Reality Check

Lest you think my bike commuting life always proceeds smoothly with never a hitch in my getalong, let me describe my ride the other morning.

I made the last day of my vacation a Monday to extend the sweet sleeping-in sensation one more day and give myself a shorter work week for the re-entry. Betsy Lawrence, founder of Belles and Baskets, suggested we bike to a downtown yoga studio for a sweaty 90-minute class, then get coffee—a perfect day-off activity.

The first hitch was that I couldn’t find sunglasses I knew I had been holding in my hand just seconds before we left my house. I searched a bit, then grabbed my back-up pair and we were off.

We weren’t more than three yards out of my driveway when I realized I needed to adjust the saddle height. Second Daughter had used the bike to make an emergency run for coffee and scones during the August 14 Spokane Summer Parkways event and it was far too low. I’d forgotten all about that because it happened a week ago before we went on vacation.

Betsy held the bike while I made an adjustment (I get a little thrill when I actually get to use the multitool I carry in my toolkit), then got on to test it. Too high.

She held the bike again and I adjusted it. Just right—or so I thought.

I rode another three yards and said, “We have to stop again. I didn’t center the nose.” When I fixed the height I totally ignored saddle placement and the nose was canted to the left, so out came the multitool again and I got the “Baby Bear” (just right) results for real.

After the left turn from my street into the bike lane on Southeast Boulevard we headed downhill. Within a few more yards I said, “Wait, the bike is making weird sounds.”

I could hear a steady plbplbplbplb sound—a little bit like a quieter version of a spoke card tapping—and a swiish-swiish-swiish on a regular beat that told me it was something on the wheel brushing with each revolution.

We got to a good stopping place another block down and pulled over so I could look for things that might be rubbing or ticking. I messed semi-randomly with various things like the fender attachments and placement, cyclometer, and brakes, checked that neither tire was losing air, and got back on.

The noises were still there but we decided to ignore them and proceed. About two blocks farther Betsy, who was riding behind me, suddenly exclaimed, “I’m riding without my helmet, aren’t I?!”

I looked back and sure enough, her hair blew freely in the breeze. I could visualize her helmet right where she’d left it: on my sofa in the front room while I looked for my sunglasses.

We briefly contemplated heading back since we still had time but decided to keep going. In case you’ve lost track, we had already had five hold-ups (counting the sunglasses). Rather than go for the even half-dozen we took the chance since we were already a third of the way to the studio and it was mid-morning so the traffic wasn’t too heavy. (Don’t tell anyone we violated the city helmet ordinance.)

We made it safely to yoga, sweated our way through, and had our coffee after. Riding back the plbplbplb had disappeared but the swiish-swiish-swiish was still there. When I got home Sweetheart identified a spot where the fender was rubbing the tire and fixed it for me with the tiniest of adjustments.

Bike commuting—always a breeze, right?

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4 Responses to “Reality Check”

  1. I took my chain off and cleaned it on Monday night. It was long overdue. During the process, I managed to damage the master link, so the next morning on the way to work my chain fell right off and I only found half of the master link. *facepalm*
    Of course, that was the one day where my daughter had a doctor appointment mid-day. Thank goodness for STA.
    Of course, when I got home I realized I’d left my keys at work. So, I call a friend (who just so happens to be home quite ill) to come let me in to my house. After I hang up, I find my keys in the bottom of my purse.

    Luckily, the rest of the day went better. Took the car to the bike shop to get a master link, picked up the bike, drove home to park the car, and then rode back to work.

  2. Thank you, Rachel, for saving me from thinking it’s just me who has days like this. And I love that you ditched the car once you had your bike working again.

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