Monday, August 2, 2010

The Adventure Way

Stef and I have had a saying for years now. If we get lost, we say, "We're not lost. We're just going the adventure way!" The ride down to Providence Zen Center and back was a bit of an adventure. Not so much with the getting lost though there was a little of that.

Three of us were planning to set out around 4:30am or so Saturday morning so as to be all cleaned up and ready for the festivities at 10am. At 3:45am, I gave the tandem a flat rear tire while trying to pump it up. I had broken the valve a few days before but hadn't thought much about it since it was holding air. When I pulled the pump off, the whole thing deflated. Now, I'm not much of a tire changer. I actually had a bike that I rode for 15 years that never once got a flat. I usually just take it to the bike store and have them change it. Not an option at 3:45am. Crap. Well, no choice so I flipped the bike upside down and started changing the tire. To my great relief and complete surprise, I had the tire changed and the wheel back on in about ten minutes! I think it had more to do with the tire than me but it was a big confidence boost.

When I got to the Cambridge Zen Center, we found out that one of our group had over slept. Ah, well. What could we do. We waited and he got there by about 5am.

We headed out and had a very lovely and uneventful ride there. The new route I found to Dedham was much nicer than last year's route through JP and W. Roxbury. The weather was perfect and it was a fantastic ride.

Parked outside the convenience store about half way there.
I want to note that it can be hard for someone who's never ridden stoker on a tandem to do a long ride.  You have to be very still, you have no control over the steering or braking and you have to pedal at someone else's speed.  MJ did an amazing job dealing with all of this and I'd ride with her again anytime.
This is Mike.  He rode down with me last year too!

We, on the tandem, weren't up for the ride back so we decided to take the train. (Mike was going to ride back by himself but ended up getting a ride Saturday night.)  Fortunately, we left ourselves plenty of time to get to the station because I took a wrong turn that sent us about two miles out of our way. We made it to the station about ten minutes before the train got there and all was well from there to South Station. I figured the toughest part after that would be getting the bike down the stairs to to the Red Line platform.We bumped it down the stairs since I figured it wouldn't fit in the elevator. We managed to get the bike and our stuff onto an Alewife train and again, all was well, until Park St. Of course, they were doing some work and running shuttle buses yesterday. Tandems don't fit on buses. So it was ride the thing home or bust. Oh, and it seems you can get a tandem in a T elevator. You just have to stand it straight up on its rear wheel. We found this out getting out of Park St because we were going to damned if we were carrying it up all those stairs.

Two elevators and some foul language later, we got the bike to street level, gave the shuttle buses a sigh and struck off across the Common walking the bike. What did we find at the other side? More stairs. Ugh! Fortunately, I spied some nice young men headed our way and they were kind enough to carry the loaded bike up the stairs for us (thanks guys! You're the best!). After that, it wasn't too bad. We rode down the hill from the State House to Cambridge St, past MGH and over the bridge into Cambridge. A very nice T bus driver made sure we got through the Charles/MGH traffic circle without getting killed. I dropped MJ off and got home in one piece. It was pretty funny riding the tandem with a pannier on the back and no stoker. It does this funny wobble thing for a bit then settles down.

All in all, it was a great ride. Next year, I want to bring a bunch more people. I talked to a lot of people who wanted to come but didn't know how to get ready. My goal next year is to start talking to people about it in late March and help them figure out how to train for it. It should be fun. Mike's already started calling it the annual Zen Bike Challenge!

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