Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bike Woes

First of all, I guess I should give some background as to bike woes that have led up to this point. Ever since I moved out here to the Seattle area (I should blog this story too...soon maybe) my biking immediately took a nice upswing and was going quite well. Then suddenly, like a shot out of the dark, it all took a downward spiral.

I had been steadily increasing my mileage on the weekend rides, increasing hills and had been commuting to work. I had bought a Brooks b-17 saddle which was starting to give me numbness issues I hadn't had before.

Then, I had it in mind to change the bike to a pair of trekking/touring handlebars. I did this with the help of my bike partner/friend out here, Jason. We changed the handlebars which also required changing the shifters.

I only did about 2 or 3 commute to work rides (3.5 miles each way) and was then off on vacation back to Florida to be with my girlfriend for a week and see my family. My upper back started hurting a bit by the end of the week and it didn't really dawn on me until I was in Florida that my back was KILLING me.

I went to a doctor there and got some muscle relaxers and pain meds. When I came back I saw my main doctor and ended up in Physical Therapy to deal with it. The bottom line, discovered from physical therapy, is that it more likely came from bad ergonomics at work.

Anyway....I "thought" at first it was something to do with the new handlebars, so I decided to seek out a fit expert. I found that there was a true fit expert in the area who had worked with professional cyclists before. He was also a physical therapist, so I was even able to see him on insurance's nickel.

From his review, it seemed that I did not have enough space between me and the handlebars (bike is likely one size too small). So on his recommendation, I got a stem riser to raise the handlebars higher, a longer stem (140mm adjustable), a seat post with more setback and knee savers (pedal extenders).

OK...the reason I went through this whole story is to show that in the past 6 weeks or so, I've put a LOT of time/money and parts onto this bicycle. I should be DONE, right?

Well, it took me about a month to get rid of enough back pain and get the bike back together with the changes that I could ride. But when I did (about a week or two ago), I started commuting to work again. I didn't think I was ready for long weekend rides again yet, but I thought the commute would be ok.

I noticed after a week or two of commuting that my brakes were not working well. I tried to adjust them, but was struggling to get it tight enough to really work well. A few rides almost became dangerous with brakes not working well. I finally found out that the brake pads were shot. Well, I was long overdue for a tuneup anyway, so I decided to let the bike shop put on new pads while giving the bike a tuneup.

As soon as I handed the bike over to the mechanic at the shop, he put it on the rack and ran a cloth over the rear wheel rim to clean the commute grime off it and examine it. He found the rear wheel was cracked (IN SEVEN PLACES). I never noticed it because it was hidden under all the grime. Now, I need a new rear wheel as well.

I'll skip the long story of going back and forth with the bike shop guy over replacing with an identical wheel from Trek or getting a stronger wheel. Suffice it to say, in the end, it seemed as good or better of a deal to replace it with a better wheel. He said I should get the wheel I want (usually just rim and let him build up the wheel) and bring it in to him.

So I searched out what wheel I wanted (Mavic T520 - rated for HEAVY DUTY touring) and scoured the internet. I actually found a pretty good deal getting a set of them (already built) form a bike shop in Colorado. So now...after all these parts I've bought and added recently, let's tack another $300 on for a set of nice heavy duty touring wheels with Shimano XT HF08 hubs .

Here come the Mavic T520 heavy duty touring/tandem 700c wheels with 40 spokes each. :)

1 comment:

MRMacrum said...

I bought the identical saddle a few years ago. You give it a chance and it will make love to your butt.

You seem to put a lot of miles on your bike. Well, get used to also putting money into it regularly aslo.

And good luck with the blog.