Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Diminishing Fleet

I’m down to a single working bike.  And I’m going to have to steal it’s wheelset for one of the others.

Broke spokes on the mountaineering bike. Replaced with too thick spokes and discovered that was a bad idea.  Now need to rebuild wheel.  Then I remembered that I still have the stock (non-tubeless) wheels.  They’re currently on the Cannonball.  I still have the wheels I took off the cargo bike when I upgraded.  So the wheelsets will migrate back to their spawning grounds.

The sporty-sport bike, the faithful Dogrunner, has been run down without stopping for over a year and a half.  I’ve done very little maintenance to it.  I can’t ignore it anymore. Currently its ballbearings are strewn like blood splatter all over the Bike Cave.  I’ve got to regrease everything, crank down some hex bolts, and see if that corrects the weave/wobble.  If not then I’m not sure what.
I brought Minus home from the cubicle only to discover the rear wheel (a Sta-Tru) is out of true.  Gnarfle-the-garthok that makes me mad! I found out after I had swapped pedals, mounted bottle cages, and put some used but better tires on it. 
See why running is simpler?  Your feet either work or they don’t.  End of story.
Compounding the issue is the full set of waterproof Ortlieb touring bags I won.  I entered a photo in the Alliance for Walking and Biking’s Showers and Snow photo contest .  I’m not sure how this kind of stuff keeps happening to me.  I’m not complaining, except they should have had a contest to win a touring bike before they offered the contest for touring bags.  I don’t have a single bike that would work with this full set of bags right now.  Neither the Allez nor the Bianchi have rack mounts.  If I had P-racks for the Xtracycle I could mount it all up to it, except with the Jones bar on the front the handlebar bag is useless.
This is a real conundrum.  For years I’ve wanted to be set up for long distance touring.  I don’t know when I’m going to get to go, but having the gear is a good first step.  Once the window of opportunity opens you can just dive through. Santa Claus brought me a full set of bikepacking bags this past year.  So I’m basically set up to go heavy or light.
In a perfect world I would purge my existing bike fleet (excluding the Cannonball) and start over with…I don’t know.  Recently I looked a little harder at the Surly Ogre.  I think it would be a good do-it-all bike.  You could put on slicks, squiggly handlebars, and fenders.  It would make a good commuter or touring bike, and it would also make a good singletrack surfer or bikepacking mule.  For the price it would be hard to find a more versatile bike for my needs.
I’ve also considered the Salsa Fargo.  I think I’d have to ride both to decide between the two if money were no consideration.  Of course it is. It always is. 
In my biketopia I would obviously have a bike for each purpose, but in a pinch I think I could get by with something like a Fargo or Ogre with two wheelsets: a mountaineering set with knobbies, and a touring set with slicks.
Running is so much simpler!  But cycling is so much fun!
Mark and I have this ongoing debate.  I like endurance racing.  I speaks to me.  I like to cover a lot of distance in a short time.  I like to maximize the time spent filling in my mental map, my life experience map.  And despite my steady forward pace for most activities I do see a lot of the landscape I pass through.  I have a very clear memory of most places I’ve visited.
I have had my moments when I wished desperately that I could slow down and take my time; that I could be content with lower miles and deeper resolution for my memories.  I finally had to accept that I’m just not wired that way. It’s rare that I am content being still.
Mark call’s me out on it sometimes.  I’ve mentioned endurance races and he’s scoffed at people racing by stuff without taking in the world around them.  I’ll concede that many people do miss too much by going too fast.  I don’t feel I’m one of those people.  I go forth with the intention of experiencing as much as I can, and I do that by exposing myself to as many different scenes and conditions as possible.  This is something my primal mind compels me to do, but it is also a very efficient way to learn the lay of the land for later (slower) explorations.
I’ve started to see that benefit somewhat since we’ve returned to Kentucky.  I have managed to slow down from time to time because I want to savor this place I love so much.  By accepting the beautiful limitation of the bicycle you do that anyway.  I could drive to each destination and then spend a small amount of time enjoying my recreation or I could, as we’ve chosen primarily to do, ride my bike as recreation and to recreation.  You necessarily see more from the seat of a bike than you would behind the windshield of a car; no matter if you’re putzing along in granny gear or crushing the pedals and going 20 mph.  Cyclists still see terrabytes more of information for each yard travelled than motorists do.
Preservation Kentucky has the following quote posted on their website for the recent bike ride they held in Clark County:
"Cyclers see considerably more of this beautiful world than any other class of citizen."
      ~How to Cycle by Dr. K.K. Doty, 1892 
That quote struck me.  And it is so true.  

The other thing about competitive endurance racing is that it’s a new thing for me.  I’ve never been a competitor.  There’s a need in me to compete though, that’s sprouted in my latter years.  I don’t know if it’s a creeping mid-life crisis or just a natural need to prove myself.  It’s likely just latent machismo that I suppressed in my earlier years, but regardless it’s there, and the monster must be fed it or it will consume me.

Y’know, I just realized something…my new touring bags would hitch up to Mandy’s bike.

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