Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Zen and the art of ...

Date: Oct. 16
Total mileage: 40.2
October mileage: 208.5
Temperature upon departure: 48

Geoff informed me today that I'd have to be a very cold-hearted person, or, in better words, an idiot, to even think about riding my mountain bike before it gets a complete overhall, which includes new parts that have to be shipped to Juneau on a barge. Somehow, over a few months of tender, loving abuse, I managed to almost completely wear down all of the teeth on the middle ring. Then I rode it long enough in that decrepit state so it now also requires a new chain. And pedals. And shifter levers. And I think that in one or more of my many crashes, I may have slightly bent the rear derailleur. Other than that, it's golden! Why can't I ride it?

On the bright side, Geoff has been working almost nonstop for a week on our five bikes, and roadie has never been in better shape. Geoff even installed fenders. So the theory is now that I can go for a ride and not be sprayed continuously with road grit. I'll believe it when I see it. I have perfected my rain-riding ensemble, however: waterproof jacket over a thin fleece liner, rain pants over nylon longjohns, earwarmer and neoprene socks, booties and gloves. You'd think with all this armor I could manage to stay dry, but you would be mistaken. I don't know why I didn't just give up early and buy a wet suit. If you can swim in them, I bet you can bike in them. And they're so aerodynamic!

I found a couple hours to ride in beautiful weather today, so I'm not in a position to complain. It always amazes me how much less physical effort the same distance requires when there are no elements to fight. A 40-mile rain ride is downright epic, and yet the same ride, just one week later, in sunlight, feels like a boardwalk cruise. It's always faster, too, even though there's typically more wind when skies are clear.

I haven't really had very many chances to observe the bicycle maintenance routine during the past week - although the truth is I have little patience for it. I'd like to become a better steward of my stuff, but how do I overcome a severe personality flaw that makes me want to scream and start throwing things every time I wrap my fingers around a screwdriver? The theory is in the next month or two I'm supposedly going to start building a snowbike, and I hate the thought of recruiting Geoff to do all of the grunt work for me. I need to set some goals.

I will watch Geoff rebuild the crank.

I will help clean out the hubs.

I will read Web sites on bicycle building, even if the my chances of understanding them are about as good as Sugar's future chances of selling on eBay as anything but a hurricane bike.

I will try meditation.

I will practice the power of positive thinking.

I will stay dry.


  1. Jill,

    I had bike commuted for a few years on my road bike before installing fenders and what a difference it made. I ended up doing homemade fenders based on Kent Peterson's "Fend for yourself" design (http://www.mile43.com/peterson/FendForYourself.html).

    I can't tell you how awesome it is to not have the front tire blasting my and the frame with road grit during my hour commute.

    After seeing how well they worked my wife insisted on a pair for her commuter too.

    We recently purchased mountain bikes for winter commuting and have been trying to decide if we want to install fenders on them. Although they'd work great on the road they would definitely be an issue trail riding.

    Take care,

  2. Make sure you run a front mudflap at the bottom of the fender so that it almost touches the ground. It will cut your front tire spray down to zero.

    I'd post a pic of mine, but I ripped it off last winter and haven't gotten around to replacing it yet.

  3. Hmmm, lots of wet gritty riding wearing out the bikes drive-chain at an alarming rate?

    I went singlespeed due to UK winters (and the attendant mud, salt and grit) damaging if not literally dragging my bike to a halt!

    Have a look on mtbr.com forums and find the singlespeed one, lots of great info and you can always bolt the extra cogs and shifters on in the spring :)


  4. J-
    Working on the bike IS my meditation.
    If you want to learn how to fix it, tear it apart and figure out how it goes back together. You will, in fact, learn patience. Either that, or your throwing arm will get stronger...


  5. I'll reiterate what was said above...get a single speed. I refuse to buy a hardtail with gears. I have a KHS softtail SS with a SID on it and I'm faster in the woods and there's less BS to go wrong.
    Check Ebay or mtbr.com...


  6. SS, yeah, we know, join the cult!

  7. Zen and the art of taking naps...

    Do you still want the tires or did you find a good setup with the rims you're getting?


Feedback is always appreciated!