25 May 2015
On Friday, Jack left for 5 weeks in DC. When all of his traveling fellowships are over, he'll have been away for nearly five months out of twelve. I suck at being alone, which is to say that, even though I might be very good at filling the time, I don't enjoy rattling around inside my own head. That he left on the eve of a three-day weekend didn't help matters either. Long story short, I sunk uncharacteristically low on Friday evening. As tough as I seem and want to be, there are times when biochemistry takes over.
Buddies are there with you in the good times; friends are there for you when things are bad; and the FreeWheelers always have something going on when the weather is good.
Saturday was an off-the-books ride concocted by Tom to get us ready for the hills of Bike Virginia. It was also a test of Miss Piggy's latest repair to end all repairs (a new washer to replace a stripped one between the front derailleur and the braze-on).
I'm not used to the bike not making any noise.
We started at Bulls Island and warmed up on Route 29. I was surprised, and relieved, when Tom didn't put us on Federal Twist. Instead we went down to Lower Creek, which is one of my favorite roads. I might have to take it off the list, though, because it did not fare well over the winter.
We went under the Green Sergeants covered bridge and onto Upper Creek, where I felt obligated to point out the long driveway leading to the glass studio where I spent a weekend in February. I was right back then when I told the instructor that, come the good weather, glass blowing would be far from my mind.
Instead, bike repair has taken up residency; I'm not even making jewelry. Gonzo is a little bit back together again, Ross having installed the new bottom bracket and headset. For my birthday, Jack and Jim colluded to get me a repair stand and some specialty tools. I have everything I need to start building the rear wheel, too. My goal is to have the wheel built by the time Jack returns.
Anyway, we rode up on the ridge for a while before slightly descending and then re-ascending near the Alexandria airport. We were south of it, on Schoolhouse, when we saw half a dozen people parachuting down, floating in the wind. We talked about the relative degrees to which we would be shitting ourselves were we the ones up there. "I like being on the ground," I said.
Tom took us up Rick Road and then the nasty grade on Hartpence just so that we could coast down Hickory Corner. We dropped into Milford by way of 519. Of course, we had to walk across the bridge. Of course, I had to take a couple of pictures.
I've been buying coffee online from Homestead Coffee Roasters because as often as I buy from them it's too far to drive. A few weeks ago I had a long email conversation with Mike, one of the roasters. He'd run out of the estate Sumatran and wouldn't be able to get more, which is a pity because it was really good. He sent me a couple of other single origin beans to try instead. So when we got to Homestead and I saw him in the store, I had to thank him for his efforts. That led to him leading me to the roastery next door to the general store.
He offered me a sample of cold-pressed Papua New Guinea beans that he'd run through compressed gas and served from a tap.
It tastes like cold coffee and seltzer water. Because that's what it is. I pass no more judgment than that.
Often there's a kitty wandering about.
Over our snacks, Tom, Marc, Ron, and I began discussing the logistics of our drive to Virginia. Four people, four bikes, at least four suitcases, and two hotels make for some interesting planning. I made it worse by suggesting that, since Jack's fellowship ends the day we return, I might as well swing by DC to pick him up. Tom didn't seem fazed by this.
He also proposed stopping to ride on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, halfway to Abingdon, Virginia.
With three days of climbing in mind, we got back on our bikes and started up Bridgeton Hill Road. There's a hairpin turn not far from the bottom. This was made far more interesting by traffic in both directions, a rut in the road wider than a car tire and as long as a pickup truck, and a rider in front of me who ran out of gears. I managed to get past him, but Jim didn't. I heard him swear and, in my rearview mirror, saw him stop on the other side of the road. I called ahead that there was trouble, but when I looked behind again I saw that Jim was back on his bike. Spinning away in the granny gear as I was, it didn't take long for Jim to catch up to me. "What happened back there?"
"We're not going to talk about it."
"Is everything okay?"
"We're not going to talk about it."
Not until I read Jim's account a day later did I learn what happened.
We wound our way up and down to Ralph Stover State Park. We're allowed to ride across this bridge...
...but not the one leading back to Bulls Island.
I stopped at Hart's on the way home. I needed to adjust Miss Piggy's saddle position (because I didn't own a torque wrench) and to pick up Gonzo. Although the store was moderately busy, Ross took time to talk with me about tools and wheel building. He also shared some sad news about someone Cheryl and I used to ride with back in the day. Godspeed, Richie.
After lunch, a shower, and a few chores, I headed out to the porch to put together the repair stand. It took me far longer than I expected it to, hampered further still because I was texting Dale and Terry C the whole while. I finally got it together and settled down to read Roger Musson's Professional Guide to Wheel Building, which Jim instructed me to read before getting anywhere near my new wheel components. When it began to get dark, I decamped to a room upstairs -- the room where my beadwork glowers at me for ignoring it -- to continue reading. Loneliness and hunger were setting in, and I texted Jack to call me whenever. Just then, a text arrived from Dale, asking if she could stop by to see the repair stand "like, now." When I got to the front door, Dale and Sean were on their bikes in my driveway.
We ended up sitting out back, the frame on the table, until it occurred to us that none had eaten dinner. We went back to their house so that they could change, and wound up at the nearest diner. Salad bar and sweet potato fries for dinner at 10:00 p.m.
I took the screw so that I could get a better picture of it later: