Dress Rehearsal (1 of 3)
With the weather gerbils calling for highs in the low 90s, I figured it was time to do about 65 miles in the heat. Better than riding in this shit:
I again loaded the bike with everything I’d be toting on The Ride. I thought I was done buying stuff for the bike, but, nooooo . . .
The little guys on the right have performed so admirably keeping cold water ice cold (well, when I put ice in the things) that I opted to buy their big brothers. 64 ounces each. A gallon total. My thinking is I’ll load the little ones with ice water then put just water in the big ones. As I drink the water in the little ones, the ice remains. I’ll refill from the big ones, then drink from the other bottle, giving the ice time to cool down the first bottle’s re-filled supply.
The little ones are 21 ounces. All total, I’ll have almost 150 ounces of water when I start in the morning. I did a 25 mile ride on Thursday with temps topping 90 degrees. It took about 25 miles before I’d emptied both little ones. Each big one can re-fill one little one 3 times over. Even doubling my water intake through the Mojave I should be ok. The longest ride without being able to stop to refill the water jugs will be from Barstow, CA to Baker, CA, 65 miles.
A gallon of water is heavy, though. 8.345 pounds. I put them in the front panniers and, man, did it make the front of the bike awkward to move around. Oddly enough, but thankfully, the bike handled just fine once I starting riding.
The wind was blowing up a storm again today:
Take a look at the sky in this picture:
That was a mere 7 miles — about 40 minutes — before I took this picture:
I was riding along US 42 from Plain City to London. There was literally no place for me to hide when the rain started. I figured I’d power through it, but the wind starting kicking the rain sideways. I’m guessing the wind was coming in north of 45 MPH and it was blowing me into the road. That didn’t seem like a good idea. The cars had pretty limited visibility, too. I didn’t fancy being road kill.
It blew so hard the rain stung. I looked at the ground to make sure there wasn’t hail mixed in with the rain. I’d have loved to have taken a picture or a video of the storm, but the phone would have been soaked within two seconds. God only knows what that would have done to it.
I have never been caught outside in a storm that intense before. The last time I remember being that close to one that strong was in July 2013 when I was riding across Iowa with RAGBRAI:
Through today’s storm, I just turned my head, took my hat off, and waited it out. Just stood on the side of the road like an idiot. The passersby in the cars had to be thinking, “Boy ain’t got enough sense to get in out of the rain!”
Can’t imagine I’ll be lucky enough to endure a rainstorm in getting around the Mojave. After all, it is a desert. (Barstow, California only has 24 days a year that it sees any precipitation. I’m not counting on rain through there.) One of the nice things the storm today did was drop the temperature by 20 degrees. Later it went back up a little bit, but not back into the 90s.
The State Flower of Ohio is the Orange Barrel. It’s a year round flower that doesn’t cover as much ground December through April. But come May, they’re everywhere:
The storms weren’t done. Another decided to roll through at 5PM. 5PM I’m stuck in construction traffic (above). (Did I mention today is Friday? 5PM Friday is the historical time Columbus weather likes to see how much of a dick it can be. It’s like some weather god says, “Ok, Cowtown Weather, let’s see just how much you can fuck up Friday evening rush hour traffic. Go!”)
There were a couple of times today that construction had reduced the lanes to just one in each direction. Additionally, the shoulders and break-down lanes I travel on were blocked / torn up. The first time I encountered it, I just timed the light and rode like crazy to get through the construction zone. (It was only a few hundred yards.)
But the second time I encountered it (again, the above picture), the construction went on for miles. Now, being from around here, I knew some different ways I could have zipped around the construction. Instead, I imagined myself in some location that I didn’t know the area. I forced myself to find another way around the construction zone using the closest alternate roads.
Just in case you wanted to know where it’s made: West Jefferson, Ohio:
Almost used this as the post’s main picture. High Street is US 23. Broad Street is US 40. They are the east / west & north / south axes of Columbus. Where Broad Street and High Street intersect, you are as down town as you can be. Leaving in any direction has you going up town. (Kind of like the old joke about being in a place where any direction you look, it’s south. What color is that bear that’s about to eat you?)
Here’s a bit of trivia for you: axes is the only word in the English language that is the plural of three different words: ax, axe, and axis. Don’t say I never taught you nothin’.
Last Monday at 8AM I had an appointment with Bike Source Dublin‘s lead tech, Chet. I’d asked for a private session to learn how to fix shit that could go wrong on the road. Well, fix stuff that I could conceivably repair myself. If the frame breaks, I won’t be toting a welding arc.
Chet was very patient as he watched me struggle through replacing disc pads for my disc breaks, adjusting the derailleur, working with changing tires, and fixing chain breaks with a chain tool. I know he wanted to just grab the tools and say, “See? How hard was that?” He probably wondered how I managed to get dressed.
The takeaway from the 90 minute session? I don’t ever want to be a bike mechanic.
I’ve not had a chain break on me since I was a kid. I’ve never had to work on a derailleur. I’m betting the disc pads will be fine on the way. I wanted to be prepared, though. While I’m going to struggle doing any of those things on the road, at least I’ve actually done them once. Hopefully I’ll be able to remember how if the shit totally hits the fan.
Chet also taught me quite a bit, too. Especially about the derailleurs and the entire gearing system. That was the most interesting part of it . . . and totally cemented my thought that I don’t want to have anything to do with fixing the damned thing. My plan is to stop every 500 or 1000 miles along the way at a bicycle shop and say, “Hey, boys, look this machine over for me, would ya?”
The weather, the roads, the construction, the wind . . . everything combined today to give me a pretty good feel on what a “normal day” will be like. The plan is to another 65+ miles on both Saturday and Sunday (and Monday if I can pull it off). I need to know how my body’s going to handle all that riding. Tonight it’s gently bitching at me. Gonna have to tell it to STFU.