23 June 2011

Bike-commute day 42—to gym and almost home

Wednesday, 22 June 2011.

The weather was perfect as I left work, though the sky was filled with growing cumulo-congestus clouds and variable winds were buffeting the trees in the parking lot. Generally the wind was from the south, so I anticipated a quick ride up to Eastwood Park—enough time, I thought, to make a quick side trip to the gym and do some shoulder and arm exercises.

On my way to the gym from the Woodbine crossing, I saw a guy in his pickup who I had seen often working in his garden. I turned around for an introduction—his name is Scott—and a bit of information about each other. He recognized me from my passings to and from the gym, and mentioned his former use of a bike that now hangs on pegs in his garage, his promise to his wife that he might buy her a "recumbent tricycle," and his knowledge that the bikeway is so close. He also spoke of his trade recently of his gardening services for a window-installed air conditioner, and that the trade meant several hours per week of visiting his friend's home for the garden work. I mentioned my stop at the gym on my bike-commute, and he nodded in corroboration of what he assumed had been the case.

He was gone when I biked back from the gym, and the winds had kept their strength and direction, so I arrived at Eastwood Park in faster time than usual. The winds were not at all against me as I headed west-southwest along the Mad River, but the heavy cloud cover had turned ominous. I saw cumulo-nimbus forming above where I assumed Moraine lay, and possible wisps of rain falling in the area of Trotwood. With just the right timing, I could make it home before sprinkles dropped at home. I warned Rick the Walker as I passed him that he might not make his return before the storm.

As I dropped through the underpass to Findlay Street bridge, I noticed a severe wobbling in my front wheel, and I slowed to ease the angled response needed for the turn. The wobbling increased, and the front wheel softened as I slowed to a stop: the tire was flat. Well, that means I won't beat the storm home, even with the fastest of tube changes. Better call Chuck, since the storm could be severe. He was out shopping at the Siebenthaler Kroger, and I gave him my location for picking me up.

I walked the bike up to the corner of Monument and Findlay, where Chuck would expect to see me, and began to replace the tube. By the time I loosened the nuts, pulled off the wheel, pried off the tire bead, and replaced the tube, light sprinkles started to fall. As I thumbed the bead into the rim and pumped up the tire, the sprinkles had turned to a light rain. Worse weather was on its way from downtown, and I saw Chuck coming from the same direction.

I returned my tools to the seat pouch, packed my bike and the front tire separately into the back seat, and took the passenger seat. The storm unleashed itself as we left the gravel side lot, and became more and more ferocious as we headed west on Monument. Chuck was full of I-told-you-so about the day's prediction of rain and I-worry-about-you for the potentially unsafe riding conditions. I, defensive, argued that I, but for the flat, would have been home before the storm had reached this intensity. The topic shifted and returned and shifted again as we turned onto Salem and toward the last mile home.

Ride conditions
Temperature: 79 to 84°F at 17:15
Precipitation: none, until the flat, then an extremely heavy thunderstorm
Winds: 5 to 15 from the southwest
Clothing: Skinsuit, ankle socks, open-finger gloves.
Bike: Lotus Legend fixed gear
Time:  00:40:07 for 11.45 miles
Heart rate: 125 bpm HRave, 144 bpm HRmax
Bikeway users: 18+6 cyclists,* 2 pedestrians, 1 dog
Here is a playback of the ride.

*6 bikes parked or laid beside the bikeway, riders not seen

I checked the tube replacement on Thursday morning, reseated the tube, and shook in a lubricating dose of baby powder. Some time after returning the wheel to the front fork and inflating to riding pressure, I heard a huge POP! and the tube had exploded the tire off the rim. So Thursday became a drive day.

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