Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fending for myself

I woke this morning to a weather report that predicted rain, snow, freezing rain, ice pellets, and sleet. All coming out of the same sky at the same time. And they weren't wrong. I suppose I could have biked to work. But I really wasn't feeling it - and sometimes you have to take the bus to remind yourself why you don't.

Another factor in the decision, though, was that I still didn't have fenders, and was not interested in spitting road grit out of my mouth and blinking freezing rain out of my eyes all the way to work. I bought the fenders weeks ago, but between not having time, or not thinking of it when I did have time, Mike remained bare-tired.

Ah yes, and the other reason I was still fender-less was the "instructions" that came with my Planet Bike fenders. Apparently IKEA is the only organization out there that can produce wordless instructions that actually make sense (and I bet they employ entire Scandinavian villages to come up with those.) There was a diagram that I assumed depicted some portion of a bike, and some drawings of various little nuts and bolts, and a plastic bag with the various little nuts and bolts in it, and that was all. I still don't have any idea how the back fender is supposed to work: it's got a circular sort of thing at one end that I would assume was meant to go around the seat post or something if that didn't put it in such a strange position on the bike.

But the back fender doesn't matter so much, really. So I have a reverse-skunk stripe up the back of my jacket, I can live with that. It's the front fender that will hopefully make the difference, as Mike and I head into rainy season. So this evening I got the fender out and tried figuring out how to install it.

At least the general basics of most of these accessories are the same. I took my reflector off the front where it ran between the brake cables (I've got lights, so it was redundant anyway), and then messed around with the little metal flange and the long carriage bolts versus the short carriage bolts, and the washers and other bits. I love standardized stuff - it means you can try a configuration, and either it fits, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, you must be doing it wrong: try again. Flip the little flange around and see if it fits the other direction. Try the other bolt, maybe it's just that little bit longer. Bits of metal are usually bent using pressure from bolts and nuts to hold things in place, rather than fitting precisely, and there are convenient, standard holes in the frames of most bikes. So you can just fit things together, like puzzle pieces, until they make sense.

So, I think I have a half-solidly installed fender on my front wheel - and if the weather reports are right, I'll get to try it out tomorrow!

Wednesday Update: it's now tomorrow - and bright, sunny, and 12 degrees. So, the efficacy of the fenders remains undetermined. But fear not: the weather report threatens more rain this weekend...

Further Update on Thursday (which didn't require a whole post, so I'm adding it here): No rain again today, but I did pass a city works truck which had sent water cascading down a few hundred metres of Alta Vista Drive today. Unable to avoid it, I went right through it. My face remained unspattered. Victory! 

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