Every now and then, Bicycle Stories will publish the cycling tales of everyday bicyclists. One such bicylist is Jose, a mild-mannered, green-vest-clad veloman who will bike on just about any bike ride in the Tampa area.
Here is his story about a bike ride today.
It seems that my love of long rides has caught up with me.
The MacDill Freewheelers had a ride this morning, starting from Phillippe Park in Safety Harbor. Before leaving home, I spent about half an hour watching a lot of rain on the radar, but since it seemed to be staying out in the Gulf, I decided to ride out to join them.
I left home a few minutes after 6 AM. Soon afterwards, while riding through a quiet neighborhood, I spotted a large loose dog on the right side of the street about 75-100 feet ahead of me. Suddenly, it charged straight toward me. I sped up and swerved left, passing it. It swung around behind me and came racing up my left side, growling angrily. I looked down at it, said, "Bye, bye pup," shifted to a higher gear and quickly left it behind. I chuckled as it faded away in my side mirror, but that four-legged furball was just the start of my canine trouble.
I made my way to Hillsborough Ave. and rode on it most of the way. Now and then the western horizon was lit up by sheet lightning, but it was much too far away to hear any thunder, and as I rode the lightning seemed to get less frequent. I was going along at about 18-20 mph most of the time. There was little traffic, but I got caught by a number of red lights.
Stopping to take photos now and then, I reached Pinellas County, swung onto FL-580, then after a few miles turned onto FL-590. A mile or so from the entrance to Phillippe Park, I stopped to take a picture. When I went to get back on my bike, I noticed what looked like a gob of mud sticking to my rear tire. I tried to flick it off with my right index finger and discovered it was dirt-covered dog crap. Disgusted, I wiped my finger off on the side of the road and rode the rest of the way to the park with my finger extended off the grip. Luckily, there was a bathroom with plenty of soap close to the park entrance.
* * *
The group ride was a lot of fun. Then about half the group went to a restaurant in Safety Harbor for brunch. The ride home was smooth and uneventful most of the way. Heading east on Hillsborough Ave., I stopped at the little park along the Hillsborough River that the SHBC River Ride used to pass. I went to a picnic table, ate a brownie, and drank some water.
About two miles from home (about 70.5 miles since I'd left), I stopped for another drink of water, smelled something, looked down, and saw my right pedal smeared with dog crap. Of course it was on the sole of my shoe too. Disgusted again, I dragged my shoe through a patch of grass. I got back on my bike, started pedaling, heard a loud metallic snap, and the rear wheel started wobbling. The rear axle had cracked. So I got off and started walking the bike home.
* * *
About a mile from home, an SUV with a man and woman in the front seat pulled up next to me. I smiled, thinking that a pair of Good Samaritans was stopping to see if I needed help. Their side window rolled down, and the man asked, "Can you tell us how far it is to the Hard Rock Casino?" I really had to smile then, because they were heading the wrong way. So I told them that the first thing they had to do was turn around and drive the other way. After getting the directions, they drove off without ever asking if I needed help.
I finally made it home and quickly realized my day could have been worse. Less than two minutes after coming indoors, it started raining in torrents, so I just missed getting drenched. I'd left the bike outside, planning to go back out in a few minutes to hose off the pedal. At least the rain did the job for me.
I guess the day was what Alan might call a "misadventure on the road of life.
P.S. Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time I had to walk a bike home because of a broken rear axle. It happened to me last year with my Gary Fisher. That time I had to walk home about 4.5 miles.