Spring is rolling in and most cyclists consider this to be the best season for riding. The gloves and shoe covers can be put away, flowers are beginning to bloom on your favorite routes, iced coffee is back, and the list goes on!
Here is a recap of what you missed while I was on my blog hiatus:
Amelia's First Bath and Installing Racks and Panniers
My last blog post explained why I named my bike, Amelia, and that I was headed to Connecticut to clean her. In addition I installed the racks and panniers which will carry everything I need on my trip across the country. I am going to write a follow up post about this experience.
Post First Cleaning
Since our first bath together on February 20th, I have been more conscious about wiping down Amelia after every ride, especially after a wet ride. The dirt and grim wears down the teeth on the chainring and cassette which are expensive to replace. By simply "flossing" the cassette with a cotton cloth I am able to remove a lot of the gunk that gets into the space between the cogs. Doing this will keep Amelia's parts clean and running longer.
Changing My Chain
Speaking of the wear of the bike, chains can stretch and this can lead to poor shifting (that's when you feel your chain skip) and it can also wear sprockets (or chainring) at an accelerated rate . You can measure chain wear with either a ruler or by purchasing a tool that measure the wear for you. I bought the Park Tool Chain Wear Indicator at REI which shows you the wear at 0.5% and 0.75%. At 0.5% wear it is not a must to change your chain, but at 0.75% you should definitely change your chain. You can see what a stretched chain does to the sprocket in this picture where the teeth start to look like shark teeth. The replacement for a new cassette is way more expensive than simply replacing your chain.
I measured my chain with the tool and found it to be at 0.5% stretched. So I bought a new 9-speed chain and a chain tool from REI and replaced it. I don't have a bike stand so I did it with the bike upside down. This made the job a lot harder since the chain tends to fall all over the place. Once I finally got the new chain in the drive chain and the links aligned, I pushed the pin halfway into the links by hand and with a lot of force, was able to get the pin all the way in using the chain tool. This tool can also be used to remove pins from chain links. It is much easier when you have a quick chain release where you can simply pinch the links and slide them apart to remove or install the chain without the use of a tool.
A few days later I noticed the feel of a "click" every other time I pedaled. I say a feel of a click because I couldn't hear anything, but the way I described it to the bike mechanic was that I felt a click... maybe I could have said I felt a tap on my pedals. In any case, by examination it turned out to be a broken link (not the one I installed). The mechanic ended up removing the link and replacing it with a quick chain release. For $10 bucks I was happy with this in the end because now in the future I will be able to remove my chain much easier if necessary.
56 Miles to Connecticut - Strava
A few weeks ago I took on my first long and weighted ride. For approximately 25 pounds I loaded Amelia with clothes for the weekend, two pairs of shoes and various large books in the front panniers.
I recently found the South Country Trailway which starts in Van Cortlandt Park (across the street from my alma mater, Manhattan College) and continues north through Westchester, NY for approximately 19 miles. This trail plus biking 10 miles up the Westside Greenway in Manhattan provides me with almost 30 miles of car free riding!
This was a great place to start my weighted trips because I don't have to stop and start a lot, which can be taxing with a lot of weight and, as it comes with the territory, there are minimal hills.
I did learn a huge lesson for this trip. I planned to meet my girlfriend at her work place. Unfortunately this was at mile 40. Of course, thinking I am Superman, I chose to eat a big breakfast and only a small power bar during the ride. When I reached mile 40 I was exhausted. I ate lunch and drank a coffee and hopped on the bike only to realize how drained I really was. In less than a mile I approached Guard Hill Road in Mount Kisco. Strava categorizes this road as a category 4 climb (categories are 1-4 with 4 being the easiest. Read more here). This was death for me. I was going so slow in the lowest gear, but still in agonizing pain. The added weight was really holding me back, but I knew I was struggling because I wasn't properly fueled. I just didn't have the energy to go harder. I won't make that mistake again. I should have eaten 30 minutes into my ride and at least every hour after that.
If you have seen my Instagram (link at the top of the page) you will know I recently received a bike ticket for riding down the wrong way on a one way in Manhattan.
Before I say anything, I want to point out that I fully accept the ticket... not just because it is against the law. It is a pretty dangerous area where the bike and car ramps to the Brooklyn Bridge start/begin. This makes it a high traffic area. I have never seen less than 5 cars on this road. It is also a tight two-lane road where cars always park on the right hand side. The big issue is the slight bend in the road which makes it hard to see any bikers coming the wrong way (me) due to the parked cars. This leaves little reaction time for cars or buses to give me the space I need to pass.
|A Google Map of the area my ticket was issued
Initially I was upset, mostly for being in the hole $50. Now that I have had time to think, I am glad this happened. Like I said, this is one of the least safe intersections I have biked through in the city... especially when you're going the wrong way. Since the ticket, I no longer take this road on the way home and it probably saved me from a future accident.
Those are my winter highlights. I am very excited for spring and summer and look forward to biking and blogging more.
Get on your bikes and ride!