Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Listening to Old Songs Might Get Dangerous

Post written to the accompaniment of Bob Dylan, Biograph

I saw this crew out riding on a mild and warm Phoenix morning, and while my jealously followed them down the street, as they were headed to coffee while I was headed to work, seeing them started a chain of thoughts which wound through my day, ending with the title of this post.

Today was a day of ups and downs, of hugs and gut punches, of thrills and chills and spills, of the two regularly scheduled bike rides there and back, too little rest and too much stress, perfect riding weather blowing hard into my face, a good home-cooked meal eaten with my family around the table laughing about the ups and downs of our days, of the DTWS finale viewed by some of the members of my household, while others of us retired to our corners with our books and our libraries of favorite songs.

You hit the random song button and you never know what you're gonna get. Tonight I got Bob Dylan and a flood of random memories. Good ones, ones that I didn't know I still had. I tuned into the seldom-visited ones, that one long and spontaneous bike ride to the beach, running through a fall night, a party in someone's basement, a chain of them that keeps going as long as I want to. A few other bike rides.

I thought about those guys on their group ride, and wondered if, for them, one ride blends into the next. Reflecting on my commutes, are there some out of hundreds that stand out? Let's see. Yes, the day it started raining hard out of a clear brilliant sunny sky. Another day it rained so hard and got so dark and windy I couldn't see but I kept going. I suppose one or two of the dust storms. The sad morning I came upon a cat who had just been hit by a car at the same time that another cyclist stopped. She picked up the still-warm cat and stroked its body. The cat was clearly gone, and there were a few moments when we weren't sure what to do, until we saw the owner walking towards us in his bathrobe. He took the lifeless furball from her, and we rode off in our appointed opposite directions. The day the driver ran the four-way stop and almost took me out. Many others, I suppose, if I think about it. 

How about you, group rider guys, do some rides stand out like that? I suppose that they do, that the mind grasps onto the trivial yet significant events of our passing days, stores them away, somehow, waiting to be triggered by an inquiring blogger, or some old song, floats them up to remind us of the amassed chain of those memories that makes up something of who we've become. 

I have an early ride tomorrow morning. Not with a group, for coffee, but early in to work, to hit some deadlines. Got one more Bob Dylan song to listen to tonight before turning in: Tangled Up in Blue just came on as I'm typing this. That will do, certainly. A good way to remind myself, as the day's events dim into sleep and the memory-making and association-creation pauses, that listening to old songs might get dangerous.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Bike Storage in a Small Space: Go Vertical

Four bikes hung vertically, inside 44" of horizontal space

I have a space set aside for bike storage, which also encloses some metal shelves that hold most of the parts and stuff. Fitting the bikes into the space is not the challenge, not in itself. It's possible to fit more than this just by stacking them into a great pile, for example. But the goal is to store them reasonably orderly, so they don't scratch themselves all up, and, more importantly, so that I don't have to dig through to get one particular one out.

The way that I had them previously required me to take most of them out of the space if I wanted to get to the one in the back, or hanging on the wall. What I was looking for, though, was a way to fit all the bikes into the space in an orderly way that also permitted easy access to any of them. Especially so that the girls could get at their bikes without relying on me. When I saw the Rubbermaid Fast Track and the vertical bike hook, I knew it had potential.

Tape measure in hand, I went back there and began to try to figure out how many I could hang vertically on the wall inside the 44" between the steel shelves and the mountain bike hanging on the wall. The handlebars seemed to be the limiting factor, until I realized that hanging the bikes up-down-up-down meant I could probably fit four in the allotted space. That would be enough, if they all actually fit. I found in the past that bicycles, with their slightly odd shape and protruding parts, sometimes defy simple measuring and planning, with a pedal sticking here, a brake lever sticking there, you can't quite be sure until you try. So I did.

The Rubbermaid Fast Track was easy to hang on the block wall. The first hole I drilled was going into the block slowly, frustratingly slowly, when I realized that the bit was worn out. So I grabbed a fresh masonry bit, which sped up the hole-making considerably. Mounting and leveling the rack with one set of hands, on the fly, was interesting, and went OK. The problem I've run into before with making permanent 1/4" holes in masonry for anchors is that the rough surface undoes all efforts at aligning the bit with the marks that you make, even if you punch a starter. I'm sure there's a right way to do it, but I never get the kind of precision I would like with just marking. Instead, I end up doing something like drill the center hole, mount the rack on it using it as a registration for the other holes, then re-mark the holes on either end, then rely on the slop factor of the plastic anchors along with any extra room provided by the mounting holes to permit all six screws to go in somewhat effectively. It worked. It wasn't too ugly. No stripped screws or re-dos. That rack's not going anywhere.

Just in case, I did position the steel security cable such that it could catch and hold the bikes if the rack pulled out. I don't think it will, but I like having a backup.

The Rubbermaid vertical bike hooks are nice because they are easily and infinitely moveable along the track to let me make the most out of the available space. They also seem stout. I realize that a 2x4 and those screw-in hooks could accomplish something similar, although I like the way this looks, and I appreciate the versatility and easy adjustment of position.

I probably should have come up with the vertical hanging solution a long time ago. I think part of the delay was a reluctance which arose from some kind of concern about the hooks hurting the wheels. Then I read the thing that explained that the force of a bike hanging from the wheel alone is significantly less than the force I put on the wheel when I ride it. Can't believe I didn't realize that sooner. Worry has a way of concealing the obvious truth which would undo it, I guess.

The Rubbermaid Fast Track is a handy system, with lots of different options for mounting a variety of stuff. If/when I execute the garage or shed project, I could see using it on the walls for organization. It's flexible and handy. I didn't really set out to write a review, but in case this reads like one, be advised that I purchased this myself, and received no incentives to write it.