Friday, December 17, 2010

No matter what, you're always learning.

This has been a good week for me, cycling wise. I've learned a great deal about the world around me, how the bike handles with spiked tires and that some of my equipment does not play nice with other equipment.

It was pointed out to me Tuesday night/Wednesday Morning that Copenhagen is in Denmark and that they are referred to as the Danes, it is not in the Netherlands nor are its inhabitants called "Dutch". It's been 20 years since high school geography, and I'm pretty sure my old teacher would not be surprised at this catastrophic knowledge failure.

I assumed those folks were using studded tires to stay upright, but Chris H pointed out on my facebook wall:
I don't think any of those guys are running studs. There's a great video on youtube somewhere of a corner on a really slippery day. Almost everyone goes down on it.
And here's the video:

I could look down my nose at them and say "well maybe you should get some Nokians and that wouldn't happen", except I found out that even with metal studs in my tread that I will, in fact, fall on my ass.

We got some ice Wednesday night.

Yesterday morning I climbed out of the tunnel under 27th and Capitol Parkway and attempted to make the right turn before the building formerly known as the picnic shelter. The climb didn't involve any slippage of the rear wheel, I stopped thinking about the ice, and I leaned into the turn like I always did. Ouch.

I'm just glad nobody was there to see my fall.

I learned that pedaling on ice is one way to smooth your pedal stroke. If you tend to "mash" the pedals, the rear wheel slips a bit back and forth, even with my 106 stud Nokians. Take the pressure off the downstroke while concentrating on scraping the mud off the bottom and kicking your leg over the top of the pedal stroke, and the bike tracks true. I would imagine it's because of the more constant power delivery to the rear wheels.

I learned something about department store bike acessories: don't. Back in March I was in Target buying an inner tube for one of the kids bikes. They're 16" bikes and they're not interested in performance. I saw it sitting there, a Bell Free Fit 15 wireless computer for about nineteen bucks.

Wireless, does everything I need, and inexpensive. I bought it. It took all of 5 minutes to install and configure. It was a good deal at the time and served me well.

And then Daylight Savings Time happened. While I don't react well to the time change, I don't expect the computer to care one way or another. It was as if the computer went nuts. I was always going 33-34mph, even when stopped, on ice, into the wind, with the wind, etc. I changed the batteries and it still misbehaved. 

What changed? My headlight is on!

Turns out that being an analog electronic device, the cheapie computer is susceptible to interference from other analog electronic devices, including my Planet Bike Beamer 5 LED Headlight set to "blink mode". I put the computer in, turned the light to blink mode and it registered 33mph. Click the light to steady and it's zero.

I moved the headlight as far to the right as possible and ran it on constant mode for my ride home today. That seems to have fixed it. That simply means I'll probably need to recharge the headlight batteries more often.

So the cheap computer isn't a total loss, unlike my high school geography class.

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