Just Tooling Around

As I mentioned the other day, one amusing aspect of cycling is that some people get offended when you suggest you don’t have to wear Lycra, as though suggesting it’s fine to ride around in a T-shirt is itself a form of elitism. One tortured line of reasoning for this seems to be that only elitists even think that T-shirts are taboo in cycling in the first place, though it seems foolish to deny that budding cyclists have been subject to an anti-cotton fear campaign for generations now, and that anyone trying to learn more about how to dress on the bike is going to have to wade through stuff like this:

I don’t want to single out the website from whence this came, since I’m sure they mean well, but how did we get to the point as a society where people are claiming that clothing made out of cotton doesn’t dry?

Some people are worried about climate change deniers, but I’m worried about cotton drying deniers, as they are the flat-earthers of the textile world.

Ironically, all this talk of cycling-specific clothing as cosplay got me in the mood for some cosplay, so I headed out on the vintage plastic Vengeance Bike for some serious LARPing:

As I pointed out on Twitter, between the wool jersey, shorts and socks, the goat gloves, and the leather-wrapped bars and saddle, I laid waste to an entire farm’s worth of animals just to go for a bicycle ride–and that’s not including the roast beef I ate afterwards.

James Cromwell’s going to chase me down and kill me if he ever unsticks himself from that Starbucks counter:

As a true retrogrouch, I only glue myself to the counters of chain stores with glue made from horse hooves.

As it turns out, I got even more LARPing than I bargained for, since apparently the Gran Fondo New York is this weekend and I got swept up in some kind of pre-Fondo training ride:

Vainly I struggled to keep up, my non-aero brake cables taunting me by tickling my upper lip:

Judging from their clothing and their speech I was getting passed by riders from all over the world:

But while I may not have won any KOMs, I was the undisputed leader in the “Accessories Made From Animals And Animal By-Products” competition, and that’s gotta count for something:

Also, I did pass someone on a modern Kestrel, and I even considered asking him if I could take a picture of our bikes side by side, but it seemed like an annoying thing to do to someone on a steep climb.

By the way, you may call that the Gran Fondo New York was the inspiration for the BSNYC Gran Fondon’t:

While it’s obviously too late to put one together for this weekend, it did occur to me that it might be worth considering one in the not-too-distant future, especially if I could get some hapless sponsor to pay for food and beer. At this point I’d put the odds of such a thing happening at 39%.

In the meantime, the fabled Route 9W was festooned with Fondo-themed finery:

Which afforded me the opportunity to take misleading selfies that I can later use to suggest I took part in the ride:

And yes, 2022 is the year I officially stopped shaving my legs, and once I stop shaving my chest I’ll officially be 100% razor-free:

By this point in the ride I was thoroughly enjoying the futuristically dated Kestrel:

I did however continue to be less than impressed with the C-Record components, which, while undeniably beautiful, seemed generally balkier than even the humble 105 parts on the Normcore Nostalgia Bike. In fact, for all the talk about how bad Delta brakes are, they seemed to be the best-performing component of the group, and in my short tenure with the bike I’d even had couple instances when, upon downshifting into the small ring, the chain sort of skated on top of the teeth instead of engaging them. Then I finally noticed something:

See how the derailleur pulley cage is sort of nestled in between the cogs?

Well, it turns out that in various gear combinations that’s where it winds up:

I hadn’t noticed it until this point since, as it happens, the cage slips in there nicely and when it’s in gear it runs quietly. However, as you can imagine, when it’s not perfectly in gear it’s rather chattery, though even that seemed within the realm of typical friction shifter behavior, so it didn’t occur to me that anything was amiss and I simply put it down to that Italian passion everyone loves so much.

So why would the derailleur be riding the cogs like that? The elegant piece of machinery had no unsightly B-tension screw (eeew, gross!!!) so that wasn’t it–though to my horror I realized I’d gouged up the pulley cage a bit:

So I fiddled with the shifter only for it to lose all tension, at which point I was certain I’d just snapped the cable, though fortunately it had merely liberated itself from the anchor bolt:

Finally I realized the derailleur situation must be the result of something else I hadn’t noticed, which was the slack chain:

The lack of tension on the derailleur was clearly why it was hitting the cogs. It would also explain the skating-across-the-teeth phenomenon:

As it happened, there was one of those public bike repair stands nearby, and the ganglion of rusty tools looked like something you’d pull out of the ocean:

Sadly there was no chain tool, or else I’d have removed a couple of links. Instead I resumed my ride, taking a little extra care when shifting, and I completed the ride without incident. Subsequently, Paul of Classic Cycle explained that he’d fitted the bike with a smaller chainring before sending the bike to me, hence the excess chain. This of course raises the question: “Who used to own this Kestrel and what kind of crazy gears were they pushing?” Whoever they were, clearly they were serious about unleashing the bike’s full advanced composite potential.

A dramatic outing? Certainly. But diagnosing problems with vintage componentry whilst swaddled in wool is all in a day’s work for the Old Crap Test Pilot:

They don’t give a patch like that to just anybody.

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