Today we left the town of Corvallis for the open road with high hopes of finally sleeping in the Oregon wilderness. I sit here tonight typing this blog back in Corvallis. Let me explain.
We woke up early and began preparing to depart. However, this also being the first day of taking research measurements, we spent a little longer than expected ironing out the kinks of gathering the data. Matt stuck my finger with the glucose meter 80 bijillion times to get my blood sugar. After determining that I had had one too many pizzas last night, we took off from Corvallis only to stop again about 10 minutes down the road to begin our first performance test. After running the tests (which took about an hour, and hopefully we can make this process more efficient for future tests) we began riding east along route 34, which was busy but had a wide shoulder. We then turned off onto route 20, which was much smaller and passed through the town of Lebanon.
In Lebanon we were drawn off the road by the offer of a $3.50 lunch special at Sam Yun, which ended up being actually $4.50, but the extra dollar was well worth it for the loads of rice and meat that went along with it. And as anyone who knows me knows, Dan loves his rice.
Anyway, we’re pulling out of the parking lot when Matt’s handlebar suddenly veered to the right while his wheel did not. You can imagine why this is not ideal. So we pulled over and tightened up the stem and started moving again. Within about 30 seconds the same thing happened again this time sending Matt swerving across the road. Not good. Using my expert opinion I diagnosed his stem as being “messed up,” and we pulled in to the local bike shop which so happened to be about 200 ft from where we were standing. In the shop we pulled Matt’s fork apart and realized that the steer tube had sheared off the fork leaving the bike fork in two very-unusable pieces and Matt in a giant pickle.
Frankensteining Matt’s Bike
Many thanks are due to Gene, the owner of the bicycle /fly-fishing outfitter/stove shop called Stutzman’s Stove Company. Gene gave us free reign over his entire mechanical shop (which is something rare in the world of bike shops) to come up with a MacGyver solution to Matt’s exploding fork pickle. We were able to Frankenstein a small mountain bike fork (and yes, I just used Frankenstein as a verb) onto Matt’s gigantic frame and rebuilt his front end with components that resulted in something that looked more like a clown bike. After this project was completed, we took one look at the bike (which worked perfectly fine despite its silly looks) and decided that riding another 3600 miles up into the northern wilderness on a patchwork bicycle was probably not a good idea.
So finally retiring the 23 year old Schwinn Voyager that lasted a whopping 1.25 days on the road, we left our bike at Gene’s store and enlisted Noah’s hospitality and good graces once again to drive us back to Corvallis and to take Matt to a bike shop that sells touring bikes. One furious hour of parts swapping later, Matt emerged with a brand new (and quite sexy I might add) sage green Trek 520 equipped with the finest accoutrements that modern bicycles can offer. While it was quite difficult for Matt to give up on the old Schwinn and buy a whole new bike, this decision will likely prove to be a wise one – giving Matt both a bike that doesn’t spontaneously implode and some semblence of peace of mind for the rest of the trip. If you think about it, this couldn’t have happened at a better time. Matt wasn’t on some mountain descent where such a large equipment malfunction could have had seriously dangerous consequences.
Tomorrow morning we will get a ride back to Lebanon (thanks Noah!) where we will be meeting Gene, who is meeting us on his day off, no less, to let us into his shop so we can pick up our bikes. Gene has been an absolute lifesaver. We can’t thank him enough for his kindness and generosity.
The New (and damn sexy) Trek 520!
Today was not a lot of riding and a whole lot of fretting, but hopefully we’ve gotten the worst of it out of the way and it’ll be blue skies ahead.