I had to wait out writing this post so that I didn't end up writing something entirely negative. It was only a difference of a few days, but what a difference it was.
At just after my fourth year anniversary of this cycle commute I'd gone from being one piece away from finishing my puzzle (I just wanted a cycling jersey - well, that and perhaps a cap), to having it all fall apart and being almost back to how I started; Well, save for clipless instead of toe-clips, I was exactly back to how I started, but as I've alluded to, for a few days only. Fortunately:
- I have some new cycling shorts. Ish.
- I now have a cycling jersey. Ish.
- I am back to fixed gear. For good I think; My roadbike can only fit skinny tyres so is not much use on my new commute even assuming I could ever afford to get it up and running again; I have started stripping it down for parts
- I have a new brake cable (from my roadbike and not a pink one off one of the girls' old bikes)
- I have a new saddle (from my roadbike, which means for the first time in four or more years I don't have a ripped saddle on my fixed gear)
- I have a new headset!
- I have some cyclocross tyres!
- I have some red insulation tape. I'll explain.
I'm most excited about the headset and the tyres.
The headset has needed replacing for at least two and a half years. I've only managed to get away with it being broken for so long because I had the road bike and last winter was mild, so I haven't had to ride on the fixed gear too much. It means that this winter (assuming the weather is back to normal) I should avoid one of these problems (and hopefully two with a new brake cable). I think I'll write a little about replacing the headset in a separate post.
Since my new commute gave me the option to take in the Formartine and Buchan Way I wanted to get some wider tyres (sounds familiar so I could do as much of my commute along it as possible; it has been resurfaced even further since my last adventures, but still requires a bit more than a 23mm tyres if planning to ride it regularly.
I was intending to get some Schwalbe CX Comps as the best budget option as I figured I didn't really need a lot of grip, just something a bit wider and to help with cornering on loose gravel. However, when it came down to it they were sold out so I had to "upgrade" to the Schwalbe CX Pro. I may also write a bit more about these in an individual post. Technically I could have gone for something cheaper like the CST Classic Tuscany (I can only find a Netherlands' link?), which actually looks nice: Pretty bullet-proof, cheap, but heavy (650g); I have to do all winter on slow heavy tyres; I don't want to do spring, summer and autumn on slow, heavy tyres too. Also, they are only in a 35mm size which does just fit in the rear, but it's a closer fit than I'd prefer.
Finally, I got some more electrical insulation tape, which I find handy for various cycling related repair jobs. I've re-taped the ends of my inner-tube handlebar grip to keep that in place. This means my bike now has red highlights and everyone knows that red stripes make you go faster.
So, pretty much, I have the best bike setup I've ever had.
(The bearings in the rear wheel need replacing, but it just wouldn't be seemly for me to have everything working perfectly).