Sunday, June 21, 2009

She's Rolling

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

I hit a milestone in Fatherdom last weekend -- Ava rode without training wheels. Her pedal strokes were shaky and tentative, and there was lots of body language in her hips trying to stay balanced, but she rode 20 feet or more several times. Good stuff.

She did this on her "new" bike, which I picked up two weeks ago. It's a used Gary Fisher Gamma Ray. Effectively very similar to the puppydog Hotrock which is now over at their mother's apartment, but I think a little older. It's in great shape, which is often the case for a little-kid's bike that has been stored indoors. Apart from getting dropped or left outside, little kids don't abuse their bikes much. It's the next bike, the bike they get really comfortable on, that gets trashed. Jumped over stuff. Crashed into stuff. Dropped onto sidewalks and streets. That kind of thing.

The Gary Fisher is red, as you can see, with black and yellow/gold accents. I think it was positioned as a boy's bike, but Ava likes red as much as any boy, so there. I've already repacked the headset, which was a bit loose anyway, and lubed the chain up. This weekend I need to repack the front and rear hubs, and the bottom bracket. One odd thing about the bike is that it came with a both a rear coaster brake and a rear cantilever brake, but without a front brake at all. Can't imagine why they did that, I'd have gone with a front caliper brake. I do have a kids' sidepull brake and lever set I can bolt on, but I'll see how she does without it, first. After she's got a few more laps around the cul-de-sac under her belt, the saddle needs to come up a few inches, as well.

In other news, I fixed the Motobecane's brake lever feel by slicing slits into the parts of the new Cane Creek hoods that were interfering with the Dia-Compe levers' travel, so I'm back to not complaining about the brakes again. I also swapped out the small ring on the Motobecane, dropping from a 42- to a 36-tooth small ring, and I shortened the chain by two links. Unfortunately, I think doing both was a mistake. The Cyclone derailleur doesn't have enough cage to take up the slack with such a small front ring, so I'll need a longer-cage derailleur. And a longer cage will possibly no longer allow the use of that chain. Oh, well -- chains aren't too expensive, if that turns out to be the case.

Anyway, I'm now watching eBay for a Cyclone II GT (long cage in Suntour parlance) that I can swap onto the bike.

And I'm still trying to figure out the crankset situation for the motobecane, because I'm finding it to be hard on my knees. The current 170-mm SR Apex crankset is cute enough and has a classic look to it I'd like to preserve. But if it's not comfortable, that's much more important than aesthetics. I need to measure the q-factor (how far apart the outer faces of the crank arms are, where the pedals screw in) of the (identical) cranksets on the Schwinn and Kestrel to see how those compare to the Motobecane. That should give me some data to mull over, and help me decide what variables to play with. The choices will be to mount a slightly narrower or wider bottom bracket, or to buy a new crankset with 172.5 arms and the right Q-factor. I'm hoping not to have to buy anything. I've got a bunch of components in hand already to make adjustments, I just need to know which adjustments to make and see what happens.

I've been riding a bit, but nothing I'd describe as an adventure yet. Last weekend I rode with the same friend again, but this time out in Concord and Lincoln. A good ride, and it's interesting how you can see people making progress in their riding technique from ride to ride. My companion on that ride fairly cruised up one hill I expected to see a struggle on, for example. Just a matter of attacking it differently, and it was good to see.

Yesterday I took a ride around town on the Kestrel. Only about 14 miles, but with my route plotted specifically to take me past three houses for sale in town. Two were village colonials (similar in layout to my Victorian-era home, but smaller) and one was a cape. I'm trying to get my arms around what to do next -- try to buy my wife's share of the house, or find something more manageable in town? Anyway, they were cute houses, but one of the two village colonials sat on a lot not much bigger than the house and both were near train tracks (one a low-traffic freight line and the other a high-traffic commuter and freight line). The cape was close enough to a Mass Pike overpass that trucks booming over the expansion joints at either end would be a constant source of irritation, not to mention the constant rumble and hiss of passing highway traffic. I don't think any of them are the right house, but I think I want to go look at the small-lot one to see what it looks like inside. It's good to look around and gauge my options, if nothing else.

All for now,


No comments: