Monday, April 27, 2009
In order to log some training miles Jillian and I have been doing charity bike rides. Unfortunately, we're only going to get two in before it's time to leave. We did our first one on 4/26, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. As usual, it became an epic journey.
Not only were we going to do the ride, we were also going to take the opportunity to scout honeymoon locations in central PA. One of the towns we passed through was Williamsport. We stopped at the scenic view there, took some photos, and noticed the bike was having trouble staying on the car rack. While my rack is built to hold three bikes, it isn't built to hold one bike as heavy as ours. Plus, we need to mount the bike on the rack diagonally. While this keeps the width of the bike to a minimum, it also puts a lot of stress on the rubber straps. The bike wasn't in any danger of falling off, but I didn't like how it'd been shifting.
We spent the night in New York at my parent's house. My parents and I went down to the rail trail and my mother went on her first bike ride in several years. We had a lot of fun, though it got rather dark.
Sunday morning we left early, and Jillian and I got in the car feeling a little rushed. We hadn't even made it to the PA line when one of the rubber straps popped off the bike. While again, the bike wasn't in any real danger of falling off, it was a bad way to start the day. Between the rush to get going and then the sudden stop, I arrived at the start line feeling very stressed.
I always forget how much I dislike the starts of charity rides. Every hurries to get there, then waits to get started, and then everybody races each other for the first few miles. It doesn't matter how much you tell yourself you're not going to do it. Once again, I felt rushed.
Then we started having chain problems. Due to our chain problem from the ride the other day, our chain had a tendency to slip off. We were just about to pass a large group of people when the chain nearly wound up on my foot. Not only had we lost the chain, but the boom had gotten twisted and slid in and we'd bruised our legs. It took a number of tries to get everything back where we wanted it. Since we'd lost nearly ten minutes it was impossible to catch most of the people.
So now I'm really stressed. The bad start to the day, now the chain, and now we're the lone bike on this ride, unable to keep up with anyone. Just in time to start a climb.
We were doing route four, which was just over fifty miles long. It had quite a bit more climbing than route three, and it turned out that all that climbing happened at once. We did a seven mile, thousand foot climb in ninety degree heat (in April, in Scanton!), only to turn a corner and discover another hundred feet of climbing over two blocks. That felt straight up. It also just felt mean. Yes, we'd signed on for the challenge ride. Yes we expected some climbing. But that last hundred feet was uncalled for, and not fun.
The worst part might have been that there was almost no downhill! We were expecting several miles of easy downhill. Instead it felt like we got it all at once, and found a stop sign at the bottom. We lost a lot of momentum. We also lost the chain again, and the Pino started to feel very wobbly. We stopped at a bank to fix the chain and look at the wobble, and stopped again not long later. I couldn't figure out where all this wobble was coming from. It wasn't until we were back at the Scranton High School parking lot that I discovered that it was just bad roads. Scranton might have the worst roads I've ever ridden. I swear there was a pothole in Carbondale that would have swallowed most of my car.
Then Jillian started to get some pain on the bottoms of her feet. We're still trying to work out exactly what it is. I'm worried it's the SPD cleat putting more pressure than she's used to, she's worried about a sock problem, and we're both worried about shoe fit. She was in a lot of pain, we won't be able to ride if she's in pain like that often. She graduates the weekend of 5/16. Hopefully then we'll find the time to look into it.
After we returned to the High School I gave my cousin and uncle rides on the Pino.
On the drive back to Frederick, that pesky rubber strap on the rack finally snapped and I spent a long time at the Hershey rest stop figuring out how to tie the straps to the bike just right so that as the bike slid they'd get tighter. It worked, but it was a pain to get the bike off when we were done.
Overall, we learned a lot. Aside from the bike/car problem, we also learned the importance of not being in a hurry. Captaining that bike takes a lot of effort and if I get stressed I get no fun. We did a good job of complimenting each other - when she was stressed I was calm, and the other way around, but we'll need to focus on this next ride. Show up really early to the ride, focus a ton on not being in a hurry during the ride, and just generally not care about keeping up with the regular bikes.
That also means we've learned we're a lot slower than regular bikes. We'll be even slower with a trailer. We're still going to shoot for that 10mph average though.
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