Monday, August 18, 2014

In the Black of the Night

After returning from the Dream Cruise on Saturday, which I wrote about yesterday, I threw down some dinner and met my friend Nikolai to go biking again.  I decided to bring my Raleigh Sports for the ride.  At 8 PM, we headed east along Hines Drive further than we had ever ridden before.  The sky quickly got dark but we both had blinky taillights and Nikolai had a super bright LED headlight that way outperformed my Dynohub LED.  Visibility was not too much of an issue.  We cruised about fifteen miles down the road and decided it was about time to head home.  Since I had been riding at least ten miles nearly every day, I felt as though my energy reserve was endless.  Despite the weight of my all-steel 3-speed being a few times that of Nikolai's road bike, I was keeping up comfortably in second gear.

I usually stay behind Nikolai so he can lead the way with his bright light, but I don't stay behind enough.  The big mistake that I made during the ride was that rather than staying in line directly behind Nik, I rode next to him so that my front wheel just overlapped with his rear ever so slightly.  Why I did that, I don't know.  Anyway, he thought I was far enough behind him and decided to merge.  Because of my position, our wheels caught and I lost balance.  I was a little bit scraped up, but it wasn't anything serious.  My only concern was about the bike.  Having just been restored less than a month ago, here it was, laying on the concrete after sliding to a stop.  Much to my surprise, the bike didn't lose paint; however, the handlebar did turn sideways, allowing the front brake caliper to drag on the ground.  I quickly adjusted the handlebars but found out that the brake nut had popped off due to the caliper tearing at the bolt, which itself was now bent.

I didn't have a front brake when we rode more than ten miles back home. My rear brake, however ineffective, worked better than I had expected.   The front fender kept smacking the fork because that too was held together with the brake bolt.  I got home at 11 PM and was obviously chewed out by my father.  Nikolai recorded that we rode 29.2 miles, and adding the distance from my house to his, I probably rode 30.  I never expected 30 continuous miles on my 3-speed to be so easy.

I repaired the bike today.  My plan was to bend the bolt back so I could get everything off and replace it.  Since the original brake bolt was too stiff to bend back even with my longest set of channel locks, I used the angle grinder to cut it at the bend.

I went to the hardware store and a nice lady helped me find the size of my bolt and I brought home a couple suitable hardened-steel replacements.  It's nice that this bolt is the common 1/4" diameter, 2 1/2" long type.  I know that the original bolt had a groove in it with a matching keyed washer to keep it from rotating, but I lost both the nut and the washer in the accident.  I chose a nylon locking nut to make sure the brakes wouldn't slowly turn the bolt loose.  I was surprised that I could get the spring back on with my own two hands.

Before piecing the brakes back together, I used a Duplicolor paint pen that I also bought today to repair paint chips.  It costed about as much as I spent on spray paint for the entire bike.  As it turns out, the fender and fork didn't lose any paint from smacking each other repeatedly last night.  I still used the paint pen to touch up a few chips from earlier and the repairs are remarkably invisible.  The touch-up tube was so handy: it had a pen on the opposite side of the brush and on the bottom of the pen was a clear coat applicator.  It also dried very quickly.

On a separate note, I re-registered my bike with the University of Michigan Police to help prevent theft or permanent loss.  I did do this last year but had to take the tags off before restoration.  I'll also be registering it with the city of Ann Arbor as soon as I get back in town for school.  I'd encourage anyone who cycles for transportation to register their bike with the city/cities through which it travels, especially since I lost another bike to theft earlier this summer.