Getting It Past The Boss

24 11 2008

I’m sure that I’m not alone here when I state my conundrum.  I go to a bikeshop and make a impulse purchase on a new set of wheels or whatever my cycling related need of the month is.  The problem is getting that bike part that you got a such great deal on home and past the wife.  Here are the following techniques I’ve come up with to help soften the blow:

– Buy online and get the goods shipped to work.  This way you can ride to work and slowly, one by one, put those new parts on the bike and ride home like nothing ever happened.  Then you can bring those old junky parts home one day and when your wife says “where did those come from?”, you can say “ahh…just some old crappy stuff that John gave me”.

– Say you successfully smuggle the new parts back home and camoflauge them in with the rest of all your bike junk in your spare bedroom.  This may not be the end of it.  What do you do when the credit card statement comes in and there’s that damn $1000 purchase on there. Having a secret credit card for this has obvious advantages, but not worth the risk if you’re caught.   I sometimes try to get a friend to order the stuff for me to save on shipping costs and to avoid this problem all together.  Alternatively, you can blame most of the charges on a riding mate saying to your wife “most of the purchase were Andy’s.  Just a couple tyres are mine and we went in together to save on shipping“.  Blaming a riding buddy can come in handy on many occasions, such as why you were home 3hrs later than you said you’d be.

– Plant the seed early.  Tell your wife that the new set of wheels that you want are gonna be $5k, so let’s start saving.  This initially sets off an explosive reaction, but you’ve done nothing wrong, so you’re not in the doghouse quite yet.  At this point she’s stressing about this extremely expensive set of wheels that you’re going to whine about until you get.  When you finally go and spend $2k on a set of wheels, this looks like an amazing deal.  This technique can work magic sometimes.  Use sparingly.

– Sometimes desparate measures need to be employed.  This is when you buy the wife a gift that’s just as expensive and lavish as the new Calnago frame that you just bought.   This will now cost you $12k, but if you can find one of them at a really good bargain you might be a bit ahead of the game.  A vacation to Cuba where you both can go and you can use your new purchase would be a good choice.

These are just a few of the ways I’ve come up with to get those stupidly expensive bike parts past the accountant of the house.  I’d be interested hearing your strategies and tactics in the comments section.  😉


Rubber Gloves – All Sorts of Uses

12 11 2008

Another good tip from Jeff Bolstad.

For the past couple of years, I’ve kept a stock of nitrile gloves in my race bag and I keep thinking of new uses for them, mostly related to the hideous climate that I live and ride in. For instance, I love hot balm on the legs on chilly days and in the rain, but the stuff is murder to get off your hands (assuming that you have a sink and soap to try, which you often won’t at race venues). Rather than risk rubbing it in my eyes, I’ll use a pair of gloves to put it on. The same argument applies to chamois cream and greasing your chain for the rain.

On those same wet days, which are often also cold days, a pair of rubber gloves worn over long-fingered gloves will keep your hands warm. Buy them in a color to match your kit and a size larger than you would usually use so you can fit them over gloves. I prefer black.

Your Chain In The Rain

10 11 2008

Most of us won’t even think of going out riding when you know that you’re gonna get drenched. However we’ve all driven hours to an event and it starts pouring cats and dogs as soon as you arrive. I have to admit, I’ve DNS’d some of those races before, but there’s many more that I’ve reluctantly started. Lubing your chain properly in these conditions to have your drivetrain running smoothly will give you one less thing to worry about.

There’s two common types of lube – wet and dry. Dry lube tends to suit most conditions. Compounds that reduce friction, such as Teflon, is suspended in a carrier fluid that penetrates in-between the links. Once it’s applied to the chain, you should wipe off the excess on the chain and the Teflon will be left inside the links. Wet lube is more like a traditional oil. It will last longer in wet conditions but will attract more dirt and road grime.

On the days where you know you’ll be riding in the wet, greasing your chain will keep your drivetrain working smoothly in the worst downpour, even if it is a pain to clean afterwards. Oil your chain as normal (with WET lube), but instead of wiping off the excess, seal it in with a layer of grease. This is a job better done with a rubber glove than your hand. This will keep your drivetrain running and shifting smoothly in the worst of wet conditions.

Keeping Your Whites White

8 10 2008
Handlebar tape wears out every 8 – 12 months.  Besides the fact that it can get really dirty, there’s no reason to replace it any sooner.  If you want to look Euro, white handlebar tape will definitely be your flavor of choice. No to mention white shoes, white knicks, white leg warmers, etc.

To keep it perfectly clean, supermarkets sell Woolmix brand product with a eucalyptus base ( Green bottle ) which is for delicate fabrics. Drop some into a small dish add a squirt of water . Take a nail brush dip it into the fluid and scrub away. Dry off with a clean towel …all done…pearly white again!  For the stubborn stuff do the same with concentrated Preen solution first then the Woolmix.

Cash In Your Tyres

18 09 2008

Cold hard cash can be good for all sorts of things. Usually for the things that you can buy with it but in some cases it’s good for what you can use it for. Let me explain…

On my way home from my ride this morning I got a flat tyre. Not only was the tube flat, but as I was changing it I noticed there was a slice through my sidewall. Under normal circumstances the best fix would be to pick up the phone and call my wife to come and get me. The other alternative: an old trick I learned using a $5 bill.

I always carry a $5 bill in my toolkit. First, to buy some food if I go hunger flat and second, to help fix a slashed tyre. HOW TO: After you’ve replaced the tube, fold the $5 bill in half and put it inside the sidewall of the tyre. Then put the tyre back on the rim as you’d normally do but this time with the $5 bill in between the tyre and tube. This will prevent the tube from ballooning out of the tyre at the site of the slice. At this point you can continue your ride problem-free.

Just remember to take the $5 out of your tyre when you get home, replace the tyre, and go buy yourself a cappuccino with your cold hard cash.

Tough Bike Tyres

16 09 2008

Last night I put a new set of tyres on my wheels.

Have you ever tried to put on new tyres and thought they will never fit? Sometimes it feels like the tyres are 2/3 the size of the wheel and you’ll nearly break your fingers trying to make it work.

What NOT to do:

DO NOT use tyre levers to help pry the tyre onto the rim. This will only pinch the tube and you’ll have to start again.

My Technique:

Fit one side of the tyre bead around the rim. Then put the tube in the tyre, slightly inflated to give it a bit of shape. Start working on the tyre as you normally would starting from the valve side. When it becomes tough to get the rest of the bead onto the rim, spray some WD-40 onto the troubled section of the rim. No need to use a lot, just enough to lube it up. Using a rag over the tyre for grip, start working the tyre with both hands from either side. It should easily slide onto the rim. Finally, check that the tube is not being pinched anywhere by the tyre. To do this, squeeze the tyre on both sides all the way around the rim. There should be no tube popping out anywhere.

Now that was easy!

Baby Wipes – What Can’t They Do?

9 09 2008

After our big day out in the rain yesterday we all have to deal with a mess on our hands – filthy bikes! How to clean it? Well if you’re like me and don’t have access to a firehose you have a bit of work to do. What I find easiest to do is to let the bike dry overnight and give it a wipedown with a dry rag. The key is to keep it dry so that all the gunk on the frame just flakes off. Now, go an buy yourself some babywipes. Some of you new moms or dads out there may already have an ample supply. I find Curash to be the best. Now, take a couple of those babywipes and clean your chain off. Then use some more babywipes and clean the rest of your drivetrain. Then use a few more babywipes and clean your frame, tires, handlebars, wheels etc. Take one last babywipe and clean your hands, and voila. In 10mins time you’ll have a bike that looks brand new again.

After every ride, no matter how clean it is, I’ll take a babywipe and wipe my frame down and my chain. Takes about 1 minute and the bike is always spotless and never really needs a big clean job. It adds thousands of km’s to your drivetrain as well since it’s always clean and won’t wear nearly as quickly.

I don’t know what they put in these things, but they’ll clean everything from a baby’s bottom to the worst bike grease known to man. I even shine my dress shoes with these things.