Saturday, October 06, 2007

Good people

So Thursday I decide to take the road bike for a little spin, since it's been awfully lonely lately now that the CX bike gets all the attention. I spent an annoying amount of time getting together my normal road kit - multi-tool, CO2, patch kit, etc. - normally all ready to go during road season. I have the 'training wheels' on it - Alex R390 rims, Campy hubs, 32 straight spokes, brass nipples - heavy but bulletproof. I'd had the back wheel trued at Freewheel a month ago, and the wrench said it was hard to true, and the rim felt 'soft.' So I'm torquing up Ohio St. when I hear that dreaded 'ping' followed by a pretty sudden slowdown as the tire rubs against the very narrow chainstays.

Before I even look, I realize I don't have a spoke wrench to get the wheel true enough to ride home, but I spend a good 15 minutes digging through my kit, fantasizing that I'll find something resembling a spoke wrench. I call Sascha hoping she's not out riding her newly fitted bike, but no answer. Finally, as I'm scratching my head and trying to use a tire iron as a spoke wrench, a guy on an old school Bianchi steel bike zips by, asking if I need help. I ask if he has a spoke wrench, and he turns around and it turns out he actually does! As he's looking for it, I look him over.

He looked straight out of Breaking Away. Celeste steel Bianchi, socks with a hole cut out of the bottom over his shoes, long 70s hair. If I'd looked closer I bet I would have noticed a wool jersey. As I'm truing up the wheel we chat a bit about Campy hubs, 8 speed vs. 9 speed vs. 10 speed and freehub splines, etc. The guy's obviously into his old school Italian components, and seemed to respect my decision to stick with 9 speed and hand built wheels (although I probably could have spent a bit more on the rims and spokes, even though they were still not cheap!). We discussed wheel truing a bit, and once I got the wheel true enough to ride home, he offered some advice about wrapping the broken spoke around another (I'd done that before and it just unwrapped itself), looped around and gave me a little push to get going up Ohio as I was clipping in, and stuck around long enough to make sure I'd make it home, and wished me luck on the rest of my journey.

It was neat to spend a moment talking shop with someone who's been riding and maintaing bikes at least as long as I have. And encouraging too to know there are still nice people out there who will interrupt their training ride to help a brother out. So, Mr. Old School Campy Racer Guy, this Bud's for you!