The short version is that I should have taken more pictures, but this weekend I enjoyed not one but two (2) bike-related repair projects, and boy, were my hands greasy by the end!

“SPD” Fix

You know that metal thingy that holds your cleat in on the pedal?

Arrow Pointing at Pedal

Well, mine had gone a little wonky. Regardless of how tight I’d tightened the release screw (including the resulting “couldn’t-unclip-in-time” fall/scraped knee, my first-ever), I was still getting this thing where when I pulled up with my right foot, my shoe would fly off the pedal, entirely ruining my (still pathetic) cadence, which was particularly embarrassing in the middle of the line on last Thursday’s MTB ride up hills, where I would kick off, get stuck, and have to push my bike the rest of the way until I got to a flat spot to re-start (to be fair, I was doing the ride on a pretty heavy fat bike).

Anyway, it was annoying, and I don’t like scraping my knees and also not being clipped in (unless it’s winter and you’re riding on ice and you’re prone to slipping often and so need to be able to get out quick). So before A. and I set out to do the 19-mile Superior Vistas Long Lake loop, which we did later on, not to avoid the registration fees (I swear!) but rather because we decided to sleep in instead, I thought I’d take a tinker to my pedal while A. was in the shower.

The bolt that holds the springs and the metal thing had come loose, somehow, and had wiggled out from its little hole on the outside of the pedal where it’s supposed to stay. The spring had also escaped its designated spot, and I really don’t like fixing spring things.

Anyway, with the help of an adjustable wrench and some hex keys (used both to screw in the relevant screws as well as leverage the springs back into place), I fixed it. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Getting cocky, I thought I’d finally take apart the pedal and turn the rubber seal that’s supposed to protect the bearings around (I guess someone at the factory was drunk the day they put my left pedal together), but I pulled about half of it apart, and well, decided that that was a project for another day…

Shimano RSX: 7 Speed Brifter Glory

Although it took us a long time to make friends up here in Ashland, it’s nice that a lot of them happen to work at the super fucking awesome local bike shop. I was downstairs getting a tour of “the collection,” and got into conversation with a my friend (charmingly nick-named) Speedy about a super-wrecked bike/frame, and noticed that it was a seven-speed… and had brifters… and that they appeared to still be in order.

“We might be able to pull those off for you.”

There’s a long version about a shady-looking text message, a rainy-day walk down mainstreet, and a really cool fold-up musette bag I got off the Internet once, but the point is, I <3 used parts.

I think I wrote one other time about my dear road bike, a 1991 Schwinn Aluminium 354, which, though deficient in some areas, totally kicks ass in almost ever other respect. That said, the downtube shifters were a little old-school, and all the old guys on $3000 bikes kept kicking my ass up the hills on our road rides (I think it was entirely due to my poor shifting on the hills, not that their bikes weigh less than half of mine). I’ve got handlebar-mounted shifters on my fat bike, and like that well enough, but had never played with “brifters,” and so this opportunity was very exciting. I’d get to learn some things about maintenance (because I’d do the work myself) as well as biking (because I would finally be entering the late 90s, componentry-wise).

So on Sunday, another friend from the shop, Nick, had me over and helped me swap my (dearly beloved) downtubes for the fancy-dancy Shimano RSX shifters.

Bike Apart

I have not done very much actual “wrenching,” and Nick was very patient in answering lots of my dumb questions. Mostly it was a fun way to hang out with my friend and tool around on the bike, but by the end I had something pretty fine-looking, if I do say so myself:

Bike Back Together, Minus Handlebar Tape

We did learn a few fun things about my bike, like how it’s front derailleur is pretty fucked up, about it’s adorable and annoying 126mm rear-triangle spacing (the one bit of information I was able to provide), and we discovered the sweet quick-release on my old brake levers, which I really wish I would have known about last summer when my bike lived in the trunk of my car.

Anyway, I now have a new skill, a “fresh ride,” and a recently-paved 40-mile stretch of forest road calling my name.