Monday, September 7, 2009

Some Days Are Not For Riding

It's Labor Day. Not here of course, but in the US, so I have the day off. I had planned to drive out of town and do a longer road ride, one that started outside the impossible sprawl of Melbourne. Some days, it seems, rides just aren't meant to be.

The Morning
After sleeping in (just a little) I spent far too long writing back to ancient email and getting ready to go. The first sign of trouble was when I went to pump my tires and found my rear wheel not low, but dead flat. So, I changed wheels (changing tubes is for suckers!). Just as I was taking all my stuff to the car, it started raining. I planned to drop my snowboard off at the shop for (yet another) top sheet repair. The guy told me that it wasn't deep enough to repair (are you sure? that looks like wood to me...) A quick trip to the auto parts store for a headlight, and I'm off.

Get Rolling
I find a place to park in Beaconsfield, and get started. As I'm rolling out of town, I realize that somehow in transit, I've abraded my right shifter blade. It's functionally fine, but looks like hell. Later, I noticed a new scuff on my fork.

About 5km out of town, the road turns to dirt. This isn't really a problem, as the roads are still signed very well, and the roads are in good condition. It's actually been ages since I did a dirt ride on my road bike. Even better, I'm rolling through amazingly lush, green farmland. Cows take notice of me. Most run. But I'm going along at a pretty good clip. Left turn onto Pound Rd. and damn if I don't have a flat tire. Front. Who gets front flats? It's soft, so I ride it flat a bit, until the road points down, and I decide it's time to change it (and have a snack - after all, I'm nearly 10km into the ride).

Preparation is Key
Part of the reason it took me so long to get rolling this morning is because I was having trouble plotting a route. So here I am, with a flat, on dirt roads, and we haven't even gotten to the part of the ride that I thought was questionable. Now, since I've inadequately packed my seat bag, I'm out of CO2 and tubes (where is set #2? ) The only map I've got is on my phone, which amazingly, works great out in BFE, but I had no signal in town. So, 10k in, I'm rerouting, shaving off hours, not minutes from this ride, lest I really screw myself (where am I anyway).

So I soldier on down Pound Rd. I'm roughly convinced that I've found the dual carriageways of dirt roads. There is legitimate traffic. People are doing ~80kph. I managed to find road construction! (Never mind that it looked to me like six trucks watching one guy move a sign around) How far does one have to get out of town?

Keep Riding, You're Stuck
I make it to Cardinia, where I roll past a school with about 50 kids on bikes in a fence. It looks like a PE class. Some teacher is on a microphone. I hear her say "Here comes a great example of a cyclist." I wave. "He's wearing a helmet..." I didn't hear the rest, but I presume that she mentioned my dashing good looks. Unlike those clouds above me that would make Mother Nature nervous.

Naturally, I miss my turn another 5k or so down the road (probably because I didn't want to get off the pavement. I realize it about the time I hit a highway, and have to reroute down another dirt road to the booming town of Officer. Of course when I get there, I'm stuck against a highway again, so, once again, dirt road along the train tracks for a while.

Eventually, I make it back to the car, rather tired from all these dirt roads. It could have been worse though. I find that I've neglected to lock the truck. Luckily, all that was inside was two mountains bikes, my snowboard, my wallet, and some random camping gear.

So Tired
I contemplate staying on the bike a bit longer, but after realizing that it's now as dirty as my mountain bike, I bag it. I stop on the way home at the suburban hell-mall for a cup of coffee (maybe that ride was hard?) and a new plunger, as mine died in the dishwasher.

So let that be a lesson. When you're getting the signs to just take the day off, maybe you should listen!

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