Shiner BASH

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The memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime.

These are the kinds of lyrics that loop through your head when you're trying to convince yourself that riding a few hours in the rain is a good idea. Well, that and the backing track to Vanilla Ice's "Ice Is Working It", but that started after the sun came out.

I have a routine I go through before rides, and any deviation from it tends to end in disaster. Friday night before the BASH was no exception. The core of the ritual is cleaning and re-oiling my chain, which I was able to do without issue. Once that was done, I decided to try to tighten some spokes in my rear wheel to keep my spoke magnet from shifting mid-ride, and the situation quickly deteriorated.

Spoke wrenches should come with a warning label that states, "You do not know what you're doing. Put me back on the shelf." Since my wrench was disclaimer-free, I began to adjust the loose spokes. I say adjust rather than tighten, because since I was viewing the wheel from the wrong angle, I took all of the tension out of the spoke. My first attempts to tighten it were fruitless, and I began to panic. Had I stripped the threads? Would the wheel fall apart in the first five miles of the ride? A little googling and several deep breaths later, I had reversed direction and gotten the spoke back to a pluckable state. I then continued to work my way around the wheel, tightening all the spokes that were loose. All of the loose spokes seemed to be on the left side, but they eventually snugged up nicely. Once that operation was done, I gave the wheel a turn to admire my work. The wheel moved about half an inch and locked up. I had managed to take the wheel so far out of true such that it was pressed against the left brake pad. I began to run through a mental list of who I could call that might loan me a wheel, decided none of them wanted to hear from me at 10 p.m. on a Friday, then started tightening right side spokes and loosening left ones in the hopes that I could somehow straighten the wheel.

Somewhere between 1.5-2.0 hours after the initial turn of the wrench, I had a rear wheel that would turn without rubbing against the brake pads. It wasn't pretty, but I had hope that it would get me to Shiner. I celebrated by airing up my tires and ripping the valve stem off of the front wheel. Twenty minutes later I had a fresh tube and could finally load the bike in the car. My projected 10 p.m. bedtime had somehow turned into half past midnight.

About 3:15 in the morning, a thunderstorm came through that was loud enough to wake me up. I convinced myself it would blow through town and the ride would start as scheduled, and returned to the last hour and a half of precious sleep.

At 5 a.m., the radar showed a storm on its way out of Austin. I loaded up my bottles and the last of my gear and headed to Paul's to meet up with Chad. Despite the lingering rain, all three of us were ready to go. The ride start at the Met Center was busy with riders wondering what the heck they were thinking. Rumors spread that we would not be allowed to start until the lightning stopped. They proved untrue, as the first brave/foolish/hardy cyclists rolled out just after 7:00 with strikes behind them in the west.

To be continued...

Ride details at

Paul and Travis at the ride start

railroad tracks in Flatonia

rest stop in Flatonia

Spoetzl Brewery, fork view

Travis taking a portrait at the finish

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This page contains a single entry by Travis published on May 7, 2006 7:30 PM.

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