Friday, July 06, 2007

Minor Mechanical Problems

Great weather for biking except it was a bit hot for my liking. The breeze was generally at my back so I made pretty good time.

Just north of Fullerton I noticed my bike was making more than the usual amount of noise. It turns out an elastic cord on my Bushwacker garment bag pannier snapped again. The cord secures the bag to the side of my rack and snapped a while back. The first time it broke I jerry rigged it back into place but when it busted again I lost a critical piece of hardware. So now I have to figure out how I'm going to secure the bag to my rack. Perhaps some mini-bungee will do the trick. In the meantime, my bag occasionally flopped against my bike.

Around Belmont I came upon a guy wearing a Campagnolo cap riding a fixed gear Bianchi. He had a very good pace but was slowed considerably by the crowds on the path. I was right behind him for a while and we came upon a lady biking in the middle of the lane listening to her iPod. I rang my bell in an unsuccessful attempt to get her attention. Apparently the guy on the Bianchi thought I was ringing at him because he shouted at me, "We'll get there!" I shouted back that I was ringing at the girl and not him. Not sure if he heard me though. Either way our encounter seemed to energize him because he really picked up the pace. Like a mindless dog chasing a car, I sped up in pursuit. For the most part I stuck to him pretty well. However he had an advantage at intersections since he was much better at accelerating. At one point I came up beside him and complemented him on this fact.

There were quite a few cars at the intersections forcing us to slow down. The guy braked his fixed gear bike quite well. But the slowing and speeding up wore me out and I could barely keep up with him. Mercifully he turned off at the underpass leading to Berwyn and interrupted the Pavlovian cycle.

I noticed my bike was really making a lot of noise now. I figured it was my flopping pannier. It wasn't until I was in Evanston that it drove me crazy enough to stop and try to minimize the clatter. I found my front bottle cage was cracked and was the source of the rattling that had been bothering me for weeks. Thinking it would be a quick fix, I dug out my Topeak Alien multi-tool to remove the cage and swap it with the one on the seat tube and end the racket once and for all. Unfortunately one of the braze on bolts holding the seat tube cage wouldn't come out. It seemed the female end was spinning with the bolt. But for almost half an hour I stubbornly attempted to get it out.

During this time I noticed plenty of bicyclists riding by and paying me no mind. I was in no need of assistance but I found it a breach of bike etiquette. But I also thought of all the times I didn't offer help either. If I see a guy at the side of the road and he looks like he knows what he's doing I leave him alone. So maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing.

I guess I was there long enough that either it was a statistical certainty someone would offer an assist or I began to look like I needed it. A young man named Zephyr (phonetic) stopped and asked if I could use some help. I said I was fine but explained the problem. I managed to get the bolt out a little bit by wedging the cage against the lip of the nut side of the braze on. But I still had a ways to go. Zephyr, a member of the Northwestern Bicycling Team, suggested the bolt may be stripped or I could dremel the cage away in order to get a better grip on it. But his best suggestion was to just leave it alone. I was kind of getting tired so I took his advice and got back on the road. Who knows how long I'd have kept at it if he hadn't stopped by? On the plus side, my bike was now considerably quieter.

Distance Traveled: 24.3 miles
Distance to date: 3155.5 miles
Price of gas: $3.45

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