• Patrick Gabrion

Pedal potpourri

DON'T HIT THE BRAKES: The one big problem with riding hundreds and hundreds of miles is that bicycle parts eventually wear out. Unless one's willing to stop pedaling entirely, there is only one solution to this dilemma — and that's fix it.


The best-case scenario is to detect any defects before you hit the road, which could have literally happened to me the other day. What was wrong? The rear wheel on my Trek Domane was broken. Speeding down any hill here in Maine could have been disastrous the way one of the spokes had pulled through the rim, thus cracking it.


All this leads to another problem that has arisen since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, I've mentioned that bikes have been gobbled up quite quickly as more people have sought the sanctuary of being outdoors. Well, parts and accessories are also in short supply, and if you ponder for too long before deciding ... sorry, it's gone.


So I needed a new wheel. Even though I have other bikes to ride, the Domane is my favorite road machine; leaving it in disrepair was not an option.


One of the advantages of working at the bike shop is that I have access to the given number of components available at Trek's three distribution centers in the U.S. After figuring out what I wanted for a wheel — and believe me there are many to choose from, at varying price points — I ended up acting fast, remembering that hesitation was not my friend. They were selling like hotcakes. One evening there were 23 up for grabs nationwide; the next morning there were only six.


Anyway, my Bontrager Paradigm TLR wheel is on its way. It's a bit of an upgrade from what came with the bike ... the now broken wheel. Next, I have to talk Alan into helping me swap the bad for the good.


PICTURE THIS: The other day my sister sent me a photo of her daughter riding an e-bike. I couldn't believe my eyes. Here was my niece — a former collegiate national champion and pro cyclist by the way — on one of those motor-assisted contraptions. I was dumbfounded.


But I should really cut her some slack. Why? Because Kacey's eight months pregnant and she was out enjoying a little pedal ... with some help. What an amazing woman, indeed.


Dodging turtles in spring; now it's woolly bears.

FORECASTING FOLLY: I know it's only the end of August, but woolly bears are starting to show up on the roads I ride. These caterpillars risk life and limb — OK, that's a bit of a stretch — slowly maneuvering from one side of the paved surface to the other, and I do my best not to squash them.


This is because these furry-like creatures perform an important service, which is forecasting the coming winter weather. Here's the deal: This caterpillar has 13 distinct segments of either rusty brown or black. Often, it is black on both ends with rust markings in the middle. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, legend has it that the more rusty brown sections there are, the milder the coming winter will be. And the more black there is, the more severe the winter.


The majority of woolly bears I've come across have been mostly all rust in appearance. But I was going pretty fast on my two-wheeled machine, so I'm not sure. It really doesn't matter to me. Being that it's Maine, you know it's going to snow. And whether it's a little or a lot, I've got my fat bike and it's ready to roll with its studded tires. Be safe!

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