Victorian rideblog Title:
In Which I Yearn for Speed and am Somewhat Thwarted in My Desire
Last Saturday was a busy one. School was starting soon, and I had embarked on an ambitious new project: to turn the curriculum I’d been attempting to write all summer into a webpage/blog for my students, other faculty, and eventually the world at large to use. To top this herculean effort off, I had decided to base this curriculum around the ideas used in Stanford’s d.school, called “Design Thinking.” The idea for all this came from my Co-Worker (yes, that Co-Worker, of Ireland fame), who is a techno genius and knows all about these sorts of things, even if he’s wise enough not to try to apply them all at once to giant curricular projects while simultaneously building a web presence in the classroom for the first time. Did I mention that he’s sometimes much, much smarter than me?
Anyway, I came up with the “Let’s make a blog!” part of this about two days before the Labor Day weekend. Or five days before the first day of school. This, really, is why I shouldn’t be allowed to think while in the shower. The blog had soon eaten my life (though so far, and I’m about half-finished posting everything for the trimester), but my students love it and my colleagues are suitably impressed and a bit miffed, as I’ve just done a nice bit of bar-raising.
Riding wasn’t high on the agenda, therefore, with the first day back looming on the horizon. But… having lost 10 pounds after Ireland (I call it “The Bronchitis Diet,” and I wouldn’t recommend it), I wanted to keep it off. Going back to work always entails a sort of “freshman 10″ for me, probably because I’m overworked teaching all those darn freshmen!
Must. Exercise. Not. Blog. Constantly.
Off I went with The Raleigh to the Soos Creek Trail. The weather was warm, clear and beautiful. We’re in a stretch of spectacular sunny days, as usually happens in September, conveniently timed for right when kids go back into their classrooms and can no longer play outside all day. The Raleigh was itching to get out and go after being cleaned up, and I had a hankering to move my thighs from their permanently hunched-in-a-chair position.
As soon as I got on the bike, a funny thing happened: I really, really wanted to go fast.
Now, The Raleigh is not a fast bike. I know this. But fast is relative, and compared to The Viva, The Raleigh is a Little Brown Bullet of British Rapidity. The Soos Creek Trail, once you get off the boardwalk over the swamp, is smooth, with a few hills. Coming down those hills, I found myself opening up: taking my hands off the brake levers and letting momentum actually carry me down.
The thing about me is that I’m slow. When I ski, I make about a zillion turns per square mile. The Boy, on the other hand, says: “See you at the bottom, Mama!” and heads down the hill hell-bent-for-leather. Those of you who perused every Ireland entry instead of skimming them (I’m talking to you, Co-Worker) noted the section where the Support Van Parent asked me how it was physically possible to ride a bike down a hill at the speed I maintained on our descent into Doolin. I have a very exaggerated sense of how fast I’m moving, especially when the road is curvy or dark. Put me on a flat road, and I drive like a demon because again, I can’t tell how fast I’m going. This is actually linked to my disease, which causes me to have a distorted sense of where my body is in space.
In short, if I’m going faster than a snail’s pace, the road is flat, sunny and open. Except that the Soos Creek Trail is windy, with hills. And I was, at least for me, cranking it.
What caused this sudden need for speed? I have no idea, actually. I think my bike sense was greatly improved by my week riding around in Ireland all day. I just have a confidence I didn’t have before. The exception to this is where the trail goes from sunny to shady to sunny again quickly.
In those situations, I have trouble seeing the changes in the road. I have no idea if everyone has this problem, or if it’s just me. All I know is that potholes and root-bumps seem to exist primarily in shady regions. Like trolls.
This is perfectly fine when it’s uniformly shady, of course.
I did discover, in my newly-found enthusiasm for cranking the bike up hills with as much speed as possible, that my new cable guide was positioned just perfectly to cut my leg. This was in addition to the nice slice I received from the recently tightened end of my Cateye light mount on the other thigh.
Oh, the humanity!
I just twisted the cable guide downward, so the screw side was more toward the ground and less toward my leg. The Cateye is making me very unhappy right now anyway, as it keeps getting turned on in my bag (oh, behave!) and running out of batteries. The Raleigh may need a bottle dynamo-driven olde fashioned-e headlight. Since I rarely use my lights anyway, this would probably solve my problem and be aesthetically pleasing. I am aware that the vintage-style lights on the market today are mostly crap, but if I were commuting, I would need additional lighting anyway. Must ponder this problem…
Anyway, the ride was sunny and delightful.
I wasn’t overly hot, but I will admit that I was sweaty in all the sunshine.
The six miles passed quickly, and I turned around to head home in record time. I was amused, upon my return journey, to note the vividly repainted root-hazards in the shade. The color of the paint was literally fluorescent, and very strange in the middle of all that “nature.”
Speaking of “nature,” the cattails were positively monumental!
I’d say our rainy “summer” (note that I’ve moved into an excessive number of air quotes here) has served the cattails well. The fields were also glorious.
Pretty even without the bike! As was the mountain.
I also made it up the Giant Hill at the Edge of the World without any trouble. Guess my days of wheezing and gasping are over! The only problem on the entire ride was that, in the aftermath of the greasy wheels incident, my rear brake was no longer properly adjusted, so I had trouble… stopping. Which is rather important when one wants to go fast. I figured that when Travis at Dutch Bike had sanded down the pads to get rid of the grease-saturated layer, he simply hadn’t readjusted the brakes enough.
This was particularly important given that in a few weeks, That Cute Guy in My House (the Elder) and I will be taking three days to ride around in Skagit County. Before we left, I wanted two things to happen:
- I wanted him to actually ride The Shogun I put together for him, and be sure it fit him and, you know, worked.
- I wanted to take The Raleigh to Dutch Bike and have Fritz get those brakes working. I figured he could also give The Shogun a quick once-over to be sure that in his fit of not-repairing-things, Jesse at GHY hadn’t missed anything on The Shogun.
So on Wednesday evening, My Sweet Man and I drove down to Ballard after work, and took our bikes to Dutch Bike. Fritz took over The Raleigh, and Travis went over The Shogun. Fritz quickly discovered that the rear brake on The Raleigh, which Travis had installed, needed the cable-holding-thingy turned around to work properly with my rims and the distance to my calipers. “Normally,” he explained, “that won’t work on these brakes, because they’re not designed to face that way and the (cable-holding-thingy) hits this part of the brake. But because your pads have been filed down so much, they actually work when turned around.” Fortuitous, I guess. He flipped the cable-holding-thingies, and low-and-behold: my rear brake stopped! Like, STOPPED! I was delighted.
Travis gave The Shogun a good once-over. He praised Jesse’s work on that bike (which goes with what I said in that blog entry: he normally did great work for me), and ended up doing just a few minor adjustments, especially to the KoolStop pads so they wouldn’t squeal.
With everything finished, The Guy with the Hot Bike and I went next door to eat dinner. We had planned to eat at a restaurant in the same building as Dutch Bike called The Walrus and the Carpenter. However, it seems that everyone else in Seattle had read the review in the New York Times, and decided to check it out as well. So we ended up in the third restaurant in the building, called Staple and Fancy. They have a $45 fixed-price menu that included about 1000 tiny appetizers and pasta and a seared pork loin and dessert. We splurged for our first romantic night out in about a year, and had the whole hog, so to speak. The food was amazing!
Of course, now we were too full to really ride our bikes. And the sun was setting. The New Bike Owner didn’t have lights or reflectors yet, so we couldn’t stay out long. We rode about six miles on the Burke Gilman Trail together.
The Shogun fit The Guy Who Doesn’t Really Need Fenders very well. Note the new brown leather seat. It’s actually the cheap standard seat from a Linus, which I traded for the vintage ladies’ Turbo to Travis. Was it really worth the trade? Probably not, but it fits the rider better than the Turbo. And it’s brown, as opposed to white.
We only took a few pictures, as the light was soon fading beyond my photo capabilities. These two are actually taken in the same spot. Liked ’em both.
I quickly discovered that I could barely keep up with The Shogun, though it was obvious that The Man with the Strong Thighs was not exactly working hard. Stupid fast road bikes!
By the time we arrived back at Dutch Bike, The Shogun had passed its test with flying colors. My Lovely Guy was as tired and sweaty as I was: not from the ride, but from eating so dang much! At least the bike worked.
All in all, a success! Two rides, one week, one rideblog. All is well.