It’s been an active summer for Midge. Usually, this is the time of year I start to slow down, but with RAGBRAI 5 days away, Midge needs a good cleaning and checkup. I’ll save the big stuff for the local bike shop’s mechanic. This will mostly be a detailed cleaning and a good once over to be sure all her nuts and bolts are secure.
Wheels: Used citrus de-greaser to clean rims, spokes and wheel hub. It was time for the decals to come off, they are looking worn. Got out the toothbrush and de-greaser and scrubbed the rear sprocket. It is looking gooooood now.
Fenders: Cleaned up with soap and water. Lots of dirt. Once clean, I noticed a few scratches and scrapes. The front mud flap is broken. An extra bolt in just the right place will do the trick. I was planning on getting this part done on Sunday, but because of the brakes (see below), the flap is still broke. I plan on fixing it tomorrow.
Brakes: I took a really good look at Midge’s brake pads for the first time in a while and noticed they were completely used up. With all those hills on the first two days, I made the choice to replace them now instead of loosing all my stopping power on a big downhill. Made a Sunday run to the closest open bike shop 30 miles away in Iowa City. Not exactly the same pads that I had before, but they have to be safer than old, worn out pads that were on there before, right?
Well, that’s where things started going bad. Replacing cantilever brake pads is one of the toughest things I’ve done on a bike. You have to get the yoke in the right place, just the right tension on the cable, toe in the shoes just right, align the pads just right along the rim so they are covering the rim without rubbing on the tire, use the adjustment barrels (2mm allen wrench, which I had to get at Lowes) to fine tune the balance of the distance of the pads from both sides of the rim. It was confusing. I was doing it in 95* weather. I was dripping sweat the entire time over the last 2 evenings. When I seemed to have it right, the brake levers wouldn’t pull the pads all the way to the rim. When I tightened them up, they rubbed the rim without touching the brake handles.
After many frustrating hours I seem to have them done. NEXT TIME, I am going to walk into my local bike shop, give them my bike and come back in a week or so with new brakes. I would have done that this time, but RAGBRAI was way too close to chance not getting Midge back on time.
Drive Train: Dirty, dirty, dirty. Removed the chain and used citrus de-greaser to clean up the chain and all the gears. This was also a time consuming event. I wanted to do it right, so I made sure I got all the grime out. Still need to put on chain oil, then we are ready to go with that.
Seat: Care of Brooks Saddles can be a little higher maintenance than a regular seat, but I still think it is worth it. Leather gets dry. I used saddle soap to clean it and keep it from drying out. After, I used a Mink Oil to seal it up from the elements. Don’t want it to rain and ruin such a great place to sit.
Frame: Overall, Midge’s frame got a good scrubbing. Being careful to stay away from any bearings on the headset and bottom bracket, I gave the frame a good washing. Nothing like getting all the road grime off to make her look nice and shinny. When she is clean, she feels better about herself, and isn’t that what we all want?
So, I’ve found out that it is really hard to show “grime” in pictures. Some of that detail will be lost in the before and after shots, but I’ve gave it my best. Actually, the after shots will have to come in the next couple days, since it’s too dark outside to show her off tonight. We will go for a 10 mile test ride on some clean streets to be sure nothing broke and the brakes work good. Nothing like a nice clean bike to start RAGBRAI.