Work’s been, frankly, work the last few days. Haven’t had much time to work on the answer to world peace…with activities both Tuesday and Wednesday I was really looking forward to tonight, another exploratory trip around Minneapolis with Kate. Be good to get out, show my allergies who’s boss and get my second chance to try out the new pedal system.
I probably should have known something was up when I went out to start Twinkie at work and discovered the battery nearly dead. It had been sitting in the lot now for almost a month - I told myself I should really figure out what is draining the battery and fix it. One of my coworkers loaned me his portable jump starter; I got Twinkie started and figured it would have a chance to charge on my way over to her place.
I took care on my ride over to make sure I ran the engine a bit faster than normal, in order to charge up the battery as much as possible. I had the portable jump starter, so I wasn’t overly worried.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by Kate’s new, friendly, 5-month-old kitty, Sojo. Friendly as could be, she followed me around the house and into the bathroom while I changed and applied sunblock. There’s just something magical about a curious little kitten that’s finally big enough to get to all the places she desires.
We headed out from her place, heading down to the trail. Other than the wind, it was the perfect day for a ride. Partly cloudy, 80 or so, low humidity. She had some concerns about her ankle, so she had mapped out a ride that was fairly flat. This was just fine and dandy from my perspective…most of the trip her route would put us on trails I had never ridden before, and with my new pedals and shoes, I was also a bit concerned myself about pushing too hard.
It took me a minute or two to get both feet clipped in - we spent the first few blocks talking about how important it was to unclip when we approached intersections. (She had already given me a little grief about it here) I explained that, considering how long it takes me to clip in, it will still be some time until I get into the habit of unclipping at every intersection. No more than two blocks down the road, we come up on a busy street and have to stop to wait for traffic. I stopped my forward momentum, but I didn’t unclip, thinking I could balance in place. Why I thought I could do this, I’ll never be able to explain, but I soon feel myself falling to the pavement. My brain quickly decides that there’s nothing I can do to stop the fall…the best I can do is keep the injury restricted to me (luckily, she was leaning to her left, giving me just enough room to fall without hitting her) and break my fall with my knee and elbow.
I was already laughing before I hit the ground. Not only had we just spent the last few minutes talking about this exact situation, but also I had pretty much dismissed the possibility of falling in my previous post. I picked myself back up, shoe (but not foot) still attached to the left pedal, and walked across the street. On the other side, I sized up my wounds (mostly scrapes, but blood was visible on both knee and elbow), put back on my shoe and we proceeded down the road. When we arrived at the next street, I clipped out both feet WELL in advance of the stop, thank you very much! I had learned my lesson…and if I forgot it, my riding companion was there to make sure I was reminded frequently during and after the ride. ☺
We rode down to the river, followed that north to downtown Minneapolis. In order to pick up the Cedar Trail (have to remember to look on a map where in the heck the entrance is along the river!!!) we took Hennepin down past Block E, the Theatre District, the Basilica of Saint Mary and the Walker Sculpture Gardens. There we picked up the Cedar Trail and rode it over to Uptown, where we stopped to eat at Chipotle. Yum-E!
Refill the tummy, refill the water bottles and we’re off once more. We made quick work of Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, and then hopped on a trail that took us along Minnehaha Parkway. While there were many things to see on the other parts of our journey, the ride along Minnehaha Creek was absolutely beautiful and wonderfully shaded. We turned off the path and biked back up to the house, uphill. With only two blocks to go, my front chain guard came off, yet another thing on top of the questionable Twinkie and my clipped-in fall from grace.
After cooling off (and in my case, cleaning my wounds!) we sat back and enjoyed a few frosty beverages while we traded stories. Just like the last time, it was a great ride. We pulled in just a hair under 24 miles, which seemed just about right considering the shape we found ourselves in at the end of the ride. (She had her ice packs, I had my field-prepared wound cleansing pad made of paper towels)
As the sun goes down, my visit comes to an end. Kate and Sojo (Pita, her older cat, showed up, too) waved me bon voyage. I walk out to Twinkie, kinda suspecting Twinkie wouldn’t start. It doesn’t, so I waste no time in hooking back up the portable jumpstarter, turn Twinkie over and head out down the block. About 2 blocks down, I notice my lights are really dim…a few more blocks and Twinkie dies when I lift my foot off the accelerator to brake at an intersection.
If I run with the headlights, Twinkie refuses to run. (Keep in mind, the sun went down and it is now pretty dark) If I stick to parking lights, I can hobble my way home. Least I hope. A few more miles down the road, I feel a pull on Twinkie’s engine. Even with the headlights off, Twinkie is chugging along and misfiring. I can’t get more than 2000 RPM out of the engine, meaning that every uphill I slow down more and more. I never realized just how hilly it was ‘round here!
I make the decision to bring Twinkie home, instead of back to work. I forgot that I live on top of a hill. With Twinkie even chugging up tiny inclines, I knew it wouldn’t make it up the hill near home. I pull off the road at the bottom of the hill, turn off everything I can and run the engine nearly full-speed for 5 minutes. That must have charged back up the battery enough that I could just manage to get Twinkie to the top of the hill, where it promptly stalled once more. I was, however, able to coast it into the parking lot and into a spot.
Knowing I would have to ride my bike to work, I decide to unpack it tonight and bring it upstairs. When I go to reattach the front wheel, I notice the quick-release is nearly stripped! I managed to get it reattached and secured, but now I need to make time to order and install a new front axel. Whoopee! Guess I’ve been tightening down the quick-release too much or something.
So, tonight was a collection of up and downs. Up, the ride was wonderful, weather was great and it was neat-o to get to know Kate better and Twinkie managed to persevere in getting itself and me home. Down, Twinkie’s got a current leak somewhere, I’ve got wounds on both my left knee and elbow and I need to fix up my bike, meaning only necessary rides tomorrow and until I get the parts.
Things I also learned tonight:
- Kate’s family almost single-handedly bankrupted a fledgling non-profit
- Dan Patterson is not Dan Brown
- Men don’t wash their elbows nearly enough
- It is far easier to “roll” into my pedals than step into them