Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day 13

Day 13 was a fail, dude. It was poor not just in literary terms but was an all-rounder bad day. Not awful, just really not good.

I was particularly sluggish in the morning because I had not gotten back from Bristol the night before until midnight, and I had arrived home chilled to the core. The cold mist had worked its way into my soul. The first things to go in the cold when on a motorbike are your hands and your brain –– both go numb. So, before I could even think to go to bed I had to warm them with a cup of peppermint tea. And that ended up putting me to bed closer to 1 a.m.

Once under the covers I could not get warm. Fortunately, Jenn and I have a heated mattress pad with dual settings, so I was able to warm up my side of the bed. I slept fitfully, though, because the heated pad shuts itself off after an hour and I kept waking up and needing to turn it back on.

So, I didn't really get moving until about 9:30 (whereas normally I would be up at 6). After (groggily) eating breakfast, I put on my gear and packed up my bag to cycle over to the pool for a swim. As soon as I got my bike onto the road, though, I discovered the rear tire was flat.

I find that as I get older, I get worse and worse about thinking on my feet; I get dumber and dumber. And generally I am only able to respond to situations effectively if I have responded to them before. I didn't have an exact "Chris has had a late start and is feeling a bit frustrated as a result bust still wants to get in a swim before he starts writing but now has been waylaid by a flat tire" contingency plan. So, I just grabbed Jenn's bicycle.

But Jenn's bike is smaller than mine and not regularly ridden by a person who is anal about things like oiling chains and gears. It also has bad brakes, the levers for which are in British order rather than American. For some reason, British people have the front brake at their right hand and the rear on their left –– the opposite of the American way.

This should not really confuse me because the front brake is also at the right hand when riding a motorcycle (rear brake is at your right foot). But it did confuse me. And when I'm riding a bicycle I generally like to drag the rear brake when approaching a stop. I found myself instead deploying the front brake and that was causing me to lurch a bit over the handlebars. This was happening naturally from being crouched on the bike, anyway, so often I would arrive at a road junction by sort of throwing myself off the pedals. Then I'd try to get going again and the gears would grind and skip.

All this resulted in my growing ever frustrated and almost cycling into a Land Rover.

Eventually I got to the pool (1.7 miles, according to Google) and realised I had left my wallet at home. I couldn't pay admission. So, I had to get back on the tiny, rickety bicycle of death and trudge up the hill back home, slowly becoming enveloped in rage. 

When I got home, I decided that I would just break down and do the thing I should have done: repair the puncture on my rear tire. So, I took off the wheel, took the tire off the wheel, pulled the tube out of the tire, and... couldn't find the puncture. I filled the tub with water and pressed the tire in to help me find the leak. Nothing. There was no puncture. It turns out that I had simply forgotten to tighten a little bolt that prevents the tire from deflating.

So, I put the tube back in the tire, put the tire back onto the rim, put the whole thing back on the bike, pumped up the tire, made sure I fastened the bolt properly, made sure I had my wallet, and cycled back to the pool. I swam a mile in roughly 40 minutes, which is only 28 minutes longer than Michael Phelps would have done it (based on his 400m times). I swam until I got a ridiculous cramp in my left foot, then swam a bit more.

When I got home, of course, I was starving, so I had to eat lunch. Then I had a shower, then I ran some errands, then I did some laundry, then, finally, I was able to sit down and start writing. By which time it was 6 p.m. I managed to write my Day 12 blog post, then Jenn came home and we had dinner.

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