Well Thought Proper

By: Matthew Karre Sep 21

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Recently, we’ve had to return to fender bikes here in Portlandia. Hopefully, this several days of rain are just a preview for November and not the beginning of the main event. It’s too early. September and October should be excellent cool weather riding months not full on rain gear and rain bike months. It actually felt nice hopping on the rain bike again, though because I hung it up in late May still wet much of the mechanicals weren’t happy. The headset acts more like a spatula in cake batter than a proper steering column. But alas, I like the feel and position of the rain bike. If nothing else it fosters enormous appreciation for the nice weather bikes.

I believe in proper tools for the trade. One season I fendered a carbon bike as a rain bike. It worked reasonably well but I never felt the transition from nice weather bike to rain bike. The rain bike should feel stable, reliable and heavy. This fendered Tarmac just felt less light and loud from split fenders. The carbon bike failed miserably as preparatory instrument for nice weather riding. The effort involved in propelling it was no greater than the effort needed to push the summer bike. A proper rain bike acts like a baseball bat with a weighted donut around it or “rock skis” versus 60-inch-base-with-a-couple-fee-of-fresh-snow skis. It should require more effort in all capacities of its use. This is not in advocacy for training, because that would be hypocritical, but more set up for true appreciation and manifestation of the raison de velo. Here is one of my favorite rain bikes.

Speaking of tools for the trade, one can never be too prepared when out on long rides. If a flat should occur, appropriate face protection is necessary. See how Doug properly fits his face shield on his cranium before lower the mask and completing his task? A happy cycling enthusiast.

Other trade tool secrets include frequent chain lubrication. Certain riders have different definitions of both “frequent” and “chain lube.” We’ve all ridden with them; they are strong riders usually, and have nice equipment but they are completely oblivious to the driest, most painfully loud drive train noises ever heard on a non-DUI bike. On a recent ride I threatened to ride elsewhere if a riding partner didn’t lube her chain before showing up. When we met the next morning at the fabled Albina Press coffee shop, I could see from ten feet away that her chain still had the look, and subsequent sound, of recently vacuumed upholstery (does that work?). She came out of the coffee shop, mug in hand, and before I could protest this disgrace, she knelt down and carefully dripped the remnants of her Stumptown Americano, nearly half the mug, onto her chain. She pedaled it backward slowly to achieve proper saturation. I was stricken with curiosity as to the effectiveness of this servicing. We rolled out and to my satisfaction there was no sound of birds and mice being tortured, just the hum of tires and the smell of roasting coffee beans. For the first ten miles at least.

Call me a traditionalist but the picture below is the proper setting for coffee and cycling:

But then again, one has to be a little bit inspired to pose such a solution…



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