This does look like the month for the Birthday rides! This post is a little anticlimactic, since I took my ride for 57+ miles last Wednesday on the 18th, but this is the first opportunity I have had to post since then.
For my Birthday Ride I chose to ride loops around the White Rock Lake trail in Dallas (23 miles) until I reached 57 miles. After each lap I could return to my van and switch bikes, a-la the Pony Express and get to play with more of my toys. The morning sky was cloudless, the wind minimal with a high to be in the mid-80s. The predicted rain did not happen. Perfect.
I would start the ride on my 1971 Schwinn Racer singlespeed coaster brake wonder, switch to a late 80s Fuji Sundance Juice Sparkler, and finish on my 1968 Raleigh Grand Prix.
The morning did not begin well. Two tubes exploded when I aired up the Raleigh. Operator error? Evil machine? An omen for sure.
First lap -- 14 miles on the Schwinn Racer. The sun was still low and casting long shadows. I did take photos. My geezer factor was quite high while riding the old comfort bike so I proudly stuck my chin out and pointed the way with my grizzled goatee. (With the upright posture demanded by the bike, I had no choice!) There were a few hardy souls on the trail, many were peers, so there was a sense of comradery, manifested by greetings, waves and goodwill. I did see two youngsters (30ish?) riding hand propelled recumbents. They made pretty good time and their upper body development was impressive.
Second lap -- 23 miles on the Fuji. I focused on enjoying the moment. I took pictures of waterfowl, sailboats and bikes, had a picnic lunch of empanadas and homemade pecan sandies while sitting on a fishing pier near the spillway. The vibe was mellow. (For those of you unfamiliar with latin American cuisine, empanadas are a small baked pie, similar to the pasties found across the pond, or the fried pies beloved in the American south. Here in Texas you usually see the Mexican version which is fruit filled. I grew up with a version from farther south, a spicy, meat filled pie that’ll make you stand up and holler. I had both kinds for lunch, savory and blueberry. Yum.)
Now, the sad part. I switched to the Grand Prix for the final leg. I was cruising along, feeling good when six miles into the loop, I spotted a perfect background for a bike portrait. I’m proud of my Raleigh and didn’t have a good picture of it. I know my Grand Prix is a modest bike, but it has vintage class, original components, and 1968 was a good year for me. I posed the bike, took some quick pics, put the camera up and got back in the saddle -- almost.
(Insert wailing and gnashing of teeth here.)
Somehow I lost my balance, and in the process of trying to find it snagged the brake lever on the strap of my helmet. I and the bike tumbled over in as graceless a manner as possible. I landed on the front wheel. I had not realized before that moment that a spoked steel wheel could morph into a mobius strip in a fraction of a second! The last lap of the Birthday Ride just became very hard to do.
I exaggerate slightly; the shape is more like a Pringle’s potato chip, but equally unrideable. I hoisted the bike, now a 30 pound necklace, on my shoulders and started hoofing it back to the car.
An old greybeard toting an old bike on his shoulders is a wee conspicuous. Most people I encountered were thoughtful and made sure I was uninjured. I received the occasional commiseration of the “That sucks” variety from others. But one biker in particular, a young gentleman originally from Ashville, NC told me there was a bike shop about a half mile away and volunteered to take me there. He waxed longingly about the trails in North Carolina and I listened wistfully, knowing that the Blue Ridge area is truly one of our nation’s treasures. Before long I was jogging to keep pace with him when he realized he had sped up.
“You don’t need to run!” he said. I, in turn, answered. “No, but to be able to is wonderful.”
To bring this tale to its conclusion, the bike shop ( shameless plug --Dallas Bike World on Abrams) heroically went out of their way to get me refitted with a wheel and on my way. I rode back to the car feeling the temperature drop with every yard while battling a “freshening” north wind. Conditions had changed since the morning. The temp dropped 20 degrees in as many minutes.
I had 10 miles to go to finish the ride and, truth be known, was sorely tempted to pack it in, but the examples set by all the 50+ BFrs who have conquered adversity inspired me to continue. I did restart at the south end of the lake so the final half would be with the wind at my back. All in all, it was a successful conclusion to a memorable ride. I wouldn’t have, couldn’t have done it without you all.