Wednesday, May 6, 2015

With Help From The Big Man Upstairs

The first really glorious day of the season dawns Sunday May 3rd. I roll Blaze out into the warm sunshine and give her a look-over. As is my habit, I work my way from top to bottom. Oil looks good. Now to check the tires. Gauge in hand I measure the pressure of each tire. They are a little low, so while Andy and I attend to adding air, I look them over sticking my fingers in the tread. The treads seem OK to me and I follow with my finger to the center of these Avons.  Nothing looks worrisome to me. Off we go to meet up with Lee and head to the Mountains.

Our first top is Laconia where we find Whispering Giant #48; Keewakwa Abenaki Keenahbeh. This is my fourth Whispering Giant and it dates to 1984. All of these Giants are in need of attention. So far the most well preserved one I’ve seen is in Punta Gorda. The worst is Standing Brave in South Carolina. The elements take their toll along with insects and humans. All in all Keewakwa isn’t too bad. I’m able to get some nice photos of Blaze in front with the rally flag. The commemorative plaque is missing and it’s not clear if the harsh winter or if human beings played a role in its demise.

 Since its noon, we follow Lee to the Meredith Docks to find a place to eat. None of the dock eateries appeal to us so we make our way along the boardwalk enjoying the buzz of activity in town. Folks are backing their boats into the lake and sports cars with the tops down are pulling into parking spots all over town. No one it seems wants to miss this perfect day. 

Along our way are various sculptures. We enjoy them to the fullest. Lee does his traditional handstand. What trip with Lee is complete if there isn’t a show? I try to get a shot no one has gotten before, but he’s shooing me away. I guess you can’t laugh and hold a handstand very well. 

We cross the street and find a place to eat in a refurbished old linen mill. The place looks fabulous with various shops and levels. Right through the middle are falls that long ago powered the mill. Three ponds and two lakes feed these falls. The canal is long gone and the feed pipe now runs under dwellings. Once a year, when the water is low, two divers one from one end, and one descending down from above, travel the pipe that now directs the flow of water to inspect and clear of any debris. People are fishing below and the size fish they reel in amazes me.

Lee is not heading home with us but staying at a Youth Hostel in Conway, farther north. Since Andy and I are curious about the hostel, we follow Lee there.  It’s nearly 4 pm, the time at which someone arrives to let you in, so we wait. We are rewarded with a tour of the place, and a nice chat with our tour guide.  We wave goodbye to Lee and head for home.

As we near the highway, Andy’ points his fender to a slower secondary road. I start pestering him about taking the highway as we are far from home and it’s already past 4:00 pm.” No no” he says, “this is better”. When I won’t stop pestering him he finally tells me he “saw something” on my bike and that the slower pace home will be better. A few more questions and I discover that on our way to Conway, he noticed a “spot” on my back tire. While I’m not happy with that news I’m glad for the information. I am now prepared to make choices of my own and ready for what might happen next.

I decide to get in front of Andy and he watches me as we continue in a slower but steady ride. I have not seen this “spot” and in my mind it’s a “spot”, so I’m relatively protected from the reality. However, as things go, we are required to make a stop before reaching home. I dismount and take a look at what I think is a “spot” only to discover it’s an ugly stripe that is running down the middle of the tire from fender to pavement! So much for my morning inspection. I am clearly not qualified enough to judge such things I guess. But back on the bike I go, and with the good grace of God I reach home unscathed. Three hours of riding with all senses on high alert take their toll, and I’m tuckered out. I am keenly aware of what could have happened. I have no advice on how to judge a tire or what to do if you find it wearing away in front of your eyes. All I can say is “don’t do what I did” and ride on such a tire, but it rings hollow I’m sure. The Avons are a curious tire to begin with and most of the tire looks great still.  I’m grounded for the time being until a new tire is installed, but grateful for the hand of God guiding my way.


Debra said...

Gosh Pat,
Another adventure with calamity averted! I am really curious about the Sleeping Giants. How have we missed after so much riding?
BTW, another great article!

Greg Prosmushkin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.