Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fourth Group Ride (The ride that wasn't)

Yesterday afternoon Jer and I met the team at Fort Indiantown Gap for our fourth official training ride.  It was the coldest day we experienced yet, with highs only in the upper 30's and a little wind to boot.  Thankfully the sun was shining.  We arrived at our meeting point earlier than usual and team members and TNT alumni started pouring into the parking lot.  By the time we were ready to leave we had around 15 people with us, our largest group yet.

We started off at Memorial Lake, and the plan was to meander our way around the Fort Indiantown Gap and Jonestown area.  I realized early on in the ride that my bike was making some new noises from the rear gears but I was determined to keep with Jer this week and ignored what I heard.  I just kept pedaling (I'm proud to say that I was staying with the fast group) through the hills and was figuring out how to shift properly during the elevation changes.  I noticed when I was going uphill that my gears weren't exactly cooperating with me and finally about 10 miles in, my chain came off the rear gear.

Now, for those of you who have read previous blog posts you will know that I have a little problem when it comes to stopping.  I must have made some progress though, because when I felt all my bike gears seize up I quickly unclipped and came to a stop without crashing. :)  Up until that point I was hanging tough with the lead group and I was so disappointed that I was now going to fall behind.  My friend Adam stayed with me until our mentor Chris arrived a few minutes later.  He checked things out, made a quick adjustment, and off we went.  The rest stop in this ride was only a couple of miles down the road so when we got there we caught up with the fast group and all was right with the world again.

Fast forward 2 miles: my bike went crazy.  Even though we thought the adjustment Chris made earlier would work, it wasn't meant to be.  My chain dropped again, and Chris fixed it again.  After another mile, my chain starting moving gears on its own.  So I stopped again, and Chris fixed it again.  After about another half mile, my chain started skipping (acting like it wanted to change gears, but it wouldn't).  So I stopped again, and Chris fixed it again (starting to see a pattern here?).

It was such a frustrating experience - I had been doing so well and I just wanted to keep up with the riders but I couldn't.  Over the next 7 miles Chris and I must have stopped and started 88 times... tweaking this, twisting that, trying anything to make my gear system cooperate.  Finally Coach Kui caught up with us and we all determined that I wasn't going to make it back without doing damage to the bike or myself.  Jer was basically finished with the ride at that point, so he came and picked us up on the side of the road and drove us back to the finish.  While we were waiting for Jer to come, I had some time to think about the ride and why I was there in the first place.  As frustrating as it was for me, I had to put it in perspective... it doesn't even compare to the frustration of those diagnosed with and undergoing treatments for cancer.  Or the frustrations their families experience.  And frustration isn't even the right word - what they go through is so much more.

When we got back to the parking lot we called World Cup right away and they told us to bring my bike right over and they would check it out.  I was hoping they would be able to fix it, so I could ride with the Lancaster team on Sunday and still get my training in for the week.  As soon as we walked into the store, they took my bike and came back with the diagnosis.  I had a trifecta of issues:  my wheel was bent, my chain was bent, and my rear arm hanger was bent.  Since they are SO AWESOME, they fixed everything right away and my bike is 100% ready to go.  Our best guess is that everything bent when I fell a couple of weeks ago coming to a stop.  Note to self: if I am going to fall, try to fall to the left side to avoid harming the gears on the right side.

On a positive note, for the first 10 miles of the ride I was hanging tough, I managed to stop quickly when my chain dropped twice without falling, and since I had to stop and start so many times when Chris was trying to make all of those adjustments I think I'm pretty comfortable with that process now.  OH - I also managed to drink and drive (see earlier blog post for explanation).  So, even though I wasn't able to finish this week, I definitely learned a lot and have even more admiration for my local bike shop. :)

A quick update about Jer's ride:  He finished our longest and hilliest ride with flying colors and still managed to come to my rescue by the side of the road.  Not too shabby.

Click here to see the route!

Ride Stats
Total distance: 44.76 km (27.8 mi)
Moving time: 2:01:55
Average moving speed: 22.03 km/h (13.7 mi/h)
Max speed: 55.00 km/h (34.2 mi/h)
Elevation gain: 600 m (1969 ft)


  1. Sorry you had a tough time, pal. Glad your bike is fixed, though! Ride on!

    1. Shel - it's you and me together this week! I'm determined to keep up! :)

  2. Jenelle, this is all part of the learning process and you have the right attitude. Cycling is an 'endurance' sport for a reason. One's ability to endure can increase exponentially over time. In the meantime, remember your ABC's and quick check: check your air, brakes, cassette, chain, crank set, and quick releases before each ride. For the brakes, if you spin your front and back wheel while holding the brakes, you can see that the wheels are true and the brakes properly aligned. Same goes for the chain and crank set. Lift the rear wheel and spin the crank a few revolutions, watching the alignment (and sag in the chain, if any). Sag means stretch (new chain) and misalignment (or skipping) means you need an adjustment. Ride smart. Ride safe.

    1. Thanks for the advice Chris! Jer and I will definitely check out the website for more tips. I knew there was something wrong, but I decided to ignore it which turned out to be the wrong answer. Looking forward to your visit and having you ride with us!

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