To my two faithful readers - welcome back. :)
Where did I go? I got a new job, which has kept me incredibly busy. The downside of this, too, is that it has made it very difficult to ride to work - the new job is across town (I live in the northwest, it's in the south / central part of town, about 10 miles one way) and is complicated by the fact that I have to see my kids off to school in the morning.
Oddly enough... It just kind of hit me that I've been working way too much, and not really doing much for my health lately. I haven't been working out at all, and am reaping the effects of it - low energy level, just not feeling myself.
Remembering how much I enjoyed the Bike Bakersfield Christmas ride last year (which I'm hoping they'll repeat this year!), I dragged the touring bike out of the garage and got it ready last night. That involved a little bit of rear-wheel truing, adjusting the back brake, and lubing the chain. So, it's pretty much ready to go - just have to get my cold-weather and lighting gear ready.
Ever since I first rebuilt the bike, I've had problems with the rear index shifting. Although I bought decent Shimano bar-end shifters that were indexed for the nine-speed cassette, I went cheap on the rear cassette, going with a 9 speed Nashbar special. It never would shift right, even after fiddling with the adjustment quite a bit.
Anyway, back in January I finally made a couple of additional upgrades to the bike, going to a cartridge bottom bracket, a new crank from Rivendell, and a new 9-speed SRAM chain and mountain bike cassette. (Same Suntour front derailleur as it had when it was a 15 speed - works great for me, why change?) Installing the new cassette and a couple of tweaks - rear indexed shifting works beautifully. Guess the spacing between cogs is just a little off on the cheapo cassettes, enough to throw things off. I can certainly live without indexed shifting, but it is kind of nice to have.
I'm also learning that the $100 wheelset I purchased isn't the best bargain, either. I'm down to about 205 pounds now (from an all-time high of about 230 at the beginning of the year, ugh!), but that plus the gear I carry to work put a lot of stress on wheels. The front cheapo wheel is hanging in there, but the rear wheel (which was replaced with a $75 cheapo wheel) goes out of true easily, has uneven spoke tension... Anyway, I am going to start saving my pennies for a solid, bulletproof rear wheel, either built locally or purchased through Rivendell.
Merry Christmas, everyone!