Sunday, August 17, 2014

Resurrecting the Dragon

My Jamis Dragon 29 by far sees more miles than any of my other bikes. Lately it hasn't been running so well. There was a lot of noise coming from the bottom bracket area, shifting was sub par, and no matter what I did the front derailleur rubbed in certain gears.

I realized I hadn't done much in the way of maintenance since I built the bike over five years ago. In general, I just don't keep bikes long enough for them to NEED maintenance. However, the Dragon has been the exception, so I ordered a few parts for a tune-up.

Yesterday I tore the bike down, cleaned it up, installed a new middle chainring, bottom bracket bearings, front derailleur and chain.

Today I took it out for a ride and everything worked like new.

It was weird to look down and see all the clean parts where the dust, mud and grease had been. I later learned that the shiny stuff I was seeing is called "metal."

It wasn't a fun way to spend a Saturday, but a necessary evil. And there is a certain satisfaction that comes with making a bike run like new again. Hopefully I get another five years out of it.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Following May, when I rode lots of miles, was the month of June. I did not ride lots of miles in June.

Following June was July. I did not ride lots of miles in July.

In August things were going pretty much the same until I looked in the mirror the other day and my body looked like this:

The scale didn't report much of a difference from a few months ago when I was quite fit, but the distribution of the weight had certainly changed—less up top, less in the legs, more in the middle. Time to get back to work.

Yesterday I rode to work for the first time since May. I parked in Folsom and rode in, which is a 44 mile round trip. I rode hard in the morning, even taking the cross bike in the dirt a few times, and arrived at work feeling OK. After work my legs didn't feel great out of the parking lot, but they loosened up after a while.

Along the way a guy on a road bike passed me. I didn't react to him at all as he slowly pulled away. About a mile later was one of my favorite stretches of trail, along the west shore of Lake Natoma. There is a dirt path to the right of the bike trail, and I really enjoy blasting down it on the cross bike. So I did.

I hit the trail hard and was quickly up to 25 miles per hour. I held it there and powered along, lost in my own little world, pretending I was crushing the pavé in the Paris-Roubaix. When I went past the guy on the road bike, I very politely said, "On your right," just to alert him of my presence.

For whatever reason he didn't seem to like this, glaring at me as I blew by. When I finished the dirt section and popped back onto the bike trail, he was right on my wheel. Game on.

Right after that is a small hill. Even though I was hurting a bit from the effort, I left it in the big ring and hammered up the hill, gapping my new friend. I sat up to take a drink after the hill leveled out, and he attacked me.

I put my water bottle back and chased him down, but it hurt. When the first long climb up to Beal's Point came I was still trying to recover, and he dropped me. I never made it back.

It's been a long time since someone so convincingly and easily crushed me like that. I was bummed.

This morning I am sore and tired. I guess I have missed that. I am definitely looking forward to riding again. I want to ride harder and farther and hurt a bit, which is something that has eluded me for much of the summer. All it took was getting my ass handed to me.