Sunday, April 11, 2010


I'm not good at maintenance. My car goes unwashed, its oil unchanged. My houseplants die, usually; my yard remains unkempt for long periods of time. I can lose weight, and I can definitely gain weight, but I can't maintain a weight - any weight. I don't like to stretch and do core work. I'm much better at deadline-based work, whether it's a grant, a book, or a race.

Having said that, there are a couple of areas where I am pretty good at keeping things shipshape. Not British Navy shipshape, but shipshape for me. I take reasonable care of my bike, for instance, wiping down the chain, cranks, and cogs with some regularity, keeping it in the garage, and even getting it into the shop once a year for a professional tuneup. For a few weeks now, though, my chain has been slipping off my middle cogs, depriving me of my most comfortable gear ratios. While this has forced me to be creative in my rides, spinning at a high cadence or working my quads in a high gear, I don't like it when the bike is malfunctioning. But I've been a combination of busy, unwell, or apathetic on the days when I could have taken it to the shop.

So after another couple of days of strange virus-y sensations last week, I finally determined to get the bike taken care of. I took a chance on Natomas Bike Shop, located in a nondescript shopping center between a Save-Mart and a Papa Murphy's. It's not in one of the cycling-centric neighborhoods of Sacramento, like Midtown or East Sac, so I was afraid it might be all cheap mountain bikes, kiddie bikes and cruisers. But I went inside and found a nice busy repair shop, some road bikes in stands, and an atmosphere of down-to-earth bike culture. So I'll have a few links taken out of my stretched out chain, some derailleur adjustments, and some lubrication, and be ready to go again in a few days. Meanwhile I might take the LeMond out for a spin. Its setup is a little harder on my back, and my feet have gotten a bit fat to feel comfortable in the shoes that have the cleats that match its pedals. So we'll see.

On Sunday I actually felt a spurt of energy for the first time since Thursday, so I laced up the New Orleans Saints-colored running shoes, donned a semi-coordinating SF Giants hat against the howling wind and imminent rain, and went out to walk and trot and lunge along the neighborhood paths. Lower back was tight, but I did my faux pushups at the trail gate much more easily than in the past - chalk one up for the swimming and cycling there. Lunges were off-balance and wobbly, but the knees held up. I walked about 2/3 of my steps and jogged the other third. When I got home after a half-hour, I even lay down and stretched my hips and back and did a few crunches. Maintenance. Have to do it, especially on the weeks when there's not much progress.


  1. I just got my first bike, used from a woman at my triathlon club and I'm very excited, but the maintenance part scares me. I mean on my car there is a little sticker that tells me when I need an oil change and lights come on when something is wrong.. yikes!!

  2. The good news is that on a bike the feedback is pretty immediate on most things. Wipe down the drivetrain with degreaser and a rag, don't squirt a hose into the bottom bracket. Make friends with the Local Bike Shop...

  3. Thanks Jayne, I'll be thinking of you when I'm out for my first ride.. woot!