Wrenchin’ and ridin’ – all in a day’s work
The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with bike racer and brand team member, James Whitesides. Here James describes another 1oo+ mile ride while serving as rolling mechanic for the Seattle Century…
So…for the second time in a month I decided to ride more than 100 miles with a backpack on (my Talon 11). I am a volunteer for Bikeworks in Seattle and I support them as a mechanic for both their Thursday Night Repair sessions and in the shop fixing up reclaimed bikes. I volunteered to help them at the Seattle Century as a ride mechanic, which meant I had to ride the full distance with enough tools to be capable of minor repairs.
Following the herd of cyclists on bikes in varying states of disrepair (it is really hard for me to ride in groups without cataloging repairs) I headed to meet the organizers and get my “official” ride gear. The tool bag that the organizer wanted me to carry lacked basic tools (chain tool, allen key, screwdriver) but had ten tires levers and tubes that were all pushing their useful life span; sweet. I always have to remember that I just need to take a deep breath! After I tactfully declined their tools and grabbed a couple of tubes I headed out the doors of the old hanger they were staging in and onto the road.
The first part of the ride was on a multi-use trail that has been paved since the mid-nineties. It is pretty impressive in its ability to allow cyclists and pedestrians a safe and effective route through the northern parts of Seattle and out to the edge of the urban strip of King County.
Arriving at the second rest stop we got a call that a rider needed a fifteen millimeter box end wrench about six miles up the road. In some weird peak of excitement that I was going to get to do something I said that I would be there in less than twenty-five minutes and took off down the road. I beat my own mark, amazingly, and helped a guy riding a fixie, fix his flat. I had an amazingly fast tube change and wheel re-centering in order to make sure I got on my way as quickly as possible. I saw him again a little later attempting to recover from what must have been an impossibly brutal downhill and wondered if anyone had explained freewheels to him.
Riding along one of the best sections of road in King County, I think that at least six people had flats in a short section while I was standing there. Every tire I worked on had at least one form of nail or pin in it. Some idiot local had seeded a long section of the road with enough hardware to make several riders’ days a little less enjoyable. Everyone laughed it off and attributed it to the ignorance of youth. I had fun and definitely earned my perks fixing bikes on the road there and at the next rest stop. I did some pretty major repairs for the sixty-mile mark of a century and wondered how these riders ever got bikes that were so completely untrustworthy.
Cruising across Lake Washington and up the lakeshore with my pack on I began to pass more and more people who were slogging out the last ten miles of their day. Encouraging words are always taken differently when you pass someone at the end of a century seeming nonchalant about the steep grade you are climbing up! A little more effort over the hills and I cruised down to the finish of my ride. Sponsored by Widmer and featuring a lot of grilled salmon the Seattle Century has to go down as one of the best-catered public rides I have ridden. I didn’t partake in much of the festivities because I still had to ride home but if I ride it next year I will make sure to clear my afternoon.