Storing Your Bike Stuff

Okay, noobies. It’s time once again to chime in on an important noob topic. This time: Where and how do you organize your bike stuff?

When I was truly a noob biker, I attended a bike skills class where the instructor displayed her equipment. She kept it in what she called her “bike bag.” Actually, it was just a big ol’ duffel bag that she kept near her bike in her garage. In it, she kept her helmet, gloves, shoes, arm and leg warmers, vest, jacket, and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember now.

For her, it made sense because it was all in one place. Whenever she found the need to travel to get to a biking event, she put her bike on the rack, tossed the bag in the back seat, and knew she would have everything she needed once she got to the event.

Me, I’m not that organized. But I’m getting better. During previous garage cleanings, I’ve been able to clear out part of a countertop and reserve it for our helmets, shoes, and gloves.

Both Mr. & Mrs. Noob store their helmets and shoes here.

Since I don’t play much golf anymore (cycling is the new golf, after all, right?), I moved most of the golf stuff out of a cabinet over the counter into a harder-to-get-to drawer. Now that cabinet is for bike stuff.

The top shelf is still full of golf stuff — mostly towels and head covers.

I keep older saddles, a spare seat bag or two, some ride goodies I have no room for elsewhere, spare lights, and a Camelbak in the cabinet.

Smaller stuff like¬†¬†extra gloves, headbands, sundry small parts like screws and washers for cleats, CO2 cartridges, spare tubes, patch kits, et cetera and so forth and whatnot go into a plastic container that I snarfed out of our fridge (Mrs. Noob hasn’t missed it yet — or else she’s got so many other storage containers that she doesn’t need it, which is more likely).

You can see that overflow items from our bi-weekly trips to Costco (bag of onions) are starting to invade my bike stuff space. I’m doing what I can to ward off the creeping incursion, but I may have to come up with a new bike stuff storage plan soon.

So, readers — how do YOU store your bike stuff? Send me a picture or two and a brief description (here’s the link), so I can use them in future posts right here on this very blog.

Captain Slow

James May ("Captain Slow")

Last week, I rode with my friend David. It was a standard Saturday morning ride in our area, but with one difference: I’ve gotten faster than him over the last year or so.

“You really should ride with the A group,” he said, referring to our Sunday morning club rides. “Challenge yourself.”

I was sure I wasn’t ready for that yet. The A group consistently leaves me in the dust after several miles into the ride. But this weekend, there was no scheduled B ride. And although I wasn’t crazy about the proposed route, I knew I could break away from the group at a convenient intersection and go my own way. That’s what I told the ride leader I would do.

It’s always fun to start off with a big group. There’s a lot of chatter, and the pace is moderate as we get our legs warmed up. Today’s route took us up a longish hill, a turn onto a street of apartments and condos, then out to Southwest Parkway — a six-lane, divided highway with a wide shoulder.

Before we got to Southwest Parkway, I was off the back. Once I turned onto the highway, the group was out of sight around a bend. When I got up to that bend, they were out of sight for good.

The route turns onto Barton Creek Blvd., a favorite of mine. It’s a wide, smooth road through an upscale residential area. It rises and falls, with lots of curves. I’ve hit my highest speed ever here, and even today I easily cranked it up to 35 right off the bat. But a ferocious wind from the southeast — at my right rear quarter — made me keep my speed in check.

The monster we call Hail Mary Hill was just ahead. I finally got to the point last year where I could pedal all the way up it. It was slow going, in my 34 x 28 gear, but I always finished. Not today. I walked the bike up the hill. When I reached the church parking lot at the top for the usual rest and recover stop, the group was already gone.

I made my way home against a 20 mph headwind.

What’s changed? Last year, I built up mileage early, because I was training for the MS 150. I wasn’t in it this year, so I haven’t been piling on the miles. I do hill work, but my neighborhood hills — as much as they have helped — haven’t prepared me for the bigger grades. I’ve only recently started riding with the club again. Most of my riding up until about mid-May was on my own, or with maybe one other person.

Finally, I turned 60 this year. I know, that’s not an excuse. In fact, there were at least two guys over 60 on today’s ride. They had no trouble keeping up with the pack.

But for me to get back to where I was last year, I’m going to have to work a lot harder. And frankly, I don’t think I want to. The riding I do is keeping me reasonably fit. When I’m out of the club milieu, I can hold my own against most other riders I come across. If I decide to continue riding with the club, it will be on B rides, with slower riders. I’ve never been able to keep up with the A’s — even last year — and I’ve concluded it’s not worth it to me to put in the effort to do it.

The British TV show “Top Gear” has a co-host named James May, who is always getting ribbed by the other co-hosts for his slow driving. They call him “Captain Slow.” If that becomes my new nickname too, well — I’m OK with that.

Replacing Your Chain and Cassette

Guest poster Don Blount tackles a daunting task — and finds out it’s not so bad.

Never in my life did I think I would be using whips and chains on a Saturday evening, but I had put it off long enough. It was time.

That is, it was time to replace the chain and cassette on my bike.

And this time I was going to change the cassette myself.

I try to replace my bike chain about every 1,500 miles. The cassette is replaced annually unless it shows excessive wear or the gears begin skipping. Skipping is one sign of chain and cassette wear. Cassettes also wear down so the sprockets get that shark-teeth look.

This would be the first time I had changed a cassette. This seemed like the type of maintenance I could do, saving me both money and the time of going to the bike shop.

I was as prepared as I could be. The last time the cassette was replaced the mechanics at my LBS showed me how it was done, I also looked up information online. The entire procedure seemed simple enough.

I only needed a few tools for this job: chain whip, cassette lockring tool and socket wrench.

Removal was actually fairly simple: remove the skewer from the wheel, place the lockring there in its place. The chain of the chain whip goes over one of the sprockets to hold the cassette in place. Then use the socket wrench to loosen the cassette for removal.

Slide it off…

Old cassette (Yes, quite dirty), new cassette

Wheel after cassette removal

slide on the new cassette…and then use the lockring tool and sprocket wrench to lock it in place. Spin it to make it sure it spins freely and then put the wheel, and chain, back on the bike.

I was done within 20 minutes, and I was moving slowly, double-checking my work. I have seen bike mechanics do it in less than 5 minutes.

New cassette

I was surprised at how easy it all went. And I was pleased to add another item to the repairs and regular maintenance services I can perform on my bike.