Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wishing for the right things

Last week at a party someone remarked that the blog and travel stories let them live vicariously through me. In other words, they wish they were doing these things...

I'm standing here because about 2 miles ago the Seven's chain broke. It got spliced back together with half a link and some of Bonnie's duct tape, and this is where it's decided to give up the ghost.

Bending over a hopeless drivetrain, I hear myself thinking well at least it's not raining. At least it's a gorgeous day. And at least it's not a tire problem that can't be fixed. Can't even ride downhill in that case.

This exact spot is middle-of-nowhere Sonoma County, on Sweetwater Springs Road. Beautiful, but not the place to be chain-less. Kind of worst-case-scenario. From this point it's about 2 miles to the top of the hill. Which I'll be walking. The hope is to coast down the other side into Guerneville. Where my ride will be coming to an end and I'll be piecing together a way home on public transport. ~125 miles.

And that's pretty much how it goes, except the mile-and-a-half on Armstrong Woods into town is not really flat. Not a hill, but not level either. The Seven becomes an expensive, incredibly overbuilt scooter. Pushing off with one foot or the other, gliding as far as possible, then pushing off again. There was a guy who completed Paris-Brest-Paris on a scooter in 2003; he wore out a couple of pairs of shoes.

Here's what I found:
  1. No one, not the sheriff, not the cast of characters at the bus stop in a funky little backwater of a town, wants to talk to someone with grease on their face. No one. If you want help from strangers, be good-looking.
  2. Dove bar soap is not effective at removing grease from the skin. 
  3. Chains can't really be mended en route, unless you have a master link or a chain tool.
  4. Guerneville doesn't have a bike shop!
  5. For $3.05 you can spend an hour studying an incredibly rich cross-section of humanity.
The really amazing thing is, sometimes you can make a huge mistake, like reading a schedule wrong. Scooting an extra mile-and-a-half in Santa Rosa to a bus stop, then realizing that the southbound 72 runs only in the morning hours. The times on the schedule are not bold. At 4 in the afternoon, only the northbound bus stops there. You've ruined everything...

Then the Airport Express pulls up, because it happens to stop at the same place. And they'll take you to SFO, which is way further than the public bus goes. It has comfy seats and charging stations for your smartphone (which is now dead). It has WiFi. And the people are super nice.

Even when you make a huge mistake, and you're tired and not as greasy as before but still greasy and you've spent time sitting next to someone who habitually smokes pot, if you stay with it things can work out. As unlikely as this sounds, you can get home from Guerneville. One local bus, one deluxe coach, two BART trains, and a commuter train.

Then you can scoot the 4 blocks home.

1 comment :

  1. I'm glad you made it! (Are you buying a chain tool?) That airport express almost sounds like divine intervention. ;)
    I saw something similar happen on the Palm Springs century - I think it was the derailleur in that case, but a chain tool was necessary to make the road bike into a single speed so the cyclist could just finish the ride. I'd never known how important the blasted little thing could be.