my summer with the folding bike

This is a little disjointed and rambly for writing. I’m disinterested in composing a great narrative. First a little bit of history. I have been doing almost no riding this year this is due to the following list of goals:

1. Decide and close on a new house.

2. Get it ready for occupation and move into it.

3. Get the old house ready for sale and sell it.

4. Getting a third house ready for sale. ( my mom is moving after 38 years )

5. Finish work on the new house.

At a cursory glance this list only has 5 items, but broken out it’s been enough to keep me working non-stop since December. Literally. Between the cracks of all that work I took a shot at riding a winter century on my studded-tire-equipped mountain bike in February with little to no success. That was forgivable in my mind because of poor equipment choices. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time on the wrong bike. The Monument to Monument is an easy ride by pretty much any standard, and it went fine – I could feel I wasn’t in top form, but nothing terrible. Where I would normally toss in my commutes, a few hard 7 or 10 mile rides to the grocery store and one 20 or 30 mile ride a month, I just rode to work this spring. Circumnavigation came and went in the beginning of June and I was strangely silent. This is partially because I went straight back to working around the house rather than spending time on writeups, and partially because it was the moment when I realized that my fitness was shot and I was ‘done-for’ when it came to monthly century rides. I rode straight from home meeting up with Ken along the way. We had a nice ride to the start where I stopped for coffee and a cookie before peeling out 5 minutes ahead of the group. I was on a tight schedule as the idea was to circle the city back around to where I started and be home by 4. The ride went well for the first 20ish miles from the start until I hit the back side of BWI Airport and started to cramp up something fierce. Charlie came to the rescue with some electrolyte pills and I refilled my bottles at the station Elkridge Furnace Inn put out front. I was having my doubts about finishing the day, but still felt like I could make it to lunch and have a ‘graceful exit’. Half an hour out of the first rest stop it was a different story and I tanked hard. It wasn’t long before I found myself sitting on the park bench in front of a Food Lion on Liberty Rd. eating a pre-made sub, chatting with a recovering heroin addict whose ice cream was melting while he waited for a cab, and waiting for Jen to pick me up — unable to ride ahead to a better rendezvous.

With the organized rides down the tubes, I tunneled in and decided I was going to push as hard as possible to get through my self-imposed list of chores. “Fitness-Be-Damned” I’m already screwed so the sooner I get all this stuff done the sooner I can get back to training for something. At the same time I stopped cooking, pretty much stopped documenting my food consumption after 2500 uninterrupted days, and started falling off the wagon and self-medicating with food and beer. I’ve worked like a rabid beaver since December. 1, 2, and 3 have been done for 2 months and we’re 1 week and change from crossing 4 off. There’s still a ton of stuff to do around the new house, but none of it really matters enough to go at it 100%. That doesn’t mean I still don’t feel the compulsion to work at it 100% until it IS done. The bikes and wrenches all hang in their new garage home gathering dust. I’m kicking myself in the ass for turning all my baggiest shorts into painting clothes this spring.

The only thing that has kept me in the game AT ALL is here.

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I picture it here on vacation. It has spent most of its time folded on the train. With my new commute, I’ve been taking the rails to work. Rather than riding out my front door, I’ve been riding out from Penn Station. That corner of my universe has remained constant for distance if not for route. The ride to work takes nearly the same amount of effort as my old ride–it’s just not enough by itself. The first 2 months were spent on a Brompton. It’s Jen’s bike–which she brought herself as a promotion present a year or so ago–not a member of my stable. When I started taking the train she offered it to me since it folds quicker and more conveniently. I rode it for half the summer until I started to wear stuff out on it. I don’t know if it wasn’t adjusted right when built or my butt was too much for it, but one of the pivot points for the rear triangle started to work its way loose. A week after I torqued that, one of the brake pads fell off on the way home. After fixing that I started to feel guilty about running her equipment into the ground and decided to run my own bike into the ground first.

Since I started using the flyby as my dedicated commuter, it’s been growing on me a little more. I got more accustomed to folding it quickly and it rides better when compared to the Brompton. If the Brompton was my bike to buy, I would probably have gone for the ‘S-type’ bars. I always felt crunched up on the Brommie the way it was adjusted with the raised ‘M’ bars. Only 2 problems with the flyby are:
1. I can’t really stand up since I don’t trust the plastic pedals any farther than I can throw them. That’s been changing my pedaling style since I usually stand on the hills as my first choice for generating power. On longer rides it is a pain since I can’t really give my back side a proper break like it needs.
2. It squeaks and creaks. A little Boesheld in the hinges quiets it for a bit, but the noise comes back really quickly. It sounds like it’s going to fall apart. I know it isn’t, but I like quiet bikes. I’m dealing.

Only reason I’m bringing any of this up now is I’m at the beach for a week on vacation. First 3 days I spent more time sleeping than anything else. It was a very surreal experience laying down in the middle of the afternoon and waking up 3 hours later. The only thing more surreal is then drinking a caffeinated beverage and STILL going to bed early on the same evening. After I caught up on z’s, my next step was to ride around a bit for the first time in forever. We drove the hatchback to the beach, so all I could bring with me is a folder.

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If you stare off into the distance of the photo above, you’ll see a little yellow speck to the right of the car cresting the bridge. That’s the last remnants of my ego disappearing over the top and coasting back down the other side. It’s one thing to see spandex clad guys with tri-bars, “butt rocket” bottle holders, and a fresh HED wheelset dusting you on the long straights, it’s quite another to get the same experience on mile 6 of day 1 from just about everyone aside the beach cruisers with baskets. This picture was from day #1 when the wind was at my back. Day #2 was rougher when the wind was coming in from the northwest. I had chosen to ride up to Rehoboth from our house in Fenwick each day and met family there to get out for a few miles while still being social.

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My first stop was Dogfish for a burger and a few brews. 75min ipa and finished off with 2 glasses of a lighter ‘british’ style ale that I can’t find on their unnavigable website. Let me reiterate that I’m not training right now. I’m relaxing.

16.8mi/1:15:40/13.08mph into the wind.

I have no idea how I am going to approach life when I get back. All I know is I’m fresh for a reconfig as there’s no way I can keep going the same way I’ve been going all year. More to come…

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