Friday, November 13, 2009

Missing my Bike today...

Yesterday I broke a spoke and dropped my bike off at Warm Planet on my way home. Tres convenient. But that meant I was going to work without a bike today. Let's see the impact...

I left home at 7:35. If I had my bike with me, I would grab a bagel on 24th Street and easily make the 7:59 bullet at 4th/King, probably early enough to avoid being bumped. That train arrives Mountain View at 8:44, 7 miles of riding later I'd be at my desk around 9:15. If I were unlucky and got bumped, 9:30.

Instead, I took the 48 Bus to the 22nd St Station. This bus lurches down 24th St in Noe Valley, picking up passengers at every block. Instead of some exercise riding my bike, I got an exercise in balance as there were no open seats (not that this is necessarily a bad thing - transit is being used). Most of these passengers get off at Valencia or Mission and head to BART. In the Mission we pick up a bunch of passengers who might go 5-6 blocks, and we disgorge a lot of passengers at SF General, leaving a half a dozen people headed to Caltrain and a few PoHill denizens.

The 48 then takes a winding route over Potrero Hill. This is the most annoying part of the ride, though by now I have a seat as the bus is 1/3 full. We stop at every stop in Potrero Hill, slowing the trip substantially, often picking up passengers we then drop off 1 block later. Come December 5th, they are going to have to walk up that hill thanks to MUNI cuts. Most of these passengers are low income, they will be hit by the service cut, which will actually benefit higher income passengers who are willing to subject themselves to the 48->Caltrain Boondoggle.

I arrive Caltrain at 8:14 - fortunately we made it in time for the 8:19 bullet from 22nd St. Unfortunately my company shuttle does not meet this - or any other - train at Mountain View where this bullet stops, our shuttle only services Lawrence and not this late. I get on the train and start to assess my options.

Instead of relaxing and eating breakfast, I fumble with my iPhone searching various other companies shuttles and the VTA lines. The sad conclusion is that I must get off at Palo Alto, wait for one train to pass, get the second train going by, take that to Santa Clara, and catch VTA route 60. Once in PA, with 30 minutes to kill, I wander onto University Avenue and grab a bagel and a paper. I window shop at Palo Alto Bikes, and walk back to the train station to eat and read.

The train arrives, non-stop to Santa Clara. There is only a 5 minute wait for the 60, then a fairly good bus ride to Walsh and Scott, then a 200 yard walk to nVidia. I arrive at my desk around 10:15. Not having my bike cost me an hour, and lost me 45 minutes of exercise, and made my train commute a little more of a hassle as I problem solved instead of just relaxing.

A lot of people would just bail out - I could have taken my wife's car and probably been at my desk at 8:45 or so, depending on traffic. But the winding commute was actually not that bad, in fact sort of pleasant. I still relaxed a bit on the train, walked in downtown PA, had breakfast, checked twitter and email, and "did some thinking" which is something I don't do very well in a car. I've definitely gotten to the point where "getting somewhere" is not really lost time - unless of course I am actually in a car.

But I could have done all that roundabout stuff if I were with my bike anyway. Or spent an extra hour riding my bike instead of riding MUNI and VTA. Bike = flexibility = freedom.

Unless you have a broken spoke.


Frank Irwin said...

It sounds like someone needs to ask Santa for a spoke wrench and truing stand.

djconnel said...

I broke a spoke on my Veloflex wheel a few months ago. I stopped by Mike's and was told "sorry, that can't be fixed, there's a spoke stub stuck in the hub which can't be extracted". Veloflex wheels use spokes threaded at each end. The hub end is LocTited into the threaded hub, the rim end uses conventional nipples.

But undeterred, I went to the Easton web site and downloaded the old spoke replacement instructions. First, I needed a spoke. I went to Pacific Bikes this time and they cut and threaded a spoke for me. Then I had to find red LocTite, which I got at Central Hardware. Following the instructions, I disassembled the hub, put a match up to the hub to loosen the Loctite, and unscrewed the spoke stub. Then I cleaned the hole out with acetone, put LocTite on the new spoke, and screwed it in.

Radial wheels are easy to true, and I was rolling on the wheel again in less time than it would have taken me to deal with the bike shop. (although there were considerable delays in the procedure, in particular a time-consuming search for a pipe cleaner to clean the hole, but I'll neglect that...)

Anyway, replacing spokes shouldn't be a much bigger deal than swapping a chain or fixing a few flats.