It's been an adventuresome week of bicycle maintenance in the Coyne household. I finally took my bike into a shop to consult an expert about brakes. Thanks to Jamie from Bicycle Garage Indy at the Indy Bike Hub downtown. It only cost me $4 and 20 minutes of time; what a tremendous deal!
Bonus, I told him about my new year's resolution to learn more about bicycle maintenance, so he took me through the mechanics of my brake issue step by step. Now my front brakes are as good as new, and I know how to take them apart and put them back together.
Jamie also tipped me off to thread lock. I mentioned I was planning to attach a rack to my bike that afternoon (hoping he would give me a few pointers). I stopped by TruValue on my way home, utilizing my now perfectly working front brakes, and bought a tube of thread lock blue. Apparently, the crossover between the steel bolts for the rack and my aluminum bicycle frame can cause problems, according to Jaimie. He also explained to me that over time, placing weight on the back rack can cause the bolts to rattle loose. Thread lock ensures not only a seal between the steel and the aluminum, but also that the bolts won't rattle.
I attached the rack all by my lonesome, and reveled in my small victory at bicycle competency. I guess I can't take total credit because I asked my fiance to use his man hands to tighten the bolts all the way. I know it sound anti-feminist, but I really needed his help. Perhaps recognizing my limitations and asking for help can also be counted as a small victory.
In addition, I attached a basket to the rack, and now I'm completely equipped to carry more stuff than I probably actually need on my daily journey to and from work. I am grateful for the added capacity, but didn't expect to encounter one major issue: Now the weight is distributed much differently on my bike, making it much more cumbersome to drag the thing up and down two flights of stairs to my apartment. I'm sure I'll adjust to the extra weight soon enough, and that my guns (read: biceps) will be the real beneficiary of said challenge.