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Back in the game (or third times the charm)

July 16, 2011
by Erin B

Yesterday, I did it.  I took off my wrist brace and dug out the Nishiki (who I think I am going to name Nicolas) and Toddler girl and I went for a ride.  I choose to go to the local yarn store.  It’s about 10km away (6 1/4 miles).  Normally, on Claire, I can get there in about 25ish minutes.  But it was windy and there was construction on my favourite route and I ended up have to travel further to take the other side of the bridge and…  But I didn’t know any of that when I left.

Any way.  It was my first successful trip using the drop bars.  When I first started it was scary as heck so I went fairly slow.  Nicolas is a much faster bike than Claire, but I was in the smallest chair ring on the front and stayed in the largest four in the back.  The hill climbing gears.  SLOW.  I used a spin and coast method to keep from losing power and spend time really paying attention to how the gears shifted and how the tire has less than a mm of clearance in the front and I tried out all the hand hold positions on the top layer of the handlebars.

Toddler girl had a nap in the trailer.

At that slow pace, it took me twenty minutes just to get to the bridge.  Which is were I learned that the side I like was closed to pedestrians and cyclists….  Brief pause for explanation for non locals.  University bridge has wide shared use … “sidewalks” on each side of the bridge that are protected from traffic by large and slightly ornate concrete barriers.  In order to get onto them, yo have to approach from the side.  If you approach from the wrong side you have to go down a very steep hill and go under the bridge and up a very steep hill on the other side to avoid crossing traffic.  Or, if you plan ahead, you can re-route and take a five or six block detour to avoid the under pass.

Since the south side of the under pass is at least a three story drop in 20 meters back and forth and back again, it is really steep.

 I walked my bike.  I should have backed up and re-routed to take the detour.  That bike is heavy with the trailer attatched. 

Then once you are over the bridge, you have to take a smaller and less complicated under pass on the other side to get back to the correct side of the street.

With one thing and another, it took 45 minutes to get to the store.  Then about 3 minutes to buy my yarn and and complain to the store keeper that the pattern was taking twice as much yarn as it said. 

I had bought a nice silk, merino, llama blend that was kinda spendy at $17 a ball.  My project was only going to take 2 balls and I would end up paying  about the same as if I had purchased a store bought item.  Now it is going to be 4 balls and it is more money than I would normally spend on this kind of project, but it is knitting up so beautifully…  I just can’t bear to pull it all out and start again with cheaper yarn.  Plus, I purpose buy all my yarn and I don’t know what I would do with the two balls I had already purchased other than finish this scarf.

I actually like the pattern enough that I have ordered some hand dyed lambs wool from etsy to make another one in different colours ($8 a ball and free shipping, I told you the other stuff was pricey).  I chose pink and green for the second one.  It’s going to be a Dimmers soccer scarf.   Green and pink are the team colours of the Dimwell Old Pals.  I had a hard time finding a green and pink I liked, but that’s a different story.  After that, I might take requests  from the girls, if they ask nice.  Or if any of the aunties want a 30cm x 2m long scarf that you can wrap around you head and neck and still have some nice tails to help cover your chest… well, you can let me know.

(new knitter, I started during my cancer scare last winter)

I also want to learn how to knit socks, but that’s another blog.

Anyway, it was getting close to lunch and I was feeling a lot better on the bike, so I put the hammer down and made it home in about 30 minutes, taking the alternative route through the side streets. 

I also got to use more of the gears.  Changing the handlebars was the right thing to do. Leaning to use the down tube shifters felt awkward and unsafe with the mountain bike handle bars some silly person had put on him.  It was instantly better with the drop bars.  That bike was built for dropbars, I’m not sure why a previous owner would have changed them to mountain bike bars.  I could see a set of north roads bars to try to make him into a touring cycle, but a mountain bike?  That’s just crazy.

I am even more determined to one day do the 650B conversion.  As near as I can tell, Nishiki took a “men’s” designed bike and made this model smaller for women – or shorter guys.   Then they used all the same components as on the larger model.  That is the only explaination I can come up with for why they would leave so little tire clearance in the front fork.  It really is ridiculous.  There is much less than 1/2 cm of space there.  It is so tight that the tires scrape when wet.  Plus, it has brazons for fenders.  There is no way they would fit as is.

It was a good ride.   I can really tell that riding Nicolas uses my thigh muscles more than riding Claire, but I have no real problems and the new Brooks saddle doesn’t hurt anywhere.  All in all it was a very good ride.

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