Derailleured

Spring seems to have finally sprung for good now. Taking a peek at my cycle log, you will see that I am finally putting on miles on a bike that goes places instead of spinning a wheel in place.

My going places came to a noisy halt with a misbehaving rear derailleur. I assumed this was merely the new chain, rear gearset, and rear shifting cable all settling down a mere 109.4 miles after replacement.

Can we fix it? Yes we can…’t

So, I did the obvious thing: find a video online showing how to readjust my Shimano rear derailleur. (If the video does not display during playback, switch to full screen mode.)

 
Looks easy enough, right?

I shifted through all the rear gears to verify that the upper and lower limit screws were adjusted properly. Still looked good after 109.4 miles, so I moved on to adjusting cable tension.

I tried a couple of times, succeeding in making derailleur behave even worse. I watched the video again, and tried adjusting cable tension again. Another four or five times, I had to call it quits. Now the chain wouldn’t even make it all the way to the largest gear. Time to quit while I was ahead.

Madone shift cablesBack to the bike shop.

Moments later the true problem is found: crossed shifting cables. Ghostbusters don’t cross the streams. And bike mechanics shouldn’t cross shifting cables on a Trek Madone.

A few minutes later the cables were back to factory specs, and I was on my way home. Too late to ride, so that would have to wait.

Ready to roll… back

The next day I was more than ready to ride. It didn’t take long to be disappointed by a still malfunctioning rear derailleur. I tried a quick twist on the barrel adjustment, but still the chain skipped on downshifting. At least the bike was still functional enough for the short ride back to the bike shop.

I assumed my visit was going to be a quick in and out. Well, you know what they say about assuming. I lost count on the number of adjustments and test rides, but I refused to give up.

WP_20140413_006 madone rear dual controlFinally, the bike shop mechanic had a lightbulb moment. He asked me whether I pressed the downshift lever to the click or beyond. To the click and beyond, like I always did. He suggested a gentler touch and sent me out for another test around the parking lot.

Qapla’! (That’s Klingon for “success!” What do you expect, I ride a Trek.) Alas, too late to ride anywhere but back home. But now my rear derailleur shifts trouble-free once again.

Let that be a lesson

The next time my bike needs shop work on the rear gear set and associated cabling (which I could have done myself had I the time), I will be double-checking for crossed cables before bringing my ride home.

Cycling habits: a questionnaire

Inspired by my previous questionnaire-inspired post, and Rick Helfrich’s questionnaire-inspired post, where he mentions his unquenchably quenchable thirst for other cyclists’ habits and provides the sordid details of his tabloid-worthy shocking revelation, I thought I would take a tour of Bicycling Magazine’s 2014 Readers’ Choice Poll.

Now the survey has already come and gone, so I don’t have the benefit of the actual questions. But the results show enough that I can limp along on a half-flat rear tire suffering from a poorly done patch job.

1. How many days a week do you ride? How many would you like to?
Where I live winter is still gasping it’s last, second to last, third to last–oh heck, winter will never end. But let’s pretend otherwise. The I typically manage one or two rides a week, but I’d love to be able to ride every day.

2. Where do you like to ride?
I like me a good road or bike path. Fortunately for me, there is a plethora of both near me. I do have to say, some cities understand the concept that a bike path should taper gently to street intersections. Others make the experience so jarring, that they practically force a cyclist into the street.

I notice all the event choices in the poll are races. I’m not a racer, but I do like me a good tour event. The Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride comes to mind for some reason…

3. Indoor cyclist?
See my answer to question 1. Usually, if I am on a stationary bike I am participating in some kind of cycling class.

4. Ridden to a job interview? Delivered pizza on two wheels?
I have never ridden to a job interview on my bike. In my college days, I did bike to work a summer or two. None of my jobs have involved pizza delivery, expect perhaps once or twice, from hotel kitchen to hotel room.

5. Would you rather…
Century or grand fondo? Century
Tour de France or Giro d’Italia? I suppose the Tour, but honestly, I don’t really keep up with the races. Maybe if the sports channels offered something other than football, baseball, basketball, and golf.
Chris Horner or Jens Voigt? Who?
Carbon or steel? I love riding my carbon steed, but I have to admit to wondering if steel would ultimately be more durable for long distance rides.
Quads or calves? Tough one. Looking down, my calves look pretty hot by the end of the summer. Looking in the mirror, my quads look better.
Shorts or bibs? I’m still a shorts guy. I have considered bibs, but when nature calls shorts are already enough of a production.
Roof racks or trunk racks? I have a trunk rack, think I would prefer a roof rack, but usually end up putting the bike inside the vehicle.
Sun screen or tan lines? Sun screen, no question. Firstly, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Secondly, my skin doesn’t tan; it reds and burns.

6. How many states and countries have you ridden a bike?
Two states and one country.

7. What celebrity rides/riders are on your bucket list?
None really come to mind. With the exception of Greg LeMond, all are all too far away. And really, I am sure Greg is much too busy to ride with the likes of me.

8. Are you in the market for a new bike this year?
No, I am quite happy with my Trek Madone 4.7. However, the more I consider going beyond century rides to brevets, the more I think a bike suitable for carrying more gear than can fit in a saddle bag the size of a couple fists.

9. Which gear trends excite you?
I don’t know if it counts as a trend, but I have had my eye on the Infinity Seat. I used to be far more excited about the seat, and even tried to order a couple months ago during the early bird sale. But, I could never get their shopping cart service to take my order, and my multiple requests for help went unanswered. Since then the people behind the seat have been tight-lipped on any real progress updates, and now there is confusion about what version of the seat the Kickstarter backers will be getting. Hopefully, the production issues will be resolved soon.

10. Your relationship with your saddle is…
A little complicated. I like the one I have, but I don’t think it is “the one.”

11. Have you been hit by a car while cycling?
No, and I plan to keep it that way. I have, however, had a couple close-calls. Both times the driver wasn’t completely paying attention.

12. Have you ever been issued a traffic ticket while cycling?
No, although I will admit to speeding. It’s hard to keep it at no more than 10 mph when the trail is wide open.

13. Have you ever broken a collar bone while cycling?
No, and I hope I never experience that. One guy I have ridden with on occasion suffered a nasty break that required hardware store’s worth of screws and metal to mend. I saw the X-rays. It didn’t look like fun to me.

14. Have you ever had your bike stolen?
Yes. It was my hybrid, a Trek 700. Stolen right out of the garage before I had even had a chance to ride it. I shared a garage with my neighbor, who had a habit of leaving the garage door on his side open. My dear bike was recovered by the police about a week later, both wheels ruined.

15. Which animals have you encountered while cycling?
A dog that came out of nowhere, growling, and chased me. Squirrels, though thankfully none had have decided to try running through my wheels. A couple deer, that thankfully did nothing more than stand by the side of the trail and watch me roll by. I have also had a couple bees or wasps collide with me. One stung my ankle with vigor, but apparently I was working hard enough at the time to have sufficient adrenaline available to ward off most of the venom. The other managed to sting me at the other end of my leg. Let’s just say I’m glad it wasn’t any farther up my leg.

16. This year you want to ride…
Faster, with less effort, for longer distances. Oh, and more often. I didn’t ride nearly as much as I wanted to last year. I’d love it if my wife or kids joined me on some rides, but cycling isn’t quite their thing. But I continue to hold out hope.

17. How do you recover after a ride?
If I am in reasonably good condition, such that a 40- to 50-mile ride doesn’t phase me, just give me some chocolate milk, a beer, and/or a snack. Or nothing at all. After a longer ride, a good hearty meal works for me. A good steak is extra good after a century ride.

18. How long to you stay in your cycling clothes after a ride?
Usually, I’ll peel them off and shower up right after.

19. When you ride regularly, do you…
Feel happier? Yep.
Fell less stressed? Probably.
Have more energy? Yes, especially on stairs.
Look better? Spare tire? What spare tire?
Think more clearly? I’m sure that’s debatable, no matter what.
Eat healthier? Possibly. Betting on it would not be prudent.
Play nicer with others? My wife has said so, so I will defer to her judgment.
Eat more? Yes, though not too much more.
Save money? No, not if I am riding with a group. Then I’m chipping in on post-ride buffets.
Have more sex? Might as well take advantage of the hormone boost!
See your friends more often? Yes, if riding with a regular group.
Forget things less often? I can’t remember.

20. What is your cycling soundtrack?
I don’t really have one. Indoor classes are all leader’s choice. Outside, nothing.

21. Is it OK to…
Latch on to a paceline of strangers? Sure, I stay uncreepy about it. It depends on the vibe of the group.
Wear compression socks? If you need them, why wouldn’t it be?
Carry a pet in a bike basket? Secure them in a kid trailer, please.
Skip a ride if it is raining? Of course.
Drop slower riders? It depends on the group.
Give victory salutes on solo rides? I am not sure I understand the question.
Wave to other riders? Of course. At least give a nod.
Ride without a helmet? Anything longer than that 30-yard maintenance test ride, no.
Change clothes in a parking lot? Do what you gotta do, but be aware of any eyes.
Leave your bike unlocked? That depends on the bike and location.

Extra: Do you shave your legs?
No. Is the supposed decrease in wind resistance even measurable? I doubt it.

Well, there you have it. More than I expected to answer, and perhaps more than you wanted to read. We have pedaling to do, after all.

Zero to hero: nine

Today seems to be perpetually behind day. Behind a day this morning, did day eight, then found myself still behind a day when the day ten assignment went live. But it is great to see we are already one third of the way through the Zero to Hero blogging challenge. Onward!

Today’s assignment: find, follow five

I haven’t paid too much attention to the contents of my WordPress Reader since the last time I was supposed to find new topics and blogs (or bloggers). This is a good reminder to take a look on a regular basis. As I found out later reading through the forum posts for the assignment, that is exactly the reason for this repeated exercise.

This time around, I am going to take a look at what turns up in some of the topics/tags I am following.

Topic: Cycling

  • Pedaling Prose and High Yield Life. Both of these are written by AJ, who is “a proud husband and father, an avid cyclist and a prospective writer.” I found the latter blog through a link on the first, and I am glad I clicked that link. I am looking forward to AJ’s continued observations from his bike. Incidentally, AJ made it plainly obvious I was not yet following the next topic, which is…

Topic: Fatherhood

  • Holding together the jello. Mark writes about the struggles and joys of being a single father. While blessed to not be a single father myself, my sister recently became a single mother for a reason much like Mark’s, so my imagining how hard life is as a single parent takes a little less imagination. I find inspiration in both their stories.
  • Fatherhood, Food, Faith. This one is a new blog written by the father of a brand new baby. Besides fatherhood, a couple comments in his first post caught my eye: (1) that they attend a church, but consider their real faith community to be three families who meet at each others’ houses, and (2) that their faith looks different than their parents’. I don’t know if my faith on the outside looks all that different from that of my parents or in-laws, but inside my head mine feels nowhere near the same as theirs.
  • Better Man / Better Family. Joseph Milestone writes about his ongoing work to improve himself, and by extension his family. I could use a little self-improvement myself.

I am one short of five. Egads! The clock says it is well past my bedtime. I have been reading blogs while half asleep for about least three hours now.

Hey, a quick proofreading shows I have five after all. It really is time to hit the lights already!

I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger!You have just read my day nine post for the Zero to Hero blogging challenge. Join me in using the challenge to liven up our own little corners of the web, blogosphere, or whatever the kids are calling it these days. You’ll be glad you did.

Tailwinds

This post is long overdue. On the order of two months. Sorry about that, Bob.

I met R.J. “Bob” Kinderman at the 2013 Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride, after finishing 50-some miles. He was there with his book Tailwinds Across America on display. I like books, and I like meeting a book’s author. He is a cyclist. So am I. His past MIBR adventures include freezing winter weather conditions. So do mine. He has ridden a bicycle across the continental United States. I have not. Maybe someday.

Bob’s tale takes us back to 1981. He and his friend, Denise, journey across America, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Bob and Denise travel in rain, up insanely steep hills in the mountains, across the flat plains. They meet wonderful people few will ever have the pleasure of meeting. They endure tiredness and sickness, wildlife, and vehicular close calls. It’s an adventure that changes them forever.

Throughout Tailwinds I found myself in awe of Bob and Denise’s resourcefulness at finding places to spend the night and the ease they made friends who jumped at the chance to be a part of the two-month adventure. The story became even more real to me in the pages where their journey intersects trails and locations where I have ridden my bike. In a small way, it is almost as if I had joined them 32 years ago.

I really enjoyed Tailwinds Across America, and I bet you will, too. You can buy the book direct from Bob at his web site, tailwindsacrossamerica.com.