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The ID10T Files
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The Ride of My Life 
11th-Feb-2009 10:36 pm
That statement is a bit hyperbolic but it references a online book titled, oddly enough, The Ride of Your Life,mentioned on the Cycleicious blog. Cycleicious said that I could wind a free copy of the book by filling out a form and submitting and essay, in 200 words or less, how I "overcame physical, mental, or equipment challenges to finish a challenging ride."

I thought it would be easy as I do have a number of stories. I thought the problem would be trimming it down to 200 words. In fact, the problem was that the posted link to the form didn't work.

Not to worry. Cycleicious has posted again with different rules that involve posting at the blog, posting on my blog or Twittering. Two out of three I can do. So, here is my synopsis of one of my adventures:

This was my 2004 edition of my Youghatomac odyssey, riding from Pittsburgh to Washington DC on the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal. For this my third time riding the trail I was going to try a different strategy by leaving after work and riding at night. This would allow me to not have to ride so hard to complete my trip in the same number of days. Riding at night would be cooler and with the Passage being broad and free of obstructions and a decent headlamp I figured it would be a pleasant evening.

And it was, until about 10pm when I came across a landslide. A behemoth of mud, rocks and broken trees looming suddenly out of the darkness. I considered trying to go over it but my first step into the saturated mud went over the top of my shoe. I would be hip-deep in the crud trying to go over so I would have to go around. A five mile detour to get by a 50 foot wide landslide.

After that, I started to run into more and more of my second delaying factor. Fog. The wet weather and warm daylight temperatures turn into fog once the night starts cooling off. And the headlamp tends to illuminate the fog instead of the trail, cutting visibility.


It was nearly midnight when, out of the fog there was suddenly a rock. And not just any rock; a ten cubic foot block of doom. The kind of monstrosity they set out at road intersections to keep redneck 4x4's off of the bike trail.

I even said the word out-loud when this rock was suddenly dead ahead and there was nothing I could do. The front wheel hit square on and Newton's Second Law took over. I had hit my brakes in a desperate attempt to avoid the impact but I fear I only slowed myself down enough to ensure that I didn't have enough momentum to clear the rock myself. I went over the handlebars and landed on the rock with my chest. After recovering myself and realizing that I didn't experience the excruciating pain that one would expect with broken ribs, I thought about my bike. Shit! The front wheel must be a pretzel.

Except that it wasn't. By some miracle the front wheel was still perfectly round. However, the front fork was bent straight back so that the wheel was scraping against the frame. I removed the splashguard and there was just enough clearance between the wheel and the frame to make it rideable but to do so felt weird. With the wheel back so far the bike was unstable, like riding with your hands close together. If I turned the wheel too far, my feet would hit the wheel as I pedaled.

An hour later and I had reached the relative civilization of Connellsville, but at one in the morning there was no chance of finding a bike shop open. But I had another tool in mind in the form of a bike rack which I found at Riverside Park. I took off the panniers and front wheel and wedged the front fork in the bike rack. Using it as a fulcrum I heaved up on the bike to bend the fork back into place. It was an inelegant solution and I could only get enough leverage to move it a few inches but it was enough to not only make the bike more ridable but it also took away the hands-too-close-together feeling.

By 1:30 I was back in business. with four more days to go.


12th-Feb-2009 06:17 am (UTC) - Most excellent!
Thanks for sharing this story. Sounds like quite an adventure, but your ingenuity saved the day (or night, as it was).

Keep the pedals turnin,

David Rowe, Author
The Ride of Your Life
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