another rainy day...

raining today...
another rainy day

it does not always wait for April for the showers to start
which is fine... the plants need the water
but me... I NEED TO RIDE!

it has started to warm up...
well... actually....
it warmed up and it is cold again
yet we are still in spring mode
no matter what the weather is

with spring here I have tried to re-institute the bike in our school drop off and pick up situation

a few times a week if my work schedule permits I drive the kids to school with their bikes
the boys ride a few blocks to school while I walk behind

the boys are coached about complete stops at each corner
the boys are told to look at the car drivers to be sure that they are seen

the boys do a good job of following directions
if only I could get the adult drivers to behave in their cars as well on the roads as my seven and nine year old sons do on their bikes

each day it is the same thing...
cars making aggressive left hand turns into the crosswalk

fast approaching cars not making their stop until halfway through the crosswalk way past the Stop Line
seldom do the car drivers give my boys their RIGHT OF WAY

ah... parenting is a lesson in patience

dealing with the other people on the planet... another lesson in patience

my kids are pretty solid... but they are kids
they forget stuff... they slip up...
but really... parents forget stuff and parents slip up
then when a parent slips up... it is a lesson in life
just as the children can forget stuff so can the kids

on this morning I forgot both Grant's helmet and the key to the bike lock I keep attached to the bike rack at the kid's school
this was not the first time... and sadly not the last

the boys arrived at school safely and I left off back to the car

making a mental note to bring Grant's helmet in the afternoon
then when I got home I took my rapidly aging dog for a very short walk then started my day

my work day was abbreviated so I could handle drop off and pick up of the kids
this is the silver lining of being "under employed"
this is the fun part

but really... unemployment is not fun-employment

before getting the kids I thought about what bike I wanted to ride
I had recently acquired a Bob Trailer and linked it up to my Specialized Tri-Cross
but I felt that I needed to fix my Franken-Bakfiet
it was running... but I feared it was about to fail

it is funny...
there is reason why old crusty parts are not on a bike
I built the Franken-Bakfiet with an assortment of bike parts off of old bikes in my garage and old pa
rts I had in bins
quickly I realized that if I wanted things to work... I would have to swap a few things out

the drive-train was replaced within hours of the first trial run
the old cassette and old chain were replaced with sparkling new parts I had ordered and was hoarding for when I "needed" them
this seemed like a case of need
although the XT quality seemed like a little much for this big rig and its around town functionality

then her it is a month later and I felt a shimmy and a shake in the rear wheel
there was a slight oscilation of the wheel being out of true

although I am not the master mechanic
I can true a wheel that is not too far gone

I took a glance

before I pulled the wheel I noticed it was not a loose set of spokes

but rather a well worn rim
although this wheel was running the disc brake

the rim was well warm from its previous life on my Surly Karate Monkey with gears
a bike that was raced and ridden hard for years

I rode the bike with the thin worn cracking rim in the back a few times

each time with fingers crossed on both hands
every time I rode this bike I braced myself for the rim to FAIL

dreading the walk home knowing a short bike ride can be a long walk
fearing the failure to happen at the wrong time putting me into a dangerous situation

so... having a solid rear wheel with disc only rim that I had bought from fellow DCMTB team member Darren Biggs there was no excuse
the process was not difficult

infact the process is quite easy
well... easy for someone with the right tools and the basic knowledge on how to use them

easy enough...
I hung the tail end of the very long orange Franken-Bakfiet by its seat on my repair stand
then I removed the rear wheel
the horizontal drop outs of the rear triangle from my Jamis Exile frame had the awkwardness
of a removable derailleur hanger and one "monkey nut"

with the wheel off the bike I made fast work of the process
removed tire and tube...
with a chain whip, a large adjustable crescent wrench, and a bicycle specific cassette removal tool I pulled the cassette
lastly I located a star shaped allen key on a multi-tool and pulled off the well worn Avid Disc

then I reversed the process

putting these parts on the used but still healthy and usable rear wheel
disc... cassette... then tire and tube
with air in the tire I put the wheel onto the Franken-Bakfiet

ah. satisfaction.

after tightening down the quick release I spun the wheel

with no more thought I was on the bike and rolling to meet the boys at school

amazingly enough...
I had known that there was threat of rain but it had been clear all day

not even a block from my house and it was lightly coming down
not rain, but rather a wispy wintry mix

I was not dressed for this!
in a sweater... still wearing my bicycle repair apron... with shorts
I thought about the weather and if it was going to turn such that I should go back and get my car

no... it did not seem to be picking up
the snow and rain let up... stopped... and started again... I figured I would be fine
even in my custom tailored Carhardt knickers I would be fine
cold at the shins... but fine
the kids are sturdy... they should e fine as well

I crossed the park and cut through the closed section of Klingle Valley
having to get off the bike at two points to cross fallen logs
this is the best route for me to avoid the hills to get to my kids' school
on the Franken-bakfiet it is best to avoid the hills

at the school parents arrived
the orange monster caused a bit of a stir
all sorts of questions and comments from various parents

then the kids came rushing out of the building
more questions and comments... only this time from the wildly enthused smaller set

when my boys exited the school I pulled a burger and fries from my bag
I braced young Grant that I had mistakenly eaten the wrong burger and that this one had jalapenos on it
which was fine... he took a bite and moved to the fries
Grant loves fries and Dean digs jalapenos

sort of win win for the boys

the boys ate their post school snack as the other children were ushered off by their parents
into their cars and onto their afternoon activities

when it got to be time for the boys to put on their helmets and get on their bikes I realized that I had forgotten to bring Grant's helmet
which meant Grant would be riding helmet-less
this gave me a tab bit of anxiety, but really more than likely their will not be a crash

the wintry mix had come and gone, then come and gone again

gone to the point where the kids denied that there had been snow minutes prior to their evacuation from school

riding the bikes home from school is fresh again

now seven year old Grant is as enthused to ride his bike now as he was in the beginning
as we neared Thanksgiving Grant was seeing the post school bike ride as a chore rather than a positive experience

one the bikes we took the less direct route home
a route that traverses the city and goes around the massive downhill into Rock Creek Park that forces us to climb our way out of the Park
instead we go down and out of Cleveland Park... into Woodley Park... over the Ellington Bridge into Adams Morgan then over to our Mount Pleasant
except on this day... we were making a quick stop at the box stores in Columbia Heights to grab some stuff from Target

the boys mixed wildness and order

screaming down each block then making a complete stop at the corner
at the corners they wait and they look
then they go when I say it is safe and clear

really... the variables of urban driving are more than most adults can handle

I watch adult cyclists each day and I watch adult car drivers each day
and really... it amazes me that there are not more accidents each day

we meander or ride that crossed through multiple zip codes but did not cover more than 4 miles getting home not so wet but a little cold
we had what we needed from Target and we were ready for the next adventure

homework and then soccer for my older son which conflicts with my younger son's karate
so young Grant was given a "pass" and play with his neighbor while Dean got to play soccer on the turf field in the rain!

images from two different rides home
yesterday and one day last week

Darren Bigg's Blog

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