Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I went to 'cross practice and all I got was this broken tooth.

For the first time in, what? Three? Four weeks? the Portland and I finally made it back to Frick for Tuesday night 'cross practice. Of course I didn't get there in time for the 6:00 clinic, but at least I was there before sprints started.

When the sprints did start, I realized that I probably should have actually eaten something before heading out. Maybe if I'd had more time. I was okay for the most part, but I could feel it each time on the way back to the starting line.

The race laps seemed to go a little bit better, and everything was going really well until we started this one little climbing section. I decided to take advantage of my granny gear, but I was probably already working too hard when I downshifted and the chain popped off of the rings.

No big deal there. I got off, reseated the chain, and kept going. The only problem was that it kept wanting to fall back onto the little ring. In fact, the only way I was able to keep the chain on the middle ring was to shift the front derailleur to the big ring trim position. Something wasn't quite right.

Since we finished at about 7:25 and I was over in Squirrel Hill anyway, I figured I might as well stop by Pro Bikes to see if anyone had time to look at it. I was fine with leaving it there, too, since I had driven to practice, but I thought maybe I could even learn a thing or two.

I got to the shop and there wasn't a whole lot going on, so Jake put the bike in a repair stand and started looking around. At first he thought that it might just be the cables that needed adjusting, but after trying that and messing with the limit screws, the chain still had no desire to hang around on the middle ring.

Jake took a closer look, and it was then that he realized that there was a tooth missing on the middle ring. Almost definitely from that ill-timed/advised shift I described a little earlier. Once the crank spun to where the tooth was missing, the chain dropped back down to the granny.

Now the Portland's sitting at Pro Bikes, hoping that there's a middle ring somewhere in their basement waiting for it. I hope so, too. I'd really like to have the bike back before the weekend so that I can go up to Grove City for the 'cross race on Sunday. I didn't make it this past Sunday, due to weather and overall tiredness.

After getting back to practice tonight, I really want to get on a course and find out how bad I suck. I just want to race. And finish. We'll see what happens. Assuming I get the bike back in time.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

It was a year ago yesterday that I wrecked on the Eliza Furnace trail while riding home from work. I still can't believe that I was lucky enough that my friend Chris was riding with me that day.

I'm sure that some stranger would have called an ambulance for me, but who knows what would have happened to my bike. Even if someone else had called, it's still not completely clear that I would have let the EMS guys take me. Chris had to talk me into getting into the ambulance, because apparently I thought I could get back on the bike and ride home by myself.

One more time: thanks, Chris!

To celebrate the occasion, I hopped on the bike after work last night and rode down to Confluence (my former employer on the North Shore, not Confluence, PA). From there I went across the 31st St. Bridge, up through Polish Hill, Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, and then back home.

Stayed on my bike the whole time. Felt pretty great, actually. It's good that I was able to put in more miles than the same day a year ago.

It was definitely a little odd being in and around downtown Pittsburgh with all of the G20 stuff going on. There weren't any protesters visible, but the whole city was pretty dead. No traffic on the way through town. Police and national guards on either side of any bridge. I was able to get where I wanted to go without any trouble though, so I was happy about that.

Not sure what the weekend will bring. I'm waffling as to whether or not I should register for the cyclocross race at Raccoon Creek on Sunday. Really, I probably should.

I'm a little nervous about racing 'cross for the first time, but the only way to get that first one out of the way is to go and do it. It'd probably be better to get this one under my belt before heading up to Grove City next Sunday.