Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Long Neglected Other Bike

As loyal readers will know, I have been having some annoying issues with flat tires on my bicycle. I had to get new rim strips, which, in case you were wondering, are the cloth (preferably), rubber, or plastic strips that protect your fragile inner tubes from contact with elongated spoke ends or sharp edges of spoke holes. It was a long process that involved a lot of trips to bike stores to figure out what had happened. For those of you who would like to avoid the long process, check your inner tubes carefully after each flat to locate the area of the puncture. If it's on the inside of the tube, suspect that your rim is the culprit. Look for the corresponding area on the rim and see if any spoke hole edges or long spokes are exposed. If they are, get to the LBS and buy some rim strips.

And then my second ride after getting the new strips? I got a flat. The jagged hole in the front tire, though indicated to me that I was looking at a new culprit, probably a piece of the broken bottles that litter West Berkeley streets. I made my way home on the slow leak, cursing my bad tire karma. The next day, I went to change the offending tube, only to realize that I was plum out of tubes thanks to my incredible rate of flats lately. Nor could I find a patch kit that seemed viable.

I turned to my long-neglected second steed. My steel and carbon hybrid-framed LeMond Zurich (like the one pictured above, only with a triple chainring) was my new baby, my pride and joy, when I purchased it in the fall of 2006. I wanted a triple so I could possibly one day climb the longer hills above Los Altos and Mountain View without blowing out my knees or back. I test rode about 15 bikes, and that one had the "ahhh" factor. It just felt good.

But after getting Boo-Boo Kitty Syndrome and being unable to ride for a year, I had to go back to my old Specialized for my first rides. The LeMond's bars were a little lower, my position a little harder on my back, neck, shoulders. Plus, I had moved to Sacramento, to the pancake-flat land along the river, and couldn't foresee needing a triple for a while. So the Zurich languished in the garage until Saturday, when I just wanted to ride and didn't want to drive to the bike shop so I could do the riding.

I wheeled it out, dusted it off, pumped up the tires, lubed the chain, and rode off to Natomas Bike Shop for more tubes. Ooooh! It felt good. It felt smooth and fast. Even the Terry Butterfly Tri Gel Saddle was comfier than the rather unforgiving used Dragonfly I had put on the Specialized. Actually, much comfier. Yeah, it was a little more of a reach to the brake hoods, and I didn't have the nice clip-on aerobars with the flip-up armrests, but I could definitely ride it. I have, apparently, rebuilt enough core strength and flexibility to handle the more stretched out riding position.

Cruising around the Natomas roads and onto the Garden Highway, I was extremely happy to notice that the frame soaked up the many bumps in the road, leaving my tender posterior practically unscathed, even though I had forgotten to lube it up with an appropriate unguent.

I didn't go far, or particularly fast. I'd like to blame the vicious winds for that, if you don't mind. But I went on my long-neglected LeMond, and I felt good afterwards. I have to adjust the cleats on the bike shoes that fit those pedals, and I want to swap out the aerobars for the flippy-uppy ones, but what I really want is to ride that bike a lot. Maybe even up some modest hills. It's a step forward.


  1. Boo Boo Kitty Syndrome = my code for "Only Partly Diagnosed Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome."