A Year Goes By Like Nothing
I was checking some old shipping notices yesterday and realized that, according to my roundabout record keeping, my Sram chain and cassette have a little over two years and five thousand miles on them. I have been noticing a kind of slipping in the drive train lately and when I lubed the chain the other day I noticed that the links are not seating properly in the chain ring. This has caused a kind of ghost-shifting, or slipping, anytime I put extra torque on the pedals. This of course usually happens when I am busting a move: as in dodging a bus that I thought I could easily beat across a crowded intersection, only to catch a demonic gleam in the driver's eye that spells certain doom. When I crank down hard on the cranks and exert all the power of my mighty thighs into one desperate effort to escape, I get a 'clunk' out of the drive train that may be the chain coming off (death) or an unexpected shift into a random gear (life, at least until next time).
Five thousand miles isn't much for two whole years, I realize, but it is enough, perhaps, to warrant a new chain and cassette (and big chainring, if possible). Who knows where the money will come from but as I am fond of reminding my imaginary car driving friends, compared to an automobile, the drive train on a bicycle is cheap.
Your car driving friends wouldn't be so imaginary if you would quit bragging about how much better bicycles are than cars.
“I know, Voice, but I am a man on a mission.”
Tires and Chains, Miles and Buses
Whatever the case, I am more unemployed than ever and thus riding more than ever and as January draws to a close, there are a little over five hundred miles beneath the wheels and it shows. The Kenda Kwest 35mm tires I put on back in September of last year are a little worn, but supple and worthy after 1500 miles or so: but I think the next pair will be something else. I am not yet sure what...but they will continue to be the fattest I can fit. The extra amount of squish I get from these larger tires makes a big difference on the long ride and while I think maybe I am a little slower because of the tires, I don't care. When I hit some rough stuff I can feel the squish go to work and I like it.
Tires and chains and buses, demonic drivers and life and death scenarios; these are the minutiae of my life of leisure. But hardly interesting. The good stuff is what happens on the rides. Not much lately, other than maybe getting shot at when I was stealing grapefruit the other day. There is a house that I know about and long admired for its fruit trees. It sits on one of the far reaches of my favorite ride and as I passed by recently I saw that it was abandoned. Not just abandoned but boarded up as though the most recent tenant had been less than careful on his way out and maybe trashed the place. Also gone was his collection of old appliances and the car-on-blocks in the side yard. But the tangerine trees and the orange trees and in particular the big grapefruit tree, the one not far off the road, were in full and inviting bloom and I was suddenly struck with an overwhelming desire for citrus.
Temptation In the Garden
This is Florida, and around here citrus is the cash crop. Well, one of them; I have acquaintances who grow a different cash crop but that is not today's subject, today is about citrus and the powerful yearning one can attain for a rush of vitamin C when deep into a thirty mile bicycle ride and suddenly confronted with poor abandoned fruit trees, their fragile boughs straining under a heavy load (grapefruits at the grocery store are about a dollar each) and here were hundreds begging to be safely stashed into my Goodwill messenger bag. I paused, there, looking around for someone to ask about picking one or two or so but there was no one about. Then I decided to err on the side of reason and pedaled off. Then I turned around and pedaled back. There are almost no cars on this stretch of country lane and very few houses.
“What do you think, Voice?” I asked.
Well, you might as well go ahead and grab a couple, since you could hardly look more suspicious than you already do, riding back and forth like this and staring around like a felon on the lam.
“Okay!” With one last look over my shoulder I coasted into the yard. At that exact instant far away, so far away I could barely hear, a man's voice shouted something unintelligible. I couldn't understand the shout, and it was so far away that it was hard to believe it was directed at me. But it didn't sound friendly. I was pretty sure it wasn't yelling 'Help Yourself'. It sounded so far off that I figured he would have to be watching me through binoculars.
Or a high powered scope, yelled the Voice. Run! When the Voice yells run, you run.
“But Voice, I'm on my bike! Do you mean 'run' as in leave the bike, or do you mean...”
Get out of here!
Here There Be Hellions
I push back up the slight grade of the drive, then turn and pedal away. I try to do so with dignity but I am pretty interested in leaving. I put a power stroke into the getaway, only to hear (and feel) that 'clunk' as the chain skips (but mercifully does not come off) and soon I am hitting a good lick back towards the highway and what passes for civilization in these parts. I really better think about a new chain. As I made my way on down the road, I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if I had gone ahead and plucked a grapefruit. But this little section of Old Florida backroad is renowned for its 'hellions', as the Blonde calls them. And it is the location of some of those other cash crops I was mentioning. So discretion is, in these parts, a sound policy. But I sure wanted some of those grapefruits.
Maybe after dark...
Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Packing Plant