Saturday, March 4, 2017

In Which Bike 12 Is OK For An 11-Person Ride

MMU Bike Club reading for first ride. I'm on number 12, bike I've never been on before.
I think there were 11 of us. I kept counting early in the ride, and the count varied a bit—it’s hard to see everyone in a group going down the trail. And I’m pretty sure I was not including myself in the count, so if I counted 10 bikers in front of me, there were 11 of us on the ride.

We were missing two who should have been there, so our total ought to have been 13—but 11 is a very respectable number for an MMU Bike Club ride, especially one I almost didn’t go on due to a catastrophic mechanical failure.

My wife and I decided today to ride our bikes to the MMU campus to meet the bike club for its first 2017 ride. And we decided to also bring along a grandchild. So I put the toddler seat on Clarence, and we helmeted up and headed out.

The grandchild likes bicycle riding, but tires of it after a time. Sitting still is not something toddlers do well. However, it was such a nice day, and the grandchild could see grandmother, so the little one was still in a good riding mood as we approached the MMU campus. Our end point was Lundy Commons, so I turned onto campus by Warde Hall, peddled to the sidewalk leading to the commons, and headed that way.

 First, you swoop down a little incline. Then, you have a short hill to ascend to get there. I made a mistake by trying to shift into an easier gear as I headed up that little hill—I was peddling a bit too hard for shifting, and there was an unpleasant “chunk” from the rear. And very quickly, my grandchild and I were stopped on the bike, maybe 20 yards from where the ride would have ended.

Busted chain.

Well, as it happens, another family member was on campus anyway, so Audrey took the grandchild home using a car conveniently located at MMU. I locked up Audrey’s bike and mine, and checked out an MMU bike.

Lundy student employee checks out bike number 12 to me.

I had not ridden an MMU bike before and, to be honest, I wasn’t relishing the experience. The university owns a set of second-hand bikes that look like a motley crew. I chose one of the larger bikes, a hybrid Schwinn built in a similar style to my old hybrid bike Francis. It was number 12.

As it turned out, number 12, despite its unimpressive looks, was lighter and easier to ride than I expected. It was a 24-speed bike, 3 in the front, 8 in back, and the gears were well suited for both hill climbing and flat riding.

Bike Club member crosses bridge on Cedar River Trail.
Kudos is due to you, number 12, for being such a nice bike to ride.

Even if I am disappointed my posse couldn’t be with me, the ride, which took us to the Cedar River Trail and then north to Dairy Queen in Hiawatha, was quite pleasant. There, since my wife and I have given up sweets for 30 days (it’s not a Lent thing, we do a “30-day” challenge every month, whether it has 30 days or 28 or 31) I had a hamburger.

Treats at Dairy Queen in Hiawatha.
 We then rode back to campus. It was getting to be around 3:30 by that time. As soon as I got to campus, one of my daughters texted me that she was there with our van and bike rack, so I didn’t have to call for rescue nor wait long. We left campus and she agreed to swing by the bike shop in Marion, which was still open when we got there.

I went inside, told the bike guy my tale of woe, and he said “we’ll get you fixed up in a few minutes.” I was surprised to get service that quickly, and informed him I didn’t even bring my wallet—and he just said “I won’t charge you for this.” So he took 5 minutes to replace the blown link in the chain, and I was able to ride Clarence home. More kudos, this time to Cranky’s Uptown Bicycles.

More of my photos. All in all, I would say it was about the best biking day featuring a broken chain that anybody could have a right to expect.

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