It’s been a pretty good season of winter bike riding. There wasn’t a lot of snow this year so I got to stay on my good weather route for most of the season. After a snow storm I usually stay off my bike for a couple of days until the roads get cleared by plow and sunshine. But then I have a winter route that I ride on residential roads where I can cycle closer to the middle of the road to avoid the snow and ice that piles up on the sides. It’s a shorter route so it means riding three laps. I don’t like riding laps much. Once the snow melts and the ice disappears from the sides of the road I move back to my main route. It varies from week to week which route I ride. I’d guess I was on my bad weather route about half the time this winter. That’s not too bad.

Winter really beats a bike all to hell but it’s not the snow and ice. It’s the water, the salt, the sand, and the road grime. I don’t know what’s in that road grime but I bet it has something to do with saltwater breaking down the asphalt. Since my bicycle, like most road bikes, doesn’t have a fender on it water from the wet road get thrown up my back by the rear wheel. When riding on a wet road in the rain my orange wind breaker get covered in black water drops all up the back of it. It’s pretty gross I gotta say. I’ve always thought about getting a rear fender for my bike but never have. Most people don’t need a bike fender because they just don’t ride in the bad weather that I do. All that water and road grime also gets thrown up along the bottom side of my bike. I actually get sand build-up on my bike’s underside. And the road salt freezes my spokes in place. There is no sense in cleaning the bike either because it’s just going to get dirty the next day. It really needs a good spring cleaning at the end of winter.

I only got a couple of flat tires this winter. That’s not too bad but one of them was at the furthest point away from my house. That lead to long walk of a few miles back to home. That is never a fun walk. It’s a little awkward to walk while rolling a bike next to you but at least you don’t have to carry it. That would be far worse. Sometimes I think about carrying the tools to change a tire tube with me on my ride but that seems like a lot of trouble. I’d need a spare tube, small plastic levers to remove the tube from the rim, a small air pump, and a saddle bag to carry it all in. I have everything but the small pump and a saddle bag to carry it all in but I’ve never liked the idea of fixing my bike on the side of a road. It seems a little problematic and dangerous. So I just walk home.

I have had one mechanical problem with my bicycle over the last few weeks and it’s a new one for me. Normally I use only two gears out of my bike’s fourteen. On the back gear I use the third largest gear and I change the front gear from the big one to the little one when going up a big hill. I basically just have a low gear and a high gear. It works for me. A couple week ago the front gear, of which there are only two, started slipping. As I was pedaling the chain would slip off the big gear and onto the small one through nothing I’d done. If I looked down as I pedaled I could see the chain stating to come off the side of the gear. I couldn’t see what was causing it though. Usually when gears slip it has to do with the derailleur. That’s the part that moves the chain from gear to gear when I use the shifter on the handlebars. Or, as I found out last summer, it has to do with the gear’s teeth being worn down. I adjusted the derailleur, I inspected the teeth, and everything looked fine. Except the chain still slipped.

Of course the chain only slipped if I was pedaling hard. Back home on the bike stand the chain would never slip. So it was hard to diagnose the problem. I ended up not using the bigger front gear for a week or so as I tried to figure it out. I checked online and one of the things that was said that could make a chain slip was stuck links or a dirty chain. I tried to find a stuck link but couldn’t. I had never cleaned a bike chain in my life but I bought a chain cleaning kit and gave it a try. The chain still slipped. It was really annoying.

That’s when I decided to take off the whole front crank and look at it closely. I pulled out my large Allen wrench to remove the crank and that’s when I discovered the nut holding the crank on was loose. There was my problem. I had never had a crank nut come loose before so I wasn’t even looking for it. I tightened it up, went for my ride, and everything was okay. Until the next day. Then the chain slipped again. How could the loose crank nut not be the problem? I figured it was but now my derailleur wasn’t right. I adjusted the derailleur again and hoped for the best. Hope won out as the slipping stopped.

I still don’t trust my bike though. That’s the way it is with repairs. After I fix something it takes a few weeks of it working properly before I trust the bike again. I’m a bit wary before that. The slipping of the gear was always accompanied by a sound. I’m still listening for that sound just in case.