Monday, December 12, 2011

Polar Bear Riding

The sun was out. Not that the sun being out means much to me...the night before with the temp gauge hovering around 32 degrees I was out playing tennis for 2-1/2 hours. And loving it.

Well, a quick consultation with the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook said an outdoor ride when circumstances permit is better than more time on an indoor trainer.So during a break at church I texted Fluffy the Cat about interest level in a Polar Bear in which the miles ridden exceed the temperature.

He did NOT read the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook and ignored said textual action so I set off alone. Pursuant to some study I am doing into training patterns, I elected to go for an "easy ride" involving light spinning instead of my typical pedal-crushing mashing and set a goal of time instead of miles. In the "prep" phase I am just trying to build aerobic endurance.

So I consulted the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook which told me turning left out of the apartment onto the Fanno Creek Trail is a self-control management tool. With all the gates, hills, tight corners, and hills it ensures a more prudent warm-up section than I typically engage in.

So I was pedaling gently, spinning, and reminding myself, "Easy miles" every time I started to stand on the pedals and hit a taller gear. Then I tried to use my brakes.

And discovered the front brake had zip zero nada grip. Whoops. What to do? I could stop at my apartment on the way back by, stay on the trainer all winter and be done with riding outside. But I was enjoying the ride.

Consulting the Guidebook, I discovered it is considered safer to have brakes than not to have them and that having them looked at by a professional was more likely to leave my face in its current configuration than continuing to ride without breaks was.

So I decided to ride to Performance Bike and have them look at it.

By the time I got there I had logged just 5.35 miles at 14.1 mph. With all the stops I had to make, the mph was actually quite satisfying.

Anyhow, they looked at the brakes, thought they just needed adjusting. 10 bucks. I carry ten bucks in my saddle bag for food/water/this type of emergency so gladly paid it so I could continue to ride and enjoy the afternoon. And boy did it change. Touching ion the mere vicinity of the brake not only stopped me, it stopped cars three blocks behind me.

For about thirty minutes. By the time I next checked the brakes...the front brake was right back to not grabbing. By then I was out in Tigard so I decided just to ride slow, be smart, and stop into Performance on my way back.

At the turnaround I was feeling thirsty and regretting the spent ten. I did pound a leftover Butterfinger from Halloween and started my ride back.

I was already thinking about whether I would have time to extend my ride and still get back to performance when I noticed the ride getting rougher.

For those who know me and my history, they already know what is coming.

Let me preface this by saying the last time I tried an outdoor ride, my tire popped just after I inflated it..while it was in the apartment. So instead of riding, I went to Performance, had them install the new tube and rode on the trainer for 50 minutes. Due to tennis, basketball, and racquetball excursions, I had not been on the bike since.

Me being me, there is approximately zero chance I could have an awesome ride like this without something going my tire going flat.

So instead of a 4 hour ride, I had just over an hour. Total of 21 miles.

I was discouraged. I have never...not even when I rode bikes all the time as a kid...successfully changed an inner tube. But I was going to try. Until I discovered I had no inner tube.

To say I was discouraged is an understatement. I was about 12 - 15 miles from home as I would have to walk. Fortunately, I have good friends.

So I called Fluffy the Cat and begged for rescue which he very kindly dropped what he was doing to come pick me and my stranded bike up and take me home for which I am eternally grateful.

So lets look at goals and results for the ride;
Goals; ride "easy miles" for 4 hours, and hope to ride between 48 and 52 miles.
Results; Rode less than an hour and a half for 21ish miles (I deleted 7/10ths of riding because all the stoplights made it take about 10 minutes), many of them, if not hard-charging, still stronger then the RPE 6 I was shooting for.

Fail, fail, fail. Oh, and to top it off the equipment is unsafe.

Not the best ride I have ever had, even though I really, really enjoyed the part I got in.

Post script;
Tonight I stopped by Performance on my way to the gym. I purchased 2 new tubes, a patch kit, and slime. When I got home I spent about a half hour trying to get the tire off. I found the hole. I patched the hole. I tested the patch.

I spent 10ish minutes figuring out how to get the tube and tire back on the rim. I pumped it up. I went to put the tire back on the bike...and discovered the patch had fallen off.

So I took the tire back off. I re-patched it. I tested the patch. I re-tested the patch. I checked tire, tube and rim about 4 times each looking for metal flakes, glass shards, thorns, tubas, midgets with sewing needled, Beagle Boys, or Ebenezer Scrooge. Finding it free of defects to all appearances, I put the tube back in the tire and put the tire on the rim.

I pumped up the tube. I noticed the tube and tire were partially outside the rim. I deflated the tube. I made sure tube and tire were inside the rim. I pumped it up. I noticed the tube and tire were partially outside the rim. I deflated the tube. I made sure tube and tire were inside the rim. I pumped it up. I noticed the tube and tire were partially outside the rim.

I used some words not found in the Junior Woodchuck's Guide to Cycling.

 I found some water in my eyes, not sure where that came from.

I pondered throwing the bike in the garbage or at a passing car.

I deflated the tube. I made sure tube and tire were inside the rim. I pumped it up a little and checked to make sure tube and tire were inside the rim. I pumped a bit more and checked again. I pumped a bit more and checked again.

Success. No tell-tale sound of leaks. No bulges of tube and/or tire outside the rim. It looked like a real bike tire. It felt like a real bike tire. I felt...well, not pride but less shame in my complete lack of mechanical ability.

I spent some time cleaning the exposed bike parts.

I tried to put the "quick release, 10 second installation tire" back on. I tried again. And again. And again. I recited the words earlier referenced, though not by any Junior Woodchuck in good standing with the Junior Woodchuck Accepted Vocabulary Council Dictates of 2011.

I tried again. And again. Finally I got it on.I spun the pedals...and heard the most horrible clicking. I looked for the source. I spun it. I looked for the source. I gave up. I set the bike up on the trainer, knowing there is no way on earth I will be riding it outside again as I do not trust the tube, do not trust the tire installation, and could not figure out where the clicking was coming from.

It was at this point I noticed the gears were wrong. When I tried to shift into a taller gear, it dropped into a lower gear instead.

So I looked for potential issues. And discovered the tire might be on, but the skewer was sitting too low. Why that would inverse the gears I will never know, but fixing that fixed both the clicking AND the inverted gears.

So to all appearances, I have a bike fully ready to ride, including an inflated tire, properly functioning gears, no clicking sound, and no front brake.

*Sigh*. I need to be rich so I can just throw out the bike when it gets a flat and get a new one with no issues.

At least I am able to laugh about it...or will be in 6 or 7 years...

1 comment:

  1. Seriously? That sucks! I think Fluffy can probably help.