Monday, June 1, 2009

Trailer queens and lubing your chain

This weekend I woke up and had the wild inclination to go on a group ride. The closest one isn't too far from my lair, so I filled the water bottles, hopped on the bike, and rode over.

When I got there, I suddenly remembered that I'd probably ride in pain with the main group for awhile while discussing the latest sports drinks, but eventually would be dropped for dead and have to find my way home on my own. So I opted to not do the group ride, but instead to silently lurk as the riders got their bikes ready.

I saw a few people Mercx-ing it, which consists of riding their bike to the group ride for the extra training or sheery enjoyment of riding, and I saw a plethora of trailer queens. While trailer queen might make you think of missing teeth and a double-wide, it's actually an old drag race term referring to trailering the car over to the track because it's too fragile and finicky to drive it over under its own power.

While this fascinated me, what fascinated me even more was the different styles people used to lube their chains pre-ride. I obviously was not observant enough to catch them all, but I thought I would try and outline a few here, taking huge liberties as needed.

1) The Non-conformist - The non-conformist rarely lubes his chain, probably just enough that there is not rust on the chain, about once a month in normal conditions. On group rides the non-conformist is constantly asking anyone who will listen what that noise is, often stopping pedalling and starting to see if it is drivetrain-related. At stops the non-conformist will tighten his seatpost clamp, tighten his stem, and wiggle his cranks. The non-conformist is surprised his daughter is pregnant and doesn't know why his neighbors say his kids look like the mailman.

2) The perfectionist - Once done with any length ride, the perfectionist will Simple Green the entire bike to a spotless sheen. The perfectionist then cleans the chain with a chain cleaning tool, grabs a clean rag and lovingly dries the chain, patting not rubbing. Once dry and clean to his satisfaction, the perfectionist places the clean rag on the garage floor directly below his chain and meticulously applies ProLink to each individual link as he slowly turns the cranks, making sure to start at the connector link so as to ensure every link is lubricated properly. For celebration, the perfectionist rushes inside and has a 4:1 recovery drink before his 45 minute window of opportunity is exhausted. The perfectionist lives alone.

3) Wet spot sleeper - The Wet spot sleeper almost surely uses Rock "N" Roll lube. The wet spot sleeper doesn't put a lot of thought in to it and doesn't care if he gets a little splashback. The wet spot sleeper simply sprays Rock "N" Roll lube on as he wildly spins the cranks, then wipes it off when done with any rag he can find. The wet spot sleeper has lots of "visitors", but rarely does laundry.

4) Sponge bather - The sponge bather is a bastardation of the wet spot sleeper. The chain lubing style is exactly the same, except that the sponge bather actually cleans his chain every once in awhile. Of course, he cleans it with a sponge and soapy water because that's what he read in Bicycling. The sponge bather wishes he had as many visitors as the wet spot sleeper, which he might if he didn't use White Lightning.

5) Cheapskate - The cheapskate doesn't buy in to the fact that any one thing works better for chain lubrication. He usually prefers WD40 if he's got it in the garage, but will also use lawn mower oil or even diesel fuel if no WD40 is available. The cheapskate thinks that putting CoffeeMate in your coffee means you are a yuppie who likes "fancy" flavored coffees.

6) Arnold Palmer - The Arnold Palmer is not like the cheapskate, he's just grossly uninformed. Usually the Arnold Palmer uses good ol' 10W40 Pennzoil to lube his chain, but may have graduated to Phil Tenacious Oil as he's seen it in a bike shop. You can tell the Arnold Palmer by the splattering of oil all over his chainstay and wheels. One never wants to ride behind the Arnold Palmer lest you be tainted with splashback. Uninformed in all aspects of his life, the Arnold Palmer grew up believing that women don't like sex.

Note that I've put "he" in all of the examples, that's because I'm not clever enough to make it gender-neutral. Which type of chain-luber are you?


Linda said...

I am the "Sleeper" type of chain luber. I do regularly use White Lightning and their light oil on my chain. So the chain is in good shape but the rest of the bike needs a bath, much like a crappy looking car with a tricked out engine. This type of person gets from point A to point B fine; it just ain't pretty.

Nick said...

WOW. I'm not in there.

I am the secretive clean and maintain only my drivetrain after every ride. I am so secretive, I won't even tell you what kind of super, friction reducing, lance armstrong type lube I'm using.

Bike Lemming said...

I completely forgot the "sleeper", which it sounds like you both are.

Sonya said...

Hmm, I'm not in there either. I put Finish Line on the length of the chain every third ride or so (or more if it's raining) and clean it before each race (so every other weekend). I guess you'd call me "The maintainer?"

The worse kind is when you hear someone riding miles away because of their screeching chain saying (I NEED LUBE!)

Heidi Swift said...

Hilarious post, as usual - but I am none of the above.
I am The Princess. My chain is lubed magically for me in between rides by the shop hand. I mean, my boyfriend. Please god, don't let him see this.

Bike Lemming said...

I missed the mark so entirely that I may need to write an addendum... :)

Katherine Fuller said...

Ha ha; that's really funny. I'm the "love the bike forget the maintenance" type who only remembers to do regular lubing and the like when each, self-loathing issue of Bicycling arrives in the mail.

mrbill said...

Ok, I hate to admit it but I'm the Cheapskate, and proud of it!

Bike Lemming said...

mrbill, say it ain't so!

Anonymous said...

I am in Sonya's "maintainer" camp - although not as diligent. A thorough chain cleaning and Finish Line about every three weeks.