This morning I had a conversation with my Giant Boulder mountain bike.
Me: Hey buddy, how would you like a friend to hang out with?
Boulder: What do you mean?
Me: I’m getting another bike today.
Boulder: Why do you need another bike? Am I not good enough?
Me: You’re a wonderful mountain bike. I just decided that I want a road bike too. Don’t worry, he’s a nice bike. Now you’ll have someone to talk to when you’re hanging out on the wall.
Boulder: Where do new bikes come from?
Me: Talk to your father.
So I bought a used 2008 Lemond Etape this morning.
The Lemond Etape hanging out.
I made an error, caused by an assumption on my part. The bike was listed as having a 57cm frame. I intended to take a tape measure with me when I saw the bike, but I managed to leave it behind. So when I saw the bike I relied on my perception of the frame, as well as asking for conformation that it was truly a 57cm frame. Well, after I bought it I took it home and measured it. Sure enough, it measures 51cm center to center (that’s the size frame recommended for a person between 4’11” and 5’7″ . . . I’m a bit bigger than that). But Lemond bikes have an unusually long center pipe (in fact it happens to be 57cm on this bike), which is why it passed my visual inspection and why it might end up fitting me fine. The handlebars have also been raised 3cm. So it feels comfortable to ride, even though it is technically undersized. I’m planning to take it out on a long ride soon to see if it becomes uncomfortable.
Now you might think I should try to return the bike. But I don’t return things (I’ve never returned an item to a store). Once I purchase something the deal is done. If I decide I don’t want it I will give the item away or try to sell it, I won’t try to go back an void a transaction. So asking for my money back is out of the question.
I’m thinking that it will fit me just fine. We’ll see.
In all likelihood it will be several days before I can find time to go on an extended bike ride. Until then my bikes will converse on my living room wall.
A couple of weeks ago I purchased a new bike. My old bike (a Schwinn Ranger 2.6 that I bought in the spring of 2006) had a fractured freewheel, so I had to decide whether I was going to repair it or get a new bike.
I stopped by The Bicycle Shop in State College to collect information before I made a decision. After looking at bikes, talking to a manager named Grant, and pondering the issue for a short time I decided to purchase a Giant Boulder mountain bike. I really appreciated that Grant told me the pros and cons of the bike. He didn’t oversell it. It is an entry level bike (the cheapest one The Bicycle Shop sells).
Some day I intend to get a good bike. For the moment I am inclined to use a cheaper bike because it spends time on campus and often resides outdoors. My Schwinn was an outside bike. It never set wheel inside my apartment.
But the Giant is experiencing new rules. Right at the time I purchased the bike I began using a ground floor lab in the Tyson Building. The lab has plenty of extra space, so it is easy to roll my bike in for indoor storage. At home it is more of a challenge. I carry the bike up the stairs and thanks to a hook I just installed today, hang it on the wall. Before today it was a space hog in the living room.
During the day the bike hangs out in the Tyson Building with fungi and fungal-like organisms that are growing on plates of agar.
The Boulder has a large frame (which was a big factor in my decision to purchase it) and 26″ tires (someday I’ll get a 29er). It has a Spinner Grind80 fork and Shimano shifting components. It took me several days to get used to the thumb shifters (my Schwinn had grip shifters), but now it feels comfortable. The one thing I really missed from my Schwinn was bar ends, so I purchased a set of Titec Micro bar ends on Ebay. If you climb hills bar ends are great, and they are cheap and easy to install.
Bar ends are the horns of mountain bikes.
Ebay was also where I found the hook I installed today in my living room.
A bike, a guitar, golf clubs, and an autographed photo of Von Hayes . . . these are a few of my favorite things.
I i li i i ike my bi i i ike!
Two weeks ago I was biking home from campus and the chain on my bike slipped. Then it happened again the next day. In the subsequent days it became a more and more frequent problem. Finally the 4th and 5th gears on my right shifter became worthless. So I lost gears 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, and 15. I thought the derailleur needed to be adjusted.
Today I decided to fix the problem. Contrary to my initial suspicion, the derailleur was innocent. The malfunctioning part was located next door. It was the rear round spiked thing. It caused me a considerable deal of consternation to realize I had no idea what the part was called. I’ve ridden bikes for years and never once considered this.
Oh round spikedy thing, what shall I call thee?
The trouble with the round spiked thing was that it was starting to look like a hockey player. An appalling number of teeth were missing. This explains the chain slippage.
The problem: Missing teeth.
Armed with a diagnosis I set about trying to figure out what part I needed. After some internet searching, and consulting my bicycle owner’s manual, I figured out the correct term. The rear spiked round thing on a bike is called either a freewheel or cassette (or less commonly a rear sprocket or rear chainwheel).
—Begin Edit 8/20/09—
A freewheel and a cassette are not the same thing. They are two very different systems and they are NOT interchangeable. I learned this the hard way. Arrrggghhhh.
—End Edit 8/20/09—
Tomorrow I intend to check a few prices and either pick one up or order one. My online research indicates they can be found for around $20.
I wonder if freewheels have a toothfairy?
Bicycle registration at University Park runs on a June-May schedule. I’ve registered my bike for the past three years, each time well before the May 31 deadline. This year I did not. I stopped by the little kiosk on Pollack Road a few times in the past week, but no one was there to handle the registration.
This morning before I left for campus it occurred to me that my registration had expired. Since my schedule was very full today I decided to postpone renewing my bike registration until Tuesday. This thought ran through my mind: the campus parking police are not going to be out checking for expired registrations on bikes one day after the deadline.
I forgot how slow things get on campus during the summer. Evidently the campus parking police needed something to do. They decided to inspect bicycle registrations.
At 12:26pm I walked past my bike on the way to the Life Sciences Building. I noticed a small yellow tag hanging from the handlebar, which was a notice of expired registration. No fine. Just a reminder that I needed to register my bike. So that means less than five hours after I parked my bike the campus police found it. Impressive.
By the way, when I left campus today at 5:30pm I discovered that the notice had been removed from my bike sometime during the afternoon.
There is a good chance you really do not care about this. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. But this is my blog and I reserve the right to post mundane stories from time to time.