Rambling Jack's Laboratory
A McKinleyville-based repository for ruminations and assorted rubbish.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The Cannondale is back!
The Cannondale is back, baby! My vintage ride, circa 1985, now has a new rear wheel, freewheel, tire and tube. There’s even a spanking-new rear rim strap, which is that over-sized, flat rubber band that separates the tube from the rim. I was going to just use electrical tape, but I’m a big-time newspaper publisher, so why not splurge and spend the extra $1.50?
So I went for a ride Tuesday evening.
I went north. Here's the bike on Clam Beach Drive.
Was it going to rain? There was a hole in the clouds. Check out the bright spot in the ocean.
There were lots of flowers, none of which I can identify.
Here's a rusty chain.
This pretty banks dory was for sale near Trinidad Head.
You can see that it has a motor well and a spot for a centerboard, so you can sail it or motor it.
Contact Terry Huff if you want to buy it. He probably spent more building it than $1,500.
There's an ordinance in Trinidad that requires you to slam on your brakes in the most reckless manner possible and park in the middle of the street when you come to the Memorial Lighthouse. Then you have to pull out your camera and photograph it from every possible angle.
A tasty meal of rotting flesh awaited this guy near Baker Beach. You could smell it from the road.
When I got home, I had one of these bad boys waiting for me in the fridge. I was going to post these photos last night, but between the beer, sweet potato wedges, and watching "Recount" on HBO, I didn't have time.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
New wheel coming...
I was going to write a detailed report about my Tour of the Unknown Coast adventure that took place a week ago today, and eventually I may do so. But it’s kind of hard to garner enthusiasm for an aborted ride.
Even though I dropped out due to a mechanical failure, there’s a sense of failure about the day due to the fact that I wasn’t able to make the repairs. I also suspect that I was personally responsible for breaking the spoke during a reckless Johnny Knoxville-style stunt a week before.
On the flip side, the broken wheel was a good excuse for an upgrade. I could have had the wheel repaired, but then I would have been left with an older wheel with an old-style freewheel that requires a clumsy, heavy set of expensive tools to repair. Factoring in the cost of purchasing tools, it made more sense to get a new wheel, freewheel, tool and extra spokes – all of which should allow me to fix broken spokes in the future.
Adventure’s Edge should have it all ready for me this week, after which I will start plotting another century ride. There are several options, which I’ll write about later.
In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying my mountain bike, pictured above on Thursday at Elk Head during one of the hottest Humboldt County rides that I can recall. It was nearly 100 degrees!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
When sending me e-mail...
I recently upgraded my computer, which involved switching over my e-mail program from Eudora to Mac Mail. The new program has a junk filter which I will turn on in the next couple weeks.
So, if you send me an e-mail, please don't use the following in the subject line:
• Ejaculate like a fountain
• I find you interesting
• Get a longer rod
• Your wife will thank you
Some of you are probably thinking "But I was just about to send you an email about ejaculating like a fountain. What do I do?"
I don't have any easy answers, folks. Perhaps you should use:
• CIA-LIS – Cheapest prices and 100% satisfaction guaranteed!
• Yippe-ki-yay motherfucker (I usually open this one.)
Those should work just fine. For security purposes, when I send you e-mail I'll do so under the following subject lines:
• Your shlong will make her cry
• Crazy ass savings on luxury watches
• URGENT: Regarding your debt consolidation
I hope this clears things up and improves our communication experience.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
TUC.5.10.08 (The broken spoke/short version)
I’m trying to be philosophical about it, but I must admit that I’m a little grumpy after a mechanical meltdown this afternoon took me out of the Tour of the Unknown Coast at mile 52.
I’ll write more about it later, but the short version is that I had a broken spoke on the rear wheel on the “cog” side. That meant that to fix the problem one would need a cog remover for an old 1980s bike. I didn’t have one, nor did the Adventure’s Edge crew at the TUC.
The day started beautifully. The weather was perfect. Things were going great from Ferndale to Rio Dell to Scotia and through Avenue of the Giants. I was hurting a bit climbing Panther Gap, but when I got to the top I felt good – much better than last year. I had a feeling at that point that I’d be able to finish the tour. Sure, I’d be tired and it might take me a long time, but I was in the game and looking forward to the rest of the ride.
As I descended down the other side of Panther Gap, I heard strange noises coming from the rear wheel. When I got to the bottom, the back wheel was all out of whack and rubbing against the frame. It was so bad that when the wobbly wheel rubbed against the bottom part of the frame on one side, the opposite side of the wheel rubbed against the downstays. I tried to true the wheel by adjusting the spokes, but that didn’t help at all.
If I did try to pedal the bike, it would have been like riding with the brakes on. The tire was nearly worn through from the rubbing that had taken place, apparently from the Honeydew descent.
So it was the end of the ride. Fortunately, everyone was very kind and helpful. Some folks really went the extra mile to lend me a hand, or at least give me some advice and words of encouragement. Thank you!
After repairs are made, I'll have to do something to make up for this disaster.
Friday, May 02, 2008
TUC preparations (mechanical only)
With the Tour of the Unknown Coast coming up May 10, it was time earlier this week to give my "vintage" Cannondale some much-needed TLC. The first order of business was to figure out where all the “clicking” noises that developed over the last month or two were coming from. They seemed to be most noticeable while climbing hills, so I loaded up my tools and headed to the nearest incline.
This hill on Fischer Road, a few blocks from where I live, is steeper than it looks. It’s a perfect grade for testing out gears, etc. If you climb to the top and everything works fine, your bike is good to go. I pedalled to the top and noticed that a lot of the noise was coming from the headset. Adjustments were made and there was a lot less noise, but still some clicking. Back to the laboratory.
Just for the hell of it, I decided to remove the crank and inspect the bottom bracket. Any bonehead could do this, but you have to have the right tools. Tools cost money, so not everyone has this luxury. The crank puller was purchased in the early 1980s, so I got my money’s worth. Those toe clips are from the same era. I might add that I dress like Sonny Crockett, listen to Depeche Mode records non-stop and do all my blogging on a Commodore 20.
After removing the crank, I discovered that my bottom bracket was loose! Damn. Good thing I checked. That could have been a disaster.
The next order of business was to clean and lube the chain. Let’s face it – if you’re going to do this job right, you have to remove the chain. So that’s what I did.
I cleansed it in gasoline until it was clean enough to wear like a necklace under a starched white shirt.
I’ve been refining my chain lube technique, which now involves submerging it in regular motor oil (30 weight.) Sounds messy, but here’s my theory – what’s important is to lubricate the internal parts of the chain that rub against each other rather than the external surfaces that come in contact with the chain rings. If the internal surfaces dry out, your chain will make a lot of noise and probably damage itself. But if the internal surfaces are well-lubed, the outer surfaces can be dry and covered in grime and the chain will still work fine.
You also don't want to spray WD-40 on the outside of the chain. Doing so will force grime into the little crevices and the WD-40 will act as a solvent and degrade the internal lube.
(Note: I'm often mechanically challenged until my brain understands such basic concepts. For example, I often had trouble adjusting derailleurs until it was explained to me that they work by "brute force." With this simple description I suddenly developed what they call "mechanical empathy," at least when it came to my old-school, brute-force gear changers.)
So the chain is submerged in oil. The oil gets inside. Then I use a forest worth of paper towels to clean up the chain’s exterior. It takes time and I make a big mess, but the chain spins like butter once it’s reinstalled.
The bike was cleaned and adjusted. Later in the week I went for a ride and made all sorts of adjustments along the way, including a serious brake adjustment, which I performed at the Vista Point, above. The TUC has nearly 10,000 feet of elevation gain, which means it has nearly 10,000 feet of elevation loss. That’s a lot of downhill braking.
Then it was off to Scenic Drive. Everything worked great. So the bike is ready, but am I?