Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cyclist Death in Boston... December 6, 2012

This just happened this morning.

I no longer ride down Commonwealth Ave, but I did for several years. Comm Ave is a heavily traveled road (bikes, cars, and too many pedestrians to shake a stick at being that it goes directly through the Boston University campus) and (thankfully) has a wide and well marked bike lane along this length.

That being said, it was still a nightmare to ride down on a daily basis. Mostly because delivery trucks and taxis would routinely (and with impunity, I suspect, as I never witnessed a citation being given during my near 2-years riding this route) use the bike lane for offloading and the like. Between the trucks, traffic, and crush of students I called it "Riding the Gauntlet".

Also, while traveling this road I experienced more near collisions as a result of "right-hooking" than along any other route I have ridden in this city. Many right where this collision in the news article above occurred.

Now, it's early in the investigation and I do not want to jump to conclusions; but I suspect that this incident may be as a result of a "right-hook", which was, consequently, made illegal and a citable offense a few years back here in the Commonwealth.

I sincerely hope that this young cyclist (he was 26) was not doing anything foolish, but if so than so be it and may he rest in peace; but if it shows that the truck driver was at fault, I sincerely hope to see serious charges levied against them.

If anything it goes to show that infrastructure isn't enough (as I said, that area is well developed in that respect), we need education, awareness, and respect for each other on the road.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out in a city that is really trying to push
bike safety and advocacy.

Ride safe!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Specialized All Condition Armadillo Tires, a Review (of sorts)

Now, I don't usually review things here (as a matter of fact, I seem to rarely blog at all, to my own dismay) BUT I have to make an exception (to both situations) to share with you my experience with a set of Specialized All Condition Armadillo tires.

I did a rough calculation based on the number of miles I average per week and the length of time I owned the tires and I came to a conclusion that, over the course of the 2 years that I had these installed on my commuter bike I put approx. 65-7000 miles on them. 

My usual routes take me through the streets of Boston in all types of weather and conditions–from 95º+ degree days to sub-0º with snow and ice–and these tires saw it all. 

In addition to the weather, Boston roads are notoriously rough and full of imperfections,
construction, metal plates, cobblestones, and pot-holes

The pictures that accompany this post show the state the (back) tire was in when I finally relented and bought a replacement. I can only imagine the things that left these multiple wounds...

 Each one of these cuts could have easily been a flat–potentially leaving me stranded (though I do carry a patch kit and spare tube); but of all of this damage, none of them ever caused a single flat. As a matter of fact the only times I had a flat while riding on these tires was due to 1 of 2 reasons:

A) the stem of the tube corroded and failed (typical in the Winter b/c of snow and de-icing chemicals)


B) Pinch flat(s) as a result of me replacing above mentioned corroded tube(s).

 As you can see, any tread has l-o-n-g since been worn away, the sidewall was becoming threadbare, and the whole thing was pretty much de-laminating.

What actually got me to break down and buy a new tire is that I got sick of the "slap... slap... slap..." sound every time the wheel rotated due to the loose tread (seen below and at the top of this post).

My ultimate verdict?
Good tires. Worth it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

bike related...

it's been a while since I posted, and even longer since I posted something bike related... 

As one or two of you might know, I have had my commuting bike for the past 2.5 years, and this is the 3rd Winter that it has had to endure (I bought in October 2009, so that makes sense ;) ...

Well, after several chains, sets of brake pads, a couple sets of tires, and (from my best educated guestimate) 8000+ miles, the first MAJOR part of the bike has failed and has been replaced.

For the last couple of weeks I have felt a slight pulsating in the rear wheel under braking. I didn't think too much of it (as this bike, at this age and amount of use has it's occasional issues) and dismissed it as the wheel being slightly out of true, or a gash/divot in the wheel from one of Bostons ubiquitous pot-holes... I had given the wheel a few quick visual inspections and really didn't see anything too out of the ordinary... that is until last Wednesday...

That is when the brake started to drag in that same pulsating fashion as described above... but much more pronounced and NOT under braking. It was @ 11pm and I was traveling home from class when the wheel (I suspect after one of Cambridge's many road abnormalities) began to behave this way... 

...I stopped, and (in the dark) could not quite figure out why. I suspected that the wheel must've fallen further out of true to the point where it was hitting the brake pad even when not using the brake, so I released the V-Brake calipers and made due w/ the front brakes only, assuring myself that I would inspect and repair everything come the weekend when I had the time...

...the wheel had other ideas. 

I have ridden on a "less than" true wheel out of necessity on a few occasions, and that's what I thought was the case here... that was until I got about 1.5 miles from home the next morning and the wheel began to drag (after another pot-hole) even though the rear calipers were dis-engaged. 

It was at this time that I finally saw and realized what had been (slowly) happening over that last several days and 50-60 or so miles... 

Yup, the braking surface of the rim of my wheel completely failed...

Ok, I admit that once or twice I let the brake pads get low so the actual shoes were rubbing metal to metal... but this is definitely more a testament to the corrosive effects of New England Winters combined with constant use.

This unfortunate event actually spurred me to do something I have wanted to do for a very long time, and that is to build my own wheel ... which is exactly what I did!

I went down to Harris and purchased a new rim, hub, and spokes... I then took these pieces, consulted my copy of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance , and had at it...

I now have my first "hand built" wheel (and one built by my hand, no less!). 

I used a DT-Swiss TK-540 36 spoke count rim ...

laced to an origin 8 rear hub (120mm)

We'll see how it goes tomorrow on it's inaugural run!