Apr 012013

A tale of three bicycles……


On Friday night I made a late decision that I would go for a ride with a local cycling club on Saturday morning. My intention was also to go out on my Mountain bike on Sunday – which meant a quick change of wheels and a tune-up.

I started with the Mountain bike, the front dirt tire was flat, at some point it looks like I had managed to run over a drawing pin. This was an easy fix. Ten minutes, no tools, job done. I also lubed the chain, checked what few bolts there are and declared it ‘fit for purpose’. The front brake pads are a little worn and it really needs a wash, but it was functional.

Then I moved on to my road bike – actually it is a Triathlon Kestrel bicycle that has a serious personality disorder due to the chaotic way that I mixed and matched parts – thinking that it would be a good idea to check it for issues – simple things can slow you down, make sure that there is air in the tires, lube on the chain and things were generally in good shape. The first issue was a show-stopping one, the front tire was flat. Undeterred I pulled the wheel, removed the tire and examined the tube. There was a huge hole in it. The Stan’s ‘no tubes’ limit was well and truly exceeded, there was no way that this huge hole could be sealed. So I patched it with a ‘scab’, checked the inside of the tube and found a thorn and pulled it out. I then put it all together, inflated it to 120psi (yes, really), then lubed the chain, adjusted the cables and called it a good job.

On Saturday morning, I woke early as usual and pulled on my cycling gear, hoping to head to the 8AM meeting point and join the ride. The first thing I noticed on reaching the garage was the stupid front tire. Sadly it was flat, again. I did not have time to change the tube once more and as I suspected that the issue was probably not as simple as adding another patch I realized I would need so much time that the ride would probably be long over by the time I was finally ready, so I left it alone and grabbed my trusty mountain bike.

As it was setup for dirt duty, I swapped the wheels back to the ones wrapped in urban (semi slick) rubber, raised the seat, checked it over quickly and set off.

I headed for the rendezvous point, knowing that the club would probably not really want me to tag along as I was not on a road bike, but I wanted to meet them nonetheless. On arrival they explained that they thought I would be too slow and suggested that I come back on a road bike. I asked what kind of speeds they average and they told me that their aim is around 12mph or a little under.

Feeling a little rejected I decided to head up towards Newport Beach and investigate the ‘Back Bay Loop’, which I have never ridden previously. I figured a nice early morning ride would be fun.

In the back of my mind that 12mph average was nagging me and I wondered if I could ride that kind of pace on my mountain bike, albeit on a mountain bike with the suspension locked out and the urban tires inflated to 85psi. The first few miles went pretty fast and by the time I had reached the ten mile point my average speed was just a shade over 15mph, which meant that I was at least as fast as the club, if not faster. Then I remembered that they planned on a 19 mile ride and so that became my target.

Because I had never ridden the loop, I was a little cautious and I also got a little lost, so my speed dropped a little, at the 15 mile point, I had been riding for one hour and two minutes. This was also slightly over what would eventually become my half way point and the path started to become uphill more often then not. The trail was also getting busy, so I had to slow a little just to avoid walkers after several near misses.

At the 20 mile point I had been on the road for and hour and twenty five minutes and my average speed was down to 14.1mph. I had comfortably beaten my target – at my pace I would have kept with them fairly comfortably if not overtaken all of them and arrived home minutes ahead of them. Maybe.

At 23.4 miles I got cramp. Really significant cramp. So I stopped, sat on the grass, drank gatorade and gave myself a pep talk. At this point I was a mere six miles from home. I was not about to be beaten. I lowered my seat about 1/2 inch to reduce the leg stretch at the cost of a little efficiency and carried on.

Mile 24 was my slowest of the day taking almost eight minutes. Miles 26, 27 and 28 where back to sub five minutes but mile 29 was pretty lengthy as a fellow cyclist asked me for directions.

I finally made it home after 2hrs and 17 minutes and checked my stats…

  • Distance 29.51 mi
  • Duration 2h:16m:51s
  • Avg. Speed 12.9 mph
  • Max. Speed 27.9 mph
  • Calories 1902 kcal
  • Avg. Heart Rate 133
  • Max. Heart Rate 171
  • Min. Altitude -9 ft
  • Max. Altitude 212 ft
  • Total Ascent 434 ft
  • Total Descent 445 ft

So I would have kept up with ease, especially with a group that enforces a mid-point break at a coffee shop..

Later on I figured out the issue on my road bike, the rim tape was old and brittle and in one place had worn to such an extent that it allowed the inner-tube to rub against a spoke hole. Closer examination of the tube revealed that the thorn had punctured the tube but the sealant had, well, sealed it. So I replaced the tape with nice fresh tape, patched the new hole with a second scab and inflated it to 120psi and……..

It held !

Then on the test ride, issue number 3,107 revealed its self. The beautiful, but slightly fragile HED-3 rear wheel felt a bit crunchy as I rode it around to test my puncture repair skill. A quick google-foo session revealed that the bearings are about $47ea and it was likely that I needed a pair. It also revealed that fitting them is fairly simple. A second article showed how to adjust and check for wear. The bearings did not show signs of wear, but they were very noisy and sticky.

So I followed the instructions to see if I could disassemble the the wheel and see if there was anything that I could do. My toolbox contains an every growing assortment of specialist tools and I just happened to have a bearing puller in there. ten minutes after I started I had the dirt encrusted bearings in my hands. I figured at this point that I could clean them, put them back, adjust everything and if they were still bad I could order new ones.

So I cleaned them, spraying them with WD40 and catching the dirt on a clean cloth. I got through about half a can of WD40 and numerous cloths before the dirt was gone. Once they were clean I blasted them with air and let them dry out. Repacking with plenty of grease and re-installing them carefully took about twenty minutes.

The result is a rear wheel that is silky smooth and nice and quiet.

I rode a couple of miles on it and it is still smooth and quiet, so hopefully it will stay that way and I can ride with the club on Saturday…..


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