Friday, September 7, 2012

September

“Hi Paul,
I'm not going to be able to ride with you tomorrow.  I'll be looking forward to doing more riding when I return from vacation later this month. Tomorrow looks like a great day for a ride, eh? I've been riding to work every day and it has been wonderful. September is the best month I think.
B”

He’s right, here in the northwest, September IS the best month.  Funny how many people think of September as cold and rainy, but really, that’s more apropos of June, the great destroyer of hope. 

Today dawned cool, suggesting that the weather folk are right, today will likely warm up to about 80 degrees or more.  I’m taking a day off, getting ready for a ride out toward the coast tomorrow and also doing a little writing.

September is also a good time to give the bike a once over. 
(yes that is a claw hammer among the tools)  

The weather is glorious now but even the grass hoppers among us know that something else is coming (most likely out of the North Pacific) and now is a good time to start thinking about being prepared.

I read an interesting post from a rider friend recently who rode an event up into the North Cascades and back.  She’s a strong rider with lots of miles under her tires this year but was mildly shocked to find that when she had a flat, the spare tire she had wasn’t going to do the trick.  The salad days of summer allow us to rack up lots of miles and when it’s all going good you tend not to realize that those miles are taking a toll on the equipment.  I’m easing into this.  I replaced the tires on the tandem this week.  I didn’t realize they needed it until we had a little tire issue last weekend because, you know, everything has been rolling along so smoothly.

Which got me to thinking about the Big Horse.  My trusty rando bike has given me no trouble to speak of this year.  But after my dance with the tandem, I decided to look a little closer.  The tires are OK, there is still tread visible on the front, and the back is just barely smooth across the top of the profile.  No big cuts gouges or bulges, and nowhere to see the casing. With the extended crappy spring we had, (June, remember?) I figured I might need new brake pads so picked those up when I bought the tires. I was right, well half right.  The front pads are fine; the rears were definitely in need of replacement.  ‘Skilled’ riders are not supposed to use the rear brake so much; I use it all the time.  So new pads to the rear and an adjustment to assure plenty of braking power, but no brake drag.  Cables, chain, and drive train all look like they have plenty of life.  I am pretty good about routinely cleaning and lubing the chain and I think that simple act provides a very good ROI. 

So I turned my attention to the on board survival gear.  I went through my ‘200K’Seat bag, so titled because it is big enough to hold my needs for all but the most brutally weather challenged of 200K’s. I found all that I needed and nothing I didn’t: a basic tool bag, several spare tubes, a spare bandanna hankie, and my water proof saddle cover.  Oh, and a very upscale sports nutrition bar (Kind) of indeterminate age. Also a small tube of chamois cream.   Lashed to the outside is my pump and spare tire.  That spare tire is the right size and in good (good enough) shape. 

Since I had the time I decided to go through my front bag.  This is problematic, sort of like the dashboard of a cowboy pick up, or that expanse of desk space on the other side of your mouse pad.  The place where stuff gets stashed, and in the case of the front bag, almost always a disorganized jumble of half eaten Clif bars, open packages of Clif gel shots, candy bar wrappers, lost convenience store control receipts and sticky zip lock bags. 

Time not only for a fall clean up, but maybe even a not-quite-extreme make over.  Of course it is a jumbled mess; it’s like keeping your stuff in a milk box instead of a desk with drawers.  I delved into my emergency stash of virgin coroplast, go out the box cutter and some of that not too sticky blue painters tape and went to work ‘compartmentalizing’.

A low divider on the left to corral the on board meds, mostly oriented toward cramps, breathing problems, and headaches.  
Over on the right a little higher divider for major munchies and the electronic gizmos (camera and cell phone).

Which leaves less space for the free stash in the middle.  Please note my rando purse is actually a purse of sorts.  I graduated from a zip lock bag long ago. 
 Inside that is the important stuff:  emergency ID, money, and the all important cash register or ATM receipts needed for proof of passage when riding permanents.  

The little inhaler compartment has obviously been there quite a while.  I suppose I should upgrade but it’s working so I’ll leave it as is. 
I don’t know if I will like this.  I like the idea of being organized but sometimes I find it hard to actually BE organized.  I’ll have plenty of time tomorrow to give it a test ride. 

“Enjoy your day of playing hookey and your ride tomorrow. You picked a couple of great days to be out and about - Wow, this weather is something else! M-”

Um yeah she's right too, this weather is indeed something else.

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