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A Loose Headset and A Quick 30 Miles for Peace of Mind

June 2017

It is a rare occurrence that I ride alone, especially for more than 18 miles, but such was the case last night.

In the last couple of weeks most of my miles were completed on my old school Trek.  It’s so tuned up and dialed in, it’s almost riding as well as my good bike.  

Tuesday night, riding with my wife, I finally made the verbal error of expressing my amazement at how quiet and exceptional the Trek is lately.  It’s riding like it’s a new bike.  

When I installed the new shifters a few weeks ago, though, I reused all of the existing cables (they were in excellent shape).  Unfortunately, I frayed the rear brake cable and the front derailleur cable when fishing them back through their housings.  I noticed and fixed the brake immediately, the shifter cable took a bit to notice…

On waking yesterday, I decided to head into the office and fix that cable before work…. On wheeling the bike out the door I noticed the headset was loose, and not just a little, there was some serious play in the fork.  I’d just had it adjusted and tightened at the shop a few days before.

With the old quill stem, the fix is easy….  If you happen to own a 32mm headset wrench or two.  It’s not so simple, if you don’t.  I didn’t, but I can share a neat trick to work around it temporarily.  

To use a full-size 32mm wrench (or adjustable wrench, as I have), simply line up both nuts, the lower adjuster nut and the upper lock nut, and tighten both until the headset is properly tightened.  Then loosen and raise the stem to allow some clearance for the wrench.   Keeping an eye on the lower nut, tighten the lock nut…  If the adjuster nut moves when you tighten the lock nut, hold the adjuster nut steady by wrapping a shoe lace around it and pinching it tight (or twist it a few times and pinch it)…  This should give you just enough tension to get some bite on the lock nut when you tighten it.

I used the trick above, then picked up a headset wrench at the local shop for $16 because using a shoelace to grip a nut instead of dropping sixteen bucks on the right tool is silly.  That said, it’s done.

Then came time for yesterday evening’s ride.  Wednesday is typically a short, 17-1/2 mile ride, at an easy pace but we went easy and short on Tuesday to miss some passing rain… and I’d eaten a decent breakfast and lunch with pizza coming up for dinner.  I needed to burn some calories before pizza.  I took the Venge this time, too. 

I opted for a traditional weekend run, an out and back 28 and change and quickly discovered why we only ride that route in the early morning, or on the weekends.  Traffic sucked after rush hour!  Once I got to the back roads though, about six miles in, things improved.

As I headed out I set my sights on an 18mph average.  Not slow, but definitely easy enough.  I headed out into the light breeze and quickly worked up to a sustainable (heh) pace around 19 mph but felt it a little easy.  I bumped it up to 20.  Then 21.  Twelve miles in, I had a grin stretched across my face.

I finished the ride strong with a mild tailwind, keeping the speed between 21 & 23.  I ended up with 28-1/2 miles at 19.6 mph but chose to ride for a bit to chat with a guy who rides his mountain bike by our home pretty regularly.  I was just over 30 miles at 19.2 when I pulled into the driveway.

That pizza was extra tasty as hungry as I was once I finished my ride.

I felt good all night long.  My daily bike ride is like working steps for my sobriety or daily prayer for my sanity.  


  1. janerunswild says:

    Pizza is the best end to any workout 🙂 Good job out there!

  2. joliesattic says:

    What is it with guys and their old bikes? My hubby just bought back his old Commasini Racing bike. He’d sold it to some guy over 30 years ago, who recognized his name on an eBay sale and told him he still had it. So they struck a deal. He got rid of his Eddie Mercks and came out ahead in the bargain. It still looks good, and he’s happy. Sounds like you are too!

  3. joliesattic says:

    BTW, I’ve seen it written as a T (Tommasini) as well as C It looks like a fancy C to me. I’m not familiar with the brand, so I looked it up and seen it both ways.

  4. To me it is walking 🙂

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