Monday, July 28, 2008

Ambition and Surviving a Ride

I tried to get a jump on the heat and humidity this morning but my ambition was elsewhere. Can you have ambition for sleeping in? Today was a vacation day for me as is the rest of the week. I still managed to get away by 9:30.

The plan was to head out into Wisconsin then down to Red Wing but once I got on the road I reevaluated my plans and went south toward Northfield instead. My legs were tired and my right knee was feeling a bit painful but I was confident the Advil hadn't yet begun doing its thing.

It wasn't long ago on this route that I'd be surrounded by cornfields within 10-15 minutes of leaving home but I'm either getting slower or they're building more homes...actually both. The cornfields take a bit longer to reach these days.

It was a beautiful day and once the heat kicked in I only had to remind myself about those zero degree days I biked in last winter and how I'd much rather be too warm than frozen. That works every time.

I was overdue for the Kenyon loop so that became my goal.

I've been riding Mavic Ksyrium wheels on both my bikes for a little over four years. By far they're the best wheels I've ridden. In all the miles I've put on them I've only had three broken spokes. The first one came with about a 1000 miles on the wheels. I went another 32.000 miles, until earlier this spring before breaking another. My third break came today and it probably couldn't have come at a worse time. I was over 50 miles from home with the temp and humidity pushing into some uncomfortable territory.

I was out of the saddle on a climb when I heard a pop from my rear wheel. I stopped pedaling and looked back to see in an instant that my rear wheel was sporting an ugly warp. I got off to find that the situation actually could have been worse. The broken spoke wasn't on the drive side meaning there wasn't as much tension on it as the spokes opposite it. Still, there had been enough tension on the spoke that even with my brakes fully opened the wheel would rub at the warp.

I made a quick call to Flanders Brothers in Minneapolis to see what they thought about continuing to ride on the wheel and would I do more serious damage and risk a more catastrophic failure? They said it shouldn't be a problem as long as I went easy on it. And so I did.

I was in the middle of nowhere. I remember thinking that even with my Edge 305 tracking my progress I didn't really know how to tell Rachel where to meet me should I need to pack it in. Tammy was working. Hitching a ride was my best option should I need to. I'd left Kenyon behind 8 miles ago and I wasn't sure how far ahead the next town was because I was on a road I'd never been on since finding my legs and rhythm and feeling adventurous. I headed back in the direction I came figuring it would be the quickest way home but then I remembered that I'd just come through a bunch of road construction and I didn't really want to mess with that again so I circled back and pressed on.

I finally made my way to highway 52 and picked up a tailwind to take me home. I dialed the speed up without torquing the rear wheel and it felt fine even though it looked quite ugly. Did I mention that I prayed? Yeah, that's a big part of who I am. I prayed my way home.

Once I reached highway 46 I knew I'd be fine. I crossed back over highway 52 to see that the MinnCan project Tim has been blogging about had taken up residence east of Rosemount.

I was thinking that a sign on my back saying 'yes, I know my rear wheel is warped' would have been appropriate as I made my way into the more populated areas near home with drivers continually coming up behind me. I imagined that it must be obvious but I doubt many people noticed.

I reached home with over 105 miles on the day feeling fortunate that my wheel held up. I opened my truck's tailgate and set up shop shortly after arriving home and replaced the spoke. It's ready for tomorrow's ride. I've been neglecting my bike the past few weeks so it was nice to have this effort in the books.

I'd hoped this was going to be a high mileage week but you know what? My ambition is to take it easy this week. Ambition is a funny thing in addition to being an ever moving target.

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