Sunday, February 3, 2013

98 and 3/4 Percent Guaranteed

And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)
(Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!)

I spent a day working on our mountain bikes. They needed cleaning, lubing, and general tender loving care. They also needed to be made better for general city riding. These are the bikes we also use for touring. Mountain bikes are a lot slower than road bikes, but they are sure footed, comfortable, and nimble. Perfect for our style of touring. Perfect for riding in a city.

Mountain bikes are my secret pleasure for city riding. They lack the panache of fixies and the "cute+practical" aspect of European-style city bikes. But they have amazing gearing. Our puppies are designed to pedal up and down scary inclines on paths that appear appropriate only for mangy wild goats. In the city, particularly a Florida city, we rarely need all those gears. But for some reason unknown to common man, cities are filled with unexpected bicycle challenges. When confronted with an unreasonable incline (I think some garage structures were built for 4-wheel drive vehicles), on a mountain bike you simple downshift and pedal upward. Curb? No problem. Gravel, sand, or crumbled pavement? Pedal on. And, oh yeah, don't forget the nice suspension on a mountain bike. My front suspension fork once was set to handle landings after moments of being airborne. Now I have it dialed to handle potholes, cobblestones, and uneven road patches.

After the clean and lube, my to-do work list for the bikes was easy. I needed to make them more visible in the twilight and dark. For a variety of reasons, reflectors, lights and blinkies were previously all attached to our touring gear. Now I needed to put some lights and blinkies on the bikes themselves. I also needed to add more reflective surface to the bikes, which I accomplished by wrapping the crowns and outer tubes of the front suspension forks in white reflector tape. (OK, it is fair to comment at this point that I am not a bike snob or fashionista.)

My original plan was to put narrower handle bars on the bikes. Narrower bars would look great, but, in the end, I left the bars alone. The wider handlebars make the bikes handle better. And that is one of the reasons I like these bikes so much.

We are still living with one foot in rural Lake Placid and one foot in urban Miami. But not for many days more.

That's 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.


  1. You just about described the ideal Saturday activity list, in my opinion, as long as the last item is a long bike ride. Mountain bikes also usually have fatter tires, which are more comfortable due to lower pressures, although I don't prefer the really knobby ones for city, but rather, slicks.

  2. For years I was all about the mountain bike for my style of riding that I called "Urban Bashing" but then, after acquiring my old Schwinn SLT I was immediately smitten with the speed and grace and sensation of flight that she imparts, the magical way that she disappears beneath me and of course the ability to go anywhere fast.

    But after a brief interlude with a beautiful but sad Walmart twenty-niner I was amazed at the monster-truck qualities that came with those big fat tires and now I want a new Urban Basher, 29 inch wheels, or maybe even one of those crazy Fat Bikes that my friends in the Southwest are all riding...

    I enjoyed visiting your Blog, Marsha. Keep up the good work! We gotta get the word out!