Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Just a Slice of a Cyclist's Life

Group ride attendance has been good all year so far, for all the faster rides, the Time Trials, the Sunday Social and the mid week hill drill routes. I'm glad to see it. Today's scheduled spin from Prattville down to Montgomery Airport and back was no exception. A C ride (13 -15 posted avg pace) with limited climbing, it drew a nice crowd. We left just past 8:00 A.M. from Academy Sports and headed South. One of our company was a new rider. She got her carbon Specialized at a local tri-athlete's store just 2 weeks ago, and was starting to train for a hoped for race in August (or maybe it was September?). Stephanie is a very pleasant woman, and we talked a little about cycling rules of the road, etc. I did notice that she was oiling her Speedplay sole mounted cleat retainers. "They've been a little stiff," she said. Hmmm. I mentioned that since I don't clip in, that is never an issue. Also that dirt/grit is the #1 issue with Speedplays. She knew to keep them clean. Good!

Scott came up and was dropped off. He lives in Montgomery and planned to just ride back that far. His back has been painful and he didn't want to overdo. I understand. Looking at his rig, I mentioned that having his seat 10' high off the ground, and then bending low to get on his aero bars might not be the best way to ride for him. Raising his handlebars would shift weight to his saddle and relieve his back. For $20, I suggested he try this:
Ray uses one and is more comfortable with it. He is faster because he is more comfortable. About $20. Bonnie and Robert were on individual bikes today because some rude fool clipped their tandem while their car with the racked bike was parked at Burger King after a ride. Bonnie did great for her first solo attempt in ages too.

Anyway, we headed out and had no issues the first 15 miles or so. About that time, Stephanie started to tire so she slowed down a fair bit. We all regrouped at a stop sign and made sure fluids were being taken and everyone caught their breath. It was a lovely morning,  except for the humidity. Calm air and temps in the manageable zone. Mostly rural roads, and a little more traffic than I prefer, but no issues, no dogs.

Once we turned east on US 80 by the Airport, Scott flatted. No problem, except he had no tire levers and he has 25mm wire bead Gatorskins on. I lent him mine and he changes the tube.  His pump wasn't putting any air in it though so I pulled out mine and tried it. Same result.  Bad spare tube.  Enter my patch kit! Pumped up tube #1, Scott found the pinhole right away and we patched it. Put it in his tire and he was good to go. So 2 tube changes to get 1 fix.

A few miles later, as we neared US31, our exit point, there was an abandoned car on the shoulder blocking us. Traffic on US 80 was fast and heavy and a lull would be needed to ride in the traffic lane around the clunker. Stepahnie was tired (and she confided, "Sometimes I puke when I'm tired."  Hmm, I saw a race strategy there! Buzzards use that for a defense too, or so I've read) and I waited for her on the overpass before the car to make sure she saw it. Tired people sometimes look down at the road instead of ahead at the route. You can really get banged up by unintentionally running into a parked vehicle on a road shoulder.  Anyway, she pulled up, saw me and got ready to stop. As it happens, she unclipped left, but the slope was to the right. If you have ever had a clip out failure, you know what she said as she went down.

I reached back to try and hold her, but no dice. She did a fairly slow fall, landing on the rear wheel of my bike which knocked me side-wise. I wasn't clipped in (I don't use them) so I didn't get stuck, and I went around and helped her up. We did a damage inventory, and her bike was okay except for the saddle. My rear rim was bent, but I opened the brake quick release and there was room for the wobble to work. I think a spoke wrench will be enough to re true it. These are rando wheels with 2.0 straight spokes. Racy light double butts would have snapped. Likewise a carbon wheel.  Stephanie did NOT have a tool kit so I got mine out again and we put her seat back to right. No body damage worth noting so we got back on our bikes and pedaled. Happily, we found the group at the bottom of the off ramp and re united!  Thanks guys for waiting for us!

Climbing the rail overpass on West Blvd, MY rear tire suddenly went F L A T. Aww!!  Okay, stopped and looked at it, and the tire was slashed! Sliced like a golf ball with a smiley just like I used to get back in the days when I wasted greens fees on Saturdays instead of enjoying a pedal through the green countryside. Several others waited for me and Tim kindly helped hold the bike while I pulled off the wheel and worked on it.  I booted the tire using a patch on the inside, then the new tube inside. Pumped it up with the frame pump. At the very end, I angled the pump and BENT the valve stem! It worked though and I was able to get back on it. A little extra hard at first, as the quick release was not tight enough and the wheel shifted so the tire rubbed the chainstay. I couldn't believe how hard it was do to 11 mph! Aha! fixed that and all of sudden, 16 is easy. Having spent over an hour on 3 repairs, I opted to cut 6 miles off the ride and head directly to Prattville, Tim coming with me.  Sorry to miss the rest of it, but I was not sure how well that patched tire would hold up.

Stephanie had decided she was really done for the day, about 1/2 mile behind where I flatted, and called her husband for a bailout. They passed Tim and I on McQueen Smith Rd and stopped to make sure we were okay. How nice to do that! Bonnie decided she was done for the day and headed to her house which was fairly close by. They were going to drive over and get their other car. Everyone else did just fine.

So after all that, it was just shy of 40 miles and my avg pace was IN the advertised range :) Was it a good ride?  Yeah. Good to practice skills and awareness and staying calm and all that stuff. It was a nice pedal with nice folks. Beats my best day in the office by far (nod to Mike M for that one).

get a complete tool kit if you don't have one. (tire levers, spare tube - that you KNOW is good, bike tool kit, patch kit. I also carry a master chain link, and a latex glove)  If you opt for CO2 to fill flats, practice changing both front and rear tubes in your driveway, including how to use your CO2 unit. If you use a pump, same things but with your pump. Practice using ALL your gears in a parking lot somewhere. Know them by feel so you can shift to the one you want without thinking about it. Practice unclipping so you can do either side in an instant, and when you are tired.  Also, riding with a group is great. The help and encouragement, and jokes are what keep me coming back.

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