Week 3 and 4 of my 9 week training programs went ok. The family was having a pig roast on the 27th, so I lost a weekend to preparations and partying during week 3. My weight stayed stable for the duration within a pound or 2, and I got 60 miles or so in Monday through Wednesday, so it wasn’t a total wash. Week 4 was a blight of general mailaise from Mon-Wed with nothing other than commuting miles to keep me moving a bit. Thurs. I went out on what is normally my ‘break’ day for my first long ride of the week and was treated to a bit of bad luck (more like fate). I got about 8 miles out and heard a loud popping sound similar to a rock getting kicked into the spokes. I looked down and noticed that my back wheel was getting a little loopy. Pulled over and checked it out. Yep, one of the drive side spokes broke. Let’s just say the trip back to the house didn’t do any wonders for my weekly mph average. After I was back at the house, it took about 2 hours to yank the cassette, pull the spoke, replace it with one of the spares included in the LHT box when I bought it, and straighten the wheel out. All the other spokes were of suitable tension, so I think that 1500 miles of riding around with my 250 lb self, hopping curbs, cruising pothole strewn streets in Baltimore and carrying 20 pounds of stuff back and forth from the store and work finally got the better of me. Friday I tested my repair with a 20 mile ride and everything seems to be stable. No wobble or hop.
In many ways it was a blessing in disguise. As I was racking up more road miles, I started to daydream about a different configuration of lighter/faster road bike that I’d like to have. It still would have been steel framed, but maybe a Pacer with some narrower drop bars, and a 28 or 32 spoke light wheelset and some 28 or 32c tires. This has me evaluating my priorities in a new light. I hope to lose some more weight, but I never intend on being ‘racer-light’, so why would I want to spring for expensive components when I’m going to be needlessly trashing them? It would be nice to have a road bike that isn’t quite so laden down, but the more I think about it, the more my ideal lighter road bike looks just like the LHT I already own. A less tactful way of putting it would be “It’s not the heavy bike you’re riding that’s slowing you down…”. An all silver-component Pacer with a Brooks Honey saddle, VO Elkhide Bar wrap, Mavic Ksyrium wheels and Silver Vittoria Cross tires would still be pretty sweet. Wasted on me tho. I’m very seriously considering upgrading the rear wheel to something professionally built with a White Industries hub and a Mavic or Velocity rim. Phil makes some awesome stuff, but I’m having a hard enough time swallowing the cost of White hubs let alone the extra $100 Phils are. I don’t really want to shell out for anything right now, but I have a few long rides planned for the end of the month, and while a broken spoke is a pain on a weeknight ride, having one snap 70 miles away from home would really wreck my weekend. My wife was wondering why I was walking around the house with a pensive scowl all day on Friday and Saturday. Now at least I know why I’d want to take along my tools for removing a cassette if I was 100 miles from home.
Last but not least was my Sunday ride today. I was up at 5:30 and out the door before 6. I took my notes from my last attempt at the front door to NCR trail loop and made a successful attempt. I inadvertently added a few to many killer hills to my ride, so I’ll be feeling it tomorrow, but nothing terrible. This route is perfect as a training loop, and I already plotted variations of it which range everywhere from 40 to 70 miles. If I wanted a HUGE ride, I could always ride to the trail, take it to York and back, then follow the rest of the loop. I’m a long way away from that yet. One step at a time.