What's new with me

During the last few weeks, unfortunately, I have seen more than my fair share of bike maladies and I shall recount some of them for your reading pleasure.

- I lost a jockey wheel on my rear derailleur. I know not where it went. It self-ejected somewhere, I think, on L Street SE between New Jersey Avenue SE and 8th Street SE. Prior to this point, my bike was making some funny creaking noises and I didn't know exactly what they were or from where they came. When you lose part of the bike that helps the chain through the derailleur, it complicates (read: makes moot) any and all efforts to power the bike. I tried nevertheless. Then I walked the bike home. It was dispiriting. Of the very many strange bike maladies one can face, a situation in which a piece of your bike simply decides to part your company is a bit of a personal affront and not great for one's self-esteem. Screw you, plastic wheel. Who needs you anyway? Me? Oh. I'm unsure of how this came to pass (I'm not ruling out sabotage- though I should because that's just crazy), but it came to pass. The good folks at the Daily Rider hooked me up with new jockey wheels and also with the knowledge that I've nearly killed my rear derailleur and it's probably time for a new one. So, that's nice. I will readily admit that I have not been keeping up with adequate levels of bike maintenance (sorry!), so that's doubtless contributed to this. Though it might also just be broken down from a lot of us. I don't know.

- In light of my needing a new rear derailleur on one bike (and you can really tell because the shifting is wonky and erratic), I decided to switch to the Brompton and that Brompton three blocks from home on its maiden replacement voyage granted me the gift of a rather dramatic flat tire. It was a rear flat. The air left quickly, like the popping of a balloon. I decided that maybe I could fix the flat and so I tried and initially I thought a new tube would be all I needed and I'd be back in action soon enough. I didn't notice right away, however, that there was a rather large gash in the tire itself and that the tube was poking through. I remounted the tire and with each spin of the wheel I heard this thumping noise. Then I saw the exposed tube, kicked myself for not seeing it sooner, and set off to buy a new tire, having convinced myself there was little I could do to salvage the gashed one. I bought the wrong brand of tire. Then I returned the wrong brand of tire for the right brand of tire and then I replaced the tire and the Brompton was back in business.

- The day before bike to work day, I crashed. The small-wheeled Brompton and I found ourselves unexpectedly in a pothole and I found myself soon thereafter on the ground. I went down elbow first. I had some superficial wounds (mostly road rash) and a little bit of soreness in the right ankle, but was otherwise able to pick myself up and ride to work and then home again at the end of the day. The funny thing about crashing as a result of riding into a pothole on such a small-wheeled bicycle is how you find yourself on the ground without actually experiencing the falling. First you're up, then you're down and there's essentially no time in between. Two drivers, including a cabbie, asked if I was ok.

- I'm buying a new bike. It's a Surly Ogre. I plan to use it for commuting. I don't know if I've gone full "prepper" or what, but I'm very much looking forward to being able to take on any weather condition or pothole or terrain or anything else that dares get in between my home, where I sit on the couch and watch tv, and my workplace, where I sit in an office chair and stare at a computer screen. Theoretically, I guess I could use it for other things, things like riding to the top of a mountain on dirt roads or some kind of on-bike goat herding on rocky crags or whatever, but since most of my rides do not involve mountain dirt roads or goat herding on any kind (for now), I look forward to mainly taking on the ruddy streets of DC from SE to NW five days a week. I'll post some pictures and maybe write something up when I've got it in hand. I really debated over getting this bike, but I'm really happy that I decided to do it and I look forward to taking possession of it soon.

All in all, it's been a rough few weeks between the mechanical issues and the falling down and hurting myself. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to the change in seasons and the sundry summer riding opportunities. It's really a great time to be a bicyclist in and around DC and even with the small hurdles of your bikes breaking down and minor physical injury, the bad days are far outnumbered by the good ones.


  1. I bought a Surly Cross Check for my commutes. I finally got around to putting 32 Gatorskin tires on it. I don't know what took me so long to just put those tires on. I am less paranoid about what I run over.

    Good luck with the Ogre. Sounds fun.

  2. Sorry for all the upset, and that we didn't get to commiserate at #fridaycoffeeclub. Also, most importantly, what color is your Ogre (Tannish Gray or Blacktastic)?

  3. Buying a 29er for commuting is a strange choice. I would think that the wheels are heavier and in commuting, with all stops and starts, rotational mass is the worst kind.

  4. @Joe- I'm currently riding a CrossCheck and I love it, but I wanted to mix it up a little bit. Enjoy the gatorskins! Flats are the worst.
    @Ricky- Tanish Grey!
    @Crickey7- Yeah, it's kind of a weird choice, but I fell in love with the bike and the heart wants want it wants, no matter how slow it might be. The slowness or heaviness doesn't really phase me, since I'm not exactly a fast commuter in the first place. I wanted some sturdy and reliable and that I could theoretically use for a lot of different things. I would've gone Straggler, but that didn't feel different enough. And the Ogre is just fun. So, we'll see how it goes.

  5. Re: Crickey7 on "rotational mass." A "29er" wheel has a 622 mm diameter, the same as a 700c. I think Surly invented the term "29er" to indicate a 622 mm rim that takes a 2" or wider tire. (Surly's latest word invention is "29+" - a 622 mm rim that takes a 2.5"+ tire).

    So 29er wheels aren't really much heavier than 700c wheels. The mass or fatness factor is in the tires, and there's all kinds of debate about how fat is too fat. Based on their latest offerings, Surly apparently thinks you can never go too fat. Jan Heine is also an advocate for fat tires on the road: http://janheine.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/tires-how-wide-is-too-wide/

    Would love to see a review of the Ogre as a commuter!