The machine that cuts a path through the darkness.

The machine that cuts a path through the darkness.

Musings from the Darkness

by / / 103 posts

Reality is always an unpleasant surprise; no one wants to see ourselves the way others see us, and that’s for good reason, too: depression would be much more widespread problem if each of us realized what a pain in the ass we are. Speaking of unpleasant realities, after recently reviewing videos of myself speaking, I have deduced that I have the face for radio, the hand gesticulations for both Mime and Cheerleading (neither for which I have an ambition), and the voice for print. That leaves me with the Internet.

A long commute to work in darkness is a surreal experience. The early hour leaves the road vacant, and the rider is confined to the small cone of light beyond which exists only blackness. The mind settles into the vampire state of wandering a being alert all at once. Thoughts of the day’s work will lay somewhere on the periphery; not front of mind, yet inexorably nearer with every stroke of the pedals. The rain and cold amplify the effect.

Strange thoughts are thought in this state, not unlike those you might have just as you catch yourself falling asleep. The first paragraph of this article is a fine example of such a thought. For this, I ask your forgiveness.

The commute presents its own challenge, new obstacles to overcome. The wet winter commute sandwiches the workday like two soggy slices of bread. One finds very quickly that it is not the cold, the dark or the wet that is unpleasant; it is the sodden kit hanging in a locker all day not getting fresher that is unpleasant.

This morning looked dry from the bedroom window, a terrible place from which to judge the weather. Rain was in the forecast (this is Seattle and January, after all), so I slipped into my Gabba jersey as easily as James Bond slips into a dinner jacket. I stepped outside and noted that it would be nice if the weather stayed dry for the ride in so the kit might be more pleasant when dressing for the evening’s ride home.

I should know better than to think such thoughts; the rain was summoned immediately by the Nine Gods to remind me that the Glory of Rule #9 is not chosen at the rider’s convenience or whim. Fool.

Riding with a backpack is a nuisance. As Velominati, we have refined our position and learned to control the bike through micro-movements and immeasurable shifts of body weight. The gear-loaded backpack is a sledgehammer to our china cup of balance. Our position feels off, the bike handles differently, and we are heavier by two kilos at least. This, along with every other reason you can think of why backpacks suck, is more than enough to encourage one to avoid the climbs, especially the steep ones.

But there is a beauty behind the nuisance: climbing with a heavy load is like training in a fat suit. Seek out the hardest climbs and the next time you ride without a pack, you will feel as though you were given wings. Instant morale.

// Etiquette // Musings from the V-Bunker // Riding Ugly // Tradition

  1. With n+1 about to be delivered (Koga Signature with Ultegra), I can turn n=1 into the Nine bike, so I put the Crud-fenders on the 33 yr Old School steel Koga yesterday. Right now, there’s snow in Switzerland, so the n=2 (MTB, also Koga -get the alias now, do you?) is a better option. I keep a spare suit in the office, leave the laptop at work so I do not need a backpacker and have enough space to put all stuff in the jersey pockets when taking the bike to get to work. Fortunately my office has showers, so days when I commute mean taking 3 showers. Just takes logistic-thinking to make it work.

    Never had a puncture with the old n=1 for the last 5000 kms, but on my first ride to the office on the MTB, I had a puncture shortly before I got home (fortunately, since I did not have a spare tube with me then, now I do).

    Btw, I ordered 2 namestickers and a pair of cufflinks for the new n=1, on Jan 5th, any idea when I can expect them to be delivered?

  2. @frank

    @markpa

    Had older office where the bike room had some large air conditioning gear in it, made it a bit nosiy but I don’t think the bikes cared and you could always dry your gear out before the ride home.
    Moved to newer offices and now the bikes share with waste bins and there’s nowhere to dry gear.
    So much for progress.

    I leave the bike in my office. Its a good talking point for anyone who comes in, and then I get to gaze at it adoringly while on conference calls.

    YES! I have a full commuter machine, flat bars, pannier rack, the works. But on occasion I will take my No. #1 in to either swing by the velodrome on my way in, or go for a spin at lunchtime.

    On these occasions I bring my bike up in the lift and stash it in an unused office. It’s partly because I don’t trust to leave it in our undercroft bike rack,but mostly so I can have it near me during my working day.

  3. 3 or 4 times a week I commute to work in the ‘normal’ way: normal distance (5km), normal bike (city bike, with basket and child seat), normal clothes.

    The other times I put on the good kit, take the good bike and make a good detour. Just like @Frank says, these days it’s just you and your cone of light, the rest disappears (except for millions of suicidal rabbits which run towards the light). I love it. And in a good month the sun will rise while I’m on my bike. I love it. And in three months I’ll get up and it will be light (and occasionally warm) already. I love it.
    Once at the office I take a shower and a coffee. That’s how the good days start.

    The best part about my system though, is the change of clothes which I bring to the office on the ‘normal’ days. No need for a backpack on the good days. That, and the fact that the ride home only takes 5km, so no need to change back into a soggy kit…

  4. @Owen

    @antihero

    A bit of digging on velominati.com will reveal that @Frank has an around-town bike with mustache bars. Mustache bars. Meditate on that for a moment.

    You don’t say. Surely that’s a sign of the apocalypse. And a basket to boot! My stars. Good to know that the Rules apply to road steeds and not working bikes. It does occur to me, however, that even on the commuters we should strive to look fantastic. As I said, we do need to have some standards.

    Beyond a doubt! Looking fantastic is all about context. If you’re riding a beach cruiser down the boardwalk with your family, any semblance of rules compliance would be hideous. On an organized brevet, a frame pump+Carradice bag+steel frame+fenders+wool all over is de rigueur, and full rules compliance looks a bit off-music. Not that I don’t try sometimes, anyway.

  5. Very nice! I’ve been the tuna salad between wet bread a lot this winter. Very wet one for this area and also pretty darn cold too. Oh well, been at a new job for three months and I’m able to commute via bike on a MUP for a majority of the ride. It’s awesome. I’d go to a job I hated each day if I could ride my bike, so having it be a job I like it pretty nice.

    Dedicated commuter, a cx bike set up with a rack, mudguards and one pannier is enough. Have a big enough office where I can hang things to dry. On Mondays and Fridays I squeeze in a cx or road ride ahead of work, making sure to bring what I need to the office the previous day.

    I don’t mind riding in the dark but it’s disorienting so it sometimes makes the commute home seem interminable.

    Question on wet riding – does anyone make waterproof/resistant booties for regular shoes that have an enclosed bottom? All the ones I’ve seen have an open bottom. Since I’m in sneakers and don’t have cleats, I’d like a full, closed bootie. Why do I want water coming in from the bottom? I’m okay pressing on my pedals with clips with a closed bottom. And I don’t care about walking around and scuffing up the bootie either.

  6. Oh, and this is the first winter in awhile that I’ve had a “real” job (not a grad school gig). Damn, finding time, the will, and negotiating the weather to fit in rides is a PITA. I’m commuting via bike 5 days a week, Saturday is soccer day, which leaves Sunday. Yesterday was installing a new fence in our yard.

    I do get up early and ride for an hour on Mondays and Fridays, then head straight to work. But, coming from 2-3 hour rides 6 days a week, I feel like a Follower who has lost his way.

    New respect for the lads who still make time to ride.

  7. Frank – are you using the plastic or metal bar clasps for your Lezyne lights? I’m worried the metal ones will gouge my bars on my nice bikes. And, the clasps are not easy to get under the cables and squeezed in between the tape and stem.

    Great lights though. A MegaDrive on my bars, a Super Drive on my helmet. Makes commuting/riding in the winter much nicer.

  8. @bea I’m liking the system you’ve got. My commute is similarly short… I’ll have to give it a go.

  9. @Chris

    @Nik

    Nothing like slipping into a wet kit for a cold ride home. Frank, you nailed the worst part of a wet commute perfectly!

    Not just a wet commute but any commute when you are ether forced to work hard (the perennial head wind or the inevitability of always having left home five minutes later than you should have) or choose to (those of us who find it hard to ride a bike in other manner than full gas for the given distance).

    It’s worse if you then have to sit on a cold train for 45 minutes before riding a Boris bike to the office. That’s a guaranteed way to get a chill. (The plus side being that you’re unlikely to end up sat next to some fat slug who can’t text or facebook without waving their elbows about making that crucial half hour nap all but impossible).

    Can’t complain too much, if on the bike. If you’re cold, just go faster. If hot, faster is probably still a good idea :) Then again, it doesn’t typically get bone breaking cold up in the NW USA, so the cold is typically more of a mental hurdle to overcome. Fortunately we don’t get consistent wind here. Gusty wind is downright dangerous, nearly ran into a no-parking sign when going less than 10km/hr late last year!

    Now, sitting down for any period of time after the commute, that’s just torture.

  10. I started commuting again last year as a way to get fit and some k’s in the legs. I had fond memories of commuting as a student in all weather and after some hard morning training rides.

    When I was a student I didn’t have a car or much money so I rode in all weather conditions but now I have become a bit softer. Backpack space was limited then so if it was raining I would take a spare pair of shorts and not bother with socks, so on the ride home I would have dry pants and dry feet (for a little while). I’m in Auckland, NZ so it doesn’t get very cold but it can be quite tropical, but if I was cold I would just throw it a big gear to warm up faster at the beginning of the ride.

    Now I lug a laptop, lunch, clothes and other bits to work most days a week (32km return trip). Even with all that weight its still enjoyable and beats sitting in queues and I feel less stressed. I upgraded all my lights and got some Monkeylights which really make you visible from the side although you look a bit like a christmas tree riding along

    At the moment I have the opposite problem to you guys in the northern hemisphere as its 20-30 degrees Celsius here, so a cold shower at work is the only way to cool down!

  11. I have found the perfect strength training and technique aid, it consists of two full growlers of beer in a backpack. The extra weight makes you stronger and you better have a perfect fucking stroke or you’re going to have ruined beer upon your arrival.

    If you are planning on starting commuting to work by bike, always keep a spare pair of everything (clothing wise) at work. As resplendent as you may look in your kit, walking around the office in it all day diminishes that somewhat.

  12. I wish I could do that, I have a locker, but no shower. Not that it matters, I work at US Steel, so being a little sour smelling at work is nothing considering the entire place smells like the rear entrance of Hell.

    My problem is the area I’d be commuting through- Gary, Indiana and all it’s charm and hospitality such as; the open-air (drug) Market, the fantastic (crumbling and abandoned) architecture, throngs of wandering (homeless/junkie) couples and the city’s youth (gangs) strolling NWI’s gorgeous own sectors of cobbles, (broken glass, potholes to swallow cars, streets that have been neglected since the 1960’s, multiple train crossings), not to mention the abundant wildlife (packs of wild dogs).Chaining my bike to the fence is really no obstacle to those that would have her, and those that would are many and quite determined.

    Being wet and cold and alternately extremely hot is not on my short list, I do it for my daily bread, which will probably be for another 25 grinding years. So in short, I’m chained to the truck for my daily commute. I dream of a daily commute that would take me through somewhere I didn’t have to contend with all the above.

    But, on a high note working shift work with rotating off days and long weekends (21 Turn, look it up) affords me a rare glimpse of life. Like on a pleasant Tuesday post rush-hour morning enjoying my bike making the surrounding suburbs and countryside relatively car-free and wishing those rides would last forever- the coffee shops free of lines, the few LBS’s open for browsing and chatting with the owner, and getting a quick once over on the bike ( sometimes free of charge) makes it all worth it.

  13. Living in the high desert is a very different life. It’s the 42*C rides home where you feel that every breath sears the sand to your throat and the already thin air of 1600m above sea level seems to suffocate you even more so.

    But on the bright side! (and I am not referring to the 278 days of sunshine in a year) Rust is never an issue.

  14. Sometimes it rains, sometimes you watch the sun creep into view. There is nothing like a foggy morning in a marine environment on a cool clear morning when the sun rises over the mountains. Unreal.

    Started in the pure darkness, and was greeted by this sight just as I was about to cross the lake. No skanky kit to slip into this afternoon, no sireebob.

  15. @Ron

    Dedicated commuter, a cx bike set up with a rack, mudguards and one pannier is enough…….Question on wet riding – does anyone make waterproof/resistant booties for regular shoes that have an enclosed bottom? All the ones I’ve seen have an open bottom. Since I’m in sneakers and don’t have cleats, I’d like a full, closed bootie.

    As you’ve decided to throw all style out of the window, why not go the full hog and slip a couple of plastic bags over your shoes, kept in place with rubber bands? To complete the tramp look, make sure they are different colours.

    PS I bet you’ve got a beard as well. ;-)

  16. @frank

    Now that’s what it’s all about! Mother Nature’s porn right ther.

  17. This thread is making me appreciate the days I can commute by bike all the more.

    I’ll wait for a crisp, clear day and get a snap of the Cardiff skyline in the morning.

  18. @DCR

    Living in the high desert is a very different life. It’s the 42*C rides home where you feel that every breath sears the sand to your throat and the already thin air of 1600m above sea level seems to suffocate you even more so.

    But on the bright side! (and I am not referring to the 278 days of sunshine in a year) Rust is never an issue.

    …but tyres drying out is, and tubes melting into the clincher to make a defacto tubular. Fine sand is far worse than rust, too. It gets everywhere, there’s no running away from it.

  19. @Barracuda

    Listen to all you A holes spruking about office showers and lockers. I would give my COTHO left one to work at my office with a shower facility and lockers.

    Any tricks of the trade for us office workers without said luxuries but still trying to find ways to commute by bike.

    Me too. I ride in half hour early for a sponge wipe down in the kitchenette, hang sweat wet kit over bike to dry during the day and spray on a generous amount of Brut 33. No one has complained yet, so must be riding in alright.

  20. @sthilzy

    @Barracuda

    Listen to all you A holes spruking about office showers and lockers. I would give my COTHO left one to work at my office with a shower facility and lockers.

    Any tricks of the trade for us office workers without said luxuries but still trying to find ways to commute by bike.

    Me too. I ride in half hour early for a sponge wipe down in the kitchenette, hang sweat wet kit over bike to dry during the day and spray on a generous amount of Brut 33. No one has complained yet, so must be riding in alright.

    We have half-finished showers in our offices now, but I actually don’t think I’ll use them for my commute (it’s only 5k). I may use them if I fit in a pre-work velodrome session or a lunchtime blast though.

  21. @ Frank – perfect timing!

    I have been away on a 30 day meditation course and just back today on Serse (Fausto’s brother and gregario) for the daily commute. Serse is going to get a new frame as part of my stealth 9 bike upgrade this month i.e. have been switching out components throughout the year and will finish the job with the frame soon. Therefore I say to my Mrs, ‘it’s not a new bike, just a frame’.

    Current regime is tempo pace and intervals Tues to Wed so need a pretty much rules compliant bike for that. I do concede on mudguards though as I prefer not to look/feel like I shat myself on messy days.

    Eventually I will have a ‘burro’ utility bike and this will be used on Mondays and Friday for endurance pace commutes and hauling stuff around with panniers etc.

    Totally agree that the worst part of commuting is putting on wet gear. I try to keep a pair of shorts and socks on hand at the office for this reason.

  22. @DeKerr, don’t forget shoes! (I speak from experience ;), since then I leave an old pair at the office)

  23. I’ve got a 20km (each way) commute that I do 3-4 days a week from about March to November. (It’s a bit much to do in the dead of winter here in WI.) In my desk, I keep a hand towel, a package of baby wipes, and deodorant. I keep some hangars too, so that I can hang the kit from the coat hook in my cube. I also keep a pair of work shoes in the office as well. We don’t have showers, but we do have one-seater bathrooms. So I shower before I leave the house, and carry my clothes and my lunch in my backpack. I usually try to get in a little early so I can clean up and change without all of my co-workers being subjected to me in kit. Seems to work pretty well. Even in the height of summer, I’ve usually stopped sweating by the time I’m done getting cleaned up.

    N+1 is on the horizon, so I’m planning to turn my current ride into a dedicated commuter/beer getter/kid hauler complete with fenders and (possibly) panniers.

  24. @markb

    @Ron

    Dedicated commuter, a cx bike set up with a rack, mudguards and one pannier is enough…….Question on wet riding – does anyone make waterproof/resistant booties for regular shoes that have an enclosed bottom? All the ones I’ve seen have an open bottom. Since I’m in sneakers and don’t have cleats, I’d like a full, closed bootie.

    As you’ve decided to throw all style out of the window, why not go the full hog and slip a couple of plastic bags over your shoes, kept in place with rubber bands? To complete the tramp look, make sure they are different colours.

    PS I bet you’ve got a beard as well. ;-)

    I’ve been using a Castelli bag on my left foot, a whole wheat bread bag on my right, one tan rubber band, one red.

    Not too worried about style when commuting in cold rain. I save style for the actual road cycling.

  25. I realized something yesterday during a dark commute. I thoroughly enjoy a true road ride in the darkness, the headlight tunnel is perfect for just listening to your legs and hearing the morning come alive.

    Commuting in the dark isn’t as fun for me because the lack of sight makes the commute seem longer and I’m either eager to get to work and get busy or get home and work on some of the bikes.

  26. @frank

    Sometimes it rains, sometimes you watch the sun creep into view. There is nothing like a foggy morning in a marine environment on a cool clear morning when the sun rises over the mountains. Unreal.

    Started in the pure darkness, and was greeted by this sight just as I was about to cross the lake. No skanky kit to slip into this afternoon, no sireebob.

    You should move to the bay. That’s my bike commute everyday. Sometimes, I have to wear arm warmers though. It’s the worst.

  27. @tessar

    @DCR

    Living in the high desert is a very different life. It’s the 42*C rides home where you feel that every breath sears the sand to your throat and the already thin air of 1600m above sea level seems to suffocate you even more so.

    But on the bright side! (and I am not referring to the 278 days of sunshine in a year) Rust is never an issue.

    …but tyres drying out is, and tubes melting into the clincher to make a defacto tubular. Fine sand is far worse than rust, too. It gets everywhere, there’s no running away from it.

    If the mileage matches the dedication the tires should be to the cotton before dry rot takes hold. And yes the sand is a problem. Dry lube and more attention to the steed fixes that right up though

  28. @Ron

    .I’ve been using a Castelli bag on my left foot, a whole wheat bread bag on my right, one tan rubber band, one red.Not too worried about style when commuting in cold rain. I save style for the actual road cycling.

    Excellent! I hope the whole wheat bread bag is used to purchase something made with ‘heritage grains’, as they make you a better cyclist. Probably.

    Can’t agree with the lack of style though; its during the cold and wet that the fair-weather cyclists sneak back to their bad ways. You are standing out as an ambassador, so even more effort should be made. At least make sure the rubber bands are at equal height and exactly parallel to the ground when your foot is at 6 o’clock.

  29. @Ron

    I’ve been using a Castelli bag on my left foot, a whole wheat bread bag on my right, one tan rubber band, one red.

    Not too worried about style when commuting in cold rain. I save style for the actual road cycling.

    What size bag are you using? I find Castelli fits a little tight. The old Santini bags work well under a helmet though: one size fits all.

  30. @RobSandy

    @pistard

    *Cough waterproof socks cough*

    http://www.upandunder.co.uk/Outdoor/Clothing/Socks//P“”Mid-Light-Socks-Seal-Skinz””11431/

    Cue Foghorn Leghorn voice:

    “That was a joke, son, a joke I tell yah. Get with the game already.”

    But seriously, anything truly “waterproof” might as well be a plastic bag. You’ll be wetted with nature’s sweet spray or your own skanky sweat.

  31. @pistard

    @RobSandy

    @pistard

    *Cough waterproof socks cough*

    http://www.upandunder.co.uk/Outdoor/Clothing/Socks//P“”Mid-Light-Socks-Seal-Skinz””11431/

    Cue Foghorn Leghorn voice:

    “That was a joke, son, a joke I tell yah. Get with the game already.”

    But seriously, anything truly “waterproof” might as well be a plastic bag. You’ll be wetted with nature’s sweet spray or your own skanky sweat.

    I know, I know. Just messing.

    Those socks are great though, I wear them for commuting, mountain biking and road riding. Warm and dry and not sweaty. Plus they keep all the black road crap off my nice white socks.

  32. Are you wearing those socks as oversocks or are you wearing them like regular socks, that is, on your foot, inside your shoes?

  33. @Ron

    Are you wearing those socks as oversocks or are you wearing them like regular socks, that is, on your foot, inside your shoes?

    Thank you for clarifying what you mean by how socks should normally be worn.

  34. @markb

    @Ron

    .I’ve been using a Castelli bag on my left foot, a whole wheat bread bag on my right, one tan rubber band, one red.Not too worried about style when commuting in cold rain. I save style for the actual road cycling.

    Excellent! I hope the whole wheat bread bag is used to purchase something made with ‘heritage grains’, as they make you a better cyclist. Probably.

    Probably best to avoid self raising flour bag then or maybe they would help on the climbs?

  35. @Teocalli


    Probably best to avoid self raising flour bag then or maybe they would help on the climbs?

    True, use plain flour and you should be able to roll along, slicing through the traffic, but make sure you use your loaf else you could end up as toast.

  36. @Teocalli

    @markb

    @Ron

    .I’ve been using a Castelli bag on my left foot, a whole wheat bread bag on my right, one tan rubber band, one red.Not too worried about style when commuting in cold rain. I save style for the actual road cycling.

    Excellent! I hope the whole wheat bread bag is used to purchase something made with ‘heritage grains’, as they make you a better cyclist. Probably.

    Probably best to avoid self raising flour bag then or maybe they would help on the climbs?

    It’s fine – it has bikearbonate of soda.

  37. @ChrisO

    It’s fine – it has bikearbonate of soda.

  38. @frank

    @Ron

    Are you wearing those socks as oversocks or are you wearing them like regular socks, that is, on your foot, inside your shoes?

    Thank you for clarifying what you mean by how socks should normally be worn.

    Yes, I don’t wear my socks outside my shoes.

  39. Frank, if you are prepared to remove the James Bond line from what is otherwise excellent musing we can all move on and never speak of it again.

  40. I guess I should have just stopped after socks, put the period there, and ended my sentence. Thankfully I’m okay with occasionally looking like an idiot, especially amongst friends!

    At least I have a strongly early contender for “Stupidest thing you’ve said or written in 2015.”

  41. @Ron

    I guess I should have just stopped after socks, put the period there, and ended my sentence. Thankfully I’m okay with occasionally looking like an idiot, especially amongst friends!

    At least I have a strongly early contender for “Stupidest thing you’ve said or written in 2015.”

    No worries Ron, I for one appreciate the clarification as I was envisioning them on his hands like puppets…

  42. @Ron

    Are you wearing those socks as oversocks or are you wearing them like regular socks, that is, on your foot, inside your shoes, or on the outside like shoe covers?

    Ron, when I first read your post, in my head, I added the subscript above. Which I think is what you were getting at.

    And I didn’t notice it was an odd thing to say until Frank pointed it out, probably because I’ve been a complete pussy about my feet this winter and have been wearing 3 pairs of normal socks, 1 pair of waterproof socks and a pair of neoprene shoe covers on the outside. Feet still remain cold.

    Rule #5.

    I do occasionally do the sock puppet act but that’s my own business, conducted in private. Let’s move on.

  43. @RobSandy

    I do occasionally do the sock puppet act but that’s my own business, conducted in private. Let’s move on.

    Which one are you?

  44. @Barracuda

    Listen to all you A holes spruking about office showers and lockers. I would give my COTHO left one to work at my office with a shower facility and lockers.

    Any tricks of the trade for us office workers without said luxuries but still trying to find ways to commute by bike.

    Come to the big smoke.

    Secure bike cages (with back up CCTV), dedicated locker within the shower/change rooms & enough room in the coat cupboard on my floor to stash a few suits & shirts to last a couple of weeks.

    All of the above is a 5k ride away with a musette containing the day’s food & underwear requirements (I imagine the dry cleaner may baulk at laundering them), stash that on the bike hook a couple of hours before I’m due at the desk & the Adelaide Hills are my playground.

    Mornings have become scarily productive since that pattern evolved.

  45. @DCR

    @tessar

    @DCR

    Living in the high desert is a very different life. It’s the 42*C rides home where you feel that every breath sears the sand to your throat and the already thin air of 1600m above sea level seems to suffocate you even more so.

    But on the bright side! (and I am not referring to the 278 days of sunshine in a year) Rust is never an issue.

    …but tyres drying out is, and tubes melting into the clincher to make a defacto tubular. Fine sand is far worse than rust, too. It gets everywhere, there’s no running away from it.

    If the mileage matches the dedication the tires should be to the cotton before dry rot takes hold. And yes the sand is a problem. Dry lube and more attention to the steed fixes that right up though

    Depends. The more bikes and wheelsets one owns, the tougher it is to wear them out. I find that the better training tyres – Schwalbe Duranos and Conti 4-Seasons – easily last upwards of 10k on the smooth roads I’ve been blessed with. Even racing tyres get respectable mileage.

    Time and energy to clean the chain is inversely proportional to the weather requirements and the time spent riding. It’s always sparkling clean in spring and fall yet filthy in the summer dust-storms and winter flood season. Nothing better than polishing your bike apres-ride with a beer in the garden on a nice afternoon, nothing worse than staying in the baking/freezing shed after a Rule #9 ride to clean the grit off the bike.

  46. @tessar

    @DCR

    @tessar

    @DCR

    Living in the high desert is a very different life. It’s the 42*C rides home where you feel that every breath sears the sand to your throat and the already thin air of 1600m above sea level seems to suffocate you even more so.

    But on the bright side! (and I am not referring to the 278 days of sunshine in a year) Rust is never an issue.

    …but tyres drying out is, and tubes melting into the clincher to make a defacto tubular. Fine sand is far worse than rust, too. It gets everywhere, there’s no running away from it.

    If the mileage matches the dedication the tires should be to the cotton before dry rot takes hold. And yes the sand is a problem. Dry lube and more attention to the steed fixes that right up though

    Depends. The more bikes and wheelsets one owns, the tougher it is to wear them out. I find that the better training tyres – Schwalbe Duranos and Conti 4-Seasons – easily last upwards of 10k on the smooth roads I’ve been blessed with. Even racing tyres get respectable mileage.

    Time and energy to clean the chain is inversely proportional to the weather requirements and the time spent riding. It’s always sparkling clean in spring and fall yet filthy in the summer dust-storms and winter flood season. Nothing better than polishing your bike apres-ride with a beer in the garden on a nice afternoon, nothing worse than staying in the baking/freezing shed after a Rule #9 ride to clean the grit off the bike.

    That’s the most important time to do it though – just apply Rule #5 to your maintenance duties as well as your hardman rides.

  47. @tessar

    >>> Nothing better than polishing your bike pares-ride with a beer in the garden on a nice afternoon, nothing worse than staying in the baking/freezing shed after a Rule #9 ride to clean the grit off the bike. <<<

    My buddy and I were discussing exactly that yesterday afternoon during a ride following about 12 hours of hard rain. I’d spent the earlier part of w/e in the garage during the rain cleaning and polishing four bikes that had gone too long w/o appropriate care. And the bike I was on is still going to need a lot of attn after the wet ride. I simply rinsed it off and put it away. Ugghh. They just don’t get the care and attn in the winter that they do in the summer that is for sure.

    I finally put an air compressor in the garage. A wonderful tool for helping in the cleaning of a bike.

  48. @Oli

    That’s the most important time to do it though – just apply Rule #5 to your maintenance duties as well as your hardman rides.

    I try, but usually I just stick to “functional” maintenance rather than the full treatment. Chain gets wiped & relubed, a quick scrub on the braking surface and moving parts inspected, but keeping the entire bike immaculate is a Sisyphean task. Especially since the weather gods insist that it has to rain within 24 hours of a thorough cleaning.

  49. @frank coming to this article late but your statement, in the actual article, rings especially true. Actually all of it does, riding in the dark is strangely cathartic and exciting. Not being able to see what lies beyond the narrow fine of light turns an other wise routine ride into a new adventure.

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