Friday, October 05, 2007

Mixed Bag

Got some new Pasela Tour Guards in 35mm width delivered yesterday and got them mounted up last night. In doing so, I did a quick once-over on my Quickbeam. Since I had wheels off to change tires I wiped down the chain and cleaned up the drivetrain a bit.

Thunderstorms woke me up in the middle of the night, but the good news was that by the time I was off on my way to work, it had stopped raining. The forecast was for overnight showers and clearing for a nice day, I figured that the roads would be wet, that it wouldn't rain anymore, and I could get away with wearing my cycling shoes, not with my plan to wear my cycling sandals if it were raining.

The new tires felt wonderful. Not 10 minutes from my house, it started raining lightly. The good news was that I had remembered to re-pack my rain jacket. Then it started raining harder. Soon my cycling shoes were soaked and squishy. I was only a couple of miles from the house. Since wiping down and cleaning my chain last night, I had not gotten the tension just right so I stopped under the bridge for Highway 280 at Como. I used the opportunity to be shielded from the rain to cover my Brooks saddle with something to protect it from the rain and adjust my chain. I paused for a moment to prepare for the balance of what promised to be a soggy ride in to work.

Things were going well, I had hot coffee in my cup, I was warm, my top was dry, I was running a little behind schedule, but it's Friday... "No big deal," I thought.

At Plymouth Ave and Washington, I stood up on the cranks to accelerate from the stop when my chain broke. The good news is that I carry a chunk of chain with to fix it (as all singlespeed riding-fools should) and there was an awning on the building to shelter me from the rain while I did a make-shift repair.

Evidently last night when looking in my Timbuk2 bag on the floor of the home bike shop and being startled at the sight of my Crank Bros multi-tool; I should have stuck with my sense of wonderment and acted upon it. I should have moved that tool to my commuting panniers. Because that very tool, at home, in my Timbuk2 messenger bag was precisely the tool that I needed at the corner of Washington and Plymouth Avenues to fix my chain.

I called Anika at home to talk through my options out loud I think. Part of me wanted to be rescued, part of me just wanted the tool delivered, part of me wanted the new chain in the box on the shelf that I thought about putting on my bike last night.

Instead, I chose to ride my bike like a skateboard down Washington Ave to One On One bike shop and coffee. I sat on the bike and coasted chain-lessly, kicking with one foot to propel myself down the sidewalk in the rain. It was faster than walking. When I got to OneOnOne, I'd hoped that I might be able to at least borrow a tool to fix my bike. I waited out back under a canopy for about 30 minutes until the coffee shop opened. Being cold and wet, I began to get cold so I donned the balance of my clothing; knee warmers and rain pants.

Walked around front to the entrance to the coffee shop and there was a guy locking up his Surly. The bike looked familiar. I asked "Do you work here?"


"Do you happen to have a chain tool that I could borrow?"

"Sure." digs through his bag to reveal the very same model of Crank Bros tool that I had left at home. "The chain tool part is a little cheesy, but it works."

"Thanks, I'll bring it in when I am done."

I then worked in the rain to disassemble two potentially failing links and fit a section in to make the chain long enough to be able to ride again. Soaked I went inside for a cup of hot coffee and struck up a conversation as I returned the tool.

It turns out that the reason the bike looked familiar was that I had seen it parked in the bike rack here at my office building a couple of days earlier. This is what I had suspected when I first saw the bike, and why the guy looked at my bike so inquisitively... but I didn't think that the likelihood would really be that we had just crossed paths again. Not only had we crossed paths again, we work in the same building, and he saved my sorry ass this morning.

He continued having his cup of coffee and I left to continue on my way into the office in the rain.

Lesson Learned:
Stick with my instincts.
  • Leave the chain alone and don't bother with maintenance, or as I thought about it last night when I did do maintenance, replace the chain like I thought I should have.
  • Put the tool in the bag that you ride with every day. Seeing it last night was a sign and reminder.
  • Wear the sandals when you think you should wear the sandals.
  • Bring a dry pair of cycling shoes and socks like I thought about this morning when getting dressed.
  • Bring in the drying rack to hang clothes on in my cube like I thought about doing yesterday.

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