Today was the perfect day for everything to go wrong. Traditionally, the third day of Freewheel is Crazy Day where riders don the silliest costumes they can, if you don’t consider our normal spandex wear as silly. :) After two years of failed costume attempts, I had high hopes for this year. I was planning to cover my bike with pinwheels and go as an out of work wind farm with a cardboard sign reading, “Will generate for food.” Unfortunately, my pinwheels hadn’t survived the first two days well and I barely made it out of towns before one-by-one the heads of the pinwheels started flying off and I just didn’t think I had the time to perform the necessary repairs.
However, the ride started off nice traveling through more pretty western ranch land. And as I got close to the half way part, I felt good and confident about getting in earlier than I expected. However, as I headed into Hinton, I started having problems keeping my bike in my lower gears. Figuring that it was derailleur problem, I started making some adjustments. Thankfully, a bike shop van came along to take a look and were able to make some quick adjustments and I headed on down the road. It seemed fine for about a 1/4 mile, but then started falling out of gear again. I limped into Hinton only to discover that it wasn’t a derailleur problem but that one of my chain links had started to come apart.
While all of this had been going on, storms had started to roll in and so I decided to eat some lunch before dealing with the situation. However, I knew I was eventually going to deal with it and I knew my options were limited. I had, for some reason, left my extra links and pins in one of my bags that I sent back with Grace. Kurt and Mary McDaniel (check out their awesome, ongoing cross-country journey at http://moreadventuresahead.com) happened to be at the same lunch stop and because they were going completely self-contained, they had a pin I could use but they had a different sized chain so I was out of luck on links. I decided to save the pin and pinch the chain back together and see how far I could get before it came apart.
As I headed out-of-town, the second front on the storm came in and while that meant I was going to ride a bit in the rain, it also gave me an incredible tailwind. So I actually made it about 10 miles on the bad chain before it finally snapped. But following in my alternating good and bad fortune, it snapped right as the rain came to a stop. So I then began the arduous process of removing the bad links and attempting a short chain patch with the always awful chain tools that come with a bicycle mini-tool set. Even with some extra hands it was slow going. But once again, favor smiled upon me with the return of another bicycle van who was able to get me a new chain and sent me on my way.
Now normally, an hour and a half of repairs during a 72 mile ride would make for a tough slog through the heat that would just leave me absolutely slaughtered by the time I got to camp. Thankfully though, the rain and cloud cover had kept the temps in the mid 70’s, perfect riding weather. I caught up with Moni and Jennifer in Geary and decided to finish the ride into Watonga with these two fantastic riders who truly embody the spirit of crazy days.
We made a leisurely pace for the last 15 miles, making a few stops to leave chalk drawings on the road, as the sun came out for a pretty day of riding. With all of my good and bad fortune, I arrived in camp at 4:30 in the afternoon, but feeling refreshed especially given my tribulations.
Watonga had put us up right in the middle of town, so I set up my tent on one of the vacant lots around downtown and set out in search of more food. I caught a bit of the Freewheel talent show and thought about staying up to watch the Thunder game, but sleep beckoned and I gave into it.