Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rattlle, rattle, shake

Well, brick streets look very pretty, but they are not much  good for bicycles. I'm sure that's nothing new to any of you out there. I was reminded of it last Saturday when I had a pretty good head of steam up descending a gradual grade and turned left at full speed onto a brick street and like to have rattled right off the handlebars. It also shook loose a bolt on my non-drive side rear rack bracket. The bolt had been coming loose, I believe, before this, and I (because I'm into precision and such) took the end of a screwdriver and bent down the little bit of extra bolt that stuck out past the nut to make it impossible for the nut to back itself off of the bolt's threads.

I believe the last two years' use had created a fracture in the bolt that finally was completely compromised by the extreme vibrations caused by the brick street.

My two oldest boys were behind the bike in the trailer and they were treated to a nice sound of the rotating tire as its tread rubbed against the rear reflector screw which was mounted to the rear fender/mud guard, and was now askew from being aligned with the tires due to the loose bracket.

I fixed this a little later at the hardware store with another bolt and a nylon lined lock nut. They were friendly enough there to allow me the use of an adjustable wrench and a pair of small slip-joint pliers to fasten it tightly. Ideally, I would also have added some of that liquid "Lock-tite" to the threads as a double precaution against vibrating loose.

I'm debating whether or not to have the 27" steel wheels of the Takara trued over the summer. Another debate I'm having is whether I should take time to learn to true a wheel myself. It seems like it would be a good thing for me to learn. It can't cause any harm to increase my knowledge and experience with bicycles, especially if I plan to continue to ride them.

I'm also debating whether or not to shed myself of a few different bikes I have around. They're for my wife. I guess they're for me, as well, but we haven't used them consistently. I don't think they're going to fetch much money. I did spend some good money to outfit them with high quality tires to guard against flats, but I doubt a person would pay for the frame and the good tires.

Do you ever find yourself trying to decide these things? Learn to do it myself or have something done? Sell off a couple bikes, or keep hold of them in case somebody wants to ride them? What are your experiences with this?

Keep on commuting by bike!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Again witht the absence!

Well this entry is long overdue. That goes without saying. So, then, one may ask, why say it? Good question. I don't have a good reason for stating the obvious, other than it's a ploy I often administer to cover up the fact that I'm stalling for something someone might actually consider worthwhile to write about. There are few things more effective for boosting a writer's ego than  putting words on the page that really don't say anything, but yet give the "putter" the feeling of accomplishment for actually putting something on the page, even if they don't really say anything (see previous sentences).

Ah well, I've exhausted the humor in that intro. On with the real meat of the entry:

I find some things on the side of the road while riding my bicycle. Yes, gravel, sand, litter, clipped fingernails, fast food wrappers, fragments of glass, obsolete cigarette lighters might remark. In addition to these worthwhile and stimulating finds, I occasionally find items which at least a small percentage of the population might find useful. For instance, I have a rather impressive collection of black rubber bungee cords I'm pretty darned proud of and of which I currently have no use for, but rest assured dear reader, when the day comes when I need a black rubber bungee cord, or twelve, I'll be adequately prepared for it.

Mixed in among my Craftsmen socket and ratchet set I received as a boy from my dad which now resides in unorganized disarray an old blue metal tackle box , and whose handy plastic travel case it came in has long since broken and been discarded, are some sockets and end wrenches which do not bear the Craftsman logo. That's because I've found a small collection (no more than a dozen) of different sized metric and English sockets and end wrenches. I don't care if you're English or Metric, those things are useful; in the right hands.

Most recently I've come across three valve stem extenders. I'm unsure if that's the name they'd go by, but that's the most accurate name I could come up with, without doing any pesky research. I didn't measure them, but they are probably six to eight inches long, made of a chrome metal tube, and have female threads and a Shrader valve on one end of a machined nut; on the other end, a smaller machined nut and cap which threads onto male threads which all cover another Shrader valve. I presume these are for dual wheel pickup trucks and tractor trailers. I found three of them lying in the gutter in a residential part of the town I live in. I'm certain there were four of them purchased together, then forgotten about on a tailgate or toolbox, until a corner was turned by said vehicle or they bounced off after encountering a particularly rough pothole. Anyway, I threaded two of them onto my bicycle. Why not? They're really not all that noticeable, and I can see no difference in performance. I've not seen any bikes on the internet which have these, so I might just be the first.

It's kind of a random find, I realize, but nonetheless, there is a certain amount of satisfaction which goes along with finding things. If I could begin finding hundred dollar bills instead, I'd be even happier.

What do you find riding on your bikes?