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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Long Rambling Account of a Bizarre Ride & The Thumb

I rode home from work on Monday. It was eventful and punctuated by the atypical.

I should have hung it back up on Sunday night, when I pulled the bike from the shed and realized what I had been suspecting. The rear tire had a slow leak.

I replaced the tube just before heading out from the office monday afternoon, on a route designed to provide much climbing. Still training for the Death Ride in July, I've been abusing my quads, glutes, and cardio on as many hills as will fit in to each ride. The last few Sunday mornings (the most recent excepted) I've been venturing up Mt. Diablo at 5 am before church, since the Monday / Tuesday "commute" rides had been preempted by various domestic necessities.

Monday 6/08/09 promised a splendidly hilly commute including San Pablo Dam Rd., Wildcat Canyon up to Tilden Park, South Park - twice, Bear Creek Rd, Happy Valley Rd, and then Pleasant Hill Rd.

Weather was pleasant as I left the office in shorts and sleeveless jersey, but turned very windy as I passed San Pablo Reservoir, and then cold and foggy climbing up into Tilden. The wind on the dam road was intense and completely unpredictable - nearly lifting you out of the saddle one minute, then slamming into you with a head wind or gale crosswind the next. The wind was blocked on the climb toward Berkeley into Tilden, but returned near the top now escorted by icy wisps of coastal fog. (That's partly why I rode South Park twice. I was so cold by the time I had ridden around the top of the park, that when I circled back past the bottom of the climb, I went back up just to warm up.)

I descended back out of the fog and crossed San Pablo Dam Rd. for a warmer climb up Bear Creek Rd, then descended to a right turn on Happy Valley Rd. By this time I had begun to forget about my thumb.

I can hear a collective groan from all of my local friends.
Sorry, gotta put it in.

The thumb happened. It affected my cycling. It gets in the blog.

The primary reason I didn't ride up Diablo this most recent Sunday morning was that my thumb was still rather sore, and I couldn't bring myself to put it under that kind of stress.

"Why was it sore?" you ask...

You will be sorry you asked.

You see...

I was driving home on I80 just south of Fairfield, CA when I saw an unlucky Fido recently struck on the highway. A few cars swerved until finally the entire highway came to a stop to watch a lady hazard across the to extract the poor animal. Fido wasn't dead. He wasn't going anywhere on his own, but was most certainly cognizant of his surroundings. He managed a half hearted nip at his rescuer, taking her by surprise, and prompting a plea for assistance. I should have left well enough alone, but of course I didn't. I left my truck and crossed 2 lanes to hoist Fido into the kind lady's SUV. I should have left well enough alone.
Fido wasn't dead, but after he chewed on my thumb I considered finishing him off. I, the kind lady, and several others now present looked on with curious concern as my thumb began to leak onto the highway. I realized quickly that I had made a STUPID mistake, and should have left well enough alone. I stayed around long enough to hear someone say something about a muzzle, thought - wow that sounds like a good idea, and then took off. Fortunately I was first in the right hand line of stopped cars. I made an unceremonious departure, drove 1 mile, and took the next exit as the world was closing in around me. I managed to ease onto a gravel shoulder along the ramp and stick my head as close to the floor of my truck as I could get it. All the blood in my body was checking out the new exit, and ignoring brain cells.

I had my wife on the phone by then to monitor my existence. I told her that if I stopped groaning, she should come up and get me. Wow did it hurt. Fido had tried to EAT my thumb. Not just a bite - he nearly digested it. (At the bottom of this post are pictures of the thumb after healing for most of a week. View at your own risk.)

I managed to drive home after idling for nearly 20 minutes and downing more than the recommended dosage of Ibuprofen. We decided I would survive. Ella, always the perceptive one, immediately went to work in her own creative way. Zoom in on the picture and read her sign.

All of that to say - my thumb was still hurting on Monday afternoon when I started out and it did affect my performance - especially the jarring downhills and requisite braking.

So where was I?
...Happy Valley Rd, approaching Lafayette.
I skirted Lafayette and started toward what was to be the last real climb up Reliez Valley Rd.

Flatted. Back tire. Soon the thumb was hurting again, as it really takes 2 to get a tire off the rim.

I patched the flat, rode 100 yards and found myself riding on the rim again.
Put the slow leak tube back on the bike.

Somewhere during the repairs I managed to reset my bike computer and lost all of the data for the ride. I have no idea how far I rode- 50? - 60 miles? At home it showed just over 10. The ride was getting interesting at least, though I had nothing to prove the previous 4 hours other than a hole in a brand new inner tube and some new discoloration to my gloves. (Details excluded)

The planned route was abandoned for a more direct path, and Pleasant Hill Rd from Lafayette was summited on a slowly deflating tube. The tire's pressure was verified near the top of the climb.
Half way down the extremely fast north side I noted the computer reading a speed of over 50 mph. I really wasn't even trying. Hmmm? I had intentionally cautioned myself to take it easy on this descent, because of the obvious. Hmmmm? All caution flew to the tail wind, however, at the realization that I was flat flying. I succumbed to the testosterone and laid into the pedals, surpassing my previous all-time top speed of 54 mph.
The little numbers at the bottom of the computer showed a new top speed of 55 mph. Yes, I took this picture at 32.5 mph. I needed proof before it reset again. It was long, straight and downhill, with a wide clean shoulder. (Not that any of that will satisfy my wife or mother.)

So now I think I've rambled on enough.
The ride ended uneventfully - ahead of schedule.
I was ready to soak in a hot shower anyway.

And if you really want to see the thumb...
Scroll down. It actually doesn't look too bad after a week of healing, and the sausage look is greatly diminished.

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