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And I am not kidding.  I replaced a spoke today, did a little truing, and it’s very very tempting to go ride in the storm.  But I think I’ll walk to the grocery store and play in puddles on foot instead today.


During the developments of the cycling tragedy in Baltimore last week, I found myself needing something else to think about.  I had been sick (cold and fever) and home and technically on vacation, so I decided after finishing what work I had to do from home (that I missed earlier that week) to see how well I really trued my wheels last week.  With it being so late and my being so tired, I wondered if I really did a good job.

The sound that I thought was my rim hitting my brake pads before I trued them was still present.  I took off the tire and tube and put everything on my truing stand.  Noise was still there.  It was almost like a scraping sound.  Quick fix: might be the dork disc (Zack had this problem last year).  Took off the cassette and dork disc, and the sound was still there.  I thought it might be my hubs or axle.  I opened everything up, re-adjusted the hubs, got extremely messy.  Noise was still there.  I didn’t feel like overhauling my hub and even less so when I realized the front hub was making the same sound.  These are new wheels, and I haven’t gotten to ride in any serious weather yet.  So I trued the wheel again (not leaving well enough alone) and put everything back together.

Then that night, it hit me.  It was the rubber seals rubbing the hub body.  Had to be.  So I took Mr. Wheel off again and removed the cassette and both rubber seals.  The noise was gone.  I even asked the ever patient Eleanor R/Frankie to lend her ears.  She agreed.  I put the seals back on, and the noise was back.  BINGO!  Specifically, it was the seal that went into the body of the freehub.  I wasted two and half hours during a nice summer afternoon, when I could have been watching a movie or reading or taking a walk on my vacation.

So, if your hubs are making a noise, rule out the rubber seals (if you have them) before you tear everything apart like I did.  Unless you like tearing things apart.  Which I do, so I guess that day last week wasn’t exactly a waste at all.

What did you do post Moonlight Madness? I split off from Barry and Dan, came home, talked to my wife, took a shower with peppermint soap — and trued my back wheel at 1:30 in the morning! I’m going away this weekend to Washington, and I didn’t want to leave it like that. I mean, it was barely close enough to ride. Those potholes on Roland Avenue below the Avenue are a doozy! I do enjoy truing wheels, although I usually get really really anal about it and take too long. And with tonight’s fun ride and being excited about my trip, hell, I’m too keyed up to sleep anyway. Now my wheel is trued pretty well, with the tire/tube back on and inflated, and it’s next to ElRo’s bike where it belongs.

This is my sporty(for me) 2009 Jamis Coda before I added more than half it’s cost over again in accessories. Pardon the terrible picture taken in my office the day I brought it back from the shop but didn’t dare ride it home without a helmet.
This is the same bike six days later, with the addition of new tires, lights, rack, fenders, bell and computer. Not shown: the rear-mount kickstand I had lying around. I will totally bore you with gushing about a few of these items in the near future.

The fine folks at Baltimore Bicycle Works hooked me up with my bike and every accessory I ordered in three days flat.  I walked in, ordered everything like a nerd who’d be thinking about it for nearly three months (which was the case) on a Tuesday, and I walked out with it all Friday morning.  Fast!  Not only did I not have to wait a week or more and pay shipping to order all the stuff I wanted online, but I actually got fantastic deals.  You’re never going to find Cascadia fenders for less than $39 (and if you do,  you buy ’em!), especially not without paying shipping.

This is strange.  I resisted the internet for a long time and never even sent an email until the very very end of my junior year in college in 2000.  I used a typewriter for most of my undergraduate years.  Seriously.  But now we assume the only way to get that hard-to-find lightset or fenders in a specific color (my pal ordered silver) is to order everything online, wait at least a week and pay like $10 over the $5 we saved by buying online in the first place.  When my seat/post got stolen in early Decemeber, I ordered replacements online (BBW wasn’t open yet then) and waited, bikeless, for a week, and the shipping was almost as expensive as one of the parts.

One of my brake pads put the first gall in my rear rim on my way to work this morning.  I pulled the metal chip out of the pad, went for coffee and was annoyed.  (DAMN YOU, TEKTRO!)  I was kicking myself for not getting Kool-Stops right away.  I am moderately ashamed to admit that my first instinct after I had some coffee was to look online and order two sets from Amazon or something like that.  WFT?  I corrected myself, called my LBS and tacked two sets of brake pads onto their mid-week order.  Sweet!  It’s much more fun to deal with a real person (and a nice person on top of that) than a computer.  Simple.

But why have we gotten to the point where one needs to point this out?

Excellent post by Citizen Rider on the ethics of how thorough of a job could/should be done to new bike assemblies. Read the post here.

The bike that I returned this week wasn’t what I would call put-together well. I had requested that they leave it in the box, which the big company said they would (they can ship them to you at home in a box, too). But the guy at the store/shop said they couldn’t, that it was too late anyway because they just put it together. Okay. I think I might have insulted him on the phone. When I met him, I told him it was because I couldn’t ride, not because I didn’t trust their mechanical skills. We laughed about it. We noticed goo on the downtube, and he offered to get it off. He hung the bike by the horn of the saddle on the repair stand, instead of using the clamp, got off the goo with something in a squirt bottle and left it swinging there. Swinging. As in, I totally thought it was going to fall. I got outside to find a large gash in the seatstay. I know; no bike comes perfect. But this was huge and really something that he shouldn’t have let me walk out with on a steel bike.

Other: rear brakes were too tight and touching the rim on both sides; front brake pads were mal-adjusted (one touched the tire, one went inside the rim); the rear fender was rattling against the tire and needed adjustment; the folks who returned it for me (thank you!) reported squeaking while they pushed it; the stem was never adjusted to be straight; they let me walk out without even mentioning the idea of adjusting seat height; reflector on rear wheel was moving around. These are things I noticed without ever getting to ride it. It seemed like a sweet bike that was hastily assembled when the truck came in.

I know. It’s probably my fault for buying my bike at a large chain store. I got spoiled by the nice shop (Phoenix Cycles!) we had a relationship with in Carbondale. We’d chat with Doug for an hour when we’d stop in to get something. He thought it was awesome that we went car-free. I thought his recumbent was awesome. They did excellent work there and carried good stuff like Planet Bike and pants clips.

If there’s anything good to come from getting my foot run over, it’s getting the chance to buy my new bike all over again. I know what to do and where to go this time, and I might not have to limit myself to the funds from the replacement of my crashed bike. Even if I go with the Xtracycle Radish, I’m hoping to get it through a cool local shop and to stop buying bike accessories off of the freakin internet all the time.

This was taken about a year ago in my basement. It’s Johnny boy doing his best to true up my back wheel. Anybody that rides around here in these streets knows the value of a good friend with a truing stand. I’d place the value at worth their weight in beer or coffee.

For the National Night Out Parade a few weeks ago, ElRo had to carry a padded laptop bag from REI without smashing it. I rigged up a tote bag pannier for the two mile ride. Worked perfectly, though I think anything that weighed more than an empty bag inside of it might have swayed a bit.

Photo Friday: The Ordinary.

I am the other member of nbbb that is mentioned in the post below about being out of commission. Well after waiting for what seemed like an eternity my new bottom bracket finally arrived.  The installation took about 20 minutes from start to finish. That’s pretty much it. I’m sooo happy to be back out on two wheels again I just need to post about it. Ride safe. 🙂

Two members of the North Baltimore Bike Brigade were out of commission last week, including Eleanor R.  One Tuesday afternoon, I was rushing to make a meeting (for which I was already late) and hopped on ElRo without noticing that I had a flat front tire.  I still didn’t notice after falling off of ElRo and riding her a few feet, at which point I finally heard the crunching sound of rim-on-gravel.

Luckily, another NBBB member was close by and rode down to my office to replace the tube.  I got home safely and was practicing replacing a tube on my own when . . .


As it turned out, I had a tear in the tire as well as the tube.  Two replacement tires arrived this past week, and they are securely attached to ElRo.  I was back in the saddle riding to work on Thursday — and now I know how to change a tire!

Damn! So this is a picture of my bike looking not well. I went to service my bottom bracket the other day after I noticed that it was a little loose.  It’s a three piece BB that I’ve rebuilt before so I really didn’t think anything of it. Everything was going well. I pulled the cranks, unscrewed the adjustment cup, pulled the bearings and spindle. I got everything cleaned up, repacked the bearings and started to put humpty dumpty back together again.

I noticed upon reassembly that the lock ring wouldn’t tighten down on the adjustment cup. I pulled the cup out and realized that it was cracked between two of the treads in the middle.  Shit!

It’s so damn frustrating when ya think everything is going fine and WAM, a cracked adjustment cup. So I’m gonna do what I should have done the first time I had trouble with this thing and get a cartridge BB. You live and learn.

Let me begin by saying that I ride a $400 hybrid with a rack, fenders, a few stickers, multiple lights, a kickstand, a computer and a frikkin bell. I have a friend who constantly makes fun of me for having a dorky bike. I don’t care. At least I ride. (So what if I’m considering putting a milk crate on my rack?)

Given my own cycling gear and cycling habits, it’s pretty ridiculous when someone calls me a “bike snob” just because I urge a person to go buy a bike at the bikeshop, rather than a department store, if this person insists in getting a new bike and has the money to do so. (Otherwise, I might suggest a sweet vintage ride!) I’m not trying to trash anyone who might already have a department store bike. If you know how to tune and maintain, you’re probably riding something sweeter than a bike-trail-only bike from a roadie shop. I mean people who aren’t going to know how to fix what’s wrong, largely. And people who haven’t ridden ever or in years, too. It’s more the shoddy assembly job that worries me than the actual bike. I imagine that if you bought a bike in the box and knew what you were doing, you’d be more than fine, and you’d know your machine, too. But I don’t want to talk about where to buy a bike or any other divisive bullshit like that.

One person didn’t listen and bought a bike off the rack at a place where they don’t have real mechanics, and the bike came without air in the tires, loose handlebars and needing a brake adjustment immediately. Another kid I’m teaching bought a bike from the same kind of place. I had to re-do a lot for him, including fixing a stupid mistake the person putting it together made — putting his front brake cable through the damned fork! It was missing some adjustment screws in the brakes, had frayed cables, and the poor guy snapped his brake cable, too, within a week. This is ignoring the fact that his seatclamp was stripped because they sold him the bike with it too loose and the fact that the bike is like three inches too small, which most bike shops would have noticed. Bike shops make mistakes, too. I could name a few places in the area that have made stupid and/or lazy mistakes I’ve seen, like not adjusting derailers and having brake pads touching the sidewall of tires.

I’m not saying that bike shops are perfect, just that, in these instances, I was right. Why this made one person feel like repeatedly calling me a bike snob I don’t know. Why coupling this with the insistence that I don’t know what I’m talking about was supposed to make me look like the snob, I don’t know. How the projection going on wasn’t obvious, I don’t know.

The same person called me a “bike nazi” on a ride because I politely suggested that his/her seat was too low. “I thought you’d say that, you bike nazi.” “Okay, I was only thinking about your knees, man, you don’t have to call me names,” I said. Of course, some people who say things like this go on to play these comments off as a joke. So one could also play off the “Go @#$% yourself” given in reply as mere jest, to play the same game where you try to take back an ignorant comment when you see it was rude.

What I mean to say is for you dudes getting on bikes for the first time ever, for the first time in decades, for the first time since freehubs and cartridge bottom brackets came onto the scene — Don’t take out your frustration on people who are only trying to help you. There are some wankers on bikes, yes. But there are some genuinely helpful people, too. It’s entirely reasonable to assume that a person who rides everywhere knows a thing or two more than someone who never rides. If you’re having trouble keeping up or are shocked at how out of shape you might be (sorry to sound elitist; I’m in horrible shape, too) or that things like tire pressure really do matter, don’t project your anger onto other cyclists. Don’t wear your jealousy on your sleeve.

You’re only hurting yourself. And your knees.

A long time ago, I bought a fake German bread bag.  It’s a cool little canvas bag, the kind that makes people make fun of you for carrying a man purse from the comfort of their frikkin carseats.  I liked it but never really used it because I have a cool vintage map case from my Dad’s time in the Army.  I looked at the loops this winter, and I thought it might work as a mini pannier, to carry stuff like a multi-tool, tube, patch kit, Moleskine, etc.  Turned out to work great, so I bought Mule and ElRo each one for Christmas, though theirs were the real deal, complete with awesome canvas smell.  You can find them anywhere, and the knock-off I own was like $10.  It won’t break the bank, and you don’t need hardware.  A vintage one is probably better, but this is what I had. Above is the bag.

This is what it will hold, with room to spare.

This is my rack (huh huh).  Just a normal, $30 rack.

First, this is how we will attach it.  The belt loops go on the top rail of the rack.

Pull the webbing straps as tightly as you can. If you have long enough straps and want your bag to bounce less, you can wrap the straps around the supports of your rack a few times.

If you have some electrical tape around, you can dampen possible metal-on-metal action from your buckle slamming your rack. I did, and it worked very well.

If your straps are long, make sure to tuck them back into the buckle so that they don’t find their way into your spokes.

The view from the other side will look like this.

When you are finished looping both straps, you’re done!

You now have a little trunk on your bike that has way more class and kicks way more ass than a $200 pannier or a butt wedge pack.

If you have a light with a clip, there are usually tabs for clipping on the sides you can use. I have two blinkies now, and the one on my seatstay got blocked by this bag, though the side of the bag is a better spot for seeing me and not running me over.

I can provide larger images if you can’t see what’s going on. Sorry for the flash photography. My blood sugar was low, and my hands were shaking. I had to get the photos before I packed up and rode. It’s very dusty now, which is, you know, awesome. It’s nice to keep the sweat off my back and my supplies onboard.

I read about this little treat of a tool on Bike Hugger a few months ago. My bike mechanic friend in Portland got wind of my lust for one and hooked me up, even picked the color I would have picked myself.  I should take a photo with my other multi-tools, too.  This is tiny.  I don’t have it on my keys because there’s already too much there.  This baby has come in handy already too, to be sure.

[Photo Friday: Minimalism.]

I’ve been running errands on my bike for a while now but never have I commuted to work. Today I changed that. The morning commute was very pleasant. It was very calming and refreshing. I now believe that it is one of the best ways to start my day. I look forward to many more like it.

The commute back home from work was a little different. The heavy traffic, the suicide lanes of 33rd, and the guy in the green SUV who seemed to like to show me how close he could get to me repeatedly did not make for a peaceful ride home.

All  in all it was a good experience. One I will be repeating, even if it did leave me a little frayed.

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