If it wasn’t for my getting Danielle mad at me, today’s ride from Dodge Park to Metro Beach would have been comically bad. Monumentally, comically bad. (Really, it was probably a good experience, but just not filled with good things.) It involved me teaching someone to fix flats, my bike being hit damaging the rear brake, rain/hail/wind, and my falling over the handlebars while showing how quickly one can stop with a front brake.
To start, the start of this morning’s ride was postponed by weather, after which Brian (replika), his friend Mark, and I met up at Dodge Park. After getting my bike off the car I didn’t prop it up properly and it fell over, scratching up the rack and handle bar bit more. While getting ready to go Mark found that he had a flat rear tire on his road bike, which he didn’t know how to fix. I showed him how to fix the flat and we installed his spare tube, during which time Brian locked his keys in his car, and we had to wait for his grandma to show up with the spare set.
We then took off towards Metro Beach and everything was going well, up until right after crossing Prentiss, when Mark’s rear tire went flat again. We stopped and I showed him how patch it, but after he got it back on the rim and hit it with the CO2 inflator, part of the bead had pushed out beyond the rim, almost blowing the tire off. The tire was then deflated, adjusted, and when reinflating it no air would stay in. It seems that the Presta valve (oh, how I hate these) had torn away from the tube.
Some nice folks on recumbents happened by, asking if things were all right, and they pointed us to a bike shop back at Gratiot (about six miles round trip), so Brian and I headed over there to get Mark new tubes and some new CO2 carts. A little while and $19.04 later ($6.99 or so per tube!) we were back with Mark and we got his rear tire sorted out.
The ride into Metro Beach and back out was uneventful until a thousand feet or so before Crocker. Brian was riding in front, I was in the middle, and Mark was behind me. We came upon a jogger going the same direction as us who Brian went around, but because of people coming the other direction I braked and held back. Right as I braked I felt something slam into my bike from behind with a metallic scrape and crunch, and then I began slowing down even faster. Looking back I saw Mark taking a spill on the grass along the path behind me. It turns out that Mark was looking down to get out his water bottle, didn’t see the jogger, didn’t see me slowing, and just ran into the back of my bike. He said that he braked and tried to ditch on to the grass, but evidently he only managed to sweve right into the most vulnerable part on the rear of my bike. As we were going 16 MPH or so I guess it’s good that he hit me instead of the jogger, because then things could have been far worse (police, ambulances, etc).
Looking at my bike I found that Mark had hit the rear wheel and rotor, bending the rotor a good 10-12mm to the side and depositing a good bit of tire rubber on my disc and in the caliper. My rear wheel wouldn’t move easily and I couldn’t bend the rotor enough to get it to move. Wholly opening the pad adjustments didn’t help, so I removed the caliper only to find that the rotor was actually bent enough (photo above) that it was now rubbing on the brake mount. I then removed the rear wheel and removed the quite damaged rotor. I was then able to ride back to the car (another 10 – 12 miles), stopping only with the front brake.
Mark’s bike had a six or eight inch slice in his front tire, and the front tire was bent enough that we had to open up his front brake so the wobble didn’t cause too much drag. Thankfully it was still rideable, otherwise we would have had to leave him there and drive back with a rack.
We hurried up and packed tools and parts and such up, because coming right at us from the west were dark storm clouds and we (futilely) wanted to beat them to Dodge Park. Brian stashed our cell phones and water sensitive things in his pack, fitted the rain fly, I stuffed the brake parts and some tools in my bag, and we were off.
Within another mile (just after the I-94 underpass) we hit the storm and it was quite similar to the storm a few Sundays ago, complete with sideways rain, hail, and wind which nearly blew us off the path. The sweat was even being washed out of my Headsweats, running right down into my eyes and burning. Every pedal stroke made a squish feeling, and my shirt clung tightly to my chest. Hail was making a clattering sound on our helmets and stinging our arms and it felt like standing in the shower. Weirdly, people driving down Metro Parkway (16 Mile) kept honking at us.
To be honest, if one accepts the fact that you are going to get absolutely, completely soaked, riding in the rain (without rain gear) isn’t that bad. Not that I really want to repeat it, but it’s no worse than jumping in a lake clothed; only the wind and hail were bad. After twenty minutes or so of this (and the associated slow riding because of the wind) the storm had finally passed.
Riding along, approaching Utica Road, I was explaining to Mark how it’s not difficult to ride with just front brakes, how they provide most of your stopping power, and how if you brace yourself and stay back on the seat one can typically brake very hard without a problem. I proceeded to demonstrate this, braked a bit too hard, and ended up going over the handlebars and dropping on the pavement. Thankfully I only scraped my elbow and knee a bit, but it was a bit funny. I’m sure the people in the cars sitting at the intersection found it a bit entertaining as well. Thankfully that fall marked the last problem with the bike ride itself.
In the end, today I went 39.14 miles, averaged 14.5 MPH, and had a moving time of 2:41’13, despite taking just under six hours from arriving at the parking lot to getting back to the car.
Right before we were getting back to Dodge Park we heard my phone ringing, but as it wasn’t easy to get to (under the rain cover on Brian’s pack) we waited until we got back to the parking lot to check it. It was Danielle calling, and it turns out that I hadn’t been keeping a close enough eye on the time (to be honest, I hadn’t checked since before the collision) and we were going to be late, so she left to head home to her niece’s birthday party without me. Had I called Danielle and let her know what was going on things would have been fine, even if she had to leave, but I didn’t do that and that made things unwell.
When I finally got home I’d also found that my having left the adjustment nut for the brake hanging from the cable (I couldn’t get it past the ferrule, and in trying to do so stabbed the end of my thumb on a wire strand, making it bleed) was a bad idea, as somewhere between the car and the collision site it had worked its way free and fallen off. So, at this point I think I’m going to end up having to buy at least one new set of brakes. It would have been possible to just replace the rotor, but I’m lacking the adjustment nut and the rotors cost $30 – $40 each.
For a while now I’ve been wanting some Avid BB7 mechanical discs to replace my BB5s. As can be seen here (this also shows the adjustment nuts I lost), the BB5 brakes only have a pad adjustment on one side. Adjusting the other requires preloading the actuating arm and/or moving the caliper side to side.
With the BB7 brakes there are pad adjustments on both sides, so once the rotor is centered in the caliper both sides can be dialed in as needed. Also, the BB7s have considerably larger pads, which should make it easier for me to throw myself over the handle bars in the future. A set of 160mm BB7 calipers and rotors seem to cost about $55 for each end of the bike from the local(-ish) Tree Fort Bikes, so I imagine they’d be similar prices elsewhere.
I guess it’s safe to say that I won’t be biking anywhere for a week or so, though. There’s also a good chance that I now won’t be able to ride in the 46 mile charity thing I was supposed to do next Saturday, but we’ll see…