Day 2: MooseFail

Meet Moose: An 80 lb. workhorse with a little too much junk in the trunk

I believe Apollo 13 was coined “A Successful Failure.” On a much less epic scale, that’s what happened to my ride.

After Edward, Katherine, and Keith said farewell to me in Staunton, I set up my tent and fell asleep to a light drizzle. Woke up Tuesday morning to the pitter-patter of rain. Fell asleep and woke up again to rain. I didn’t want to get everything wet trying to break down camp and load the bike, so I made a couple peanut butter-banana sandwiches and listened to a Michael Pollan audiobook while waiting for the rain to abate. Close to midday it did, so I quickly changed clothes, packed up the tent, removed the giant slugs from my bags, and took off.

My destination was Monterey, VA, on the border of West Virginia. It was on and off drizzles all afternoon. I was climbing/pushing my way up Shenandoah Mtn when I heard a scraping noise coming from the rear. Upon closer inspection, one of the spokes on the rear wheel was loose. That’s no good, especially after only 60 miles. So I decided to head down the mountain and back in the direction of Charlottesville until I got cell phone service. While riding, some thoughts came to mind:

  • Probably shouldn’t have waited until the night before my trip to see if all my stuff could fit in my pannier bags. They did…barely…all 50 lbs.
  • Probably shouldn’t have waited until the night before my trip to test ride a bike with 50 lbs. of gear loaded on the back. It was a bit absurd; you could lift the front of the bike with your pinky.
  • Thank God this happened early enough in the trip that friends can rescue me instead of in the boonies of nowhere.

I made it back to Churchville, still with no service, when I got caught in a thunderstorm. Fortunately, a stranger pointed me to a dollar store over the next hill where I was able to borrow another stranger’s phone to call Edward. I checked the spokes again while waiting for Edward – all the spokes on the right side of the wheel were loose. Moose was definitely not rideable. Fortunately, Edward was able to get me and the remnants of my bike back home. To the kindness of strangers and friends!

So the trip had a rough start, but I’m hoping to be on the road again soon. After explaining what happened to the guys at a few bike shops, their recommendations included a stronger, hand-built rear wheel and a front wheel rack to distribute the weight better, or pulling a trailer with my gear behind the bike. I’m hoping to revamp Moose and start again in early June!

Also, thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in this trip and why I’m doing it, and to those who have donated for my cause. It means a lot to my family and me.

Here are some pictures of the two days on the road:

Pumped for a ride to Staunton

Buckling up

The top of an intense climb of Afton mountain

View from Afton

Beers to celebrate in Staunton!

Grandma's Bait, Staunton


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Wizzard on May 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I like the scroll overs on the pictures… bike shorts ARE sexy.


  2. Posted by Rrrrrika on May 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    CATCH those Cougars!


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