My mountain bike was out of service for about a week, but I'm happy to say that it is back in action without a trip to the bike shop, except to buy stuff. I'm pretty proud of myself, I must say, to have a bunch of stuff go wrong with the bike and taking care of them myself one by one. It is not the Way of the Parents, which is when something goes wrong, throw money at someone to make the problem go away. Not only is that how they raised us, but that was how they raised us. Oy.
The problems started a week and a half ago when I got a flat in the Bronx, which is an entry in itself. After I got my bike back home, I pulled an inch and a half nail out of the back tire. I should've figured it wasn't a simple patch, and found out the hard way that the nail went through the inner tube in two places. And after two patches, I found that one of them wasn't holding. Not wanting to go out of my way to confirm that I don't know how to patch a tube properly, I chucked that tube and put in a fresh one. It was time for a new one anyway (I told myself).
Next was adjusting the rear derailleur which got knocked out of whack. Now's a good time to mention the hazards of riding on a gusty Autumn day. You need to be watching the way the wind is blowing leaves, because you don't want dried leaves getting caught in your gears and getting all mucked up. So, for example, when you see leaves being blown at you from the right, you want to stop pedalling so that if a leaf hits your chain, you won't pedal it into your gears. Leaves, they seem so harmless, but no...
I don't think there's a science to adjusting rear derailleurs. In fact, I'm willing to guess that a bike mechanic doesn't do much more than I did, which was randomly fiddle with adjustment knobs until things "seemed" right. The difference being that bike mechanics have done it a lot more times than I have. I'm thinking there isn't a definitive sign which tells a mechanic (or "wrench", as they're called in the biz) that a derailleur is perfectly aligned. No green lights or bells dinging. Just a sense of "alright, that'll do, let's see if that works out".
Using my car's bike rack as a stand to adjust the derailleur.
Then the most frustrating problem which almost got me to bring the bike in was that the rear brake was catching on something and not returning to its neutral position. I fiddled with the cables, springs, and levers and couldn't figure it out. Finally, using my finger to discover exactly where the friction was, it turned out the brake pad was so worn that it had formed a lip. Every time I applied the brake, the lip would go past the edge of the rim and get caught on the rim on the way back. New pad, problem solved. This, by the way, is the work of no genius. Any cyclist who isn't aware that a brake pad needs replacing is probably not someone you want to ride with. Which kinda explains why I always ride alone.
Having my mountain bike out of service for a week was no big deal, since all I rode last week was my 20-mile default on my road bike. My Tour de France face:
Not a very good TdF face, this is totally posing, I was going like 12 miles an hour on flat road. But there are times when I actually catch myself doing a Tour de France face and think I must look real cool, but really I just look real silly.
1. Speakin' o' Bob (National Joy Band)
2. Tommy the Cat (Primus)
3. Namida ga Kirari (Spitz)
4. Distant Early Warning (Rush)
5. Matte Kudasai (King Crimson)
6. Funny ("City of Angels")
7. Over the Falls (Primus)
8. She Caught the Cady and Left Me a Mule to Ride (Taj Mahal)
9. Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake (Kate Bush)
10. Out Like a Light (764-HERO)