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RSVP: Day 1, Part 1

As with the Seattle-to-Portland, the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party starts out in the parking lot at the University of Washington at the crack of dawn. We couldn't ask for a more convenient location, really.

I am always nervous about early-morning starts, for two reasons. The first reason is they tend to involve riding with large packs of unfamiliar riders who seem to enjoy pulling unpredictable tricks at the most inconvenient times. The second reason is that [personal profile] scrottie has an especially hard time in the early mornings, and somehow manages to figure out his own new exotic methods for getting into trouble.

On top of both of those factors, I was piloting the Opus IV out of the gates. To my great relief, the starting line was a roll-through start, so riders weren't all trying to clip in to their brand-new clipless pedals at the exact same time. Nonetheless, we found ourselves in a sizeable bunch at the first stoplight. My dad and I managed to avoid the worst of the chaos as the light turned green, by bombing along on the left-hand side of all the stopped cyclists. As we reached the other side of the intersection, right as the light started to turn yellow, I heard some crashing noises behind me. But given everything that's involved in keeping the tandem upright and moving forward, I decided I probably shouldn't add to the carnage by turning to look, so we kept moving up and around a hairpin turn onto the Burke Gilman trail.

Eventually, [personal profile] sytharin, [personal profile] slydevil, and [personal profile] scrottie managed to catch back up with us. At our first restroom break, we learned that the crashing noises were [personal profile] scrottie, who was on the Jolly Roger. Apparently someone had traveled through the intersection and then stopped suddenly, which caused S to slam on the brakes. Since S doesn't usually ride the Jolly Roger, he wasn't familiar with the Jolly Roger's brake configuration, where the rear brake has a whole lot of travel while the front brake is grabby. The end result? An endo. S suffered some sizeable scrapes, and the Jolly Roger lost a bar-end, but all things considered these seem like fairly minor casualties under the circumstances.

One-horned Jolly Roger

This minor mechanical inconvenience turned into a sign of things to come. Overall, we enjoyed a wonderful ride along the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish Trails, as we headed towards our first big climb of the day, up Woodinville-Duvall Road.

One of the things we addressed during our visit to Angle Lake Cyclery was a problem we'd experienced on the Seattle-to-Portland, where the smallest chainring was so small that we couldn't shift into it and use it for hill-climbing. I don't know if the teeth on that old chainring were intentionally angled funny or just bent out of shape, but it was nothing but trouble for us. We requested and received a slightly larger replacement for the RSVP, and during our parking lot tests it seemed to be much better.

Heading up that first big hill, I shifted down into the small ring, and my dad and I started to try and establish a comfortable hill-climbing pace. Just as we were finding our groove, I heard a very loud BANG! [personal profile] scrottie, who was riding right behind us, observed that the tandem's rear tire had gone flat. Drat!

We pulled over into a nearby driveway, halfway up the hill, and pulled off the rear panniers to inspect the damage.

Two things quickly became apparent: (1) the rear axle was a bolt-on axle and I hadn't packed any crescent wrenches, and (2) the cause of the blow-out was an ageing tire with a worn-out sidewall. Once again I found myself wishing I'd spent more time going over the Opus IV before departing for the ride. I'd been giving that tire the side-eye but thorough tire-checking is clearly not my strong suite.

Given the lack of crescent wrenches, I walked back to the side of the road, and commenced shouting, "I need a crescent wrench for a bolt-on axle!" over and over again to all of the passing cyclists who were chugging their way up the hill. I got some amazing confused looks from people. A couple of people were kind enough to pull over, but none were carrying crescent wrenches for their carbon-fiber racing bikes.

Eventually I spotted a rider that I'd noted at the starting line because he was wearing a Seattle Randonneurs jersey and was very clearing riding a randonneuring bike. Among my shouting, I said, "Hey, you're a randonneur! We need a crescent wrench for a bolt-on axle!"

[personal profile] scrottie says he thinks the guy pulled over mostly because he heard my shout about randonneuring. Thank goodness for that, because the randonneur was fully prepared, and magically had the correct wrench size! After leaving his phone number with [personal profile] sytharin, he said we could hold onto the wrench until we no longer needed it. Hallelujah.

Then, decisions. My dad said there was a bike shop right at the top of the hill, so we sent [personal profile] sytharin ahead to see about obtaining a tire from them. Meanwhile, do we wait, or do we try to boot the tire and continue forward? I opted for booting the tire and continuing forward. Randonneuring has taught me to always go for relentless forward motion, and in the long run it seemed better to me to keep rolling than to wait for one person to ride up, sort things out, ride back, and then deal with the matter.

My instincts were vindicated when we reached the top of the hill, because it was only 8 am and the bike shop was decidedly not open yet. There was nothing to do but roll on to the first rest stop, at Maltby Park, where there was a mechanic on duty.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1174347.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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