Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Road Ragin' ...

Most of the time, I use this blog for race reports, and when it's not that, it's usually to write up a particularly good off-road adventure or maybe some other type of organized event. But so far this year, I've been doing a lot more road rides than I have in the past, and since I do them usually over my lunch hour, they tend to be a lot shorter than my typical ride - usually maxing out around 50 minutes of actual ride time. I've been enjoying those rides quite a bit.

Part of that is due to my Ibis Silk SL. I love that bike, but for a long while I wasn't really wanting to ride it because of an annoying grinding I was getting in the rear wheel. Ever since 2013, when I crashed and cracked the frame during the Rapha Ride, I'd noticed the sound on and off, and it had gotten considerably worse over the last year, and the rear wheel seemed to be leaning toward the non-drive side. I figured this was due to some flaw in the repaired frame, but I never knew for sure. And I prefer to ride off-road anyway, so eventually I just kind of put the bike aside when I got fed up with it. Then, about a month or two ago I finally brought it over to Scott at Evolution and got it diagnosed. It turns out I had a  cracked axle! It never came apart because of the skewer, but being supported only by a thin little skewer explained the leaning. It was an easy fix and since then I've had no problems. Well, no problems with the bike itself.

As I aid, I've been enjoying my daily rides quite a bit. But there are two things about riding on the road that I will never like. The first is the weather. I have to admit that I hate wind. It just sucks the life out of riding for me. And we've had a lot of wind this year. I've been on rides where I've had to lean hard to one side to avoid being blown out into the road. Thankfully, it's kind of calmed down lately, but that might be because Mother Nature decided to swap it out for rain. Rain isn't too bad in and of itself, but soaking wet roads suck. You worry about slipping on every turn and by the end of the ride your feet are always soaked. But it's all manageable - the slickness just means you go slower and hopefully, a new pick up I made this week should help with the latter:

Foot condoms!

I'd heard these work really well, and they're super cheap ($17/pair!) so why not give them a try? I tried them on today for the first time and I can see why people like them - they really leave no way for water to get in.

The second thing I don't like is a little more problematic: cars. The simple fact is, it really is dangerous to ride a bike on the roads in this region. It seems just about every time I go out on the road, some issue arises with a driver. And it's very rarely because of aggressive driving. Most of the time, it's a function of drivers just not paying attention. And if you ask me, that's an even scarier proposition.

In fact, just last night I had a very close call with a box truck on Tennis Avenue in Horsham. I had been having a pretty decent ride, steady rain notwithstanding. I'd turned onto Tennis Ave off of Sumneytown Pike just below Spring House. It's a nice road where you can turn up the pace and just move. As I was riding along at about 25, a few cars came around me cautiously and then all of the sudden a large box truck with  'Got Junk?' logo on it came flying by me so close I could feel mirror a few inches from my ear. It gave me a near panic attack, and that was quickly followed by a flood of rage. I looked ahead and saw a light up the road and pinned it. I had no plan in my head what I was going to do, but I was really hoping I'd catch the truck on a red light. In hindsight, that was really dumb - for all I knew, this guy could have been gun nut or a juice head who'd turn me into a pretzel. But at the moment, I didn't care. I just wanted to vent. I caught the truck at the light and as I came around the driver's side, I saw a guy completely focused his cellphone, and I just lost it. To be honest, I very rarely get angry on the road or trail - I just see no point in it most of the time. But this time, I was so angry I could barely speak - this ass clown had come very close to killing me and probably never even knew I was there because his head was down in his goddamn phone. I stopped in front of his truck and because I was so angry I couldn't think straight, the only words I could muster were, "Four feet, you fucking asshole! Four fucking feet!" He looked up stunned (though not as stunned as the poor guy in front of him who seemed to think I was talking to him for a moment) but didn't say a word. I was shaking mad, and decided that I needed to get out of there before it all escalated. I turned back around and too off on the green light, fully expecting to get run down from behind. I guess he must have been turning because he never came by me. It took me a good 20 minutes to calm down (during which I probably burned a to of matches by pushing myself as hard as I could!)

So, yeah, riding the road can be a hazard when you live in an area as densely populated as the Philly region. But I'll keep heading out there just the same. The enjoyment of the ride still somehow outweighs the stupid moments like last night!


  1. I'd call the company and leave them a message about one of their drivers on his/her cellphone almost hitting me.

  2. I thought about that, Josh. I probably would have if I didn't have time to cool off on the rest of the ride.