Had a run on Saturday, then mountain biking last night

I started up mountain biking last night after a winter layover (my poor bike…the last time it was ridden was when I put it away before November sometime, and I didn’t even wash it!). Notice how it was cold and wet? Yeah…that was how it was on the trail – then toss in ankle-deep mud in inky blackness and it was VERY difficult to stay upright most of the time.

Surprisingly my legs aren’t as tired as they were on Sunday (I ran a few miles Saturday morning) so I guess I’m sorta used to it already, which is cool.

I’m going to use the biking as training for the marathon, so I’m counting it as my Monday run, then I’ll run Wednesday mornings or Thursday nights (I’m busy most Wednesday nights) and then run again on Saturdays.

A walk through the Netherlands (well, a couple of cities)

I just came back from a weekend in the Netherlands (not biking around, I took the train and walked mostly), and I got a bunch of bike-related pictures that may be especially relevant for bike commuters:

These are the only bike pictures that weren’t ruined by a faulty CMOS sensor, but the rest of the photos are here: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/frank…rkTripToHolland

The Dutch guys I hung around with told me that the laws in Holland are such that if a car hits a bike rider, the driver is at fault 90% of the time. Harsh (this applies even if the cyclist has no lights, is riding drunk, in the middle of the street, etc.), but it makes the drivers very careful around cyclists. And I saw a lot of riding that would seem really risky (not looking both ways before merging, etc.).

Possibly the coolest thing I saw was a little kid sitting on the back of his mom’s bike, having an in-depth conversation with his slightly older brother, who was riding his own small BMX-style bike. That, and lots of very young kids sitting in seats behind the handlebar and a windscreen.

The bikes are mostly single-speed I guess, so you could see folks really pushing to get over the crest of a bridge or hill. I walked a few miles from the hotel to the train station before I left and walked past at least 3 or 4 bikes that were totally unlocked, anyone could have taken them – then I hit the suburbs and there were just dozens of bikes at bike racks on every corner, and half of them were unlocked. One or two that were locked at each rack had some sort of sticker tag on them, I’m assuming it was something like ‘this bike has been here for years, remove it or we’ll take it away’.

The bikes that I saw locked up were mostly leaned against a house or against a lamp post, even just on their kickstand, and a simple chain went through the front wheel and frame. I guess there are SO MANY bikes they figure if someone wanted to go through the trouble to pick up your locked bike and carry it off, it’s just easier to find a bike that isn’t locked and actually ride off on it. Granted, all the unlocked bikes and the bikes in the public racks that I saw were rusted either slightly or totally (I saw one guy riding a bike with just a light housing on the front – no lens or bulb at all) – all the ‘good’ bikes the freds rode are kept inside, I guess.

I really want to do a summer bike tour through there though – Holland, Belgium, etc. It’s just so relaxed, nearly everyone speaks English, and they’re all so nice.

I did see several freds there, some in full TdF style gear, but the vast majority were on these relaxed Dutch style bikes.

Mountain biking – Achievements Unlocked!

Yesterday a workmate and I went to the same MTB course that we did a couple of weeks ago (my second time, his fifth or sixth), and while I’m still definitely at the noob level I’m getting to know my bike better, as well as learning how to deal with different trail sections much better.

I kept the fingers off the front brake for nearly the whole trail and attacked the berms (bobsled-style turns) much faster, although I could still use more speed/confidence going through them. I’m also still getting used to the rear end skidding out, which is good that I can handle it without freaking out, but probably not something I want to do regularly, since I need the speed going through the turns.

Here’s a video (not mine) of part of the trail we did, the last section, there’s more videos of parts of the same trail on that page.

Checkmark: one bike project

Finally added fenders to my commuter bike tonight…I’ve only had the fenders for several months, and haven’t yet ridden the bike this year, and now that the rain is few and far between and the days are longer, why not attach fenders to the bike?

Unfortunately, thanks to no instructions whatsoever I had to looking online to see how the hell they should be fitted. These are SKS mudguards, but they’re also sold under the Raleigh name, and since they’re made in Germany it’s surprising they aren’t supplied with any instructions whatsoever.

I had to look online for some help, and found this site: http://www.techne.net/bikes/fender-how-to.php

Pictures of this guy’s installation: http://www.techne.net/gallery/index…s/fenders-1.jpg

One thing to add is a mud flap to keep every drop of water from coming off the front fender: http://www.phred.org/~alex/bikes/fendermudflap.html

The bike list

So a post on a bike thread over at the Something Awful forums asked how many bikes the regular posters have. I have three at the moment:

  1. a circa 1998  Giant hard tail mtb with good components that I got off eBay which I ride few times a year at the moment;
  2. an older steel frame Raliegh hybrid (I think) from Freecycle that is the exclusive commuter;
  3. an even older Criterium brand (I think) road bike from Freecycle that I want to do up as a road bike but it needs some tune-up work and tires. To give you an idea, it’s old enough it has double brake levers up front… Supposedly it’s a French bike but there are a ton of bike brands and models called ‘Criterium’, plus it doesn’t help that a criterium is a type of bike race!

I’m hoping to get a new road bike (for exercising) through a gov’t cycle commuting plan but that’ll probably take a while to work out. This would be one of those serious ‘starter’ road bikes that’s about $800 or £650.

I’ve had a couple other bikes off Freecycle that I’ve nicked parts off of (forks for truing mainly) or just looked at, and then given away again. There’s just not enough room to have more than one ‘project’ bike, so at the moment that will be the road bike (mainly just to get it rolling reliably) and any bikes I get will either be whole or used for parts.

Mountain biking!

Yay, I went on my first mountain biking foray in years, and it was great! I realized very quickly that it’s not quite like bike commuting… on my commute it’s quite steady pedaling but I have to keep an eye on the mirror for cars/trucks coming up on me. When biking off-road it’s more like pedal-fast-or-coast-downhill then coast-a-tiny-bit-at-the-bottom, then downshift-loads-pedal-fast-uphill, watch-out-for-roots, whoops-there’s-a-boulder, ack-that-tree-is-in-the-way, and on and on 🙂

It was great, it’s just way more twitchy, fast-reaction stuff than being on a road bike or commuter. I’ve got a pic of my bike (minus rear fender), I’ll upload it soon.

Me fingers are greasy!

The other day, while adjusting the rear derailleur (the springy bit with the 2 pulleys) on my commuter bike, I managed to adjust the chain into the spokes, which bent the derailleur so much it wouldn’t work.

So instead of riding my commuter bike to work the past couple of days, I’ve been on my mountain bike, which still has its semi-slick road tires on.

Popped over to Wiggle yesterday and ordered a new derailleur, it arrived today (probably didn’t have to get priority delivery but it was good to get it next day) and I put it on the mountain bike. I figured, why put the brand new (quite nice) derailleur on the commuter, the unit from the mountain bike is good enough for the commuter, if older, but it won’t get as much abuse as the unit on the mountain bike.

It was a surprisingly easy swap, too, took about 15 minutes total. I’m not entirely confident adjusting the shifter cable tension with the barrel adjusters but everything seems to shift just fine, except for shifting off the largest cog, but I’ll see how it shifts while I’m riding it. While I was at it I tightened up the front derailleur cable as well, because it wasn’t wanting to shift to the big chainring and I usually have to coast downhill instead of pedal.

Here’s a picture of the mountain bike with the road tires on it, I’ve already taken the rack and bags off the back:

This is on the bike rack at work. The reflective tape will be coming off the wheels and I’ll probably move the cycle computer over to the commuter.