Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In Which Argent is Ready for RAGBRAI

Bike maintenance time: I took Argent in to Cranky’s Uptown Bicycles in Marion last week. The handlebars needed to be re-wrapped, and the shifting was getting chunky—signs of a worn chain.

When I took it in, the owner/mechanic said he would not be able to look at it “today,” which meant there would be a 24-hour delay before the bike was serviced. I think it was Wednesday or so when I took it in, and that meant the bike was not ready until Friday. He also said it definitely needed a new chain, and possibly a new cassette. And the cassette would add to the cost—to the tune of $15 or so.

He delivered this as if it where “bad” news. To be honest, a bike shop that does work in under two days and charges only $15 for new gears sounds pretty good to me. In the end, the shop also replaced one of the front gears. The total bill to replace almost the full drive train, plus wrap the handle bars, was just over $100—and, given the work that was done, that’s pretty inexpensive.

Some photos of new handlebar wrapping and new drive train parts. RAGBRAI ready.

I rode Clarence over to the bike shop Friday to pick up Argent—I bought my hybrid bike a year ago, and was leaving it off for its year checkup and to replace the brake pads, which I had worn down to bare metal screech time.

I left off the hybrid and picked up the road bike. “I’m swamped right now, I probably won’t get that done tomorrow,” the owner said. Since tomorrow was the Saturday before July 4th, that meant my hybrid bike would be in the shop from Saturday through Wednesday.

The shop opens at 10 a.m. The call came in at 11 a.m. Wednesday. My bike was all done.

I’m liking the little bike shop in Marion more and more. Their service is quick, cheap and seems well done. The bill for the hybrid bike was $40, and that was only because I purchased two $16 mirrors (the cheap plastic one from Wal-Mart on Argent broke during a Saturday ride, and I also wanted to get one for my wife’s bike, since she is riding a lot more and often has to ask if traffic is coming from behind.)

Anyway, on Friday when I rode my road bike home, it was like riding a cloud. The bike has been reborn. So I contacted my sister, and Saturday morning we did “Le Tour de Marion.” We rode the Lowe Park Trail, the Boyson Trail and finished with lunch at Zoey’s, a place she had not been before.

It was a nice tour.

Milkweed in bloom at Lowe Park garden (above), lunch at Zoey's (below). Le Tour de Marion.

The July 4th weekend featured a few incredibly slow, incredibly short bike rides, because I borrowed a lady’s Schwinn mountain bike that is stored in our garage and has a Wee Ride seat on it.

But I also did a long solo ride on Monday, doing the Cedar River Trail from Center Point to Ely, plus the side trail in Robins, and circling Cedar Lake several times. The omens were good that day—I saw a very nice redheaded woodpecker near Center Point, several cardinals plays “bike dodge” on the trail, and I saw my first Monarch butterflies down by Cedar Lake. They were too shy to be photographed, but they were nice to see.

I had a goal Monday—to ride more than the longest RAGBRAI day. And I had a second goal—to ride 100 miles.

I achieved goal 1, but when I stopped at home for lunch around 3 p.m., the sky clouded over and it looked like rain, so I decided to call it a day. I still rode 77 miles—they were mostly flat, trail miles (although the day did start with a hilly loop in my neighborhood), but still.

I have just a few weeks to RAGBRAI. A 100-mile practice day? Still in the plans, I think ….

July 3 ride--heading north on Cedar Valley Nature Trail--sky opens up in treeless patch of trail. It's warm so I liked the shady parts, but I don't mind the view.

East end of Cedar Lake. Where I saw a Monarch, but did not capture its image.

Crossing Bridge of Lions on Cedar River Trail.

Rest stop at Cedar Lake, more than 60 miles into what turned into a 77-mile ride. Not a century yet, but close!

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