My first ride of the season was a success… sort of.
The morning starts out with me scrambling to get my gear together, which, for anyone who knows me, is typical. The morning is crisp, but comfortable as I set out for work. As I had said in my previous post, I was determined to ride on the roadway as much as possible and so to the shoulder of 97th Street I venture. Very quickly I discover something that I hadn’t really thought about; the roads had yet to be visited by the street sweepers and so there was a winter’s worth of sand and grit lining the roads. As I skid and slog through the man-made sand bank, churning up an irritating dust cloud, I realize I have to venture further into the drive lane to escape these sand traps. I am not wholly comfortable with this, but I know that, ultimately, this is what I had set out to do.
Well, this isn’t that bad, I think to myself as I move quite harmoniously with the morning rush hour traffic. However, as I pass 137th Avenue, there is a marked change in the quality of road. I am traveling in the curb lane, the very same lane that buses travel in. As a result, the surface has become a ragged path of cracks, ruts, and potholes, as the soft asphalt presents itself in varying stages of age and decay. Speaking of age, my bike is old. My bike is cheap. My bike is not equipped with shocks of any kind. I notice that my jaw is becoming sore as I have been instinctively clinching my teeth for the past three blocks. Each imperfection in the road, it may go without saying, is being mapped on my arse.
I am about halfway to work; teeth clenched, arse assaulted, quads burning, breathing heavy, as I do my best to keep a quick pace so as to not hinder traffic, though I must say my fellow travelers are being most kind to me, if not indifferent when I think to myself, this seems to working out quite nicely… oh, shit! What was that? What just happened?
With a metallic ping, and my body quickly sliding backwards, I get across 118th Avenue and swerve to the curb just as my seat falls away from its post and drops to the ground.
Surprisingly, especially for me, I am not upset at this turn of events, even as I stare at the naked post protruding from the frame of by bike and ponder whether or not I could make it the rest of the way sans seat. I quickly disregard the idea as I snap back to reality and scan the road for debris. There, in the middle of the road, is the missing half of the bracket that, up to a moment ago, had been securing my seat to the sadistic looking pike that remains. I wait for a break in the traffic and then run out to collect the hardware. As I examine it I see that the bolt that secures the seat and bracket to the post has snapped. This firmly dashes any thoughts of a quick roadside mend and off again. I will not ride and walking will take too long, but lo! what is that on yonder horizon? ‘Tis a bus, and yea what foresight that I did pack my transit pass! I secure my bike to the front of the bus and I am on my way to work.
Over the lunch hour I go to the Sport Chek downtown to see what I can find in the way of seats. They have quite a few seats; only seats. Seats with no brackets, no posts, no hardware; just seats. Fortunately, one of the bike techs on duty is able to wrangle up a spare bolt, “from a pair of roller blades” in a box behind the desk. At this point I’ll try anything. I thank the young man and return to work to try out my find. I am delighted to see that the bolt, though different in design from the original, nonetheless fits. I am fairly confident I’ll be able to ride home.
My work day ends and I straddle my bike, once more ready to take on the streets. Seriously, if it sounds like I’m being overly dramatic about this aspect, it’s probably because I am; but it’s also because, up to this point, I didn’t think I had the attitude, the confidence, essentially, the balls, to properly ride on the road. I exit the loading dock and head out, strangely confident in my lunch time fix-up job. My handy work is quickly tested as the roads are just as rough on the way home. Add to this a perpetual wind blowing out of the north into my face, an unending pileup of sand that threatens to push me further and further into traffic, quads that once again are alight with lactic acid, and I am presenting the passing motorists with a puzzle: am I smiling, or am I grimacing with pain?
As I approach 137th Avenue, I can see the traffic start to get muddled as vehicles are entering and exiting from various positions. I take this opportunity to cheat and ride up on the curb and take a breather at the light. I figure I can ride for a bit on the sidewalk until I get past the bus terminal and the road opens up a bit more. As I make my way across the intersection and then the adjoining cross walk I’m met by a young family crossing the road, the father calling out to me, “Hey! Why don’t you try riding on the road!” Gah! He’s right, of course, and yet there is that part of me who really wants to say, “Piss off! I’m getting there!” That’s what I get for cheating. I immediately get back onto the road and press on, muttering to myself as I fight against the wind and sand blowing against my face. The remainder of the ride is trying, if uneventful. It will take a while for me to get into better shape, so I can’t get too discouraged with my first ride of the season.
That was Wednesday. I awoke Thursday to find the city smothered under a blanket of heavy wet snow.
Yeah, no. I’m not even going to try that…