My life

My bike

Last fall, one of the nice mountain bikes I inherited from my dad got stolen. In order to ride with my stepson, it became necessary to fix up my old 1986 Raleigh Pursuit, which meant tires and inner tubes and oil and a better seat.

It rode pretty nice (once I figured out the correct way to install the seat, which is wrong in the picture) and I used it for a couple of months until one evening in early June, I stepped hard on the pedal to enter the street, and the chain snapped. My foot shot down as the pedal spun, and I rolled the bike to the right.

When I got up, my finger was bleeding from a bad cut on one side and a massive scrape on the other. Fortunately I was only four blocks from home and hadn’t hurt anything else.

The injury to my finger involved stitches and then a splint when it started to develop a Boutonniere deformity (finger gets pulled into a stair-step configuration), since ligaments were also damaged.

As a result, I decided I’d better upgrade the bike, so nothing else will give out on me. The handlebar was bent from the accident, and decades-old brakes and cables are not as reliable as new ones.

Since I never used the lower part of the traditional handlebars, I decided to go for bullhorns this time. I changed the cables and brakes and chain, put new gearshift levers up on the goose neck (they had been down on the frame, well below my knees), and replaced the old rat-trap pedals (which were always upside down since I took the rat-traps off long ago) with nice mountain-bike ones. Aldi was selling a gel seat-cover for cheap, and I have discovered that you can never have too much gel between you and a bike seat, so that’s on there too. The outcome is pretty cool for an old fat guy’s bike.

And of course the old bike helmet needed the padding replaced… and I discovered that one more downside of putting on 80 pounds in middle age is that your hands get to hurting really bad when you lean forward and support your weight on the handlebars. Gloves with gel pads in the palm are a necessity.

With all the money I put into replacements and upgrades, I could have bought a bike off the rack at Walmart, but it wouldn’t be as nice as this one is now, and it wouldn’t be designed for my height.

I also looked into a speedometer. The last one I bought cost under $10, but now everything is $50 or more. Fortunately, there are apps that are just as good, and will also map your ride.

My speed is pathetic (18.2 kph is just over 11 mph); probably some of you can ride faster uphill in the Rockies than I do on flat land in Florida, but I don’t care, I get 45-60 minutes of exercise a day touring the neighborhood and it’s doing me good.

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