Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter, so far, has been a little rough on my bicycle commute. To date, I've broken my rear flashing LED light and my bicycle lock. The former had come loose on a couple of occasions and fell in the road, which forced me to execute a safe U-turn, locate the component (pretty easy) and two AAA batteries (not as easy) before traffic overran them. On both occasions, the rear facing light cover, which contains the LED bulbs, the batteries, and the inner switch, was jarred loose by my bike passing over particularly big seams in concrete pavement at a fairly fast clip, and skidded across the alongside the road. Fortunately, I heard something amiss each time and took the red flag as something I should investigate. On one of these occasions a battery had been ran over and I had to force the flattened battery into its slot. It worked. But, then later on I could not access the flashing function with the switch; it only operated on solid light setting until the next morning when it appeared to be fully operational again. Then, not long after, I couldn't get it to work at all.

I broke my bike lock at the school's bike rack Monday morning, or Tuesday. The bank sign read 17 degrees Fahrenheit when I passed it at 7:00. I guess the lock was frozen and I was having trouble separating the locking mechanism to where I could open it, stretch the coiled cable, and feed it through my frame and the rack. I double checked I had the combination correct and gave the lock a swat on the metal bike rack. That swat was enough to shear off the male end of the combination lock. The rest of the week I've been bringing my bicycle inside the buildings I'm visiting. At school I'm not worried about it being genuinely stolen, but rather I'm concerned a student will decide it would funny to hide it from me. I'm a busy guy and I can't fool around with that prospect.

I nabbed the identical rear flashing light from off the bicycle trailer, since it's not being used much to tote around our boys in this cold weather (I'm all for it, but I think my wife would not like it, and maybe not the kids) in order to continue on commuting in the dark mornings and evenings.

Both of these were Bell products purchased at Wal-Mart. I believe they're each a couple years old and have survived at least one other winter. I don't remember exactly what I paid for them. I think maybe $10. for the lock and $15. for the flashing light. I suppose they lasted about as long as I expected them to, and as long as I should expect them to last for the price.

If money were no issue, I'd choose to outfit my commuter with a dynamo front hub and front and back lighting system. I'm not sure what kind of lock I'd choose. Part of why I ride this old, "vintage" three speed is because everyone looks at it and thinks "dork!" and functions partly as a theft deterrent. The only people who'd steal it would be people who are sick of walking, or want to cause mischief. It's not one for re-selling to get some money.

Anyway, it's cold and getting colder and my students are getting a good look at a bike as a tool, rather than a bike as a toy. They're asking questions and I think that's good. They're making judgemental comments, and, I guess, I'm a good sport.

Keep on commuting by bike!


1 comment:

  1. Clayton,
    I use electrical tape on the joints of those bike lights which have the tendency to fall apart as I ride. One continuous line of tape all around the joint seems to work well.

    Safe riding to you in the New Year!



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