Unless I get everything set up the night before, it takes me a while to get rolling. First, I put on the new fenders I bought for Little Nellie. Then I lubed her chain. Then I took out the garbage. And fed the birds. After an hour, I put my fanny on my bike and rolled down the street. My plan was to ride to Great Falls Maryland and, depending how I felt, ride on to White's Ferry where I would take a cable ferry across the Potomac and ride home. It would be a little over 100 miles.
As I pedaled down the road, I noticed right away that the ticking noise from my front derailleur had returned. I am pretty sure there is nothing too dreadful wrong with my bike, but the ticking is really annoying. I rode to the drug store to drop off a prescription. The pharmacy wasn't opened. I headed north on the Mount Vernon Trail, drug free.
On nice summer weekend days, the Mount Vernon Trail can become every bit as pleasant as the New Jersey Turnpike on the day before Thanksgiving, only the MVT is more crowded. Today wasn't so bad. You could tell that the occasional cyclists were among us. The wool socks and frogs gave this guy away.
|Wool socks and clogs are de rigeur this year|
|Much improved fashion|
|Never mind. Just some harmless waterborne lobbyists|
By this point it had become clear that, although my ticking friend was still with me, the skipping of the chain on the rear cogs was pretty much gone. So Brad the mechanic is batting 500. (In his defense, he told me that the ticking could easily return after he tightened the bolts on my chainrings, and that only then would he recommend more expensive remedies.)
I crossed over the 14th Street Bridge into DC and danced with the tour buses. I do wish we could get rid of these things. They belch diesel fumes and radiate heat while spewing out touroids who wander about disoriented. An elevated tramway would be so much nicer. Get on that Congress!
Eventually, I came to the Capital Crescent Trail where I found another glut of fair weather cyclists. I have a new rule: you can't use the trails around DC on nice days in July unless you ride your bike on them in subfreezing temperatures in February. So it is written so it will be! (Ramses was my great to the 10 power grandpop,)
I stopped at a Fletcher's Boathouse to re-load my waterbottles and decide which route to take to Great Falls, paved roads or the unpaved C&O Canal towpath. I chose the towpath because I haven't ridden it in months, and because it is a beautiful ride.
A few miles later, 18 miles from home,
The sound of the explosion was so loud that I thought it came from my front wheel. Alas, it came from the rear tire, a tire that I had replaced a puncture on only two weeks ago with lots of tyvek material for booting.
For the uninitiated, when you get a puncture in your tire, some material passes through the tire and penetrates the tube, wherein lies the air that makes your tire pneumatic. When your take the offending material out, you end up with a hole in the tire casing. My rear tire is riddled with these holes and one hole is particularly long and jagged. As you bounce along the tire flexes. As your tire flexes, it bites the tube. If it has jagged edges, it bites a hole in the tube. If it bites a hole in the tube, the tube complains by saying, ":BANG! " To prevent this from happening you need some material, called a boot, to cover the hole. I used Tyvek at the recommendation of my cycling mad ophthalmologist. As we now know, Tyvek is overrated.
I replaced the tube and put a patch over the jagged gash in my tire. Then I put a Tyvek boot over that. I decided that riding further from home on the towpath was probably not a formula for a fun Sunday, so I turned around and headed home.
Of course, the ride home went off without a hitch. I didn't see any cockatoos or wool socks and frogs or outrigger canoes. It was uninspiring, but the chicks were nice. (I add that only because as I write this my wife and daughter are watching Olympic waterpolo and oohing and aahing over the hot polo players.)
When I got home, I ordered three tires (two for Little Nellie and one for Big Nellie). Some day this week I need to buy some glue for my patch kit and another tube. And sign up for some fall rides. You wouldn't want those tires to go to waste now, would you?