Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Saturday, July 12, 2008

First Ride on The STP

Since the 24 Hours of Moab is fast approaching (3 months away), I decided I need to start doing some longer rides to train myself to stay in the saddle for long periods of time. I ride every day, and I'm feeling relatively strong, but I ride for about only an hour and a half a day and that's not preparing me for a 24 hour effort.

So, having gotten the STP complete, finally, I decided to do a long ride to break it in. I left the house on it, this morning, and went to the coffee shop to see if Brad was there. He was, so I hung around with him until about 10:00, then took off toward Mt Falcon.

As I rode through the neighborhood toward the Bear Creek Trail, the sky was bright blue with puffy clouds, the temp was about 75 F and I had a tailwind. It was really one of those magic rides that makes me happy to be where I am, doing what I'm doing.

I made an effort to keep my speed in check, since I was planning on riding for a few hours and I didn't want to burn myself out. Even on the climb to the top of Bear Creek Dam, I let the bikes in front of me maintain their gap, even though I felt like I could chase them down.

I rode through Morrison on the creekside bike trail, and avoided the heavy traffic associated not only with Saturday in Morrison, but also the drag races going on at Bandimere Speedway. It was very pleasant riding along the creek, away from the heat and exhaust of the main drag.

Once you get to the west end of Morrison, you turn south to go to the Mt. Falcon Trailhead. I hate the climb up out of town. The road is teep and heavily travelled by big pickups and Volvos whose drivers don't seem to want to give you much room. It's a popular bike route, and I guess everyone has just gotten blase' about it, but I still find it pretty unpleasant.

The road goes uphill until you turn on the road to go toward the trailhead, at which point it goes up even more steeply for a few hundred yards. Then, you turn back north on Tycoon Street and go downhill to the trailhead.

Once at the trailhead, I stopped to use the bathroom, and noticed that I was a bit over 20 miles into the ride, with an hour and a half on the clock.

I started up the hill, and actually passed a guy who had left the trailhead about 2 or 3 minutes ahead of me. I was feeling good about how the climb was going, and felt pretty strong considering I had over 20 miles in, already.

I hit the flat spot at the halfway point on the climb, went around the corner and came up behind three hikers. I figured they didn't hear me, because they made no effort to move over and let me by, like all the other hikers had done thus far.

I poked along behind them, until we hit a wide spot in the trail. Just as I was about to tell them I was going to pull around them, I heard "Clang! Crunch..." and my pedals locked up.

It may be a little hard to pick out the carnage in the picture(click for BIG, and it's pretty apparent), but what had happened was I hit a good-sized rock with my tire and flipped it into the spokes of the rear wheel. The spokes carried the rock around and it snagged my rear derailleur and snapped the cage in half.

The funny thing is that, when I had my first OCLV mountain bike (The Red Menace), I had a chain link separate about a mile into a 25 mile cross country stage of a 3-day race. It did pretty much the same thing to the derailleur that this rock did. SRAM actually warrantied it for me, since their chain had done the damage, and the derailleur I broke today was the replacement derailleur that they sent me. It's been on 3 different mountain bikes since then, but got destroyed on the first ride of my "new" OCLV frame.

Well, there isn't much else that can be done, in this situation, than just remove the broken derailleur, shorten the chain, and singlespeed it back to town to get another derailleur at Redrocks Cyclery. Thankfully, except for Tycoon Road, it's all downhill.
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I rode back down the road I had recently sweated my way up, and pulled into Redrocks Cyclery's driveway and placed my bike in the rack by the front door. One thing I've always liked about this shop is that they have an espresso bar in the shop, and I ordered a nonfat latte as I walked in ("We only have 2%." "That's fine, I'll take it.")
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One of the other things I've always liked is that the management knows their stuff. Or, I should say, knew their stuff. The shop is under new management (a recent development, apparently). The new guy is very nice, but a little overwhelmed and, apparently, used to dealing with idiot customers who don't know anything about bikes, because that's how I felt I was being treated.
I showed him my broken derailleur, and jokingly asked if he could fix it. He spent about 30 seconds launching into an explanation of why he couldn't, before I got a chance to point out that I was just kidding around and really just needed to buy a Shimano derailleur to replace it.
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Since the broken unit was a SRAM, he started in on telling me what SRAM derailleurs he had in stock. Again, I had to interrupt and point out that I had asked for a Shimano derailleur, since mine was a Shimano-compatible model. Unfortunately, he had nothing in stock.
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"I just took over the shop and I have some holes in the inventory," he said.
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"Okay," I replied, "what Shimano road derailleurs do you have?" I could see a number of them in the display case.
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"Oh, the short cage won't work for you. I'll need to order you a mountain derailleur so that it will have the long cage."
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At this point, I was losing my patience, and I finally dropped the old "I was a bike-shop Service Manager for 8 years" bomb on him. (I hate to do that, because it seems like name-dropping, or something.)I then explained that I was 20 miles from my house, in the middle of a ride (something I had told him, already), and I really wasn't in the market for ordering a derailleur.
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After further not-so-great communication I was able to convince him to sell me a 105 road derailleur. I took it outside, finished my latte and had a Clif bar. Then I installed the derailleur, realized that I need a longer piece of housing, and went back in to get it. To his credit, the fellow gave me a new piece of housing at no charge.
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I took it outside, finished the install, and hung my bike up in the "public workstand" outside and adjusted the shifting. Worked like a dream.

For some reason, Blogger rotates this picture, no matter what I do to it, so just tilt your head. This is the "public workstand".
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Then, I got to make the climb up out of town, again, and started up the Mt. Falcon Trail once again. I made it from the parking lot to the top in 46 minutes, including a couple of rest stops. Mentally, it was very hard until I got past the point where I had turned around, before.
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I was disappointed to see that the Open Space people decided to "improve" the trail and covered the rocky parts of the trail, near the top, with smooth dirt. I suppose the hikers were turning too many ankles, or something, but it really took a lot of the trail's personality away.
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After sitting around at the top talking to a few people (including a guy on the same bike I was riding!), and listening to the dragsters down at the dragstrip, I took off to continue with the 5Parks Loop. About 200 yards up the trail, I decided to turn around and just head for the house. The extra climb up out of Morrison, and the 1.5 climbs up the trail had taken a toll on me.
The ride home was nearly as pleasant as the ride there, except that I was a good bit more tired and I had a headwind. Still, it was very enjoyable. It was just one of those perfect bike-riding days.
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Just after I turned on the South Platte Trail, a lady a few yards in front of me dropped her wheel off the edge of the trail and flipped onto the metal guardrail which separates the trail from the riverbank. She was relatively unhurt (scraped knees, etc.) but quite shaken up. As her husband (I think) tended to her, I trued her front wheel and adjusted the brakes. The wheel and the brakes had taken the brunt of the crash.
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Twenty minutes later, and I was home. I was a bit disappointed to not get more off-road miles in, but I'm pretty happy with the ride. I spent 4.5 hours in the saddle, out of 7 hours of trip time, and rode 51.61 miles at an average speed of 11.4 mph. Considering the climbs and the fact that I was on a knobby-tired mountain bike, I 'm pretty satisfied with my performance.
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One thing I learned is that I'm not going to be able to rely on Clif bars at the 24 Hours. Back in the day, they worked fine for me. I don't know if the recipe at Clif has changed, or if my digestive system has changed, but they made me feel bloated and gassy, today. I know fig bars are my friends, however, so I guess I'll stock up on those as my easy finger food on the bike.
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I need to make at least one long ride a week for the rest of the summer, so I guess the bike sales and repairs are going to suffer. I hope everyone understands that my schedule has gotten a bit busier.
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x

4 Comments:

At 9:36 PM , Blogger ilvmath said...

Brings new meaning to the phrase "shadetree mechanic." Sounds like you had a great time despite the destruction of your derailleur.

 
At 11:20 PM , Blogger Jon said...

Yeah. A $50.00 derailleur is a pretty small price to pay for a great ride.

 
At 11:41 PM , Blogger Apertome said...

Sounds like a great ride, even if it was a bit frustrating. Hopefully the new owner at the shop will get his act together. And I'm glad you were able to help the lady who crashed. Good man.

 
At 2:10 PM , Blogger Will Handsfield said...

I know the feeling of an unstoppable ride, and I'm jealous. Good to hear a little mechanical didn't slow you down too much... I'm always amazed at the crazy carnage a bike can throw at you.

Keep on keepin on.

 

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