Monday, June 1, 2009

June 1, 2009: Palm Bay to Stuart

What a long, tiring day! We were rolling today before 6:30, but we did not get to the hotel until 2:00.

Statistics: 5 hours, 4 minutes riding time; 72.9 miles; average speed 14.5 mph; temperature range was 70 degrees to 100 degrees with an average of 85.

At around 8AM one of my spokes broke, right at the “J” bend at the top. Needless to say, it was a rear spoke, on the drive side. Any other spoke can be changed or replaced with a Kevlar temporary spoke in five minutes or so. A rear, drive side spoke repair requires the removal of the rear gear cluster (aka “cassette”) and is virtually impossible without the correct tools. As it happens, a while back I started carrying a Stein cassette removal tool, which is not as convenient to use as shop tools, but weighs maybe 75 grams and fits in a closed fist. I also had a Fiberfix emergency spoke and a couple of real spokes. I had never used the Stein tool or Fiberfix spoke before.


I first tried the latter, but without removing the cassette I could not use the emergency spoke to return the wheel to some semblance of true. Giving up on the soft spoke, I pulled out the Stein tool and read the brief, but adequate instructions. It took a little while, and some cooperation from Fred to hold and lift the bike, but I was able to remove the cassette, replace the spoke with a spare, and get the wheel reasonably true. I was concerned that the spoke was the wrong size, though, and that I had torqued it during the installation to the point that it might fail later in the ride, so I resolved to stop at a bike shop along our route to get the wheel properly checked out. This roadside repair, although successful, cost us an hour or maybe a bit more. When we finally saw a bike shop in Port St. Lucie, just 9 miles from the hotel, we stopped and spent another 30 or 40 minutes there while the spoke was replaced with a fresh one and the wheel was expertly trued.

Let me put in a good word for Chris and the Village Bike Shop in Port St. Lucie . He was terrific and did a fine job on the wheel. If you are ever in the area and need some work done, he’s your man. From what I heard while he was handling a phone call from a prospective customer, he can give you extremely good pricing on a new bike, as well.

Once we had showered up, we hit the Chinese buffet a block from the hotel and consumed mass quantities. I was still full when we went to dinner, so I just had a side salad.

Tomorrow’s route is just a bit shorter than today’s, and a whole lot of it is down A1A, which probably means wind. Well, whatever it is, it is. When we get to the hotel in the afternoon, a replacement saddle from my home stock (the one on this bike is overdue for replacement) and a refreshed supply of Chamois Butt’r should be waiting, thanks to my dearest Kathy. My rear end will be most thankful for both!

Oh, a wildlife note: We stopped for a little rest in some shade across the street from a pole with an Osprey nest at the top. One bird was home and kept talking the entire 10 minutes of so we were beneath it. I thought it might be a young bird calling for its breakfast; Fred just thought it was telling us to move along. At any rate, it walked around up there, but made no attempt to fly.


Fred Notes: Dang, it was a very hard 73 miles. The heat was beastly. I could feel my body core reach fever pitch, and I just had to stop. Seth was good about it, and I’d go into 7-11 in the air-conditioning and drink 32 ounces of Gatorade and be refreshed, at least for another hour or so. Still the scenery is often beautiful and typical Florida: blue and green expanses of ocean, coconut trees, and a 1,000 kinds of palm trees. I saw one of the most beautiful light blue cabbage-like palms. I grew up in the this stuff so elephant ears (monstera deliciosa), and oaks, and pines, all seem so appropriate. But then suddenly, the wind changes, and it brings me out of my reveries and back to a lower gear and grinding against the wind. 

When we finally made it to Stuart’s Howard Johnsons, I immediately jumped in the pool, with all my biking clothes on. Just what I needed: more time in the sun. I kept my ball cap on (the one I bought in Franklinton (sic), MS last year on the Tour de Fred for $5 that looks exactly like Seth’s $25 Columbia) and my sunglasses, and removed all my clothes in the clorinated water, except for my Exofficio underwear, that looks exactly like some French guy’s bathing suit. But hell, no one was in the pool at 3 PM except for me! I had a seared tuna sandwich at dinner at Flannigan’s. Excellent! And I must say, Seth was absolutely amazing changing his broken spoke out! He evened trued his wheel! All in the minor shade of an oleander. He has not missed his calling: he just has a lot of them.

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