Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Freedom Ride - 4th of July with Hills

Starting ODO
I had this idea over the weekend that on the 4th I would do my old default loop in West Seattle.  That would mean no driving my bike to the flats to ride, it was time to stop fearing the hills and start riding them.  The thing about where I live and riding any distance greater than about 3km means I will finish my ride with a hill.  So today wasn't so much about independence day freedom as it was freedom from fearing hills.

old skool work stand
If I was going to ride hills I needed the bike with the best granny gear and that is the Passage, however the passage has a badly out of true rear wheel.   I figured I could get rubber on the stock 40 spoke wheel faster than I could true the newer but wonky wheel so I decided to do a swap.  With the Ritchey waiting patiently in the work stand to be finished I went old skool and flipped the Passage over like every kid learns to do and got to work.

Step one was getting the current wheel out and setting it aside for a date with the truing stand.

Step two was getting the stock rear wheel shod, I used the tire and tube it came with when I bought it and in no time I was ready to go.

whats wrong with this picture?
Fortunately its a holiday so the purist police have the day off, so many things are wrong with the picture above!

  • The wheel-set is mismatched
  • the tire width's are different
  • new chain old free-wheel
  • and worst of all he's paired a tan sidewall with a black sidewall oh the humanity! 
It may look like a hot mess but its a functional bike and at 9 am I am ready to ride.

About a mile into the ride I encounter Lincoln Park and get to ride on gravel trails, note that riding one handed to take pictures can be hazardous when you encounter patches of soft sand, I managed to stay upright.

In the upper part of the park I see a group of ladies practicing Tai Chi.

And sun dappled playing fields and then I descended to the lower part of the park where it meets Puget sound.

To my left a ferry waits to take people to Southworth and the Olympic peninsula.

To my right the trail beckons, back in my narrow tires days this route was a good skills course because 23c tires on gravel can be a challenge, the wider tires make it much easier.

As I got to Alki I skipped the bike path and stuck to the road, this stretch of beach is a popular place any time in the summer and especially on the 4th and it was rapidly filling up at 9:30 in the morning.

sum of all fears

And then it was time for the big test, Avalon hill which goes for about a mile at a steady 6% grade.  I have ridden this hill hundreds of times including on a single speed while commuting one fall but I had been avoiding it like a girl I had a bad break up with.  In the last week I have been more focused on my health, walking and juicing and even doing planks.  I decided it was time to stop fearing the hill and time to take it on, and I finally conquered it at 6 kph - that's 3.75 mph for those of you keeping score at home.  I'm not slow, I'm glacial.  The only reason I got the shot above is because I had to stop for a light.

It felt really good to get to the top, I passed the bus stop where I had ended my ball park ride, I passed the cross walk I had rode up to for my Tour de Lopez training in April, I just kept chugging along until I got to the top and had to stop myself from yelling triumphantly.  It's not a gnarly or epic climb but had been in my head for a while and it was nice to complete it.

I was feeling so good about myself that I went up the final slight incline to my place -maybe a 2 or 3% grade - in the middle ring, I have been granny ringing this stretch.

I did have a few issues on the ride:

  • I couldn't shift cleanly into the granny ring and the chain would come off shifting into my lowest gear.  there is a pie plate on the rear wheel so that wasn't a big deal but I did have to dismount to set up the granny gear a few times as you can see by my greasy index finger.  I guess I was "index" shifting 
  • My saddle felt a touch low so I will adjust that before my next ride
  • I noticed right away that my stem/bars were not aligned straight so I had to do a roadside adjustment for that
  • The headset felt a bit loose and when I put my hand on the cap piece I could hand tighten it! which I did while riding so I need to adjust that for sure before I ride the bike again.
Final ODO
So 21 kilometers in the books today but more importanly no driving my bike to a flat spot to ride just to avoid hills.  Ride up hills. Smile. Repeat.

Happy 4th

PS this is my 40th post this year and a new high water mark for most posts in a year and we're only at the halfway point!  I have lots of projects and hopefully more fun rides to do this year so I expect to keep on adding to the total.

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