Friday, May 11, 2007

Single Track Mind

Four rides in three days, all on picture perfect days on super fast trails. I knew last week that Poolesville was going to bring me down, and without a missing a step, it walked all over my ass. But I prepared myself and lined up some friends for a Ronde de Avalon on Sunday morning. Forgetting the prior day's disappointment, I met up with Chip, Theresa, her boy toy Wayne and their friend Mark (who happens to fly helicopters for Howard Co. police, pretty cool job I'd say) at the park and ride. As I pulled in, there are several Baltimore Co. police and Chip seems to be talking to one of them. Apparently one was handling a break-in while the other was taking a report of a stolen car. Some poor kid from Penn St. had just gone into the park with his friends and went back to his car and it was gone, to make matters worse, as he was standing there dumb-founded the asshole that stole his car went driving by in it. Ouch.

We set out from the park and ride and headed up and over towards the Hilton area. Hilton has some of the more technical trails at Avalon, twisty and rocky with some steep, knarly decents. We get to the the top before the final decent down to the river and Theresa decides to mention it was Wayne's first time at Avalon. I asked her what she was thinking letting us bring him to this side as we were about to decend one of the most technical downhills in the park. Time for your final exam. After several large log crossings you're presented with a series of significant drop offs that require a sharp left or right turn quickly after, so not carrying too much speed and overshooting the turn is as key as not going slow enough so you don't just endo. To make a long story short, the ride was cut short due to injuries, hopefully none of them serious.

Later that afternoon Thomas calls me up, he had been stuck at the Sheep and Shear? with his kids. I don't know what that is but you won't find me there. He's finally free and looking to ride. He swings by the house to pick me up and we drop in from Landing Rd. for a quick hour or so loop. Twenty minutes into the ride my trusty steed starts having problems.
The chain is skipping, kinda odd for a single speed. We stop and I notice the derailleur hanger is slightly bent outwards which would cause the chain alignment through my Surly Singleator chain tensioner to be off. With a little wrenching I bend the hanger back and realign the chain. Life is good so we take off. Minutes later, my chain is skipping again and then it comes off the rear cog, WTF???

I ride my single speed for two reasons, first it's the purest form of riding. There's nothing to think about but ripping the trails and two, it's simple, no gears, not chain suck, no skipping, none of that crap you put up with on a geared bike. Also, thanks again Sean for that sweet Vicious fork you gave me years ago for Christmas!

So I stop again and notice the pulley of the Singleator is not aligned, the pich bolt on the main arm must need tightening so I take out my 4mm and go to work. As I'm tightening the bolt, or so I think, I start seeing little metal threads work their way out, that's not good. Hoping there was some thread left deeper in the arm, I removed a water bottle cage bolt which was longer and tried that to no avail. I love the Surly Singleator but when that one simple part breaks, you're f$!@ed. There was no good chain length that would work without the tensioner so the remainder of my ride was a run as I told Thomas to finish his ride and I would meet him back at the truck.

Monday I swung by Race Pace bike shop which is awesome enough to stock Surly parts, almost everyone who works there rides a singlespeed so having the parts around is a must. I was rollin' again that night with the new and "improved" model.

Really it's just the chain guide that's improved over the little 'U' shaped guard they used to use and would sometimes clamp down on your chain. The lines and the finish of the main arm are cleaner, must have a new CNC machine.

Monday's ride was solo, just cruising the trails and enjoying the day.

Tonight I wanted to stretch my legs before racing tomorrow so I cruised over to the park for another solo ride. I love living so close that I can ride there. As I turn down Landing Rd. Thomas is coming the other direction. He's meeting Bill for a quick loop so I wait for them to get ready. We all agreed on a steady pace so we started out towards to horse farm loop since I didn't want to do too much climbing. Immediately I knew it was going to be hard to hold back, but with the single speed, most of it is just keeping your momentum and being smooth through technical stuff, not necessarily putting the hammer down. Most gear heads don't get that and assume you're hammering. We met up with their friend Paul and soon we were four ripping the trails and enjoying another beautiful day.

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