Last Friday

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It has been an exciting couple weeks in my bike world! I was planning to write at least one entry every week, but life happens and two weeks passed. Last Friday, I rode my bike up to San Pedro for BBQ and see The Amazing Grace Shannon perform on guitar. It was a beautiful day; the winds were not too strong and it was sunny (~77F). Riding through the industrial areas where all the trucks transport products from the Port of Los Angeles, I found myself climbing and descending many steep hills. Then GPS took me to a park… so I stopped to stretch and drink protein. Once I started rolling again, I arrived at the BBQ place to see Grace perform and enjoyed the company of Dr Margaret Shannon and family. The food, company and music made the 25 mile bike ride more enjoyable. However, I only made it 13.5 miles back home before I was completely flat without a spare…

When I left the BBQ, my balance wheels were not functioning normal. I stopped several times attempting to adjust them with the wrenches in my back pack. That wasn’t working but I discovered setting my bike on her side and pushing down on the balance wheel mounts helped a few miles at a time. In Long Beach my bike had gone completely flat. I thought I was going to have to push my bike twelve more miles to Surf City, but my roommate came and picked my bike and I up. On the ride home we saw the last super moon of 2021 (aka Strawberry Moon). I also thought about my bike’s slow leak; the lower air pressure probably caused the balance wheels to operate different, and the changing pressure points caused me to stop every few miles to adjust the balance wheels.

The following day, I replaced the tube in the drive wheel. I had to remove the left balance wheel mount to remove the drive wheel. Then I discovered the U Bolts were abnormally bent; probably from laying my bike on her side and pushing down on the balance wheel mounts every few miles. I’ll need to check the PSI during rides in the future to prevent this mistake again. I check PSI before I leave home, but that is not often enough. Sometimes I quickly check it during a ride, but must do it regularly. For now, I’m using the OEM bent U Bolts, but need to go to the hardware store for replacements. I also need to tighten the rear brake; the cable loosened while replacing the tube. Often, one repair leads to many mechanical issues.

Regarding the steep hills through parts of Long Beach and San Pedro, my bike has a granny gear I’ve never optimized until now. Electra has 44 teeth on the chain wheel and 32 teeth on the largest freewheel cog {1.375:1 ratio for 35 gear inches}. Mostly that is too low for the flatter roads in Surf City; seventh gear has a ratio of 3.14:1 for 81 gear inches, so I mostly ride in 5, 6 and 7th. I’ve considered increasing the teeth on the chain wheel and increasing the gear ratios, but for occasional steep hills, the lower granny gear is a nice option. The top speeds are not as fast, but accelerations are faster. I’ve achieved similar average speeds with ratios of ~3:1 opposed to ~4:1, but with the ~3:1 I can get close to 1:1 when necessary (rather than 2:1). The cardio is less intense but on 2 hour rides I have more energy for the duration. Just an observation from years of pedaling both ways.