Friday, August 3, 2012

Roadside: B4B Glossary

Here is a collection of stories that just didn’t make it into the daily blogs, in glossary format:
"The Wobbles"
We carry a lot of weight on the back of our bikes.  The most important aspect is balance, and when we have it right, it really anchors and stabilizes the whole arrangement.  So a significant change in weight can have drastic effects.  On the first day, we took a quick detour to visit my sister Lahring at work, the only member of our immediate families (besides Jaime, overseas) who could not attend the send-off.  I am the first one to rise out of the saddle on hills, and about 5km into our trip, we face the hill going north on King St. in St. Jacobs.  I stand, and woooshhh, my bike nearly capsizes from the weight.  None of us have experience with this much weight, and when we stand, the whole bike convulses from side-to-side with each revolution.  It takes a little while to get the hang of, and soon we are proficient.  But every time thereafter, if the panniers are removed, it’s back to the wobbles.  It happened when Monica took our bags in the Rockies, and then again when we picked them up in Canmore.  And again for each of our successive support teams.  Wobbly!
"Near Flat Experience"
We know too well what a flat tire feels like - it drags and makes a distinct noise. 
Sometimes, though, the road can psych you out.  If you hit a stretch of consistently rumbly and rough road, you can get the same sensation as a flat tire.  Often, this type of section is not obvious to the sunglassed eye.  It’s fun when we are all riding together, and suddenly we are all checking our back tires simultaneously.  Whew, just a "near-flat."
In training, Tyler and I would often pass each other on the hills, as we accustom ourselves to pacing, the rules of the road, and our own capabilities and preferences.  Once we got out west and onto some BIG hills, we began to notice some significant efficiency patterns.  We ride together for the vast majority of the time.  On a steep downhill, the cyclist in the back can draft so effectively that even without pedaling, they will always quickly overtake the lead.  This leaves a few options: pass, brake, or swing wide.  As soon as you go for the pass, you gain strong wind resistance, and the other will pick up speed rapidly in the draft, and it will lead to a cycle of leapfrogs.  On our first day in the Rockies from Chase to Salmon Arm, we had a lot of fun with this.  Braking is a lousy option, because the other option is an effective wind brake.  If you go out wide, as if to pass, you can use the new wind resistance as a functional brake, and then pull back behind again.  On a long hill, you can do this a dozen times without ever pedaling.  
"Coming Up Kyle"
For most of the trip, Kyle has had pretty much the worst luck.  From the early falls to the most flats, his bike has had the most problems, and he has had the most frustrations.  So every once in a while, when something so small as someone else gets the squeaky wheel, all of a sudden, everything is “coming up Kyle!”
"The Midas Effect"
Although we have been very fortunate this entire trip, this is not about our incredible streak of luck.  It is  the phenomenon of the heightened appreciation of the basic necessities.  Food has never tasted so good, and sleep has never come so easy.  We can eat the same simple sandwiches twice a day for seven weeks consecutively, and they are delicious every time.  We can sleep 20m from the railroad, with nighttime train whistles probably every hour, and not even wake up.  We have so much to worry about, to do, and to focus on, that we take what we get and enjoy it.  It’s not about being indifferent or complacent or arrogant, but a true appreciation and state of contentment.  I will literally fall asleep as soon as I write this sentence.

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