Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shake-Down Ride

Busy day. My road bike had been overhauled by a bike shop (new chain, new hard-case tires, re-packed bottom bracket, cleaned, tuned); the raw, pouring-rain weather of the last few days ended, and the sun came out; and I have to ship my bike to Mobile tomorrow--so this was my one day to do a shake-down road ride.

My fantasy that I was going to pull off a 50-mile ride today proved to be...just that, a fantasy.

After my workout at the gym, I took time to document that the river was flowing with open water today--first day! Yes, it was great to see the blue and the movement. What I loved the most, though, was the sound. The sound of lapping water, and the sound of the birds returning. It all made me breathe easier and feel brighter.

Next, I installed the roof rack on my car. Even though I have a rack that hangs on the back of my car to transport my fat bike, the aerodynamics of my car ensures that all kinds of schmutz (especially from my dirt/mud road) gets thrown on the back of my car, including any bike that is hanging back there. I far prefer to carry my bike on the roof, away from all that schmutz.

I had a difficult time getting the bike tires fully inflated. I struggled for quite some time with my brand-new bike pump. It's smaller than the old one and packs more easily, but it takes superhuman strength to use it to get 120 pounds of pressure in a tire. I finally gave up and switched to my old bike pump. Lesson learned: I better take my old bike pump on my trip if I intend to keep my tires inflated--or maybe both pumps, since I've been worried that my ancient bike pump will just die at some point.

Finally, by late afternoon, I started my ride. My fantasy that my bike--all tuned up and looking great--would also ride great proved to be...just that, a fantasy. From the start, I could tell I had major gear/shifting issues. Such an awful grinding noise! Turns out that my front derailleur was not adjusted anywhere near right. Whenever the chain was on the largest chainring in the front, the chain rubbed continuously and loudly on the front derailleur. I had to give up all my best downhill gears and just not use that chainring. I didn't stop to try to make adjustments; I wanted to get the ride in before the day was over, so I adapted. It slowed my pace down considerably that I could not pedal on the downhills, but that was okay.

It was warm (47 degrees F! amazing what difference a few degrees can make). And such a joy to ride on skinny road wheels--with great gliding and coasting! I felt strong and, even though I headed for as many steep hills as I could find within a 15 mile loop, none of it felt overly daunting. My butt and my hands didn't hurt as much as they do when I ride my fat bike, which is the opposite of what I expected. I did decide, though, that my new riding shoes are enough thicker in the soles that I should probably raise the seat a smidgen.

I stopped and took a few photos along my ride. My fantasy that I would figure out how to snap photos while riding (and without crashing, of course) has proven to be... (everyone with me now, you get the drill) ...just that, a fantasy. I thought I was stopping to take a picture of a beaver lodge and was stunned to see a huge beaver out in the open, working on the lodge. Did I get its picture? No! of course not. I didn't move quickly enough.

When I first saw the beaver, it was swimming in the open water to the left of the lodge. Then it climbed up on that side of the lodge to work on it. By the time I had my camera ready to shoot, the beaver had disappeared.

Open, gushing water. Ah, another joy of spring!

Finally, I looped back around to the river again.

I noticed this shadow on my way home:

Below is my first experiment with illustrating my route for the day. I like that color gradients show the change in grade/elevation along the route.

Below is a different view of the elevation (and speed) changes along the route. Where the blue line shows that my speed dropped to 0 mph--that's where I stopped to take photos of the beaver lodge and marsh.

Another busy day tomorrow. I need to make adjustments to my bike and then box it up and ship it off to Mobile!

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