Saturday, September 18, 2010


We’re approaching the time of year when it’s not uncommon for all of one’s bike-riding to be done in the rain; it’s not always the heavy, soaking kind, but it is the sort that inevitably creeps between the links in your chain and leads to a greasy coating of road grime all over your rims, tires, and front fork.

I try to remain reasonably on top of dealing with this; I’ll do my best to clean and lubricate my chain before it gets too gritty and squeaky, and with slightly less frequency, I make it a point to clean off my rims and brake pads so the grit doesn’t sandpaper their surfaces away, and I wipe down my tires with Simple Green so the chemicals in the dirt don’t eat away at the rubber I’m riding on so quickly.

At this point in the season, I’m still enjoying this—I just spent half an hour or so tidying up after Thursday’s rainy riding—but I’m pretty sure that by February, I won’t be so sanguine about the process.

Thing is, though, and this in another feature of cycling I admire, it doesn’t matter all that much whether you’re as anal as I am about all this. Even if you do little more than keep your tires pumped up (and riding around looking at other folks on their bikes, you’ll notice that even this isn’t entirely critical), your bike will loyally carry you around all winter long. Sure, you’ll be one of those annoying riders squeaking noisily along, and yes, your components won’t last as long as they would otherwise, but unlike a car, which will catastrophically fail if you neglect to do stuff like change the oil or fill it up with gas, your two-wheeler will persevere, pretty much until it completely seizes up with rust.

Which is why, of course, you should always have a couple “extra” bicycles in your stable, so you never miss a day.


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