Wednesday when I left the house, I didn't even put on my jersey or anything--I wasn't planning on going on a particularly long ride, in fact I was just running some errands. I wore a jacket and brought a bag with a pair of street shoes in it, just in case. As I left, though, I thought, I better bring a patch kit, just in case. No, wait.. I'll just bring a whole tube.
I did my errands--some part-time bike courier stuff for work--and then decided to head off on a short cruise down those bike paths I'd found before. I took a slightly different route on the recommendation of one of my teammates, which went through the beautiful wildlife refuge on Pease, and popped me out in the middle of Newington--the part of it that's not dominated by the mall, which in turn comes out at Great Bay, and the bridge to Dover.
I figured if I was that close to Dover, I might as well take a ride to visit my mother who lives there. By then the sun was getting pretty hot, and I was wearing this stupid motorcycle jacket, which I took off (while riding, PRO-style) and stuffed into my messenger bag. So I'm carrying this stupid over-stuffed heavy messenger bag on my shoulder.
I get there, and I'm parched. I realized I didn't even bring any water bottles. So I'm lugging this cumbersome, unwieldy bag, I'm not carrying any bottles, and I'm wearing some super-ratty pants that I once got covered in unwashable mud, so I don't even bother washing them at all any more. I am generally looking neither PRO nor chic, unless you count homeless-chic.
So I visit my mom, have a sip of water, and head on. I wasn't sure where I was going, but this chick on a bike rode by, wearing a jersey and lycra shorts, so I figured I'd follow her for a while--she was probably going somewhere interesting. But as we started up the hill on Central Ave heading towards Somersworth, she turned her head back over her shoulder and gave me The Look, which not only pierced my soul, but also my tube--I felt that crappy rumpling feeling of a soggy rear wheel within a minute.
I pulled over and changed my flat in someone's front yard. It sucked. It's a good thing I brought a whole fresh tube, though--the valve stem was torn; you can't patch that. Also I don't have a proper frame pump, I have this tiny horrible pocket pump, which takes about 3 pumps per each PSI. I got to 80 PSI (recommended is 120) and gave up, that was good enough. I figured I'd head for the closest bike shop and use their pump, and continue my ride from there.
I made my way towards Durham; there is a bike shop there on campus. I finished pumping up my tire with their floor pump, took a couple of spins around the block to check out the UNH talent (it was good), and then headed off for home. I took the road through Newmarket, though, because I didn't want to just go back over the roads I'd already been on.
Newmarket Road-Rt 108 is a pretty crappy road. It's one of those roads with a soft shoulder, and the pavement drops off in one five-mile-long pothole right at the white line, so you have to bike in the road. Also the speed limit is like 40 or 45 or so. It's not for the squeamish.
So I take that road towards Newmarket downtown, and there is a road closure and a detour. I take this detour down Elm Street, circumventing the downtown area, and as I come over the crest of a bit of a hill, I see, at the bottom, something I find absolutely irresistible: a speed trap. I mean, come on, a speed trap at the bottom of a hill--how awesome is that. The speed limit was 25 there, too. So I bomb down the hill, and I get about 37mph, the sign angrily flashing in red to my delight. I hope it's also the kind that takes your picture so that the cops can mail you a ticket; take that!
So the detour dropped me off on some road on the other side of downtown, and I took a right because that's how you get back to Route 33, and by extension Portsmouth. I was pretty messed up by this point because I hadn't had a drink or anything to eat in quite a while, so maybe that's what allowed me to ignore the fact that I was totally, TOTALLY going the wrong way. The late-afternoon sun was in my eyes--that should have been a clue. I saw a road sign that said "now entering Lee." When you're entering Lee, you're lost--period. Nobody goes to Lee. They just end up there. Going places I've never been before is one of my favorite things about biking, but being lost, as the sun is starting to get low, and you have to work in like two hours . . . that is not good. So, I turned around.
I did find my road--I was supposed to take a left, then a right, after that Newmarket detour. Wow. So I headed back through Stratham, Newfields, Greenland, Route 33, pretty much without incident. I stopped at a gas station on the way and got some water, somewhere in there.
It was a good ride. I did a lot:
- Fixed a flat, roadside, for the first time ever
- Got The Look from some cycle-cutie
- Got fairly lost, far from home
- Hit up 9 towns (Portsmouth, Newington, Dover, Durham, Newmarket, Lee, Newfields, Stratham, Greenland)
- Total Mileage: >50 miles
- All that with a stupid heavy bag on my shoulder
Anyway--expect a full report on that on Friday.