Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We Need Charles Bronson, Now More Than Ever

Monday, November 22, 2010

Biking To Work Vs. Biking

I love riding a bike. I ride a bike almost every day. I love riding a bike. Yesterday I took the LHT (yeah you know me) on a grocery run. It was beautiful out and as I said before I really do love riding a bike. I was feeling good so I threw a few more errands into the trip. Taking shortcuts through the neighborhoods surrounding downtown Silver Spring, I was able to avoid the main roads which are no fun. I hit the grocery store and with panniers stuffed full of food I headed home. The whole trip was pretty uneventful.

After a few hours of puttering around the house and playing with my daughter, my wife said "Oh, so how was your ride?". I had to stop and think. How was my ride? I honestly couldn't remember. I could clearly see myself at the bank and the grocery but I had no memory of the ride.

My first thought was, "Shit, has riding a bike become as mundane as driving a car?" I quickly dismissed the thought because it was silly. What lingered was the desire to do some more recreation oriented cycling. I need to get mountain biking and fast. There is a big difference in your state of mind between riding your bike to work and riding your bike to see where the trail leads.

I have been pretty busy as of late. Whenever I get an invitation to ride with a friend I usually decline because there is so much crap to do on the weekends. My friends give me shit about it and rightfully so. I justify this shit by thinking  "It's ok, I ride my bike every day and that's a hell of a lot more than my friends do." Which is true, being able to ride to work is great. I can't really put into words how bike commuting has improved my life, but at the end of the journey I'm at work and that kind of a ride shouldn't be in place of actual cycling, you know... for fun.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Zen And The Art Of Bicycle Neglect

I started biking (again) in 1995. My first mountain bike was a 95 Giant 870 ATX which I still have and ride on occasion.

For something I held (and hold) so dear to my heart I treated it brutally. Over the years I've ridden it into the ground only to dig it up and trash it again. My friends and I used to race right down the middle of Difficult Run. The water gradually got deeper and we would reluctantly float away from their bikes as the frames clung to the bottom of the creek. I remember the time the hub bearings seized while I was riding around the monuments with my girlfriend (wife). This of course was the result of too many creek races. One time the drive side crank sheared off while I was booking down 16th street on the way to work. The chain bounced and skidded on the pavement while I was left going full speed through traffic, my right foot aloft with a crank arm and chainrings dangling, still clipped into my shoe.

I digress.

Through these experiences I've learned to take better care of my bikes.  I don't ride them into the ground anymore but I come pretty close. There is always that question, "How hard and far can I push this component  before it brakes and I'm left walking?". That question was on my mind as I cleaned my horribly impacted chain this morning in the 40 degree sunshine. It was pathetic, the drivetrain looked and felt like someone melted black crayons into it while I was pedaling down the beach. I'm glad my neighbors didn't come out while the embarrassing de-funking was taking place.

As I de-funked I noticed that my 36t chainring was beginning to shark-fin which meant that besides the teeth wearing down the chain had stretched. In the past I wouldn't have given this much thought. I probably would have let it go for another few seasons until it snapped or got so bad that  my friends made fun of me.

Nowadays I'm trying to find that sweet spot between gear longevity and ride quality.  Sure I could probably push these components another season or two, but what kind of seasons would those be? There would  be lots of extra friction and shifting issues, and then I would have to replace more parts all at once as the drive train components would wear down together. Getting as much as I can out of a piece of gear is the goal but no longer will I compromise the ride as an experience to get it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

LHT Spotted In My Building

Someone else in my building is rocking a LHT (yeah you know me). Small world, I'll have to keep a look out for a like minded individual. It's easy to spot a Long Haul Trucker commuter. Just look for the person who seems happier than everyone else.

2010 blue 26-er

I will find you, and I will pick your brain...