It Was Such A Nice, Pleasant, Uneventful Bike Ride . . . At First

A couple of days ago I noticed that the Reckless Mr. Bing Bong’s steering was kind of sluggish. At the time I thought maybe the reason for that was the heavy load of groceries I was carrying. All the weight was on my right side in a single pannier. I had no doubt that lop-sidedness threw off my steering.

The next day, my bike’s steering was even more stiff and I had no groceries to blame. “Damn, I do NOT like bike problems,” I reminded myself. I guess the main reason I don’t like bike problems is that I have almost no mechanical skills. I can work an Allen wrench, I can change an inner tube, I can lube a chain. That’s about it.

Normally when faced with something more complicated, I either bring the bike to a bike shop or to my famous brother/Park Tool executive.

This time, however, I decided to try some trouble-shooting on my own. I’ve heard that bike shops are backed up for weeks these days. I know my brother has things going on in his own life and I can’t expect him to come to the rescue at a moment’s notice. And “a moment’s notice” is what I needed. My mountain bike is dead and my roadie bike is worthless in snow, so I cannot afford to give up The Reckless Mr. Bing Bong for more than a day or two.

My first thought was to bring the bike into the house. My garage isn’t heated, so the bike is just really cold. I figured ice and snow had worked it’s way up into the fork and was freezing up the steering mechanisms. All it needed was to thaw out for a few hours. Yeah, that’s it.

Unfortunately, after four hours in the warmth of The Greg Room, the stiffness in the steering had not improved one iota. That’s when I decided to attempt something I never would have considered before: I disassembled the entire headset.

Of course, I only did so with this book at my side.

In a way, my bro was at my side too.

I admit I didn’t understand a lot of the terminology in that book and I didn’t have the recommended tools. But the important thing I learned was to take notes during the disassembly so you can reassemble all the parts in the correct order. Thank goodness I followed that advice.

I wiped some rusty-looking sludge off the fork post. Everything else looked pretty good. I put the stuff back together in order, tightened it all up, hoped for the best, and, I’LL BE A MONKEY”S UNCLE, THE STEERING WORKED AS GOOD AS NEW.

I was apprehensive this morning. Everything on the bike felt great and it LOOKED great too because I washed it thoroughly. Yet, I couldn’t get it out of my head: What if I screwed up my headset and the steering locked up and I ran straight into the path of a big truck because I couldn’t turn?

I continued to ride anyway because it was an unseasonably warm (30-degrees F) and sunny day. I had to take advantage and I took some pictures to share.

Remember this picture from a couple weeks ago? It featured that mountain range right down the middle of the street.

Most mountain ranges take many centuries to erode down to nothing. In MY Town it only takes a few days to tear them down with front end loaders and dump trucks.

I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that you can see the courthouse in the mural on the side of the building at the same time as you can see the ACTUAL courthouse.

This semi-homeless woman named Wanda is pretty famous here. Legend has it that she’s 85 years old. She walks her trike and her belongings up hills and pedals on the flat areas between the food shelf and the storage area where she lives. I said “hi” to her as I rode past and got no reply.

I rode uphill on 2nd Street from the historic downtown area and then took the bike path back downhill just for fun. It was snowy and icy and it really was fun. But I kept my right foot ready to prevent a fall at all times.

I should have taken a picture of my headset operation last night. This picture of the stem and bars is the closest thing I’ve got. Lookin’ good.

The Reckless Mr. Bing Bong lies down on the questionable ice and snow of Spring Lake.

At this point, I must end Part One of today’s bike ride. That would be the “nice, pleasant, uneventful” part mentioned in the title. Things turned much more frightful at the end. MUCH more frightful. It was so awful that I just can’t bring myself to write about it today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to muster the courage.

How’s THAT for a cliffhanger ending? (But don’t worry, the scary part has nothing to do with a catastrophic steering failure.)

Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

4 response to "It Was Such A Nice, Pleasant, Uneventful Bike Ride . . . At First"

  1. By: BobinVT Posted: January 12, 2021

    Well I think it’s safe to say the audience is now on the edge of their seats! At least we know you’re alive to tell the tale, whatever it might be. ?

  2. By: Laura Posted: January 12, 2021

    You are many steps ahead of me. I can lube and that’s about it. I haven’t had a flat in years, but sure my hands could no longer deal with a new tube. I don’t even carry a pump while riding near home and only learned how to air up my tires when Jim was no longer able to do it for me. I figure I can call a kid if I’m in the Metro area. I may have to listen to them rant that I’m too old to be doing this, but I don’t think they’d leave me stranded . They know I’m still of sound enough mind to change the will. 😉

  3. By: NancyG Posted: January 13, 2021

    A borne (sic) mechanic. Borne by brother and his writings ;’-).

  4. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: January 14, 2021

    Gee that Wanda must be a tough old lady, I’d be moving to warmer climes if I was homeless in Hastings.

    Headset repairs need lots of care. Usually the bearings need replacing or more grease as rusty. If the headset locks up and you suddenly cant turn you’re going to crash and it does happen. A guy who was riding in front of me stem collapsed, very nasty, lucky he wasn’t flying down the hill at 50kmph.
    I tried to repair my headset once, bearings went everywhere, I took it to the mechanic.

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