Author Topic: Cycling/Life


« on: September 25, 2019 »
I'm on a bike most days. I use it to exercise, to help me think, and to be out in the world; less often, to go places. For example, yesterday I went here

chain's a bit slack

but that was hardly my destination. It was just a convenient place to fix a puncture.

About a hundred yards before, I had heard, over Joe Walsh singing in my ears, a sound like water spraying from a hose at high pressure onto foliage. This seemed odd for as long as it took me to realise that the recently rained upon and micro-debris-strewn lane had claimed a victim.

actually flat

Well, you know how it is. Puncture repair has never been one of life’s joys. However it was a nice enough afternoon, and I had managed to get the flat at an ideal location, with space to work and a handy rack to hang the bike on. Plus I'd be getting a post out of it. What was there to complain about?

those gloves could be less pink

It all went quickly enough, and could have gone quicker if I hadn’t stopped to take pictures. When I got home and got my hands on a floor pump to top that sucker up, the attached gauge informed me that I had only managed to inflate it to 60psi on the road, which is half of normal. I don't have an Adonis Complex, but have to wonder if that upper body strength needs work, bro.

They say it’s a bad workman who blames his tools, so I won’t fault the Lezyne. Most of these things are awkward to use. Perhaps I should’ve gotten the model with the fold-out foot peg, which allows one to anchor the pump against the entire earth.

the badger is for scale

Re: Cycling Life
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2019 »
PINK gloves?!?!?!?

Love them!

p.s.  Achieving 60 psi is respectable in my opinion - enough to get you home without further distress.  A higher level might be achieved but your lungs may not appreciate the workout - that's what hills are for.


Re: Cycling Life
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2019 »
I feel I could've done better under laboratory conditions.

From the Rapha Mechanics Collection:

and check out the woman with the big wrench:

If that doesn’t make Archimedes happy, I don’t know what will.


Field trip
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2019 »
If the clothes make the man, I probably wouldn't be mistaken for a cyclist. Neither shirt (often overlaid with fleece) nor shorts are what you'd call regulation. You'd have to look at my hands or hooves for a clue, because I do opt for cycling mitts, and these, traditionally stocked at the LBS:

I started wearing them years ago, delighted to find hosiery not given to falling down on the job. They are now my permanent default socks. Shame the quality has gone downhill – they bobble like so much these days – but that is the way of all things.

Socks are the gift for the man in your life when you don't know what else to get him. I buy my own, partly because I'm very particular about what I wear due to perhaps persnickety issues with seams & such, and because a) I'm not a father and b) I'm married to someone who lets me get on with stocking my own stockings.

"You're looking decidedly old school, old chap."

I'm grateful to the Ovis aries that make them possible,

Revenge, when it comes, will be sweet  [credit]

though haven't thanked any personally despite living with them literally on our doorstep.

You don't have to live out in the country for a close encounter. Every year a flock gets a field trip to the City of London, there to be mobbed if not precisely worshipped. I caught the show back in 2009, when Gordon Brown was PM and the base interest rate was a heady 1.5%.

Because they don't always look both ways

Sheep have right of way over pretty much everyone

The tailors of Savile Row laid out the green carpet

Something is happening here and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr Jones

No means no

There's always one more

next on Cycling Life

So that's where dosimeters come from


Fishing for bicycles
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2019 »

Virginia Woolf hasn’t featured in my reading, but she does make an appearance in my music library via Jimmy Somerville’s Coming, from the soundtrack to Orlando. “The longest and most charming love-letter in literature” was set at Knole house, in Sevenoaks. My wife and I paid a visit.

They don't allow photography inside, so this concludes the exhibition.

Stretching out for a nap on the billiards table – now that would've made National Trust history

Has enough rooms to make the typical British floorplan seem like a rounding error

Later, thinking to find a picture of a fish Woolf riding a bike, all I could locate was

"not even her disguise as a bicycle could deceive us"

which wouldn’t look too far out of place in the Today in history collection. My search did yield a nice Guardian piece, complete with empowering vignette from the life of Simone de Beauvoir, who wasn't afraid of nuthin':

Forbidden to ride as a child (her mother equated it with other “sensual” pleasures), De Beauvoir learned in occupied Paris using the bike of her lover, Nathalie Sorokine: “I really handled it with ease, except one time I crashed into a dog and another time I collided with two women, and I was very happy.” Her mother might not have been wrong: De Beauvoir’s letters to Jean-Paul Sartre are full of the joys of bicycling, which she said made her like a “lusty wench”.

Vita Sackville-Wench


When the world was flat
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2019 »

My pride and joy parked in front of the family ranch, small town Ohio, circa MCMLXXX. This was a time and a place when bicycle may as well have been spelled Schwinn (though the unionized shop that made them was affiliated with the United Auto Workers). Those folding baskets were briefly the bees knees, and usually held tightly rolled newspapers to be thrown at soon-to-be-dented aluminum (4 syllables are all you really need) doors. That big chrome headlamp was also a selling point. Three speeds, all of them sedate. It weighed a significant percentage of my own bodyweight, but it wouldn’t have occurred to anybody to put a bike on a scale.

The house in the background belonged to a man whose wife later left him for a Mr True, who owned a bike shop. Guess who Mrs True ended up with.


Her eyes
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2019 »
A blind young American woman bought a microwave and needed help figuring out the buttons, so she used the Be My eyes app. A number of potential volunteers were immediately notified. My wife was the first to respond, so she got the opportunity to talk the woman through this very mundane task, which took 5 or 6 minutes. She said it made her day (coincidentally, the day after we decommissioned our own microwave – sometimes you’ve got to think the world is bugged) to finally get a call; her first since signing up last November, not counting a missed chance about 3 months ago when she picked up her phone too late. There are far more volunteers than blind/low-vision people registered, so it’s a bit of a lottery, but the good kind, where everybody wins.

I think we could use some help with all those SMIDSYs out there.


Rabbit, eat
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2019 »
Thanks to a potentially sick rabbit, I missed my opportunity to go to Shoreham last night in the company of what I’m going to assume turned out to be very soggy cyclists. This was after seeing the lurgy (mostly) off, so it was a ride that just did not want to be ridden, by me at least.

The beastie in question

Helping clean – note the Brexit stash in the background

has been acting odd the last few days, which puts alert rabbit owners on high alert, their charges being creatures of habit. You get quite attuned to their behavior when they live in the house. Among other symptoms, his appetite hasn’t been normal [normal = almost always hungry]: this sets klaxons blaring. It came to a head shortly before I was to catch the train to London.

Bags inside of bags packed

Offered his usual dinner,

Nature green in tooth and paw

he expressed no interest. Our little bundle of energy was listless as a teenager on a rainy Sunday afternoon suffering a power cut.

If you know how fast rabbits can go downhill, you’ll know it doesn't take long to feel like you're sitting in the ICU. After a very anxious period, he bounced back. We're not sure all is definitely well – rabbits can turn the corner from ill to fine and back again in the blink of an eye, and they have the world's best poker face – but we're much more optimistic about the state of his health today. Current opinion is he’s been having intermittent difficulty processing the fur that he naturally laps up while grooming and which we've apparently not been doing a good enough job brushing away. Unlike cats, bunnies can't regurgitate hairballs: it's all got to find a way through that hardy if problematical digestive tract. Which is probably enough about hairballs.

Chompsky is currently behind the couch. I'm off for a ride soon, into the rain, as penance.


Punctures 101
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2019 »
Years ago on a group ride, one of my first, I had a flat. This was back when such repairs were a major enterprise for me. The worst part wasn’t fixing it; the worst part was being in that spotlight.

Everybody’s sympathetic, depending on how many other mechanicals have preceded yours. However, a fumble may be enough to tip them into silently testy impatience (or so one imagines… or not). Now, if you’re on a FNRttC, you will practically be knocked over by people who will want to do the job for you. I don’t rightly recall if that was the case back then, or even if this was a Friday nighter - just that it was a group ride. I only remember that it was my puncture, and therefore, I felt it was my responsibility to do the deed.

Fortunately we were already stopped, so I wasn’t the cause of the loss of momentum. Still, we weren’t going anywhere until this got sorted. I got down to work.

My first mistake was not pumping a bit of air into the new tube to shape it. My second was not taking the advice of a quantum mechanic (people seldom talk about their work, but he could've been) that it would be wise to do so. For some reason, I simply refused. I can’t explain why. My best guess is that the act of observing disturbed the observed so much that his [my] brain simply froze and refused further input.

This in turn clearly disturbed the observer, to the point his hands were practically twitching to grab the tube from me to relieve their frustration. There was a kind of causal loop going. In the end I was forced to collect my things and seek privacy, doubtless leaving a baffled silence in my wake.

Punctures. To quote Adam the snakebitten tube wrangler: They do get easier.