Sunday, December 30, 2018

Accidental Improvements

I was surprised recently.  After proclaiming this bike completely "dialed in", I made an unintentional refinement that made it "even more dialed in".  I thought the new brakes, lower gearing, and tires were spot on perfect, but evidently not.

A simple rear rack change resulted in an accidental, yet significant, fit improvement.  On a whim, I replaced my Ocean Air Cycles Erlen Bag Support with one of the lighter Nitto rear racks.  I just wanted to see how well the Nitto rack would work, as compared to the Erlen.  Stubbornly, I kept abusing the Erlen with too much load, and not enough rear tire clearance.  It turns out the Nitto rack works great, and that itself worked out better than expected.  But the biggest benefit wasn't even intended.

Removal of the Erlen requires temporary removal of the saddle.  When I reinstalled the saddle, apparently it ended up slightly farther forward.  That accidental "error" resulted in other charges for the better.  First, I moved the bars slightly lower to accommodate the shorter "reach".  Second, it feels like I'm in a stronger pedaling position.  Finally, both of these refinements together make me feel more balanced fore/aft, and even more important than anything, more comfortable.  So I feel more efficient and more comfortable by pure accident.

Since I'm guessing some "accidental impacts" can be negative, I am now terrified to change anything on this bike.  Do you think it would be okay to oil my chain?

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Pondering Toward Simplicity

A special day in the Frederick watershed

Sometimes while exploring a trail, it will disappear.  In the beginning, it is well-defined, has clear direction, and the explorer pursues it with hopeful anticipation.  Initially, the rewards are tangible and pleasurable.  After a while, however, the path becomes obscured.  The way is more complex, and following it feels like work.  It doesn't pay what it promised.  With persistence, the trail fades to nothing, or immediately dead ends.  Then it is time to backtrack.

A special day riding with friends on a 25 yr old MTB reminds me that what is true of trails is true of so many other things in life.  Material goods and technology (to name a couple of examples) become a tangle of briars.  This old, simple bicycle does not limit, or interfere with, the pleasure on this day.  On the other hand, time spent pursuing equipment upgrades is time not spent riding with friends.

Social media seems similar.  Instagram, like a fresh new single track into the woods, began so well.  It has allowed me to meet several great people.  But I have begun to feel its tangled vines slow me down.  So here I am on an my old blog platform, pondering old bikes, and simpler ways.