Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My bike has apparently grown weary of hauling my fat ass up all those hills.

On Saturday, I was doing very well. I got to the turn-around point of my 9-mile ride and I'd done a good pace and had relatively little trouble with the hills, so I thought I'd keep going, down the monster hill and see what lies beyond it. Basically, the road goes down that hill and then ends at a recreation area, but the trail goes on, so I kept following it. After riding through some dense brush and across a wooden bridge, I came to another road and a hill back up. I started to climb this hill, but I'd just had to slow down for people blocking the entire trail, and so I needed to downshift. I threw both derailleurs into low gear at the same time and the chain just popped off the crank.

After recovering from the sudden loss of resistance, I stepped off the bike and tried to quickly re-attach the chain. Unfortunately, in my haste, I only succeeded in making the problem worse. One link of the chain had found its way deep into the pedal mechanism and got thoroughly wedged between it and the frame. So, I had to turn the bike on its back (forgetting the computer attached to the handlebars) and get my hands good and covered in grease to finally get it dislodged. I was literally pulling the chain with both hands and using my foot to hold down the frame.

About the time that I turned the bike back over, I realized that I'd just pushed the computer into the ground with a decent amount of force. I was relieved to find that it wasn't destroyed, and continued about my ride. I came to an intersection with another trail (which at the time I didn't realize was the trail that I'd been on a few minutes earlier), and my usually good sense of direction told me that left was the way back to Rt. 91, and ultimately, home, so I went that way and was rewarded with a downhill section. Only, it was part of the same downhill I'd already done. So, when I got to the bottom and recognized where I was, I turned around and started up the hill (again).

I made it up the hill, much to my surprise, without having to get off and push, albeit in low, low gear. About half-way up that hill, my computer wonked out. I thought perhaps that the magnet had become misaligned, and indeed when I got to the top of the hill, I adjusted the magnet and it started working again. I managed to do a moment at 34.3 MPH on the way home and finished the trip uneventfully. The computer read around 14.5 miles, but I think it was actually 15 or more, when you compensate for the computer missing wheel revolutions.

On Sunday morning, I set out again. While climbing the first big hill, the chain jumped for a second, giving me a start and costing me momentum. I sat down and switched into a lower gear for the rest of the hill and carried on. Then it happened again. And again. In addition, my computer lost about half a mile on the return trip and I didn't notice it.

On Monday morning, the chain was jumping whenever I tried to power up a hill and the computer gave up for good.

So, last night, I set out to try to fix the problems. I can't see anything wrong with the chain/sprockets/derailleurs, so I just oiled everything up and hoped for the best. On the computer front, I thought that I just had too much clearance between the switch and the magnet, so I bought some new wire ties and tried to remount it, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get a signal at all. I messed with it a bit and managed to (without pulling very hard), yank the wires from the switch (which it turns out is a very common and inexpensive reed switch). So, since it was wrecked anyway, I pulled apart the enclosure around the switch and found that it was broken. I had to give up at that point and I removed the whole contraption from the bike.

I got to bed too late last night and overslept this morning, so I haven't been able to test out my "repairs". I'll let you know how that goes. I'm hoping that I can grab a burglar alarm sensor from Radio Shack or something, since those have the same kind of reed switch in them, and adapt it for the computer, but I haven't had a chance to do that, either.

I don't want something like this to derail me. I've done a good job, keeping this up for five weeks, now. But damn, it's frustrating. Especially the hill-climbing problem. It's hard enough to do that, sucking air and trying to ignore the burning in the legs, but to miss a beat just completely throws me out of whack, and has the potential to throw me on the pavement.


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