Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tulsa Tough: 2JUN2007

More Dummy Me...

I went through my tool list last night, double checking to be certain I had everything I'd need to provide mechanical services at a rest stop on the Tulsa Tough today. Yesterday morning, I spent a few hours working on bikes for the Community Development office. So I wanted to be sure I had all my tools together.

Early this morning, after meeting Wade for coffee, I returned home to load everything into the car and head off to Ochelata. It's a very small town up toward Bartlesville. The rest stop was next to the volunteer fire company and we had the use of their restrooms.

Mike Schooling came by to deliver the box of supplies (tubes, a tire, spare cables, etc.) and gave me a pair of spoke wrenches. I'd asked him to pick up a Park 0.125” (black) spoke wrench as I couldn't find mine. I don't think I ever used it, and it's quite possible I gave it away. Likewise, by circular 'fits-all' spoke wrench was on the missing list, too. Mike gave me one of each from Tom's. I owe somebody for this, but I don't know who.

I wasn't prepared when the first wave of riders came through in a pack of 30 or so. I didn't get any photos. They were rolling at about 20-25 miles per hour, grabbing water bottles on the fly. Only two of them stopped, probably because they were bonked.

As other riders arrived, my mechanic business remained slow. I adjusted a saddle and a pair of aero bars, and tightened one derailleur cable. Then a guy stopped because he needed air. “No problem”, I said. “I'll get the pump.” But the pump was nowhere to be found. Some big dummy who looks much like me had walked right by it this morning, leaving it sitting out in the open in the garage. I'd put it in the middle so I wouldn't forget it. I apologized profusely to the rider, acutely embarrassed for being such a bonehead.

Tina Birch stopped to talk. She was a roving mechanic today. I call her a “wrench wench” because she's been to the Barnett's school, and she probably knows more about fixing bikes than I do. Another rider came in needing air in his rear tire. Tina pulled out her floor pump and took care of the problem. She also took some time to make fun of my ultra-pink recliner chair and the wrenches festooned from my repair stand. On second thought, she decided that hanging bunches of combination wrenches with mini-carabiners was actually a good idea.

There was a crash just west of us that took 2 riders out of the tour. One fell heavily, doing a face plant that cut him badly and took out some teeth, according to the nurse at our station. His buddy scraped up his knee and elbow. I think the first rider was transported by ambulance to a hospital, but I didn't see him go.

Just after noon, the last rider went through and we shut down. I put everything back in the trunk, then hung my 5-gallon trash bucket over the rear carrier. I drove west following the tour route to pick up any discarded water bottles or other cyclist-related trash. Note to self: Tomorrow take TWO five gallon buckets for trash!

I followed the route further toward Barnsdall, encountering only two cyclists. The first was a guy about my age riding a bike that squeaked horrendously. I asked if he was alright and commented on the squeaking. “Do you have any WD-40?” he asked. “I think it's my front wheel.” Tom Brown warned us mechanics that riders will very often diagnose precisely what's wrong with their bikes, and their diagnosis will very often be precisely wrong. I stopped the car, and when I got out I asked if the noise was at wheel speed or pedal speed. He gave me a dumbfounded look, then said he'd carried the bike on his car through the rain yesterday. I spun both wheels and they were okay, but when I turned the crank a horrible squeal came from the chain. It sounded as if it hadn't been lubricated since the Nixon administration, a presidential era well known for it's lubrication. I applied a liberal coating of magical MPHD – an Amzoil product that's a wax-based chain lube – and the infernal squeaking went away.

I saw only one other rider, a woman having difficulty on the hills east of SH11. She seemed pretty well cooked, and I doubted she'd be able to finish the century ride. I didn't offer to drive her to the next rest stop since I know how demoralizing that can be. She soldiered on.

I turned south on SH11 and my cell phone started ringing, and ringing, and ringing. My cellular service is...shall we say...sketchy way out in the sticks, so every time I answered the call was dropped. When I neared Skiatook, the phone worked again. I called home to find that my son was worried that I wouldn't be home in time to drive him to work, so he called me every couple of minutes. He's going along to help me tomorrow, so I can't be too hard on him.

All in all, it was a good day, but rest assured that the big dummy who looks just like me will be sure to put that floor pump in the car for tomorrow's ride!



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