Tuesday, March 11, 2008

10 Things I Hated about Sunday's Ride

It all started weeks ago with a nagging knee injury that was likely the result of a poor self-fitting on Old Yeller. I've always known that the bike was a tad large for me as the top tube is 55cm and I'm 5-9". Plus, the 20mm seat tube offset and 110mm stem stretched me out. Riding required locking the elbows to reach the hoods.

So on Saturday, I took Old Yeller to the LBS for a professional fitting. You know, to do it right. Yeah, it cost a little, but the end results are well worth it. If anything, it reduces the risk of an overuse injury due to a maligned fit. In the end, the gap was shortened with a zero offset seat post and the handlebars were brought closer with an 85mm stem. The stem was a bit tricky because of Old Yeller's antiquated design of not having a modern quill that extends through the stem tube. Instead, its quill is cut at the top of the headset, requiring a special adapter piece from Zoom that inserts into the stem tube to clamp the quill. Then, the top portion of the adapter extends above the stem tube so that the stem can attach to it. Whew! It worked. Old Yeller now fits me better than ever. I can actually bend my elbows while riding and generally feel more compact.

But Somehow in the hustle and bustle of running a shop while doing a professional fitting, the final tightening of the lateral stem bolts was skipped. It was firm, but not tight.

Hated #1:
As I found shortly after beginning Sunday's ride, there are at least two parts that you don't want to fail while riding: 1) brakes and 2) steering. but you see, when your steering fails, your brakes are pointless. In my case, I was fortunately only starting to accelerate from a stop to cross busy Pacific street. The torque that I applied on the handle bar twisted the stem while the front wheel went the other way. Oh yeah, there was a truck coming, too. Fortunately, instincts prevailed as I kicked out of the pedals and let the bike fall out from underneath.

Hated #2:
At the other side of the street, I discovered that I forgot to transfer the tool kit from the commuter to Old Yeller. No tools to fix it.

Hated #3:
Only a mile from Munson's house, I called for support. I misdiagnosed the problem as a loose top stem bolt and not the stem's lateral ones. As a result, he brought the wrong allen key. He TT'd back to his place to get the right one. Thanks, Muncie!

Hated #4:
Now that we were behind schedule to meet with the other riders at Crane coffee shop, there was a certain amount of angst in getting there. In the haste to hop back on the Old Yeller, I failed to check the rear dérailleur. That was a mistake as it took the brunt of the fall and bent the hanger hook inwards. Of course, it would have been nice to know that before I shifted the chain into rear spokes and then had to stop to back it out. More lost time, but it was cool seeing Munson go Incredible Hulk on the hanger to try to bend it back in place. While not perfect, it was enough to get me going again.

Hated #5:
For the next 4.5 hours, coping with a rear der that would not want to stay in the lowest gear (largest cassette sprocket) under any amount of strain. That made hill climbing very squirrelly.

Hated #6
About 45 minutes into the ride, my right knee starts acting up. Good grief: they're taking turns being injured. Same issue as the left, but now on the right. What's funny is that the left knee felt great throughout the ride.

Hated #7:
...And that old north wind should begin to blow. For the last eight miles into Blair, the double whammy of a stiff north wind and dropping temperature provided character building opportunities.

Hated #8:
The high road outside of Ft. Calhoun. This one came right after hovering at around 175 BPM for a solid ten minutes as we tried to pick up the tempo to get Bryan home on time. And I was being pulled--just trying to hang on to Bryan's wheel. Dang those guys are strong! Then we got to that hill. It turns out that the high heart rate didn't matter as I shifted the chain again off the rear der and into the spokes. I admit: it was a pre-climb moment of desperation that I forgot about the bent hanger. By the time I got the chain back on, my heart rate had returned from insanity. Mike and Bryan were not to be seen. But to my relief, they were waiting for me at the top.

Hated #9:
More torture as we took on the high road rollers in an effort to pick up lost time. My right knee was toast by this time as it shot pain with each downward stroke.

Hated #10:
Post ride recovery: after the ride, my right knee felt relatively fine walking around the house. However, the left knee was now sore going down steps. Whatever.


Despite these ten rants, it was still a great time and definitely worth all of the hassles.

The highlight reel was that ridiculous hill climb on Dana College road. While the chain was dancing all over the rear der, I was in a full pursuit of Bryan. Both knees were feeling good. Meanwhile, Munson had fallen off somewhere behind. I wanted to believe that I was making small gains on Bryan but realized that the top of hill was coming too quickly for me to catch him. Just then, Munson goes flying by in a full sprint sneak-attack and catches Bryan as they crest the top. Bryan and Mike say that it only takes dropping it into that extra gear for that last 200 meters. What gear? I was already at the redline and had nowhere else to go.

Like the shanker who grooves only one drives down the center fairway, that's the one that will keep me coming back for more.

My belated apologies to Chris for my part in delaying Bryan's return home. Thanks to Bryan and Mike for waiting for me at the high road and the subsequent dragging me back home. Plus, I owe Munson a few more burritos for the on-the-site mechanic worx to keep me rolling.


  1. Yeah, other than the long intervals of hammering, that ride was awesome! I was quite tired at the end. I had coffee with my supper, because without it I would have been asleep at 7:30.

    And you did quite well -- none of that was easy.

  2. Brady---I am so going to come up and ride with your guys.... Looks like ole Rex needs to be a domestique for his little brother who doesn't really know how to ride with the peloton's equiv of the car acrobatic team in the alpine race....

    Not this weekend.... nor Easter, but maybe after that...

  3. I think it would be great fun to have the Murphy bro's (Inc.) to ride with. We'll get to hear all kinds of OCD dialog while pedaling the miles away. Good times.

  4. Bryan and Mike: thanks for pulling me along on those long intervals; I was hurting both from being tired and the knee issues.

    Yeah, it looks like brother Murphini has something to prove. OK Mr Tough Guy, here's your chance. Come up and ride. Shoot your mouth off all you want about your younger brothers' compulsive behaviors, but you'd better do it in the first 20 miles of the ride while your energy reserves are plenty, or you'll miss your chance.

    I, for one, am looking forward to holding Murphini to that punishment, especially after burying him on the climb at Dana college.