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Epic Bicycle Trek

I embellish… It wasn’t an epic in the true sense of the word. But, for Pete and me, yesterday’s ride was a small epic.

We decided to ride the Poolesville, Maryland loop based on a local rider’s information:

The ride is ~24 miles long and it incorporates 15 miles of road (some barely paved) and 9+ miles along the C&O canal. I was excited about this trek, because long trips on the C&O are sort of boring to me.

So, Pete and I met at the Monocacy Aqueduct in Dickerson, MD at approximately 8:08 a.m. We decided to ride the loop backward, so that we would end our ride on the C&O and we’d be going uphill (only about 2% grade albeit) on the canal. It turns out that the grade of the roads is considerably more and it wasn’t really important to worry about canal grade.

The weather was calling for severe thunderstorms and we wanted to beat them. We got underway in 69-degree cloudy weather. It was perfect out! W00t!

The first part of our epic started when Pete announced, “I’ve got my GPS, so I know where I’m going.” He then proceeded to pull ahead of me. Just when he got out of ear shot, I watched him pedal right past our first turn off. Shaking my head, I wondered if he would notice that he’d missed our turn, before he got to Rockville.

When I made the turn, I pulled off and dialed Pete on my mobile phone. He told me that he figured out that he had gone by the turn and was coming back… Thus our epic began.

Pete is in better cardio shape than me and he often pulls away. On one of these occasions, he was pumping by me on a slight uphill. It was apparent that we would need to switch to a lower gear. I followed the rules and eased up on my pedal pressure before downshifting

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. Pete on the otherhand, was pressing with all of his strength as he downshifted and I heard the loud clanking as his old bike struggled to find a lower gear and keep him moving. I thought to myself, I’ve got to explain to him about not shifting under such duress. Just as I thought that, he down shifted again using this same technique.


Pete yelled out, “Uh oh.”

I inquired, “What?”

Guess what…? He had broken his chain.

Pete was getting worked up and cursing his bad luck. I explained that shifting like that is what had done this to him. I also calmed Pete by telling him, “Don’t worry… We have all of the right tools and everything’s cool. We’ll be back on the route in no time.” After calming him, I finished with, “There is only ONE thing that you must not do.” Pete looked at me and I said, “When you are pulling the links apart, do not pop the pin all of the way out.”

Pete held his chin high and announced, “Of course not.”

So, we started to work on removing the broken link and fix his chain. Moments into the repair, I reiterated, “Don’t pop the pin out.”

Pete sighed, huffed and puffed and then waved me off while he continued.

Suddenly, I heard a click and Pete said, “Oops.”

I could have smacked him! As you guessed, Pete popped the pin out of the chain, which turns a simple roadside repair into an hour-long adventure! While we fought to get that chain fixed, several big pickups flew by us at twice the posted speed limit. A couple of them tried to get close and frighten us.

Long story short, we struggled and finally got Pete’s chain back together. We were back underway.

On the road, we rode right past our next turn and kept going for several miles. By the time we realized our mistake, we had were pretty far off course. We backtracked and found a road that would connect us to our planned trail.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, and we only ended-up riding about 5 miles further than planned. We also were about 1 hour behind schedule, due to our roadside repair.

All-in-all, a fantastic day and wonderful ride… Not to mention the fact that we got to share in the fun of a roadside repair! Also, the weather held out for us.

Here is our GPS info from the ride:

Posted by Vaughn Ripley

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  1. Where you at Rip? Looking for some new posts.

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