filthy bike!! and as I went that last little stretch home from El Cerrito BART to the house this afternoon, the chain/gears were “squeaky clean” with no lube left ANYWHERE! The weather (and other events, i’ll get to in a minute) all played very highly in my decisions around getting myself and my bike home in suitable condition to be able to meet my responsibilities for leading Sunday’s Grizzly Peack Cyclists Century Prep ride.
Events and warning signs tend to come in series of “threes”: in this case those three things were 1) my ride buddy canceling (prompting my stubborn streak to do the ride and get there on BART; 2) when going to take my bike out of the garage, considering using my commuter/mtn bike instead, and realizing only after i’d locked the garage and wheeled her onto the street “ooops, wrong shoes”, so back into the garage w/ the heavy bike i didn’t mind getting dirty, and out w/ my beautiful, lightweight road bike (and subsequent “skunk stripe”) but that great feeling of “sweet!” when describing how she feels to ride…. and 3) losing my green reg card on the way to registration (see below).
There is also a 4th warning sign, which actually occurred the week before, when I’d canceled my “Rapunzel and the Three Bears” ride due to rain and then found out the next day that maybe it only rained in the early morning… arrghhh!!! (and I had been REALLY looking forward to that one: from Fremont BART out to Milpitas, up Sierra Road (down Felter), up Calaveras Road (lunch in Sunol), and out Niles Cyn to Palomares Rd, up and over, finishing at Castro Valley BART), so I quite anxious to at least make a showing for the Cinderella ….so the mechanical incident which happened on the Cinderella otherwise would have happened somewhere in Fremont, and then my Rapunzel ride would have been cancelled for a different reason… that would have been even more disappointing than the rain…
Back to the Cinderella: Crowds were lighter than the norm this year and , well, i was one of those light crowds, but likely much later at each point than most… My ride buddy (and ride) very smartly bailed from going the morning of the event, so I decided to take myself out there on BART. Since I didn’t have advance notice, I ended up traveling on later trains and arriving much later than I would have had I just planned on taking BART all along. Arrived to a wide-open registration hall (actually much preferable to those many years when i’d arrive before 6am and then stand there in the dark freezing to death for an hour before they opened the building), although a few vehicles with bikes were still arriving as well. I had clipped my green reg card to my cue sheet holder for the directions to the Fairgrounds from Pleasanton BART, and somehow between the left hand turn from Valley Ave to Knoll Pkwy (??)/Gate 12 entrance a few hundred yards past the intersection I looked down to discover that the reg card (which i’d just looked at while at the intersection) had taken wing…. i went back and searched so i wouldn’t have to show up with the dumb “dog ate my homework” alibi, but couldn’t find it. But that
turned out to not be an issue anyway, at registration… good to know when i go brain dead in future and forget it at home or something….
Just as I was about to mount the bike to start the ride (i think about 8?? but probably later) the light sprinkle started. Then within minutes it was just dumping… but sneakily, intermittently. Somewhere just past the little bridge where Miles photo is and the left turn onto Foothill (??), I think around mile 3, my rear derailleur stopped working… I mean, NOTHING!! @#!!%#$!, so basically I was looking at doing a metric on a 3-speed in a deluge. Hey, I can do this, it’s a pretty flat ride, I say… I was determined to keep going as long as I could and while doing so, found that even the small “bumps” through the residential neighborhoods became ridiculously strenuous (the rear cluster was stuck in the smallest/hardest gear!). Kept letting one SAG vehicle after another pass, very determined to keep going. At one point (mile 5-6?) I finally pulled over where a SAG vehicle was about to load up a second bike/Cinderella, and I asked if he could take a quick look at my rear derailleur….. and he quickly diagnosed that the shifting cable was severed (at the shift/lever end), and then the cable was loose, so we removed it to avoid a chance of injury/accident from hanging pieces, etc…. Pedaled away in the rain and got to Robertson Park (1st Rest Stop) with the goal of 1) if NO cable was available, and if the weather was still crappy, then maybe SAG back to the start, and then get myself on BART so I could take my bike into shop over on home territory (The Pedaler in El Sobrante being my LBS of choice)… or since ThePed usually works the Cinderella and has a booth at the Expo, maybe have Jeff or whoever was working for him that day on the event, take a look there, and not have to make a special trip out to the shop today, or 2) plan B, see if the mechanic at the rest stop had the tools/parts to keep me on the road, and then (depending on weather), either complete the ride or hotfoot it back to the fairgrounds, at least with a new cable and call it a short day and a hot bowl of soup well-earned.
Well, long story short, it was door #2……. I’d gotten “most direct route” directions from some of the fellas at the rest stop (Arroyo/Concannon/Vineyard/Bernal) and was heading back and a few miles into it while on Concannon a SAG van loaded up w/ 3 bikes/Cinderellas waved me down to ask if I’d like a ride (since the roof-rack had one available track left). Well, my mama raised me proud, and she certainly raised me stubborn, but she didn’t raise me STUPID, so I gladly accepted my first ever SAG ride…. in over 25 years of cycling!! No wait, that’s actually #4, if you count 1) in 1998 or 1999, on the Cinderella I had two flats in quick succession within the first 5 miles, and while fixing the 2nd one, the SAG guy who stopped to assist discovered my tires were in really bad shape (sidewalls about to shred, i think), so I sagged back to the start (at that time it was Dublin HS, bought new tubes AND new tires, then restarted the ride around 10:30 and then i still completed it by about 2:30; 2) taking the AAA truck 3-miles after flatting in mile 103 of a solo century on my birthday (from Benicia to Calistoga for lunch, and back); and 3) accepting the ride from that kind TNT sag driver at the corner of Castro Ranch Rd and the T-intersection onto Alhambra Valley Rd that time I was with Estella and MaryBeth and we were meeting our friend Ann out in Walnut Creek or Pleasant Hill to ride up Diablo and have ourselves a casual little impromptu century (from Berkeley). In any case, it was the first time I ever SAGGED in from a ride to the end on an organized ride.
I had looked for friends while i shivered over my soup. Then got on the road back to BART… and with the platform waits/transfers (when the chill/wet started to take their effect), I was still home before 3pm. Soaked to the bone.
One thing that really pissed me off more than usual this year was the princess attitude of a lot of those Cinderellas. Not just the usual nonsense of inexperienced cycling gals being all over the road at the wrong speed (slow!) for the part of the lane where they were riding, but other stuff i witnessed, this whole “entitlement” vibe…. like the gal I passed shortly after having my derailleur cable pulled out, standing at the side of the road finishing up with a text msg or call on her cell… i call out “are you OK”… and she batted her eyelashes and flashes me one of those girly, helpless, charm-school smiles and tells me “flat tire”… now normally, i would be apt to give away my spare tube in a heartbeat, or stop and get out my tools and set to work to change the danged tire… but since she was just standing there with her make up and cell phone, and since she wasn’t even making any effort to take care of herself (granted, changing a tire in the rain isn’t the most fun, but as a cyclist you at least make an effort to be self-sufficient, right?). so suddenly my brain just switched to “oh hell no”, and I just kept rolling… Then when I get to Robertson Park, i’m looking for the mechanic’s tent, and there are like 20 gals or more under EACH of the two canopies.. and so I go down there asking, are you waiting for the mechanic? and they are telling me “no, we are waiting for the SAG” (and i’m thinking “dang, it’s only 10 miles or so back to the start!!!), and then I ask again, is this the mechanic’s tent” and i’m told, yes, it’s the mechanic’s tent, but he’s over there (pointing vaguely in the direction of the roadway)….then these gals are whining and complaining to the volunteers that they are not just being shuttled back to the start, because it’s raining, “and you could just throw a bunch of our bikes in the back of that truck and get us there” (and the volunteers have to explain they have other commitments so that is not possible at that exact point in time)…. and they keep whining, so I say “Ladies! you know this ride goes Rain or Shine… you had a choice to stay home!….Excuse me, I really need to find the mechanic!” so i’m heading off in the direction of the roadway and dirt parking lot, and on the sidewalk I see another person i recognize as a Spokesman volunteer and asks if he knows where the mechanic’s tent is and he tells me “well, THAT’s the mechanic’s tent (that all those Cinderellas are standing under waiting for “taxi” service), so he’s just using the dirt parking lot for his work stand…. and points me in the right direction…. and Steve kindly attached a new cable (and a new housing, because I’d forgotten to take that piece off the broken one, so I now have 1 black cable mixed in with all the pretty pewter ones). I ended up hanging around the rest stop for a while under the food tent finding more stuff to eat and chatting with the volunteers (and that’s where/when I started getting cold, just standing around and feeling soggy), then went up to the real restrooms, enjoyed some lively conversation with some first-timers from Sacramento who are so new to riding that they thought those little bumps in the first couple of miles were “hills”, and then was on my way, under my own power, back to the start, with the aim of getting back early enough to maybe clean my bike a bit for Sunday’s ride. hmmmm, first things first, wiped down the most offending muck, then lubed my chain… used the WET lube this time….(i usually use a dry-wax type), then upstairs, stripped down and took a really LONG, HOT shower, changed my clothes and threw all my soggy clothes into the washing machine.
Ben says it dumped really hard here for much of the morning, too! starting also about 8 a.m.
Strangely, i was able to clean my bike up just enough, have a nice dinner, watch a movie on TV with Ben, and was refreshed enough to lead the next day’s Century Prep Ride “Three Small Walls” for Grizzly Peak Cyclists…(from El Cerrito Del Norte BART up through Richmond, El Sobrante, Appian Way to Pinole, Century Route up through Crockett, McEwen, Franklin Cyn, Pig Farm Hill, Castro Ranch Rd and back to BART via Hillcrest) that was a wonderful adventure and blissfully sunny. I think we all deserve a ride in the sunshine!!
p.s. – I found me! (the following link is to the proof photo in the MilesJohn photography site, which owns all rights to the photo. you are free to download a copy of the picture from his site)
looks like i had a good time, after all!