While the kids frolicked in the yard, I messed around with wheels and tires. I mounted a pair of Flexuses (sp?) to stretch. I raced them last year but a bit of stretching before gluing can never hurt. Then I rolled the tape ball the rest of the way around the base tape on another Flexus I am intending to use on a backup wheel set paired with an old Tufo Elite. I’d mounted this tire with tape and glue last season and the tape came off on the tire. So I pulled some of the tape off and rolled it along pulling the rest of the tape up along the way. I got a pretty good blister on one of my thumbs. I’m swearing off the tape for good.

Then I futzed around with the Flexus I shredded last season at Barton. I’d put some super glue in the big gash in the tread and it seemed to be holding okay. Then I put a little dab of super glue on the hole along the base tape. After fifteen minutes or so, I pumped it up and it wasn’t leaking air too badly. Then I added a tablespoon of Stans sealant and worked it around the problem areas. The small gaps in the super glue filled in and it held low pressure through the night. I intend to pump some more pressure in, see how it holds. If it looks good, I’ll mount it and use it for training.

Then I repacked the bearings in one of my wheel sets. I like Dura Ace hubs since they are light, relatively inexpensive, and serviceable. As long as you repack the bearings once in a while, they will last a long time.

Which gets me around to the real heart of this post. I love doing this stuff. For the professional wrench, it’s no big deal since they do this stuff day and day out. But for a regular guy like me, it’s a way that I get to connect a bit closer to the bike. As I coated the cups with Phil Wood grease, the familiar scent wafted up and was greeted like an old friend. I recalled the first time I repacked some wheels — it was twenty-four years ago and the bike was a friend’s Schwinn Varsity. I was using it as a guinea pig for my own hubs. Better to screw up someone else’s bike. Now I can service cup and bearing hubs in pretty quick order and usually get the play set right so it’s not too tight under the quick release compression.

Sure, wrenching your own bike costs less and that’s a big deal since we’re a family of four getting by on one salary and have made some organic and sustainable living commitments. But the real allure is the satisfaction of serving the bike — smooth operation makes the bike more like an extension of yourself. I never get tired of tinkering with the set up trying to dial in everything just right.

Sometimes, life gets in my way and I’ll let maintenance slide a bit. When I finally get around to replacing the cables and trimming the brakes and dérailleurs, I wonder how I could have waited so long.

Now is the time of year I start gluing the tubies. My wife rolls her eyes at me when I start layering glue on rims and base tape but I’m thinking about the sound bond required to rail the corners. I’m dreaming about racing and glueing isn’t a chore, it’s a preview to excitement.

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