So...last time I mentioned my serious hill climbing bike, I was having a FlashZone ride, lubricated with free, found Chevron motor oil. It reminds me of some irresponsible parties of the past, that are so good and you just don't want them to end, and then... it's the next day and there are some huge bills to pay. Using motor oil on your bike chain is like that. So easy, so seductively smooth. Oh so frictionless, oh so Astrolubed for a couple rides, then one day you notice a black, grimy mess all over your chain and gears. The slightest touch of this tainted substance leaves your fingers and clothes black as night. Oh, how I had sinned against my loyal Lemond! I knew better but did it anyway! Sometimes I'm an idiot, in hindsight.
Detail: 28 tooth front chainring, 42/52 removed
So the inevitable time came to clean up the mess. I found myself loathing what my bike had become, soiled, blackened, almost infected. I put on some old clothes and spent a good 2 hours disassembling the parts and cleaning. Its intimate quality time with your bike. First, I tackled the rear cassette with a toothbrush, orange cleaner, and shop rags. Next up, I took apart the chainrings for the same treatment. I removed the chain with the Powerlink (a must have feature on all my new chains) and cleaned the frame. The chain was last, and always the most difficult. After totally blackening my hands and several rags, I had a clean chain. Only then did I decide to measure it for stretch. DOH! It measured 12 3/16", that's very stretched.
Detail: 11-32 rear cassette and Deore XT derailleur
A new chain should measure exactly 12" from any pin to another one 12" down the line. Use a metal ruler and a taut chain. So I had cleaned that chain for nothing, I could have just removed it and ordered a new one. Which I did, I'm waiting on a SRAM PC 991, which is their top 9 speed chain. The 991 features sexy hollow pin construction and thus light weight and better shifting qualities. I also ordered a 39 tooth middle ring to replace the 42 I have been using. My instincts tell me that with the 39 I will be able to climb in the middle ring longer, thus the climbing abilities of the bike are enhanced overall. I'm looking forward to the new parts. I really am. (for more on the subject of gears read The Low Gear Manifesto)
The Flashco Flying Trapeze, 2004
I built this hanging bike appliance years ago, but it dawns on me that I haven't featured it in Flashblog up until now. This really makes bike work easy. It's simply two 2x4 studs cut to length and mounted between two rafters in my basement. When I am not working on bikes, it swings up and nests in the ceiling. Two large hooks support the bike from the top tube. I incorporated a shelf above the hooks which serves as a handy tool or beer rest.
So this week I've been riding my Miyata to work as part of the Great Race Commuter Challenge. It's a harder hill bike, it's lowest gear is a 25x36, which is only semi-compact. If it had a 39 in front it would be a pro-racer gearset. I feel it in my body, more stress on joints and muscles. But between the two bikes, so far in Sept. I've bagged 110 miles and 7,500' of climbing---riding to work and back! But I'm ready for my new drivetrain and low gears and some Indian Summer hill riding.
See you out there,