The Bike Me DC group met up at the Herndon Depot yesterday for a casual ride to the Vienna Depot and back, and I rode the three miles from home to Herndon to meet the group for the ride. We had lovely weather despite one member wearing his cursed jersey again. It rains every time he wears that jersey (the Reston Century riders can thank him), except for last night. Hooray!
We took off shortly after 6pm and the speed demons left six of us in the dust. Eventually, another woman -- Rebecca -- and I pulled ahead of the last four folks. Rebecca and I had wound up pushing our bikes up the final hill during last year's Great Pumpkin Ride and discovered that our cruising speeds are compatible. We rode side by side and chattered happily about upcoming group rides, vacation plans, and bicycle maintenance. We even continued chatting as we rode up the hills that both of us find troubling. It felt great to have a riding companion with similar strength.
A couple of miles outside of Vienna, I hit a pothole. It jarred me and Lily, but she seemed okay. I heard an odd sound and thought that I might have damaged one of my tires, but they weren't losing air. Rebecca pulled ahead of me and eventually left me in the dust. I couldn't get any speed and momentum was nil. My body was starting to hurt, too: hands, back, sides, tush, and feet. I was only ten miles in, with fourteen to go, and I was miserable. As I approached the Depot, two ladies from the far behind group passed me. When I joined the group, I examined my back tire and realized that the brake clamped down on the rim at certain points. I told the ride leader that I was going to take my bike up to the Vienna branch of Spokes, Etc, and have them take a look. The guys, of course, flocked to my bike and tried to fix the problem. I stepped back and let them tweak to their hearts' content. Despite the team's best efforts, my brake still wouldn't let go of the tire. One of the guys did notice that the tire was slightly out of true and that was most likely causing the problem.
The group didn't like leaving me behind but I told them I'd be fine and would have my husband come rescue me if the bike couldn't be fixed this evening. With that, I walked my bike the half mile or so to the bike shop. The diagnosis was that I'd broken a spoke and, happily, the fix was quick and cheap. I phoned Scott, who was halfway to the shop, and told him I was good to ride back home. Since he was in my car, I didn't feel too guilty about his burning gas and toll road money for the wasted trip. He was concerned about the fading light, but I assured him I was okay with my blinky headlight and do-not-look-into-laser-with-remaining-eye tail light.
And I was okay. At least until I got out of Vienna proper when I realized that I'd left my water bottle at the service counter of the shop. Guh. Reston wasn't that far away and I could snag a bottle of water at the McD's next to the trail on Wiehle. I chased the fading light and was in full-on darkness as I approached Herndon. The ninja joggers and cyclists were out in force and I gave my bell a workout warning folks of my passing. I'm VERY happy not to have found any deer on the trail since my spotlight-the-next-county headlight was on the kitchen counter at home. I'm also VERY happy not to have hit the skunk which trundled out of the underbrush just before I got to Sterling Blvd. I don't think I've ever seen a live one in the wild and I'm glad that we passed each another without physical or aerosolized contact.
I thought that I'd be exhausted when I got home, but coasting for a mile or so revitalized me. I was tired and hurting because it's been a while since I've ridden over twenty miles, but I did manage a total of 24 miles in just over two hours, plus the twenty minutes or so of bike repair. And one of these days I'll get to complete a Bike Me DC ride with the whole group.