Friday, April 08, 2005

Goodbye Dear Tank

My dear Tank was kidnapped Thursday morning, and I don’t expect to see him again. I went downstairs to go to work and his spot in the locked entrance was empty. I walked around the block looking for his hobbled, free-locked body–but alas, he is gone.

The police and landlord were called first, and then I called in and took a personal day off from work. I printed fliers for the other tenants and posted them on doors. Finally, I gathered my helmet and credit card and headed towards Boulevard Bikes. It was weird being a pedestrian as I walked the mile to the Blue Line. The CTA has not known my company since Thanksgiving, so riding the train was sort of exciting, too.

Kevin at Boulevard was great–he spent a lot of time helping me pick out a bike and then fit it to my body. Actually, I didn’t so much pick the new bike, as the new bike picked me. Kevin and I were talking about gears, spinning and cadence as he tried to dissuade me from larger, racing, chainring. I explained that I would rather push the gears than spin the pedals, and that I was excited about having a larger chainring. Shaking his head he said that to bicycle smart, consistent cadence and shifting were necessary. Well, that’s just not the way I roll and it’s worked well for me so far, and I don’t really plan on changing.

Anyway, I took one bike for a ride and dutiful shifted through the gears. When I dropped it into the ‘granny gear’ on the chainring, the bike echoed my stance of "granny gear my ass": the chain slipped off, folded over and became wedged tight against the frame. My pulling on it didn’t budge it, and I didn’t want to wreck anything so I hoisted the bike on my shoulder to walk it back to the shop. As I carried the hobbled bike back, I knew he would be mine. He demonstrated that he wished to ride the same way I do–in high gear. Plus, the Tank seemed to be channeling his approval of this new, obstinent steed. I found my new bike.

The next step was scary: clipless shoes. I planned on scurrying out of the store with the shoes and then figuring out how to work them in private, amidst whimpering and cursing. The guys at Boulevard wouldn’t allow it and forced me to figure it out in the shop. My pride kept the whimpering and whining to a minimum and with support and patience I figured it out enough to ride home clipped in.

My right foot clips in pretty easily–but I always dismount on my left, which is hard to clip in. Approaching one intersection I decided to clip out and dismount on my right foot. This worked fine until I forgot and started to lean my bike down on my left. I was trapped in the pedal and gravity was working. Instead of unclipping my left foot, I swung my right leg back and over and managed to keep from falling. I have a feeling that this maneuver either looked extremely graceful, or extremely clumsy and bizarre. This was my only close-call from the clipless. I am getting the hang of them, but it will take more practice.

When I got home many hours later, I returned my boss’s message. He was really cool and sympathized with ‘my baby being kidnapped’. He also offered to give me an advance on my bonus if wanted. I’ll probably take him up on that offer.

During the day I went to two bike shops and bought:
Road bike,
Clipless shoes,
Rear rack,
Mini U-Lock,
Spare tube.

Whew. I was then awake until 1:30AM trying to attach the front fender. The bike is really annoying, because it has braze-ons for racks and fenders, but they seem to be more decorative than functional. The rear brakes make the left braze-on useless, which made the rack installation complicated. The front fork has braze-ons for the fenders stays, but not quite enough clearance for both the fender and the wheel. In order to attach that fender, I am going to have to whittle parts of it off. Luckily the rear fender went on really easily and doesn’t rub at all.
I rode into work today, taking Hubbard because it is all 4-way stops intersections and I wanted to have lots of clip-in, clip-out opportunities. Today clipping in either seemed immediate and smooth, or hopelessly mashing my foot into the pedal. Anyway, even with the clipless distraction and the lack of a straight away to build up speed, I hit 22.8 MPH on the ride to work today. I can’t wait to actually take this bike out and see what we can do clipped in and working. This will be the first time I’ve been on a road bike with a computer, so I’m excited to learn the speeds that I travel.

I miss my dear old Tank, but I am excited about the new bike. The landlord is meeting with me on Saturday morning to discuss changing/adding some of locks. This new bike is always getting locked in my apartment–luckily he is light enough to easily carry up the stairs. But tomorrow I plan to go to Working Bikes to get a frame to turn into a fixie. I need an everyday bike that I don’t have to stress out about locking outside. Plus, I need a heavier bike for everyday to keep my legs strong–I don’t want to get slow by riding a fast bike all of the time.

My dining room looks like a bike shop. John is buying a bike stand, so this will probably only get worse as the summer marches on and I add more bikes to my stable. This new one will be the gem in the crown, and he will be my ride of choice for touring and other long or fast rides. Too fun.


At 1:06 PM, Blogger Sascha said...

don't forget to post some pictures, girlfriend! We're dying to see it.

And cool beans on the fixie too. I was going to suggest that or a single speed if you are still having to lock stuff up outside.

If I didn't have a bike room at work, I'd ride my heavy bike more often. But really, it's such a pain to carry up from the basement that I usually end up just grabbing the road bike which has acquired a permanent place against the bookcase in the dining room.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Frick said...

Whats the layout of you your new place, as far as where you had your biked locked, and who else in the building goes through there? I'm just curious as to how much effort it took someone to steal Tank.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Frick said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger jojo said...

My new place is a three-flat with long-term tenants who are friends with each other.

From the sidewalk there is a concrete/brick stoop with about 5 steps leading to the front glass door, which locks automatically.

Then there is a very small bi-level entranceway with three steps. In certain violation of the fire code, John and I parked one bike each to the left of the door, and a stroller is parked to the right.

We freelock our bikes (wheel to frame), so they can't be ridden away, but they can be carried.

I really don't think it was one of the other tenants. Instead, I hope that someone just didn't pull the door tight behind them. No opportunistic thief could resist Tank's considerabe charms.

At 5:43 PM, Blogger equipoise said...

Wow, bummer of a story. I haven't had a bike stolen since college, and then it was partially my own fault. I locked it using a cheaper cable lock, and it was out in the open and a bit of a target. However, it was covered by insurance. Any idea if your loss of Tank will be covered by renter's insurance?

I second DC's request for pictures ... or at least a good description of your new steed.

If one of your pedals remains difficult to clip in/out of, there should be a small allen bolt on each pedal that adjusts the tension.

This may seem like a crazy idea to some, but I'm searching for a folding bike frame to convert to a fixie. Something that could break down into a suitcase for travel. That way I'd have a minimalistic bike for around town, which would also be packable for whenever I travel, but don't want to bother with either of my other more valuable bikes. Food for thought.

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

"The front fork has braze-ons for the fenders stays, but not quite enough clearance for both the fender and the wheel."

This is a common problem on many, many newer road bikes. They simply aren't made to accommodate fenders, but sometimes they put the braze-ons there just so you think the bike is more versatile than it is. By the time you realize that fender-whittling is your best option, it's too late.

Otherwise, condolences on the loss of Tank, and congrats on the new addition to the stable. Looking forward to seeing pictures as well. And good luck with the clipless pedals, even though I still think you don't need 'em.


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