13 January 2011

Fat tires and dirt?

Our latest guest column comes to us courtesy of Kevin Van Dyke, an ultra-distance athlete based in Portland, Oregon who has competed in major endurance cycling events such as the Race Across Oregon, Furnace Creek 508, as well as non-competitive long-distance events including the 200 mile Seattle to Portland ride more times than one can count. To kick off the start of the New Year, he decided to mix it up a little and plant knobby tires on trail. Below is a recounting of his first mountain-bike experience....we're hoping it's not his last. :)

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
I had an invitation to ride mountain bike today. What, you mean people ride bikes on dirt? I had slicks on my mountain bike and the knobbies are stored a distance from me so I knew that today's adventure couldn't be too gnarly. We rode from near Kennedy School in east Portland over the Broadway Bridge then out to Forest Park. An easy climb up Leif Erickson ensued, then we descended Fire Break 5, a route that was described to this road rider as "single track."

There was ice and snow on the roads and paths in the park today. My slick tires were sliding around a lot. I was picking my way down a narrow section of trail on a steep side hill when the front end jumped to the left and was heading toward a large tree at the edge of the trail. I was off balance due to the previous tree that I had maneuvered by so this time the only option was to turn down the hill off trail. I figured I'd just brake to a stop in the shrubbery and regroup. Instead I went for a 2x roll down the hill with bike and I alternating who as on top! By the time it all came to a stop I had a chain wrapped around the spindle that looked like it might be toast, a tweaked front derailleur, and a bent hanger on the back. Not enough tools to fix it along.

Daylight was running out so the attempt was made to just get out. My riding partner made tracks to get back home and return with her car to sag me in. Along the way she phoned to tell me that the Fat Tire Farm bike shop was closed for remodel but that they had informed her that there was a bike shop on 21st that was open.

I had no ability to pedal so I used my bike as a kid's scooter. The mountain bike doesn't coast like a road bike! :-( I did eventually arrive at the bike shop, 11 minutes before they closed at 5PM. I was glad that ALL my bikes have at least a front blinkie as well as a red super flash on the back.

A new chain and some adjustments got me back in pedaling mode. I rode about 10 blocks to where my ride was waiting. We loaded my bike and proceeded back to Kennedy School.

Had a bite to eat, an adult beverage to drink, and spent some time talking about the day's adventure..............Kevin's first mountain bike ride.

Counting the non pedaling miles (which were harder work than than pedaling!) my speedometer shows 21 miles.

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