In a comment on my Newbie assessment of the Shimano line of road bike components, Michael mentioned purchasing some components online to save money and that lead me to respond about an interesting problem that I created trying to “fix” my mountain bike rear derailleur.
Dammit folks, when I say I’m a noob, I pretty well mean it – I knew nothing. My first real mountain bike was an ’83 Murray ten speed and I bought a cheap Sears 10 speed mountain bike (for something like $150 – new) so I could ride with my wife in ’97 or ’98. The brake handles were plastic, that’s how cheap that bike was – maybe you could call it carbon plastic to make it sound sexy or something. Those were the only bikes I’d owned as an adult – and I gave the Sears one to a newly recovering kid that I met one night about five or six years ago who didn’t have a driver’s license or a way to get to work.
So when I bought my ’08 Trek from a guy in our running club (after owning a $20 garage sale Huffy for two weeks or so), and found out how nice it was to ride a real bike, I started cruising the net. I must have read close to every one of Sheldon Brown’s articles on bikes – heck I read everything I could in my spare time… So after buying the bike and getting it home, and reading all of those articles, I went to work on the front and rear derailleurs because they weren’t shifting quite right. I spent about an out getting them dialed in perfectly – this is supposed to take ten minutes folks. In any event, after a lot of tinkering, I got them just right. A couple of weeks later, I fixed my wife’s rear derailleur the same way because it was sluggish going to the lower gears (bigger sprockets) – and that only took me about 15 minutes, with test rides… I was well on my way.
Fast forward two months and my cassette starts giving me fits (or so I thought – I won’t even get into that, I’ve gotta get ready to go running in five minutes). I take the wheel off and take that to the shop to get a new cassette thrown on (because they sold me the wrong cassette puller for my bike). Get the new one on, boogie home and throw it on my bike… Unfortunately, for some reason the rear derailleur got knocked out of whack and it wouldn’t progress properly through the gears. Now because I’ve already tuned that one up perfectly and got my wife’s to work perfectly, I just went and got my tools and went to work…
An hour and a half later, in the midst of getting absolutely pummeled by mosquitoes and I can’t get into first or seventh gear (biggest and smallest) and I can’t figure out why. I’m about 30 seconds from throwing something through a window – which I actually do know how to fix, when I just threw my hands in the air, locked the bike in the garage and walked away. The next day I printed off Sheldon’s “How to set a derailleur for dumb S#!T’s” article and take it out to my bike, reading through each step…and finally God has mercy on me and I’m done.
Now I’ve since learned that you can mess with the set screws a little on the front derailleur once the tension is right, but that the rear set screws are not to be trifled with lightly (uh, oops).
God bless America, I wish I had more time to put into this, alas I’ve gotta go run. I hope this gives someone a chuckle – I sure as hell am worked up all over again… Man, you just have to laugh.
I woke up this morning to find myself in an exceptionally good mood considering my current circumstances. It started on waking up a full hour early, at 3:30. Looking at the overall picture of my life right now some things are good, others not so much. If I wake early it usually means I’m stressing about something but that’s not really the case for once. This morning I woke up because I’d had enough sleep, about seven hours which is a lot for me. I work off of five and a half to six and a half at most during the week.
With a simple mindset and a complex life I find myself at peace at times that, just a year or two ago, would have had me flipping out – I can intuitively handle problems that at one time, would have given me fits. There are several main reasons for this working right now. My faith in God (which lead me to an unexpected life changing event last week at a wild game dinner – I may write about that this weekend), my wife and I have hit our old groove and I can’t even begin to describe the peace of mind and happiness tied to that, and I’m fit as an ox – or more to the point, I am exceedingly happy with my level of fitness for the first time in my life.
So, with four out of the six major categories in my life hitting, one might wonder why I’m so content right now, after all, 33% of my life is not in line with where I would like it to be. This is a perfect time for another in the Top Ten of Big Daddy Jim’s Self Evident Truths:
#3: There is no end zone.
After having spent the better part of the last fifteen years trying to get to a point where I can just relax and enjoy the fruits of my hard work – a place where my faith clicks, my relationship with my wife and kids rocks, work is a breeze, my recovery is rockin’, I’m fit and my house is in order – or in other words, the end zone. I’ve come to realize that the ideal is impossible to attain. There’s always something that needs work because all six of those items require maintenance. Some people look at this in terms of acceptance, or “I accept the way things are today because [insert reason here – it’s God’s plan for me, things are what they are, etc.]”. If acceptance is followed by action then I agree, but too often people make the mistake of accepting flaws that should be attended to, thinking they’ll work out in the wash. I believe that this attitude leads to undeniable stress. Stress tends to pile up and depression is rarely far behind (yes I’ve been there, if mildly).
In the end, my end zone, where all six major parts of my life line up and work flawlessly, would require such a razor’s edge balancing act that just staying in the end zone would necessitate adding another piece to the pie. It would mean juggling one more ball, if you will, rather than being a point of enlightenment where I can just retire to some tropical island and enjoy riding my bike for the rest of my life, never having to maintain anything again. Now some will suggest that there are those who do make it to the end zone, so there must be one. Take Lance Armstrong, or any wealthy person for that matter. To that, I must admit that the notion seems possible, though I suggest that I must not judge my inside against another person’s outside. By that I mean that I can look at another person’s life from the outside – what they have, how they spend their time and so on, but I really have no clue as to what they are going through on the inside, or what they have to do to maintain what they have on the outside. In other words, ask Lance if he literally has no care in the world – I’d be willing to bet that he has plenty, they’re just different from mine. If she were still alive, I’d also suggest someone like Whitney Houston also.
If I throw aside the consistent nagging need for everything to work in harmony, all at once, I realize that I’m already in the a space that allows me to enjoy my life – that just happens to be on the fifty yard line, or the middle of the field for the soccer fans. This simple rule encompasses all of life’s simple clichés. Loving life is all about attitude, not altitude – Happiness is an inside job, Life is a journey not a destination, etcetera, etcetera, so on, and so forth.
With that in mind, ever since I started exercising all those years ago, I’ve always wondered if I would get to a point where I could look in the mirror, butt naked and say, that’s it – you’re there. Finally. I imagine if I did the P90X workout for the full 90 days I’d be at a resounding yes – but for now when I looked in the mirror this morning it was “Damn, that’s good enough for government work” – and that’s a first. I’m actually really fired up – I look pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
Now it’s time to figure out how I can add in a couple of bicycle commutes to the office this summer – I’m guessing that because I can’t ride down the expressway (which leads straight to my office “as the crow flies”) I’m looking at a 45-50 mile commute, one way. I stated the other day that this would be impossible to do both ways, every day because it would just take too much time – but I thought of a way around that this morning. If I put my bike in the back and drive down to the office, I can leave an hour early and still make it home by 5:30. In the summer time, with daybreak at 6:00, I’ll be able to make it to the office by 8:30 the next day and I could leave my truck in the warehouse overnight – I’d have to put in a few early morning hours to compensate, but I think I might be able to make it work. Now that would be huge for my 70.3 preparation.
UPDATE: Google Maps is sweet… I’ve got the perfect back road ride – and it’s only 40 miles… I can do that in maybe 2 hours and 15 minutes giving 15 minutes for stop lights and stop signs. Now all I have to do is drive it to make sure it’s safe.