time to spend some money
Last night I rode one of my shortest trail rides ever. I arrived at the Rock in time to talk with David Strawhorne, who was finishing up a ride. After a few minutes, I called Ainsley and found out he wouldn't be able to make it. Dang. Then Ashby and his crew came out of Blair Wood. I wavered, but decided, nah, I'll just go home.
Pepe and Grattan showed up, and Pepe said they were riding to Fell Hunt Camp and back - so if I headed out immediately, they'd look out for me. Sounded good, so I set out - and immediately noticed my lights were kinda dim despite charging all day long. Hmm. By the time I reached the top of the hill, the trail was getting hard to follow easily. When I reached the T, I went left and stopped at the gravel pile where the road was maybe 20 feet away. Jim Cox and John Lake came up the road and turned back onto the trail on their way back to Fell. A minute later, Pepe and his crew came charging up. I told them I was going to take the fire road back to my truck.
By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, my lights looked like cigarette ends in the dark. Time to start pricing new lights, as my cheap-o rechargeable unit is dead, dead, dead.
This afternoon I came home and found a new Miche bottom bracket waiting for me in the mail. Down to the basement I went. It helped, but did not completely eliminate the eccentricity in my chainring's operation. Hmm. I wound up using a combination of rubber mallet thumps and judicious filing on the spider to tweak and tune it. By the time I was done, it was about as good as it's likely to get. I'm not yet sure if it's the chainring or the spider, but I'm sure I'll start tweaking it again at some point.
a cold day's ride
Today's MLK Day ride was the coldest one since we started doing it in 2004. In 2005, Ainsley and I were the only ones willing to brave freezing temperatures. Today it was beyond freezing and (for Southern boys) downright brutal, with temps around 25 degrees. Ainsley won the toughness competition - he rode to Hodges from Greenwood, when it was still around 18 or 19 degrees.
This is a great little ride, really - we leave Hodges, a classic blink-and-you'll-miss-it town, ride down a scenic back road, and have lunch in Abbeville. Then we ride back. Simple enough.
We sat in my truck's cab for a couple of minutes, just in case anyone else showed up. Nope. Wimps. Finally, we set out at 10:10, down the long hill to Blue Jay Road, across Pickens Creek/Klugh Road, and down the length of the old Abbeville-Hodges Road. The new asphalt starting around Stephenson Road was much appreciated, and we made pretty good time.
While we were still on Blue Jay, I said, "I know this is the traditional thing to say on this ride, so - have you noticed that it's kinda cold?"
Ainsley laughed. About two miles later he looked over at me and said, "Hey, have have noticed that it's cold?"
I was grateful for all the layers I had on - sleeveless wool undershirt, long-sleeved wool undershirt, heavy wool long-sleeved jersey and a windbreaker. I would have used my tights over the wool leg-warmers I had on, but after a few miles my legs warmed up. I had fortunately worn two pairs of wool socks, with pieces of paper folded over my toes between the layers. My toes were almost warm enough, which was a nice thing.
Ainsley charged up the last hill into Abbeville on Washington Street, also known as Highway 203. I took a more leisurely approach - actually, I was suffering like an animal on that particular hill, and chose to do the old Reginald Shaw method of seated climbing and "turning 'em 'round," a la the CTC in 1948. I caught up to Ainsley in the parking lot of Theo's, our luncheon destination.
Forget sandwiches - today they had a nice board up with several specials. Ainsley chose the Chicken Marsala, while I went for the Fettucine Alfredo Chicken. Yum, especially on a cold January day. We sat where we could watch the bikes, peeling off a couple of layers of clothing to keep from overheating.
The food was ridiculously good and plentiful, complete with nice presentation. Ainsley could look past my shoulder at the bank sign, and he kept up a running commentary on the heat wave outside as the temperature finally climbed above freezing. We talked at length about life and children and cycling, with a special emphasis on the hair-shirt qualities of riding fixed-gears in sub-freezing temperatures. The good old boys didn't stare at us too much as we sat dawdling over our lunch.
Finally it was time to leave. Before we could pull out, though, I had to stop and fix a loose toeclip. My gloves were too thick to manage the multi-tool in, so my hands got good and chilled to the bone as I made repairs. We rolled back out of town on 203, following it all the way back to Hodges. Along the way, we saw another rider, but weren't able to catch him before he turned off on Stephenson heading towards Due West. Some other time, I thought, it's bloody cold.
We slogged on up Dead Rooster Hill and headed into town. On the flat stretch near the town limits sign, Ainsley had the only bad motorist interaction of the day, with a driver of a luxury automobile determined he would pass a truck while coming towards us. He finally backed down and got back behind the truck by the time they passed me, but apparently Ainsley had felt it necessary to indicate to the driver that he was number one.
We stopped for pix in scenic, bustling downtown Hodges. The solid sheet of ice in the back of my Ford Ranger had started melting, so we picked spea
rs of the stuff up and tossed them.
"I saw an episode of Mythbusters where they were exploring whether you could kill someone with an icicle," Ainsley said.
"You really can," he said.
Then Ainsley rode home, while I wussed out and climbed into my truck and drove back to town.
2008, to date
Okay, so I'm slack. I haven't yet gathered all the data and done the math to determine 2007's mileage - but I can estimate it was something like 3,100 miles, which isn't bad considering how much was going on last year. Figure in the sale of one house, the purchase of another, home renovations, living in an apartment for a while and two moves, along with some other matters ... well, it gets kinda hard to get out and ride sometimes.
I did, however, get a few rides in earlier this year, including a couple of leisurely fixed-gear rambles to Ninety Six and back and several woods rides aboard my battered old Trek single-speed. The most memorable of the latter was the Tuesday night Ainsley and I set out from the Rock. Ainsley was irritated because his new light system hadn't held a charge, so he was wearing his older helmet-mounted light. I hadn't charged my lights enough, it seems, and they started to fade out at the T, so we stopped and jury-rigged Ainsley's spare lights onto the Trek and pushed on. We made it to the road right before the last section and turned back, only to find ourselves on the Memorial Bridge section with dying lights. Right on cue came Pepe and Grattan, with superior lights to guide us in - thanks, guys.
Yesterday was a wash for riding - rain that allegedly would be followed by snow, so I wound up taking Julius the Mercian fixed-gear down into the basement for some long deferred maintenance. It had been a year or more since I'd had the chain off, so off came the cranks, the chain went into some hot soapy water, and months of mud and grit were washed off the bike. I noted the bike has traveled 8,007 miles in the five years I've had it, with about 5,500 on the current chain and crankset. The left bottom bracket retaining cup had worked itself loose, but I think it's tight enough for Monday's ride. We'll see.