Replace Your Bike Chain Early To Save Money

Here is a bummer for you: I need to put $$$ into my bike to get it to run well. Okay, so that is not really a surprise, is it? First, I did not realize that I had my bike as long as I have. Second, even though I already knew this, it didn’t really sink in: you can’t usually buy a new chain without getting new chain rings and maybe new cogs. Well, “usually” means if you do not wait too long, like I did. Theoretically, if you replace your chain in a more timely fashion you can get two, three or maybe even four chains through the cogs and chain ring sets. Chains are the cheapest part of the drive train, so even for a cheapskate like myself; I now know to replace the chain more often.

I ride in all weather and sadly do a minimal amount of maintenance. Therefore my wear and tear is substantial and I definitely waited too long to replace my chain. I thought I was going to purchase a chain and be on my way. Unfortunately, I was advised that I need at least one, probably two chainrings and the new cog set. That added up in a hurry. On top of that, the original estimate did not apparently include labor. Isn’t that a bit like selling car tires without air valves, or printers without printer cables?

So now, my bike is at the local bike shop awaiting parts. I hope the work is completed quickly so that I can ride the bike in the MS Finger Lakes Challenge ride in July. (By the way, you can sponsor me at http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/Simmons)

Comparing New vs Worn

My chain ring looked like shark’s teeth, very intimidating! GRRRR! However, the teeth should look a lot more square on top, instead of pointy. This same phenomenon happens to chainrings, cogs, sprockets and even the pulley gears in your derailleur to varying degrees.

The primary symptom that I experienced is chain slippage under load. I didn’t notice it too bad because I apparently use my gears pretty well. Pat pat pat (that is the sound of me patting myself on the back). But, sometimes there just sn’t enough time to shift, or a large amount of force is needed reagrdless of what gear you are in. For me, it manifested itself most frequently when starting from a stop at intersections. Yeah. Bad time to slip! Oh! And the noise it makes is horrific, too.

SURLY Long Haul Trucker with racks and fenders

My bike is for sale. It will be worth more than what I am asking as soon as it comes out of the shop. You can check it out at https://rochester.craigslist.org/bik/6180835973.html.

Why do you have to replace the chainrings, chain and cogset? When they are in new condition, the chain fits nicely in the valley between the teeth of each gear. As the chain wears, it actually stretches. After a time, the chain no longer fits in the valleys between the gear teeth and occasionally hits the top of the gear teeth. At this point, if enough pressure is supplied, the chain slips (actually the chainring spins freely beneath the chain).

If you simply replace the chain, the new chain will not fit the worn chainrings as they should. This also holds true at the other end of the bike mainfesting itself at the cogset. Just replacing the chainring and not the chain would result in a similar situation. The two are designed to work together. Mixing old and new is similar to purchasing both new but not in the correct sizes to work together. All of this holds equally true with replacing either the chain or cogset. Essentially, you want tot replace all three at the same time. The only caveat to this is if you replace your chain early enough; in this case you might get two three or even four chains through the set before you need to replace all three components.

Therefore, replacing your chain early is actually the cheapest way to go. But, it just doesn’t feel right replacing the chain before it is completely worn… so that is why I get burned.

This Was The Flattest Century In The History Of The Tour De Cure (Or At Least That Is What They Claimed)

A lot of bicyclists, and non-bicyclists for that matter, think that a flat bike ride is better/easier than a hilly one. Maybe. Probably for short rides, they are right. They think that hills mean more work. However, this is not necessarily true.

Road through the hills

Many people do not know the value of a hill. Hills afford you the opportunity to get out of the saddle while climbing up the hill. They allow you the opportunity to coast down the other side resting your legs. They break up the monotony of just pedaling pedaling and pedaling. They give some variability in the speed that you are traveling.

Out of the saddle

Hills afford you the opportunity to stand and pedal. Many bicyclists are not comfortable standing and getting out of the saddle. However, there are several reasons to do so.

  1. You get to rest your butt. This is a big one (reason – not butt) on long rides. It is an opportunity to restore circulation, feeling, and comfort.
  2. You get to use a slightly different set of muscles in your legs. It provides a nice “rest” for your legs.
  3. You get to use your weight for power rather than always using your muscles.

Hills also afford you the opportunity to coast down and rest your legs. Alternatively, you could pedal down but dramatically increase your speed. I like to keep my legs moving so that they don’t stiffen up. Besides, the faster you go down a hill the farther up the next rise you can travel before it becomes real hill climbing work.

The canal trail is a very popular ride. I love riding the canal trail. However, it is very flat. Without any hill climbing, I find that I need to take more frequent breaks. For this reason alone hills are a good thing for riding longer distances.

Flat is not all it is cracked up to be.

The Tour de Cure:

So, how was the Tour de Cure? It was fun. It was work. It was rewarding.
I successfully completed the full one hundred miles. It took all day, or so it seems. (really, it took just a little less than eight hours of riding) I was up at 5:30 because I have to be across town for the start at 6:30.

The Tour de Cure is not a race. However, for me it was a race to lunch. This is because all riders riding the century ride must leave lunch by 1:00 or they will not be allowed to finish the ride. They will be sagged to the metric century route. So much for the anyone can ride ten miles per hour for ten hours theory.

So the race was on to get to the lunch stop. It may have been a race but it was not a sprint. It really meant no dilly dallying at rest stops and just keep going. Seventy miles before lunch. I figured that would be seventy miles in about six hours. Seventy divided by six is approximately twelve miles an hour. Twelve miles an hour is easy – at least at the beginning of a ride. Really, it was. For a good portion of the seventy miles I was able to go closer to an average of eighteen to twenty miles per hour. Early in the ride, I mean right out of the starting gate, it’s not an option; you are in a pack.

Riding in a pack is easy. You draft off of each other just due to your proximity to each other. Seriously, you don’t have to be all that close to draft. If the rider in front of you is within a bike length or so, you are drafting off of him. If there is more than one rider you get that much more drafting effect. This is not riding in a pace line; this is riding in a pack. Conversations are going on, legs are loosening up, and everyone is finding their pace. Every mile the pack spreads out a little more and smaller packs begin to form. Pretty soon you are riding with a bunch of people that ride about your same pace. Well, in theory anyway.

That is certainly how it can work. It is how it usually works for most people. I guess I never really found my pack. I did most of the ride as a solo effort. I like riding alone. I turn on my MP3 player and listen to inspiring (to me, anyway) music. Occasionally I catch and pass an individual or even a group that is not traveling as fast as I am. On rare occasions, someone will pass me, too. Usually I hang with them for a while, drafting. But I don’t usually have the desire to stay with them for more than a couple of miles. They are, after all, traveling faster than my comfortable pace.

I see the same people at most rest stops. They are pulling out when I pull in or vice versa. You’d think that would mean that I could join their pack and travel along with them. You’d be right, too. I could. But, they are traveling along at my pace as a group. If I join their group and start drafting off them, they are going too slow! When I take my turn at the front of the pack so they can draft off of me, they will drop after a while because I am traveling faster than they like. Not that they couldn’t keep up if they wanted to; their pace is just enough slower that my speed is not their comfort level. Just like the packs that dropped me. So I traveled most of the day as a loner.

At the rest stops, I stopped at each of them, I drank plenty of water, quite a bit of Gatorade, and ate a couple of oranges. I had two Fig Newtons at each stop, too. (I love Fig Newtons)

I made it to lunch right around noon and actually left the lunch stop at 12:30, well before the cut off time.

The rest of the afternoon was much more relaxing. Only thirty miles to cover and no fear of not making it. I hung with the JCC team for many miles, but ultimately they dropped me after I took a turn in front of them.

When I got to the finish line my family was waiting for me. What a great surprise! I thought I would be waiting for my ride to arrive but they were already there. That just added to the fanfare of the finish.

Made it 100 miles

Unofficial time and statistics: 7:07:57, 101.29 miles, 14.3 average speed, 33.6 maximum speed. 64 degrees starting temperature and 84 degrees finishing temperature.

By the way, it is never too late to sponsor me if you want to. You can do it online, right now, at http://main.diabetes.org/goto/ksimmons

Let me know what you thought of this post in the comments.

Thoughts About Second Hand Sound

Today is a beautiful day. We haven’t had a better one in a long long time. The sun is shining. There is not a cloud in the sky. The temperature is climbing into the nineties (finally!). There is just enough breeze to keep the bugs down. I am sitting out on the front porch.
There does seem to be an inordinate amount of traffic on the road for a Sunday. You might think these people are out for a drive enjoying the great weather. But most of them seem to be out enjoying their air-conditioning. Their windows are up and they are off to somewhere. Church?
Except the Harleys. They are out in force. Huge packs of them are driving by. While one is obnoxious, hundreds at the same time is deafening. It can be sort of cool; the rolling thunder and all that. But really it seems more inconsiderate than impressive. I am certain that it is all relative to my state of mind. I feel as if this noise is being forced upon me.
Jets are incredibly loud. It really sucks when one flies over interrupting conversations and television or radio programs. But I always figure that that is the good of the many outweighing the good of the few. Jets are incredibly intrusive noise makers. But if you go to an airshow or sit at the end of the runway… that obnoxiously loud noise becomes something cool and impressive. At that time, you are there to hear them roar. It’s what you want. You are more than likely there by choice.
Not so with the Harleys. They choose to come to me and inflict their impressiveness on me regardless of my wants. The jet needs to make that noise because of the requirements for power for transportation. The Harleys… not so much. They are loud because the riders decide to have them loud. There are plenty of quieter motorcycles on the road. There are also the rice burner cycles. They can be as bad as the Harleys, but they don’t seem to sound as bad when they are just cruising by. Their noise is generally from high speed accelerations.
The same phenomenon occurs on the lake. You go to sit on the porch and the jet skis and power boats come out to serenade you. Get a canoe, kayak or sailboat!
Oh I love it when they ride their loud bikes through the neighborhood and they want to listen to their favorite music at the same time. Instead of having their bikes tuned or their mufflers configured to quiet them down, they crank up their radios so that they can be heard over the noise of their engines. Well, we have all heard their radios a quarter of a mile away. One rider told me his motorcycle was so loud to protect him from deer. Sort of, the ultimate deer whistle. I don’t buy it. If anything, the deer might sacrifice their own lives jumping out in front of these obnoxiously loud vehicles to shut them up for the good of the neighborhood and their other animal friends.
Why is it that when my exhaust pipe on my car breaks it is a crime to drive it due to the noise ordinances in most localities? But if a Harley drives by, it is all ok and super. Are the police really that intimidated by these bikers? Heck, if they just clamped down on them for their noise, and maybe their speed, we could fix the country’s, or a t least the county’s, deficit in the budget. If nothing else it would be good for the local economy as it drives business to the motorcycle shops to get all those mufflers fixed.
Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Several quieter bikes just drove by. See you on the streets. Hopefully I don’t hear you coming. Let me know what you think about this subject. Leave a comment.

My Favorite Gloves For Biking

Example of Crochet Gloves

My favorite gloves for biking are the crocheted type. They have great comfort like all other gloves. The part that truly gives the comfort is on the palm side. The backside is also quite comfortable due to its breath-ability. My hands don’t over heat with these. With Lycra gloves, my hands frequently get very sweaty and the gloves end up stinking. The crocheted glove don’t have this problem.

This style of glove also gives the “best” tan lines. These are the tan lines that set you apart as a biker.

A great example of this type of glove is the Planet Bike Taurus Gloves.  As an added benefit, the crocheted gloves are almost always cheaper than their Lycra cousins.

As I stated before, the part that really gives the comfort is on the palm side of the glove. The back is primarily just a personal preference. Although, it is true, that without the back the palm section would not stay put and would actually be quite useless. A bicycle glove is like the body of Christ. There is one glove but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one glove. Look it up in the Bible, in Corinthians 12:12-27. However, there is no escaping that the back’s primary feature that people notice is its style; you know, color, texture…

On the business side of the glove, the palm, you can have Kevlar inserts, Gel padding, just plain leather… I think that this is where the real comfort portion of glove is felt. Moreover, one person’s perfect glove might not be another person’s perfect gloves. There are just too many variables for that to happen consistently. Even the kind of bar tape or hand grips you have on your bike will effect how comfortable your gloves feel. Your favorite glove may not be your favorite if you switch bikes.

What are your favorite gloves for biking, and what is it that you like so much about them? Let me know in the comments section.

Tour de Cure Preperation

Less than a week until the Tour de Cure century ride. Am I ready? Maybe. Still working on raising funds. (If you want to financially contribute to my fund raising efforts, you can do so at http://main.diabetes.org/goto/ksimmons (I would greatly appreciate it!)

However, what I am really talking about here is if I am ready physically and psychologically, right? To date, my longest ride of the year has been forty-five miles. That was my longest day. Really, it was broken up into two rides. I can easily knock of twenty or thirty miles. My own rule of thumb is that I can double whatever I am training at and ride that comfortably. Actually, I am thinking that I will be able to ride probably seventy-five or eighty miles fairly comfortably. It is the last twenty-five or thirty miles I am wondering about. I will make it. I am confident of that.

It really boils down to the comfort level I will be at for the end of the ride. My legs will be like rubber. My ass will be sore; my hands will hurt. I can hardly wait!

Because it is an organized ride with multiple rest stops, I should be able to stay well nourished and hydrated. There will also be many other riders to talk with, draft off of, and break up the ride in general. All in all, I am feeling pretty confident. And, let’s not forget Strava. Strava will be recording it all for posterity’s sake. This will be an encouragement to keep on keeping on. You can follow me on Strava. Just go to www.strava.com and do a search for me.

I have ridden a lot of miles on the trainer. I have been riding for one-hour intervals and have been pretty consistent in my speed and distances. I would say I am averaging about fifteen miles per hour and consequently about fifteen miles per ride. When I finish a ride, I am literally saturated with sweat. There is a puddle of sweat on the floor under the bike and my gloves are soaked. When riding the trainer, there is no coasting. It is constant pedaling for the full hour. For this reason, I tend to think riding the trainer counts as more miles than training outdoors. This is another reason that I think I will be alright on the century ride on Saturday.

Since I am riding for an hour, I usually get about half way through a movie. Action movies tend to elevate my pace a bit. Quiet movies are hard to hear because of the sound of the trainer. I recently watched Dances With Wolves over a couple of training rides. Unfortunately, the  online version I was watching did not have any subtitles, not even when the Indians were speaking their native tongue (which was a large portion of the movie).

I am really enjoying the training rides because of the movies and podcasts that I get to view or listen to. There is no traffic to worry about, either! I am going to make the transition to rollers soon, but that will probably eliminate the watching of movies portion of the training. When riding on rollers the rider has to concentrate a whole lot more on their location on the rollers. Podcasts should still be a great option, though.

Well, I will let you know how the ride goes and you can always follow me on Strava. If you get a chance to ride, take it!