Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day Thirty-Four: Yes, It's 104 Degrees in Broadus

OK, I know this is not the Weather Channel, but this heat wave is really at the forefront of our riding thoughts this past week. Today we rode from Ashland, MT to Broadus, MT, about 45 miles, and by the time we reached Broadus, a little after Noon, it was over 100 degrees (and eventually hit 104 degrees about 2 hours later).

We planned to get on the road early-ish, by 7:30 or 8:00, in order to minimize our exposure to the worst of the heat. However, we ended up leaving Ashland a bit later than we wanted to because, for the past couple of days, Bob's rear wheel has been "singing" (as we bikers say) -- making a noise with each rotation. We were pretty sure it was coming from the rear disc brake rotor somehow rubbing, but all of our adjustments were for naught. So, this morning, we turned the bike over, removed the rear wheel, tried various ministrations again -- again to no beneficial effect -- when finally I had that eureka moment. We needed to recenter his disc brake calipers! (something I had done exactly once before on another bike). You do this by (a) loosening the 2 retaining bolts that hold the calipers to the frame (kind of a scary concept in and of itself), (b) squeezing the related brake handle (which, because the calipers are loose, centers them on the disc rotor), and then (c) snugging up the retaining bolts in alternation (while still squeezing the brake). Presto. It worked. No more noise. Don't ask me how the calipers became "uncentered" in the first place, though....
Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately, depending on your point of view), in doing this work, Bob noticed that his rear tire tread was inexplicably quite worn (probably the same gremlin that messed with his calipers), so, separately, there's probably a tire replacement purchase lurking in his near future (like, when we get to a town big enough to have a bike shop).

The ride today Did I say that already? OK, it was actually pretty pleasant riding on Montana's Route 212 and about half way through we picked up a good tailwind, which was nice compensation for the heat. We also ran into 9 miles of road construction, but, unlike the gravel misery on the way into Forsyth, this one actually worked in our favor because they were running only one lane of traffic (on the already finished newly-paved half of the road, while tar trucks and steamrollers worked on the other half). A pilot car would lead the Eastbound traffic one way through the work zone on the newly-paved lane, then turn around and lead the waiting Westbound traffic through, on the same lane, in the other direction. And this rotation, given the length of the work zone, took a while each time it occurred, meaning you would get a bunch of traffic in one direction (maybe 10 cars and trucks total) and then nothing for about 10 minutes, until the next bunch arrived going the other direction. So we got to ride on smooth new pavement, with virtually no traffic, for 9 miles (we would simply pull over when the pilot car convoy went by). Now that's the type of road construction I can live with!

Tomorrow we should finally be exiting Montana. Although we've sort of painted ourselves into a bit of a routing corner. The next towns that have lodging are both further away than we would like: Gillette, WY (88 miles South) or Belle Fourche, SD (97 miles Southeast). The Gillette route has some massive climbs and zero services after the town of Biddle 20 miles out, so that isn't particularly appealing. The Belle Fourche route has more reasonable elevation, but also only one town with services on the way. However, that town (Alazado, MT) is better placed for refueling at 58 miles out. So a few days ago we decided that we would use the Belle Fourche route, despite the daunting distance.

However, unless the weather changes drastically, we're now intending to use an, ahem, mechanical assist. The forecast is for 102 degrees and Southeast winds of 12 to 15 mph (i.e., strong headwinds). Not really ideal for a fully-loaded, near Century ride, no matter how early we hit the road. So, not being complete idiots, our plan is to get someone early in the a.m. to give us a ride in their pickup to Alazada, and then hop out and complete the more manageable remaining 40 miles or so to Belle Fourche on our bikes. Hopefully we'll be in a position tomorrow to let you know how that goes!

And, for those keeping track, no, I will not add any pickup-assisted miles to the log of 1650 miles that we've already ridden (but I can see the comments now -- "gosh, Roger, wasn't it great that summer of 2012 when you rode your bike almost the whole way cross country...").

Here are today's route and metrics:


1 comment:

  1. Ah, yes. Re-centering the old disc brake calipers. Seems so obvious in retrospect. So your engineering talents are not just computer but mechanical. I guess I knew that. Well done. It would not have been good for Bob's rear wheel to "sing" for the next 2,600 miles. Particularly since the tune would get pretty monotonous. A Johnny-One-Note.

    If you were a bit more malicious, as a practical joke you would have kicked Bob's calipers even more out of true, but claimed the problem was fixed. Then the excess friction would slow Bob down to merely mortal biking prowess, with the result that the next little town you pull into, you could be the one sitting in the local air-conditioned tavern chatting with attractive barmaids, while Bob was still laboring away in 104 degree heat, wondering if he'd lost it. Then, of course, you'd both have a good laugh after you told him your little prank. And you would tell him. OR WOULD YOU?