|Newsletter - 2004 Archive
600 km: Abbotsford to Abbotsford
to Abbotsford to Abbotsford
The prelude: Give me a brake!
The main event: Give me a break!
Shortly thereafter, after going up a significant hill, my rear shifter decided that it didn't want to leave my lowest gear. As already indicated above, I am a mechanical simpleton, and the guys I was with didn't know what was going on either. Luckily (or so I thought at the time), Gary was from the area, and directed me to a local bike shop. The shop was one step up from the bike section of Sears, selling primarily mountain bikes in the $100-$300 dollar range, with mechanics who looked like they were about 13 years old. They weren't too sure what was going on, but thought it might be a cable problem (even though the cable had just been replaced during the overhaul). So they replaced the cable and managed to get the bike shifting, at least to some degree. I thanked them profusely, got back on course and fortuitously connected with another group of cyclists (Ali and Roger Holt, and Scott Gater). After about five minutes, however, I was again 'shiftless', and to make matters worse, I couldn't get into the big chainring at the front, so was down to two gears.
At that point, I was thinking that it might be time to call it a day - trying to complete the next 400 km with two gears, the biggest of which was a 42x25, didn't seem like a lot of fun. But Roger told me he could put the chain in a gear manually, and "fix" it there - I would still have only two gears, but at least they'd be a bit more functional. So I decided to do that, and see how it went - we'd be back to Abbotsford (and the car!) at 370 km, at which time I could re-evaluate. Plus, it had stopped raining, for the moment at least, which made the world a better place.
So we proceeded, and the rain held off for a few hours, but returned with a vengeance for the last few hours back to the 'overnight' control at Abbotsford. Everyone in our group had different plans - two wanted to continue after something to eat, two planned to sleep for a few hours and leave at about 4 a.m, and I was hoping to sleep (or at least, rest) for longer and leave at about 6. At about 4:30 a.m. though, I got bored with resting, and it was almost light out, so I set off. I managed to get a bit lost getting through the city, and added a few bonus miles before finding a gas station that was open and could direct me back to where I should have been going. After a couple of hours, I caught up with the Roger, Ali and Scott, and settled in with them. We stopped at a McDonalds for breakfast (egg bagel - really hit the spot), and after we started again the rain tapered off, so things were good again.
Or more accurately, they were 'almost' good. At that point, I was trying to ignore the fact that my ankles were *quite* sore, and that every pedal stroke was uncomfortable (this is an attempt at understatement - I was actually hurting big time). I managed to continue to ignore them until we stopped in Agassiz at about 540 km, at which point I took off my booties and socks to look at the damage. Bad idea! My ankles were a festering, blistered mess: the rain had turned my skin to mush, and my lovely warm, heavy wool socks had literally stripped the skin off. I slathered on Polysporin, took a handful of Ibuprofen to try to dull the pain, and off we went again. The ride up "Woodside" (with some 12%) made me realize that there's a reason that most bikes now have more than two gears, but it was the last significant hurdle and before long we were at the finish - where Patti Marsh had lawn chairs, snacks and drinks waiting (and even provided shampoo for a shower!).
In retrospect, I was glad I'd managed to
hang in and finish the ride - thinking about the 1200 km would
have been even more daunting without having completed a 600 km
this season. It was also a learning experience - those warm,
heavy, rough wool socks are obviously not the solution I'd thought
they were. The only problem is that I'm not sure what is!!
July 20, 2004