The Long and Windy Road

   I took a ride out to Freeport yesterday, then turned around and headed right back. The funny thing is, all the way up Route One I was getting hit with a mild but noticeable headwind, and so when I got to Freeport and saw that I needed to head back in order to deal with some prior obligations I was looking forward to some sort of tailwind pushing me along.  But when I began my return journey I found myself riding into a much stronger headwind. This one was enough to slow me down on a descent, and it didn’t let up the whole time.

None shall pass!!!

   I stopped in Yarmouth for a slice of pizza to refuel. My legs had been feeling less and less willing to keep up the revolutions, and I had made the whole trip to that point on one fried egg, a piece of buttered toast, and two cups of coffee. I knew I was going to be late by then so I contacted people and rescheduled enough things that I could relax and enjoy my lunch in the sunlight. 

   I got back on the bike and after about five minutes of riding and digesting I felt much better able to haul my butt through the shoving, bullying wind. Bridges presented the most challenging sections, but only the Martin Point bridge was bad enough to get me weaving across the bike line in my lowest gear.  I let out a barbaric yawp or two since I so rarely get a reasonable opportunity to do so these days. 

   I eventually made it home with just enough time to let the dog out, “enjoy” a quick visit from my soigneur, Monsieur Le Foam, and then take a short, scorching hot soak before I had to meet someone about a bike. But I was happy to see that all of that exertion didn’t wipe me out. When I got home I felt like I could have kept going much longer if I hadn’t had responsibilities. But since it was my first long ride since last summer it’s probably best that I took it easy. 

Monsieur Le Foam

   I definitely did much better than on my first 25 mile ride. That one ended in double leg cramps that propelled me off the couch and onto the floor where I remained until I was finally able to drag myself down the hall and into the bath tub where I sat punching my thighs until the hot water covered them. It wasn’t my best moment, but luckily I was alone. And also luckily, the action of dragging myself backwards down the hallway rug helped to pull my pants down for me so that I didn’t have to bend my intensely cramped legs to get them off. Ah, memories. 

   I took this ride to scout things out for a near future ride with my son. The last time that we rode, or attempted to ride to Freeport it was autumn and it got way too cold for us about 14 miles in.  Also that time we rode up Route Nine which is not as bike friendly as Route One. Route Nine has many sections where the bike lane disappears and you are left to hug a very scrappy and unsafe few inches of the road while cards whiz past you, sometimes giving you a little leeway. Route One has a bike lane all the way up, I was happy to find.  And it is also significantly less hilly than Route Nine. Although I should mention that they are currently doing construction on a few parts and in those areas it is down to one lane.  They have to stop you in one direction and let traffic continue before you are allowed to go. But the cars were content to let me ride along and no one tried to crowd me out since there were construction people watching. And maybe out of the goodness of their hearts.  So now my son and I just need to pick a nice, wind free day for our adventure to the north.  And I look forward to trying it again by myself on a pleasant afternoon to see how my time compares. It’s not so much that I really care about my average speed, but I do tend to notice it from time to time.

My “New” Tulsa Bike

I found this weird little thing on Tulsa Craigslist, which I peruse sometimes because my folks live there. It said it was a Univega, but there’s no head badge or decals to prove it. The seller didn’t seem to know much about it, and my mother being my mother, she managed to haggle him down to $10. I had been planning to show my dad some basic bicycle repair/maintenance when I visited, and now he and I both had vintage bikes (allegedly both Univegas) to work on side by side. So I took my son to visit the grandparents after Xmas and finally got to get a closer look at this mishmash of delights.

The bike was decked out with a Shimano 600 drivetrain, but the crankset and pedals were more recent than the derailleurs. The shifters, both derailleurs, and the hubs were all arabesque. The crankset was something more modern, though I didn’t get to determine the year while I was there. The brakes and levers were Suntour Superbe, and they were in great condition.

Even though the hubs were a match, the rims were not. After much confusion I managed to determine that the rear wheel was a 700c while the front wheel was 27″. I got new black wall tires in both sizes (eventually), which looked great against the matte black frame. I wish the front wheel had a black rim so I could complete the look. I’ll have to build one up in 700c and bring it with me when I go next time. The brakes didn’t seem to have a problem with the reach.

The saddle was old and busted in spots, but it wasn’t terribly uncomfortable after a ten mile ride.

When I got into town I pulled the bikes out of the shed and cleaned them up a bit. I had packed up my tools, tubes & tires, grease, bearings, etc; everything I would need to do anything that might come up once I got my hands on the bikes. But the bus driver screwed up our luggage at Logan and so I ended up with a very similar looking bag belonging to a man from North Carolina while my bag stayed behind at Logan patiently awaiting my return. So I did what I could with the tools my dad had and didn’t tear the bike down very much at all. I think I even soaked the rear derailleur by just dipping it and the dropout into a bucket of suds. I scrubbed a lot with some brass brushes I bought. I cleaned and lubed all the moving bits.

Then I found a small community bike shop similar to our Gear Hub (http://portlandgearhub.org) called The Tulsa Hub (http://www.tulsahub.org) that was right downtown near the BOK center. I called and spoke with the woman who runs the place, Ren, to ask if I could bring my dad in to show him a few things on his bike and mine, things we couldn’t do without special tools, and she was incredibly helpful and accommodating. I wish I could have met her in person, but unfortunately she wasn’t there for that particular volunteer night. But my dad and I did have fun, and he got to meet some of the guys that work and volunteer there. It was nice to have a chance to experience yet another community bike shop and see how their set up differs from those that I’m used to here in Portland and Biddeford. In the end we got it all done.

It was after this that we had the tire debacle, but once that was sorted out I got the bikes shod and ready to go. I road tuned them, then took mine for a slightly longer ride through the neighborhood. It was cold and windy that day when it hadn’t been previously, so we waited for the next day, our last day in town, before my dad and I took a short ride together.

I ended up waking early and heading out for an 8 mile ride around my old stomping grounds in Owasso. I passed the high school, most of my old houses, a few houses that had belonged to friends. I made a pretty big loop. But at the beginning of things I had to stop near the school to ditch a bulky scarf that I had worn and which I couldn’t carry with me on the bike. I stuffed it into a bush in front of a bank and then continued on my merry way. Once I got home I had my dad get dressed and we rode the mile to get the scarf and the mile back. He’s an older guy and the drop bars and position on either bike made him pretty uncomfortable pretty quickly. We switched halfway, but he was a little bummed since he was planning to start riding more. Luckily, he has another bike that belonged to a friend of his, and that one should work well for him with some smoother tires. But he won’t look as cool as me on my bike. Sorry, dad.

Here’s the funny thing. I didn’t take any pictures of the whole bike, only close ups of the components. So I can’t show you a before and after. But I’ll get to it next time I’m in Tulsa.