i woke up this morning with pains in my right knee. could it from the biking? i only biked a little bit the past few days. maybe i slept on it wrong: i have a bad habit of twisting my body into the most outrageous pretzel shapes when i'm unconscious. maybe i slept with my leg tucked in an awkward position.

my father dropped off the ross bike this morning. in exchange i gave him my rosemary plant to take back to belmont for winter storage in the sun room. i wheeled the bicycle inside the house to work on it.

the most glaring fix that needed to be made is to replace the gear shift cable. at some point it must've snapped, but the previous rider managed to tie the broken stranded together. the bike still rides, but with compromised shifting and the possibility of snapping again. the rear brake cable needed to be replace as well, it doesn't engage anymore. then there are the cosmetic issues, like rusty bolts, braces, spokes, handlebars, and fenders.

i sprayed some WD40 on the chrome fender and scrubbed it with a piece of steel wool. like magic, the rust came off, revealing the shiny silver metal underneath. i decided it was better to work outdoors, since little bits of steel wool were getting everywhere.

when i was finally done, it looked like i had a completely brand new bike. besides the fenders, i also cleaned the handlebars, the wheel rims, and everywhere else that was rusted. there were still a few spots where the corrosion was too deep to remove; i may try cleaning those areas with a steel brush.

one of the unique things about this ross bike is the shifting happens from a lever located near the head tube, instead of the more familiar handlebar shifting. the bike itself is probably from the 70's or early 80's, so it's around 30+ years old (probably as old as i am), but even then shimano seems to be cornering the bicycle gear shifting market, as the shift level and derailleur on this bike are shimano brands.

the bike uses 26" x 1 3/8" tires, which i think is the same thickness as my bianchi (but a bigger diameter). my foot pump arrived yesterday, and i used it to inflate the 2 tires to the specified 45 psi (i actually went up to 50 psi, figuring some air would escape when i released the hose).

despite the rust, the previous owner kept the bike in pretty good shape, even repairing the frame with some touch-up paint. it's only a 7-speed (just a rear derailleur with a 7-gear sprocket, a single front cassette) but normally when i ride that's about all the gears i use.

i cleaned the bike but i still needed to do some cable repairs. the bike used white cable housing which i needed to buy (i only have black ones). i went to the bike shop on somerville avenue figuring they wouldn't have it so was surprised when they did ($5). it was actually brake cables (including the inner and outer portions) but since the shifting isn't indexed, i didn't need the fancier compressionless housing and could use the brake housing for both brakes and gearing.

with my new cable purchased, i needed something to cut them with. none of my shearing tools would work, i needed the dremel which i gave back to my father last weekend. i called him to ask if i could borrow it again. he said instead of the battery-operated one that i used last time, he had a larger pluggable dremel tool i could use. the only problem was the cutting bit was in belmont. so i dusted off my motorcycle and took a quick trip to my parents' place to 1) let the dog out into the backyard, and 2) grab the cutting bit.

i stopped by the cafe to pick up the dremel tool before returning home. i moved the bike back inside the house so i wouldn't have to work on it in the cold.

learning from my mistake, i made sure i took a bunch of photos of how the cables were routed, so i could do the same with the new cables. i ran into a problem though: there wasn't enough white cable housing for the 2 brake lines and the shifter. i solved it by deciding the shifter would get black housing instead (i had plenty of black cables) while the brakes would receive the whites.

using the pluggable dremel tool was a little scary. it was big which made it a bit unwieldy. i kept on imagining the cutting blade flying off and slicing me like a spinning saw. there was a lot of sparks which made me concerned if my glasses alone was enough eye protection. i cut the white housing into 3 nearly equal-length pieces: 2 segments for the rear brake, 1 segment for the front brake. actually the front brake is the only cable on the bike that still works, so i ended up leaving it for now.

once i got the rear cable properly secured, i began cutting the housing for the gear cable, which requires 3 segments: shifter lever to the bike frame, bottom of the bike frame, and derailleur loop. the black cable was actually from the $5 bell bicycle cable kit i bought a few weeks ago. right away i could tell it was of an inferior quality, because the housing was just metal inside, no inner plastic layer for smoother cable transmission.

even though i had photo backups to rely on, i still wasn't quite sure how the cables should be routed in the front of the bike. i ended up choosing the "path of least resistance," even though it didn't seem very elegant. the shifting seems a little off still and i may need to adjust it some more before completely tightening the screws to lock in the cable.

by then it was already evening, too late to take the bike for a test run. for dinner i had more leftover pasta. my roommate wasn't home on a thursday night, so i managed to watch community instead of the big bang theory, followed later by fringe.