walking around in tap shoes and pyjamas since 2010 - my cycling log (opens in new window)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

My Frustrating Machine

I think you've probably heard some of Hg's Crankarm Saga -- the one that induced me to spend a ridiculous sum of money on a ceramic bottom bracket (okay, so I could've just bought a normal bottom bracket, but sometimes the bike-shop-employee discount induces madness, and when the stars align correctly I do have to admit that the ceramic BB feels awesome and works beautifully and it's supposed to be more durable and ) that we hoped would solve the crankarm-coming-loose problem.

It didn't -- and, as before, said problem has grown worse, slowly, over time.

This led to the purchase of a tube of Locktite XTREEEM! or whatever it's called -- the vibration-resistant, high-and-low-temperature resistant, big bad brother of everybody's favorite threadlocker (curiously, regular Locktite was not available at the World-O-Wally store where I bought the Locktite XTREMEZOMGWFTBBQ!).

That worked for a couple of days -- which is to say, it worked for two days of very easy riding on the flat.  The minute I put it to the test hammering my way up a hill, I found myself feeling quite grateful that I'd had the foresight to leave my hex wrench set in my seatpost bag.  Did I mention that it was also raining on that day?

Anyway, it's been a while since I've been able to ride for more than, say, 15 minutes at a stretch without stopping, dismounting, screwing the darned bike back together, and then having to elbow my way back into traffic (which is more convenient in some places than in others).

Needless to say, for someone who enjoys riding the bike rather more than fixing the bike, this has become ... well ... frustrating.

As such, I've decided that the beginning of Spring semester will bring with it a new crankset for Hg, at which point Hg will be -- outside of routine maintenance -- 'finished' for the time being, or at least until I get a hankering for a nifty new saddle or something like that.  Certainly, I will be done making expensive Hg-related purchases until such time as he should require new wheels or something like that. 

I am, on the balance, extremely happy with Hg, who is now my go-to bike for everything, since I ganked the wheels off of Quicksilver and Swift's bottom bracket has seized.  Flipping the stem solved the last of my fit conundra, and it's awesome to have a stiff, light, fast bike that you're not afraid to simply ride everywhere, to everything, in all conditions, for any and all reasons or none at all.  I am in every way looking forward to resolving the crankarm problem for good, so I can enjoy riding Hg even more.

Moreover -- shock of shocks -- I am rather considering going compact (gasp!).

The advantages to compact gearing are -- well, frankly, I think we all know what they are.  Simply put, compact gearing allows those of us who are less than godlike to feel more awesome on the hills. (Admittedly, when Hg is actually working and I am actually healthy, I often feel pretty awesome riding up the hill in Iroquois park -- but that is a long, steady, not-very-steep climb: the kind I seem to like next-best after big rollers -- and on a long, steep climb, standard road gearing can be a bastard). 

Likewise, compact gearing allows those of us whose health is -- err -- shall we say 'inconsistent?' -- to ride a little more effectively when we're feeling just a hair under the weather.

This decision owes in part to the fact that, thus far, I have spent this entire semester feeling at least a hair under the weather -- just as I was starting to really feel like myself again after that whole mono thing, I caught the Cold From Hell, which is remarkable primarily for its doggedly tenacious cough and bizarre, itchy throat sensation, and which has plagued me for the past eight days.  I think I'm recovering from that now, thankfully.  Once I'm well and truly ... er ... well, I plan to go get a Flu shot and a Pneumonia shot.  I'm done screwing around with my health.  But, anyway, feeling puny makes the standard double seem a little daunting, sometimes.  There are days that I know I have to go somewhere, and I know I have to go uphill to get there, and I look at Hg's chainrings and cluster and think, "Why do I punish myself this way?" and dream of a grocery-getter with 36/50 up front and 12-32 in the back (or at least 12-28).

The downside, of course, is that I'd have to move and adjust my front derailleur, which currently works like a charm.  The other downside is that my self-respect as a Mighty Conquerer of Hills would take a hit, and that I would have to make up for the topmost of my toppity-top gears with sheer awesomeness.  I'm not sure I actually have that much awesomeness in the first place, and frankly I'm absolutely certain I don't have very much awesomeness at all right now.

That said, I might be lying through my teeth, and I might not go compact at all.  I might, with spring looming around the corner and the days beginning to grow longer, smell racing season in the water and harbor delusions that I could actually get around to putting together a team at IUS and doing a little collegiate racing, or actually manage to make it to the Five-Spot Crit series, since I'll be in Indiana all the danged time anyway in the Spring (the era of cushy two-days-a-week scheduling has been great -- but it had to end some time).

At any rate, one way or another, I am rather tired of dealing with frustrating crankarm issues, so I plan to resolve them shortly.  The end of fall semester will probably find me riding on the trainer a lot, where it probably won't kill me to stop every now and then to tighten up the crankarm.  Of course, I'll still be using the bike to go to and from various places, but I plan to couple it with the bus as much as possible.  It's simply too frustrating to ride in traffic while worrying about the crankarm.  I also plan to determine how salvageable Swift is at this point, and to acquire (if necessary) a replacement grocery-getter.

In other news, the house is now winterized (insofar as we winterize -- we have pulled the air conditioners from the windows and cleaned them, done the once-every-five-years recaulking thing, and turned the furnace on to make sure it still works), school is going well, I'm exploring new and challenging pieces on the organ, and even after eight days with very little exercise I'm sitting at 172.6.

That said, I should probably go finish painting the trim so we'll really feel like we're done.

And then it's time to find a trainer and enjoy riding the bike while watching movies until it's time to buy a new crankset.


  1. Have a compact of the IF and I'll never had need of standard road gearing again. I'd love to got to compact on other bikes too. Go Compact!!

  2. You know, your IF is a big part of what made me think about going compact. The first ride I did with RCC, back in the spring, you were feeling out the gears on the IF, and the range seemed to work really well. I am very much leaning in favor of compact gearing right now.