Spring Comes for Mr Fixit

Spring finally arrived this week. Temperatures were still a little below normal but the sun was out, the air was dry, and the breeze was breezy.

One hallmark of spring is the arrival of gosslings. I saw my first clatch the other day along the Mount Vernon Trail across from the Jefferson Memorial. There were plenty of adults standing guard and from the looks of things they’d been eating more grass than a Lawn Boy.

This year’s models

A quarter of a mile away I passed a vulture hiding behind a bush about to chow down on a decent sized catfish. The bush was about 20 yards from the river. Generally, vultures eat carrion so I wondered where he could have gotten the fish. A few seconds later I saw three fisherman on the opposite side of the bush. I wonder if the vulture picked their creel.

The next day, over near Arlington Cemetery I saw a turkey. Is it the cleaner air or the reduced traffic of all sorts that is bringing these birds out?

In the last couple of weeks I have switched to riding Big Nellie, my recumbent. It’s generally more comfortable but it does take a while for the body, specifically the legs, to adapt. I rode 220 miles in the last seven days and this morning my legs felt like they had ossified. Also, something about this bike is really messing with my left knee. So despite the beautiful weather I took the day off from riding.

Instead I did some deferred maintenance on my bikes. First up was Little Nellie, my Bike Friday. The last few rides on this bike have been hard on my back. Today, I changed the saddle from a Brooks Flyer (a standard smooth leather saddle with springs for suspension) to a Brooks B67 (a textured leather saddle with a wider rear and springs with a bit more travel). Changing saddles can be a total pain but I pulled this off in about five minutes. I started by taking off the saddle bag so I had room to work. Next, I loosened the bolt that attaches the saddle to the seat post. I stopped just before the bolt came free of the fixing nut on the underside of the saddle. The old saddle came off and the new one went on without a hitch. I tightened the bolt and I was done but for some tweaking of the tilt and fore/aft position.

Brooks B67

I ordered a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires this winter for my summer tour. The pandemic has put the tour on hold so the tires sat in my shed, making forlorn saddle noises.

Today, about one year after the start of last year’s tour, I put the new tires on The Mule. These tires are notoriously hard to get over the rim but I took my time and had no trouble. I put a tire on the front wheel then, after mounting the wheel on the bike, I noticed I had put the tire on backwards (with the tread pointing to the rear). It really doesn’t matter much but I know it would bug me so I took the tire off and remounted it with the tread in the proper direction.

Next I worked on the rear tire. I put the chain on the small cog and small sprocket to give me slack. Then I popped the wheel off. The new rear tire needed a bit more persuasion that the front for some reason, but I got the job done, with the tread properly oriented.

New rubber with clean sidewalls.

In the course of mounting the tires, I had to undo the brake cables. So, I managed to get a bonus brake tune up after I was done with the tires. This, too, went without a hitch.

Finally, I gave my CrossCheck some TLC. I realize I ride a lot of miles but I seem to be very hard on pedals. I have twice had pedals break on a tour. One time the welds on the cage of a platform pedal failed. The pedal disintegrated. Usually, though, the pedal breaks by sliding off the spindle. That’s what was going wrong with the pedals on the CrossCheck.

The trick to replacing pedals is using a proper pedal wrench. I have a Park Tool PW-4. It has a long padded handle. The mouth of the wrench, the part that goes around the pedal nut, is angled. Somehow this gives the wrench exceptional leverage. Both nuts popped off without the slightest problem.

Park PW-4

Once I was done with surgery, I took Little Nellie for a short stroll around the neighborhood. After about five breezy miles it started to sprinkle. Time to head for home and declare my day off the bike a success.

Heat and humidity are scheduled to arrive tomorrow. It was a nice few days, Spring. Sorry to see you go. My bikes are ready for whatever you have in store.

2 thoughts on “Spring Comes for Mr Fixit

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