Sunday, September 27, 2009

Draggy Ass

... That's how I've been feeling for the last week or so. I've checked Mike over a half-dozen times to see if brakes are touching rims, if gears are grinding, if anything's misaligned or misconnected. If the tires are losing air (which they are a little, but that's apparently not the cause.) I've checked everything. And yet every day it's been getting a little bit harder to move. Every day it's been feeling more and more like I'm just working harder for less result. Like I've been switching my gears lower and lower, and still feeling leaden. Like my back tire's stuck in mud. It's infuriating (a couple of times I've lost patience, and, swearing out loud, have stood up on the pedals and cranked angrily forward to try and get some speed, only to drop back into the saddle and go back to slogging along the road with aching thighs.)

Why? No idea. It could be the fall wind (persistent, cold, pushy in a way summer winds usually aren't.) It could be that slightly flabby back tire (which I'll fix tonight as soon as I can unearth the pump from my closet.) It could be whatever's making that unhappy grinding noise in Mike's drive train (he so needs a checkup before winter...) It could be stress. It's been a long, long couple of weeks marked with a certain level of mental pressure. That kind of thing can have a draining effect.

But then I got on the road this morning to go to a four-year-old friend's birthday party. And the glide was back. I felt strong again. It was grey and drizzly, not enough to warrant raingear, and warm enough to be comfortable in the wet, and I sailed along the pathway making a ssssssshhhhhhtttt noise over the wet fallen leaves, back in my usual gear range (5 and 6, not the sad and pathetic 3 and 4 I'd been working in for days.)

What had changed? No idea. I don't hear that grinding noise anymore, so maybe that's something. Or maybe it was all mental: and therefore the evening I spent last night making a nice dinner, doing some T-shirt refashioning and watching movies, and the morning of coffee, guitar, and new SF novel on the couch, were all I really needed to get my swoosh back.

I don't care how it happened, though, I'm just glad it did. I was starting to feel so ... weak. Sluggish. (Imagine me saying this in a melodramatic superhero voice) My powers! They... they're... back! At last. Now, off to defeat Doctor Despondence and his sidekick Mr. Grumpy!


  1. Hmm, Mike might be ok, but a little drive line maintenance could be the ticket. First step is to look at the chain to see if it has stretched. Near the cranks, can you pull the chain up away from the cog much? If so, you're chain has stretched & might be time for a new one. If it's ok, you could clean it with kerosene / white spirit / degreaser (hardware or supermarket). An old toothbrush is ideal for scrubbing the links & paper towel, rags or even some toilet paper is good for cleaning off the gunk. You should be outdoors of course when you do this.

    Next clean around the cogs front & back. Small sticks are good for getting between the rear cogs. Once it is all de-gunked, chain lube it (stuff like WD-40 is too light). Should only cost $5-10 at a bike store for a bottle that will last for years and is water repellant & sticks to the surfaces. Mike should change gears better too. Regular chain maintenance is the key to gliding!

    To test the brakes / wheel condition, lift a wheel off the ground & spin it. Things to look for are buckled rims, brakes rubbing & if neither of these, how well the wheel spins around before stopping. Brakes can be adjusted by the little adjustment barrels where the cable meets the brake levers & brakes. If the rim is only slightly buckled, don't worry about it.

    Not sure how much it cost, but The Bike Dump on Catherine had a winter tune-up & they seemed about the best prices in town (although admittedly a little out of the way for you).

    Up & at 'em! Hope this helps since I can't pop over & have a peek...

  2. This is awesome, Paul. I'll check all that. Mike's had some issues recently with the chain popping off, so it's possible it _has_ gotten loose, and I should probably have him in to the Bike Dump for a look-over before the fall really sets in (because tough biking in the summer is a whole other ballgame from tough biking in the crap we're dealing with now... drizzle and wind... and then there's slush to look forward to.)

    I know there's something askew in the front set of gears, because it sometimes pops from 3 to 2. Or won't shift back to 3. Think the front derailleur (if that's what it is?) is knocked a little inward. Or something. I'll have to ask the Bike Dump guys. (I like the one that looks like Thor with a spoke wrench. He fixed my first bike, Lucille.)

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