite an accomplishment. I’m getting a little better with a wrench.

My friend Dave met me at the trailhead, and we headed out for a ride, once I was ready. We had planned to do a night ride, bringing lights and everything.

After we rode for a little while, we came across some EMS personnel in the woods, hauling gear with them. They told us they received a report that a rider had crashed, and they were looking for him. We rode on ahead to find him.

Unfortunately, we rode quite a ways, passing some more emergency folks, before we found the rider, nearly 4 1/2 miles into the woods. There were quite a few other people at the scene of the accident, and one EMS guy had made it there, and had the rider immobilized. I couldn’t tell what had happened. We rode back and forth a couple of times, trying to lead the paramedics back to the rider. We heard talk over the radios that DNR was sending a four-wheeler down the fire road to try to extract him.

I was glad that we could be of some help. But, one time when we stopped, to walk back with the EMS people, I smashed my toe on a root, really hard. Then had to walk a while, in bike shoes. My foot hurt, but again, I was just glad we could help a little, somehow.

Eventually we felt like we had done all we could to help with that situation, and had a decision to make. We had hoped to ride the new Green Valley trail again, but it was getting later than expected and I felt a little spooked from not one but two safety incidents in one day. We decided to head back, though we did take the long way back to our cars.

Despite the drama, we did manage to fit in some fun riding, and it felt great to ride my 29er again. So far, I haven’t heard any more about what happened. I’ll post an update, if any more information becomes available. I hope the rider is OK. I really have no idea what happened, or if his injuries were severe.

These incidents both served as a reminder that cycling can be dangerous, and we are all vulnerable, even if we’re doing everything right. So, let’s try to be extra vigilant out there, OK?

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