Saturday, March 15, 2014

Of New Chains, Old Paths, and Big Differences

Shady rest stop along the Crosscut Canal path

Can a new chain make that much difference? Should replacing a chain on an otherwise well-maintained bike even be noticeable? I wouldn't have thought so. But, I swear I notice a significantly easier, or smoother, or quieter (or all three) ride after replacing my somewhat worn (close to .75) CN-5700 chain with an SRAM 1051.

I also cleaned and lubed the derailleur pulleys and pivots, and generally degunked everything like I always do when I put on a new chain, so that probably helped, but it really didn't seem like I took a lot off. Maybe it's just the warm spring air and flowers lining the path and filling the air with perfume messing with my head. I guess I'm just surprised that it felt better with a new chain.

Rest stop shade makers, bee shelterers, and oasis for small creatures

Bike stand included

It was just an easy Saturday afternoon TCT (tri-city tour) along what has become one of my standard routes. I used to ride here before they made the improvements a few years back. They continue to improve the path and the surrounding facilities, and also, if I steer my bike right like I did this time, I get to pass through Evelyn Hallman park, one of my favorite quiet places to sit by water and observe birds. There's this cormorant, or at least I think it's the same one, who seems to be sitting on his favorite pointy log out in the middle of the water every time I pass by. In the summer, which will be here very soon, the cactus wrens call out there in the heat of day their WRACK! WRACK! WRACK! which somehow makes it feel hotter and also like home when the spring flower perfume gives way to the pervasive scent of ancient creosote.

Then back in Scottsdale, signs along the path point to some of my long-time favorite places, along old paths

I've been practicing riding in the drops on the road bike more, not exactly because I need to be more aero to get or keep speed, although on a windy day like today the air resistance can be a factor, but also because the different position exercises different parts, including giving a good stretch to sections of my back and shoulders that feel like they need it. My ergo bars feel more like the flat-curved section nearest the levers was designed more for pulling against in a sprint or race than for providing a comfortable spot for hands to rest on a long ride, though. I think I prefer a plan old bend like my Nitto B-115 bars have. I might be swapping them over to this bike, or else buying another set. I really like them. Man, those Nitto bars plus this new chain, and I might just keep on riding straight, instead of looping back on the TCT.


  1. John, have you ever been on a bike tour or an overnight? You have that free spirit I equate with someone who wants to continually explore. The heck with turning around!

    As for a new chain feel, I always notice the difference. It makes the whole greasy process worthwhile.

    1. Not recently, or often enough, to suit my tastes, anniebikes. I would like to connect with some local Phoenix riders who do S24O rides starting in the city and overnighting outside it.

      One of the few items I feel good about buying at the cheap Chinese tool store is nitrile gloves. I use them constantly while working on bikes, particularly during the greasier operations like chain lubing and installation. It's so much better than what I used to do: keep old socks around to clean hands with.

  2. I saw your cormorant this afternoon at Evelyn Hallman Park! I've got pics of him for my next blog post later this week. And a snowy the past, I've only photographed great egrets.

    1. I watched him for a while, there in the pond in the park. To me, cormorants are one of the tougher birds to understand. Ducks, no problem. Egrets, pretty straightforward. Even roadrunners, spend an afternoon watching them, push the cartoon version out of your head, watch a proud male strut around with a big chuckwalla lizard in his beak, I get that. But cormorants, just when you think you might have gotten a little bit inside their heads, they line up at sunset along the canal back in a perfectly spaced row, and I just scratch my own head and stare in wonder. I don't know.

  3. an observant cormorant. birds are quite intelligent, i bet it is.

    1. They appear to be birds of habit, and purpose. Most of the studies I searched up focus on their predation habits. I still don't know what they could possibly find to eat in the canals, though, since the grass carp are sterile, and huge.


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