Alex Bikes

Ottawa bike politics.

How to avoid Michael Jackson while biking

How I will remember Michael Jackson

It was clear early on that the Marin hybrid I’d brought on the cross-BC tour with Jim was not suited for the trip. The aluminum weld holding the bottom bracket should have been a warning, but the real problems were the straight handlebars and the crappy shifters.

The seatheight for that trip was chosen randomly when reassembling in YVR. It was fine for the first few days, but when Jim and I pulled into the municipal campground into Cranbrook, BC, the knee pain was intense; every stroke got worse.

So we hobble in to the tiny registration office to find this middle-aged couple avoiding the nice weather by huddling over this grainy TV picture. You could tell by their eyes there had been hours of weeping. The crawl was reporting that Michael Jackson had died, and they were playing Billy Jean in the background. And my right knee was throbbing. Now, I think of the ex-King of Pop when my knees ache.

I have since developed some MJ avoidance tactics. The first one is just a better bike. The Surly LHT offers several positions, so you’re not stuck with just one. The Deore XT MTB parts offer much better gear ranges; with a chainring of 24 and large sprocket of 34, I should be able to get up anything (just slowly). And that should reduce the strain.

I also had a bike fitting at with Mary Paterson to set up the cleats, handlebars and seat.

And if I can try and slow down a bit and take some time off, I can tell the knee pain to beat it.

Getting to Barcelona

Actually leaving is always hard, but I don’t think you’re reading this blog to hear about mopping and vacuuming. But you’ll understand there’s a sense of relief when you’re actually out of the house.

This time, I am surprised at how light my bags are, weighing in at just 10 and 12lbs each. Mind you, some of the heavy stuff is in my handlebar bag which isn’t included. But creditcard traveling really is easier.

My father was kind enough to drive us to the airport.

Everything at the Ottawa airport was fine, but a note of caution that Air Canada appears to be ending it’s program of giving away bike bags. We are okay with this trip as we have extras we are bring with us. But this makes traveling with bikes more complicated with AC.

Anouk frequently complains of the terrible Air Transat flight she had to Toulouse in 2002. I’ve been trying to show her it isn’t always like this, so we went first class with Air Canada to Frankfurt. Thank you, Wind River, for shuttling me to San Francisco and Portland so frequently, it meant we could afford the points. The last I saw of Anouk was at FRA; I was catching my connector to BCN and she to AMS. Let’s hope she didn’t get picked up by a suave hinge salesman on his way to a conference in Delft.

There was slight trepidation in the baggage hall in Barcelona, one is never sure one’s luggage will arrive until it does. After an hour of limbo, I found someone who told me I was waiting at the wrong sporting baggage carrousel (despite signs to the contrary).

My warmshowers host had agreed to put me up a few weeks ago, but since then decided to do a tour a few hundred km south of here. So he met me at the airport, guided me through the bus/train connection (which is good, it would have been hard to learn otherwise that construction made it into a bus/bus combo). We got to his small, lived-in apartment, he packed and left me, a near-perfect stranger, the keys to his room. So I’m hosting the party tonight. That would sound more appealing if there was more than 1 square foot of floor space available.

This afternoon, I found my way over to Decathlon to pick up a few things: a rain jacket and another attempt at finding good socks. The socks topic is worth a separate post, if have enough time and bitterness.

Then I found a park bench and napped away some of the jetlag. And now I am writing this up on my iPhone having a beer. Or two.

Heading for the hills

For reasons not suitable for a public blog, I will be finding different accomodation for Friday. The intention was to stay another night in Barcelona, but I am going to stay elsewhere instead. Finding a place to stay further north from here is a bit difficult, as it is still busy season. So I am going to skip the coast and head to Figueres by train.

Total biking on this trip so far is about 30km around Barcelona, all unloaded.


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