Monday, August 2nd, 2010
11:57 am - Don't Put Off...  
Remember me mentioning three weeks ago that I picked up some new tires for the 3-speed? Well, I still haven't installed them, partly because Wal-Mart only had one properly sized inner tube on the shelf, but mostly because of laziness. It came back to bite me yesterday when I got a flat at almost the farthest reach of my usual bike path ride, about four miles from the parking lot. Fortunately, I did have the one new inner tube with me, along with my hand pump and necessary tools, so I didn't have to walk the four miles back to the car. It also wasn't swelteringly hot out for a change.

Unfortunately, it brought to mind one of the main reasons I was often annoyed with my 3-speed when I was a teenager. When you remove the rear wheel of a 3-speed to, say, change a flat, it screws up everything. Once I had the tube replaced and the tire inflated, it took me ten minutes of fiddling with the axle nuts to get the wheel aligned so that it would turn freely without hitting one or the other brake pad. This can also happen with a derailleur bike, but quick release hubs and the inherent give in the chain system make it much easier to get right. And then there's the gear adjustment. When you remove the rear wheel on a derailleur bike, the derailleur stays on the bike, so you don't need to readjust anything afterward. Not so with a 3-speed. First you have to disconnect the adjustment cable to remove the wheel. Then, when you're done with the repair and all the fiddling to get the wheel back into alignment, the chances that the distance from the shifter to hub will be the exactly the same are extremely slim. Even being off by a millimeter or so can make a noticeable difference.

When I started back, it wasn't long before I discovered that I no longer had a middle gear. Low worked, high worked, but nothing in the middle. Got off the bike, adjusted the cable, got on the bike, rode far enough to didcover it still wasn't right, lather rinse repeat. I never did get it perfectly adjusted, but I'm not going to worry about it because I still have to swap out the old tires.

The old tires are 40+ years old, and although they still have some tread on them, the rubber is cracking some, and they not at all as sturdy as they at first appear. The thing that punctured the tire turned out to be not a nail or sharp piece of stone, but nothing more than a piece of a sharp stick, about 1/8" in diameter that managed to press itself through the tread. The old tubes should be replaced, too. Turns out the one I pulled from the rear tire had been patched at least four times before I got it. On one hand, that's sensible frugality. On the other, new tubes aren't that expensive. What will be hard to find are tubes that have the same valves as the old ones. They're standard Schrader valves, what most people would call a normal tire valve (as opposed to the Presta valves on my Fuji), but instead the valve being coated in rubber, as usual, they are threaded all the way down on the outside like a Presta valve, allowing one to use a lock nut to more firmly fix them to the wheel. I like the look of them, but I haven't been able to find a supplier yet, although I haven't looked all that hard. That's one reason I hadn't switched the tires yet. It also looks like I should probably replace the wheel liner, the length of tough tape wraps around the inside of the rim to protect the tube from the spoke attachments. It's also aging, and some of the attachments are exposed. Time to get down to it. Caster's annual sale is this weekend, so maybe I'll take a look.

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Meanwhile, by riding 310 miles for the month, I not only had my July ever, mileage-wise, but also my best month period, surpassing August 2007's 308. Go me!