Okay, I didn’t get to this yesterday afternoon. But don’t they say that tomorrow is the new today?
Well. In response to the proddings of my brother, I decided to get my mountain bike back up to running condition. The two of us went to several bike stores to get new tires, tubes, a seat, and look at equipment that costs more than a mortgage payment. I also discovered that of the two bike shops near my house, one is a franchise generic shop and one is a gonzo gearhead shop. In the future I’ll be getting my advice from the gonzo shop for their expertise, and probably buying from the chain store for the prices.
My brother got the new tires on, chain oiled, and my bike was ready to go. He rented a dual suspension rig that was slung with cables, springs, and gee-gaws. But it weighed more than my bike, so nyah nyah. When we loaded his bike into the car from the bike shop, I played around with the disc brakes. Cool! Actually, not cool. When we got to the trail, he couldn’t get the front wheel back in because the disc calipers were seized shut. Twenty minutes of fussing and straining couldn’t get it in.
“You didn’t squeeze the brake handle while the wheel was off, did you?” asked the bike shop mechanic after we called in. Gee, shoulda told us you couldn’t do that, guy. So instead of loading the bikes back in the car and delaying our ride, we wedged the thing open with layers of credit cards and slips of paper, finally getting to start riding. Just as we started, I rode down a series of railroad-tie stairs on the trail, bouncing out of my pedals but staying upright. Whack! The pedal smacked my shin as I hit the bottom of the stairs. First blood!
As we rode up endless climbs and down terrifying technical descents, I realized that trail running, with its steady chugga chugga effort, was poor training for the sudden bursts and coasting of mountain biking. Also, it was 100 degrees and early afternoon in the desert, so we were losing about a gallon of water an hour. Just about when we reached the apex of our roundtrip ride, I came fast around a blind corner into a jagged landscape of incisor-shaped rocks. I went off my bike and into a pile of rocks and scrub brush, and my tire let out a mean hiss. Fantastic! Of course I didn’t bring a spare tube. Or patch kit. But the rental bike had both! But the spare had a hole. But the patch kit worked!
As we neared the end of the ride, my bike developed an aggravating tendency to grind and pop out of gear when you applied any real pressure to the pedals. Say, when you were trying to get up a hill and over a rock to avoid falling over. I fell over. Some riding around the trailhead parking lot isolated the problem: worn middle chainring. So I rode another half hours using the large and small chainrings and it worked out mostly fine. Imagine losing third and fourth gears in your car—either you are revving hard and going slow, or struggling to push along in top gear while going uphill. After three and a half hours, we called it quits.
The rest of the day was spent in the pool and hot tub and drinking fluids. The next day I found I’d lost 8 pounds since the beginning of staycation. Over the next several days, however, I would add it back on through comestibles and libations. Stay tuned for Staycation 2: Montezuma’s Revenge!