Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Friday, June 29, 2007

I’m really cold. It’s 55 degrees out, and the rain’s getting harder, nevermind the fact that it’s Friday afternoon on the second-to-last day of June. This is supposed to be officially summer, but we haven’t gotten the memo in Seattle. I never would’ve thought of thin lycra cycling shorts as “warm” before, but right now I’m pedaling along wearing Nike running shorts, and they let the wind and cold water run right up the inside of my legs. I decided not to wear cycling shorts on this first ride of the Schwinn Varsity, because I figure most of it’s target audience wouldn’t be spandex-clad, and maybe that would be an excuse for the cushier seat.

I’m on the way home now. I decided to take Monta Vista drive home to see how this sucker climbs, regardless of the fact that it’s ten pounds heavier than my normal race bike. It’s about two miles long, with 550 feet of total climbing in two stretches, the first at about six per cent, the second at ten with pitches of up to fourteen, so I can get a good test of it’s performance in all sorts of conditions. The pavement turns upward, and I reflexively flick my right index finger to downshift. Oops – there’s nothing there to shift with. I look at the bars, find the rocker arm near the stem, and click it away from me a few times, from “6” to “3” on the dial. The bike clicks and shifts, but two pedal strokes later the chain hops and jumps all over the gear. I try going back from “3’ to “4,” but the result is the same. I can almost get “2” to work, but it still skips a bit, so I’ve got to bailout to “1.” At least the limit screws are set right. This is far too easy a gear for me on this part of the hill, but I pause to think that most recreational riders would find it about right.

I get to the flat bit in the middle of the climb, fumble around for an upshift for a moment (it works,) and resolve to sort out the rear shifting when I get home. It seemed fine when it wasn’t under load. The rain is still coming down, both from the sky, and from the top of the hill, running in miniature rivers over the broken concrete. It’s not so cold going up, at least. Crap, I can’t see very much, but I’m getting to the steep bit. I go ahead and shift straight back to the easiest gear I’ve got – that’d be 42 x 28, for bike lingo speakers – and try to negotiate this hill. I wrap my fingers around the brake hoods stand up out of the saddle, but quickly give up on that option. The hoods are tiny and placed too low on the handlebars, which are digging into my wrists. The stem is too high, so my shoulders are cramped up. I instead do my best Pantani impression and climb the final bit in the drops. Hrm. I think I still would have upshifted.

Getting to the big ring at the summit is a quick flick of my hand, once I remember where I’m supposed to flick it, and I barrel down the road, the cold wind and spray whipping about me. To think, this would’ve been warm back in February, but, then, I’d have worn more clothes. The descent here isn’t very technical, but it is steep and fast. Experimentally, I squeeze the brake levers. At first, I feel a slight tightening in my gut as absolutely nothing happens, but once the pads heat up the bike begins to slow. It’s not nearly fast enough, and it produces a terrible squeal. Do I get to put cartridge pads on this thing? The “Promax” brakes it’s got are pretty okay, for a random off-brand, but the pads are pathetic.

At least I didn’t NEED to brake. The three more miles to home are nearly flat, and as long as I stay in the drops I don’t notice anything constantly about the bike, and that’s a good thing. I’ve still got to adjust the front derailleur a bit more, it rubs when it flexes under load. Well, next ride perhaps it’ll be dry, and I’ll have adjusted the kinks out of it.

Ride time: 1:15:00
Miles: ~20.


  • At 9:13 PM , Blogger STOKED I AM said...

    I can't get past your first paragraph, which only proves that you are not a Northwest native. SUMMER DOES NOT START UNTIL AFTER THE FOURTH OF JULY. Get used to it. June is a rainy month. But it is WARM rain--just ask my garden. If you want golden summer days in June, look somewhere else. They've never been here.

  • At 9:28 PM , Blogger Argentius said...

    Hah, you are probably right.

    Still, though. Maybe I've been shocked into thinking it's summer by lots of east-side rides and races?

    Warm rain? Well, maybe compared to winter. It still felt pretty darn cold! It was one of those rides where you got inside and your fingers and toes tingled the whole time in the shower as they were warming up...

    PS, maybe I need to move (I don't actually want to,), since I AM a northwest native.

  • At 11:25 AM , Blogger K-Man said...

    Yo T-Dog. I just set you up in lights. A lot of BikeForum folks should be stopping by.

  • At 3:29 PM , Anonymous cruzer said...

    you are one crazy mofo.

    once upon a time, some kid (either ted king, or tyler wren (or some other eastern collegiate cycling conference kid that went pro)) once spanked the men's A field on a wal-mart special mtb in a TT. at least this is what legend says...

  • At 11:25 AM , Blogger Jimmy said...

    tyler, you have way too much time on your hands here.

  • At 8:12 PM , Blogger Miriam said...

    I concur with Jimmy. Was it at least fun, other than the rain?

    Its not a bad looking bike...just a tank.


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