Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fixed Gear Symposium - Longest...Post...Ever

My trip to Traverse City got off to an amusing start when, after standing in the Security line for an hour at DIA, I was turned away because I only had gotten half of my boarding pass. After retrieving the other half from the ticket desk, I was able to bypass the line (thank goodness!) and went through the Employee Entrance to actually pass through Security.
Of course, I forgot I had my measuring tape in my pocket, and set off the alarm. Twice. "Please step over here, sir." Ah, the personal touch of being wanded and patted down while everyone watching looks at you like you pulled an Uzi and sprayed the crowd with bullets.

From there on, the flying was smooth as silk. My flights were on time, the weather was good, and the trip progressed smoothly.

I arrived in Traverse City at about 4:45 pm, local time, and paid for a shuttle to the motel. After checking in, I took a taxi over the venue, where my Peugeot was awaiting me in the travel case. (The travel case is great. It allows quick and easy packing. It's secure. But, it cost me $92.00 to ship it, compared to $38.00 to ship Tracy's Steamroller in a box!)

Once the bike was assembled, I rode over to the camping/activity area and started meeting people. Of course, I remember about 5 names out of 135. The crowd seemed friendly and I began to lose a little of the concern I had of being an outsider in the midst of a bunch of cliques (high school).
Sometime around 7:00, we took off and toured around Traverse City, Critical Mass style. A couple of the guys would cork the intersections so that we could stay together, and we cruised along chatting with each other about our bikes and whatnot.

Eventually, we ended up at East Bay Park for a watermelon/grapes/bananas snack and more gabbing about bikes.

The gang in East Bay Park

Not my Green Hornet Schwinn

Built in 1937, all original except tires

When it began to get dark, we decided to head back to wherever we were staying. In the first instance of what was to become a theme of this trip, I was completely lost and had no idea how to get back to the Travellodge. Katy Larson graciously agreed to lead me back, after trying about ten times to explain it to me. I was more than a little embarrassed when we rode about a half-mile and we were across the street from the motel!

So, I had some dinner and went to bed. The two hour time difference between TC and Denver meant that I would be getting up at 4:00 AM (Denver time) in order to ride over to the venue for breakfast before heading out on the 50 mile round trip to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

The next morning, I was actually able to follow the directions I had been given, jumped on the TART trail about a quarter-mile from the motel, and made my way toward the Venue. Once I was on the city streets portion of the route, I was a little less than than confident. But, I saw Pat (the cook for the event) coming down the street and hooked up with him for the last half-mile, or so, and rolled up to the Higher Grounds coffee shop for coffee, etc.

After breakfast, Dennis assigned me the grinding duties ("We have a Grinder here!"), to clean off the grill. I was glad to be of some help. I told him the only thing it would cost him would to be to get a couple of snaps of me doing the grinding.

Eventually, we started out on the Old Mission ride (the 50 mile option went to the lighthouse, shorter options were available). I accidentally got in the lead group, and kinda fell back after a while to try and find someone to talk to. The fast guys off the front were not talking a whole lot.

Anyway, I moved around in the pack, talking to anyone who would talk back, and we made good time. We had a slight tail wind, and the morning temps were pleasant, so the 25 miles to the lighthouse flew by quickly.

The Lighthouse was rather small compared to the ones I've seen in Oregon.

As I was wandering around, eating Fig Newtons and sightseeing, I looked up and saw the group departing from the parking lot. Oh well, I had a map.

I took off from the lighthouse, and immediately realized that we had, indeed, enjoyed a tailwind on the way out. I realized this as I was pedalling into the headwind I would fight all the way back.

One good thing, though, my saddle on the Peugeot had finally quit squeaking. I had adjusted it before leaving Denver, but it had still squeaked on the previous night's ride and the trip to the lighthouse. My pleasure in the silence went away when, suddenly, my seating position dropped about an inch and a half, due to the fact that the leather on the seat had suddenly settled down onto the rails.

The plate through which the tensioning bolt runs had let go of the rail, and rotated up. So, there I was, 25 miles from town, in unfamiliar country, alone, with a broken seat. Nothing to do, but soldier on.
I thought that if I could find a nail or a bolt alongside the road, I could probably lay it on top of the rails and prop the back end of the bolt up on it, retensioning the saddle. It would have worked, too (I tried it after getting back to town), but I never in 25 miles saw so much as a pop can on the side of the road. Most places I've lived, you could build a battleship out of the scrap metal you find along the road, but the Michiganers must come out every day and sweep the roadside, or something.

I finally got back to town, and figured I'd just bite the bullet and buy a new Brooks at one of the local shops. Unfortunately, no one in TC stocks Brooks. I really didn't want to put a plastic saddle on the Peugeot, so I decided to take up the offer of one of the shop employees to buy a used one from him. Only problem, he was at the "other store", five or so miles away.

I rode over there with one of the other fixed riders I ran into at the first shop I had run into, figuring that I was going to be looking at some dried out piece of crap "Brooks-style" saddle which would be virtually unusable. I was quite happy when the kid pulled out a nicely broken-in vintage Brooks B15, and said hew would take $30.00 for it.

Five minutes later, and I was ready to roll.

As we were leaving, the shop manager told us we should take a shortcut to get off of Garfield Avenue and avoid the traffic. Somehow, with two of us listening, we still managed to take a wrong turn and add about 10 extra miles to the trip back to the venue. So, I ended up with about 75 miles on the day, by the time I got back to the motel that night, including about 30 on a broken saddle.

The alleycat race was going on while I was in the middle of my saddle search. Not that I would have participated, anyway. I couldn't find my way around the block, much less follow a cryptic route sheet while competing with others to get to all the points first.

Unfortunately, Matt from Velocity Wheels did take part in it. He got hit by a kid in a mini-van, and broke his leg severely enough to require surgery. Apparently, he won't be walking for 4 to 6 months.

Matt's bike

I watched the bike polo event, too tired to participate, then ate everything I could get my hands on at the barbecue. Pat proved to be quite the cook.

I actually managed to get back to the motel with no further adventure, afterward, and hit the hay.

Next Post: Days 3 and 4



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