this friday morning was spent waiting for my roommate to leave for the weekend. his bedroom door was closed so i wasn't sure if he'd already left. beard clippings sprinkled the bathroom sink, so he must've been up at some point, making himself presentable for his parents. i figured i would knock on his door to make sure, but before i could do that, he came out to take a shower. mystery solved. i think he also woke up around 3:00 to do his shaving, because last night i heard him come out of his room. he finally left around 11:00, but i'm not sure whether it was to go to work or to new jersey. when i said, "have fun in new jersey," he just smiled and didn't say anything.

also this morning i worked on my health insurance. i switched insurance more than a week ago, but my online account hasn't updated the change yet. maybe it was because i didn't pick a primary care doctor. my normal doctor wasn't on their list so i left that field blank, but i was assured by the MGH receptionist that he was. turns out the massachusetts health connector just needed to update their database, and they sent out a letter informing customers of the recent change. in any case, i'll probably need to call them back next week to make sure everything's okay. you can't be too certain with bureaucracy.

with just a single episode left in the first season of HBO's game of thrones, i couldn't help myself and went online to find spoilers as to how it all ends. most of it i sort of figured out from clues on the show and just from randomly reading recaps and primers (salon has a good one but i'd avoid reading it since it's peppered with spoilers that extend far into the next season), but i didn't know the exact details. i've also been following along in the book, since for the most part the episodes follow the same chronology as the book chapters. the book adds more details to the characters and plots, but i still prefer the show; i would never even consider reading game of thrones if it weren't for the show. it's set in a medieval fantasy world, but it plays out more like a political thriller, both genres i normally avoid in written format.

after a cream cheese bagel for lunch i left for the bike store to pick up a new replacement chain. i bought a z chain model Z50 (KMC 116L 1/2"x3/32" 18-21 speed index) for $12.99. there was another model that came with a quick release chain link and zinc galvanized but i didn't want to pay $2 extra. i bought another chain from them before (11/2009), a Z51, same price, but it came with the quick release chain link.

before i could put on the new chain, i first had to find out what length i needed. the old chain was still badly rusted, and i couldn't bend it straight enough to easily figure out the total length. i soaked it with some degreaser but that did nothing (i should really soak it in WD-40). finally i attached all the old chain links together and just counted the length in links.

the rear derailleur and the cassette needed to be cleaned up as well. i brushed off as much rust as possible, lubricating with both WD-40 and dishwashing fluid. i took off the rear wheel completely and tried to give it a thorough cleaning in the bathtub. i managed to get some of the rust off, but it's still rusty. the only way to a good cleaning is completely disassembling the cassette, and that could be a pain.

not sure why threading the chain onto the bike took as long as it did. in hindsight, it should've been pretty straightforward, but for some reason i kept tangling up the chain or it'd fall off from the sprockets. finally i got it on, and then joined the two ends with a chain breaker. afterwards i gave the chain a good oiling.

i noticed the shifter cables were starting to fray, but nothing that would prevent me from giving the trek 850 a test ride. it just meant i couldn't do any shifting, but that was okay. the bike also came with a toeclip and strap but only on the left pedal. i don't know if that was intentional. i never used toeclips/straps before, so i was curious how it'd feel. i always thought they were gimmicky, like stirrups for your bicycle, but they do help somewhat with the upstrokes when you're pedaling. i am however worried that my feet would get caught and i'd topple off the bike if i ever came to a sudden stop. the strap also drags on the road if i pedal without using them (stepping on the other side).

as a final touch, i added a spare bike bell.

i've never had a bike where the seat was about the same height as the handlebars. this configuration makes me lean forward, and i'm not used to that. my bag kept swinging down and hitting my thigh as i pedaled, so i kept on trying to push it behind me. i much prefer an upright sitting position, feels more relaxed. i lowered the handlebars on my regular trek 800 bike by a few inches, to more closely match the seat height. it feels different as well, but not as pronounced as on the 850. i'll give it a few days before deciding if i want to change it back.

apart from the riding position, the 850 is probably one of the lightest bike i've ever ridden. maybe it's because i don't have a large milk crate attached to the back. it handles pretty smoothly, no rattling in the axles or crank or cassette, no wobbling of the wheels. even though the brakes are aligned and properly spaced, it doesn't brake very well. though the rims are rust free, at one point little pebbles must've gotten caught in the pads and scratched out deep grooves. i think the bike would feel even more responsive if i changed to more street-style tires.

i went to the cafe to show my father my handiwork. my mother had gone home already and he was busy with customers, but he managed to step out briefly to take a look. binbin and her boyfriend were at the cafe, and i chatted with them a little bit. the boyfriend seemed to be a bit of a photographer as well and asked me about what's good to photograph here in boston.

after i came home, i went to the bike store once again to buy a pair of shifter cables ($2.99/each without housing) before going to the bank in union square to get some cash. bram never did come back, so he must've gone directly to new jersey this morning. i tried adjusting the handlebars on the 850, but it can't be done without redoing the front brake cable because the brake line actually feeds through a center hole in the handlebars. kind of a weird design. i don't want to lower the seat anymore because otherwise it'll feel like my knees are hitting my chest.

for dinner i had a few more slices of the barbecued chicken pizza from last night. i was studying a new york city map, planning my route for tomorrow. i'm actually bringing a chinese astrophysicist; i don't know her, but she lives in the same apartment as my aunt. it's her last weekend in boston and she'd never visited NYC before, so i told her she could tag along, show her something she won't see in china! we're to meet in harvard square tomorrow morning at 5:30. i like to get an early start! i expect to be completely exhausted by tomorrow evening. but hopefully with several thousand parade photos!