Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wrapping it Up

One of the true pleasures of owning a road bike is having to re-wrap the handle bars.  Tandems double that pleasure.  Two real benefits: mixing and matching colors and cleanliness.  Both make the bicycle look newer and nicer and better loved.  Plus I hate wearing bicycle gloves.  I like to ride with naked hands.  I want to feel the velvety smoothness of fresh cork with my hands.  Besides gloves get very dirty quickly and I gave up packing 6 pairs for a week's worth of riding.*  But being the lazy and impatient sod that I am I never do this as often as I should.

So tonight I put new tape on the road tandem (the one posted in the heading of this blog).  Been quite some time.  There is a possibility that the tape I removed was the original 2001 that the artisans in Bedford, PA, placed on the bike before shipping it to Des Moines.  But the lack of sticky tape on the tape makes me believe that I replaced the original sometime ago.  I do not recall doing this however.  The old tape was Profile and I love Profile because it does not have the sticky adhesive back that amateurs require.  Sticky back on tape is like training wheels on bicycles.  Clearly for beginners and always in the way.  Creates more trash and wastes resources.

If I can wrap bars without the crutch of tape anyone can.  I lack patience required for fine detail in most endeavors but wrapping is easy and I think I do a good job.  Just need to do it more often.

Why tonight?  The tandem was looking a bit ratty.  I removed a few spots of electrical tape that served as minor repairs.  But the real incentive was the way the tape on my road bike felt during last week's century ride.  Pure shit.  Just dirty and after the rain slimy.  Disgusting and filthy.  Although my hands did not get stained from it I used every opportunity to was my hands often.

Now how did the wrap get so shitty?  1000s and 1000s of miles, sunblock, sweat, rain, spilled beer and booze, grease from working on bikes, TriFlow, Gatorade, Mountain Dew, pizza, maple syrup and a legion of other crap.

Lesson: apply new tape every year at the minimum.  Professional races get fresh wrap before every race.  My 520 got new tape right before Brai last year.  I got about 6 or 7 more to wrap.  Yeah, that's about $80 USD.

But that is worth it.  I always get real cork or the faux cork that Profile uses.  Feels great.  Feels sexy.  And the most important thing about riding a bike is comfort.  Mary and I will be putting 500 miles in 6 days on this bike.  Two century days in a row, Monday and Tuesday.  Our hands will appreciate the my work tonight.

* gloves are good for three things and three things only
1.  keeping hands warm
2.  wiping snot off nose
3.  providing a barrier between skin and pavement in case of crash

But they get dirty than socks during a multiday riding adventure.  I do without.

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