Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fun with the Cross Bike

Today was quite the day. Since Gustav's remnants are dumping copious amounts of water all over the midwest you'd think it wasn't a good saturday to ride... au contraire. The original plan was to meet at the Lincoln/Damen Starbucks at 6:30 and ride from there. Since my contact about the *$ meet was Jeff and I had gotten a bail-text from him around 6:05 I had my reservations about leaving the house at all. I got in touch with Boggs who was still waiting at *$ and decided to kit up and get moving. It was completely worth it. I met the others and we rode up Lincoln a ways until I asked what route we were taking that involved so much of Lincoln... nobody had an answer so I took the lead and steered us westbound onto Lawrence en route to Devon/Milwaukee. When we got there, we noticed that the field below the toboggan slides was covered in water - some small patches of grass still visible though.

I've never been disappointed by Randy's clinics and this was no exception to that rule - we covered dismounting, mounting, dismount-barrier-mount, as well as group starts. I'd hoped for better results in the group starts but couldn't seem to get my damned shoes to clip in - I'm spoiled by SPD-SL and it's easy cleat-pedal interface. A normal portion of this clinic involves hill run-ups, but the growing lake in the field below us didn't allow for it. Too bad, shouldering the bike for no apparent reason just isn't quite the same.

At the end of the clinic, this is what we saw at the entrance to the N Branch Trail.

When we arrived, the picnic tables in the pavilion were visible, though water was covering the concrete pad below them - the dumpster serving the pavilion had some water around the base of it... when we left, water had all but topped the dumpster, and the tops of the picnic tables were covered. The North Branch Trail had at least 4' of water over it. An intrepid group of us tried to go north via Milwaukee>Harts Road but found Harts to be covered with rapidly flowing water... not sure exactly how deep it was, but you could definitely feel it pushing on your wheels upon riding through it. Since it would prove difficult to find decent non-flooded trails, we opted to grab a coffee to warm up for the ride home. Along the way we saw several railroad underpasses where cars were being towed out of the water - we also discovered that potholes lie under standing water several times, but luckily none of us flatted.

After I got home, I lounged around a bit and dried out since I had been wet for ~5 hours straight. Around 4 I set out to run some errands and took the cross bike back out. Nothing's quite as fun as putting sopping wet shoes onto dry socks, let me tell you.

As I was heading north along the deserted LFP around Belmont I figured I'd take advantage of the space and continue to practice dismounting/mounting the bike. After several successful rounds, one round that failed miserably (messr bag caught on saddle, oops), and another attempt that led to me face down in a puddle, I figured I'd get moving and finish playing in the mud. As I shifted, I heard some sad noises from my rear derailleur and felt my chain tension against something - not good. I looked back to find this gift from the cycling Gods:

Yeah, that's my rear derailleur. Fuct. Hardcore. Hangar bent 90 degrees all to hell, upside down like it's a trapeze artist or some shit. Sweet.

At this point, it really starts to rain. Thanks.

I snap a few pictures (naturally), whip out the multitool and get to work - hangar needs to come off, cabling removed from shifter & de-routed from lugs, you name it. I stuff everything into my bag while looking for my chain tool... which isn't there. Rock. On. So much for a cassette singlespeed solution to get home. I try to tension the chain across the 53x26 but that's just not happening - every time I put pressure on the cranks, the chain jumps around on the cassette all crazy-like. Chain's gotta come off. The rain lets up a bit.

Solution? Put this morning's skills clinic to the test. I tried running and mounting, but that's all kinds of hard to do when the crank is spinning freely - pedal smashing into my opposite shin, which is pretty cool. Next option, clip into one side and kick myself along with the opposite leg... this option worked best... one leg gets tired, coast it out and switch, the kick along some more. I made it to the Roscoe tunnel and hailed a cab on the other side. Cabbie not so thrilled about muddy wet bike-dude getting into his cab and he made no effort whatsoever to get my bike into his cab. After aborting that attempt at getting to a shop I realized I was only 2 blocks away from Belmont... as I'm scooting along I see a #77 sitting at the light... who knows when the next one will come, so I hop off, shoulder the bike, and run.

Pedestrians really don't know how to react when they see a sopping wet 6'6" dude with a bike on his shoulder running at them. Some, wisely, get the hell outta the way. Others stop like deer in headlights.

I made it to the bus, got the bike to a shop, and it's there for the night. Hopefully they can call me tomorrow with a full assessment of the damages. I need this bike up and running for next Sunday's race, so here's hoping the repairs are relatively straightforward... and that I don't need a new rear derailleur.

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