Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Skewered in Oakley

Looking west, towards Mt. Timpanagos, and Soldier Hollow
This past Saturday brought the fun and adventure of Heber Century. This was to be a great ride. The Heber and Midway areas are quite scenic, plus the added fun of riding to Soldier Hollow (the Nordic ski venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics) where riders were invited to shoot at the Biathlon range. The forecasted weather was for mild and sunny early, turning stormy, windy and rainy after lunch. The forecast turned about to be very accurate.
Fall colors near Wasatch Mountain St. Park
This ride had the possibility of being very educational, and I was looking for the opportunity to evaluate my level of cycling fitness and skills in certain areas; climbing, and riding in rain and high wind. Of course, if one plans for certain challenges and learning experiences, the ride always seems to result in completely different, spontaneous, and unpredictable learning experiences.

This of course, is what happened. Yes, there were high winds, and yes, there was rain in the afternoon, and of course there were several long climbs during the ride. But what I didn’t plan for was a mechanical issue that brought an early end to the adventure. And the funny thing was that on the surface, it seemed like such a minor issue, but it slowly ended up being a factor in ending my day at 82 miles.
Shooting "clean" at the range
A skewer; the front skewer to be exact. Somehow, sometime, the threads on the front skewer that fastens the wheel to the front fork became ever so slightly stripped. The issue that brought the ride to a halt is that the front wheel would not stay true and straight in the fork. So, I would dog down the skewer, the wheel straight and rolling free. Then, after a few miles I would notice that my pace was very slow, and taking a lot of effort. Checking the front wheel, I would find it rubbing hard against the brake shoe. So, I would repeat the process and start again. 2 miles on, 2 miles off.

The offending Skewer
So then I had the idea that I would unhook the front brake and ride to the finish. But, it occurred to me that there was a huge downhill from the Jordanelle overlook back down to the Heber valley, and that I would be riding 45-50 mph in rain, with only one brake. Ummmm…. Dumb idea. So, after all the wheel issues, 2 flats, helping with another, the wind and rain, I called Kathy from the Oakley rest stop, and said: “Come and get me.”
The new rear fender
I did learn a lot on this ride. First and foremost, the Heber valley is gorgeous with the resplendent fall colors. From a technical standpoint I learned that:
I still can shoot straight at the Biathlon Range at Soldier Hollow.
I can climb big hills, just slowly.
I rocket down big hills – top speed for the day: 48 mph.
I wore the right clothing for the day.
My new rear fender worked great.
I drank plenty of fluids, and ate well.
Mechanical issues suck.

So, what’s next? Getting a new skewer is obviously first. But, what about the rest of the year? I am not sure I am up to the climbing of the Zion 200 km Brevet on December 1st. A fellow rider on the Heber ride mentioned steep switchbacks up to Zion. So, I need to ponder and decide if I will be up to it. After all, long training rides will be few and far between in November. Other than that, it is time for some rest, and then some canyon riding.

Happy Fall Colors!
Snow on the mountains this morning!


Princess Pat from Zardonia said...

My Brother The Biathlete. I never expected I would ever say that!
But I am proud of you AND totally enjoying the photographs and accompanying essay(s). All is well here and at my new job.
Love, your Sis, Patsy

Pete H said...

Did it really rain the same day those photos were taken?

Vik said...

Sorry your ride ended early..=-(, but I'd rather see that then you have an accident on that steep downhill.

Do you find you don't need a front fender? I've noticed a few folks only running rear fenders, but it always seems to me like the small front wheel on bents is a prime candidate for some rain protection.