Sunday, October 9, 2011

equipment check, part two

Fate, coincidence, serendipity. Call it whatever you wish, but the beginning of this trip has been all that.

It's hard to make a long story short and maybe that's not the kind of storyteller I am, but this story begins last fall on the last day of a trip Jon and I took to the Southwest. Maybe it starts the day before when we were riding at Gooseberry Mesa and my riding was all off. I was crashing into ledges instead of going up them. I was bailing out of things I should have been riding. It was not a good day. But we camped on the mesa that night, since it's once of our favorite places to camp. In the morning Jon suggested that I should have a better ride to end the trip; a good ride; a ride on the JEM Trail, just below the mesa. My spirits lifted, I got my gear together. Jon dropped me at the southern trailhead. As he was doing this, we came across another rider. A guy on a fixie. Named Dave. He was posting signs for an upcoming bike race & said he worked at the local shop, Over the Edge. Off we both went on our rides and when I returned to Anchorage, I looked him up and made a facebook friend request.

It wasn't that he was a total stranger in my mind, for he is one of the few riders to even attempt to race the Great Divide - the Continental Divide trail from Canada to Mexico. So, he knew at least one person I knew.

A year later, earlier this week, my friends and I were in Hurricane. We stopped at the shop to get information on what was good after the recent rains. After a short ride that included one tumbling friend and a jumping cactus, we headed back to town. Not before a thunderstorm rolled in delivering a deluge of rain and booming thunder. The local cafe had just closed for the day and we were looking for a place to get a hot coffee and some free internet. So, we stopped in the shop. "Hey, aren't you Dave? We met last year...." I mentioned facebook. I asked where we could get wifi while we figured out what to do. "Where are you staying tonight?" he asked. "We were going to camp, but with this, I don't know." Soon he was typing at the computer and pulled out a map and directions to his place away from the town center.

It's rare to get this sort of offer, I think. But not all that rare among people I know. Jon and I love hosting people at our place when we can. We love the story sharing and just having someone else around once in awhile. So my two friends were pretty excited about the offer, though reasonably skeptical at first. When we found the house, though, we were pretty excited at what felt like expansive surroundings - especially since the previous night we had all assembled our bikes in a small hotel room, squeezing ourselves between the beds and even into the bathroom to find space.

We had just begun making ourselves comfortable when Dave arrived. We shared a meal and beers as rain blew against the dining room window. After a bit of discussion, Dave offered to take us on a ride I've been wanting to do for a couple years: the trails at Little Creek Mesa. Little Creek is the mesa just south of Gooseberry but word was you need to go with a local/guide to really have a good time without getting turned around and helplessly lost. We headed out for the ride and spent the afternoon riding, learning a few tips and wearing ourselves out. But I had one little issue.

My front brake had too much throw in the lever, almost touching the grip before the brake fully engaged. I'd noticed it earlier in the season but forgot to mention it to Jon before the tip. Dave looked at it and recommended new pads. After the ride, we swung by the shop and picked up pads which Dave installed back at the house. He made a little adjustment on the reach and I took the bike for a test ride. It felt better and the levers felt even. The next morning, Dave headed off for work and the three of us were on the road by 8:30, headed for Green River but hoping for a ride just north of Moab before driving back to Green River.

At Klondike Bluffs, I pulled the bikes out of the car - just two of us were going to ride - and put my wheel on. The brake felt good until we started to ride and I pulled it a few more times. It was't working. I had no front brake (I thought). Upon closer examination, I found that the pin the lever pivots on was missing! Oh crap. I showed Lori who said that's happened to her before and someone told her to find something, anything, to put in to keep the lever in place. I suggested going back to the car and looking for the part. Lori suggested a bolt, but my pin had no threads. We ended up grabbing a mini bungee cord putting one hook in the top, wrapping the cord around so it was snug, then putting the other hook in through the bottom. Worked like a charm and the brake actually felt better than it has for the last few months thanks to the new pads.

But I needed to fix the lever before this five-day trip that starts Sunday. So after finishing the ride and feeling certain the shops farther down the road, in Moab, would be open, we packed up and drove south, something I didn't want to do. I was tired, sweaty and had friends to meet for dinner. Upon arriving at Poison Spider, we saw the parking lot was roped off and there was a party going on. It was part of a celebration for Outerbike, a public bike demo event held in the Moab area.

After getting the parts from the service guy, Randy, I asked about a couple people I knew. Yes, he told me, the one guy still works there but is at the 24-hour race. The other guy, he didn't know, so he asked another person. "Sure, he's around. He's on the floor." Someone else chimed in: "he's outside, there." Finally I saw our friend Pete. I snuck up behind him and gave him a big hug. He turned around: "Rose! Is Jon here?" I told him why I was there. We laughed and I shared my stories and plans. Then he kept pointing out or reintroducing me to people I'd met before. In fewer than five minutes, I had talked briefly with a handful of guys I know from Anchorage or other parts of Alaska.

Small world, yes? And I was thinking to myself, had I fixed that in Anchorage, I wouldn't have done it here. Had I not had Dave make a little lever adjustment on my brakes, the pin may not have fallen out and I would have never taken that detour to Moab. But life works that way. It seems that so often for me, people, events converge in the most extraordinary ways, that I can only think that forces around me do conspire to make things happen. Usually in a good way. And the energy it creates is a happy buzz that can be contagious.

Dear readers, having a little tech issue getting pics posted. I'll get some up here after I figure it out or when I return home to my usual equipment. Thanks for reading.


corinne said...

Ciao, Rose! Hope the Divas Utah trip was full of serendipitous events and great rides. We rode one-speed cruisers with loose handlebars around Lucca today. A great way to see a flat city and we didn't have to worry about anyone stealing them while we ate panini and gelati. ~corinne

bikegirl said...

sound perfect! Missed you on the trip this year but I hope you & Paul are having a great time in Italy. See you back in Anchorage.