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Old 07-19-17, 07:08 PM   #1
rachel120
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Rachel's bicycling adventures

Just a little reflecting on learning to ride a bicycle again. Comments are encouraged.

=====

So today is the 19th day after going to a store and staring at the bicycles while at the same time being scared stupid of trying to balance my fat rear on one of them and being equally scared stupid of the memories and scars of the falls I had 25+ years ago.

Just a few highlights of the past three weeks.

June 30th - I bought a bike. And I stayed upright when I tried it. Woohoo!

July 1st - I tried to ride it to work. It felt all wrong while I was moving. And I could barely breathe and my legs were burning and rubbery. I didn't make it out of the apartment complex.

July 2nd - I exchanged the bike for the next size up. That felt so much better. Too bad my toes barely touch the ground. But it felt a lot better when I was actually on it. My planned couple of swings around the parking lot turned into a 2 mile ride. At one point I raced a little boy on his bike in the parking lot.

July 3rd, 4th & 5th - I rode circles around my parking lot, relearning how to ride a bike. I found out quickly that while I remembered how to stay upright, steering didn't come back so easily. Nor did stopping. I tried to drink from my water bottle, lost control and went sideways, hit the brakes since the curb was approaching super fast, and fell sideways onto a parked car. That was the first of a few falls that always happened right as I came to a complete stop.

July 7th - I'm going to take the plunge and commute to work today! Okay, getting everything together that I need. Helmet, check. Bluetooth headset, check. Sunglasses, check. Work shirt, check. Backpack.....wait, I never tried staying upright with my backpack on my back! Um, I'll practice with the backpack after work. Maybe I'll commute tomorrow.

July 8th, 9th & 10th
- I survived the 3 mile trip both to work and to home. And survived is an appropriate word. 25 years ago I lived in the middle of BFE and only briefly had exposure to city traffic on a bike. I never knew what (bleep) drivers are to bicyclists. Don't all you jerks realize the road is where I'm supposed to be???

It is so hot though. I know it's not my endurance since I can ride home without stopping, but going to work? I gotta stop for a breather and water break. Ugh. I also need to talk to my specialist, as apparently my medicine is a perfect storm for not being able to handle heat.

On top of that I hurt in so many places. I figured my legs would hurt, but they only hurt when I'm actually riding and mostly on the first third of the trip. The big pains are my rear and my upper body. Memory foam apparently isn't a cure-all for a comfortable seat and I'm apparently not used to carrying so much weight around when I pick up and carry my bike from the parking lot into my home (or vice versa). And that annoying little ligament that is taking forever to heal and *finally* has healed just enough for me to be removed from my 10 pound weight restriction two weeks before has apparently decided it absolutely hates my 42 pound frame.

Mid July
- I'm riding to work all the time now. The heat index made me skip one day and I got advice on how to not die of heat stroke on the way into work so I rode the bicycle the next day. Starbucks near my work has become my saving grace; I leave for work 2 hours early, ride the 3 miles in 15-20 minutes with a 5 minute water break added in, get a frappuccino and a large ice water and just chill out (figuratively and literally) for an hour or so. Yes I know the frappuccino is canceling out all the calories I'm burning going back and forth to work, but it also means I can have a frappuccino guilt free since I'm going to burn the calories off by the time I make it home.

Rain was predicted for the evening of one of those crazy hot days, so the night before I went to the store looking for bike friendly rain gear. Spoke with a fellow customer while looking over some stuff, turns out he is both a police officer and he bikes 10-15 miles a day. I asked his advice, listed the equipment I had and asked what he would recommend for safety equipment. He said I had everything I needed. Well, what I didn't have and what he didn't say was a mirror. I found out how badly I needed one a couple of days later when road construction forced a road closure after the light. 10pm at night, I'm forced into a right turn and by the next light I have to cross three straight lanes of traffic and get in the left turn lane. Because of the weirdness of that intersection I could not go right, as the shopping center to the right had a forced right turn to leave, not a stoplight that the other three directions had. Eek!!! I bought a mirror very quickly.

I have bruises I can't explain. Both legs, below the knees, 10-15 bruises per leg, done pretty quickly together based on healing. Knees up, nothing, not a single mark. The only change is that I've started riding a bicycle and I have no clue how I've banged up my legs so bad from the knees down, and how I didn't feel it happen.

I also gave in and bought some athletic leggings. The last time I bought shorts was 65 pounds ago, those were ridiculously big and I never wore them outside the house. As ridiculous as it looks for a fat lady to wear spandex it really is easier to ride than when I was wearing denim work pants.

However I'm rarely on the bike on my days off. Not because I'm wanting to be lazy, there's places I would enjoy going. But because my rear is still so sore that standing in place for several minutes or sitting in a chair HURT! I want to give that area a rest. Maybe I can put a second memory foam cushion on top of the first?

July 16th - I am afraid of left turns and I have to turn left to enter work's parking lot, so I've been getting on the sidewalk at the previous light and using the crosswalk. Well someone today had pulled up so far at the light I normally get on the sidewalk at that he was in the middle of the crosswalk and was blocking the ramp. So I had to stay on the road and had to get across that inside lane to turn left. I survived!

Ick, mechanical problems on the way home. Something the internet called ghost-shifting. That's not such a nice feeling at 11pm at night, especially with me being of the female variety and very few streetlights and I didn't know if the problem was so serious the bike would seize up. I made it home safe though, that's the big thing.

July 17th - So, troubleshoot the problem. Back in the day mechanical aptitude was my absolute lowest suckiest score on the ASVAB but I got an A in physics class, including the practical exercise where our teacher split us into 2 person teams, handed us a battery, copper wiring and a tiny fan and told us to build a motor. And I'm really good at assembling build-it-yourself furniture and while I don't have the slightest clue on power tools (what is the difference between an ordinary drill and a hammer drill???) I'm pretty good with hand tools. I enthusiastically started at 10am. I have to be at work at 2pm, four hours, I've got Google and YouTube, shouldn't be an issue to figure out. 1:15pm, bike still not working right, yeah I'm not making it in. Turns out there were two different problems close together, making each other worse, and I had to fix both in tandem. I finally fix most of the problem by nightfall.

July 18th - There are some really nasty drivers out there. My commute is straight down a 4 lane divided highway. For days there have been some drivers that won't scoot over an inch to pass me. It's like they don't care if they hit me or not. There is plenty of room in the other lane, it really ticks me off that they stay dead center of the lane I'm in. There's never a police car on this road unfortunately. Maybe I can call and explain the problems I'm having and they'll put a car there for a couple of days? And a couple of people have honked at me and yelled at me to get on the sidewalk.

But when dealing with bad drivers, today took the cake...and the frosting...and the ice cream on the side. Road construction resulted in the inside lane being blocked off by cones. The lane closure was until the next light, about 1500 feet, and along the way is a side street with a dedicated right turn lane. When I got to that side street I got into the turn lane so everyone could pass, but that wasn't good enough for one jerk. He was right behind me and laying on the horn and screaming at me out of his window non-stop. Before I could get to the side street he maneuvered between the cones to pass me. Geez, you do remember that bicycles are supposed to be street traffic, right?

Then later on, when both lanes were available, someone passed me by inches and once past me partially moved into the inside lane and then back to the outside. Okay, yeah, I can see that you are basically saying something nasty to me by making a big show of moving over after you pass me.

On the plus side I decided to stay on the road and do a left turn into work. It was harder today as there was just a big knot of traffic behind me and I didn't know if it would clear out by the intersection. It almost didn't but I slowed down a lot and had just enough room after the last car to move over.

And on the way home I had a shifting problem. I didn't shift at any other point during the day, first time I had done so because of a hill that I'm slow going up. I stopped at one of the very few street lights and checked it out, the rear derailleur was out of alignment again. No wonder the gear shifter said one gear but the gear the chain was on was one off. I might have done that myself when fixing the bike the day before, so I'll test it tomorrow since it's my day off. Sigh, so much for resting the sore areas.

July 19th - It's fixed for sure. Just needed one tiny adjustment. And while testing changing gears I think I'm ready to go to the next higher speed. My legs didn't strain against it near as much as they did a couple of weeks ago.

I am considering whether I should move the seat up or not. Minus side, I barely touch the ground now and I have fallen a few times because my foot lands wrong after a stop. It's forcing me to stop in a way that makes me cringe for my brakes, I have to slow down until my stability is slightly affected and then hit the brakes hard. A slower stop means my foot goes down while the ground is still moving a bit, I don't get purchase and I proceed to fall on my left side. Plus side, the hill I must go up feels wrong since my legs aren't straight enough. That means I'm working harder than I should to get up that hill. Maybe I can go up just a fraction of an inch a day until everything feels right?

I'm still stopping going to work because I need the water. I think I could make it farther, maybe even the entire way without needing a breather but water is non-negotiable.
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Old 07-21-17, 06:35 AM   #2
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July 20th - It was actually a nice commute today. All the cars on the road were respectful, both directions. I was very, very nervous at the end because road construction had closed one lane but the car behind me hung back, giving me room. The only bit of negativity was a group of people just hanging out at the end of the street right before my turn into my apartment complex, they made comments, but they weren't in the road in a 1 ton vehicle so whatever.

I had an opening shift, a rarity, and I thought that with the cooler temperature I wasn't going to have to stop on the way to work. Well, the medicine that makes me slightly dehydrated had other plans. I take it at night, so in the morning I can't get enough water and I had to stop a couple of times because I was so thirsty.

So I tried a higher speed. And I swore my rear derailleur was off again because I didn't feel like I was experiencing more resistance. So I bumped it up one more, felt the resistance, it felt about right for me, and I stopped the bike to readjust that stupid derailleur again. And it didn't need adjusting, I really was two speeds higher. I checked the different speeds, each time what the speed on the handle said really matched which gear the chain was on. I guess my legs are adjusting faster than I thought.

I'm pretty sure I need to raise the seat, my knees are just bent a bit too much. I'll need to start doing practice runs again in the parking lot, to make sure I can successfully stop without falling down when I'm higher off the ground. Being only 5'2" sucks sometimes.
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Old 07-21-17, 03:28 PM   #3
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July 21st - Going to work was nice. I set out around 9:30am, it was a tad cooler than when I'm going to work in the afternoon. Because I had gotten my work schedule mixed up and thought I needed to be in at 8am, I actually got up at 6:30am. I was able to drink enough water that I made the entire trip without stopping for water or a rest. Yippee!!

I raised the bike seat, a little less than half an inch, but the bike felt so tall. I probably need at least another half inch, maybe a full inch, before my legs are right. I'll have to do it in stages.

I had read about something called "cross-chaining" this morning. I am embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of it before. It never applied when I was a teenager. I must have had legs of steel back then because I remember that it didn't take long for me to have the first bike speed set at the highest speed and it stayed there until the bike was replaced, and the second one stayed at the highest speed until I moved out (leaving the bike behind, sniff ). The first bike was a 21 speed, the second one was a 24 speed.

I have a 21 speed mountain bike now, and until yesterday I had the gears set to 1 (front) 4 (back). With the gear change last night it went to 1-6. I didn't want to muck with the settings while on the highway so I waited until I was in work's parking lot. I thought that setting it to the second front gear would increase the resistance dramatically. I thought 2-1 (speed 8) would be harder than 1-7. Boy was I wrong. I had to put it to 2 (front) and 3 (rear) to make it feel the same as the 1-6 I started with.

The chain is groaning a bit. It kicked in when I switched to the middle front gear in the parking lot. Hopefully someone who actually knows all this mechanical stuff can tell me what's going on in my thread in the Mechanics sub-forum.

After last night I am seriously considering buying a little luggage rack for the bike. I didn't want to go home while it was still hot so I hung out at the little food court at work. Then I decided I wanted to go shopping. In my backpack I carry two reusable shopping bags (5 discount per reusable bag used when shopping at work), a rain poncho, my work clothes (too hot to cycle in), my regular glasses case and my prescription sunglasses case, my tablet (I don't know why, just never took it out), a couple packets of tuna, my wallet (which is big enough to hold my cell phone), my bike lock and some toiletries. When I finished shopping I had a new pair of shoes, inserts, a piece of clothing and two bags of M&Ms. It was not fun carrying that backpack home. Shoes are heavy. So are two bags of M&Ms.

Going home today though....eek! From what I can tell I'm usually going to work in rush hour traffic and that's when the nasty people are driving, which is why my commute can be scary. Since I worked early I went home in rush hour. I was moving a decent speed today, now that my legs are adjusting the higher gear has me moving faster. Two people were honking their horns and in such a rush that rather than wait for traffic on the left to clear they took the right turn only lane and passed me on the right. There's a light that has that double signal, a left turn light and a yield-to-oncoming-traffic turn light. I had a green light, which meant the SUV in the left turn lane the opposite way had to yield to me. I put my all into it and book it through all intersections, I want to get out of those fast, so I wasn't sloughing off, but he started to move forward and was honking at me like he had right of way, not me. There's a bike path on only one side of the road, too dangerous to cross the highway to use it going to work, but really nice for going home. Getting off of the bike path, I was really nervous as road construction has blocked off the right lane for a decent stretch, but everyone behind me was really nice and really patient for that part of the road.

The road work has actually closed the road, my apartment complex is the last turnoff. I turned and then pulled off to the side to let everyone pass. And sheer coincidence, the spot I was stopped in was actually the assigned spot for one of the cars behind me. Whoops!

Just one last thought - when do the aches and pains end? My rear hurts so bad, right at the base of the tailbone. I actually have a lot of pain bending over, like picking up a dropped item, and when changing to a sitting position. It does wax and wane, but never goes away fully, and it's from me still not being used to sitting on a bike seat. Everything else is feeling pretty good, I'm just still saddle-sore. Weirdly enough it doesn't hurt that much being on the bike seat, but I pay for it when I get off and a good night's sleep doesn't fix it.
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Old 07-23-17, 09:33 AM   #4
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July 22nd - I saw what was either a groundhog or a gopher. Apparently my bike freaked him out; he was running for his life even though he was on the dirt and I was in the road. That is the third one I've seen in that spot so I don't know if I've seen three different ones or a single one three times. It's kinda nice to see it, since there is so little wildlife around that I've never even seen a squirrel at my apartment complex even though we have a lot of grass and trees. Except for the geese, there's always Canadian geese around. I had forgotten about it but one day in my work parking lot, prior to opening, there was a tiny flock and a lone goose pretty far from the rest. Pre-bike, I was walking through the parking lot, and when I passed between the group and the lone one, the group started charging me, flapping their wings. That was a bit intimidating.

I didn't check the weather report prior to going in and rain caught me by surprise. So no bag over the seat to keep the memory foam from getting wet. Oops. Fifteen minutes before the place closed for the evening I was seriously thinking of leaving my bike there overnight and calling Uber. The only recent experience with rain was testing out my rain poncho during a light rain. Rain heavy enough to loudly pound on the roof, thunder non-stop, 11pm at night...all that together meant very poor visibility for motorists and I was frightened of not being seen and getting hit. Plus, thunder non-stop meant a lot of lightning, and I would be on a big piece of metal. But the rain stopped suddenly during that last 15 minutes so I rode my bike home. It was still scary as there was tons of water everywhere and I didn't know how my bike's brakes would be affected and I was worried about cars hydroplaning. Plus even though there was no thunder the sky was still lighting up frequently, which meant lightning was still going on. I told myself trees are taller and would attract the lightning....and myself pointed out that I was traveling mere feet away from said trees.

Where nature ends and townhouses begin, there's a decent to me hill to go up. Halfway up I had passed all the trees and could see the sky clearly and it wasn't cloud lightning, I was seeing forks going downward. Yeah, that just kicked the fear into high gear. At the top is a good place to merge with traffic. Just ahead of that road construction starts closing off the road, the cones merge the traffic into the left lane and close off the right lane fully at the stop light. However there is a gap at the start of the cones where right turn traffic can get into the dedicated turn lane. Even at 11pm at night there was some traffic and I didn't want to stay still long, I was concerned about personal safety since I've established a pattern of when I can be expected to be in that area. So I got into the right lane at a pace so slow the two cars I could see could pass by me before the cones forced me into the left lane. There was just enough traffic that I couldn't really guarantee that if I stayed long enough there would be a no-traffic-in-view break, which is why I chose that time. At the light both vehicles turned right from the left lane. I was super annoyed at first, why couldn't they have gotten in the dedicated turn lane. But later reflection, I might have been blocking the dedicated lane by pedaling so slowly in the shrinking right lane because I expected them to go straight and wanted to give plenty of time for them to get ahead of me.

Still, waiting longer wasn't the right answer, as sure enough more traffic came into view as I was in the shrinking right lane. If I had waited until they passed, I would have had to wait for the newly seen cars too. And those ones were going straight. One even paced me all the way into the apartment complex (even though he had plenty of room to pass once on the property) through several interconnected parking lots and turned off only when I stopped and got on the sidewalk to take a shortcut to another parking lot that would lead to mine. Those two aren't easily connected, I'd have to go down a hill to the main road going through the complex and then back up the hill once on the main road. Still, personal safety, he had no reason to pace me the whole way, plenty of passing room, I'm glad I took the sidewalk instead of leading him to my particular apartment.

Ugh, rear is still really sore. When does that end?
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Old 07-24-17, 08:41 PM   #5
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July 23rd - Other than the guy who was tailgating me, nothing really to say about that day. It was a bit nerve-wracking to have him so close to me, if I had fallen or stopped quickly I'd have been under him before he could react.

July 24th - Leaving the maze of connected parking lots, there was a car behind me. Wait, that car has a light bar. So I stopped and flagged down the cop, we talked about road safety. He's going to talk to traffic safety about having a speed stop on the road so that I have some protection around that area from cars buzzing me. He was so sweet, he sympathized a lot.

I saw my gopher/ground hog friend again today. I wonder if I could live trap him and keep him as a pet? Then again, if I bring home a stray gopher/ground hog as a pet, my cats will get very jealous and they will eat my toes and barf hairballs on my pillow to show their contempt.

When I walked outside the building after finishing at work, my tire was flat. Really flat. I can't figure out how to re-inflate it. At least I don't have to be back at work until Thursday. But since my rear hasn't hurt as much today, I was thinking about going out for the fun of it.
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Old 07-25-17, 07:25 AM   #6
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<snip>
July 2nd - I exchanged the bike for the next size up. That felt so much better. Too bad my toes barely touch the ground. But it felt a lot better when I was actually on it. My planned couple of swings around the parking lot turned into a 2 mile ride. At one point I raced a little boy on his bike in the parking lot.

<snip>
Okay, I have to ask....who won?

This all was some good reading.




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Old 07-25-17, 11:16 PM   #7
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Okay, I have to ask....who won?
He did, lol. But I also wasn't trying very hard; who wants to crush a kid's spirit. Or at least that's the story I'm sticking to.

July 25th - So today was bike repair day.

I got a late start as I had a morning doctor's appointment. He says sunlight and heat won't be an issue for me as long as I stay really, really hydrated and stop when my body is telling me to stop in order to avoid heat exhaustion/heat stroke. So apparently I'm somewhat sensitive, but not a worst case scenario. On the hour plus drive back, I stopped for gas at the usual point, the Wawa that offers gas for roughly 20 cheaper than home. But Wawa has Coke Freestyle, and the cherry coke that comes out of that tastes far superior to the bottled cherry coke. So I went in. And while there I realized how very, very long it has been since I've had chocolate. And there was a special if you buy two.

And I will never, ever do that again as I was so sick for hours. Sick enough I had to have a pure protein meal before I felt well enough to touch the bike. It doesn't matter that I haven't had a 55 blood sugar reading in a few months, the hypoglycemia is in remission, not gone completely, and it told me that loud and clear today.

So I got a bike tube, had my protein meal, and considered Googling how to remove a bike tire, and how I would need to find one that matched my tire/frame. And then I decided to be myself, a woman who is very mechanically not inclined, and I'll fix it intuitively. So I turned the bike upside down and just stared at the tire. The hex nuts on either side of the axle obviously had to come off. But the brakes would also be an issue. So I looked them over, wow they look complicated. But there was a funny looking nut, kinda conical, I was pretty sure it could be completely removed instead of just loosened. And if I took that off plus the identical one on the other side, I should be able to wiggle out the pads that press against the rim to stop the tire. And once the pads are gone, the tire should slide right out, and removing only the pads should make putting the brake back together properly a snap.

So now for a tool run. I needed the Allen wrench set for the funny conical nuts. I needed the ratchet and the socket set for the hex nuts. I've already messed with the back side of the bike, that had a metric nut, so I started with the metric sockets. Found the right one pretty easy, yay! I decided to start by taking off the brake pads. I got the funny nut off and there was a washer underneath. To be expected. Then there was a second washer, not unusual. And a third.....wait, how many washers does one bolt/nut combo need???

There were four washers total, and two were funny shaped, one was concave on one side, the matching one convex. I very carefully laid them on the floor in the order they came off. And then the cat that loves causing destruction came by to check them out. Omg. This is not good. So I picked him up and carried him to the other side of the room and dropped him. Then I ran for my roll of masking tape and made it back to the washers before he did. Tore off a long strip and started laying the nut and washers in the right order on the masking tape. Ha! Try to bat those away, destructive one. And then to avoid tempting fate, I picked the strip up off the ground and put it on a TV tray, so he couldn't attack the whole strip.

There was a metal piece that held the pad in place, the funny nut and four washers on one side, two washers and the actual pad on the other. The two washers were also convex/concave. Got it all laid out on two strips of masking tape and then tackled the axle. I had to put a bit of oomph and my weight into one side, but I got the tire off pretty quickly. I removed the actual tire portion, checked the rubber strip that was actually on the rim that would protect the tube, and then removed the tube. I checked it carefully, didn't see a hole or tear anywhere. I used the teeny little hand pump and after a few pumps I could hear air hissing somewhere. Then the pressure got too low and the hissing stopped. Pumped again, heard the hiss again, lost air again. The air was coming out almost instantly. I checked again for a tear, nothing.

I took the tube to the bathroom but I wasn't sure how I was going to check it since air was just gone so fast. Got the tub filled halfway and I decided to weigh down the tube, leaving the valve above water, and pump some air in while it was submerged. Not a dang thing I had in that bathroom that was waterproof would hold that tube down. Not even the two pound bottle of shampoo. So I decided to pump air in really fast, shove down a section, let it go and pump more air in, hold down another section, etc. Found the leak pretty fast. But when I pulled that section out, what hole? Maybe I've got the wrong spot on the section. Submerge it again, look for bubbles again. Right where I thought it was. So I did a really close examination, rolling it a bit. And found one of the heat treated seams had split, and was splitting even more as I was rolling it. Well there's no patching that, thank goodness I bought that extra tube.

Got the tire assembled, looked at the box for the PSI. The box said to inflate to whatever the tire said on the sidewall. Looked at the sidewall. What the heck do you mean 50 PSI?? Car tires don't get inflated that high, and they have a lot more weight pushing down on those tires. I saw 50 PSI last night, but in the panic of "I'm stuck! And I'm not finding the problem!", it didn't register. So I pumped it up to 50 PSI, according to the teeny little gauge on the teeny little hand pump. Squeezed it, it was like I was squeezing a block of granite. Rested the wheel on the frame and I noticed that the valve stem was coming out at an angle. Darn it, the tube slipped sideways after I put it on and got the actual tire over it. Partially deflated the tire, got the tube in the right place, and started pumping again. That teeny little pump is effective, it just takes some time and it's hard to brace for pushing after 40 PSI. But I guess that's expected for a pump whose entire length is the same as my shoe size.

Putting the brake back together was HARD. Because every time I got the pad in the right place, tightening the funny nut caused the pad to turn slightly. I finally had to take my socket screwdriver and use that as a brace so the pad couldn't tilt forward. Initially I put the washers on wrong too. The outside, my system worked perfectly. The inside, I couldn't remember if I placed them outside inward towards the metal that they screwed into, or if I had placed them right to left all the way from the funny nut to the pad. Since the two washers are not identical and the concave/convex made one thicker on the outer edge, I finally looked at the back brakes to tell the order.

And as I was working on the second brake pad, I put my hand on something I shouldn't have and the entire braking system separated. I was scared since it's tension based, but it turned out when I squeezed something to hold the braking system steady a little lever popped open that unlooped the wire. It still had tension, I just had to reloop it into the lever and reset the lever.

Got the tire inflated, put the tire on the bike, flipped it over. For comparison, I squeezed the back tire. It was somewhat squishy. What? A car tire with less pressure can't be squeezed, so how can I be squeezing this back tire? So I attached the air pump, the lowest number on it is 20 and I don't think it even had that much when I started pumping. Got that to 50 PSI according to the hand pump. I vaguely remembered seeing a pen gauge in the desk drawer, looked for it. Found the huge ratchet that's been missing for two years. But no pen gauge. Well, maybe I put it in the car. Not there either. Well, I'm not testing this until I double check with a different gauge. So run to the store, got a pen gauge, another spare tube (recommendation in the Bicycle Mechanics forum) and a really cool cell phone holder for the handlebars. I need a flashlight for the emergency kit, but I'm sure I've got some at home, so no need to spend money on that.....yet.

I remember how yesterday morning I squeezed both tires to make sure they were pressurized since I hit a rock two nights ago. And both were a tad squishy. When I double checked the pressure, the teeny little gauge on the teeny little pump was dead on accurate. So yeah, both tires must have been only half inflated. Ick. Now I'm wondering if the seam split was a manufacturing error or caused by the low pressure. And I'm wondering about the state of the rear tire tube.

By that time it was dark, so I'm going to test the bike....and the brakes....tomorrow. In the meantime I need to put together the tools to do this on the road. I have three socket screwdrivers and one has a removable cap with room for bit tips. I also grabbed the #5 Allen wrench out of the set (I'll replace it eventually) and a 15mm wrench. When I slid the wrench on the back tire axle to make sure it's the same size, I found that the wrench has a built-in ratchet, yay!!! So much easier than removing the wrench and putting it back on in a way to turn the nut a little more, over and over. I looked at the back tire to see if anything more was needed, and I wanted to cry. Unlike the front tire, the piece of the frame that holds the back tire is curved like a claw and allows for the placement of the tire to be adjusted within a one inch range. That's going to make it a pain to get back in the right place. Maybe I can take a black Sharpie and draw where it's currently bolted at?

So I used masking tape to tape together the wrench, Allen wrench, pen gauge and socket screwdriver and started searching for a flashlight. Found one I didn't even know we owned. Super light, unbelievably light. And it has four settings - off, on with light coming out the end, on with light all down one side like a glow stick, and on with red flashing lights all down one side. Sweet! I'm definitely taking that.

Got the tire kit in the backpack, tried it on. Not any heavier than usual, but I had packed it wrong and it felt bad on my back. Took it off, emptied it and repacked it. Ah, much better. By the way, what does all this stuff weigh? I weighed myself and then weighed myself again with the emergency stuff. Didn't even weigh a pound, according to my scale. I don't think that's incorrect, all the stuff in my hands weighed less than my two pound dumbbell left over from tendonitis exercises. Then I put on the backpack and weighed myself. That sucker is 13 pounds. Note, that does include one quart of my half gallon of water I take with me whenever I'm on the bicycle, so two pounds right there. But that's still 11 pounds, less than one pound wasn't there yesterday. So 42 pound frame, 2 pounds of the second half of the water, my more-to-love weight that is a few pounds shy of qualifying me for the Clydesdale/Athena sub-forum, and 13 pounds of backpack and water. No wonder I'm needing a water break and wanting a bit of a breather in 90 degree plus weather. That's a lot of weight to be pushing down the road on two inch wide tires. Two inch wide half-inflated tires, I wonder how much drag that caused.

Tomorrow is the riding test. And when I get the new chain on payday, I'm going to ask about a new seat too. Again today, a good night's sleep didn't get rid of the soreness in the rear, and sitting in the car so long made it darn near impossible to stand up out of the car and then get back in a seated position in it. It's been darn near 3 weeks and if the rest of me has adapted, my butt should have too. It hurts more than the recently healed shoulder ligament does when I'm carrying the bike while wearing the backpack.

(To understand the pain of the ligament, normal course of treatment is being diagnosed correctly right off the bat with a complete or near-complete tear and wearing a sling for 6 weeks with complete non-use. Not be misdiagnosed with shoulder tendonitis and told to do exercises that involve lifting minor weights and stretching the joint to the absolute limits twice a day and not be given any lifting limitations at work until 3 months later when you've re-damaged it over and over and over and beg the doctor for a limitation - who then finally refers you to a specialist who correctly diagnoses the problem and imposes a 10 pound limitation for a month to let you finally finish healing. Buying and carrying around a 42 pound bike less than a month after the limitation release does not make that ligament happy, even though it's healed enough I'm not re-damaging it.)
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Old 07-26-17, 04:45 AM   #8
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Very interesting for me to read this. Keep writing!
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Old 07-26-17, 05:14 AM   #9
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Two thumbs up.
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Old 07-26-17, 07:26 AM   #10
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Just in case you haven't seen it.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/repairs.html

Have fun on your ride.
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Old 07-26-17, 07:40 AM   #11
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Subscribed. Keep up the great writing,Rachel!
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Old 07-26-17, 01:03 PM   #12
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Just in case you haven't seen it.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/repairs.html

Have fun on your ride.
Ah, Sheldon Brown; the Holy Grail of all things cycling.

I still have it bookmarked for quick reference.
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Old 07-26-17, 01:52 PM   #13
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July 26th - Possibly 1 of 2.

Something I forgot to mention yesterday, I'm apparently becoming a bicycle snob. I took the car since I was picking up my daughter and there was a bicyclist on the road. No helmet. No lights, even though it was after sunset and looking pretty dim. Riding against traffic. Well, maybe his car just broke down and he has no money until payday, that could explain the lack of helmet and lack of lights. Technically he's legal on both of those, since this state mandates helmets only for age 16 and below and lights are required only if you are riding when light is dim enough you can't be seen at 1000 feet, and there was enough light left for that. But riding against traffic, on the road that has maybe 2 inches for a shoulder??? I wanted to roll down my window and yell at him.

Now for today.

So bike repair day turned into two days. After finally waking up and puttering around the house, I took the bike out for a test spin. Foolishly I didn't do a thorough check of the tires first, I will never make that mistake again. Right off the bat, something was clearly wrong, I stopped after just a few feet. Still in the seat I looked at the front tire, that I had changed. Looked fine. I looked down at the chain, since I do have that stuck link. The back tire was in peripheral vision and I thought I had shredded it. So I got off to assess the damage, it wasn't shredded but it was flat and the tire itself was partially off the rim.

So I carried the bike inside, turned it upside down. And I resolved to fix the problem with only the tools I shoved in my backpack last night, as a test run. This looked hard, with the back axle having that claw shaped housing that gave a one inch range for where the axle could sit, and with the chain wrapped around the gears. Well, let's get looking. I can't take the chain off, a couple of places have metal circling the entire chain. But if I remove the brake pads and the two nuts on the axle, I should be able to hold the rear derailleur with my hand in such a way that slack is created and then I simply have to unloop the chain from the tire, and the tire will be free to pull out. I'll just have to be very careful about looping the chain exactly right when I'm done.

So I started with the axle nuts. One came off fine, appropriate amount of tightening. The other side, wow. First I pushed, then I pushed as hard as I could. And the front of the bike lifted from the ground. I braced the frame with one hand, tried to put my weight into the other arm, nothing. So much for testing my roadside tools. Went upstairs, grabbed the socket kit, nothing. I put a foot on the frame and put my full weight downward with both hands, nothing. I grabbed the frame with both hands and shoved against the ratchet handle with my foot, using all my leg strength. Nothing. How did Mr. C-- put this nut on??? Did he use 2 part epoxy???

One of the very few things not in my tool kit is WD-40. That's going to change fast. So I put a couple of drops of oil on both sides of the nut and waited a couple of moments, hoping for the best. I still had to put some oomph into it, but I broke it free and got the nut off.

After that I took the break pads off, took the wheel off the frame and took the tire apart. Since I was riding, this time I'll have to check everything doubly carefully. I started with the rim, looking for bent spots and sharp edges. Nothing, looked fine. I looked at it at eye level, trying to assess roundness. Looks fine. Well as they say, measure twice, cut once, so I pulled my measuring tape out of my sewing kit and measured from axle to edge, first compass points and then the in between of compass points. Measurement is exact all the way around. Whew! While I am guessing as I don't know bicycle mechanics, I'm wondering if that having a mountain bike saved my rim as the tire is really wide and the rubber is really thick to support a deep tread and maybe that provided enough cushioning?

Put that aside, looked at the tire. Rub marks on the sides, but they don't impress into the rubber at all, look to be surface marking, so the sides are not compromised. Checked the tread, looks pristine. Looked at the tire tube, and I can't find a leak. I checked it carefully twice over, especially the seams since it did develop problems overnight, and I can't figure it out. I pumped it up partially, couldn't hear a hiss. Weird. But as it sat there, it did slowly lose pressure.

Well, bathtub test. And since this one is leaking much more slowly, it's not going to be a race to submerge it. Found the leak pretty quickly, good news it's not a seam and it didn't open further as I messed with it. Bad news is that it's on the inside of the tube, not the outside where pressure from the ground will push back against the patch. I was going to put the new tube on anyway, and that way I can practice on patching this one and if I succeed I'll stuff it in the empty box for an emergency. But since I can't seem to find holes easily, I'll need to mark where it's at. Um........wait, I did an emergency repair on the dryer door, which you have to walk past to get into the bathroom and I still have strips of duct tape attached to the washer. I'll just dry off the tube and put a triangle of duct tape strips around the hole. And it worked.

Got the tube to where I was working and tried my first patch. So the kit has a teeny square of sandpaper and the instructions say to scuff the tire. This sandpaper is pretty fine grit, I don't think it'll work. But I enthusiastically sand it and applied the patch as directed and tried pumping it up. The patch partially detached. So I peeled that one off, worked the sandpaper on the tube again for much longer until I could see a decent sized sanded area. Applied a second patch. I started pumping it up and it seemed to be holding. But this tire seems pretty high pressure, so I'll put a decent amount in and let it sit for a few hours. I kept pumping and the area with the patch stretched, which turned the circular patch oval, and eventually the patch detached. Either I have no clue what I'm doing, which is very possible, or this kit is a piece of crap. I wonder if Advance Auto would have some kind of tire patching kit that has stronger adhesive. And Home Depot or Lowe's for lower grit sandpaper. Then again, I think there's sandpaper squares upstairs in the tool bag for the hand sander. I'll check later, no rush.

Now for getting the tire operational. Being very careful this time, I got the new tube in and did my best to not wiggle it while pumping. The valve stem did end up angled a little, but I couldn't get it straight even when I partially deflated the tire. Since the angle is very, very slight I don't think it'll put too much pressure on the valve stem. I put the tire back on and wow it was a fight with the chain. Trying to get the chain on all the gears in exactly the right spot was very, very difficult. I finally succeeded though. I found out really quick though that I can't put the brakes back on when the bicycle is upside down. The front brakes I could, since the wheel was higher in the air. Not the back one. I flipped it and got the brakes back together and as I was wheeling it to the front door I tested each side separately, just like I did yesterday after reassembling the front wheel. I didn't take it out yesterday, but it's parked right by the front door. Brakes seem fine.

So test run, the closest parking lots are connected in such a way that Google Maps says making a loop around them is 1/3 of a mile. I did most of that loop and the bike survived. The weird thing is that the feel of motion wasn't different even though the tires have the correct pressure now.

I might go out now. Or I might not. No need to rush the decision. Meanwhile the most important part is done. Bicycle mechanics is boring and Shark Week is happening on Discovery, but I finished the bike and now my husband won't come home to pieces of bicycle strewn all around the living room. Time to throw the greasy, oily towels in the wash and to put Dawn dish soap on the shopping list.
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Old 07-26-17, 07:56 PM   #14
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July 26th - 2 of 2.

I didn't get on the bicycle, but I got the car away from my husband and drove a few routes that looked promising on Google Maps. The first one started out busy but once past the residential areas it was nice. Two lane road, with shoulders. And then there was the "Welcome to (next county over) County" sign, at which point the shoulders disappeared, the lanes narrowed, trees and vegetation were grown right up to the road and the road itself got really twisty.

I was so not feeling it, but I continued on. It scared me, it really did, but I was psyching myself up since the speed limit is 30. Until the guy behind me hated how slow I was driving and chose to pass on a double yellow line. I figure he was doing between 50-55 as he continued on out of sight. At that point, I knew I was never bringing a bicycle into that area. I'll go around one of those twisty turns, the trees and vegetation turning it into a blind corner, and someone behind me just getting out of one blind curve will never know I'm there until he rounds that curve at 50-55, right into me. My goal in bicycling is to not die.

I tried another road, the cross road on the major intersection I have to cross. Well, it doesn't seem all that bad. Yeah right now they are replacing the asphalt so the road has those deep grooves, but it will be nice when finished. And there's even a nice huge shoulder. And the speed limit is 50.....50? Darn, I can't legally be on this road unless I'm on the shoulder, not in the lane. That will make turning around hard.

Well that's two directions done for. And for whatever reason the little residential back roads around here tend to be dead ends, instead of decently connecting in a grid like the last couple metro areas I lived in. The third direction, I could do in theory, but it would be mentally hard. It's the major highway here, it is 8 lanes divided, three straight lanes and a right turn lane that never ends, and the median is so big that they can put in two left turn lanes and still have room for grass to grow in the median.

Later on I'll try driving the last direction, past work towards the mall and checking the roads around that out for suitability and if there's anything fun to go to. I also can check out the other side of that major highway and see if it's reasonable on that side. My only concern with that is according to the crime map for this county, crime goes up when you cross that highway. While I don't want to be squished by a car, I also don't want to be mugged or bike-jacked while stopped at a light on a road that's wonderful for bicycles.
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Old 07-26-17, 08:29 PM   #15
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After that I took the break pads off, took the wheel off the frame and took the tire apart.
...

Got the tube to where I was working and tried my first patch. So the kit has a teeny square of sandpaper and the instructions say to scuff the tire. This sandpaper is pretty fine grit, I don't think it'll work. But I enthusiastically sand it and applied the patch as directed and tried pumping it up. The patch partially detached. So I peeled that one off, worked the sandpaper on the tube again for much longer until I could see a decent sized sanded area. Applied a second patch. I started pumping it up and it seemed to be holding. But this tire seems pretty high pressure, so I'll put a decent amount in and let it sit for a few hours. I kept pumping and the area with the patch stretched, which turned the circular patch oval, and eventually the patch detached.
Thanks for the interesting chronology of your experiences.
Two comments:
1) There shouldn't be any need to remove the brake pads when changing a tire. The details vary depending on the type of brake, but there should be a quick way to detach or loosen a cable leading to the brake so the pads pull farther away from the rim and let you slip the tire out (esp. if the tire is deflated). Check with your bike shop for how to do this with your particular type of brake.

2) The patch coming detached could be an indication that you didn't let the glue dry long enough before putting the patch on. The glue should no longer be at all tacky when you apply the patch. If I do this at home I let it sit until at least the next commercial break before putting the patch on - but may not have that much patience out on the road. Also, pumping it up so much that there's lots of stretching is a pretty severe test. Inside the tire the tube won't need to stretch much at all even at very high pressures since it's confined by the tire dimensions.
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Old 07-27-17, 11:29 AM   #16
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Thanks for the interesting chronology of your experiences.
Two comments:
1) There shouldn't be any need to remove the brake pads when changing a tire. The details vary depending on the type of brake, but there should be a quick way to detach or loosen a cable leading to the brake so the pads pull farther away from the rim and let you slip the tire out (esp. if the tire is deflated). Check with your bike shop for how to do this with your particular type of brake.
Okay, I'll look it over again. I do remember how whatever it was that came undone with the first tire went back together easily, maybe that's the release mechanism you're talking about.

Quote:
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2) The patch coming detached could be an indication that you didn't let the glue dry long enough before putting the patch on. The glue should no longer be at all tacky when you apply the patch. If I do this at home I let it sit until at least the next commercial break before putting the patch on - but may not have that much patience out on the road. Also, pumping it up so much that there's lots of stretching is a pretty severe test. Inside the tire the tube won't need to stretch much at all even at very high pressures since it's confined by the tire dimensions.
The kit had four rubber circles with paper on the back protecting the sticky side. The glue wasn't separate. I will admit that I didn't think about how the tube wouldn't stretch much when confined, but I also have some really big mountain bike tires that look like there's lots of room on the inside. It'd stretch a lot more than those skinny tires.
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Old 07-27-17, 10:39 PM   #17
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July 27th - Yesterday I got a holder for my cell phone. I took an old non-functional phone and tested the holder. Since it's secured on three sides I turned it upside down and shook vigorously. The phone didn't move at all, not even a fraction of an inch, so I felt my phone would be all right if I fell. I then installed Waze as it does display your speed and I was wondering how fast I am on a bicycle. I put on my backpack, and then I took it off and repacked it. Finally it felt right. I think I'm really at the point where I need to get that rear rack though, it's getting pretty heavy and it's a little difficult to maneuver onto and off the bike when I have the backpack on.

So I got on my way and found that my cruising speed is 10-11 mph. Okay, slow, but considering it's still the same month that I bought my bicycle, I'm pretty impressed with myself. I found that I can maintain 13 mph for several hundred feet. There is one spot, maybe 50 feet long, I don't know why, I always feel like I'm struggling. I found that I take that area at 8 mph (for a few seconds I dropped to 7 mph), but once I'm past the final hump in the road I speed right back up to 11 mph.

I am proud to say that on a level stretch I managed to hit 15 mph and hold it for several dozen feet. Of course the really big pickup truck behind me that was a little too close for comfort provided plenty of incentive, lol.

I am also glad after today I do have a mountain bike. Yesterday I noted above that the cross street in the major intersection is getting repaved. Well, today they have one lane done. And they didn't ramp the change in asphalt height, it's a sudden 2 inch jump. What I said when I saw that would be moderated, but a similar word that will pass moderation is "fudge". Man it was a hard bounce, but I managed to maintain full control after hitting it. Since it's probably going to be like that for a few days, anyone have any advice for making the jump easier on my bike? There is no pedestrian crosswalk so I must be a part of traffic to cross that intersection.

This is the weird part though. I worked a 7 hour shift, and after work I ran to the bathroom and changed clothes, got all my gear on and jumped on my bike and went on my way. No rest break. Yet going home I was averaging 11-13 mph. Well, elevation might play a part....but work is actually slightly lower than home. I have a few gentle downgrades and one hill that I go down to get to work. That means gentle upgrades and one hill to go up going home. I guess I just really, really want to get home.

Speaking of that hill, I took that at 8 mph, just like the really tough 50 foot stretch going to work. Yet this is clearly a hill, not a stretch of road that maybe goes up 6 inches. And while I'm on a bike path and not the actual road when I go home, it's two feet from the road with the same contours, and I don't have that major slowdown and difficulty when I'm going home. I don't get it.

The final stoplight on the way home was annoying. There was cross traffic that triggered the light and I was hoping it would change back by the time I got to the stop line. And the cross traffic light went yellow but the line was coming up even faster. I slowed as far down as I could, to the point my balance was wavering, and it was still yellow. I finally stopped, and just as my toes hit the ground, my light turned green. Really? You couldn't have done that one second sooner? Just one second would have made the difference between me still moving and me stopped. Sigh.

When I was nearly home, I had to get on a sidewalk. Okay, I don't have to, I just don't want to go downhill and then uphill when I can just walk the bike 25 feet along a sidewalk to cut through. I guess I was tired, my right leg got tangled up on the bike when I was trying to dismount and I thought for sure I was going to fall. Hope my tests on the cell phone holder were sufficient for a fall. But while I hopped a bit on my left foot and had to keep moving the handlebars around to keep the bike upright, I actually did really good at keeping my balance. I had all the grace of a hippo trying out for Swan Lake, but I actually was not at any real risk of falling. I am glad, because that is exactly what caused my three falls (during practice) and my very, very near fall (at a red stoplight) at the beginning of the month.

Everyone at work thinks I'm crazy for riding my bicycle to and from work. They might have a point, lol. But now that I'm getting used to it, I think I would choose to do it even if my car was working. But I haven't ridden in the rain yet, other than one test of my poncho during a gentle rain. I'm not sure the test was a success or not, I was soaked from the knees down. I did get a second poncho today, the next to last one at work. The way it fastens, I think it might work as a tarp for my bike. I'm glad I did get it, the other one was sold shortly after. And the couple that bought it wanted a second one and asked me if there were any more in stock. If I had delayed buying it, I'd have lost it.

I need to re-tape my backpack. I bought some duct tape at an arts & crafts store because duct tape jewelry is a popular craft project so they carry all types of colors. Well, the reflective "prism" color duct tape doesn't stick like duct tape and the strips came off. Since the neon orange duct tape sticks like it should I'm going to rip that off and then layer the edges so the orange duct tape is holding the prism duct tape in place. Here's a picture of the prism duct tape. The picture was taken with no flash and no interior lights and with the blinds closed, so the only lighting was indirect daylight. That should give you an idea as to how reflective it is. And this is how my backpack looked when it was freshly taped. I want to cover as little blue as possible, but I think I can add more strips than I originally had and still keep the pretty blue color showing.
[Note, if you recognize this backpack, please don't say what city I'm in. Thank you. ]
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Old 07-28-17, 06:23 AM   #18
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Hi Rachel,

I've read the majority of your blog here. First of all, congratulations on the bike commuting! I've recently started to do this myself, and it is a great way to start and end the day.
Couple of notes, if you don't mind:
The thickly padded saddle is probably not helping matters. It seems counter-intuitive, but really the less padding the better for most people. I'm also a woman as well, and my commuter has a leather Brooks on it, with zero padding and my commute is 13 miles going in, 16 miles home. I'd also recommend, though I know it's pricey, the Sella Italia Diva.
I also use a backpack to carry some supplies. For safety's sake, maybe think about upgrading the tape on you pack to the 3M Scotchlite. It can be found at major home improvement stores or on Amazon, and it comes in several colors (I think even blue, but I'm not 100% sure about that). You'll get greater visibility with it than with hobby duct tape.

Just a few things as a fellow new commuter that I thought I'd share. Most of all, I just wanted to pop in to say hi and good luck!
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Old 07-30-17, 12:05 PM   #19
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Forgive me for such a short post. I'm here to distract my mind, I had to put my cat to sleep this morning.

July 29th - Riding to work, my average speed was 10-12. The pedals seemed easy to move so I bumped up the speed by one. Then my speed was 12-14 and I was able to hit 15 pretty easily. Coming home wasn't so easy because of the up slopes, but I still managed 12-13. Until the end, I was tired so I entered the parking lot at 10-11.

The car behind me wasn't thrilled, but road construction, I had no way of letting him pass. In the parking lot I could give him room and he started to pass me, and then we came to the speed bump. I slowed down, he slowed down more and we were side by side when we crossed it.

Tonight I'm a little worried about, I got roughly 4 hours sleep last night and I'll have been awake 18 hours when I start for home. On top of that I have a major sinus headache and no Sudafed. I'm thinking about saying to heck with it for today and catching a ride with someone. Three miles on a major road with lots of traffic at night with sleep deprivation doesn't sound like a good idea.
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Old 07-31-17, 05:56 PM   #20
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July 31st - 1 of 2.

So I think today is the first time I got out there and rode my bike because I wanted to, not because I needed to. I needed a rear bike rack, my backpack is getting heavier and heavier, and I decided to just go and get it, rather than wait until a day I was working or waiting until this evening when my husband finally gets back in town. Of course the rear rack is still not on, as I haven't bothered to turn the bike right side up after oiling the chain. Yeah, I know I can do that right side up, but it's a pain since I either have to balance the bike without the kickstand for the left pedal to move freely or I have to move the pedals, lift the kickstand, move the left pedal past it, and lower the kickstand again. You know, I'm a wimpy woman who doesn't work in a job where physical strength is necessary and I don't go to the gym, but I'd rather flip over my roughly 45 pound bike instead of doing all that. Besides, doing so means I can watch TV at the same time without being distracted by balancing the bike without the kickstand lowered.

My front brakes were loud today. They squealed something crazy, unless I stopped on a dime. It definitely was when I pressed enough to slow down safely but not enough to suddenly seize the wheel. Once I was at the sidewalk shortcut where I live, I repeatedly engaged and released the brake and it didn't make a sound the rest of the way home. I'll have to Google it and find out what's going on I guess.

So I got buzzed twice going to my workplace. I claimed enough of the lane, darn near the middle, that they had to change lanes but they chose to pass within inches instead of moving fully over. Yet they were partially in the other lane, so there were no additional cars issues that would make them need to pass closely. I don't get people. Personally when I'm driving I don't want roadkill splashing guts on my car, especially two legged roadkill, so why these people don't care about potential accidents, I don't know. I can tell you this, if someone clips me and I survive, I'm getting the best attorney I can and I will never need to work again and they are going to be crying over the finances. I won't be going just after the insurance company, I'm definitely am going to ask the lawyer for a personal lawsuit against the driver. Maybe I need to leave instructions with my will for my family to do the same, just in case it's more serious than a clip. Of course that means actually getting witnesses and signing my will, which I'll do...someday.

Now for the success story for the day. That one spot where just something about it exhausts me and slows me down, I managed to not drop below 10mph. Yay! I'm getting faster! Most of the way was 13-14mph, but some of it I held at 15mph. And for a brief time I hit 17mph under my own leg power.

I hit a spot where I for once was the one annoyed by the slow movement of the cars, not them annoyed by me. I've mentioned before the cross road at the major intersection is being repaved and there's a 2 inch jump in the asphalt. Traffic was bad enough today that I had to wait for two light cycles to cross that intersection and all the cars were crawling over that jump. Crawling so slow that keeping pace with them was actually making me a tad wobbly. Both lanes were doing it, so I couldn't opt to pass traffic. And the guy in front of me apparently didn't know it was there and slammed on his brakes in order to cross it at just a couple of miles per hour.

Since I didn't spend long in shopping that meant I was in rush hour traffic both going and leaving. Going home was so much nicer though, the drivers were much nicer. No one buzzed me or honked their horn. Once I got on the path though, I loafed, really slow for a bit. Picked it back up when I got back on the road. While the road closure is still exactly the same, they moved the cones so traffic is merged after the light instead of before it. I know it's coming so I get in the left lane right as I get to the light. Green light, I had right of way over traffic on the crossroad turning right, but some van turned and it looked like he was going to try and race me to get in the lane before me. But the cones close the lane virtually immediately and he had no chance to speed up past my 13mph before the cones shoved him to the left. (And that suddenness is exactly why I get in the left lane just before the light instead of after.) He was nice though, he gave me room instead of tailgating me. But I still feel totally awesome that I was moving fast enough that a motor vehicle couldn't speed past me.

Part 2 will be installation of the rack. It's going to be interesting, as some of the holes aren't built into the frame so I'll be trying out the adapters for those spots.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:16 PM   #21
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July 31st - 2 of 2.

You know, this forum doesn't have a decent smiley for anger and rage.

I attempted to install the bike rack. The bike rack won. By a landslide.

I don't have the holes in the frame at the top, so I knew I was going to have to use the adapter clamps. But I've got two sets of holes right at the axle. Yeah, right. The hex head bolts didn't grab the threading on either set, they slid right through. What?? Then I realized that the included nuts that are used when using the clamps are imperial size, but up to now whenever I've worked on my bike I've needed metric tools. No wonder there's not a match, the frame and the bolts to go into the frame are having an international crisis. Well, I can always find some screws at Lowe's and change it out later, in the meantime I'll use the adapter clamps.

Got everything adjusted the way I wanted and I started tightening things. The bolts are hex head, the nuts are typical hex as well. So an Allen wrench in the bolt and a ratchet for the nut. Tighten, tighten, tighten, okay just about there, I'll give it a couple more turns.....halfway through the first turn it loosened and wouldn't re-tighten. Augh!!!!! It's stripped!

Now again, I'm a wimpy woman who has no need for upper body strength, so I've never developed it. However, I'm really good with hand tools and I know when I get to where I can't really tighten it any more, a guy could give it a couple more turns, and things like bolts and nuts and screws are developed for a man's strength. So if I stripped it out when it was "just about there", the metal has to be really cheap. Like the metal used on the tools included with my cat tree, I rounded out the laughable Allen wrench on the third bolt. So cheap metal. Even knowing that and taking care, I still managed to strip three of the four bolts holding the bike rack.

Got it all together and I started pushing on it and pounding on it, seeing if it could take the 26 pounds it's rated for, especially with the parts likely being stripped. It didn't move. So then I started trying to figure out how to move the reflector. Yeah, ain't happening. So I Googled how to do it, and pretty much the only three recommendations are drilling a couple of holes in the reflector and attaching it with zip ties, finding a piece of PVC piping of a similar diameter to the seat tube and screwing that into the rack and putting the reflector on the PVC or just buying a new reflector that matches the rack. Well I have a drill but no zip ties. I don't have PVC nor do I have a sawzall or circular saw to cut it with. And I kinda want to use this rack for work tomorrow, so no time to get a new reflector. Well I guess the rack will be empty tomorrow.

I then tried to attach my rear light to the rack. Well, ain't happening. My light has a rubber housing that wraps over one of the various bars and goes over two clips on the actual light. It's basically a pressure mount. Because I'm vertically challenged my seat is so low I had to turn the reflector upside down and there still was barely any room to put the light. The light was slightly off-center because there's not enough room on the bar for it to be mounted straight.

(Images below show reflector and light, rear of rack, original setup prior to rack.)
20170731_215859.jpg20170731_220210.jpg20170731_205253.jpg

Putting the reflector and the light back on the original place wasn't so great either. The reflector could be seen, but only half the light. So time to take the whole thing back off. Well, it turns out the nuts weren't what stripped out, it was the bolts. So tapping one with a hammer didn't knock it out. I ended up tapping a flat head screwdriver into the space between the frame and the adapter clamps and just twisting until the clamps broke.

So end of the day, my rack isn't on my bike so I'll still be lugging around the heavy backpack, I got oil on my shirt from bending over and brushing the gears/chain, I scratched the paint job breaking the clamps, and I have a bandaid because I cut my finger on one of the torn clamps. (And no, my tetanus shot is not up to date.) I have no idea how I'm going to get the bolts and nuts separated so they can be taken out of the holes in the rack. I need to go shopping for construction grade nuts and bolts, two sized for the threads in my frame near the axle and I need to find two replacement clamps for the upper mounts. And then I need a new light and a new reflector that works with the rack.

I think I'm sticking with the backpack for a while. And I think I need a good stiff drink.
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Old 08-03-17, 08:13 PM   #22
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August 3rd - Between being off from work and my husband having the right schedule that I can catch a ride I actually didn't ride my bicycle the last couple of days. I'm thinking that was a mistake as I had some endurance problems today. The little rises gave me more trouble than usual, so I was a little slower than usual going over them.

Waze was freaking out a bit today, it would insist I was only going 2-3mph for quite a few dozen feet and then -boom- it said I was going 12mph without me changing speed. So I don't know how accurate my speed was today.

Today I was pretty active at work. Android was doing a system update so my phone was charging rather than on me, so no idea how many miles I walked, but it was more than usual. And apparently when you have hypoglycemia, even if it's not been giving you problems recently, going 8 hours with heavy activity and no food is not a great idea. By the end of my shift I was in terrible shape - sweating, shaky, difficulty thinking. So I got something to eat at work after my shift and stayed put so it had a chance to hit the bloodstream. I figured getting on a bicycle and riding home before the food had a chance to raise my sugar levels was probably not a wise course of action. And as luck would have it, once I was feeling better I realized that I've got a cold. Sore throat, stuffy nose, all the usual symptoms that hit first. And I have to ride a bike home, groan. Hope exertion on a bicycle doesn't make colds worse by wearing you out.

And yeah, that taking a couple days off killing the endurance bit was just as bad on the way home. I've referenced crossing a major intersection before. Whatever engineer designed that intersection had to be smoking something good. There is a hump in the middle of the intersection, so both directions you are facing uphill when you stop at the light. A little one I could see for drainage purposes, but this isn't little. So Waze says I'm doing a piddly 9mph getting into the intersection. Well I guess the cops are supportive of bicyclists here because a cop passed me mid-intersection at that speed and didn't even slow down or wait for me at the other end to have a chat about obstructing traffic. Note: normally I'm not that slow, but two days off killed my endurance.

This evening I used the car to pick up my daughter and as I was waiting at a red light, I saw what looked like a Christmas tree in motion. Then I realized that it was two bicycles on the side road making a left turn onto the road I was on, and they had blinky multi-color LED lights everywhere. Yeah, I cheered them on. It was dark, no clue of ages, but they seemed pretty small so I'm wondering if they were even old enough to have driver's licenses. If they were as young as I suspect, they got some major courage being on the road without the years of experience we old folks have.

Ugh, I really hope exercise makes colds go away rather than wearing you out and making them worse. I've got to ride my bike to work tomorrow as well.
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Old 08-04-17, 07:33 PM   #23
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August 4th - SOMEONE TOUCHED MY BIKE!!!

At work, I always park my bike perpendicular to the building, closest rack to the door. Today I came out and someone had taken advantage of me having a flexible cable for my lock and had moved my bike parallel to the building, between the racks and the wall.

I was actually pretty upset that someone had touched my bike. Especially since the mirror didn't quite seem to be right. Thinking it through, there's a ramp nearby and someone probably had to wheel something up the ramp. But it still feels like someone borrowing your keys to move your car into a different parking spot without telling you. I'm the only idiot that's crazy enough to go play in the street, so everyone knows that's my bike. I wish someone had said something before I saw it.

But that's starting in the middle of the story. As far as the trip in, I don't know what was going on. My legs felt like cooked spaghetti. I don't know if it's because I am a little sick, I don't know if it's because it was 90+ with a heat index of 100, I don't know if it's because I had a little chocolate and some crackers this morning with my high protein meal instead of sticking to only protein, I don't know if space aliens resurfaced the landscape to make the trip harder, but man I had a tough time. My legs felt very, very weak the whole trip.

People annoy me. I just want to shake them by their necks and ask why they are conveniently "forgetting" that bicycles are legally supposed to be on the road. Not can be, supposed to be. I'm assuming all the drivers around me have licenses, so they know, they just want to pretend they don't know. I'm really getting tired of the horn honking, and really really tired of people passing too closely or cutting me off when they are doing left turns or U-turns and I'm straight with right of way. They start, stop and start again so I know they saw me and then made a decision to go for it.

I was a little worried this evening that I was going to get pulled over by a cop. The road construction closes off the right lane immediately after a stoplight, with a merge space of just a couple of car lengths. I always get in the left lane just before the stoplight. I do that because if I'm in the right lane and the light is red and there's only one or two cars on my left I can merge safely. But if there's a bunch, I cannot merge safely, I'd have to stop and wait in the disappearing lane and hope people turning right from the cross road don't run into the back of me. But technically legally speaking, I'm supposed to stay on the right side until past the light. So I'm first at the light, since it turned red while I was approaching it. I'm waiting for the green and a car comes up on my left, in the turn lane, turns out to be a cop. Eep! But he didn't even turn his head to look at me the whole time we were both waiting for a green light.

Well, I plan on lots of sleep tonight. Maybe my legs will be stronger tomorrow.
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Old 08-05-17, 04:22 AM   #24
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It was most likely the space aliens.
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Old 08-05-17, 08:11 AM   #25
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You don't have to stay all the way right out of the way through the intersection, if the lane narrows up ahead. It's too dangerous and that makes it an exception for far-right-as-practicable rules. Just keep doing it the way you are so that they don't squeeze you off the road through the intersection. Whoever honks, that's their problem.
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