bike saga

So today has not been a great studying day for me.  I’m in Corporations, which I dislike, and it’s Monday.  I foolishly decided that 11:30 this morning was a good time to try (again) to get my wireless printer to work with my MacBook: two hours down the drain.

I’ve wanted to take advantage of the flexibility I have this summer and do more studying outside.  I also needed to return some unwanted clothes and packages to Amazon (my Kindle screen broke).  I decided to load up my bike, bike to the post office, then head back to Genesee Valley Park, and do some studying outside.

It took me a few minutes to put on the various baskets, panniers and boxes.  I took the pictures above (not before the bike tipped over—oops), and swung my leg over to get started.  I hopped up on the seat, and began to pedal.  Instead of the gears engaging, there was some loud grinding, and no forward movement.  It felt like the chain had slipped off.

So I got off, and sure enough, the chain was off the front gear.  I’m totally used to chains coming off my derailer bikes, but this bike has a hub.  And one of my favorite parts of my bike is the hub shifter—no slipped chains, easy to shift both while riding and while stopped.  So this was surprising.

I put the chain back on the gears, but it was still loose.  I knew this was wrong.  A few months ago, I took the chain off and waxed it.  The chain was so tight that I couldn’t put it back on without loosening the rear wheel.

Why was my chain loose?  Well, the story starts about a week ago.  Alan and I were headed off on a long ride south, among the farms.  A little more than a half-mile in, I stopped to adjust the sensor on my bike computer.  When I sat back on the seat to get started, the wheel rear popped spectacularly.  I’m pretty sure it was my fault—I had let the wheels get soft, and ridden on them at fairly low PSI.

Alan replaced the tires on his Raleigh with Specialized Armadillo tires, which are super rigid and super puncture resistant.  Since he installed them, he hasn’t had any flats, and he had flats regularly before that.  And as an added benefit, he found that his tubes leak air more slowly now.

So Alan encouraged me to replace my tires.  I had been thinking about replacing my tires for a while, for more aesthetic reasons.  I love my bike, but I think that the cream bike/cream tires looks a little too much like a ghost bike.  But I didn’t want pure black tires—I thought it might be too much contrast.

I spent a day researching puncture resistant tires with tan sidewalls.  I ended up choosing Panaracer Pasela Tourguard tires, which get great reviews.

But here’s where the story gets ominous.  I asked Alan to remove my rear wheel, so we could replace the tube.  We brought the bike inside, flipped it upside down, and found a 15 mm wrench.  It turns out that taking off a rear wheel and unhooking the cable from the axle wheel is not really recommended.  Alan spent nearly an hour trying to figure out how to get the cable re-attached.

I replaced the tires without unhooking the cable—it’s not easy to maneuver the tube and tire in between the brakes, fenders, and wheel, but it’s do-able.  We tightened up the wheel, and I’ve been riding it around some recently.

But today the chain is loose.  So Alan and I have to look more closely at the axle and see what’s going on.  I had to stop part-way to the post office, completely unload the bike (ugh!), and move the wheel backwards, to try to tighten the chain, but it was only partially successful.

On the plus side, I LOVE the Panaracer tires.  I’ve read about tires affecting a ride: making it smoother or rougher.  This is the first time I’ve replaced the tires on any of my bikes.  The Panaracers seem faster—I can go faster with less effort—and they absorb a lot of shock.  I guess it’s because they have flexible sidewalls.  Alan’s concerned that that will lower their puncture-resistance, which I suppose is possible.  But most of the detritus I run over is broken glass and gravel, which I imagine will mostly hit the black part of the wheel, not the sidewalls.

So to end the story: I got my packages mailed, but I stopped at home, I didn’t go to the park.  One out of two isn’t bad.



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