Sometimes you have a moment that I like to call a “Re-Piphany.” This is the moment that you remember a sudden, insightful vision that struck you in the past. A few years ago I had this original occurrence while riding out on the gravel, cruising down a hill at dusk at a speed that was far overreaching my poor eyesight’s ability to gauge the road surface stability. A not-so-small patch of loose rock in an odd section of the road almost took me down, and in the adrenaline rush after barely keeping the bike upright it came to me. I should probably get contacts or prescription riding shades. Now that I’m a little more seasoned at reading the roads (also slower), it’s rare to have such a run in. Until yesterday when it happened again.
Yesterday I was doing an in-town ride to get a few miles in, and basically to revisit all of the roads I used to travel when all I had was an old Peugeot fixie that I rode everywhere. I was with the stoker at Campbell’s Nutrition the other day and had a longing to relive those old days of shopping by bike there and at New City Market (RIP), cruising the streets on the old pearl white and orange beast, stopping for beers along the way, filling my messenger bag up with vital veggies for the week’s meals. It was powerful, but this is not the Re-Piphany I speak of. So, I decided I would take the gravel bike around my old stomping grounds. It’s completely over the top as a commuter/city bike, but since that is the bike I am currently training to use for this years’ events, that’s what I’m riding at all times. Towards the end of my loop I had come through Water Works, then decided to take the MLK extension to the EV instead of my normal route behind Gray’s Lake. Descending down east from the MLK/Fleur bridge, I picked up speed and was looking down at my computer to check said speed, crossed the first road then looked up to see that I was bearing down on a tall, fresh curb. “What in fresh curb hell is this?” I managed to get the Bird’s front wheel up, but the rear slammed into the concrete and after a yard or so I heard that familiar hissing and felt that rear end squirm. FLAT TIME! I was cold, as the temps were a little cooler than I had anticipated (I also like training underdressed, but I don’t factor in stopping and getting chilled during mechanicals. Noted.), and just wanted to get home for some food.
One of my main concerns, aside from eating all the food, was that I was rolling on carbon hoops. I was completely convinced that upon inspecting the rim that there would be a crack or break. I mean, I’m at the top end of the weight limit for almost every bike part known to humankind, and a direct hit at that velocity with the momentum created by my mass, that’s the science of fucking up a good wheel. Wheel inspection complete, all was surprisingly well. Thank you Whisky Parts Co for making a literal bomb-proof carbon hoop, and Ed & Jen at Beaverdale Bikes for a rock solid wheel build. DANG. I had a road tube in the pack, that was better than the MTB tube I expected to encounter, as I don’t remember repacking this particular kit from the Lynskey SS MTB trial run of Ought 16, I made that work and was up and rolling in just a few short minutes. Rolling back to the house, back to food, back to the kittens, and back to re-tube that rear wheel with the correct size rubber.
So… the moment I hit that curb it struck me loudly for the second time, I really need to get some better vision going for the roads ahead. When I looked up I had plenty of time to react, but I couldn’t see that the curb was high now. It had been reconstructed recently, so I thought that it was changed (it wasn’t changed at all, btw). You could also argue that I should maybe keep my head up and pay better attention when cycling at higher speeds.