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DALMAC Maintenance; AKA Midseason Maintenance

Friday, after getting home from work, getting my 17-1/2 miles in, showering, and eating some dinner, I got to work on the bikes for DALMAC. My Trek was solid, but I want it to be tip top.  DALMAC is the pinnacle of our season, it’s what we train for all year long.  Mrs. Bgddy’s bike needed some attention as well, as her back brake was sticking ever so slightly.

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I got right to it, as we’ve got limited prep time before we head out Thursday morning and I wanted to have the weekend to test the bikes out before the road trip.  First, the chains.  my wife and I get a year out of our chains.  I changed the Trek’s chain last year during DALMAC because I’d bent a plate on a missed shift into the baby ring to climb a hill.  I still had some life left in it, but I’d bought new chains months ago and the chain was right on the edge.  I decided to bag them and take them with in my gear bag.  This year, if I needed a chain, I’ll  have a spare with me.  After that, I had a little bit of water sloshing around the frame from the A-100, so I pulled the seat post and drained about a tablespoon.  Saddle back in place, I gave all of the bolts a once-over and called it good.  Finally, as I always do after a ride in the rain, I cleaned the rear derailleur housing.  It collects a lot of crap in the spray.  Sure enough, there was some grit present, so a quick wipe down and lube, and I put everything back together.  I gave the bike a quick clean and filled the water bottles for Saturday’s 100+k.

Then to my wife’s bike, which needed a little more love.  Her chain, also a full year old, was right on the edge, too, so that went.  I cleaned up the rest of her drivetrain and took a look at that brake.  With internal routing, I’m loath to fully take the cable out as it has to be rerouted through the frame.  I pulled it just far enough to clean out the little bit of debris at the shifter and the back cable housing.  Lubed everything and put it all back together.  It was a lot better, but still not perfect.  I’ll probably just wait to get it tuned up after the season unless it acts up again.

With that, and the sunlight fading out for the night, the bikes were tip-top and ready for Saturday’s festivities.  The bikes were smooth and quiet for one of the best riding days of the year.  A little on the breezy side, but with cooler temps having ushered in, it was all awesome, all morning long.  We started off with arm and knee warmers but ditched those around mile 30.  We stopped at miles 30 for a restroom brake and 37 for a coffee and breakfast sandwich, and that was it for stops (quite impressive, really – 65 miles is a long way on just two stops – the cool weather helped immensely).  I had a smile on my face the entire time.  While there was a lot of traffic on the route, it was a really fun loop with lots of terrain changes and a few exceptional hills, including a big descent down a straight, nicely paved 8%’er that had us top 43-mph on the way down – escape velocity.

Finally, we’ve got a 58 miler planned for this morning.  Six miles into the ride I’ll top 60,000 miles since I started tracking in 2011…  I’m pretty fired up about that little milestone.  It sounds neat, of course, 60,000 miles in my 40’s.  What’s really important is the memories and friends my wife and I made over all those miles.  Thinking back over just the highlights, it’s simply too good to put into words.  Throw in my most-excellent recovery and all I can say is, it’s wonderful to know that you’ve been touched by the finger of God, to know you’ve been saved and blessed beyond measure, rising from a state of hopelessness and despair to peace and contentment.

Good times and noodle salad, my friends.

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While We’re on the Doobage; Why, You aren’t “In Recovery” when You’re on the Dope Maintenance Plan

Trigger (heh) Warning: I use derogatory terms when referring to drugs and alcohol, of any kind. I apologize profusely if it offends you, but it’s a defense mechanism for me so you’ll have to get over it. It has nothing to do with you anyway, so don’t get me started. You have been Trigger (heh) Warned.

Bill Wilson used PCP early in his attempts at recovery. He was wrong when he relied on it, but some drugs were actually thought to be useful back then, for certain mental issues. Thankfully, a lot’s happened in the last 80 years and we now know that PCP is bad. That’s a period at the end of the last sentence. It has no use in modern medicine, even though it did almost a century ago.

Anyway, this isn’t important – it has relevance, though. Let’s get into the Doobage Dain Broner Maintenance System and Recovery. More important, let’s start with what recovery isn’t. Recovery is defined by the thinking heads as:

“Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life.”

Sucking on a joint, pipe, or bong is the opposite of abstinence. Now, I’m going to keep this very simple; there are no medical benefits in the use of pot worth sucking in the smoke in the first place. Politicians allow the ignorance persist because they want in on the money and it keeps the electorate stupid and easy to manipulate. The only thing better for that than alcohol is weed.

Recovery from an alcohol or drug addiction does not include switching drugs to keep you sufficiently high. Again, for the cheap seats, getting high the opposite of recovery. This is not rocket science. Let’s try to simplify this a little bit for the tokers in the crowd: In your comment down below, when you try to explain that weed can be an honest part of a recovery program, substitute heroin for pot for me. Try to convince me that because my drug of choice was alcohol, I should be able to shoot up some heroin and be fine. Heroin is too strong? How about crack cocaine? Meth? A drug is a drug is a drug. My friends, that’s quite literally how stupid it is to believe weed can be a part of recovery.

So why do I care? I’m going to be my usual blunt self (pun intended). I care because every person who puts down the dope and actually embraces recovery is a life saved from servitude. Every person who sees the light and stops using has a chance at freedom from the bondage to their addiction.

What it isn’t is a care that a stoner is going to somehow sully the word “recovery” by claiming dope smoking is a part of a recovery program. I couldn’t possibly care less how ignorant you remain. So long as you don’t expect me to cosign that bullshit.

No chance.

Off-season Bike Maintenance; when the Snow Flies is the Time to to Get a Tune-up Done, not Springtime…

Do you wait until springtime to get your road bike(s) tuned up?  Many do – and they usually wait until the first nice day hits the fourteen day forecast… which means the shop fills up with tune-ups and it takes days, or even weeks, to get your bike back.  Why wait?

Why leave all of that gunk in your bike over the winter?  Why wait until everyone else is rushing their bike to the shop to get it tuned up for the spring?

Bike shops start slowing down as winter approaches.  Only we nuts are out on our bikes until the snow flies.  Also, noobs to the sport rarely buy a new bike in the off-season when they can’t ride it (great time to find a deal, though).  Shops are letting go of their least talented mechanics, only holding onto the good one’s through the winter.

In other words, it’s the perfect time to get your tune-up done.

Better, it’s the perfect time to learn how to tune the bike up yourself!

So let’s look at what you’re going to want to do and what to leave to the professionals.  For me, here’s my list, in no particular order – and I’m going with the Trek for this, because the Venge is treated different.  I only have to change the cables every three or four years, and I only have to clean the bearings out once a year because I only ride the bike in perfect conditions.  The Trek needs more work:

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  • Clean, wax and polish the frame.  It’s not accidental the bike looks as good as it does.  I have a random orbit polisher for the job.  I don’t mess around.  Typically, I like to remove all of the cables first, so I don’t have anything in the way of the polishing wheel.
  • New cables all around, whether they need it or not, while I’ve got them off to clean the frame.  Also, it’s a perfect time to remove the bottle cages, clean the bolts, lube the bolts and install the cages after the frame is cleaned and polished.
  • Take apart, clean, and lube the headset and bearings – also, clean up and lube the quill stem assembly.
  • Take apart, clean, and lube the crankset (done with the frame cleaning).  Also check chainring bolts (they tend to loosen and can lead to a creak that’s difficult to pinpoint.
  • Clean the brake calipers of dirt, dust, and debris.  Clean the brake pads (this should be done several times a season to protect the brake track of the rims).
  • Another item that should be looked after several times a season, that I take a little farther for the off-season clean up, is cleaning up and lubing the derailleur pivot points.  I use a light lube for this – Boeshield T-9 or a Teflon spray-lube.
  • Disassemble, clean, lube and reassemble the wheel hubs, including the cassette body.
  • Remove and clean the carbon seat post.

And that’ll about do it – there isn’t much left.

This is a lot of work, admittedly.  It’ll take several hours over a couple of days to get everything done and put back together, but the worth of completing this level of maintenance is incalculable.  Everything lasts longer and works better when the bike is properly maintained.  Go through that list and pick out the tasks you can complete and give a list of those you’re not comfortable with to your mechanic at the local shop.

A clean bike makes for a happy owner, and thousands of quiet, trouble-free miles.

Cleaning The Bikes After The Rain…

After a log slog in the rain on the road bike you will be left with somewhat of a mess depending on where you live. In Michigan, we have dirt, lots and lots of dirt to contend with. With dirt everywhere, after a long ride in the rain, on top of the water washing most of the grease out of where you deposited it to keep the parts working properly, you end up with dirt in its place.

Now, allow me a caveat or two before I begin: First, I don’t have to ride in the rain very often. Normally I can just skip rainy days after May because we don’t get many – I might end up with a day off every two weeks, so when I did bump into a long, soaked ride I went a little overboard and treated it as my quarterly cleaning. Second, if you haven’t given your bike a good cleaning in a while, these steps are probably necessary and from what I understand if you ride in the rain a lot, then all you have to do is clean it well more often.

Now, I have some pretty nice equipment. My bikes were all purchased used, as was my wife’s and I don’t want to afford new rides, at least not yet, so keeping what we have in good working order is exceptionally important.

After the Dawn Farm Ride For Recovery, a 3+ hour slog, my wife and I immediately wiped the bikes down before packing them in the van, concentrating especially on the steel parts (bolts, cables, screw heads etc.) or the things that can rust and the paint job.

Once we got home I brought them inside and got to work. First, I cleaned off the paint, then the metal components. Next I took off the wheels and cleaned them up. I checked the bearings to make sure I didn’t get any grime in those bearings then cleaned the brakes, brake pads and the impossible to get at places when the wheels are on. I cleaned off the skewers and re-greased them. Next up was the seat post which I marked, pulled out, cleaned, re-greased and replaced. Then, because I have a quill stem on my bike, I pulled it, cleaned all of the pieces, re-greased and replaced the stem (there was quite a bit of water trapped in there). Finally I cleaned the chain, cassette and the derailleurs and re-lubed everything. Then I helped my wife do the same to her bike. Then we took a fabulous Sunday nap.

Yesterday I ran into something unanticipated…  About a mile into a slow recovery ride I noticed that my bike wasn’t shifting properly – it was way off, both on the way up and down the cassette.  I stopped several times over the next few miles and tried to fix the problem with the barrel adjuster but couldn’t get it quite right.  Eight miles in I resorted to my multi-tool as I’d figured out the cable was too loose – and still couldn’t get it.  After that I stopped by the shop on the way by and had Matt look at it…  The culprit was the rear cable housing.  The rain had washed out all of the lube and the cable was getting hung up on the bend to the derailleur.  A nice dose of bike lube and resetting the tension and I was on my way.  I never saw that one coming so keep it in mind should you ever have problems getting the derailleur tuned in correctly.

So, was all of this necessary? Probably not, with the exception of the stem – had I left that alone I could have had some serious ramifications. But, I like having nice stuff and I don’t want to have to replace it so taking care to make sure it stays in fantastic working order is a priority. As my wife pointed out when we were done, you can’t even tell we had them out in the rain…

You can call it overkill if you wish, but you can’t argue that our bikes aren’t better off for the effort.