Of course it’s perfectly appropriate to wanna run the bike club’s “Independence Century” on July 4th, calendar-wise. It’s maybe NOT appropriate to ride it on a bike that has a “history” of getting you far away from home and THEN starts to let you down. Such is my relationship with my "FrankenTrek".
I shouldn’t complain. It’s history goes back to 1995 when I walked into the Park Ave bike shop and chatted with Andy (August - owner) about parts or something, and caught the sparkle of something in the corner of my eye. I turned to see a stunning all copper-ice colored carbon road racing bike.
One of THOSE bikes … not like anything I’ve ever owned. It only had TWO chainrings, and a “corn-cob” cassette. And it weighs … like … NOTHING.
This was no touring bike. It was “A Fast Bike”.
I don’t deserve a bike like that.
I want it anyway.
I took it home.
And the trouble starts.
Brifters fail and get replaced by reliable bar-end shifters and “braking-specific” brake levers. Ten years later, the frame cracks at the bottom bracket shell and is replaced under warranty. The frame steering tube spec changed from 1” to 1 & 1/8” over that time, so adaptors are pressed into the new frame to accept the old copper fork … the last remnants of “The Reason” I first bought the bike. Gearing get’s reduced and replaced as age bears down on the rider.
But, the wheels are the real mystery. I’m really impressed with these wheels. Deep-V aero design rims, original from 1995, true and round as the day I bought the bike. I’ve never even touched them with a spoke wrench, not even once, and it’s the lightest wheelset in the stable. They take “skinny” tires. 23’s are best. 25’s are OK. 28’s are a bit too close a fit. Tires wear quickly on this thing. I’ve gone through several sets over the last 26 years, but I’ve gone through so many patch kits and spent so many hours sidelined on the road fixing flats that I’ve gotta be crazy to ride the thing more than walking distance from home.
It’s jinxed, I tell you! And it reminded me yet again on the Independence Century.
Surprisingly good turnout of riders for this year’s run. It’s a long hard ride that starts in Dansville requiring an early morning start just to get there. Weather was cooperating for a long day ride, and I’m stunned to find that the other 8 riders are doing the cut at 65 miles, rather than doing the century. Ya drive all the way to Dansville for a 65 mile ride at 8am start? (10:00am maybe)
We get some miles into it before I separate from the main group and pass by the 65 mile cut. The ride was rolling wonderfully, since while riding alone, I tend to fall into my pace that makes for comfortably loooong rides. A few miles after Wellsville comes the turn east toward Independence and the real hills begin.
Independence Road, running between Independence and Andover, just keeps throwing the roller-coasters at you, one after another, till you finally come down to route 417. Gentle north winds slowed me down a bit, but the cooling breezes in those hills were welcome.
Another three miles of minor grades up Shovel Hollow Road and then it’s TEN miles of gently descending around the bends.
In Hornell, I grab a drink at a c-store then head north toward the reservoirs. It wasn’t exciting to see our twisty little escape route out of Hornell on Old Big Creek Road freshly chip-sealed, but Reservoir Road has been (finally!) freshly paved silky smooth. NOW I’m excited!
Arriving at Hornell Reservoir #3 (with the hole to hell), I stand up to make the corner and … thump! … my front rim bottoms out. Flat. REALLY? I’m 90 miles into the ride, I’m less than an hour to finish, and I flat! This sucks, because the tire I have on the front is way too tight of a fit and it takes a miracle to get it off. It take THREE levers and a lot of teeth grinding, but I get it off, find the hole, patch it, and STILL can’t find the cause … NOTHING in the tire. Takes a 1/2 hour till it’s pumped up and on the bike, so since I’m stopped, I kill the remaining 1/2 of a cliff bar (it was opened a couple weeks ago … I should finish it anyway) and finally get going again.
Untrusting, and riding gently into South Dansville, it flat’s again!
OK … repeat … tire off … patch tube … try again to find the source of the flat. I only now realize that BOTH punctures aren’t facing the tire, rather, they face the rim. Close inspection reveals that the (original 27 year old) rim tape has dried up, slipped a little, and exposed a spoke hole. AHA! I’m thrilled beyond belief! I can finally relax knowing that the problem is solved and I can go ahead with a fast downhill back to Danville. One-half hour later again, I’m back on the road and at the “bump” climb at the Stony Brook Glen intersection, I stand to climb the hill and … POW.
I walk the bike up to the top and stop to think.
Every patch job take a 1/2 hour to do (not to mention jackin’ up my blood pressure!) and it’s getting late. I’m obviously missing something but haven’t a clue what. I only have one patch left and if it too fails to get me in (likely), I’m still gonna have to walk another 5 miles back to town or hitch a ride. It’s ALL downhill to town. Screw it!
Gently, slowly, I ride it in. 5-6 mph is faster than walking. I just have to be careful not to ride on a sloping surface and not make quick steering adjustments. Shouldn’t worry … it’s not like I’m gonna roll THIS tire off the rim. I make a special point to watch for any bumps that might damage the rim, and hope I can get back with a good wheel, but sacrificial tire and tube.
I made it back to the ride start 2 hours later than expected. It could have been much worse. I could have had my flats in Independence! I’m blessed, right? I got home, hung up the bike, had a bite to eat, went to bed.
Another hard hilly century, complete with “special challenges”.