does anybody work on christmas eve? i wasn't expecting to hear from the client today. i was looking forward to a nice slow day doing my own thing. after some leftover mexican chicken soup for lunch, i got dressed and took my trek 800 out of the basement to install some new brake pads. the preexisting pads still work but have uneven wear damage. since i have new ones anyway (XLC brand), might as well put them on.
i first washed the tire rims with a foaming blast of simple green: intended for barbecue grills, i've discovered it work just as well for bikes (and cheaper too). i scrubbed off the grime with a scouring pad and a bucket of hot water. i installed the front brakes without any problems but had to readjust the wire tension.
the back brakes were a little more difficult. there's uneven tension on the brake arms (these are v-brakes AKA linear-pull brakes) so that one pad sticks to the rim while the other one pulls away. when i increased the tension on the weaker arm, it went lopsided again, this time the other side was sticking. finally i came up with a solution: increase tension on both arms, but use a smaller washer on the weak side to compensate for the fact that it doesn't pull back as much. buying a new pair of brake arms isn't very expensive ($11) and would even the tension but things seem to be working for the time being.
i must've spent almost 2 hours outside in the cold working on the bike. i had my jacket off at first, but by the end i had it back on, along with my gloves. by the time i went back inside, my nose was running.
after all that hard work, it didn't seem right if i didn't take the bike out for a spin. it was getting late (meaning it was getting dark) but i decided to head down to the cafe while there was still some daylight. along the way i spotted a car with a christmas tree tied to the roof. isn't it a little too late to be buying a tree now? the car had vermont plates, maybe there's a reason. i also passed by the mega elm tree, all lit up in the late afternoon sun.
i was only at the cafe briefly before i came back home. i noticed a rickety sound coming from the bike. i figured it was one of the brake pads rubbing against the rim, but when i stopped to finger adjust the arms, the sound continued. once i got back home, i readjusted the brakes with the tool. i took it for a short spin down the street, it seemed better, but the sound was still there. it doesn't happen when i'm pedaling, but happens when i'm cruising, or purposely spinning the pedals backwards. it could be a lower bracket issue, but it never happened before. i adjusted the pads one more time and locked up the bike outside since i'll be riding it tomorrow.
i've been on a newsradio kick these past few days, watching episodes off of hulu whenever i get the chance. sometimes old sitcoms can feel dated, but newsradio is just as funny now as it was back in the 90's. if i had to make a list, it'd be on my top 10 funniest tv shows. watching the show does make me a little sad though, to see phil hartman's final performances.
after dinner (finally finished my mexican leftover) i tried my hands at making some ginger ale again. i was inspired by an episode of good eat devoted to ginger, and ginger ale was one of the recipes. the ingredients: 3 tbsp of grated ginger, 3/4 cup of sugar, 7 1/2 cups of water, 1/8 tsp of yeast, 2 tbsp of lemon juice. i minced the ginger with a cheese grater and eyeballed what looked to be 3 tablespoons of grated ginger. into a small pot went 1/2 cup of water, the ginger, and the sugar, boiled over medium-high heat. once the sugar is dissolved, i let everything sit for about an hour.
later i drained everything through a fine mesh strainer. even after an hour the syrup is still warm, and the instruction said to cool it to about room temperature, which i tried with a cold water bath. i got the temperature to about the 80's and just couldn't wait anymore and decided to go on to the next step. into a 2 liter soda bottle through a funnel went in all the ingredients combined. i used boiled water from my electric kettle; even after 2 hours it was still hot, so i cooled it down with half a cup of hot water mixed with half a cup of cold tap water. as for my yeast, i noticed the jar said they expired in 2009. if i don't get any carbonation, bad yeast would be to blame.
i put the bottle in my bathroom, the warmest room in the house (which is just room temperature in any other households). hours later when i went to check on the progress, the bottle wasn't hard yet (meaning it hasn't filled up with carbon dioxide gas) but there was some bubbling inside, which means at least some of the yeast is working. here's hoping i'll have some homemade ginger ale by sunday.