The Unluckiest Cyclist … this week

Saturday–I’d planned a huge mountain bike group ride with about four or five people, but, alas, it rained, and all of my group called me to cancel the day before. "Big deal, I’ll just go on a road ride," I thought. So I planned a completely in-the-saddle ride over some serious rolling hills–1500 feet of elevation gain in 15 miles (special thanks to Dave for bringing his GPS that one time and letting me know).

Well, the ride was going great. I’d thus far resisted the urge to get out of the saddle, and had done some serious climbage, or so I thought. But it was freezing, and when I got a flat 3 miles from home, I was not a happy camper. I immediately began looking at passing pickup trucks with the biggest, cutest blue eyes I could muster–and it worked. Actually that part’s fiction, I just did my best to look miserable.

It also helped that the wife in the truck knew me from a previous job, and the husband looked awfully familiar too.

Okay, so I stuck a new tube in there with my brand-new tire, which only occurred after much consternation. But the tire and tube looked fine–fully inflated and happy as a junebug (that sounded way too cutsie), so I left it and took my mountain bike out on Memorial Day to survey what I could of the course for an upcoming mountain bike race in my area. Well, unfortunately, I discovered my legs feeling sorta weak and wimpy. I barely finished the first climb and then slogged my way through the mud on the trail up to the peak (if molehills have peaks) trail. The last time I’d been up there, I’d killed that climb without thinking twice about it. Bummer.

Tuesday, one of my many bosses, the previously mentioned D, e-mailed me to invite me to go on a road ride tonight. I wasn’t feeling great, so I decided to do a quick recovery day–a nice warm bath, way too much food followed by way too much relaxing–which had the unintended result of making it difficult for me to sleep last night and making me extremely drowsy at work today.

As a side note, I was also informed that my company’s IT dept has taken web surveillance to new extremes. I guess my boss’ boss got a print out of every web site I’ve been too in the past week. Oh, and I’ve been advised that I need to stop blogging–at work anyway.

So today, I overate at every opportunity: french toast for breakfast, grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch, followed by a last-minute Clif Bar, a slice of someone’s retirement cake, a package of Sport Beans, and an apple. Despite my legs feeling a little weak, I was as ready as I was going to get.

We started off for the climb where we’d be meeting another co-worker at the top–a heavier guy who was supposed to be slower, but as we approached the climb, I suddenly noticed I was feeling more of the impact from the road through my rear wheel than I usually do. Yep, another flat–my third in a week, I believe. I pulled off the wheel and got to work.

Then the mythological cycling gods turned on me. My CO2 inflator was practically empty (gee, I wonder why), but no worries, D had his. But when we inserted the CO2 cartridge, it fizzled and quickly emptied. No problem, he had another one handy–same result. Okay, Al Maviva, I will never doubt your advice with regard to the necessity of carrying a pump on all long rides again. You’re right, and now I add what little clout I can to your assertion.

Fortunately, this particular climb is pretty popular with the local cyclists, and a passing rider had a pump handy. I got the tube in, got it pumped up, no pinching visible this time, and we got back on the climb–our rhythm totally squashed.

You’d think that would be the end of it. Oh no, I then had the regular troubles to deal with. I dropped D pretty easily on the first section, but then we met up with the other co-worker so we regrouped (rats!). Then we got on to the second section of the climb, and I dropped him again–temporarily. First, my chain slipped as I shifted from my large chainring to the middle one (yes, I ride a triple, and I’m not ashamed of it), and it took some effort to get it to catch on the middle chainring where I wanted it–basically, I stopped. Then, and this is the reason I will never ever own a Specialized bike, my Specialized clipless shoe velcro came undone right at the steepest part of the climb, so once again, I practically stopped dead to fix that little emergency. And as I rounded the last little corner, the elastic broke and I pulled over to the side of the road. As D passed, I gave him a little encouragement.

"See you at the top"–that’s encouraging, right?

I gave it one last little spurt, caught him again, and then petered out again. I didn’t show up far behind him, but I certainly didn’t win the KOM jersey today.

Anyway, hope y’all don’t mind my venting here. I promise not to do it all the time.


10 thoughts on “The Unluckiest Cyclist … this week

  1. Jay

    Hey, I feel your pain…one of the reasons that my cycling life took a 16 yr break was the 7-8 (I can\’t remember exactly how many) flats that I got on the 206 miles of riding I did when I was 16 with my dad doing Seattle to Portland.  We did that ride with 4-5 training rides under our belts and I got all those flats on a borrowed bike.  Pretty sad, eh?
    I was really quite discouraged about cycling after that.

  2. Zed

    What\’s holding you back? I\’d go for it, if I were you, which I\’m not. I\’ve been thinking about doing Lotoja since early in 2004, but I just don\’t think it\’s my kind of race. You ought to do some crits and see if you can\’t get up into the cat 2 or 3 races.

  3. Jill

    During my cross-country bicycle tour, my flat average was more than one every other day (36 in all). It\’s just part of cycling life, although especially so when you\’re carrying 60-80 pounds of extra weight.

  4. Tom Stormcrowe

    Alpine, I\’m riding Lotoja in \’07. Actually, it looks like a bunch of us bloggers are getting the same bug and have targeted the \’07 Lotoja to ride.Caloi, while CO2 is nice, I prefer the reliability of a pump, myself. By the way, I\’m not sure which publication you write for, but one thing you might try is to make blogging part of your work! Ask the boss what articles he wants blurbed as a highlight hint! That way you are actually advertyising for your publisher! It makes it to their benefit rather than a completely personal pursuit! Just a thought!

  5. Unknown

    Wow, sounds like the Tsarist counter-revolution is going just great over there.
    On the pump thing, it\’s not really my advice that you should carry a (redundant) pump on long rides.  It\’s more of an immutable law of physics that if you don\’t have a pump, the CO2 system will cr@p its pants on you at a very inopportune time.  Just as a gas expands when it is heated, just as gravity is a constant* so too will CO2 give you its vaporous middle finger when you can least afford it.  So while it\’s kind of advice to take the pump with you, it\’s not really advice, just sort of a commentary on the true nature of things.
    As for the velcro problem with the shoes – I\’ve heard of some people reviving velcro using a hair dryer.  You just blast the stuff with a good hit of heat – I\’ve heard 15 seconds up to a minute\’s worth – and they become sticky again.  Worth trying if the velcro has given up the ghost and turned into a plastic version of cotton wool.  It might also pay to use a needle to strip out all the random bits of fuzz and thread and whatnot that usually clot up the velcro after a while…

  6. Unknown

    As for velcro, you can usually get it replaced by a shoe shop for about $10.00.
    "Work and be free."
    P.S. AlpineCoug, this Friday I should have a pretty good idea whether my wife is going to have to schedule a c-section. If she does, there is a 72% chance that I\’d be able to do Lotoja this year.
    P.P.S. AlpineCoug, you ridin\’ Saturday?

  7. uncadan8

    Don\’t you love how someone is getting paid to spy on what the working man is doing? Every once in a while our IT department goes on a tear and sends reports to the bosses. Everyone goes back to reading magazines for a while, and eventually the fuss dies down.

  8. Zed

    Dan- I hope that\’s the way it works out here too. I brought my copy of James Joyce\’s \’Ulysses\’ to work today. I don\’t know how I\’ll ever get past page 39 …
    ACoug- I forgot to mention that if you do Lotoja, I believe they give you this really cool bumper sticker in your schwag. It\’s worth it, believe me.
    Jill- true, but by the time my shoe came unvelcroed for the second time, I almost blurted out, "How many mechanicals can one person get in one hour-long ride!?!" Ugh, we\’d only gone 7 or 8 miles when I got the flat. It turns out it was all pinch-flatting–one of the hazards of my new tire.
    Al- yeah, just a statement of fact, eh? Perhaps we can just ad my experience to someone\’s master\’s thesis about that phenomenon.
    Botched- you write that as though there\’s a shoe place around here that would do that. We\’ve got a Payless–that\’s progress, right?

  9. Unknown

    My boss has warned me several times about using the internet for personal business. My response ? – Bite Me. My, how professional I can be at times. On a serious note, one of our salesmen was fired for looking at gay porn. How\’d you like to explain that to your wife when you got home?

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