Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Broken weld, broken heart

There's only one good thing to say about a picture like this: It wasn't my bike.

Roof racks and garages. Dangerous combination. This time the victim was SSweetleaf, who has a blog called I Heart Singlespeeds. I've been checking it out occasionally because he lives in Santa Fe and rides some of the same turf I rode when I lived there.

I consider myself lucky for never having enough money and nerve at the same time to invest in a roof rack.

Yeah, roof racks have certain convenient advantages, and nothing screams "my other car is a bike" like having your baby proudly ridin' up top as you cruise down the road on your way to a trailhead. But they also expose your gear to high-speed impact with bugs, dirt, rain and grit. That stuff has a knack for finding its way into your sensitive, personal areas, i.e., headset bearings and cable housings. And there's always the danger of Agonizing Garage Death, as poor SSweetleaf experienced. (Fortunately, the folks at Gary Fisher helped him out with a good deal on a new frame.)

I won't even get started on the obscene cost of those rack "systems." I've flirted with the idea from time to time, but the idea of spending $500 to $600 for some hardware to mount two bikes on a car has always sent me running the other way.

For years I carried my bikes on a trunk-mount rack that cost me $12. OK, it was more like $35 or $40 brand-new back in the late 1980s, but I had a gift certificate from El Tour de Tucson that paid for most of it. That was the only time I've ever been willing to raise money for a "charity ride."

These days, I have the best bike rack ever made: Three Delta fork mounts purchased with an REI dividend several years ago, securely attached to a big rectangle of plywood salvaged from the scrap pile at a construction site (and spray-painted a stylish black). I staple-gunned some old knobby treads to the bottom for traction, and leave that beast in the back of my Toyota Tacoma, which is equipped with a camper shell. My bikes are stable, protected from the weather and, best of all, I can pull into the garage and forget about them until I'm ready to unload them.

This is a link I have to post. I remember once having a discussion with a couple of friends about what they didn't feel comfortable doing in front of their pets. You know, things like changing clothes or doing The Big Nasty? Now there's another reason to be concerned. Having an affair with your parrot in the room is a bad idea.

I've added a new link under "Alaska Stuff" and local riders, especially, should check it out. I ran into local race maven Reggi Parks at Sunday's Frigid Bits race and she told me about her new site, which will have all the dirt on the best mountain bike events in the Anchorage area. Reggi's the tireless race director who puts on events like the 24 Hours of Kincaid and manages to maintain a sense of humor at 4 a.m. when it's cold, the wind is blowing and racers are grumpy. We're lucky we have her. If you're looking for races or other bike events this coming season, keep an eye on her site and get yourself signed up for something.

Just remember to be nice to Reggi in the wee hours. She deserves it.

Besides, she's a teacher who wrangles kids for a living. She can handle obnoxious mountain bikers without even bothering to open a can of whup-ass.


daveIT said...

Hell ya Reggi rules! She's been a great friend for me & Renee (& baby Zach) since we moved here from lovely Italy. I can't wait to try out some of her races.

I have a roof rack (tired of getting mud all over the inside of my car) and I always stick my garage door opener in the back of my car so that I can't open the door. Hopefully that continues to work for me..if not I'll give you a pic to post on here.

Jank said...

Ouch. Yet another reason why I love my station wagon...