Welcome to cycling season!

For me, Spring Equinox marks the beginning of bike season -- but when I woke up this morning, it was just 13 degrees out. I've made peace with winter this year, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed by how slowly it's winding down. For months I've been daydreaming about that first warm Spring day. I really thought that by mid-March I'd have put my heavy winter jacket away and be riding my bike to work in the sunshine. 

While I wait patiently for warm weather, I can at least get my bike ready.

Here is a graph of my bike-riding-as-an-adult history:

Big difference between the Fixie Summer 2011 and the Real Road Bike Summer 2012.

Big difference between the Fixie Summer 2011 and the Real Road Bike Summer 2012.

I bought my bike (a late 80s steel Gios) from my old roommate last year when I was living in New York and over my fixed-gear phase. I was getting into longer rides and wanted to try some hills outside of New York, ride to the beach more often, and try my first century.

To contain my bike-related expenses last year I took my time fixing various things. The main outstanding issues are its shifting and brakes (two pretty important things, IMO). They work, sort of, but neither feels very responsive. In the rain, the brakes hardly work at all. As far as the shifting: the new chain I bought last year to replace the old and stretched one helped a lot, but I still get a lot of clicking and clicking and clicking before I can actually shift.

This is its "before" photo. 

Maybe because I'm injured right now and can't run, but I have bikes on the brain, big time. I'm dreaming of how best to make my bike into a super-commuter and touring bike, and planning a couple of overnight bike/camping trips. (Unfortunately, when weather or circumstances thwarts my bike plans, my bike daydreams have a way of turning into purchases.)

After!

After!

I'm really pleased with the work the shop did! I thought I would hate the white housing on the cables ("Surprise!" they said) but it's growing on me. 

They also came up with an awesome solution to prevent my thief-beacon Brooks saddle from getting stolen: a piece of bike chain wrapped in a tube (to protect the paint) that connects my saddle to my seatpost. Previously, my strategy was to cover it with a  plastic grocery bag and connect it to my frame using a $4 cable lock one could have probably cut with nail clippers. This is a huge improvement because 1) it's actually secure, and 2) it can stay on all the time, so I don't have to worry about remembering to lock my saddle anymore. 

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It was also washed, degreased, re-greased, trued, etc. Before and after photos:

Before

Before

After

After

Before

Before

After

After

Our household bike level is currently orange: the number of bikes is currently exceeding the number of people.

Bike stable, no vacancy.

Bike stable, no vacancy.

Anyone else want to gush about your Spring bike-riding plans? Is Chicago the very last place in the continental US to adopt this new trend sweeping the nation, "SPRING"?