Tighten your nuts!

in #bikinglast year

I recently had my bike "tuned up", which I now know was an utter waste of money. I hadn't ridden it in a while though, and the brakes are a PITA that need constant adjusting, so one would think that a professional bike shop would go over all the nuts and bolts and tighten everything up and true the wheels and such. Nope.

I honestly have no clue what they even did, other than check the tires and adjust the brakes, badly.

I know they didn't true the wheels, because there is a slight wobble to the back wheel. Not enough that it even effects riding or anything. Only a few small millimeters. But it's enough that I wish I had a spoke tool.

My dad has one, but he has no clue where it is.

So I'm likely going to have to buy one, which is no big deal, since there are a few that come in kits with other stuff I need.

I also know the seat was loose. I knew that the second I got on it. It wasn't that loose, but loose enough it moved around if I shifted my weight. Not fun.

When that happened, I should have gone over the entire bike myself, but my garage is a mess and I don't really know where my Allen keys are, so I didn't feel like it. I just tightened up my seat before I went riding. I should have adjusted it again today, as it seemed a bit off.

After riding through the nature preserve the other day, and finding I was in a lot worse shape than I thought, I thought maybe I'd take a day off, and then hit it again tomorrow to check out the other half. The other half is way more sketchy.

The part I rode yesterday, twice actually, has some gravel service roads that connect up to the road where the houses were built on land they sold off that used to be part of the preserve. It's not that bad to ride with your bike, although it helps if you have suspension, and maybe gravel tires. It's doable on most any bike though. It also has quite a few trails off the main path that wind through the wood, quite a few of which are overgrown now, and have patches of sand that is not exactly fun to ride through. It's doable tho.

The part I rode today is way more sketch, and way wetter. It could really use with some of that sand from the other half to mix in with the muck of certain parts of the trail. It was still rideable though, for the most part.

Going out there, I had to maneuver my bike at pretty much a dead stop through the gateway. They really don't want anyone on a bike or dirt bike going back there. God forbid you have fun and move a bit of dirt around.

At the entrance I was greeted with a sketchy AF wooden plank bridge of sorts over a part that I would guess is often muddy. It was missing at least one plank, and a few others were quite a bit worse for wear. I actually got excited through. I was out to have an adventure, and this is just the kind of feature that I wanted. Not quite something you'd see in a mountain bike park, but still requiring a minor wheelie to get up on, and another to get over the missing plank. All in all kinda fun.

From there it's quite a few winding trails, with a bit of sand, and then a bit of mud, before the first of two actual wooden walkways. The first bit near the entrance was similar to a skinny at a mountain bike park, but not that skinny. This was more like what you'd see built over water, with hand rails made of thick wood on either side. It likely is over water part of the year, when it's a lot wetter. Right now it's just a bit fun though, providing a lip to practice something similar to a curb jump. At least that's what I call it. Being really out of shape though, I can barely do it.

I'm lucky they actually made it a lot better than it used to be, but also a bit saddened, as I looked forward to trying to build my way up to being able to jump up it.

After the first wooden board walk, it goes back to a few trails, and onto another that actually goes over a lake. One of the sketchiest lakes you've ever seen. I totally expected to be chased by a gator or wild hog at any moment.

I even saw what looked like a wild hog trail earlier on.

The second board walk really needed a bit of upkeep, with a few loose boards. It was really fun riding my bike along it though.

The fun kinda ended with the end of the board walk though.

Someone had put a board going down from the board walk to the ground, which is kinda awesome, because it meant that I could hit it with my bike at speed pretty easily, and I took advantage of that. Maybe that wasn't the best idea, in retrospect. As I went down to the ground, within a few meters, it went from a few random roots, to the gnarliest bunch of roots ever. There wasn't really a clear line, and I don't have full suspension on my bike, so I was basically just fucked.

I rode it just fine, but it wasn't fun by any means. What's worse is that I became very acutely aware after that that my handle bars were not nearly tight enough. They slipped as I was hitting the worst of the roots, and moved downward. Not fun.

I pulled up my handle bars, but didn't really have a tool with me, which is unfortunate. It's on my list of things to buy, but I just haven't yet.

I'm not exactly a mountain biker, so not having tools or a bike pump with me is really just an inconvenience. Normally I just limp my way home, or walk my bike. Not that big of a deal. I've walked far longer distances than many, and it's unlikely that I'd have trouble more than a few miles from home.

I went along the rest of the trail carefully, actually opting to walk my bike through a few spots since my handlebars were now loose and I couldn't really ride that hard.

It made me realize that I'd really like some nicer handlebars, even if I don't really need them. They're now on the list. As well as some nicer brake levers, as once my handlebars were slightly askew of their normal angle, I kept bashing my knuckle into the brake levers, and became acutely aware of why most modern mountain bikers have ones set up for a single finger pull. It's not just so they can keep their full hands on the handlebars, as I've heard, but because it really fricken hurts to bash your knuckle into it. I can probably reposition my brake levers for the time being, when I adjust the handlebars later, but they're now near the bottom of my list as well.

Really kinda sucks, because at this point I'm basically rebuilding my entire bike. But I can't exactly afford to buy another, and I don't wanna be without mine for weeks if I sold it first. At least it will likely be worth a lot more once I rebuild it and make it awesome.

There's also a knock in the pedals after I had a pretty bad accident before I started riding less. I ended up fucking up my shoulder for months after that. No bike shop has been able to figure out what it is. I should probably just assume that's because they're incompetent, given how lovely of a job they did tuning mine up this time.

I can kinda forgive them checking every bolt...but they kinda should check the main ones. What I really can't forgive is seeing the wheel with maybe 2 millimeters slop and being just like "That's fine! Brakes still work!" I even had to adjust the brakes again after they did, because they did such a piss poor job.

Money down the drain.

After getting to the end of the trails, I then found that they actually fenced off the exit. It used to exit out next to some of the houses they sold the land off to build on the river. Guess they fenced it off when they turned it into a gated community.

I'll avoid cursing them now and hope you can hear my frustration through the text.

Turning around, I disconnected my water bottle from my bike, which I had fashioned on with a bungee cord. Don't ask me why, but the idiots that designed my bike must have assumed that no one would ride it hard enough to need any water, as it doesn't have any water bottle mounts, and I've never bothered to get an adapter. It's on the list.

I actually wanna get one for my handle bars.

I had actually put iced tea in my "water" bottle, which is highly underrated as a trail drink. Very refreshing.

I then tried to attach my water bottle back to my bike. It really wasn't having it with the makeshift way I had put it on. The water bottle has a strap at the top, but I put the bungee around the base to ensure it didn't slop around.

Somewhere along the trail the water bottle started to come loose and fall down. I didn't even make it that far. I reattached it, and went on.

As I got back to the boardwalk over the lake, the fear of some gator coming out to try to eat me hit me a little hard, as that lake is really sketch AF. So I just got on my bike and tried to ride to the end. Thankfully I didn't try to ride over the root system again, as my handlebars were really barely hanging on, and my knuckle was not liking hitting against the brake levers.

Somewhere on my way back, I managed to choose the wrong path, and really should have known better when I saw a bit more mud than I really expected. I should have turned back as soon as I thought maybe I went the wrong way, but I had to continue on stupidly.

I only realize the stupidity of not turning back when it was too late. My bike sank in a few inches into the muck and I had to get off to try to turn around. When I did so, my choice of footing as I went back was less than ideal. My feet sank in and the mud covered my shoes completely. My feet are actually stained from the mud even after scrubbing them in the shower when I got back.

I did manage to get out of the muck...but after I did, I tried bouncing my bike a bit to get the mud off the tires, and caused my water bottle's cap to come off and it slide and hit the ground, spilling almost all of my tea. Oh well.

Now covered in mud, I made my way back to take the right path. Coming from the opposite direction it's really not clear the correct way to go on that one path.

I had to adjust my water bottle again a few times, and ended up just hanging it from a bag I had brought in case I found somewhere nice to read, with two different books I've been trying to make my way through. With the bag to cushion it on bumps, it actually rode quite a bit better.

Dirty, sweaty, and on a bike a bit worse for wear, I rode back the much kinder roads to my house, and proceeded to empty all my pockets, wonder whether or not I lost my wallet, and then wash down my bike, my feet, and my shoes, then set my shoes in the sun to dry, put my bike away, undress to put my clothes in the wash, and jump straight in the shower.

Turns out I simply had forgot to bring my wallet. Didn't need it, but wasn't sure whether or not I was gonna just hit the trails real quick then go elsewhere. That didn't happen.

But I had a nice adventure. Got to know the trails a bit better again. There are a lot more paths off the main one that I need to check out.

Almost want to petition the city to do some work out there though.

Now, as I write this, I'm a bit sore from the exercise and bumps from the last two days, but eager to get more in shape and get out there again, after I tighten up all my nuts and bolts on my bike and adjust the seat position and the position of the brake levers.

Image by rihaij (source)
Used under the Pixabay License

Sorry for no images of the trail, but I think I'm gonna avoid posting any due to privacy concerns, as well as not bothering to stop to take any.

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