Friday, January 13, 2006


Thursday the temprature reached up into the mid-50's. I saw a number of cyclists out, but I was stuck at work with a bunch of crabby people. So, Friday morning I vowed to get in a ride.

Waking up the temperature was 38 and it was raining. With fenders and a raincoat things should be fine. It was to be an interesting test of bike and rider.

Starting out, with the wind at my back, the ride was very pleasant. There was no rain on my face and the fenders keep the road water where it belonged, even when riding through puddles. At the turnaround, things got nasty. The temperature had been falling and the rain drops were turning to ice. Little daggers were attacking my face and I had to keep my windward eye shut. It was also at this point that I realized that my winter gloves weren't waterproof. Wet fingers and the now freezing temperature combined to make my digits numb. It was hard to work the shifter, small motor skills were declining. Each finger would take a turn in the heart of the glove to to take the edge off the numb, and then swap for another. This strategy was staving off the worst, but hardly a substitute for warm hands.

It was here that the bike showed what was right about its design. When physical discomfort or fatigue set in, little issues get magnified. An uncomfortable seat, tendonitis, poor fit, will all begin to feel unbearable. But there was none of that. Moreover, when a rider is tired or sore or, in my case, suffering from a lack of feeling in the hands, bike handling and stability become much more important. I could concentrate on keeping my hands from freezing and trust the bike to get me home - and when you're on the edge, thats a nice feeling.

The bike was changed, however, since the last ride. I'd replaced my aerohead wheels with a set of MA3 on record wheels. My skewers were missing and I replaced these with a set of American Classic skewers from ebay. And from there came my second problem of the ride. The rear skewer just didn't want to hold my rear wheel in place. Eventually I tightened it more than seemed prudent, but it held. At that point it also became clear that there isn't any positive lever stop for the closed position. It appeared I could keep closing the lever until it would hit the spokes (not an option that I tested). Moreover, that as the lever closed farther, it was over-center and thus at less than its maximal tightness.

In response, I twisted the lever so that it closed against the seat stay. This doesn't leave much room to grab the lever to open it. And it may rub off the paint on the stay. Obviously this isn't a long term solution. Now, I'll grant you that this is probably a poor skewer choice for the bike. After all these are very light weight as for a racing bike. Still, I didn't know that there could be such deviation in basic functionality of a skewer. Anyhow, these will probably go on the carbon bike to minimize its weight. Meanwhile, they will get some shop time to see if there is a tweak to improve them.

Shifting in the lower gears was a little off too. The wheels have an almost new cluster (again from ebay). But, I didn't expect it to give problems. When I looked back at it, I could see the problem. Starting from the big cog, the #2 & #3 cogs were spaced much closer together than the rest. I'm not sure why. But, there's another shop project.

So, a couple of minor mechanicals to deal with, but overall a solid bike for the ride. By the way, freezing fingers and all, this was much more fun than spinning class.


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