Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spinning Cassettes

Tuesday morning, I woke up before the sun and donned my kit.  I pulled a cold water bottle out of the fridge and slide it into my holder on my new Cadent.  I slipped on my jacket as it is 11 degrees out and wont warm up until later.  We are expecting it to be a fine 21 today.  I grab my shoes and gloves and give Beth a kiss as I carry my bike out the door.  I sit on the steps out front as I pull the straps to my shoes tight.  The darkness is punctured with my flashing lights and overhead by the streetlights, but I'm not expecting sunrise until closer to 7am.  Right now its 5:50.  I head down Maunganui Road towards redbike.  It is the quietest I have heard the street since moving here and all I can hear is my spinning cassette.  I find this noise to be very soothing on an early morning ride before the rest of the world has woken up and fired up their engines.

I get to the shop in a couple of minutes as it is very close.  I'm the second to arrive.  I was actually following another rider for a couple blocks.  I ask what to expect on the ride as its my first.  I fire off a couple questions, but he responds that he is from Auckland and that he is delivering bits and pieces for the store as he works for a bike distribution company up there.  Another couple riders show up and nobody has been on the ride before and the shop employee hasn't shown up yet.  Finally a guy shows up that has done the ride before so we head off a little past 6 am.  I wont lie, I have no idea where we are going so I stuck to the wheel in front of me like glue.  We head back towards Tauranga with a loop of Te Puna in mind.  I hear its approximately 35km.  That is good for a short morning ride before work.  Wait I'm not working yet.  So its just a good morning ride.  We are 5 guys with blinking lights riding on the left-hand side of the road.  I sit back and listen to the different hubs in spinning and the occasional gear shift.  Brings back images of the Omnium Bike Shop group rides I participated in last Spring.  We are cruising on the shoulder of Highway 2 buzzed by trucks and cars.  Nothing new if you have ever ridden with Aaron! 

We headed back towards Judea, the location of the gnarly cottage that we stayed at for our first week in the area.  I recognized this place as I spent a couple early mornings running.  Being in a new location I have to pay very good attention to my surroundings or how am I going to get back.  We picked up another rider at this point.  We are clipping along at roughly 34kph and we are in a tight line.  We had gone about 17km when I feel my back wheel go squishy.  I knew I had a flat.  I had to fight to get back up to the group, as I noticed the flat on a hill, where I said "I got a flat" and pulled off to the side.  I saw them slow and look back while I was unclipping from my pedals.  When I was flipping my bike over and getting my spare kit out I looked up again and they weren't there. 

Great, I'm in an area I don't know at all, but I'm pretty sure I can follow the route we took here and get back.  But what fun is that.  Rides are supposed to be an adventure.  So I'm in the process of pumping up my tire when a guy in a kit rolls up.  He asks if I got what I needed.  I say yes.  I call out if he is trying to catch the group ride.  He is.  He also is the shop employee, James, we were supposed to leave with this morning.  I get my bike back together and set off to find the group.  Since they are doing a loop in Te Puna, we go in reverse and find them after about 15 minutes of riding.  We then link up and cruise back into town.  My rear wheel is not at its recommended 110 psi.  More like 80 psi and a fellow rider says it looks like I got a flat.  I responded I had a flat earlier in the ride and had to stop to fix it.  My small bag pump wont get to 110 psi so I have to ride it at a lower inflation than I would like. 

This morning I put in just over 37km on my first group ride and I popped my rear tire.  The distance is very doable, but I am hoping that the flat was a fluke.  I don't like changing tires while others wait or don't wait in this case.  I hope Thursday's group ride goes better.    

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