Saturday, February 28, 2015

Zen and the Economics of Bicycle Maintenance

I switched from riding my extremely heavy Nishiki as a commuter to riding my Lemond for both commuting and long weekend rides. As such, it's seen some wear and tear. The front derailleur couldn't get me onto the highest ring for a while, and then the rear derailleur cable snapped. So I buy a new cable and housing. Only I don't really know how to get the cable out of the brake/shift lever, because I've never had to fix anything to do with an STI before. (Either definition of the acronym, thank you very much.) So I start disassembling the housing, but MRB calls me mid-process and says I just need to shift into the lowest (highest?) gear, and then the end becomes visible, and presto. So I pull out the old cable, thread the new, put everything back together, but then the shifter isn't pulling the cable likes it's supposed to. In an attempt to fix it, I crank down on a bolt, which shears off. So there goes an entire STI, because they're basically not serviceable.

So I go to the Missing Link Co-op, and they price out what it would be to switch out the one side to a bar-end shifter, leaving the STI on for the brake lever, and also fixing the derailleur cable guide under the bottom bracket, as another bolt may have sheared off in there, and it no longer stays in place (which was why I couldn't get onto my highest ring up front). $180 or so, and I'll have to wait until next week to get it done because they don't have the parts in stock.

But meanwhile I've been promising Steve-o that I'd fix his bike for him if he ever made time on a weekend for me to take him to the Waterside Workshop, which I love. So he finally brings me his bike, and even though he's pressed for time, and says "why don't I just take it to a shop and pay if this is going to take a couple hours?" he loves it once he's there, because who wouldn't. So we replace his broken spoke and true his wheel, which I've done there about a half dozen times for my Nishiki. (Maybe that means I don't do it very well? Or maybe my Nishiki weighs 50 pounds and I ride with groceries a lot and Berkeley has really bad pavement.) 

Then it's turn for my Lemond, because if I can I want to fix it myself. I want to go to bar-end shifters, since those are tougher and I feel like more serviceable and sturdy and why I enjoy bicycle mechanics is because I can actually fix things and don't just have to replace them, but they just happen to have a used STI Tiagra 9-speed shifter in stock. So I take the old one off and put theirs on. And it doesn't work. But they also happen to have a used 9-speed STI Ultegra in stock. So I put that on, and it doesn't work. So then we blame the cable housing, and replace that. And then it'll shift up, but not down. Then it shifts down, but only one out of five times you try, and it's past closing time, and I don't want to pay $50 for a used shifter if it doesn't work. But I tip heavily, and they refund the charge, and everybody's happy, even after I come back 10 minutes later because I forgot my U-lock and cable.

So that's where I am. No rear derailleur or brake, no lever (my original Tiagra doesn't really even work as a brake lever anymore, or feels a little sketchy like it might fall apart with heavy pressure),  no handlebar tape. But that's fine. This is one thing I can actually fix myself, so I will. I'll order bar-end shifters online, I'll get any old brake lever from the workshop, because they have a million, and I'll install those, and the cable guide, myself. With the help of MRB and the workshop volunteers, of course.

Also, I've been told my bottom bracket is loose. So I should tighten that. Or something. I need to youtube up on that.

[UPDATE: Props to MFS for the clever-er post title. And I got a brake lever from the workshop today for $3 and installed it, so I'll be able to brake coming down Lone Mountain after teaching in SF.]

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Damn. The Bear 100 filled up. I could have sworn I had the alert set on so that I should have been warned when the race got 90% full, but I never received any notice. I did manage to get on the waitlist, at least. So we'll see.

Now the only question is when I sign up for IMTUF, a hard 100 in Idaho the week after Plain. My original goal was three Hardrock qualifiers in three weeks (Plain, IMTUF, Bear), but then I started to think that just Plain, a week off, and Bear would suffice. But Bear selling out messed that up.

I also put in for the Waldo 100K lottery for August, and signed up for the Tushar 100 Miler July 31.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

All my jackets are black.

Well, not all, but all the softshells that are both somewhat warm and somewhat comfortable are. Marmot DriClime Windshirt, Patagonia Guide, some New Balance thing I got from a race. I'm realizing that's not the greatest for cycling. I rock some pretty powerful bike lights now: Urban Light & Motion 550 on the front, CygoLite Hotshot 2 on the back, and a UL&M Vis 180 on the back of my helmet, but I think I should probably wear a nice reflecty jacket. I've got lighter-colored, if not reflective, rain gear and windshirts for warmer weather, but is there a not-stupid-looking-for-casual-wear-but-bright-and-reflecty light softshell that people like?

I also obviously need to take the spoke reflectors off the old heavy commuter that I gave up on and put them on the Lemond I now ride all the time. Also, I need to adjust the derailleur so I can actually get into high gear.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Well, it appears as if [UPDATE: is official,] I escaped the AEA meetings without a tenure-track position yet again. I did win this Kindle in a raffle for filling out a survey from the meetings, though. So now when I'm wasting time with electronic doodads I can be even more directly reminded of my underemployment.

In other news, I'm coming down with a cold, I need a root canal, and I'm running a 50K tomorrow.

Also, The Babadook is a great scary movie.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Ordnance 100K

I ran Inside Trail's Ordnance 100K race yesterday. I finished in 12:57 by my watch, which is a 100K PR by over 40 minutes. Granted, the race only had 7,000' of elevation gain, which is fewer than all my other 100Ks, and this is only the fourth time I've run that distance, but I'm pretty happy with it. I prefer races that are steeper, so I have the excuse to walk the uphills, and I love bombing the downhills, but I managed the run pretty much all the flat and rolling sections of this race. The course was quite pretty, especially for the first two hours after the pre-dawn start. We ascended a ridge with views of Monterey Bay below, which was socked in with fog. The course was mostly exposed, so it was a little bit hot later in the day, although not intolerable. I had some GI issues, six of them to be exact, which probably cost me 20 minutes, but hey, sometimes that's what being a vegan ultramarathoner means. Chipotle, I still love you.

A trail I've been interested in for a while, the Bigfoot Trail, is raising money to form a 501(c)(3). Throw a few bucks his way. I've never met the guy who created the route, but I have friends who have hiked it, and they really liked it. I've long wanted to hike the length of California in the "other" ranges, and the Condor Trail and Bigfoot Trail put a big chunk of that together.