Evan and I have Wednesdays off together now. This means long bike rides.
We finally got another set of hubs for the Powderkeg tandem. Hopefully, the new Chris Kings will solve the issues we’ve been having with the rear hub getting torn apart by the amount of force that we put on that bike. We’ve gone through two rear hubs since June.
Evan rebuilt the wheel with the new King, and we decided to go for a long ride last Wednesday.
We left the house a little later than planned. We had to get the tandem ready to go again—put the wheel back on, find a saddle to stick on for me since I had to give my demo Brooks back, etc. But finally, we were ready.
We rode through the familiar roads of our valley, past farms and cows and silos. The temperature was perfect. As we began the climb up the mountain, I mentioned in passing that my saddle was giving me issues. I’ve been having a hard time finding a good seat for the tandem. I end up sitting down on it way more than I do on my other bikes—normally, I’m up and out of the saddle all the time. We stopped to look at the map. Evan questioned if I would be okay for the longer ride we had planned. If I was already in pain… And we didn’t pack that much water… And, he said, he knows how I get when I run out of water…
I looked at him like he’d lost his mind. Of course we were doing this ride. I stewed inside for a minute. I am much better than I used to be about the water thing. I’ve learned to drink less during the ride and more before and after. He didn’t realize that though.
We climbed and climbed.
It seemed like the gravel road went on forever, and we’d never reach the top of the mountain. I was starving. All I wanted was the packet of tuna we had stashed in the frame bag. It was too soon for that though. We weren’t even halfway.
Finally, we were at the top. The ride down seemed so short, and then we were on a flat road, motoring along. Doubts began to creep in. Maybe I wouldn’t make it. It had been a long time since I’d done 50 miles. It’s not that far, I know, but despite the fact that I’ve been riding most days of the week, they’re usually short rides. 10-20 miles.
We crossed the highway and jumped onto the powerline trail. This would be cool, Evan said. We navigated the ruts and hidden rocks, but lost it on a pipe barely sticking out of the ground. I fell into a thorn bush. I was having trouble adjusting to being on the tandem again, and I was annoyed. I wanted to be in control.
What’s wrong? We’re riding bikes, Evan said. Very true. I looked around. This was pretty damn cool. Who cares about the saddle sores and rumbling belly. I took off my shirt and popped a bite of Clif Bar. My mood instantly improved. We were riding bikes, together. The doubts disappeared. Of course I could do this. I’d ridden farther than this before, when I wasn’t as strong. This should be a piece of cake. My bottom hurt less. I smiled. Every long ride can have rough patches. I’d gotten through this one. Time to move on.
The powerline trail led us to an incredible vista, where we finally downed that tuna packet and split a beer. Then it was a mix of riding and walking down the trail to Shingletown. Navigating the rockiest trails proved to be a little difficult on the tandem, so Evan did a lot of pushing while I speed-walked behind. The ferns were changing colors, and shades of yellow abound. We hadn’t seen a soul all day, aside from a guy trimming the side of the gravel road back on Kepler, when my mind was spiraling into negativity. We climbed out of Shingletown on a new-to-us trail, and caught a glimpse of another rider in the distance. But then he was gone.
The trail spit us out onto an overgrown road. The grass became entangled in my pedals and chainring, not effecting performance any but making for a funny sight.
Then we were back on gravel, almost to the top of the same mountain we had climbed up earlier. But it was a lot easier to cross this time. Soon, we were bombing down the other side, miles and miles of downhill, all the way to the Whipple Dam Store, where calories awaited.
We stood in line amongst a bunch of college kids who appeared to be on a field trip. Root beer, chips, cheese, and candy in hands. All that for a little over $5. What a deal! We sat on the picnic table outside and devoured our feast of sugar and salt. Eating has rarely felt so good.
And we were almost home. Just a few more miles on familiar roads.
I made it.
My rear end was glad to get off the bike. My legs were tired, but felt like they could keep going. Sometime soon, I’ll find a saddle that works for me on the Powderkeg. We’re still in the process of figuring everything out on that bike.
I can’t wait to return to the powerline. There seem to be some new trails in place in the area, and I’d like to explore some more.