Friday, January 14, 2011

Tinkering With New Stuff

The constitution of the State of California promises no tuition State Colleges and nothing less than sweatshirt weather year round. Fees and other things did away with the "no tuition" promise long ago--and this has been an fn cold winter (for wimpy Californians.) Can't ride as much, no fun wearing as much clothes as start resembling the Michelin man --so we pay more attention to "tinkering." Cycling is a great sport--I don't think there is any other sport that involves so much obsession about equipment and adjusting stuff oneself. Sure there are 1000's of oversized, super flex golf clubs out there, but I don't think anyone cuts down their clubs on a whim before a round, or gets a 2-3-4 iron from one set and a 7-8-9 from another set. But part of the fun of cycling is tinkering--mixing and matching. I like to say that my favorite bike--the Litespeed Siena--started off as a full Shimano Ultgra bike--now the only Ultegra left on it are the shifters and the front derailleur. The brakes and seat post are not even Shimano but Campy.

Below is not my favorite bike but my "second" adult bike, after my grad school Gitane rusted away from neglect in a shed and I could no longer run after the kids when they were cycling.
Now, if I want to go to the store-1-3 miles away in suburbia and get out of FN car once I get home, and DON'T want to change into cycling clothes, this is the bike I take. Eggbeater Candy pedals are good--can wear regular shoes or wear cleated sandals (yellow Eggbeater Candy's were chosen as they were the first ones spotted on sale.)
Maybe this bike suffers from "goofy overkill"--but its a reaction to every year's new and improved laterally compliant and horizontally bullshit new road bikes with oversized this and ultra stiff that and now top tubes that look like they were ripped off of cantilever bridges drizzled in paint by a graffiti artist.
Two recent improvements. Ward gave me down some of his old but very good V brakes as I wanted to learn how to install bike brakes. Maybe a little overkill (Cal Mike-"V brakes on a hybrid?!") but now I'm sure the bike will stop properly as it rolls next to a Peets Coffee. I also didn't want to have to tie my pants leg on the drive side any more--so found a frisbee type disk that slips over the crankarm.

Meanwhile, getting ready for warmer weather, bought two of the new Camelbak thermal bottles, Chill and Ice (A & C), the former is supposed to keep your drink frozen 2x as long, the latter 4x as long. A little narrower profile than the Polar thermal bottle (B), so easier to get out of the cage and holds 1 more oz. I will test which bottle insulates best once it gets warm. Camelbak bottles comes with a drip proof nipple (C) , which is great for protecting the bike frame from drips but I didn't like the draw on it. So I wound up with combining a Camelbak bottle with a Polar cap (A)

Meanwhile, I've never like carrying a Hammer grenade (H & I) on a bike ride, and less so the individual packets. Re the grenade I don't need 5 1/2x servings except on a 200 miler, a grenade almost fills 1 of the 3 jersey pockets by themselves, and really take up too much room when 1/3 full. The individual packets (D, 2 weigh 71 grams) have a metallic taste, you feel like you have to finish the whole thing when opened, and/or have to ride around with them in your shorts leg until you finish or find a garbage can (or dump them in the wilderness as apparent on the Death Ride.) I tried a small bottle (E) last year, but most small bottles have tiny caps and the Hammergel clogs any opening/ and they are a pain to fill from the bulk Hammergel bottles.
Ward alerted me to a smaller tubes with oversized caps--very soft sided Gotubes. Only trouble is while their cap is oversized, its made like the top of the Camelback, leak proof but hard to draw the thick goo out. It looked like the search for the perfect small bottle would continue--but found out that while the NEW Hammer grenade caps (I) with the strange cap thread wouldn't screw onto a Gotube (hell, it barely screws onto the Hammer grenade) the caps from the old style Hammer grenades (H) do. Wonderful.
Gotubes come in 3 sizes--the ones above hold 1.25 oz (F) and 2 oz (G, filled 116 grams), which is two servings of Hammergel. So now its easy taking the equivalent of 1-2 packets in an easy carry option.
Now need to go on long rides and test all this stuff out.

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