Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hooray! I didn't bite off more than I could chew! (at least until October)

I didn't post at all last week after the race report because I was in San Diego for Comic Con. I am a huge nerd. Fortunately, the hotel I was staying at had a treadmill, which I used once. And during the Con, I was able to sprint and catch up to a group of friends who had tried to ditch me for some gold bars (buts thats a different story for a different time). Anyway, now to today's scheduled post.

Bike riding is fun. Plain and simple. I don't think I've ever gotten as much joy out of any exercise as I do riding my bike.

Saying that, I've been doing weekly rides with the San Fernando Valley Bicycle Club, chatting it up with the members (I plan on joining soon) and having a good time on two wheels. Its pretty cool. A weekly ride, with a bunch of people who also enjoy riding bikes (Albeit their bikes are much, MUCH nicer and they have full pro team kits, while I have a Chinese mail-order bike and a jersey and bibs I got from the clearance rack from Performance Bike and Helen's Cycles, so they don't even have the same logos on them) This past weekend was a bit different, though.

It started simply enough. The night before, I decided to go on the 25 mile ride, which is the easiest one they were offering. I had considered the 41 mile ride, but since I was helping my friend move right afterwards and had only ridden once that week (lots of mechanical and tire issues, but thats a different story for a different time) I went with the safer option.

Oh, how wrong I was.

I meet up with the club, and before everyone heads out, they do a (kinda-sorta) roll call where people raise their hands to show which ride they will go on. When they ask who will go on the easy ride, I raise my hand. While the leaders of the club were talking aloud, I heard someone behind me call my name.


I figure they must be talking to another Chris. It IS a common name, after all.


I turn around, and its someone I had met on a previous ride.

He smiled and made eye contact. "Do the 40 mile ride with us!"

"I dunno, I have to help a friend move later today," was my response.

Not feeling discouraged at all by my valid and reasonable excuse, he exclaims, "But Jill's doing the 40 miler too!"

I look over at Jill, a thin woman with gray hair who rides a bike with toe clips. She's a super-nice and awesome person, but not exactly the world's strongest rider. She had even come up to me earlier, with doubts of riding the 40 miler.

Dammit, if she's doing it, I'm doing it.

I turn to my friend and say, "Alright, fine."

Satisfied with my answer, he clips in and rides off, expecting me to follow.

Unfortunately, I lose him in the crowd. And then the crowd splits into 3 main groups.

Oh hell. Where do I go now?

You see, I had printed out the directions for the 25 mile ride, not the 40.

I follow one group, and someone rides by me, asking "which ride you going on?"

I reply, "Number 2."

He responds, "Oh. I'm going on the number 3 ride."

Crap, I'm with the wrong group.

So I turn around a follow a different group. And then I realize I was in the right group in the first place.

By now, I've gone too far to try to retrace my steps (figuratively speaking) so I keep riding with the group I was with. Then, using my knowledge of intersections and the neighborhood, I make a left and see the group I am supposed to be riding with. I start to chase.

By then, the 40 miler group had split into two groups. The lead group had all the stronger riders, my buddy included. I never caught up to them. I didn't have the turn list, and I lost sight of them.

I caught up to the slower, easier group. Which I didn't mind, by the way. Since everyone was super nice.

And I was the only dude.

Since I didn't have the turn list, I just followed them, but I used this time to practice one handed riding, standing on the pedals, and reaching for my water bottle. All of which, I was able to do. Yay me.

During the ride, I felt something strange when I used my rear brake. I thought nothing of it, figuring it would go away eventually, or I would check it out once we got to the rest stop. More on this later.

As we neared the halfway point, we went past Lake Balboa, and rather than riding on the bike lane (separated from Burbank Blvd by trees and dirt and a lack of concrete) we road on Burbank Blvd. I rode as far away from cars as possible while staying on road, meaning I was as far right as possible. Meaning that the little seeds pebbles or whatever was falling off of trees and onto the roads, I was riding in.

You see where I'm going with this?

As we approach a park away from the trees and further down the road, I feel/see something weird from/on my bike. I yell out to the person ahead of me, "Go on ahead, I think something is wrong with my front wheel."

She stops, and walks back to me as I get my bike onto the sidewalk. I prop it up against a fire hydrant, and immediately notice a white seed/pebble looking thing stuck on my front tire. It was rubbing against my front brake, so I decide to pull it out.

Then I heard the hissing.


At least I have a spare tube and patch kit.

Then I look at my rear tire and see many more of the white seed/pebble thingies.


Then I look at my rear tire again. Or rather, the rear brake. It would seem that during the ride, one of the brake pads fell off. All of it. The rubber, the plastic part that holds it, and the screw that was supposed to keep it in place.

Lose/Lose/Lose situation. The minute I pull out the seed pebbles, I will have more holes in my tire. But if I try to remove the tire without pulling the seed pebbles out, they will deflate anyway. AND I DON'T HAVE A REAR BRAKE.

Then, acting as a guardian angel, one of the riders comes up to me with HER spare tube. I try to decline, but she insisted. I accepted her tube, and told her that I owed her one at the next ride (its already been purchased and it sits in my garage, anxiously anticipating meeting its new owner on Saturday).

A few members tried to stay behind while I changed the tubes, but I insisted they go on ahead to the rest stop. They went on ahead once they realized I knew what I was doing (Me knowing what I was doing is directly related to the mechanical/tire issues I had during the week, but thats a different story for a different time).Ugh, 4 tubes in 2 days. (Different story as mentioned above, yadda yadda yadda)

After I got to the rest stop and met up with the group I was riding with, I refilled my water bottle and sat down to eat a Clif Bar. As I got there, though, a few people from the group went on ahead, without me and three others who chose to stay with me and keep me company. Seriously, after they tried to wait for me to change my tubes (I gave them the OK to head off without me, remember?) they decided to wait for me to finish eating. I wolfed it down. I wasn't starving, but I felt bad that their muscles would get cold waiting for me. After that, we headed off.

And that's when things started going downhill (and uphill).

As I exited the parking lot, I was braking as a car was speeding past me. While I was mid-brake, I was mid-turn. While I was mid-turn, I went over some water. Low speed + turn + water + a fat mass = my front tire sliding out from under me and I fall to my side.

Don't worry, the bike was fine.

I get up, dust off the bike, and continue on with the ride. Flat for a bit, then we start climbing.

I would just like to say a giant THANK YOU to my friend Manny. After only having ONE ride/coaching session my climbing has significantly improved. So much so that I never dropped down to my granny gear (except for one time, but more on that later).

So yeah, I'm climbing, and feeling good. Well, I was hurting, but feeling good that I was climbing. And, we eventually caught up to the people who went on ahead.

As we rode on, one of the ladies, Fran, had asked if I had gone on the ride before. I told her I had not. She then advised me to prepare for some climbing.

Which I did. By going into a smaller gear on the rear cassette while staying in the middle ring on the chainring.

Clearly, I was trying to channel Jens Voigt.

As we climbed, we started coming up to a stoplight. It was still green. I immediately started pedaling harder, trying to beat the light.

I didn't.

As I realized I wasn't going to make it, I started trying to clip out from the pedals.

I couldn't.

As I flailed on my bike, trying to avoid the inevitable, I started thinking maybe I should just have kept riding. I mean, cyclists have the right of way, right? (Only a joke, don't run red lights or you will end up as a hood ornament)

Once I accepted my fate, I said aloud so all the ladies could hear, "This won't end well."

If memory serves me right, a few of them were laughing while they tried to help me up.

I was bleeding a bit, but fortunately, none of it got on the bike!

I got off to the side of the road, making sure my bike was ok. After I was sure it was, I waited for the light to turn green again. Since we were still uphill, I had to drop down to the granny gear (I"M SO ASHAMED) to get rolling again. Once I started rolling again, I went back up to the middle ring, and finished the ride.

There were more climbs, sure. But all of that is boring compared to my amazing uncontrollable superpower of fusing my shoes to the pedals and falling.

I was able to finish my first 40 mile bike ride. I didn't bite of more than I could chew. I don't think I WILL bite off more than I can chew.

At least until October, because I signed up for a century ride in Las Vegas. http://www.rtcsnv.com/vivabikevegas/


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