Maintaining my Zen Machine

Among the various reasons for my recent lack of prosodic output – employment, friends, Not Really Feelin’ It, the fact that I can no longer summon even the hope that I’ll ever get remuneratively published – but you’ll notice I do keep writing! – none is stronger than that I Have A Bicycle.

I ride a 2011 Specialized CruX Expert Carbon, the last year with the Zertz dampeners. SRAM Apex, Roval Pave wheels… very significantly delightful.

His name is Hanno. Hanno the explorer. Hanno the adventurer. Hanno… because there is a total lack of shit in this world that is named for Carthaginians.

I’ve been averaging about 20 miles per day. I ride an average of 30 to 50 miles per day on those days when I do ride. The other days I am either at work, or the weather is inclement, or I am just too fucking sore to press the pedal.

I’m intending to spend much of July and August in the saddle. To average 50 miles per day – and make sure there are days when I ride more than that.

I average around 12 miles per hour, I think, during my rides. Somewhat less when I am riding dirt trails, or when it is very very hot. (Fortuitous that this is perhaps the coldest spring on record!) Which I suppose is not terrible when you realize that I am only recently returned to the past-time, and was never too much practiced at it. And I never before rode a road bike, or rode more than ~15 miles in a day.

Likewise that I am pushing about 240 pounds of David. To say nothing of a 5lb Kryptonite “Fuhgeddaboutit” lock. Or my CamelBak which contains 100oz of the sports beverage du jour. Or the, y’know, two pounds or so that the bike itself weighs. Bloody carbon!

My biking kit, at any time, also contains:

-a Crank Brothers Multi-19 multitool

-2 spare tubes

-a Topeak Mini Morph pump (I keep my tires at about 110PSI… yum)

-two Knog Blinder LED lights – USB rechargable!

-an outlet-to-USB adapter for same

-liquid teflon

-a little navy surplus device, in bright orange plastic, which is a combination emergency whistle, signal mirror, compass, and dry compartment containing strike-anywhere matches

-a small First Aid kit, containing a few pairs of gloves, antibacterial ointment, alcohol swabs, bandages… remnants of my not-to-be EMT kit

-…and my iPhone. most important of emergency tools.

The iPhone is particularly useful because it allows me to research problems as they arise. I am committed to fixing any problems myself. This to prove that I can; to make sure that I can, especially on long rides; to minimize shop time, and this maximize the amount I am able to ride; to save money; and as a forcible impetus to learn how my bicycle actually works.

Those who know me might recognize this as exactly the mindset which caused me to, that one fateful day, decide to install Linux on my computer.

As with Linux, I could not do it without man pages. My favorite of these is Jim Langley’s “Keep It Quiet” page – – which I have saved as a PDF on my iPhone.

The biggest repair challenge that has so far faced me, I just this afternoon solved. (Here’s hoping it stays solved. It was, ladies and gentleman, a tremendous fucking bitch.)

Here’s the email I wrote to Mr. Jim:
I ride a Specialize CruX Expert Carbon (2011, the one w/ the Zertz dampeners & SRAM Apex). After about 500 miles it began to develop a creaking noise. It would happen only on left pedal downstroke (my casette, as usual, is on the right). It sounded like it was coming from the bottom bracket. I could feel it in my shoe.
It was inconsistent. Some days it wouldn’t happen at all. Sometimes it would go away after a mile or two. Some days it would be with me for 50 miles. Those days SUCKED. Sometimes it would be softer, sometimes I-can’t-ride-this-is-too-embarrassing loud. Sometimes it would only happen on strong downstrokes. Sometimes a few very strong downstrokes would make it go away.
I ride clipless; when I clipped out and pedaled only with my right foot it didn’t occur. I spun off the pedals and put on non-clip pedals (stolen from my girlfriend’s childhood 3-speed); it still occurred. I re-seated both wheels, the chain, rear breaks, seatpost… tightened everything… oiled everything. Nothing helped.
Finally, while taking apart the ENTIRE BIKE, I noticed that the seat tube had a sticker on it, about a foot down. Or what was left of a sticker. It had been worn half to shreds and was doubled over itself. I peeled away the sticker, jumped on the bike, and tried riding – the noise was almost gone. I scrubbed the seatpost with the rough side of a sponge, let it dry in the sun, and then gave it a little bit of oil.
Problem solved.
CONCLUSION: Stickers are the devil.

-david axel kurtz


~ by davekov on 15 June 2013.

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