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CO Tour Rest Day: Backwards Pedal and Crankarm Day

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When we last saw our two intrepid bike tourists, they were stranded in Leadville with a broken crankarm…

It was Leadville layover day and bike shop stop on our Colorado odyssey. Nervously we awaited the 10 a.m. opening of Cycles of Life to see if Brian could repair our broken crankarm.

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We watched him dig through all of his spare parts boxes, in search of a crankarm that might work on the captain’s non-drive side. No luck.

Brian sent us to Community Threads, where Smokey went back into a closet that contained “random bike s#@$.” In it, we found a Shimano 175 mm XT arm from the 1990s. Success!

We walked back to Cycles of Life with crankarm in hand and Brian quickly repurposed the left arm to the right side, and installed it with a new Shimano pedal.

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Felkerino clipped in to give the new setup a test ride around the parking lot and his shoe lodged into the pedal. Because we had to use a left crankarm on the right side, the pedal is backwards. Darn freak bikes.

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Back into the bike shop we went, with the shoe still stuck on the bike. Brian helpfully dislodged it and Felkerino turned his SPD cleat around so that he could clip in and out. It’s not totally smooth, but it effectively does the job.

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I wasn’t sure how this day would work out, but we now have four functioning crankarms.

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Isn’t that beautiful?

Many thanks to Cycles of Life and Community Threads for fixing us up. Phew! On we ride, backwards crankarm and all.

CO Tour Day 9: Las Cosas Se Arreglan: Cottonwood Pass and a Broken Crankarm

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“Las cosas se arreglan. La gente no.” Things can be fixed. People can’t. Someone I used to work with told me that, after I had been in a fender bender.

That phrase keeps running through my mind as I reflect on our day from Gunnison to Leadville, 105 miles via the big meandering Cottonwood Pass and another intersection with the Continental Divide at 12,000-plus feet.

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Even though I think Felkerino and I tour in a rather posh way– traveling light, hotel stays, dinners out, espresso stops whenever we can– this day still challenged my sense of humor.

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Until we reached the base of Cottonwood Pass, I was feeling crabby about tandem touring and my vacation. “You know what this vacation needs,” I thought to myself. “More single bikes and downhill segments!”

Cottonwood Pass took me away from my troubles and I fell back in love with tandem touring. A helpful shout out of “You’re amazing!” from two motorcyclists helped, too.

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By the time we reached Leadville, a little grumpiness returned. It takes some slogging to reach Leadville. Felkerino and I had lost some of our unison and I was hungry.

Two miles from the hotel the bike jerked. I thought Felkerino had slipped out of his pedal. We looked down and saw that a pedal was still attached to his foot and we now had a stub of a crankarm.

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We couldn’t believe it. This is not an ideal situation, but we are so fortunate this happened in a town that has a bike shop. We were going slowly on a side street, we didn’t fall, and nobody was hurt. We were two miles from our hotel, an easily walkable distance. And tomorrow is a planned rest day for us.

We strolled to the end of town and saw a man out working on his mountain bike. He asked us why we weren’t riding our tandem and we showed him our orphan pedal. We chatted bikes and then learned we were talking to Ken Chlouber, who started the Leadville 100. No kidding. We never would have talked with him if not for our broken crankarm.

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I’m not happy about this mechanical, but we are relieved tomorrow is a rest day and optimistic about being in Leadville, a town with what looks like a well-stocked bike shop. Like I said in the beginning, “Las cosas see arreglan” so we will figure out some sort of plan.

Good night, all, and thanks to everyone who’s been following and leaving comments. It propels us forward.

CO Tour Day 5: Bike Tour Magic: 83 Miles from Ouray to Durango

Felkerino said that today is when the mountains embraced us. I said it was a day of bike tour magic.

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Part of the reason for that, of course, was the beautiful climbing on the Million Dollar Highway for the first 38 miles. We ascended from Ouray at 7,800 feet to over 10,000 feet and crossed three passes in the first half of our ride: Red Mountain; Molas; and Coal Bank.

The other reason we felt so inspired by our day was the people we had the chance to meet. We were held up at the top of Red Mountain Pass because of road work (blasting!) and chatted with several people touring the area (in their cars, but I guess it’s okay this time).

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We flew into Silverton, where the town was preparing for the Hardrock 100, which starts tomorrow. It was bustling!
We had excellent espresso at Mobius. We talked to a couple of the ultrarunners and met a couple from California who were out mountain biking the area. We exchanged bike stories and Felkerino even test rode one of their bikes.

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More steady climbing over Molas and Coal Bank Passes until mile 38, when we began our big drop into Durango. The road was mostly peaceful going up, and all drivers gave us plenty of room when passing.

In town, we stopped at Durango Cyclery (a shop full of bike treasure) and ended up going to dinner with some people there. That’s bike tour magic!

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I’m tired so I’m not doing the best job of explaining the magic of this day. Weather was good and our bodies seem to be settling into longer climbing efforts. That could also be the payoff from our rest day, too. The grade of the highway was also not as steep as Felkerino and I thought it would be.

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The vistas were intense, and I wasn’t even freaked out by the sheer dropoffs while leaving Ouray. Progress!

From beginning to end, I felt welcome. Lots of people talked with us about our tour, and we had so much fun chatting about bikes, routes, and touring.

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I don’t know why this day was so interactive. Maybe it’s the vibe of this area or maybe we’re coming down with the blabs, I’m not sure. It was an awesome day, and I’m attributing it all to bike tour magic.

Mancation, All I Ever Wanted

Quickbeam on Hains Point. No mancation here.

Quickbeam on Hains Point. No mancation here.

I overhear our friend talking to Felkerino about his upcoming bike trip, a multi-day self-guided tour in Europe.

“Mancation,” he tells Felkerino. I turn my head at that.

“Just me and my bike,” he adds.

Surprised, I say, “Wait, you’re going by yourself?”

“Good job, Mary. You got it on the first try.”

If he only knew, I think. Until his clarification, I had imagined our friend pedaling and guffawing with his manly cycling bros, no women allowed, having the mancation of his life.

This was different. This was like nothing I would ever plan, and not just because of the “man” in mancation.

“But who will you talk to about your ride? How long will it take for you to become lonely? I would get lonely.” This whole mancation thing was causing some conceptual distress.

Loneliness did not appear to worry our friend. He expressed more concern about how much his off-the-bike clothes weighed. The plan to be a solitary cowboy on two wheels delighted him.

In a strange coincidence, the following day one of my colleagues and cycling friends who is leaving on his own solo bike trip this week (mancation, if you will) stopped by to discuss the differences in our approaches to bike touring.

“Mary, I cannot wait to go and spend a few days on the road by myself. You, however, have a different view of bicycling. I can see that in your blog posts. You like your bicycling to be social. It’s not something you frequently do alone.”

I agreed. A mancation (womancation?) does not hold much appeal. The occasional solo century? That can be fun. Generally, though, I prefer to share the miles and memories. That’s one of many reasons I like tandem bike touring with Felkerino.

I don’t care much for group tours, but day after day of riding in my own company and no one else’s is not something I would seek out.

I imagine a multi-day solo bike tour morphing into a forlorn adventure where I sadly contemplate my insignificance. I prefer to do that kind of contemplation in the kitchen while I cook dinner.

In addition, there is also a small fear I have for my own safety as a solo woman on the road. I have been conditioned to think about this in a way I suspect may be different from men.

However, even with safety as a consideration, I do not crave a mancation. I want to hang out, see the sights with my partner, share meals and coffee, and chat along the way.

Obviously, not everybody feels that way. For others, solo bike touring may be a welcome break from social interactions and I’m not sure what else. Perhaps it allows one to relax in the comfort of his or her own company as they become one with the bike. Mancation, all I ever wanted…

Happiness

Dandelions on a spring morning run

Recently, a friend recommended Willa Cather’s My Ántonia so I have been reading it. I’ve always avoided this book because it sounded too much like required high school reading. Now I understand why that is so, although I don’t know that I would have appreciated all this book had to offer had I read it earlier in life.

Continue reading

A Holiday Wish

This past weekend I stopped during our bike ride to tell Santa all that I wanted for Christmas.

Santa and me

Santa, listen up. I have something important to tell you!

But then I realized that I had everything I needed. Good health, the love of friends and family, and of course, bicycles.

Felkerino and me

Felkerino and me, on our last ride together in 2013

So instead I told Santa that I wished for everyone I know to have a great holiday season, full of love and cheer. Santa said he’d do his best.

7th Street Landing Christmas Tree, Quickbeam, and me

7th Street Landing Christmas Tree

I hope my wish came true. Happy holidays, everybody!

Carefree in Sedona: Jump Photos

Jump photos. If you haven’t done one, you should try it.

Now everybody jump! A photo at our high point on Bear Mountain

You have to intuit the right moment for a jump, as it’s unlikely to turn out if forced.

Sometimes a jump photo was just what we needed during our Sedona hikes this week (longer wrap-up post about that on deck) because it took us away from a tough moment on the trail and reminded us we were on vacation.

It took a few shots to capture us all airborne, but eventually we got there.

1 person, 2 people...

1 person, 2 people…

This photo was taken as we reached our turnaround point on Bear Mountain. We hiked our way up a steep stairstep climb until we began the ups and downs of the final mile to the ridge that would lead us to our final lookout.

It was getting hot and the hiking was losing some of its fun factor. We took a break to eat a snack and cool down. Good humor returned at the realization that a fast descent was in our near future. Before heading down, though, we took a moment to jump.

A good jump brings me back to the carefree joy of being healthy and alive. And three people simultaneously leaping and sharing that feeling makes it even better.

So like I said, if you haven’t tried it you should set the camera’s auto-timer and go for it.

Peace

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Wishing everyone a peaceful weekend and happier weeks ahead.

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Happy Holidays (and a Book Recommendation)!

Co-Motion Tandem in Rock Creek

Happy holidays!

If you have any breaks from the hustle and bustle this week, I recommend a read of this lovely book, The Velocipede: its History, Varieties and Practice , by J.T. Goddard.

Written in 1869, The Velocipede offers an informative look back at the bicycles and bike culture of the time. It even includes a chapter of comprehensive instructions for the beginning rider, and another that focuses on the possibilities of cycling for ladies, i.e., velocipedestriennes.

Those who like bicycles and have any interest in their history will enjoy Goddard’s book. Also, what do you have to lose? The book is absolutely FREE from Google Play. I love how accessible publications like this have become.

All the best to you this season, dear readers. I hope you are surrounded by peace, love, friendship, bicycles, and good coffee.

chasing mailboxes

There he is.  See?
Just down the road.
There.

Yes.  Yes!  I see .
Pedal hard. We will catch him.
Let’s do it!

Pedal pedal pedal.
I think we’re gaining.
We can do this!

Pedal faster!

Almost. There.
Wait. It’s not what we thought.
No? No.

It was fun giving chase.
Got my heart rate up.
Even if he did turn out to be
a mailbox.