Internal Detours
Sunday, September 24, 2006
  announcing a ride; puttering in the garage; hannibal and his wheelbarrow
It still blows my mind that it took me so long to discover mountain bikes. Consider - last Sunday I rode 15 miles or so down to Fell Camp and back. Tuesday we rode 10.8 miles, and I had an average speed of 9.2 mph.

Thursday I met up with Jim, Fred, Campbell and Tommy Davis at the Rock for what turned out to be 11.1 miles. I finished with a 9.8 mph average, which (for me) is not bad at all. The best part - on the way back, I hung onto Fred's back wheel like a hungry leech.

Understand - Fred may be 20 years older than I am, but he's strong. STRONG. Lean, leathery, tough old guy. I don't care who you are, you wanna ride behind him. No, he's not sketchy - you ride behind him to see the lines he picks and to observe his technique.

He may ride gears, but he rides like a single-speeder or a fixed-gear rider. No momentum is wasted or lost. Every movement is geared towards making the bike go forward. He's easy to ride behind on a single-speed, there's none of this, "it's the bottom of the hill and I'm gonna shift all the way down" nonsense.

I was glad I could stay with him at all the way back from Memorial Bridge back to the Rock. I told everyone at the end of the ride that I had hung onto his rear wheel for dear life, but, hey, I spend my life clinging to people's rear wheels. Fred in particular found that amusing.

By pre-arrangement, Saturday Ainsley and I both showed up aboard fixed-gears for the club ride. Jim took a shortcut, but Campbell, Connie, Donnis, Angie, Bradley, Ainsley and I did the Briarwood-Whitehall-Rock House loop.

Afterward, Campbell, Ainsley and I went to T.W. Boon's and ate out at the sidewalk tables. We had an extensive discussion about the dichotomy of technique vs. technology. Ainsley and I, obviously, are in the former camp. Campbell, by comparison, rides carbon fiber on the road and dual suspension on the trail. It was a lively discussion, and we tried, but I doubt we'll see Campbell on a single-speed any time soon.

We did, however, agree on a ride for a week from today - on Sunday, October 1, we'll gather at the trailhead at 505/506 for the take-no-prisoners, play-the-Deguello, no-quarter-asked-or-given, eat-the-wounded ride. We'll start at 3:00 and ride the length of the trail through the First Aid Tents and Sean's Mile through Blair Woods and the Rock, and from there down to Grattan's Bridge. At that point we'll take the pavement back to the old trail to the Fell Camp trail head, thence back past Memorial Bridge to the Rock and retracing our route back to the start.

So today the weather looked threatening. There were all sorts of weather alerts and warnings of much precipitation and high winds. I spent a couple of hours in the garage, working on the Peugeot PX-10 project. I cleaned the cranks and fitted them, fine tuning the bottom bracket adjustment along the way. The Simplex SLJ rear derailleur went on, along with the appropriate cable guide and shifters. I wound up fitting a Simplex pushrod front, as the parallelogram front unit was broken the way they all break, right where the pivot pin goes in the mounting hinge.

I had Hannibal for company, and later Hector joined us. Hannibal's favorite thing is to sleep in the wheelbarrow. A few days ago, I put an old towel down inside it, which made him a very happy boy. Today, I looked over and saw Hector hopping in. They both settled in for a nap, which worked fine until Hannibal woke up and decided he didn't feel like sharing. He hopped out and napped on the floor while I tweaked and tuned bikes.

At 4:00, I met Jim at the Rock. A few drops of rain fell as we prepared to go, but we set off anyway. We wound up doing Bridge to Bridge to Bridge again - from the Rock to Memorial Bridge to Grattan's Bridge, then back to Memorial Bridge when we were joined by another rider, whose name I have of course not been able to retain. The pace picked up for the last bit of the ride, but I still managed to hang in there, even if I did drop off the back. I took a certain grim pleasure in knowing I had climbed the Roller Coaster twice in one day on the single-speed. I wound up with 15.1 miles, not bad for a day I had all but written off to rain.
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Location: Greenwood, South Carolina, United States
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