Monday, July 26, 2010

Incredible Feats of Mechanical Prowess

I did not have the most successful weekend of riding. My legs never quite got back under me after the 6 Hours of Power, I was draggin' ass all week. Saturday I watched The Le Tour De and procrastinated to the point of absurdity. And the thing is, we have no food in the house, I mean NONE. OK, except for a loaf of crappy bread we got in New York last week. It was no good to begin with, now it's just foul. So I had toast for breakfast and then didn't eat for about five hours. When it dawned on me that I was going to be significantly under-fueled for any sort of riding all I could do was start eating gels and blocks and other fake-food-type-items. It was too little (and too gross) too late. I would be bonked-out before I even left the house.

It didn't improve matters when, after stalling and stalling some more, I decided to ride my much-neglected single speed. It needed work, lots of work. I forgot that I had started my ride with Big George up in VT a few weeks back with totally cooked rear brake pads. So those had to be replaced. I found that one of my pistons had gotten all sticky, so that had to be pushed out and swabbed off with some alcohol and monkeyed with for a while. After that I went to swap out my COG from a 20t to an 18t. (I might be riding the gears at the moment, but still I love me some Endless Bikes.)

Now I didn't go babbling on about how I switched from using my '08 Bontrager Race X Lite with a DT Swiss RWS 10mm Thru-Bolt to using a more recent Bontrager Race Lite with a standard quick-release and a Surly Tuggnut. Well I was using the Tuggnut, for one ride, the one with George up at Perry Hill, it worked great. But, when I went to swap cogs I realized that the Tuggnut wasn't going to work with an 18t cog. No matter what I did with the chain length, the little mammer jammer wouldn't sit right. If I put the QR skewer in the fore-positioned hole, the adjustment bolt would bottom out before it reached the end of the dropout, like so:

If I put the QR through the aft-hole, the entire device would have to sit kind of askew, not really lined up with the dropout well at all, and awkwardly bumping into the junction of the seat stay and chain stay, as pictured below:

I was adamant that I was riding the single speed and I was adamant that I was Reggae-ing the 18t cog. That's the new, cool thing to say. The days of "Rockin'" things are over, "Reggae-ing" is the new rockin'. Hey, it's gonna catch on; I'm the guy who gave Adam Snyder a nickname that totally stuck. And shit, you can "New Wave" things if you want, you can even "Adult Contemporary" (lame) things if you want. In fact, on the rare occasions when I wear my Keen sandals, I "dirty-hippy-jam-band" them.

Now back to the very important and technical matter at hand.

So the very nice under normal conditions Surly Tuggnut was working about as well as Tom Cruise's campaign to appear tall and heterosexual.

A few years back I won a midnight crit on my Schwinn Varsity, in the basket class. For my efforts I received a really hokey-ass chain tensioner, some stamped-metal, Chinese-made piece of absolute crap. It had been sitting around my shop area since then (October 2006) and finally I had a use for it.


It's hideous and total shit, but it works. The nut isn't even metric. Of course it was set up for a 10mm axle, so I had to "adapt" it to accept the step-down that comes with the Surly device using a file and a rubber mallet. The Todd Downs was spinning in his sprinter van.

While we're on the subject of incredible feats of mechanical prowess, check this out: I just got a new HD helmet cam, the Contour HD by Vhold R. I was sick of running the helmet cam during the longer races (can you say "ow, my freakin' neck!") so I got the bar mount for an extra $20. It lasted through about, oh...a minute of its first ride. I had lost the wing nut for the clamp at the 6 Hours of Power, so I threw a 5mm Allen bolt in there and tightened it down with the ball end of a Bondhus allen wrench. I rode down my front steps, hopped the curb on the other side of the Alewife Brook Parkway and — SLIP! I took out my multi-tool and tightened it up, again not using all that much torque and — CRACK! The freaking thing broke. I've had issues with the cheap plastics used by the Go Pro guys as well, but their clamps last at least a week, unless it's cold out, then all bets are off.

No problem, I'm a bike mechanic, I'm very proficient at opening beer bottles with any object in sight and fixing things with zip ties, check it:

Do you think my rickety system worked? Hell no! It slipped faster than Versus' ratings after Lance fell out of contention at the tour. I'm hoping to work out some sort of much-more-serious clamping system before the Wilderness 101, perhaps involving plumber's hose clamps, black magic, and Gummy Bears.


Luke S said...

As a self-proclaimed fan of dirty hippie jam bands, those keen sandals have very little to do with them. Based on experience, you're more likely to encounter Keens at say a...Bruce Springsteen concert. Middle aged people love those things.

Big Bikes said...

In that case maybe you "adult contemporary" Keen sandals.