We rolled out early, 7 am on the screws, and I had a nice smile stretched across my face. The sun was just coming up, it was a wonderful 70 degrees (21C) with no wind.
That’s my favorite thing about summertime cycling. Days where the only wind is that which I create with forward motion. On a bicycle.
It’s a pretty simple route, a hybrid out and back with a loop, but all of the good stuff is saved for the second half. We started out tame, between 20 & 21 mph, but it got hectic pretty fast…. specifically when Winston took the lead for something like five miles taking it up to 22-24. Once he relinquished the front it calmed down a little bit, but not by much which suited me just fine. We may only get a half-dozen days in a year where we don’t have any wind and, if you didn’t already know, when there’s no wind the draft is ridiculously awesome. 22 mph at the back of a decent pace line (we had seven or eight) feels like 15.
All of a sudden, it felt like I was working way too hard. We were coming down a shallow but long hill (less than one percent) and I had it cranked up to 26-27. I broke the group up and turned the corner to head home and my wife got behind me…. After 20 seconds she asked Chuck if it looked like my wheel was wobbling. Chuck agreed and I had a look. It wasn’t quite hitting the brakes but it was wobbling pretty good. I kept pedaling and reached back to open up the brake release. Then the proverbial wheels fell off.
The wobbling increased over a couple of bumps and before long I was hitting the brakes twice every time the wheel went around. Fortunately I carry a spoke tool so we stopped to tighten up the offending spoke. Unfortunately, the spoke nipple was broken… I just put everything away, dropped my pouch in my back pocket and rolled on, wheel hitting brake.
When it was all done, that was the hardest I’d ever worked for a 20 mph average over 36 miles, but man did I have a good time…. and we were back home before 9 am.
This little tale ends interestingly. I took my wheel into the shop to have the spoke nipple replaced and the wheel trued. When it was all said and done, two nipples were broken and five more had to be replaced. I was lucky the wheel didn’t fall apart on me!