after more than a week, i finally assembled the free GMC denali road bike. the biggest issue was the chain, which seemed to be strangely wrapped around the two cogs, half the chain on one side of the frame, half on the other. i wiped down the thick layer of black grease off of the chain hoping to find a missing link that i could use to easily take off the chain without having to brake it on my own. the whole configuration left me baffled; how did the previous owner get the chain wrapped like that?

i was just about to cut one of the links with a chain breaker tool when an idea popped into my head: what if the chain is supposed to be like that? out of curiosity, i popped the rear wheel onto the frame. that's when everything made perfect sense, the chain is supposed to be like that! only when the wheel is removed and the chain falls slack does it seem to look wrong. i tightened the bolts, wiped down the bike once more with another clean rag (by then having already gone through 2 pairs of latex gloves), then flipped over the bike. assembly complete!

you probably wondered, isn't the GMC denali a type of car? from what i gathered, GMC (general motors' heavy truck division) originally manufactured these bikes to be sold in their showrooms, which seems weird, because a customer coming in to buy an SUV isn't also shopping for a bicycle. so instead they struck a deal to have these bikes sold in department stores (target, walmart) while keeping the confusing name. denali road bikes have a loyal following because for less than $200 it's a fairly decent bike. it'll never compete with road bikes costing thousands of dollars, but it's a good entry level racer for people who just want to try out a fast bike.

fully assembled, i had another opportunity to more closely inspect the denali. for a bike that's 4 years old, the previously owner kept it in excellent shape. the frame is nearly pristine, with almost zero scratches, and definitely no rust of any kind. the aluminum frame means it's lighter at 29 lbs. - extremely heavy by professional road bike standards - but the lightest bike i own. the frame (as well as the wheels themselves) are aerodynamically shaped - they have more of an elliptically-shaped cross-section.

i didn't like the shimano revo grip shifters at first, but they shift pretty smoothly and easily; position-wise, they're no more weird than the manual stem-mounted shifters on my other road bikes. the brakes need to be adjusted, the previous owner had the pads very far apart (maybe to more easily remove the wheels). the brake-rim grip is excellent, probably the best braking of all the bikes i own, even with the far apart pads. these are caliper brakes, which are notorious for becoming unbalanced, but i heard that isn't a big deal so long as the pads don't rub against the rims while riding.

i like that there are eyelets on the frame for fenders and a rear rack. at one point there was a bottle cage but the previous owner must've removed it. even though one of the tubes was bad, the tires themselves are in very good shape, with no worn treads (the tires still have small rubber flaps at the seams of the contact surface). because i replaced only one of the tubes, the tires are currently mismatched: schrader valve in the front, presta in the back. it's kind of a hassle to inflate the tubes because i have to toggle the pump head on my hand-held pump; not that it does much good because it's very difficult to reach 100+ psi of tire pressure by hand (hopefully my floor pump will arrive soon). contrary to the thick layer of grease on the transmission, i suspect the previous owner didn't ride this bike very much since it's practically new.

before i put the bike away in the basement, i climbed on (while holding onto a deck post) just to get a feel for the bike. when i got it i already knew it was too large for me, but fully assembled, i noticed the top tube was just at my crotch level. i definitely can't easily touch the ground while seated (even after i lowered the saddle to the bare minimum, even removing the seat post reflector), but i'd have no problems if i hopped off and hovered over the top tube. what this means is despite the 22.5" frame size, i can still ride this bike. it's probably not a great bike for the city with all the stopping and going, but i'd love to take it out on the minuteman bike trail and see how fast i can go. i will definitely be wearing a helmet though.

one of my neighbors was moving out this morning. a large van was already parked outside with movers busy loading up the vehicle. i was hoping to rummage through the leftover curbage but this neighbor didn't leave anything behind except a stack of paperback novels. curbage high season isn't until another month though; i'm sure i'll be able to score some goodies.

in belmont i did my 2nd aunt's tax returns in less than 30 minutes. for federal i had her e-file since it was free, but she'll mail in her state returns (for a refund). my sister was about to mail out her taxes until she realized she could e-file her federal returns for free as well.

i helped my father make a plastic tarp cover for my great uncle's green house. later i helped my father solder the fixed rain barrel piping.

my roommate was a few minutes behind me when i got back home. i saw his bike coming down the street when i was turning on the living room lights and closing the blinds so i left the front door open as a courtesy. while he was making dinner, i casually went into the kitchen to get something to drink and to remind him about the overdue rent, "maybe you can pay it this week."