OK - so with the drive to VT and back and the hilly (to say the least) rides two weeks in a row, my bike needed some TLC. I couldn't get it in to the bike shop in time to get it tuned up to prep it for shipping it out to Tahoe for the ride this coming weekend....so I figured, I have several books, some tools, determination.
So cleaning the chain and the derailleurs (the things that shift the chain on the cassette (in the back) and the rings (in the front)) was easy - I do that every time I ride. Adjusting the tension so it would stop dropping my chain - you know when the chain pops off the rings as you shift from the big gear to the small gear and vice versa took a bit more attention to detail. You turn that screw an 1/16th of an inch too much or too little...good lord. I was covered in grease by the time I got it in a better place.
Now the brakes. My rear brakes are shot. They are approximately 1/4 the thickness they would be if new. Apparently I am a little tentative going downhills at an ever accelerating speed -on rain covered, somewhat unfamiliar roads and my rear brakes show that. Took me three trips to bike shops to get the brake pads I needed. Unfortunately, the bike is somewhere between here and Lake Tahoe in CA - so I get to do some last minute bike repairs Saturday - the day before the ride...not like I'll need brakes on the ride in Tahoe. Yeah right.
Will provide updates - on my brakes and the ride - when we return.