Twas a good day for riding

Megan and I had agreed to a ride this morning in anticipation of the promised good weather.  I donned shorts and a light weight long sleeved Voler jersey.  I wore a Terry bolero over that for the first half of the ride.

We set out for Watertown heading out on the highway which has a nice big shoulder.  Although this is mostly rolling road, there was a constant headwind.  It wasn’t severe at 9-10 mph, but it was wearing on the legs.

When we got to Watertown we stopped and checked out the antique stores and a new pastry shop.  There was some good looking stuff in that last one!

Then we headed back on the much hillier country back roads.  Things are beginning to turn green and leaf out. 

We had one funny thing happen.  We had stopped before starting what I knew to be the steepest climb to give our quads a break.  A car pulled up beside us and asked if we would try their energy drink.  After some discussion we did.  It was good.  It had lots of different fruit  juices plus glucosamine, etc.  They gave us their numbers but the price was $35 a bottle!  I wish I could remember the name of the drink.

Next we proceeded up the hill.  I knew we would be rewarded by a straight downhill grade on the other side.  My Garmin has since told me it is 17.5%.  But I ran into a big, scary problem.  I scooched my rear back and settled into the drops.  But as I gained speed the handling began to get really squirelly, vibrating or wobbling.  It finally became nearly impossible to control the bike and I thought I would crash.  Carefully feathering the brakes slowed me down enough to get back under control.  I was really disappointed as I wanted to shoot for a new max speed.

I don’t KNOW what the problem is, but I suspect my wheels.  My Giant came with Xero brand wheels which is often cited as the weak point in this model.  I’ve been told to clamp my legs around the top tube and that has helped in the past.  But today I forgot to do that.  Megan certainly didn’t have that problem on her Jamis.

The rest of the ride went well and I thought my legs finished well as we came back into town.  We got in just over 33 miles.  But I think I should get double for the first half for riding straight into the headwinds.

For the latter part of the day, we decided to go to REI and see if we could blow our dividends.  I didn’t get enough to get the Sidis I’ve been admiring.  They didn’t have a good tool kit.  So I spent half of it on a new jersey.  REI is now carrying Twin Six jerseys which may be my favorite jersey.  The cut fits me really well plus they don’t go all flowery and stuff on their women’s jerseys.  In fact the name of my jersey is The Scarlet Skulls. If you click on the link, make sure you look at the back!

~ by susancyclist on March 7, 2009.

6 Responses to “Twas a good day for riding”

  1. The high-speed wobble is pretty common. It usually has more to do with bike geometry than wheels. Yes, it can be dangerous. I’ve only experienced it in mild doses, but a severe case would be quite frightening.

    I’m glad you didn’t crash, and glad you enjoyed the ride. I haven’t ridden in too long now. I’ve had other good activities filling my time, but I hope to ride to work tomorrow.

  2. Susan, I recommend a careful inspection of all the bearings–both axles and the headset. Make sure your axle quick-releases are tight. As Dave said, often it’s more from geometry than wheels, but if you haven’t had problems before, and you have problems now, there is something you can fix.

    I’ve only ridden one model of the Xero wheels. I’m not over-fond of them as a rule–I still prefer 32-hole/3-cross wheels for durability and reliability–but I’ve not heard horrible things about their stability.

  3. Tom, I’ve had wobble before a couple of times, on this hill only. I think it’s a convergence of things that happen on this particular dscent: angle, geometry, the phase of the moon. This is the only place it has ever happened. My personal Bermuda Triangle.

  4. Are there other places where you see similar speeds?

  5. I know of one where I probably can. To match up I would need at least 39-40 mph. I usually approach this second one from the climbing direction. I’ve approached these speeds elsewhere, but this is the only place where I’ve shimmied. That’s why I’m suspicious of angle of descent shifting the center of gravity forward.

  6. I won’t say that the angle is not the problem, but it seems a bit farfetched to me. If you or a freind have a different wheel set, that would be an easy diagnostic trick to try, just out of curiosity. I hesitate to suggest you go out to intentionally experience the shimmy, of course, but I also recodnize the need for confidence in one’s bike.

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