I'm embrassed to admit that I — who have previously always adjusted my brakes by unscrewing everything on the brake levers and adjusting from there — was actually turning my barrel adjusters the wrong way. No wonder my brakes kept getting squishier. Also, it's probably a good thing that I didn't adjust them before I left this morning.
In the process, we discovered that I had somehow completely taken out my left shifter in the crash (there are also some gouges in the aluminum shift lever which made me glad I ride steel!). If it so happens that you're not yet a bike person — in which case, welcome, we have cake! — that's the one that controls the three big gears known as 'chainrings' that are located on the drive-side crank (I formerly called cranks 'pedal-arms,' 'pedal-levers,' and 'the things with the pedals on them,' if you're uncertain what 'cranks' are).
Now, if you happen to have read my anti-gripshift screeds (okay, so technically they were more like me whining about looking like a butt in front of Real Cyclists because I kept accidentally triggering my gripshift), you'll know I'm not really all that sad about this. It might provide me with an excuse to swap out my shifters — which looks rather like an excuse to give Swift a set of drops, if you ask me. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Destroying my left shifter left me with few(er) options. Fourteen fewer, to be exact. Since it was no longer possible to properly instruct Swift to change from one chainring to the other, Jens suggested disabling the derailer for now and using whichever ring I liked best.
I like my big ring best, so after trying a few things we finally bypassed the front derailer altogether (it didn't want to comply).
The upshot of this is that I now have a (probably temporary) 7-speed commuter. I was actualy surprised how effective a 7-speed Swift makes. My cogs range from 13t - 28t, so I actually have a pretty good range of gear ratios (including the big ratios I like to employ when I'm
Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure that the first time I climb Baringer Hill without any smaller gears, I'm going to be pretty mad at myself.
Swift will be going to the shop soon to get a replacement shifter (maybe two, and maybe a set of drops, depending on the size of the related dent in my wallet). Since I'll be taking him in anyway, I may just let them wrangle my bockety wheel (as BSNYC might say, "All you haters wrangle my bockety wheel...?").
Until then, he is and shall remain a 7-speed. Who knows, I could get used to it and decide that I want to fit him up like Jens' awesome frankenbike, which has a 52t up front and a nice cassette in back (didn't count the cogs, so I'm not sure -- looked like 8 or 9?), offering a very, very usable range of non-duplicating gear ratios.
That's it for now. Leg is still sore, but I rode Swift to my get my allergy shot. I'm a hair slow, but it sure beats walking, which still hurts. I'm not looking forward to climbing the stairs at home!