Thursday, February 24, 2011

The trouble with bottom brackets…

Time plays weird tricks. For example, when I think of my last cigarette, it feels like a long time ago. When I think of when I first started cycling, it feels like yesterday. And yet, I was still sneaking smokes when I started cycling… so that’s slightly askew.

I’ve been cycling now since 2007. That’s four years of riding. Every year, I get a little smarter, a little faster, a little better. That’s not too difficult because I started out really horribly. I mean, I sucked.

One thing has remained consistent, however, and that is my relationship with bottom brackets. Bottom Brackets are the part of your bike just between where the pedal’s cranks meet. They keep your pedals going so you can move. They’re supposed to be fairly stable. They’re not supposed to move around a whole lot.

I learned this with my first bike (as an adult). It was a converted mountain bike – basically, a mountain bike with road tires on it. I was riding for quite some time until the bottom bracket was so blown that the pedals were practically flapping like wings. No bueno! The guy at the bike shop actually lectured me.

After that, I got a little experience and got a little smarter. Riding my Giant road bike, I blew another bottom bracket but I noticed before the pedals started flapping. Still, I did plenty of damage before I brought it in to get fixed.

I don’t know what it is about me and bottom brackets. I just tear through them.

Today, for instance, as I was out on my morning ride, I realized that the pedals had a certain amount of give that they shouldn’t have had, a bit of play that told me, “Ken, you’re doing it again.” Rather than ignore it, I actually stopped and checked it out. Sure enough, the bottom bracket was going out. This time, though, I decided to do the smart thing… or, at least, the smartest thing I could do under the circumstances. I rode the bike straight home. I’ll take it into the shop this weekend and hope I caught it early enough to prevent anything too costly.

I don’t know if other cyclists have these issues. Maybe I’m just too hard on my bike. But I’m learning. I can say that. Maybe, by the time I’m 60, I’ll be smart enough to not bust the damned things in the first place…

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