This weekend I drove up to my Mom’s in Oklahoma and took my bike so I could get a good ride in on Saturday. The weather didn’t cooperate as early as I wanted it to on Saturday so I took the opportunity to take care of some much neglected bicycle maintenance. I really wanted to try and find out what that creaking noise was that’s been bothering me lately.

I took my bike into my Dad’s garage and set about cleaning my rims of brake pad build up. While cleaning the rims I decided to go ahead and have a look at the front hub so I disassembled it and pulled the bearings out. The bearings looked good, as did the races, so I re-greased everything and put it back together.

20071230-Okla-DSCF5535
Image by Einahpets32 via Flickr

I put my rear wheel up on the workbench to have a good look at it because I was still convinced the phantom creaking noise was coming from it – even after having the rear hub overhauled and a spoke replaced. After looking it over I determined that I had several spokes on the cassette side that appeared loose. Because the creaking noise I was hearing had a spoke-like twang to it I thought this could be the problem. I spent several minutes tightening spokes and making sure the rim was still true. A ride later would tell me if this fixed it or not.

Next I spent about 15 or 20 minutes roughing up the brake pads, adjusting the rear brake and securing my computer sensor to the front fork a little better. I reassembled my bike and decided to go out for a ride.

The night before I had scouted a couple of areas to ride. No matter where I rode there was going to be hills involved. I had forgotten how many there were around. The route I decided to take would give me a 15 mile loop but would be very, very hilly. In fact, I don’t ever recall being on the road I rode my bike on except for the night before when scouting it out. I was actually kinda worried about it because it had some significant hills. Short, long, rolling and steep. No way to find out except to ride.

I started out slow to make sure everything was working OK on the bike. Everything seemed in order. And guess what. No creaking noise. I was very happy. The air was still a little damp, as were the roads, from some on-and-off again mist from earlier in the morning. Not enough water to worry about though. From my Mom’s house it was about two miles to the start of the really hilly section. I need to come up with a name for it besides “really hilly section”.

Once I started on it I settled into a rhythm and just kept on cranking it. It was hard but I never came to a point where I might need to get off and walk. Several of the hills were multi-grade where they would either start or finish at a different grade. That made it interesting and made me do quite a bit of shifting. I tried to snap a pic of the hills with my phone but it didn’t turn out good.

The steepest hill was the last hill of the road. It wouldn’t be right any other way would it? I managed to get to the top of the hill and started coasting the half-mile or so to a stop sign. As I’m coasting I swear I hear a bicycle coming up on me. I turn around and there’s nobody there. A few hundred feet later I hear the sound again but there’s still nobody back there. A few seconds later I find out what the noise is. It’s a little ankle biter dog that’s apparently been chasing me while I’ve been coasting since cresting the hill. The sound I was hearing was his nails on the asphalt. Anyway, he gets to about three feet from me and just lets go barking. It scares me half-to-death and I’m lucky I don’t dump my bike. Another quick look reveals another small dog that’s just joined the chase. I shift up couple of gears and put on a little speed to leave them behind. They quickly get tired and I head down to the stop sign.

At the stop sign I could turn right and make a loop back home. It’s got an epic hill on it that I remember from the night before but the road is in bad shape. I decide to turn left and about 30 seconds later I wonder if it was a bad decision. Just after making the left turn I glance over to my left and there’s a huge pit bull bearing down on me at full speed from his yard. I immediately say, “Oh crap!” and get out of the saddle to start cranking it. Luck was on my side though because as he gets to the fence line at the end of the driveway he stops and just watches me ride on by. Thank God.

Llama

Llama

I didn’t drive this section the night before but I have kind of an idea where I’ll end up. My navigation skills were verified when I saw the Lake Murray State Park golf course on my left. I see a road up ahead and know where I’m at. I’m coasting down to the stop sign and see a few cows along the fence line to my right. Then I have to stop and have a second look. Sure enough, two of the animals standing there are Llamas. I turn around to have a better look and we give each other a good stare down. I think they wanted me to give’em something to eat. I took the pic to the right with my phone.

I turned left at the stop sign and took the road through Lake Murray State Park back towards my Mom’s house. All-in-all it was a great ride. I started later than I wanted but traffic wasn’t too bad. If I had ridden at about 3 hours earlier like I wanted to there’s probably a good chance I wouldn’t have seen any cars. When I got home I checked my computer. 15 miles in one hour. That sounds really good for me but it’s kind of deceiving. One some of those hills I was going pretty slow. On the downhills though I was able to speed along pretty good. One of the downhill sections I manged 31.5 mph and I wasn’t even tucked for aerodynamics. Not that you could make a dump truck aerodynamic.

I felt really, really good on the bike today. It could have been because of me doing the work I did before riding and it gave me a secure feeling. It may also mean that I’m settling back onto the bike after having a layoff for so long. My rear didn’t seem to bother me much afterwards which was nice. I probably could have ridden another loop but with it approaching noon I didn’t want to deal with the traffic. Maybe next time.