Bike to Work FAIL.

22 Jun

Today was Denver’s Bike to Work Day. I have never biked to work before but have always been intrigued by the idea. And since I am now training for an Olympic triathlon and needing to bike rides of 20-30 miles every week, I figured it would be a great way to get in my training, as well as my commute (it’s 13.5 miles to work by car or bike).

I spent a couple hours at work yesterday getting everything mapped out, typing up directions and stowing my work clothes for today in one of the fitness center lockers. I drove my route home last night, to get better acquainted with the streets and make sure that everything looked pretty safe. I was so excited and nervous that I went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking about it. I packed up my Camelbak this morning with my smaller-than-normal lunch, flip-flops, cell phone, phone charger, camera, photo ID, credit card, chapstick, deodorant, and makeup. I had my helmet, water bottle and sunglasses. I wore a bright orange t-shirt over my long-sleeve gray tech tee.

I taped my directions to my aero bars

I forgot just one small thing.

Check the bike.

I didn’t think it would be an issue since I had just biked 20 miles on it Sunday with no issues. But now that I think about it, the chain was making some weird noises during that ride – so much so that Travis asked me what the noise was. I said the chain was rubbing like it does when it’s in the highest or lowest gear, ignoring the indicator on my shifter showing that the chain was actually on a middle gear.

I left the house at 6:35 and followed my route north. Since I haven’t biked on actual streets very much – this was maybe the third time? – I was approaching a stoplight when I realized (too late) that I should be in a lower gear in order to get started more easily. So as I was braking, I downshifted twice without pedaling, so that I didn’t *actually* shift.

Big mistake.

It may have just been a coincidence that the problems started right after that, or it may have been the cause.

The Magnificent Sliding Chain

But my chain was jacked up big time. It was sliding all over the place, trying to choose between 2 or 3 different gears. I pulled into a parking lot and tooled around there for about 5 minutes, changing gears to see if I could get my chain back on track. No luck. Then I got off and looked at the chain. I didn’t see anything obviously wrong and know next to nothing technical about bikes so as much as it disappointed me, I knew the smart thing would be to go home. I didn’t want to get stranded on the side of the road, or worse, ruin my bike.

As I pulled out of the parking lot to where I was going to turn around, the chain seemed better. Maybe, just maybe, I can still make this work. I continued on my route for another mile. Things were good. Chain in place. Then I encountered a hill. I tried to tackle it without downshifting but I couldn’t. So I shifted down one gear. Still good. Down another. Still good. Down another.

::Crunch… crunch…crunch::

Crap it.

I turned off on a side street, resolving that it just wasn’t in the cards for me to ride my bike to work today.

I got home and went into the office to escape my dogs’ excitement and mope. But then I realized, it was only 7:10 – if Travis could fix my bike in 10 minutes, I could still bike to work. So I went and woke Travis up and being the sweet, dutiful husband, he rolled out of bed early to help me futz with my bike. But no matter what we adjusted, poked, moved, or tested, the chain refused to work. It needs professional help.

So I did not get to bike to work today. I’m bummed. But I’m not deterred! I WILL ride my bike to work one day soon.

My sad little bike computer only read 5.759 miles by the time I took a shower (my short bike ride + ride on bike trainer to figure out what was wrong) when I had been expecting something more like 27.xx miles. What makes me more frustrated is that we have our church group tonight from 6 to 9 so the morning was my main workout window. I’m still going to try to squeeze a short run in after work so that the day isn’t a total bust. But I’m thoroughly bummed about this whole thing.

So I called up an old pal for consolation:

You can always count on Mr. Donut to cheer you up. Mmmm…

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