Atlas Shrugged

I’ve been trying to complete Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged since last November. I’m still not done, although I am almost there. A couple more upcoming flights later, I should hopefully be done. Now coming to why I picked up the book, I had read The Fountainhead (I don’t remember if it was at someones suggestion) back when I was in my undergrad and in the first or second year. I loved the book – I cannot remember why, but I loved it. But I also felt it was a little heavy for my personality – I have generally been a happy go lucky kind of person – I don’t consciously like to be a deep thinker, although I find myself wandering into that territory from time to time without purposely intending to do so. So, while I have known of Atlas Shrugged’s existence since at least then (perhaps even earlier, and this was a good 9 years back!), I never felt like I wanted to read it. I kept myself happy and engaged reading science fiction – you know, nothing about values and what’s right and wrong and all that. 🙂 I also read fast paced action books – it’s mindless and exciting and I prefer it to action movies anyway. (those are even more dumbed down.) I have generally not gone back to reading drama from authors like Grisham, because I find that too slow. Anyway, I was trying to borrow audio books from a public library here in the US, when I stumbled upon Atlas Shrugged again. I tried listening to it while jogging/walking and found that I needed to pay too much attention to the book to be able to multi-task. I had finished an audiobook before this, so I don’t think it was so much an inability on my part to multi-task, but this book demanded more from me in terms of attentiveness and cognition. So I decided to borrow the actual book from the library so that I could focus on the one task of reading the book, and instantly found myself wishing that I had borrowed the e-book instead. This is a 1200+ page book, and isn’t light on the hands. So, then I started with the e-book, and was reading at a steady clip – 50+ pages a day at night before retiring to bed. By December, I was making steady progress, but couldn’t read the book at the pace I normally do – I know Rand uses too many adjectives 😀 (somebody should do an analysis of it. A quick web-search didn’t yield any results, although Atlas Shrugged is supposedly one of the longest books written.) and that slows you down a tad. I then carried my Nook e-reader to India and on my way back, managed to put a lot of crap into my back-pack and managed to crack the screen. I was stuck again, without knowing where I had left off on the book. It took me a few months before I bought a Kobo Aura to replace the broken Nook, and continued reading again. It’s mid-July right now, and if I keep at it for a little longer, I will close in on a year and this would have been the longest I have taken to complete a book. 🙂 (Actually, I think I did take longer to complete First Among Equals – but there I purposely took a break, because I didn’t initially find it captivating enough.)

I wanted to write my impressions of what I thought of the book, because it is a book that makes you sit down up and take notice and think. It also presents ideas that are polarizing – many will agree with it, while many presumably hate Rand for her philosophies. I have felt strongly about certain things all my life, and Rand’s ideas seem to be on similar lines, although, I had never given word to my thoughts so explicitly or clearly. I have also never been able to absolutely stick to one set of philosophies rigidly as Rand does – I have somehow believed that no one way of thinking can be right at all times. I’ll write more later, but I might already be forgetting how I felt reading some portions of the book – that’s the problem about taking too long to complete a book. I have also never discussed my belief systems openly in the past, for multiple reasons, but mainly because once I am set on my views, and it if is my private set of views that nobody needs to learn about and will affect nobody, then I didn’t see the reason in discussing it, and debating on it. I now feel, I’ll only learn more from rational arguments, so it will be interesting to actually read about differing points of views. I can say confidently that many people I know will fall in the camp of disagreeing with the philosophies of Rand, and as an extension mine as well, but we’ll get to that. 🙂

/rant

errr, but maybe there is no point to ranting about ideas unless they are fully formed and fully thought through. But then again, that wouldn’t be a rant now, would it ?

/endOriginalRant

Ongoing rants:

What does it take to break a mans’ back – bad posture, that’s all really. 🙂

I thought of a couple other parallels to ideas, but they sound crass in my head because they don’t translate well, (well, not a linguistic translation) so I’m going to have to look for better ideas than that.

I thought of a neat little piece/rant which I thought encapsulated an idea real well, but then have no recollection of what it was. Dang it!

So, I was thinking – let’s say you and your apartment co-dweller have a disagreement on the thermostat temperature. You want it set at 76 and he wants it set at 74. You try explaining why 76 is the right temperature, but to no avail. So, you let things be, and agree to let him set the thermostat at 74. Half way through the night, you feel cold, but you agreed to setting the thermostat at 74, so you don’t do anything about it. Let’s assume your friend starts feeling cold at the night too. If he changed the temperature of the thermostat to 76, that would be conceding that he was wrong, but it would solve the problem. If he let the temperature stay at 74, both are cold and nothing was really achieved, except of course, there is no way for you to know that he is cold. But knowing all this, I still have to leave it to his judgement to decide what to do. Because after all, maybe he feels warm at 74 🙂 You do however hope that if he did indeed feel cold too, that he would do the right thing and set the temperature right.

Mirchi Run – Chennai – December 2014

Pre Race:

Having run two half marathons in 2014 (Peoria – Going the Distance and The SF – 2nd Half, and having missed one thanks to the common cold), I was looking to run in India when I would be there for a short vacation towards the end of the year. Unfortunately, some of the bigger name marathons in India did not coincide well with my trip plans, and I was searching for a decent event with at least a half marathon distance. I finally found “Mirchi Run” which was organized by Radio Mirchi, and the date fit me perfectly.

In terms of training, this has been the race I was best prepared for – considering I had enough long runs under my belt, and also had a pretty consistent training regiment – even if it involved a lot of runs on treadmill because of the weather outside. But then, you take a 24+ hour flight, go home and binge on good food for a week, and you pretty much negate all of the training 🙂 A couple of days before the race, I was cleaning some shelf of mine at home and when I got up, my knee gave me such a sharp intense pain that I was genuinely scared. Thankfully, wasn’t much of a deterrent.

Organization:

The event was pretty badly organized, but if you factor in the registration costs compared to some events in the US, some of these can perhaps be overlooked. I think it was either Rs 1000 or 1100.

  • Strike 1: was that the distance they measured and guided us through was not 13.1 miles. Yikes! I had half a mind to keep running till I heard my GPS tracker tell me I was done, but traffic was being opened up on the roads, and it didn’t look particularly inviting after that.
  • Strike 2: There was no official timing. 🙂 When I asked the organizers during packet pick-up where the chip for timing was, they were not even aware of such a thing. I got redirected to multiple people, the way a cricket balls fielding responsibility is redirected by multiple Indian fielders of the yesteryear, only for them to tell me that the timing would be done manually. What a bunch of hooey! I am not too bothered by this since I am not fast enough to have the official time do anything for me, and I track my own metrics anyway.
  • Strike 3: There was no good course map, nor any information of the aid stations …etc. All you have to do is open up a popular marathon website and pretty much ape them on these. There were aid stations though – which was at least better than some events like the SF marathon in 2014.

Packet pick up was the previous day – 27th December 2014, and the packet included a Bib, a pretty yucky looking t-shirt (which I haven’t worn, and wouldn’t be caught even sleeping in.)

Ok, the coolest thing about the packet has to be that the bib number I got was H-007 .That was sweeter than winning the event. 😀 Imagine how cool it is to get a bib number like that. If I got it in a major event I’d be over the moon.

The race was at 5:30am on the morning of 28th December. My dad was nice enough to drop me off at the race. There were some RJ’s on stage trying to do some kind of exercise, which was funny really. (Thankfully I did not know any of them.) Jothika was there to flag off the run – I’m sure that’s what avid runners care about! But other than such PR stunts, it was a pretty decent race overall – there wasn’t any elevation to speak of, and I have never before run on the Marina in Chennai. (Actually, I haven’t even been to Marina all that much.) The weather was as nice as can be expected for Chennai – a little humid, but perfectly cool otherwise.

I had a pretty decent race overall, except for the left knee niggle which after mile 10 made life extremely difficult. I think I was headed for a PR (personal record) in spite of that,(which is not much considering my previous finish times have been pretty pathetic 🙂 ), but thanks to the distance being miscalculated, I wasn’t able to.

Race Stats:

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 3.01.06 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 2.58.31 PM

Pretty pathetic miles 11 and 12.

Post Race:

This was ridiculous. There were dancers on stage and stuff, and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. They did give a sandwich and maybe some juice – which I can’t find fault with really. Alas, to add to all the other goof-ups, there was no finisher medal. Sure, I don’t care for such baubles too much, but when it is promised, it should be delivered. They did come good much later by mailing the medal to my address – so yes, they did ‘deliver’ on their promise. 🙂 So, it was ok I guess. My dad took me to a nice restaurant where I had a lime soda, (the price of which was 40 Rs – which I couldn’t digest.) after which we headed home.

My aim is to run a half marathon in every continent eventually 🙂 Unfortunately thanks to the DNF, I’ll have to run again in India – there’s always a next year, and I’ll look forward to running in a bigger event.

Road Trip-Thanksgiving 2014 – Post 1 of 8 – Drive from Austin,TX to El Paso, TX and drive from El Paso, TX to Phoenix, AZ

This is the first in a series of 8 posts, not including the introductory post.

1. Drive from Austin, TX to El Paso, TX and drive from El Paso, TX to Phoenix, AZ (Day 1,2)

Day 01- 11-21-2014 -> Austin, TX to El Paso, TX

I had already fueled my car and packed my stuff the day before and loaded it into my car. So I was prepared, and wanted to leave early in the evening directly from work to save some time, and to try and miss the traffic on Loop 360 in the evening. I managed to leave around 4:45 pm.

My Destination was a motel in El Paso, TX and according to Google maps, it was 567 miles away and would take me ~ 8 hours to get there. I would have expected to reach around 01:00 am Austin time, which I found out was 02:00 am in El Paso, TX.

The route was to get to RM 2224/ Bee Caves Road, on to 71, on to RM 3238, 12, W Hwy 290, 281, 290, I 10 and keep driving on I-10 till you reached El Paso. Google Maps was doing some crazy things right after I started where instead of showing 8 hours, it kept saying 10 hours. I was’t sure if it had the right route, so I had to stop at a Chevron on RM 2224, and make sure I had the right route before I headed on. With 8 hours, and sun going to set pretty fast, I didn’t have any plans of seeing any thing on the way. Also, since I had to do the driving duties, I didn’t have the luxury of sleeping less and visiting more places, or the time before hand to plan properly to stop at National Parks/ State Parks/ Historic Sites …etc. I think I’ll have to keep that for another time.

By the time I hit Hamilton Pool road (RM 2238), it began pouring suddenly, and pretty heavy at that. My visibility was pretty badly reduced. It rained for the next one hour or so – not the ideal way to start on a road trip. 🙂 The Lyndon B Johnson State Park and Historic Site on Hwy 290 would be something I’d like to visit – but it’s close enough to Austin that I should be able to do it on any weekend. Fredericksburg was also pretty interesting to see – again close enough to Austin to do any time, so I’ll not feel too bad about not stopping there.

Other places I might have been interested to stop at: South Llano River State Park, Caverns of Sonora and McDonalds Observatory. Big Bend seems out of the way, and too close to Mexico, but I’d want to do it some day.

The MobilyTrip app crash caused the data to get wiped out, so I’ll have to look for the fuel bill or a photo I took to see where I was stopped. Found it from a photo to be Fort Stockton, TX. Interestingly at the gas station, the gas was just being filled as I got my coffee and came back out. It’s amazing that gas stations can run out of gas – good thing they don’t need to go anywhere 🙂

Near El Paso, I 10 runs pretty close to Mexico. But like someone remarked about the drive, it was pretty uneventful, boring long stretch – the only exciting thing about which is the high speed limit. I guess I didn’t lose much by driving after sunset – no views, vistas …etc.

Transcript from Journal Entry recorded on Voice Recorder 01:11 am Mountain Time:

05:30 pm rain stopped. 06:30-06:45 pm, reached Fredericksburg, TX. 07:30 pm hit I-10. Speed limit was 80mph. Decent amount of traffic – not alone on the road. Dead carcasses of animals on the sides of the road. Already dark. Deer carcasses on the sides. One wolf like animal crossed the road in front of me. Should have been able to stop if it had stopped on the road. Another animal came out from the left side, (i.e., the median side) peeked out and then went back in. I was a little surprised to see animals come from the median side of the road. Good thing I was driving with high-beam on. 08:00 pm had a bread slice from morning left in the car. 09:15 – 09:30 pm stopped for gas and Subway. Subway was closed. Google maps was giving wrong directions to the open Subway. Had to check with someone, who was able to direct me to the right place. Fueled the car, and got coffee. Maybe started around 10:00pm – search for Subway cost me some time. Half an hour’s stop including the fueling and dinner. Had half the sub. 270 miles left to El, Paso. On reaching Ramada El Paso, check in clerk took his own time to get me checked in. He did make a remark about how he has interestingly never been to Austin, but been to California instead. When asked where he was from, he was from El Paso. Pretty funny if you think about it. He also made a remark about not stopping at any of the smaller towns on the way and how they could be dangerous. I should read up on that. Went to the room, wolfed down the remaining half a sub, and hit the bed. The room itself was pretty ok – nothing fancy. But I was tired and just wanted to sleep.

Some research on animals one can spot on I-10:

http://www.texasalmanac.com/topics/environment/wildlife

Can’t really say what animals I spotted apart from deer. There were at least a couple more.

 Day 02- 11-22-2014 -> El Paso, TX to Phoenix, AZ

This was a drive I undertook eagerly, since I’d get to be back in Tempe and Chandler, where I have lived for the past 3+ years. The only small disappointment was when I found out that El Paso was also on mountain time, and I wouldn’t gain any time magically when I arrived at Phoenix. The breakfast at Ramada was alright. They had boiled eggs, bread, cereal …etc and the quality of food was pretty ok. I took some coffee to go for the road.

To Do: Add More on Day 02, check to see if there is a recorded journal – add it’s transcript. Add some photos.

Road Trip-Thanksgiving 2014

I was about to start on a post, and then realized that I had a draft saved off – phew. Saved me-self some work.

The Plan

Written on 11-21-2014

I have a week off at work for Thanksgiving. Most people generally have 4 days off, (Thu,Fri,Sat,Sun) but I’m lucky to have a 9 day break instead. (Sat-Sun) I wanted to do a Euro-trip, and was really hoping that this was the right break and the right time, but due to my Visa related reasons, I couldn’t. Bummer!

I had a long term dream of Bicycling from San Francisco to San Diego, but then had totally forgotten about it. It’s apparently supposed to take 5-6 days, and would have been wonderful. (Can’t remember where I bookmarked the post I read. I did find others, but want the original article, since that is what inspired me to do it.) If I had remembered this well in advance, I might have done this, but this is something I recollected only after forming other plans. So, this is something that’s going in my bucket list as well. (apart from the Europe trip)

Finally, I decided I’d do a road trip. Nothing extremely crazy, but still hopefully crazy enough. Here’s my rough plan as of now (some plans will evolve as I go.)

High Level Summary:
TX -> AZ -> CA -> UT -> AZ -> TX.
9 Days
Meet Friends, Hike, Run.

More Details:
Fri – Leave from Austin, TX by evening and reach El Paso, TX by night. Night cap at El Paso, TX.
Sat – Leave from El Paso, TX by early morning and reach Phoenix, AZ by afternoon.
I have a few friends in the Phoenix area I’d like to meet. I also have some belongings of mine in my old house that I need to pick up. (Assuming my friend hasn’t thrown them out. 🙂 )

I also hope to do a couple of runs or hikes. I originally wanted to carry my bike on the trip, but that might be a bit much. I really miss the canal paths of the Tempe/Chandler/Mesa area though.

Let’s see – if all goes to plan, I want to run on Tempe Town lake. I also want to hike Squaw Peak. (Piestewa Mountains).

Sun – In Phoenix, AZ. The hike might have to happen on Sunday instead of Sat.
Mon – Leave from Phoenix, AZ by early morning and reach Santa Clara, CA by early evening. Might get to catch up with friends.
Tue – In SFO. Might want to run somewhere, or hike Mission Peak.
Wed – In SFO. Might want to run somewhere, or hike Mission Peak. The coastline near Golden Gate is a wonderful place to run.
Also meet friends and family.
Leave Santa Clara, CA by early evening. Destination (needs syncing with other friends)
Thu,Fri,Sat – Somewhere in the mountains of Northern AZ, Southern UT. (plan needs syncing with other friends.)

Sat – Leave from “X” by evening, and reach Phoenix, AZ by night. Night cap at Phoenix.
Sun – Leave from Phoenix, AZ by morning. Drive to El Paso, TX by lunch. Take a break. Drive back to Austin, TX by late evening.

I’ll try and log more details, trip times, photos …etc.

Actual Execution

Written on 12-01-2014

Most of the plan stayed the same with some exceptions. Utah got thrown out of the picture. No hikes/runs either in the bay area or in the Phoenix area. I had wanted to run on/near the Golden Gate bridge, do the Mission peak hike, and the Squaw peak hike. Among other things I had wanted to do but forgot or didn’t have time to do – have Matcha Green Tea Frappe at Pete’s Coffee and visit the Apple store at Cupertino. Had to make do with walks instead. Also, left one day early from Kingman, AZ (marked X in the plan above.) and reached Phoenix on Friday night instead of Saturday. Drove back to Austin a day early (Sunday – 11-29-2014) to have enough time to rest and recharge before office on Monday. (12-01-2014)

I think I’ll break the post into multiple smaller posts as it would be an awfully longer post otherwise. Also, I think some sections of the trip need more details than the others – so it’s justified to have their own posts

1. Drive from Austin to El Paso, TX and drive from El Paso, TX to Phoenix, AZ (Day 1,2)

2. Phoenix, AZ (Day 2,3,4)

3. Drive from Phoenix, AZ to San Mateo, CA (Day 4)

4. San Mateo, CA (Day 4,5,6)

5. Drive from San Mateo, CA to Kingman, AZ (Day 6)

6. Drive from Kingman, AZ to Supai Hilltop, AZ and hike down (Day 7)

7. Hike to falls, and drive back to Phoenix, AZ (Day 8)

8. Drive from Phoenix, AZ to Austin, TX (Day 9)

I used an app called MobilyTrip to try and track my journey. The app was not very intuitive, and I did not take enough time to try and experiment with it or familiarize myself with it. I need to see if it has any sensible data on it, and can show any good trends, and data like when I stopped where, how long I took to drive a section, how many miles …etc. I did occasionally forget to turn on the app, and it crashed on me once. I also tried taking photos of the trip meter and things like that at regular intervals to have some reference of time and distance, but I guess you need a small notebook and a lot of discipline to meticulously note down details. I did try recording some notes on my phone’s voice recorder – but will obviously have to pore through that to get meaningful details out. I also managed to get some good photos along the way. My hope is to pen down my experience driving, and note any interesting details. I always have an eye for numbers, so that’s something I’ll try and add as well.

Ascent Fliud Trainer

As soon as I bought my new bike, the weather God’s decided I must not ride, so the temperatures went plummeting down to sub-zero, and I was left sad. Considering weather can be too cold or too hot for at least 3-4 months a year, where I currently live, I thought it might not be a bad idea to get a Fluid trainer. I mean for the price you pay for some of these, it might end up costing you less than winter weather clothes.

The other reason I went ahead and bought it was, most bike stands seemed to cost ridiculous sums of money. Now, I either wanted a stand that can double up as a repair/maintenance stand, or this. Guess, I found more utility in this.

http://www.performancebike.com/reviews/performance/power/pwr/product-reviews/Indoor-Training/Indoor-Cycling-Trainers/Resistance-Trainers/ASCENT/p/40__3940-Ascent-Fluid-Trainer.html
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_556272_-1
http://www.amazon.com/Ascent-Fluid-Trainer/dp/B00BMRNU4I

Mine came from Nashbar directly. (I could have bought through Amazon, but just stuck to Nashbar’s site – maybe I shouldn’t have.)

I did some reading online about the different types of trainers, and which might be best. I still feel trainers should be used sparingly – I think the forces on the bike when it is held by the rear axle (although the contact point is the quick release skewer), is very different from when you ride it on the road – your weight is being partly supported by the front tire, the rear tire and then the quick release skewer and the place where it contacts the frame. Also, since the frame is not rigid, and cannot move side to side, there would be some forces associated with that as well. (Especially, if you decide to stand up and go at it hard.) There’s a bike Nashbar one (which is slightly more expensive, but) which might be better, since it has a quick release kind of lever for tightening the qr on your rear wheel.

Initial Impressions:

I gave it a whirl, and so far it seems to be doing pretty ok. I’ll add more details along the way.

 

Diamondback Century 2 – 2014 – Bicycle Review

I bought myself a new bike – yippe! My intention is to write a review here. For now, I’ll just add pictures.

==========================================
-1th Day Review: (Expectations and Impressions so far)
==========================================

I just ordered the bike on Amazon, and am yet to receive it. Why would anyone write a review even before having received and ridden the bicycle ? Well, I’ll tell you why.

I have been researching bikes for more than a year now. All along, I had a cheap Walmart bike (which I bought to get me across campus at University, so don’t judge me.) – a GMC Denali, which was a road bik-ish bike. It had the geometry of a road bike, 700*32 tires, and although it had it’s pain points, for < $200, I don’t see how anyone can complain. Chief among the issues was that the bike did not have integrated shifters – it had twist shifters to keep the cost down. But the frame was pretty decent, (Aluminum), and I didn’t have complaints about the bike in terms of weight and such. (Although if others had such concerns/complaints, they are justified in having them.) I have done some 1000+ miles on the bike, and though I haven’t done a 50mile ride or a century yet (the best I managed was some 44 miles.), I feel I can do it on a day with good weather. 🙂

Now back to the researching, I have been on the lookout for bikes for a long time now, though never in a hurry to buy one. I took time to read about the different frames, race vs endurance, different component groups …etc. I also read a couple of bicycling magazines regularly. I think from everything I read there, Specialized Allez, Trek 1.X, Giant Defy, Cannondale Synapse were some of the models the reviewers suggested for someone looking for a bike < $1000. While, all these bikes are good, you will find that for a $1000 equivalent, you will get Sora components.

Now, I moved recently from Tempe, AZ to Austin,TX and sold my Walmart bike in the process. After moving, all my known canal paths were no more available, and generally, from what I see of Austin, (and this may depend on where I live -South Austin.) not as many roads have bicycle lanes. I am yet to explore canal path equivalents. So, I was thinking, I’ll get a better bike than my last bike, but maybe in the $300 ish range. I checked and found some Schwinn bikes, Vilano, Giodarno …etc. Although, if you wanted integrated shifters – it cost you $600-$700. And with those models, you got either 2300/2400 or Sora components.

(There are other brands like Orbea, Fuji, Jamis …etc, but not all stores carry these bikes.)

I almost decided on a Vilano Forza 1.0, and then I saw this bike on sale on Amazon for $750, and when I saw 105 components on it, my eyes lit up like Christmas tree lights! (The Vilano Forza 1.0 for comparison has a no-name crank, 105 rear derailleur only, and Tiagra shifters, front derailleur …etc.) I then took time to read several reviews, and saw that stores like REI carried it. Well, I was floored! The only thing I don’t like about the bike so far is the white hood! I’m a little surprised mainstream magazines and websites haven’t started noticing Diamondback bikes yet. For the kind of prices, these bikes are a steal. Even for the full price of $1200, you’ll be hard pressed to find other bike brands with the same components.

I’m licking my lips in anticipation of getting the bike. I know I can assemble it – I have fixed broken spokes, fixed multiple flats, and tightened cables on my previous bike. I have also put together bikes for friends (although cheap college bikes – nothing fancy.) I am not sure how well, I’ll end up tuning it, but that’s why you have your LBS, multiple internet videos, how-to’s and books.

================================
0th Day Review: (Unboxing and Assembly)
================================

I took pains to write an update here, but that mysteriously disappeared. (Bummer!)

Delivery:
======
The box was left my UPS at my door. My apartment office does not take boxes larger than a certain size, so I guess that left the UPS delivery person with few options. Still, I would have liked for it not to be left unattended outside my door – considering it’s a $1200 bicycle. (Although I paid only $800+ for it.) Another thing I was slightly peeved about was that there was a spanner sticking out the hole in the box which is generally for lifting the box. (Photos attached.) The small parts box inside is meant for this, and I am not sure why it wasn’t inside that.

Packaging:
========
Coming to the packing itself, it was packed extremely well, with attention paid to detail. Every part that could be dinged was wrapped nicely in packing material, and there were plastic end-caps for the wheels, the fork …etc. Pretty impressive. The handlebar, the front tire and the seat-post are detached, but everything else is in place. After watching a video on youtube, I guess I understand that this is pretty much the standard way of packing good and expensive bikes. (The video haid a more expensive cervelo bike in it, and it was marginally better packed – i.e., the fork didn’t hit the bottom of the box, and most components were not assembled. But that’s the price you pay for semi-assembled.)

Parts:
=====

These are the parts the bike came as,

1. Frame with rear wheel, rear casette, derailleur, bottom bracket, crank arm, both gearing cables, rear brake cables, rear brake already assembled.
2. Seat/saddle. This is a decent Diamondback saddle.
3. Front wheel. (The picture doesn’t do justice to the wheels – they are DB Equation, but seem to be pretty good.)
4. Front brake caliper. (This needs to be mounted, and then you run the brake cable through and adjust it.)
5. Pedals! – Yes, the bike came with Wellgo pedals. Now, these won’t work with cleats/biking shoes, but are pretty decent otherwise. I bought another set of Wellgo pedals as I wasn’t sure if this came with it or not. Those will work with cleats.
6. Manuals – User Manual, Assembly Guide (which is pretty useless compared to the Diamondback website.) and individual sheets for the derailleurs, crankset ..etc.
7. Tool set – The spanner, that barely made it, and a set of Allen wrenches for assembly. (One of them was a Philips screwdriver I think.) I used my own tools, and didn’t bother using this or the ones in my multi-tool. (Those are for emergencies, you know.)
8. Extra spokes, and wire-end crimping thingy. (I don’t know what they are called – they look similar to the spoke nipples, except they are to keep your cable ends from fraying.)

The handlebar was separate, i.e., not connected.

Assembly:
========
Assembly is fairly easy, if you’ve done this before, use the DB website instructions, and have a decent set of tools. I only had to connect the seat post, tighten that, fit the handlebar, fit the front wheel. (with a quick release skewer), fit the brake caliper, and then connect the front brake cable through the caliper.

I did fine tune the brakes to make sure the contact was optimal on the rim.

Cutting the front brake cable with my cheap pliers that came with my tool box (not supplied with the bike) was a struggle. I knew it would be so, and tried cutting it 2.5in instead of 1.5 – 2in. (so that I would have room to work with if it went bad.) It did go bad, and horribly, and the end started fraying!! I then had to go rush and buy a better quality $10 pliers, to cut the cable, and put the crimping thing, on it. There is a special tool available for cutting the wire and crimping it, but I think at $30+, those are aimed at bike shops and not one time users. I didn’t buy it because I didn’t think I’d need it.

Accessories:
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I put 2 lights on the handlebars – 1 to focus on the road and remain always on, and the other to make me visible to road motorists, by keeping it on the blinking mode. On the seat post, I mounted my Topeak wedge pack, put in my CrankBrothers multi-tool, a spare tube, tire levers, patch kit, emergency contact information, and some cash + bandaids. I also mounted a red reflector and a red light on the seat post. I attached two Ibera bottle cages I bought on Amazon next – and under one of them went the portable pump (Topeak pocket rocket) and it’s mount. I bought Aluminum colored ones, but maybe white would have gone better with the bike. I am still waiting for my Sigma cadence wired computer to be delivered, and that will be next to go on the bike. I also used some 3M reflective stickers to make myself and the bike more visible at night. (done tastefully, and not garishly.)

The bike did not come with a chain stay protector, and I have ordered one on Amazon. My previous bike took some hits to the chain stay, and I think having one is generally beneficial.

Stand:
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I didn’t want to install a kick-stand , and I wasn’t even sure if I could on this bike. I looked up some bicycle stands, and they all seemed expensive for what they were doing. Generally $30 or more. I finally decided to get a Fluid Trainer from another website to also double as a stand. The weather is pretty cold this time of the year, so I figured a trainer would be useful.

Sizing:
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I am 5’11” and after looking at some fit web-sites, and looking at the sizing guide itself, I decided to get the 58cm instead of the 56cm. I am glad to report that the standover height is > 1inch, and the bike fits me very well. (The previous bike I had was a 57cm, but the frame geometry might have been quite different. so it’s hard to compare with just one number.)

Couple of pain points – they stuck a couple of stickers on the bike that I wouldn’t have wanted – I’ll just need to find a way of removing them without causing any issues with the paint.

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1st Day Review: (First Ride)
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I got to have my first ride yesterday – it was a short one. It was 35 degrees outside, so I just wanted to take a quick ride within my apartment complex, and see how the shifting works, and if the brakes were ok, if my riding stance was comfortable …etc. Full marks on all fronts – the bike fits just perfectly. My saddle height adjustment seemed to be just right. Shifting was nice and smooth. (It took me a while to figure out that the smaller lever was for a smaller cog, and not an easier gear (on the rear casette.) 🙂 On the front crank, the smaller lever takes you to an easier gear. ) Brakes were pretty good, and the bike feels comfortable while being plenty fast. Once I get in a couple of longer rides, I’ll find out how much better this bike is than my previous bike.

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xxx mile Review:
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When I get to it.