At What Point Do You Replace Your Bike?

I was talking to my buddy today about his bike. He had told me that he was experiencing some mechanical problems and considered parting out his bike. As I dug deeper, he was able to describe the problem. Basically his freewheel isn’t grabbing anymore. During the conversation he talked about buying one of my old road bikes from me. I reassured him that it wouldn’t cost more than $30 to fix the problem on his bike and recommend he go that route. But somehow I think he has it in his mind to buy a new/different bike instead.

Personally I would only replace bike if:

1. It was stolen.
2. If the frame cracked.

Otherwise, I’d fix things as they broke. What about you, when is your breaking point having to buy a new bike?

Playing Hooky, part 3

I took the day off from work today. This has been the first vacation day that I have used all year just for the sake of not going to the office. I did not have any travel plans, or anything on the agenda. My family had been talking about traveling for Christmas this year, so I planned ahead and was really conservative with the days I spent away from work all year. When I did take time off, it was used to travel back east to visit family and friends. I must say, it was nice to not be in the office on a Monday and just use the day to relax and get caught up on some reading and some writing.

After sleeping in and catching up on some errands around the house, I grabbed my laptop and coffee mug (that I use instead of a paper/styrofoam cups) and went to a coffee shop that sits right across the corner from a LBS called the Bike Barn. I had a cup of coffee and did some reading and writing. A pleasant afternoon. When I had satisfied my writing needs, I walked across the street to the Bike Barn (it really looks like a barn…) and grabbed a new set of tires for my road bike. I had gotten 2 flats in the past 2 weeks due to glass and rocks in the road.

When I started commuting on my road bike, I did not make any modifications, and have been riding on 700c x 23 racing tires. These have served me just fine and have not been too uncomfortable but they have about 1200 miles on them and are starting to get too many cuts. When I got to the Bike Barn I found a set of Specialized tires with “Flak Jacket protection” that is supposed to reduce the amount of punctures in the tires. I figure if I couple these with some slime tubes, I should be pretty flat-proof, at least for a while. I also got a slightly wider tire, 700c x 25 to give myself a bit of a smoother ride.

I spent the later part of the afternoon removing the old tires, cleaning my wheels, then mounting the new tires. Since I was in a “wrenching” mood, I figured I would go ahead and clean the rest of my bike. I do this pretty regularly, so “cleaning my bike” usually only requires a warm, damp rag to wipe off all the dirt and grit.

Now that I have a clean bike with brand spankin’ new tires and tubes, I am really looking forward to my ride to work tomorrow morning!

On the Anatomy of a Bike Commuter

In my [still] short time being a bike commuter I have been able to notice some significant bodily adaptations, especially with regards to aerobic fitness. During the first weeks/month or two, I was relatively in tune with the what was happening. Even going from a competitive triathlete’s training schedule to biking a [seemingly] mere 17 miles each day produced some significant changes in body composition and metabolic rate. For the first month of daily bike commuting [the ‘August project’] I would wake up with a slight sore-ness throughout my legs, which eventually faded as my legs became used to the constant stress. One of the nice results of this was an exciting amount of increased definition in my leg muscles, particularly my calves muscles. My metabolism seemed to bump up a little – but nothing too exceptional (I was coming off the end of a 6-day a week triathlon training schedule…).

The human body never ceases to amaze me how it can adapt, or even how it functions in general.

Now into my fourth straight month of bike commuting, I am noticing more physical adaptation – but it is different this time. My body has finally realized that it is not being trained for competition. The power of muscular function is being reduced to allow for the extra endurance that is being expected. I tried including some sprints into my ride home yesterday, but I felt sluggish and not as explosive as I used to.

But my running performance has seemed to increase. Since I began bike commuting, the miles I have logged with my running shoes has decreased by nearly 60-70% – YET last night I was able to run a 5k faster than I would when I was training for triathlons, and with an easier effort. A week ago, I went for a run – having not gone running for at least 2 weeks – and was able to maintain a very good pace with no discomfort.

It seems my metabolism has normalized as well, much as my muscles have. My body seems to have become a very efficient calorie burning machine and is able to maintain the functionality that I demand on a lesser diet. This part is actually sad to me in a way, because it means that whenever I eat more than I legitimately need to, I can tell.

While I have been in tune with how my body has responded to the stress I place on it as a bike commuter, I had a ‘duh’ moment today: my body no longer responds and requires the nourishment it did when I was a “competitive athlete.” Bike commuting continues to be a learning experience for me, and I think I have finally shed the mentality that I am training to be a competitive athlete. I will [hopefully] always continue to participate in recreational competitions because I love the experience of being at races: I love the excitement and anticipation, I love the physical challenge of the race itself, and I love the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. The beauty of my situation now is that I am able to maintain a solid and above-average level of fitness without having to spend any time in a weight room or on a treadmill.

That’s right, the Velorution made me a better runner!