Friday, August 17, 2012

A Shifty Evening

Behold the seedy bikey underbelly, where shifter cables can be poorly routed until I swoop in and save the day.
Don't ask me how it got to be Friday without me telling y'all about Sunday's bike class. Suffice it to say that life has been a little nutty and I've gotten a bit flakey.

The class was about shifters and, once again, Elspeth's bike was not appropriate for the lesson, because it's a 3-speed internal gear hub. That just means that the mechanism that shifts gears is inside the hub, all enclosed, instead of (literally) hanging out where you can see it and take it apart and fiddle with it and basically have your way with it. The external kind of gears are controlled by a mechanism called a dérailleur, which is a hilariously French spelling for something we all just call a de-rail-er in a very non-French way. (Note that I am always tempted to bust out the proper French pronunciation which, in this case, involves lots of awesome guttural Rs - making it that much more tempting. Not because I'm being pretentious, but because I love any French word that sounds like its own parody. But enough of that.)

I used a West Town program bike instead, and it turned out to really need some help. It was a mountain bike, so yay hurrah: twist/grip shifters. Those are only hard if you have to replace the shifting cable, because you have to wind it around the right way and there are little bits inside that are all crucial and stuff, and guess how I know? Yeah, I had a frayed shifting cable, so it had to be replaced. If you have a geared bike, your shifting cables will eventually fray. It's just how it works. It's not TOO hard to replace, but it takes time and attention.

So in replacing it, I found that the two shift cables were routed in such a way that they criss-crossed each other. Which is one of those things that makes you go "What moron did that?" And after rerouting, I adjusted the derailleur, which is surprisingly controlled by these tiny little screws that look like they're just there to hold the derailleur in place. But they're not - they mess with your derailleur. So just a warning to anyone feeling all DIY: if you inspect your derailleur and see teensy screws that look like they could stand to be tightened down: DON'T DO THAT.

I really, really enjoyed that class. The thing is, I very much didn't enjoy wheel-truing and then I had a week off, and then on my way to class Sunday I was feeling very misanthropic (just because after my work conference, I needed a break from human interaction) and not looking forward to it at all. So it all culminated in me wondering if I was even interested anymore, as going there felt like a bit of a chore all of a sudden. But even though I was outwardly impatient for class to be over, afterwards I realized how much I enjoyed it and would totally want to do that again.

So: yay, bike interest continues despite dislike of wheel-truing!

Now I just need to make up the class I missed, on brakes. I will try to do it tomorrow. I coulda done it earlier in the week, but allow me to repeat: I am flakey just now. Then when I make that up, there's only one calss left. Which seems nuts, but there you go. And then I will order my road bike frame and start building my own bike! Wheeee!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

So Very Gripping (ha ha)

Bringing home the bacon is far less important than bringing home the beer.
My crazy time at work is over (yay sleep!) and now here I am to show you pictures of the bike I haven't ridden in ages. I am hoping to ride to work tomorrow, now that I'm back from far-off lands and the heat seems to have broken. Better than just "the heat has broken", in fact - on the ride home from the airport I wanted to stick my head out the cab window like a joyful dog, tongue flapping in the cool breeze. Thank god, because I am sick of air conditioning and I miss Olivia. 

Did you notice what's different about her in the above picture? I mean, aside from her dignified hauling of my less-than-dignified groceries. 

Gleaming! Golden! Gorgeous!

New grips! I shellacked them and popped them on a while ago, and have gotten in a couple of rides since. They feel downright heavenly, compared to those hard corrugated plastic things that used to live on my handlebars. It was actually really easy to do - just three coats of amber shellac (bought at Amazon for like $6 - the grips themselves were $8) and then slide them right on. Taking the old ones off were far more difficult, until I asked the internet and found a forum where everyone swore by the following method: pry edge of grip away from bar with a screwdriver or something, squirt a wee splash of rubbing alcohol in there, and voilĂ . They were completely right - popped right off, like magic.

Anyway, my hands feel oodles better, and I think they look rather fetching, don't you? The color makes me happy. Like warm buttery toast.

In other news, I don't know what we're covering in class on Sunday (shifters maybe?) but I missed last week, which was brakes. I'm bummed to have missed it, but I'll make it up and then tell you all about it, eventually. And in the meantime, I will sleep and hopefully wake up and be joyfully reunited with my bike commute. Fingers crossed, people!