Sunday, March 27, 2011

inexpensive handlebar shim, reflections on national health, and a good ride

My new Velo Orange Stem is just that little bit loose around my Easton EA50 handlebars; they're both rated for 26.2mm, but I notice that the bars have rotated down over the course of my rides in the past couple of days (I adjusted them yesterday, but the adjustment didn't hold today). While the fact that the temps didn't get above the low 30's during the course of the ride may have had something to do with the fit (oh, Sheesh!, was it cold!), nonetheless, it was undoubtedly time to put in a shim to tighten up the connection so the bars don't move.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, author Robert Pirsig has a discussion about making a shim out of a beer can, and why this is anathema to one of his fellow riders. It's not anathema to me, except that I'm a person in recovery from alcohol dependence, and beer is simply not an option, even for the making of shims. However, we've had a can of Coca-Cola in the garage for several years (we just don't do soda; I don't even know why it was there in the first place), and, after asking my wife if she had a plan for it (and receiving an answer in the negative), I drank it down (there's not much in it but water and sugar; what is there to go bad?) and cut up the can for the shim. The cutout window in the face of the stem now has an aluminum curtain, and, more important, the handlebars don't seem to want to move.

NPR has been advertising about an upcoming story about soda consumption (don't let the liters in the link fool you; that's about 57 gallons per person in imperial [US] measure), so I have just that little bit of guilt about how my inexpensive bike part depends on the poor health of our nation, and I hope that future generations of riders and garage mechanics will be able to utilize this source of inexpensive material for parts. Just in case, though, I saved the rest of the can cover; I wouldn't be surprised if my slipping seat post would benefit from some of that soft, cheap aluminum some day (although my Problem Solvers Double Klamp seems to be holding).

Good ride, though. The guy who was supposed to lead advertises that he doesn't go out if it's under 32F; it was just there on my car thermometer when I was waiting for the ride... but he never appeared. Only one other person showed, a local doctor. We knocked out 32 miles - between the cold, the wind, and not having much legs after 40-or-so-miles yesterday, that was enough. Great ride; he showed me some of his favorite pretty-with-not-much-traffic roads, and we stopped at an airport for radio-controlled planes (did I know such a thing even existed in Central NJ?), and one of the lakes in the Assunpink Reservation, where dozens of trucks, many with boat trailers, were parked. You may think it's crazy to go biking on a day so cold, but at least we're moving. Those guys in the open fishing boats just sit there and shiver - now that's crazy.

The fellow with whom I rode thinks the history will show that Bush II was a great president, so readers of this blog will know that I don't care for his politics (nor would he for mine), but he has good ideas about engaging people for behavioral changes, like exercise. And bigger groups would never have stopped where he did (or used some of the roads he did - some were dirt and mud; who knew that my narrow-tire road bike could navigate like that? I went through it because I didn't know I couldn't). I hope I see him again - as long as we don't talk politics. Maybe he's got soda cans.

Addendum: By the way, 392 miles since January 1, and 718 on this drive train. I'll need a new chain before the Anchor House ride.

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