New wrinkle for flat-tire fix

I apologize in advance for the annoying camera strap that gets in
picture no. 3, but if you can ignore that, you can see the business
part just fine.

 My new thing is to stick a safety pin gently into the puncture and
leave it there while I sand and spread the glue. That way I never lose
track of where the hole is. When I pull it out, I get a nice obvious
glue bubble too, which makes it easy to center the patch on the hole.

 Picture no. 1 is the tube at the puncture site, picture no. 2 is me
cleaning out the inside of the tire with a rag (use a cloth rag that
will catch on anything stuck through the tire), picture no. 3 is the
safety pin in place.

 In retrospect, I think I must have done a shoddy job of cleaning out
the inside of the tire, because I discovered another slow leak this
morning when I got back on the pony after my dentist visit. My gauge
told me it had gone from 100 psi to 60 psi in three hours, so I filled
it up again, went to the post office and to lunch, and then patched
the new hole in the siesta hour after lunch. (I would have
photographed that exercise except that I ran out of batteries after
this morning’s series.)

Chain tension again

Jose and I went back to the wrench work today to loosen up the overtight chain. I had tightened it two days ago because it was getting a little too loose. I was afraid that as the tension got looser, speeding up would cause the chain to flip right off the rear sprocket. This used to happen during interval workouts in early December, before the most recent time that I tightened up the chain tension. I would get a good head of steam on, and then about when I got to 25 mph or so as I passed the dump entrance (my point of reference for the interval), I could hear a loud grinding sound as the chain slack from the take-up was pulled around the rear sprocket and the chain would be riding clatteringly on top of the gears, instead of nestled smoothly inside them.

The first time it happened (2 December), I thought I had achieved enough speed to take off into the air, like one of the jets on the parallel runway, and that the grinding was related to that. It was easier to believe at the time than it is now because I had my hands in the drops and was bent way over, so that I could barely see the road ahead and all I could see what the quickly moving pavement right underneath the front wheel.

After Tuesday’s episode at the workshop, I noticed that it was hard to turn the pedals in reverse (free-wheel) and that in general the bike made more noise than it ought. Overtensioning the chain could lead to destruction of the race and bearings in the freewheel, as well as deforming the chain, so I took yesterday off, staying out of the saddle instead of riding the bike hard and wearing out the parts for no reason.

Last night, the good news started to return, however. First I discovered my personal 15mm box wrench in my jacket pocket so I didn’t need to go back to the garage to borrow their wrench. Then this morning, with Jose again levering the wheel tight with the broomstick, I tightened the bolts finger-tight and made sure that the chain could turn freely on the freewheel in both directions (look out for those fingers when the wheel turns, kids!). Then with the broomstick keeping the nuts from sliding forward in the dropouts, I tightened them up with the box wrench.

The first time on the bike again, on the way to the refectory this afternoon for lunch, I turned left at 2nd Street and pounded up the slight hill, leaving Jose and his boat-anchor bike in the dust. With the tension right, I could feel the difference in the ride, as the power I applied to the pedal stroke was smoothly and instantly transferred to the top of the chain, pulling the freewheel cog around and driving the rear wheel.

It sounds a little technical (I was going to call this post “Chain-al re-tension” but didn’t dare), but I thought I could tell the difference in the action, especially going uphill, where I use the freewheel less and rely more on the direct pull from the pedals to turn the wheel. Hasn’t the pony been riding a little sluggish lately? I thought it was me, but maybe it’s been the bike. I’ll find out more this afternoon on the ride, which I am looking forward to now that the wind has died down after three days.

Tighten chain tension; feel more relaxed

Jose gave me a hand with the chain tension this afternoon. I was hoping to do it this morning, but I couldn’t find my 15mm box wrench. So I went down to the garage area and borrowed one of the mechanics’ wrenches. As I had the bike turned over, Jose says, “Let’s do this old-school,” and goes to fetch a broomstick. After I loosen the wheel, he wedges the broomstick between the bottom bracket and the rear wheel, between the chain stays, so that it is both pushing the wheel toward the rear and holding it in place. All that was left was to tighten the axle nuts gently with the box end of the wrench, alternating sides so the wheel doesn’t get locked off-center.

Of course, some buttinsky walks over and warns us that if we push the wheel back too far, it won’t turn. Huh? Then he comments unfavorably on my 700×23 tires, suggesting that they are a poor choice for riding on dirt. I looked him in the eye, then gestured to the expansive pavement.

I rode back to the lodging sweetly, with the new tighter tension. I had been a little worried that the chain would start to leap off the sprockets like it had back about six weeks ago, right before I tightened the tension last. No ride this afternoon, however, no interest on my part in a rematch with Boreas. I went running this morning in the light of the full moon before dawn and I actually felt pretty energetic, and it even seemed as if the wind had let up a bit.