Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Commuting with Angry Words

There are innumerable things about bicycle commuting that annoy me.  However, I find it is most often other cyclists (or sometimes just people on bikes) that tend to drive me over the edge.  This morning was one such instance.  I happened to be Cat 6 racing with a guy I have seen on a few other mornings as well.  This particular individual is one of those riders that doesn't think traffic laws and common courtesy apply to him.  I passed him again after he ran through a stop sign I was stopped at and mention this to him.  He dropped some stuff trying to get his headphones out, so I simply nodded and rode off.  He caught up to me again at a light I was waiting at and I decided to engage him again with "You should really think about learning to obey the traffic control devices."  He fired back with "OK, whatever you say mom."  I decided to really turn the screws and pointed out "You should also get some lights so you don't look like such a douche."  At this point he just started screaming the f word and the light changed, so I rode off.

I realized later that I am really probably doing the same thing he is.  Just so much as he is riding like a total moron and in a completely stealth fashion (stealth is bad on public roadways, by the way) I see him as presenting a danger to me because his idiocy negatively influences the opinions of local driver toward cyclists.  By calling him out on his questionable techniques in such a harsh manner I am probably steeling his resolve against ever riding responsibly.  Thus, the circle of stupid is complete.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

when KISS isn't

I had a bit of a rough ride in this morning.  I have a bike that until recently wasn't a bike.  I threw some random parts on it to make a commuter during our slushy nasty break up season.  For the sake of cheapness, it was a put together as a single speed.  I have gears on all my other bikes and now I know why.  Any one that tells you a single speed is simpler is only telling you half the story.  There is definitely less drivetrain to ruin with poor maintenance.  However, when my chain tensioner failed halfway through my commute this morning, I was reduced to riding with my right foot on the tensioner (forcing it to produce tension) and my left foot clipped in and spinning circles by itself.  The interesting part being I have never had a derailleur fail in this manner.  It'll be an easy fix, but it made my morning commute less awesome than it could have been.

UPDATE:  The problem was fixed by completely removing the tensioner.  I got super lucky in that the gearing combination I chose on my frame just barely fits an exact amount of links (I don't have SS sliding dropouts).  The chain is ridiculously tight, but will probably stretch into something reasonable over the next couple weeks.  This does leave me in a predicament if I decide to change the cog on the back.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inattention and Annoyance

Barring group rides, I usually ride listening to music.  I know many people don't support the practice, but it makes me happy.  I generally am pretty good about scanning and am visually aware of what's going on around me.  The couple of times I have been passed and startled by someone streaking by at a full sprint, I haven't minded too much.  All that being said it always amazes me when some yells at me angrily after I have passed them and scared the crap out of them.  You are the one walking along impaired/inattentive/musiced/etc.  After I have yelled to you (usually twice) that I am behind you and you don't notice, it's all on you.  If you can't handle the outside world by paying attention to it, stay home.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

on remembrance

Strange things happen after hours and hours on the trail.  Take for instance my experience on this year's Arrowhead 135.  At around 4am the day after the race started (almost 24 hours into it) I became convinced that a gaseous emission some several hours earlier might have contained some particulate matter (or large chunky matter).  I finally couldn't take it anymore as the idea dragged at my addled sleep deprived mind and I stopped to have a good wipe.  Sadly I hadn't brought any bathroom papers with me and grabbed the cheapest most disposable item of clothing I had with me, my face mask (I had several spares after all, even one exactly like the one I "used").  As it turns out, it was of course in my head and I basically wasted a good face mask.  It's a funny story that comes to mind when gross stories and trail stupid come up.

It isn't something you remember at six am when you are desperately trying to find your face mask so you can get out of the house and on your way to work.  After all, I know I bought two of those things.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winterization and Bike Bonk

    Fairbanks has been getting its normal January weather this year and 2012 has started off with temperatures between -30°F and -40°F. Anytime it's colder than -15°F or so, I wait for bike bonk to happen. When it is below that a bike that is well winterized will still roll, but it will roll slowly. So when the bike first comes out of the house, I am generally cold and not warmed up yet. The bike is cruising along fine, and then just when I get warmed up, I usually notice the bike has bonked. What happens is the grease in all the compartments finally gets down to temperature and stops being so friendly. Everything still works fine, but I can feel the difference for sure.

   Today's ride in was around -41°F and was eventful in the sense that I ran into someone trying to ride a bike also. I was rolling along just fine but I noticed someone was stopped in front of me and off their bike spinning the cranks forward and backward.  It was a pretty sure sign that the grease in the rear freehub had reached its lower working point.  I explained the whole mechanics of it to him and also that we has likely to completely destroy the freehub if he kept trying to use it.  It was about that time I noticed the magical pedal setup being used.   It looked like a set of egg beaters that had been disassembled to the point that all that was still attached to the crank arm was the spindle.  I realized afterward it could have been any pedal that someone decided in a fit of meth induced mechanicalness that they were going to take off and replace.  The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I tossed out a good luck as I rode off.