Saturday, September 08, 2007

Adventures in Bicycle Land

I took my bike out for a spin this evening. First, I start out heading west in the late evening, so the sun is in my eyes and in the eyes of any motorist coming up behind me. That makes me nervous. I don't want to be out after dark, so I can't be out too long. My usual quick route (about 5 miles round trip) has shoulders on it much of the way, but they are sometimes sloped for drainage rather than riding.

It's St. Joe's Sausage Fest weekend, which is a big event in this town. People are parked in MY cycling shoulder for about a quarter mile each direction, so I'm riding more in the roadbed than bikes usually do in that stretch. I also have to keep a sharp eye out for parked cars either pulling out or having their doors open into my space or their once and future occupants stepping out in front of me.

I'm still working on my shifting and getting the gear levers back to the level of functionality they had 11 years ago. I can't remember how one numbers bike gears -- do they increase with the size of the gear or are they inversely related? Anyway, the rear gear lever is happy to go larger gears but sometimes takes 2 or 3 tries to shift to a smaller gear. The front gear has developed a charming habit. It is happy to shift from small to middle and mostly okay shifting from middle to large, although it sometimes tries to hold in the half-middle, half large mode which is rather noisy. What it won't do right now is shift from large to middle. It will bypass middle and go directly to small. I can feel a slight double click, but they're too close to prevent the 2nd shift. Why is this bad? Because I go from pedaling at a normal rate to spinning madly because the small gear is way too easy. The bike shop guys tell me the best thing to do about my funky gear shifts are to shift as often as possible in the hopes of clearing the internal springs of their hardened internal lubricant.

Not knowing what gear you'll be in when you shift adds to the excitement of early evening riding with parked cars and pedestrians. It also is slowing down my learning curve. My previous bike had 12 gears, of which I used 10. This bike has 24 gears, and I think I can use 22 of them. It's not a linear progression, though, where one uses front gear A and runs through rear gears 1-8 with increasing difficulty, then shifts to gear B in front and picks up where one left off with the difficulty and the rear gearing, and so on onto gear C in front. No, different combinations are interspersed. I can't learn these easily if I don't know what gear I'm going to be in with any given shift.

Anyway, I still love this bike, even after all these years. I need to get chain cleaner and lube now, to help her love me, too.

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