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Sunday, January 30, 2011


Okay, I replaced my chain at Corinna's house on Thursday night. It only took me a couple of hours, what with it being my first time and me being a ninny and all.

Being as it was midnight when I got the sucker halfway figured out and it was a school night, I waived my practice ride at the time. Then, one thing and another, my plans to test it out on Friday evening or Saturday morning failed to materialize.

By the time I got downtown, it seemed I'd missed my chance and so I figured I'd find out soon enough. This was faulty thinking because it assumed the test would be positive. That I'd managed to over-shorten a chain, push a rivet completely out, figure out how to push a rivet back in, re-lengthen the chain, loosen an over-tight link and not fuck everything up is, well, this is me we're talking about.

The TV news guy got there about when I did, which is to say he was on time. Or early, as the 'three o'clock ride' doesn't as far as I know ever leave before 3:20.

Anyway, I got all my gear together and ready to go except for that pesky test ride. Including the balaclava I didn't think I'd need (but did) and the lobster claws I actually didn't end up wearing at the top of a pannier so I could access them quickly.

The TV news guy asked which way we'd depart, the idea being that the 3:00 ride crew would ride Corinna and Brian out towards Independence, which depended on a couple of things that didn't turn out to be true: one was that group wanting to ride toward Independence instead of Midtown, the other being me not being a ninny.

Corinna and Brian are on their way to Jefferson City for Bicycle and Pedestrian Day at the Capitol. This was a trip I'd seriously considered joining before deciding against making a winter tour with an extreme weather forecast (ice followed by a blizzard last I heard) my maiden voyage at riding such distances with no SAG support.

So as we set out to give the guy good footage, I promptly snapped my newly installed chain.

Luckily, Brian Gallmeyer is whip smart about roadside repairs, and even luckier the multi-tool that has lain dormant and unused in my Camelbak for almost two years has a chain break that was much more accessible than Corinna's or Brian's.

I got some good shots of Brian fixing my chain, but by then the TV guy was gone and the 3:00 ride people had decided to go up to Midtown to meet another rider. And, of course, the whole incident underscored how not ready I am for winter touring. The kinds of mistakes I make are ones better learned from when frostbite and hypothermia are not among the consequences of ignorance.

And even once Brian fixed me up, I had to be careful shifting. Try to go 'big to big' where my chain would be on my biggest chain ring and the biggest gear on my cassette and it'd lock up. Also, the chain kept slipping.

Which could mean the chain is the wrong length, has a stiff link or that my cassette or some other part of the drive train is ready for the transplant waiting list.

I learned a lot installing that chain, and while it would be possible to see some of the things I did as mistakes, a wise man I once worked for told me, 'If you learn from it, it's just tuition.'

When just the three of us were underway I did get to finally see the Nine Blue Sheep in the secret concrete canyon Corinna refers to in her '816' poem.

I rode note quite to I-435. Originally I'd planned to get at least into Independence with them, but what with the chain problems and my Mom wanting to watch the KU game, I had to turn around Truman & Manchester.

As I rode back, my chain was slipping. I had opportunities, because of this, to pause and take pics of downtown in the magic hour.

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