“I want to phrase this so I’m sure you’ll understand it,” Pat said as I put on my cycling shoes this morning. “Don’t be stupid.”
Last time I rode, I was pretty stupid. But only for the split second it took me to think, “Hitting that log-skinny fast would be a good idea.”
Which led, among other things, to six weeks of physical therapy for a torn ACL. But today, I got back on the bike. I rode flat pedals because I didn’t want to subject my knee to a twisting motion to unclip. Within seconds I remembered why we ride pedals that attach our feet to the bike, but it still felt like the best option for a first ride.
I wanted to ride Tuesday night, but my SPD pedals had been in the cranks for four or five years of year-round, all-weather riding. I couldn’t get the left one off. Eventually, I took the bike to the shop.
“John,” I said while dropping the bike off on Wednesday, “I stopped before I fucked anything up. I’d rather you did that.”
When I walked into the shop last night for my Friday night beer and to get my bike, John was busy with a customer. But not so busy so as to keep him from giving me the stink eye.
I slunk to the back of the shop and hung out with Micah, John’s dog.
When he finished with the customer, John said he didn’t know if he’d be able to get the pedal off. We went upstairs to the workshop, where my crank was clamped in a vise.
That didn’t look good.
“I don’t care about the pedal, John.”
We tried a couple of things, with Kevin in the background chanting, “Sell him new cranks and pedals.”
John torqued hard on the long 8mm hex wrench.
“I really don’t care about the pedal.”
He clamped the pedal in the vise in such a way that he could push the wrench while I lifted the crank. I lifted so hard my back hurt afterwards.
The hex wrench let loose, spinning in the pedal and hopelessly ginking the six-sided pocket. I literally saw a spark when that happened.
“I tell you,” Kevin said, “new pedals and cranks.”
“I can try one more thing,” John said.
He got out his angle grinder, and ground two flats on the pedal shaft. He clamped the vise around those flats, put his BF adjustable wrench on the end of the crank, and pushed. The bench creaked, but the pedal finally let loose.
Did I mention John is one of my favorite people?
To truncate a long story, I got the bike home, threw some flats on it, and rode ten miles this morning. I was slow, and didn’t hit any killer hills. The knee felt stiff, but improved with the ride, and the hills I did do felt okay. Riding felt wonderful, with cool air in my face and late-summer flowers blooming along the road. I met two of my neighbors for the first time; one with whom I’d exchanged waves many times, and another who’d lived across the road from me for 20 years without crossing paths.
It was a good ride.
But I’m going to have to make Kevin happy and buy new SPDs – Flats suck sweaty balls.