Sunday, October 13, 2013

At the Mercy of Circumstances

...But, not always in a bad way.

Not counting yesterday's Meet the Team Ride, which was purposely slow and casual, my last three rides have, very much, been at the mercy of circumstances. Last Saturday, I broke a spoke (see previous post), which ended my ride for the day. Then, on Sunday, since I was unable to replace the broken spoke right away, I had to ride my rain bike. That's usually okay, if everyone else is also on rain bikes. Not only was everyone not on rain bikes, but a couple of the guys, when on the front, were quite speedy. For me, it became a bit of a drop-fest. I'd fall behind, they would wait at the next turn, I'd fall behind again (usually due to a hill), and they would be waiting, again. This happened several times until I finally told them not to wait for me anymore (they would have been fine continuing to do that, but I felt bad). 

Today, it was almost as if the planets aligned to make for favorable circumstances on the ride. First of all, there was 0% chance of rain. It was foggy, but that would later burn off to a gloriously sunny October day. Secondly, I had fixed the spoke on Tessa, so I would be able to go somewhat faster--and, therefore, a better chance of keeping up. Thirdly, one of the speedy guys did not come, and the other speedster was kind enough to not go so blistering fast when he was on the front. 

It doesn't mean the ride was easy. We still had about 2400 feet of elevation gain. During the bulk of that elevation gain, I was my usual slow-as-a-slug self but, they only had to wait for me at the top of the D-Line in Capitol Forest. This time, I was able to keep up after coming down Bordeaux. In fact, I was third to the stop sign at Mima Rd. Last time we did this route, I was completely dropped (as in, never saw them again--only Maria waited for me--but, there were many speedy guys that day).

I had a few more times of falling off the back, but I was able to catch back on. This ride was longer than last week's ride, with more elevation gain, yet I managed to finish with the group. It's all about the circumstances.

Total miles: 72.4
Average speed: 17.5 mph

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Unplanned Multi-Modal Transportation

The day started out great. Met up with the group at Tumwater Falls Park. There were about 11 of us. A little over 19 miles into the ride, we were going up the hill out of Littlerock heading to Mima Rd. I was out of the saddle climbing when I heard a twang sound, and it suddenly got much harder to pedal. I thought I had a flat, but no. I had broken a spoke. 

Back in September as I was riding to the start of the RSS ride, while going over some train tracks, one of my water bottles bounced out of the cage and wedged itself between the drive side chainstay and the rear wheel. Except for the destroyed water bottle, everything seemed okay. It was only later that I noticed a spoke was slightly bent. I had been meaning to take the wheel in, but just hadn't had time. I had also done a few rides (in addition to the 100+ RSS ride) on it with no problems. I guess I pushed that too far.
Notice the broken spoke.

The wheel was free from the brake, but it was rubbing on the frame at the bottom bracket end of the chainstay. The guys tried to adjust the opposite spoke so I could slowly ride home, but no one had the right spoke tool (turns out it requires a special size spoke tool). It was deemed unrideable. Melody flagged down a car, and I hitched a ride. Shirl, little Jason, and Jason's mom were on their way to a birthday party. They brought me back into Tumwater where I would be able to catch the bus. 

I've been telling myself I need to take my bike on the bus. I've flown, and taken the train with various bikes, but never the bus (we did take a bus twice in New Zealand, but not a city bus with a bike rack). I carry a single-ride bus pass when I'm riding in case I get stranded. The problem was that I would have to change busses to get home, therefore requiring a day pass. I had cash, but not correct change. I had time before the bus came to run over to a coffee shack and get correct change so I could get a day pass.

The bus pulled up. I got Tessa on the rack without any problems (it's not rocket science--the directions are on the rack). As we pulled up to another stop, a guy put another bike on the rack (they hold two bikes). As the bus was pretty full (surprisingly for a Saturday), the guy ended up sitting with me. His name was Johnny. I asked him if it was possible to get my bike off without disturbing his. He said it was easy. I just needed to release the retention arm and pull the bike straight out. It was easy, and soon I was waiting at Tumwater Square for my next bus. I had about a 40 minute wait because the 13 and the 68 time schedules don't sync together very well. 

Waiting for the 68.

Finally, I was on the 68 and headed home. 
Tessa rides the bus!

Once I got off at my stop, I had to "cyclocross-style" carry Tessa home. The rear wheel wasn't doing a lot of moving.

So, a few lessons learned here. 1) Don't wait to replace a spoke. It's gonna eventually fail. 2) Either carry correct change for a day pass, or carry a single-ride ticket and a day pass ticket. 3) Taking your bike on the bus is a piece of cake.

I took the wheel in to Joy Ride to get a replacement spoke. The spokes for Tessa are around $8.00 (she's special that way--spokes are usually around $1.00)! They also have to order it (again, such a special girl). Since I want to take a crack at replacing it myself, they also have to order the correct size spoke wrench. I'll be riding my rain bike for tomorrow's ride.

I'm So Jealous!

Day before yesterday, I got a call from a couple who found me through Warmshowers. They needed a place to stay. They are from Minneapolis, and are riding a tandem from Seattle to Mexico City. I said sure, and waited for them to arrive the next day. They made it, and I'm so glad. What a great couple! 

Paul has just finished grad school, and Alexa just graduated from Med school. Before they get too tied down (and before Alexa starts her internship), they are taking a few months to do this tour. This is their first foray into long-distance touring. They are doing great, figuring things out, learning as they go along. They are asking questions when they're not sure (and, no, Alexa, being sure about your route is not being anal) and are willing to change their plans when necessary.

After a good night's sleep, they loaded everything back on their tandem. I told them I would ride with them out of town. They wanted to stop at the Olympia Food Co-op on the way out of town. I was happy with that, because I wanted to see if they had unsweetened coconut (Yay! They did!). We rode through downtown, and up to the Westside Co-op. Paul and Alexa got a little taste of some hill climbing to get up to the Westside. They managed just fine (no small feat on a heavily loaded tandem).

After the Co-op, we worked our way up Old Hwy 410 to Hwy 8. I had planned to turn around at that point as they would have no problem finding their way from there. But, it was such a beautiful day that I continued on until the Summit Lake turnoff. From there I left them to it, and turned back. They were planning to go as far as Lake Sylvia in Montesano. I'm sure they made it (even though there is a nasty climb to get up to the park).

Although they are new to this whole touring thing, I know they are going to have a fantastic adventure. I'm totally jealous, and wish I was going with them!
Good luck Alexa and Paul!