February 8, 2007: Water Wheels


When it comes to riding in inclement weather, I have one rule: don't start the ride in the rain or snow.

If it starts raining five minutes into the ride, so be it, that train has already left the station, whaddya gonna do. It just seems stupid to get soaking wet right out of the gate though.

So what do you think happened today? By 3:00 p.m., when I had my work done and was ready for a ride, it was raining. Not just a light sprinkling, it was actually raining. What to do, what to do?

Waiting out the rain Rain on the street
Who'll stop the rain?
Too wet for trail riding

I was stuck, because a workout was imperative. I've been swamped with paying work and other personal tasks this week and my injured back has kept me from exercising, so I felt the pressure, which I acknowledge is mostly without basis, to staunch my evaporating fitness.

Of course, I might have gotten out of the house a little sooner, and thereby beat the 3:00 squall and avoided the entire to-ride-or-not-to-ride debate, if not for the siren call of Lou Dobbs Tonight.

On this dreary afternoon, Lou, like the rest of the MSM, was passing along as fact Administration claims that Iran has been directly threatening and causing injury to US troops while at the same time expressing wonderment at why the Administration had suddenly done a 180 and was now taking such a hands-off approach to the idea of attacking Iran. Why would an Administration so bellicose toward Iran up until just a couple of days ago suddenly be urging caution and patience with regard to hanging some Mission Accomplished banners in Tehran, Lou asked.

Three words: Gulf of Tonkin. Too dated for you? OK, here's four words: Weapons of mass destruction.

Here's how it works: the Administration knows nobody is going to buy any claim it makes about Iran, yet the wack-job Neo-cons still clinging to power in the White House have had a massive hard-on for Iran since the day after they invaded Iraq.

Their solution? They're going to provoke Iran into an attack. Right now as you read this, we have Special Forces in Iran causing mayhem and mischief, or trying to. The hope is that Iran will lash out at American forces, thereby giving us "valid" reason to "defend ourselves" by striking back. That's also why we're putting on the, "who us, lil' ole US? why we'd never attack Iran, heavens to Betsy and my goodness, we'd never think of doing such a thing. No, we just want peace and golly gee, we sure hope Iran does too. Can't we all just get along?" act.

Meanwhile we're doing everything we can to replay the runup to Iraq, and the press is gulping it down like the last four years never happened. My god.

Finally, I tore myself away from the premeditated run-up to our next Middle Eastern invasion (that would be three during this Administration in case anybody is counting) and saddled up for the ride. And then it started raining.

I wavered and wavered and wavered. I should just go for it. No, I'll be completely soaked in five minutes and then it won't matter. No, no, stretch out the back and wait for better weather tomorrow. Can't do it tomorrow, big project due. It's stupid to ride today. Have to get a workout in. You're going to get your bike all muddy and messed up. It's not worth it. Come on you weenie, are you committed to this or not?

After 20 minutes of internal debate, I decided to go for it. I slathered the Hoo-E in lube and hit the road. Nobody's going to be laughing at my homemade fenders today, boiii-yeeee!

Front fender Rear fender
Front and
rear coverage

As I almost always do, I started with the Balboa Avenue median trail, which was in pretty good shape, as were the nice DG fire road trails in the lower Quarry.

From the lower quarry, I zipped across Highway 1 into La Mirada and that was pretty much the end of the trail riding for the day. The little track through La Mirada was completely sodden, with a consistency of melted chocolate. I knew it wasn't right to continue on the dirt, which actually simplified the rest of the ride.

I had wanted to get 25 miles in, but with the wavering and all, had pretty much given up on getting 25 mud miles. Once I decided to go pavement though, 25 seemed doable again, so I kicked things into gear and was really cooking as I gobbled up a quick five miles down to Half Moon Bay and circled back through town for the return trip.

Just as I was cutting through the parking lot of the Flying Fish taco shop at Main Street and Highway 92, to pick up the new paved bikepath spur that goes underneath Highway 1, I heard a discouraging sound. It was a rhythmic, faint metallic "clink, clink-clink, clink . . . " I knew what it was without even looking down; I've heard it many times before. A nail or similar piece of metal had pierced my tire and was sticking partially out of it, clinking against the frame during each wheel revolution.

I stopped, pulled a huge metal spike out of my rear tire, heard an initial hiss, and then watched as the slime in my tube partially stopped the leak. Full of blind optimism, I remounted the Hoo-E and rode for about another mile until I could ignore the waning tire pressure no more.

In the parking lot of the driving range on Kelly Street, I got out my CO2 inflater and a new tube and set to work. For the second time in as many tries, the CO2 inflator failed miserably. It only seems to release a partial amount of the CO2 into the tube. Piece of crap. I've lost all faith in the crappy product (that's a Genuine Innovations ProFlate 16) and frankly, the concept.

That's why I carry a pump too though. I got out the pump, which didn't look familiar to me, only to find that it was broken. Uh-oh. And, because it was raining, I hadn't brought my phone. Huh.

After giving up on the pump, I was about to start walking the five miles home. But in the shed right next to where I was working on the bike, I noticed a tractor with pneumatic tires. Hey, they have to pump those babies up with something right? Completely without hope but dutifully checking off my options, I trudged into the pro shop and inquired about a floor pump.

Hail Mary answered. The proprietor went next door to her house, returned with a bicycle floor pump, and I was on the road in five minutes. In return for her generosity, she asked me to come and shop at her produce stand. I didn't make it this weekend, but here's a plug instead: that's Andreotti Produce on 329 Kelly Street, Fri-Sun, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The flat tire pretty much took the wind out of my sails, not to mention my tube. That killed a precious 30 minutes of daylight. I contemplated heading home, but what the hell, it was still light out, so I sucked it up, got back in my wet helmet, jacket, and gloves, and got back on the road.

I dragged my cold, wet ass back upwind to Princeton and up Airport Road into Moss Beach to the Point Montara lighthouse and back. There was considerable joyless noodling; I was a slave to the cyclometer, begging for the miles to add up more quickly.

To pass the time, I occupied myself with a point-counterpoint debate about which Star Trek movie is the best. Really, there is no debate to be had -- everybody knows it's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Sure, Kramer will tell you it's Star Trek III; IV is cute in a San Francisco kind of way; and Generations is a nice meeting of the crews, but for pure Star Trek camp and action, it's Wrath of Khan. Another reason that II blows the others out of the sky: Montalban. Quien es mas macho? Nadie. Two words for you: Corinthian Leather.

Finally, I had done all I could do, and in the waterlogged gloaming of heavy twilight, I rolled into the homestead, soaked and very cold, but proud of the effort. Nothing to it but to do it, which is much easier to say in the afterglow of postride satisfaction.


Dist: 23.7 mi Time: 2:23:51 Avg:11.4 Max: 26.5 Wgt: 164.0

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