Fair to say I’ve had a challenging few days. There’s been frustrations and a fair amount of heavy lifting at work (which I won’t say much about here) and there’s been challenges galore on the cycling front. First there was the flooding, then a puncture, then that cotter pin, and yesterday there was more.
Friday morning was such a busy and tiring one that when I finally got home I simply couldn’t face the ride round to my fiancé’s. I didn’t have the energy, or for that matter the time. Yesterday morning though I had no excuse and set off into town. I got about half a mile before I heard a rumbling – a speed-dependent rumbling, which to my mind is the worst kind. Now bear in mind I have riden my bike at least three miles since I fixed the puncture, it was only at this point that my rear wheel came loose in the way it has done twice already. The chain pulls the wheel out of place, meaning the side of the tyre furthest from the chain starts rubbing on the frame. Pretty soon the resistance is such that you just have to stop. All I can think is the road I was on today was a little bumpier and may have shaken things loose.
Sod’s law of course kicked in, and because I’d been working on that other bike I’d taken my trusty adjustable spanner out of the saddle bag and not put it back, so a three minute roadside fix became a fifteen minute walk home, having to carry the bicycle all the way. Not fun. I put the bike away, swore a little and jumped in the car. So now I’d broken my “no car to town” rule twice in the space of 16 hours. That wasn’t the only rule I’d broken.
I can hear my Mechanical Assembly lecturer, a lovely guy called Colin, now: “always, always, always torque your bolts to spec, using a calibrated torque wrench.” This is probably why so many people find it “easy” to strip the bolt threads, they do it up too loose, have the wheel slip, then overcompensate and crank it way beyond spec because they’re not measuring the torque. So after returning from town and making damn sure the bolts were torqued just right (it’s somewhere in the region of 27-30Nm since you ask) I decided to go on a rather ambitious ride to make up for two day’s lost mileage.
I doubled up on my previous rides, incorporating both of my long loops and circulating round virtually the whole east end of town. It wasn’t too bad a day for it, not too much wind and just a light shower of rain half way around. One of these days I’ll get a collection of photos of all the “Cyclists Dismount” signs that seem to be everywhere in Stafford, along with all the daft obstructions. The Isabel trail was pretty busy with walkers and dog owners, and there was also a couple of boys on mountain bikes. I rode over towards Baswich and thankfully the flood waters seem to be receding now, it’s incredible how much land was underwater last week, thankfully no houses that I’m aware of.
I got home flushed with success – I’d ridden just over 9 miles, which is my longest ride yet. What’s more, I didn’t feel all that worn out, certainly better than when I first started out and would be going just the 2 miles. I’m sure a lot of that is fitness but I’m also becoming more efficient in a lot of ways, learning about the bike, knowing when to change gear and that sort of thing. I know I could do 1000 miles in a year by riding round the block a couple of times a night, but after a time that won’t allow me to make any progress. Sooner or later I need to branch out into longer and longer journeys.