Kinky!

A couple of weeks ago, I started feeling like I wasn’t quite as strong in the pedals as I had been all summer.  It wasn’t much, just a nagging feeling that I was paying more attention to how my legs felt than I was to the passing scenery.  I could still go fast and coasting was just the same as it always was, but the pedaling took more out of me.  I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with my health.  I even had to turn back early on one of my rides.  I never turn back early.  It was feeling like too much work.  And I prefer not to work too hard at my exercise.  That’s why I chose bicycling in the first place – so I could get my exercise sitting down!

Anyway, I was getting all worried that I was getting old and feeble and would have to buy myself a walker soon, start fighting over handicap parking spaces, and recite my health history and current medications to any hapless passerby, when something unexpected happened.  It got cold.  No, that wasn’t the unexpected part.  That came when I pumped up my tires, dusted the cobwebs off my Racekap and went for a ride in the frigid temperatures with my super-sleek hardtop on.  I was actually slower!  Slower?!  How could that be?!  Had I entered some alternate universe where the laws of physics were reversed?  Had all of the hot air spewing from the thick heads of global warming deniers somehow caused a strange thickening of the local atmosphere?  Had insidious mind control beams from my semi-naughty nemesis Kevin somehow penetrated my aluminum foil helmet?  Yes, the well-oiled rationality of my keen mind astounds even me… sometimes.  But no, it wasn’t these obvious conclusions.  It was this…

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This little booger!

It’s called a chain tube.  It guides the chain coming from under my seat (on the right) towards the chain-rings (out of the picture on the left).  It is supposed to guide the chain up and over that hump called the tunnel (where all of the steering gizmos are housed) in one smooth path with minimal friction.  I discovered that kinks are not conducive to minimizing friction.  Here’s a better picture…

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Makes my knees hurt just looking at it!

Perhaps you can’t see it very well but the tube has split in a couple of places and is completely collapsed – basically grabbing the chain as it passes through.  Yah!!

Well, I searched around town for a replacement but it seems that replacement tubing is something of a specialty item in the bike shop world.  I finally found a shop that had a clump of used tubing that they dug out of a workshop drawer and were willing to sell.  I figured that used tubing which was actually round was better than used flat tubing so I bought it.

After my last run-in with chain maintenance (imagine mud-wrestling on the garage floor with a pissed off, greasy python) I decided to try something a little different this time.  I found one of the chain’s quick-links and coaxed it to a convenient location at the middle of the cockpit.  Then I tied that python down – before I opened the link.  I suspect that this is where I went wrong last time…

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Baling wire leash tied to the frame

Ah, so much easier!  I removed the idler sprocket, opened the quick link, and slid the tube off.  Then I attached another piece of baling wire to the end of the chain and used it to thread on the new tube.  Easy.  Join the chain back together, attach the new tube to the sprocket shaft, install the sprocket, then stand back and unleash the python.

Woo hoo!!  Back to skating on asphalt.

Much Ado About Nothing

Have you ever been on one of those rides where nothing really happens?  Perhaps nothing happened so subtly that you didn’t even realize it. You just continued on your way, thinking nothing of it.  But then, quite suddenly and without warning, nothing happens again.  There it was!  You noticed it that time.  So now you’re on your guard.  You’re watching out for it!

But as the miles slowly, silently slip under your wheels, the attention flags, the mind relaxes its vigil, the concentration dissolves away into a gentle passing breeze, and before you know it, a whole string of nothings have gone by with barely a whisper.

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You gradually become aware that your mind is blank and your body has relaxed into a perfectly quiet meditative state.  You glide along the road as if in a peaceful dream.  All of the voices in your head have gone quiet – the lists of things you need to do, the lists of things you should have done, the Gif style replays of recent human interaction, the bits and pieces of catchy songs and phrases – all have blurred into the fog and gone mute.  You are floating silently, at ease in a still world which you now see unaltered by the filters of emotion, stress and expectation.  You feel your mind slowly, gently joining with the universe in a great cosmic melding.  You are becoming one with the void.

Without fear.

Without desire.

All is peaceful…

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Gah!  What’s… happening?!

I must have accidentally turned off my iPod.

Must… find… earbuds!

Turn… on… music!

Turn… up… volume…

Ah, that’s better.  Let music wash away the abominable silence and bring me back – to reality.

(Singing) “In A Godda Da Vidda baby…”

A note: The song was originally titled “In the Garden of Eden” but the band’s singer was so wasted at the time of recording that his words were slurred in both the song and as he tried to communicate its title.  The slurred version stuck.