Sloth and I were both looking for a ride of about 25 miles this Saturday, but neither of us wanted to drive somewhere to ride bikes. So, the plan was hatched that I would ride solo to the coffee shop, and Sloth would meet me there, then we would ride to my house, and Sloth would ride solo back to his place. Everybody gets 25 miles, nobody had to drive.
So, I rode down to the coffee shop. I drank some coffee. When Sloth showed up, he had forgotten his GPS or something, so we had to ride back to his place.
Once we got there, he had some sort of French whisky for me to try. Under normal circumstances, I don’t drink intoxicating liquors before noon, but this was just a taste, and it would have been poor manners to decline so generous an offer. So, I had a taste, and it was a very nice whisky indeed.
Now that we were fully caffeinated and had a wee nip, it was time to go ride bikes. We made it almost 11 whole miles before we decided it was time for lunch. So, we stopped off and had some beers and some cheeseburgers.
This worked out pretty well for me, because the restaurant was only a mile from my house. Sloth had to ride back over the mountain with a gut full of bacon cheeseburger.
People will tell you that riding bicycles is a good way to loose weight and be healthy. I do not see how this can be true.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a strange thing happen. I was just riding along; downshifted the rear derailleur, and WHAM! Chain skidded off the big cog and into the spokes.
So, I get off, and think “Wow, that was random,” and I unbend the bent derailleur and get on with my business. Shifting was a little sketchy after that, but I assumed it was because of the bent derailleur. I friction-shift, and my setup is fairly tolerant of things being pretty messed up, so I didn’t think much of it. I ordered a new chain and derailleur a few days ago, and figured I’d install them when I take the studded tires off for spring.
Well spring never came. On Saturday’s ride, the shifting got really sketchy. I could ride in the big ring, or the granny ring, but not the middle ring. In the middle ring, the chain just skidded all over the place when I pedaled.
So, I bailed on my ride and limped back home. I installed my new chain and rear derailleur a bit early.
Here it is. It’s the Microshift / Nashbar rear derailleur. $30. A bargain at twice the price.
So, Sunday, with bright and shiny new bits, I head out to the coffee shop to meet up with the Sloth.
Oh, sweet Calamity! Middle ring still doesn’t work. I guess it wasn’t the chain or derailleur after all. “So what,” I thinks to myself, “I still have a granny ring and a big ring, so everything will be fine.” And fine it was, for a while.
I made it as far as the Conodoguinet Creek without incident. About two miles out from the coffee shop, the granny ring lost its mojo, too. So, it was me and the big ring the rest of the way to the coffee shop.
I met the Sloth, had some coffees, and begged a ride home.
An informal survey of people who know about such things revealed that my problem was caused by worn-out chain rings. So, I ordered some new ones. When they arrive, I will have replaced the chain, chain rings, and rear derailleur. I’m wondering if maybe I shouldn’t renew the cassette while I’m at it.
These are the chain rings that I totally ground to dust with my mighty force of my epic awesomeness. Looks like I’ll be spending some quality time in the garage with wrenches and tools and whatnot. Maybe it will be springtime when I have the bike put back together.
Here is a map chronicling my epic journey to the coffee shop with a half-working bicycle:
…When we last saw our hero, he was flat on his back, snoozing peaceably in the forest, wondering how he would ever summon the strength to ride his bicycle all the way back home, over hill and dale…
Morning found me in my tent. When I crawled out to attend to biological necessities, I noticed that my legs were a little sore, but not so bad as I expected after yesterday’s epic battle against the hills.
Maybe today would not be such a disaster after all.
I boiled some water for coffee, and soon the other bike hobos were up and about.
Before there is any breakfast, or any packing up of camping gear, or any conversation, there must be coffee.
I made Starbucks Via (instant) coffee, and it was pretty much OK. Sloth had some sort of drip filter, and made real coffee. I believe the bike hobo was also rocking the Starbucks instant.
I had a ton of cardio to do today, so I threw gastrointestinal caution to the wind, and ate two whole packets of instant oatmeal for breakfast. Shortly thereafter, someone started cooking bacon, and caused me to reconsider my entire nutritional regimen.
After breakfast, we broke camp, strapped all our junk onto our bicycles and made ready for departure.
We bid a tearful adieu to the bike hobo, and headed back to Harrisburg. Or at least we headed in a northerly direction. We hadn’t actually bothered to chart much of a course.
We looked at the google maps app on our phones, and hoped / guessed, that PA route 94 would give us a direct, flattish way home.
94 turned out to be a fairly major road, with no trees to shade us from the wicked day star. The hills were less traumatic than the ones the day before, but the traffic was horrific. We considered abandoning the road due to traffic, but kept plodding on. I do not recommend riding your bike on PA94, unless you have nerves of steel, and can hold a razor-sharp line. I don’t have any pictures of this part of the ride, because I was too busy trying to hold my line to mess with the camera. It wasn’t a great route, but we survived. We got off 94 somewhere outside of Dillsburg.
It was hot outside. The sun was roasting us alive, and we were almost out of water. We tracked down a gas station, where we refilled our bottles with water, and our bellies with Gatorade and ice cream.
I was starting to crack, but we only had 15 miles to go, and we were almost back to familiar roads. So, we powered on. We stopped for one last rest stop / photo op just outside Mechanicsburg.
We arrived back at our starting point to discover that Mrs. Sloth had locked Mr. Sloth out of the house. I was sympathetic, but I had my own Mrs. waiting for me at home — with food. So, I took my leave. On the drive back to my house I pondered the day’s adventure.
We had made it, and the Man with the Hammer did not totally destroy me like he did the day before. I attribute this to the following factors:
Shorter route with fewer hills
I ate a powergel every 10 miles whether I wanted one or not