Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday Musette

A quick fake...

Riding home from work yesterday, I was grinding along uphill with a quartering wind on 56th Street. Up ahead, a pickup crested the hill and as he descended toward me, he straddled the center line. This is a county road that's not very wide. I think the lanes are in the 10-12 foot range, so with a truck straddling the centerline, there's not a great deal of space on my side. But I figured he'd move over as he approached. When he didn't, I got a little nervous. He could be falling asleep, drunk, or drugged. He could merely be toying with me, figuring on 'teaching that bicycle rider a lesson'.

I pulled a water bottle from its cage and cocked my arm in preparation. When he was close, I feinted throwing the bottle at him. He immediately pulled over into his lane! They guy was paying attention, after all.

This has happened before, surprisingly enough, in that same road section. The last time, it was a carload of teenagers who wanted to play chicken. I met them nearly every day for a week. I went so far as to hard-freeze a water bottle at work, planning to use it as a missile. A totally frozen water bottle is about as effective as throwing a brick. But a simple feint put them off and I never had problems with them again.

Let me be clear about something – it's a felony to throw an object at a motor vehicle in Oklahoma. I'm thinking that yesterday's dolt would say, “I wus jist tryin' to skeer 'em!” Would that justify me sending a 45 caliber Hydrashock whizzing past his head? “I was just trying to scare him, officer, no harm done.” It probably wouldn't work because the cops usually call that assault with a deadly weapon. Likewise if I swung and missed with a baseball bat. So how is it that 'swinging and missing' with a couple tons of metal and glass is any less lethal?

We killed about 42,000 American citizens last year on our highways. Another 29,000 Americans died due to firearms (in 2001). Now, I ask you, which is more dangerous, a fool with a motor vehicle or a fool with a gun?

I get around...

I don't recall what led up to this conversation, but Mary and I somehow got on the subject of marital fidelity. She and Lyndsay sat on either end of the sofa. Lyndsay was having a Pepsi and some chips while she watched television and listened to the old folks natter.

I don't worry about you,” Mary said. “I know you're faithful.”

Faithful? Me?” I replied. “Honey, you don't know much about me. Why, when I'm away from here I could be the playboy of northeastern Oklahoma!”

Lyndsay snorted Pepsi out of her nose. That's gotta hurt. Mary just rolled her eyes.

The women in my house do not take me seriously.

Mechanical problems...

The other thing that happened on yesterday's ride was a simple mechanical problem with the Bianchi's rear derailleur. As I started up the hill toward home, it refused to downshift. In a moment, I realized the cable was slipping through the anchor bolt. Sure enough, at the minimum tension position, the cable bowed with slack. The derailleur is still the original '96 Campy Mirage. I figured the cable anchor hadn't been tightened properly when I worked on it last, so I re-tensioned it and planned to ride it this morning.

Big mistake. I should have ridden it last night. I would have discovered that the anchor bolt just won't hold that cable in place, even when torqued properly. As yet, I don't know why, but I'll get into it tonight after work. Since I had only the big gears, I abandoned the Bianchi in the garage, changed into 'civilian' clothes, and drove the car to work.

I much prefer the old-fashioned anchor bolts that hold a cable via a drilled-through hole. Granted, they wouldn't take high torque and I snapped more than a couple . We kept a card of spares in the shop. These 'new' 1996 models hold the cable between a washer and the derailleur body. I'll probably find a groove worn in that nice, soft aluminum tonight.

(Later) I found the problem. The rear derailleur cable went through a ferrule that fit into a brazed-on stop on the right chainstay. Or at least there use to be a ferrule there. It must have split in half and it fell off. The cable houseing was being pulled through the stop. I ran a new cable, housing, and ferrule. It works!

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Blogger Apertome said...

I'll have to remember that water bottle trick, that's a great idea. If only it would work to scare away dogs who chase you.

Good work fixing that derailleur problem. I need to learn more about fixing my bike; mine would probably end up in the shop over something like that.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Fritz said...

Trust in a relationship is a wonderful thing.

Too bad many jurisdictions don't take assault allegations from cyclists nearly as seriously as assault allegations from motorists.

Did you see the video of John Forester speaking at Google on Bike To Work Day?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Water bottles can be used to repel dogs too. Just squirt 'em! Outside dogs generally don't like to get wet. After getting spritzed once or twice, most dogs will keep a safe distance when they see that bottle in your hand.

As for Forester, no, I haven't seen it yet. Last night was a train wreck involving a hurried trip to the vet for one of our elderly cats. Her health is questionable and the outlook is doubtful.

And late last night, one of the 'kittens' went into heat. We had a howling, clawing hot-mamma-wannabe all night long. She's at the vet's now.

There's more, but I'll save that for a later posting.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

Hey, check out this post by yet ANOTHER recalcitrant, IGNORANT COP telling bicyclists to get out of the way of cars, if they can't keep up.

Sic 'em, C-Dog!!!

4:51 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Been there. Done that. Even before you added the comment, Paul.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Jett said...

"Which is more dangerous, a fool with a motor vehicle or a fool with a gun?"

Well put.

I saw an insurance advertisement recently that pointed out if we had 42,000 (or even 29,000) deaths each year from airliner crashes, we'd be outraged enough to do something about it.

If we had 42,000 (or even 29,000) deaths each year in Iraq, we would have already pulled out.

Strange how numbers work (and don't work).

6:34 AM  

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