Sunday, March 22, 2009

First Ride (sort of) - What is Working and What isn't

Well alright.  I got back on Mr. Fuji today and took off to enjoy this great day a little bit.  I should mention here that I actually did ride a couple weeks ago when we had an unusually warm spell.  A single day of it, in fact.  I did not have enough air in the new tires and it was as windy as all get out.  I made it all of 5 miles before the cold wind got to me.  But it was a ride, I guess.  It made me realize that all the time I spent over the winter doing absolutely nothing, put me right back at square one.  I am a fool.

But on to today.  It was a beautiful day here in our fine city, but I thought I was going to be too busy to ride. However, this afternoon I found myself with about an hour to spare, so I jumped on the bike and took off for another quick ride.  I got the new tires aired up all proper like and headed out.  I made it all of a mile before I ran into a snag.  I came to an intersection and applied the brakes, and heard an odd thwap-thwap-thwap-thwap, coming from the back wheel.  I thought I had gotten a leaf or something stuck to the rear wheel.  I touch the brakes again, and the sound was still there.  I stopped and inspected the rear wheel and discovered a bulge in my brand new back tire with a flappy piece of rubber torn loose.  I thought I had damaged the tire when I was mounting it.  For a moment I thought I might just take my chances and keep going.  It was just too nice to turn back.  I started off again and noticed that I could actually feel a wobble in the back wheel now.  And it occurred to me that I hadn't brought the cell phone.  If the tire decided to let go completely, it would be a long walk back in the goofy shoes.  So I turned back and headed for home, but not before letting just a little bit of air out of the tire, just to take a little bit of load off the bad spot.

I got back to the garage, and pulled the wheel off the bike and began to dismount the tire.  That is when I figured out what that flappy little piece of rubber was.  It wasn't the tire at all; it was the inner tube!  It had gotten pinched between the wheel and tire when I mounted it a couple weeks ago.  When I finally inflated the tire all the way, some of the pressure must have caused the tube to actually bubble outside the tire, and then when I applied the brakes it tore about a 1" section of the tube right off.  And yet, the tube was pinched between the tire and wheel so well, that it actually continued to hold air!  Crazy.  So I grabbed another tube quick like and had the bike all back together in no time.  So I decided to head back out once again.  This time I took the phone.

I rode up to my usual spot, the North Branch trail  I rode the same short route that I used to ride when I first started last season.  This made for a bit of a short ride, but my time was limited, and I didn't really want to jump into a "big" ride on my first time out.  I ended up with 11 miles on the odometer.  eh...

The Conti 4000's feel nice on the bike and the new stem seems to be pretty nice.  I had no hand pains, no wrist pain, and found that I could ride with very little weight on my arms at all.  However, on the way home I started to feel a little bit of lower back pain.  I'm wondering if moving the bars up and towards me has caused me to be a little too cramped on the bike.  At this point it is really too early on to try adjusting the bike.  It could just be the fact that I've been off the bike for too darn long.  Recollect, that my intention was to move the bars back on the bike a bit, and then move the seat back as well, so that I would essentially end up in the same position on the bike as far as my reach to the bars, but to end up back behind the crank center slightly.  So I may just need to move the seat back a bit more.  But like I said, I'll need to log some more quality seat time before I start moving things around on the bike.

But I came across something on my ride that is seriously NOT working.  Chicago's recycling program is needing some serious work.

For many years Chicago had what they called the Blue Bag Program.  With this program, Chicago residents were to take any recyclable trash and bag it up in blue trash bags.  These trash bags could be thrown in with your regular trash and it would be dumped into the same truck on trash day.  The story was that once the truck unloaded at the dump, the blue bags could be plucked out, torn open and their contents sorted.  Right.  How this was possible once the bags had been repeatedly compacted in the back of dump truck was beyond me, but I just went with it.  It was all the city had to offer, so we did the best we could.  We went so far as to actually sort our recyclables here at home, but at the end of the week, all the blue bags went into the same can and into the same truck.

Well, this year Chicago began rolling out a Blue Can program.  With this program, residents place their recyclables into a blue can that gets picked up on trash day, but they have actually now segregated the truck.  2/3rd's of the truck is for regular land fill trash and 1/3rd is for the blue cans to get dumped into.  This seems like a step in the right direction however, they program is being rolled out slowly, neighborhood by neighborhood.  And ours is down pretty far on the list.  In the meantime, the blue bag program has been discontinued.  The holdover solution is for us to take our recyclables to central locations and drop them off.  One of those central locations is the parking lot where the North Branch trail begins.

Here is a photo of the container where people are to drop off their recyclables:

Not too cool, I've got to say.  Not long ago, when I took our recycling to the collection center closest to our house, I found a similar situation.  I sent an e-mail to our alderman and our site now has two dumpsters.  So, I guess I'll try to figure out who the alderman is up that way and drop them a note as well.  But if Chicago is going to continue to be the world class city that Daley wants it to be, he is going to have to seriously step up efforts to "green" this joint up.  This is just lame.

But I digress.  It was a great day, and it felt GREAT to get back in the saddle again.   Time to start working for that century again.  Cross your fingers. 

1 comment:

Paul said...

That's the first time I've ever heard of a flat sealing itself like that. You're very lucky - that situation usually causes a loud explosion (in the garage). You need to take pictures of stuff like that. :)

Have I sent you some links to our recycling programs here? Pretty sure you've seen posts I've done elsewhere.

I think you should ship your bike out here and then join it for a ride. With me. And a fit session. :)