Saturday, February 18, 2012

Oil, Lube, and Utilitaire

Although I have been eliminated from MG's Utilitaire 12 Challenge, I continue to forge ahead, using my bike for life, liberty and the pursuit of car maintenance. Yes, sadly I own a car, three actually.  Today the Millenium Falcon needed an oil change and an alignment. 

I used to change the oil in my car every 3,000 miles. Consumer Reports did a test of the oil in New York City taxi cabs.  They found out that the oil in the taxis was still good after 10,000 miles.  So, nowadays, I change my oil every 7,500 miles.  I lost track of the last time I changed the oil in this car.  I think when the oil looks like the La Brea tar pits, it's probably a good idea to change it.

Sometimes I wonder if I wasted money and despoiled the environment with all those unnecessary oil changes.  I don't drive that much so I think the planet is safe. Besides the real benefit to frequent oil changes is when the mechanic discovers that your brakes are toast while he's underneath your car. . 

The same is true of bike maintenance. If you clean your chain every couple of weeks, you will have the opportunity to spot any other problems. I always inspect the frame for cracks. Two of my bikes have 29,000 miles on them so metal fatigue is a concern.  It's not very likely, but I once had a fork failure during a ride. I was at a standstill when it happened.  Something felt odd about the steering. I pulled over and stopped. CLANG.  There was my right fork blade lying on the ground. For those of you new to cycling, let me explain. This is not good. If this had happened while I was bombing down a hill, I would have been in a world of hurt.

So what does taking my car to the mechanic have to do with the Utilitaire. Technically, nothing at all since I failed to do 2 qualifying trips last week. (Oh, the shame!. The shame!) Never the less, I could get some sort of honorable mention from MG, her highness, beauteous Queen Utilitairiana. (Sucking up to the contest judge can't hurt at this stage of my miserable failed existence.)

Anyway, I hate to wait at the mechanic while they work on my car. So I put the Sequoia on the bike rack and rode the mile or so home while the car was serviced.  Then, a few hours later I rode back. 

The Sequoia hides behind a promotional sign at the mechanic.

When I have work done on my car during the work week, I do the same thing except I ride to and from work. 

The mechanic's waiting area is always filled with people looking pissed for having to blow their weekend morning taking their car in. People, get a bike!. Ride home and get something done with your automotive downtime. I rode a little under 3 miles during today's utiltaire. Instead of sitting on uncomfortable chairs drinking bad coffee and listening to ESPN blare away, I had a nice little spin to my house where I sat in an uncomfortable chair and drank bad coffee that I made myself.

I spent over $300 on the car.  Sheesh! Cars are appallingly expensive.

Later in the day, I went for a ride and stopped in at my local bike shop. They recently ordered a new rear rim for my bike. It's not in yet.  The current rim is 19 years old and has nearly 30,000 miles on it.  The side of the rim is cupping.  I may not be the smartest gut around, but I know that I am riding on borrowed time.

I wonder how long a bike rim lasts in New York City.  Consumer Reports should get to work on that.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - $300 on your car! :( I've kinda forgotten how those unexpected car repairs feel like - - I guess like a minor heart attack....