Thought for the Day

Friday, July 10, 2009

Last Sunday's Ride

On paper, there was nothing difficult about this ride. It would be flat and not very long, just over to my Mom's house and back home. Going the "long" way, it would be 17 miles.
But it turned out to be good experience. The ride out was uneventful. It was hot out, since I was starting in the middle of the day, over 100, I'm sure, but I had plenty of water, and I wasn't working too hard.
I stopped at Mom's and had a nice, cool drink in the air conditioned house, talked about stuff, and started back.
About a mile and a half later, as I was starting out from a standstill at a traffic light, my right foot came off the pedal. I thought my cleat had come off the pedal, that I had improperly popped it on, but when I tried to put it back, I saw that my cleat was still stuck on the pedal. It had come off my shoe.
There were only two of the four screws still in the cleat. Who knows when or where I lost the other two. There was a rock stuck in the cleat where one of the screws should have been. I wondered how this happened for a second. I had one shoe, the left one, with no problems, and the other shoe was all messed up.
Then I realized that I always unclip on the right side when I stop, and I usually leave my left shoe on the pedal. The right shoe gets the extra stress of getting popped on and off the pedal, and also keeps getting put to the ground, sometimes kind of forcefully as I stop or push off for a start.
Fortunately, I was only about a hundred yards from Curbside Cyclery when this happened. I went in and asked to borrow a screwdriver, but they took my shoe, got the rock out of the cleat, replaced the missing screws, and put it all together for me.
Meanwhile, while I was waiting, they had Tour de France coverage on a big screen TV, with free drinks and cookies set out for anyone who wanted to stop by. I felt pretty lucky.
I got my shoe back on and hit the road, and did all right for two more miles, when my ride suddenly got noisy and rough. My rear tire had gone flat.
I've changed the tube in the front tire several times, but I was a little scared to mess around in the back, where the derailleur and gears are. But now I had to do it.
I got the wheel off the bike, and was looking for a way to lay the bike down or prop it up without scratching it. I leaned it on a low bush in the landscaping off the road. It was only later, as I was about to leave, that I realized this bush was covered with thorns. It was just luck I didn't flatten another tire.
I got the tube off the tire and put a new one in without much trouble. It's much easier to change inner tubes when its over 100 out and you've softened everything up by heating it up on the blacktop.
I took out my CO2 inflater and put a cartridge in it. When I tried to tighten the top down I couldn't get it to go on straight, and I partially punctured the cartridge, so I was struggling to get the top on while I was losing the pressure I had hoped to fill the tire with. There was a maddening and frustrating minute or two before I had to give up.
Then I was sitting there with one last cartridge to try the same thing again. Somehow, miraculously, this second time I did it perfectly. Glad I brought two cartridges.
It took me a minute to figure out how to get the wheel back on with the chain around the gears, and I was back on the road.
So all in all, it was a great ride. I had some hardships, but I got through them. I'm sure that the next time I have a flat, and it will happen, I'll be able to deal with it. That was something I couldn't be sure of before.

1 comment:

Mike Fraser said...

Jerry, I've had a few rear flats and helped others with their rear tire flats. What seems to work best for keeping things clean (your chain most importantly as it will then carry any debri into the crank and derailers) and no scratches on the frame----turn the bike upside down so it's resting on the handlebar high points and the saddle. Has worked really well for me.