Wednesday, February 21, 2007


After seeing "An Inconvenient Truth" last summer, I dedicated myself again to riding my bike to work everyday weather permitting. I figured it would be just my tiny contribution to reducing greenhouse gases.
I cleaned off my ten speed bike that I was using mostly for exercise riding around the neighborhood for 25-30 minutes several times a week. It is a Schwinn Super L'Toure circa 1976. I've treated it pretty well by periodically replacing tires, worn components and accessories and keeping it clean. My bike shoes, however, were also from 1976, a pair of Bata Bikers. These low profile canvas and rubber shoes were light and narrow and worked great with toe clips. But they were visibly rotting off my feet. So my first purchase:
Shimano Cycling Shoes $80
I got the shoes home and tried them on. They were terrific! A bit heavier than the Bata Bikers, but they were sturdier and would keep my feet dry and warm in inclement weather. The problem was they didn't fit in the toe clips. They are made for pedal cleats, although you can wear them without the cleats. Next purchase:
New Pedals and Cleats: $50
I love the cleats. They keep your feet locked to the pedals which makes riding easier. Contrary to what people told me, they have an easy and quick release. So far I haven't fallen.
I need to carry my laptop with me so I started using a backpack. This was okay, but it made me top-heavy and my back was pretty sweaty by the time I got to work. My rear panniers are also 30 years old and very worn and dirty. I started looking for replacements that would also hold a laptop. There are some that do that, but they tend to be really bulky. I needed a waterproof bag and those were often rubbery, heavy and didn't maintain a shape. So I ended up going to REI and buying:
Detour Panniers: $70
These panniers, discussed in the first blog entry, were neither waterproof nor made to hold a computer. However, they did come with waterproof covers you can quickly slip on should the rain start to fall. That leaves the problem of the laptop. I took one pannier and my laptop to a local company that sells foam, and they fabricated a:
stiff foam sleeve $7
for the pannier that fit like a glove and held the laptop that was inside a neopreen cover and inside a waterproof plastic bag.
Where to carry my glasses, a Powerbar, extra gloves, etc.? My old handlebar bag had long ago bitten the dust, so I looked around locally and bought a new:
Handlebar bag: $36
On my first early morning commute in November I strapped on my arm light and hooked my rear amber blinking light to the pannier rack. These, being 30 years old also, were so dim as to almost not be seen. So off again to REI for a:
White front light: $25
Rear red blinking light: $10
And, if you read an earlier post, I'd lost my pump, so back to REI (I'm on a first name basis by now with the bike guys) for a:
Small hand pump $16
Cost to get me back on my bike: $294
A cleaner environment: Priceless!

Friday, February 2, 2007


Nothing is more satisfying than riding along on my bike with only the noise of the tires swooshing along the pavement and the wind whistling by my helmet. Much less satisfying is the annoying squeaks and clicks that sometimes occur from lose parts, worn parts or things dangling in front of moving parts. I'm pretty much obsessive-compulsive when it comes to disallowing my bike to talk back. A previous post talked about repacking my bottom bracket to eliminate an annoying squeaking sound. Read on.
After repacking the bracket, the squeak returned. I'd pedal and the squeak would rear it's ugliness. I'd stop pedalling and the squeak would hide. Pedal, squeak. Pedal, squeak. Hmmm? I went out for a leisurely ride and listened intently trying to lean forward to isolate the sound. It was below me somewhere and not around the front wheel. Because I heard it when I pedaled, I was convinced that it had to be in the drive mechanism somewhere. I got off my bike to inspect it and leaned against the saddle (see above). Squeak. My seat? The nerve! I got on and pedaled away. Pedal, squeak. Pedal, squeak. Each time I pushed the pedal down, my butt moved left then right causing the seat to squeak. A cheek squeak!
I looked under the seat and didn't see anything loose. I spray WD40 around the inner workings of the seat. I got back on and pedaled hard. Pedal, squeak. Pedal, squeak. Finally I pressed down with first my right cheek and then my left. Pedal, silence. Pedal, silence. Success!
I like riding in the cold weather because I have a knit cap and hooded sweatshirt over my ears and I can't hear as well. Pedal, can't hear anything. Pedal, can't hear anything.