Sunday, April 23, 2006

'Crastinators Anonymous

I've ridden the same cassette and chain for, um,
five

years
...maybe not the chain, but I've got no recollection of ever changing it out. None whatsoever. My frame was replaced about three years ago when my original developed a crack. The jewels were pulled off one frame and hung onto the other. A different chain may have appeared then.

They do that, don't they? appear?

Last August it hit me that as long as everything brake pads=three years was running smoothly I'd best not ever get a new chain ever, because if I did then it would skip and jump and I'd be forced to get a new cassette. And let's face it: if I can get a few more miles outta something, I'll find the way

I decided to run the chain and cassette until they both ended up in pieces on the road, together for eternity. A pair so entwined can't be thoughtlessly separated. Chainring tattoos began appearing on my calf from the built-up gunk -- numerous grains of crud had developed an intricate role in the functioning of the drivetrain: cleaning anything would wash my good karma down the drain.

But this spring, a shiny new set of aero-spoked wheels rolled my way. A half-eaten cassette and a grit-covered worm of a chain just wouldn't do. The time had come.

I also knew the time had come to consider a cassette that would give me a lower gear. I've used a 12-25 for years. It's still fine for me, but every now and again in the coulees of Wisconsin I wish for just one more bailout. It's early season and I'm on my way to the hills.

So, there I was at the LBS. Two cassettes sat nestled in their boxes on the counter: a 25 and a 27... 27. My stomach felt like it used to when I faced lima beans as a 7-year-old. When it comes to gearing no one else can make your decision, nonetheless I asked for a variety of opinions, even what size other old ladies use: 27. I tried, but I just couldn't embrace it when all else fails, see how it looks. I put it on the wheel. I held it up for Joe to see.

Wow. It looks, um, BIG.

I may be riding recreationally these days, but my racing past is deeply ingrained and just can't be rationally explained to someone who hasn't been there. I couldn't put a big 'ol cassette on a set of nice wheels. I walked out with the 12-25 and the resolve: I will suck-it-up on the inconsistent Wisconsin hills until I'm 50 and won't complain ever about having denied myself that one lower gear.

At home I started the trade-out, the old and new wheels side-by-side. My current crud-covered cassette...looks...smaller...than the new 25...because of the crud? I looked closely for the marking indicating tooth-number. Couldn't find it amidst the gunk. So I started counting. Hm. It appears to be...yes...it's a
a 23!
All this time I've been riding a 23!

Well.

What am I going to do with this new 25 now?! It's not like I need it....

- OB knows she's getting old but it's really not so bad

17 comments:

Ruby said...

That's hilarious. And all this time you've been thinking that you're old...

Cyclist At Large said...

A 23? Usually those come with an 11 as the small cog. Those are some big gears you're pushing. You should spend more time at the track. :)

shannon said...

funny stuff, OB, both about the gearing and the marriage of chain and cassette. i always think of that accumulated gunk as holding the chain and cassette together, maximizing performance. it's cheaper to think that way...

Ptelea said...

Great writing! Did you consider taking the 25 back for a new 23? Just remember, one day you will be trying to make this decision again when you are closer to 50 and it will be just as hard! I bet you are REALLY glad you didn't buy that 27! You have to set your goals high enough so that that you have something to work for!

the old bag said...

Ruby -- funny, but telling in the things we/I worry about, I guess!

Cyclist -- I wish our track were closer, especially with regard to getting through traffic. We've got a beautiful, screamingly fast, 43-degree, 250m baby...waaaaay in the northern 'burbs. I'd love to go WATCH, these days!

Shannon -- man, gotta ring every penny outta every jewel. I agree with the gunk/drivetrain symbiosis.

Ptelea -- I DID think about returning it...for about half a minute. Actually I was glad to have it on yesterday's ride. Still in the back of my head is having TWO cassettes: the smaller one for a later in the season. A person can't just jump into these extreme changes :-]

gwadzilla said...

are you going to go back and drop down to a 21

(am I showing my tech ignorace? you could get a straight six! hold on... they are up to 10.... TEN BLADES!)

Jen said...

happy birthday one week late!
prom pictures on the xanga[s]

the old bag said...

Gwadzilla -- got a 21...but it's on my triple :-]

the old bag said...

Jen -- thanks! Got pics from your mom, too. Very cute! You two matched!

gwadzilla said...

and OB
did you see my son on his trike and his bike
well
did you see my two sons on their bikes

they are already learning the pleasure of different style rides

Trée said...

OB, you're a bad influence. I was just about to change my chain--because it's at 3000 miles--but now I don't want to. If 5 years is good enough for the OB, it's good enough for me. :-D

the old bag said...

Gwadz -- they'll grow up to have a garage-full of rigs...the way it should be!

Trée -- CHANGE OUT YOUR CHAIN!

X Bunny said...

i have a 27

justification: we do have some steep hills around here

Shawn Kielty said...

Ok -- that's it -- I am going back to the 23. NIce piece OB!

the old bag said...

Shawn -- whew, glad to hear! But, hang onto that 27...just use it judiciously!

Shawn Kielty said...

I'll bring it back out when I turn 50.

Shawn Kielty said...

Hey - get a custom one at 11-20 or 21 -- and kick some serious @ss.