Sunday, December 13, 2009

First ride

I decided to take Gia out today hoping I could get in a good hour's ride in between rain spells. But it was not to be. So she has now been rained on and even had her first tip over accident. She's been christened, that's for sure.

Apparently, riding a new bike with narrower tires than I'm used to, a different gear shifting mechanism than I'm used to and a new pedal cleat system when it's raining off and on and the ground is full of debris is not actually a good idea. Even so, I did okay. I was a little wobbly in parts, but the shifters are pretty intuitive and I like the Look pedals. They are pretty easy to clip into in spite of the fact that they only clip on one side. But I think the tension on them is a bit tight for me because I had some trouble getting out at times.

I started out on my usual "no destination in mind" ride which is an out and back on the Alameda Creek trail. From my house to the bay and back is around 20 miles so it's a nice ride and it's flat so I can go all out. I also use the underpasses as little mini-hills. I try to race down them and then get back up the other side without shifting into an easier gear. My theory is that it will make me stronger on real hills, but also it's fun.

But I didn't get very far before I ran into an old friend going in the opposite direciton.


Jobob and I go back to my days as a rabid figure skating fan and skater. But over time our interest in figure skating waned and we only kept in sporadic touch. Until I got into triathlons and found out Jobob had gotten into long distance biking! So now we sometimes go biking together and talk shop. She's training for the Solvang Century and I'm training for Wildflower Long Course.

Anyway, Jobob was on her way to Mission Coffee which is her "no destination in mind" ride, but at the other end of the trail, more or less. So I turned around and went with her. I also got to show off Gia. Jobob and her husband are into retro bikes so I knew they'd appreciate her. Jobob was particularly taken by her chromed lugs.

The trip out was fairly uneventful. I played with my gears and my pedals and was generally riding pretty lazily with low cadence. At Mission Coffee, we got muffins and hot chocolate and talked bikes for a while and then headed back. That's when things got interesting.

First, I dropped my water bottle trying to get it back into its cage. I have never done that in a year of biking. How embarrassing! Then, we were going down a fairly steep hill to get back on the trail and I decided that I would walk it. The combination of wet pavement and debris ending rather abruptly with a turn and a new bike intimidated me as I've gone down similar hills on that trail with no issues. But, after slowing to an almost complete stop, I couldn't clip out of my right cleat! So I tipped right over. Gah.

I wish I could say I'd never done that before, but I have. This was my best tip over yet though. I didn't bleed and was able to hold Gia up somewhat to cushion her fall. I did get a mar in my new tape, which annoys, but no scratches anywhere. I guess it's like skating. You have to learn how to fall because you are going to eventually.

However, after that, whenever I shifted into the biggest gear in the back, a horrible noise was emitted. I couldn't see anything wrong though, so I just didn't use that gear. But I also slipped the chain when I shifted the front into the smallest gear and that hadn't happened before either. I was getting worried I'd done something major to Gia on her first real outing.

But it was raining again and I had no tools on me, so I had to ignore these issues until I got home. I rode with Jo to the place she gets off the trail when who should we encounter but Mr. Jobob! So he got to admire Gia too. He also looked over her derailer and speculated I had bent the hanger thingie. (Except he used the correct term which I've already forgotten.) Ugh, I sure hoped not.

Then I turned around and rode home. In the strongest rain yet. I actually got some drops in my eyes from my helmet, which usually doesn't happen. But rain doesn't bother me like wind does, so I really didn't mind.

I did mind how dirty Gia got. My poor baby! My new wedge was filthy too. I'm going to have to break down and get some portable fenders to get me through the winter. And gloves with full fingers too as my fingers were frozen for all of the ride expect the part where I borrowed glove liners from Jobob.

Either that or do all my rides inside when the weather gets bad. Ha ha ha. Like that is going to happen. (I hate the trainer and enjoy biking in the rain. You do the math.)

I cleaned Gia down thoroughly when I got back and got a chance to look into the gear shifting problem with plenty of light and without being rained on.

I figured out that the horrible noise when in the biggest gear was coming from the spokes rubbing on the chain! The chain was actually in the right place, but the wheel was not. It had gotten knocked slightly to the left in the fall and that was the problem. I was able to get the tire straight between the brakes and that was enough to stop rubbing on the chain.

So that problem was solved fairly easily. Plus I felt rather pleased with myself that I was able to fix it without a trip to the shop. After that I couldn't get the chain to slip off the crank, so either fixing the back wheel fixed that problem or it's an intermittent issue that I'll have to keep an eye on.

I then figured out how to get my blinky light on so it's set for my next ride. I still need to get a mini-tool and tire levers and I need something smaller to set off my CO2 cartridge as the gun-like thing I have now doesn't fit in my new wedge. It's super small for racing!

So that's it... my first real trip on Gia. Hopefully next time it will be sunny out, or at least not wet, so I can start really taking her through her paces. I can tell she's faster than Herbie even with having to go slower than I wanted to due to the slippery conditions. But, being a numbers geek, I want to get some numbers.
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