Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Different views on cycle paths

People look at things in different ways. Take, for instance, this ordinary cycle path*:

Here's how the average commuter would see this cycle path:

But a roadie sees it in a different way:

Here's how a plow driver working for the P"N"WD sees the same path:

And here's how the guy responsible for it's maintenance, working for the P"N"WD as well, sees it (or, actually, doesn't):

Then there's the truck driver's view:

The SUV owner's view:

The dog owner's view:

The delivery truck driver's view:

And don't forget the teenager's view:

Finally, here's how the esteemed vice chairperson of the Helsinki city council, Harry Bogomoloff sees the cycle path (and it's surroundings):

* (You'll never guess where I ripped off the original picture from. But in my defense, they'd already ripped it off from us, the people, by photographing our beloved city without permission. And we, in turn, ripped the city off from mother nature. We are fools! You can't own the land! The land owns you!)

Friday, February 18, 2011


As I recently mentioned, the freewheel of my trusty commuting vehicle had lately been getting stuck, due to the outrageous coldness of the weather, thus making the freewheeling functionality of the drivetrain bidirectional. Which, in the long term, is an unwanted quality in a bicycle. As amusing as it may from the perspective of the onlookers, it really tends to drastically reduce the transportational capabilities of the bicycle.

Therefore, drastic actions were required. After one day of heating the rear hub with a hot air gun and then commuting to and from work fixie-style, i.e. pedaling all the way through, even while braking, I had to get my hands dirty.

After consulting the best bicycling information source known to (a Finnish) man, and then this one too, I set out to dismantle my bike. This is what resulted:

The consultation of the instructions also resulted to the expansion my knowledge about modern bicycle components. Therefore I now know that the part doing the freewheeling in my bicycle is actually called a Shimano® freehub.

Both of the guides I consulted had omitted the part about the rear hub ball bearings falling out, and that they should be chased from underneath the stove (I did the servicing in my kitchen), because they need to be put back again, but luckily I was able to figure out this myself.

Here's a blurry shot of the offending, rusted by road salt and whatnot, freehub:

After a lot of messing about in the kitchen with solvents, oils, brushes, this is what the parts looked like:

And not too soon after, the bicycle was re-built again. Yeah, the cassette is worn out and rusty, and needs to be replaced come spring.

Also, the kitchen was ruined and the wife had totally freaked out. But I was totally exhilarated of my newfound D-I-Y capabilities (also possibly because of sniffing so much solvent).

Before, I had a backup employment plan for after the inevitable nuclear war and the ensuing obsolescence of computer programmers because of all the EMP: carpentry. But now I think I'll go for bicycle repairing.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Winter complaints pt. IV

Paris-Roubaix is a race for wussies. I mean, there are a couple short stretches of cobbled road on the route, but what's the big deal? That's nothing compared to the hardships that we, bicycle commuters in Helsinki city, have to suffer all winter, each winter:
  • unplowed routes
  • uneven routes
  • frozen routes
  • slush-covered routes
  • routes covered in a mixture of road salt and shit
  • routes that have completely vanished under several metres of snow
  • routes blocked by incorrectly parked vehicles
  • extreme coldness
  • sleet raining horizontally
  • harassment by bus drivers
  • murder attempts by car drivers
  • ridicule by onlookers
  • terrorism by dog walkers
  • contempt by authorities
  • etc.

No sign yet of the Pugsley I'm legally entitled to. Therefore, I'm still legally entitled to criticize the Public "Not" Works Department, the instance responsible for not plowing the bicycle routes. Well, luckily, my cubicle at the workplace was moved away from the window with a nice view and into a dark cleaning closet with no windows. That way, I don't have to watch the P"N"WD licking the road clean all day while the cycle path next to it is left to slowly deteriorate. As a result, I've been much happier lately, brooding in the broom closet. Also, I've vented my frustration by sending the P"N"WD numerous petty complaints about parking violations and lack of maintenance on my commuting route. We'll see if they're as proficient at not ticketing parking violators as they're at not plowing.

Lately, the freewheel of my trusty Kona has began to malfunction. Occasionally, it seems to stick somehow, and when I pedal, the force isn't conveyed to the rear wheel. The cranks just spin freely forward. It tends to feel slightly silly, pedaling furiously without moving, at least when it happens in the middle of a busy intersection, with a truck coming on at a great speed. I suspect that the mixture of road salt and shit is to blame. When the temperature is near 0 ° C, salted roads become wet, and the drivetrain gets totally soaked. Typically, the next morning, the temperature is well below zero, and the derailleurs and drivetrain are frozen solid. Also the salt seems to rust the chain efficiently. I hate road salt.

There's a sort of a grass roots type movement that is trying to accomplish the establishment of a "backbone" of cycling routes in Helsinki. Sadly, the proposed main routes go nowhere near my commuting routes. So, if they manage to get the backbone established, service levels for said routes agreed and the maintenance actually improved, it will not benefit yours truly (and other, less (or more) esteemed residents northern Helsinki) in any way. It will probably take about 100 years for my commuting route to be granted the status of a "main route" and the maintenance to stop sucking. I'm depressed.

I've even done everything humanly possible to advance this noble cause, namely, commented on a blog post related to the matter. Now, hopefully, up to 5 puny hipsters may read my suggestions and as a result, "do the needful". What else can I do (except whine at great length on this personal blog that no-one reads)? I'm just one... man.