Monday (Labor Day), Kenny and I rode the Mt. Nebo Loop: 112 road miles, 7,717 feet of climbing. It’s quite possibly the best road loop in Utah, and Kenny and I picked a perfect day for it. The weather was mild, the mountain was beautiful, traffic was negligible, and we had a tailwind on the 40 miles of flat road at the end of the ride. (You can look at the climbing, speed, distance and other data for this ride at http://eldennelson.motionbased.com — Click on Mt. Nebo Loop.)
Really, it was just about perfect.
Except for just one thing.
About 2/3 of the way up the 22-mile-long climb, I noticed that my left shoe was sliding around on my left pedal. Which meant the cleats were loose. I knew without even bothering to look that I’d need a Phillips screwdriver. What I also knew without bothering to look was that I had no tools with me whatsoever. Kenny didn’t have any either.
So, I did the obvious thing: I started looking for a vehicle parked on the side of the road, one that looks like it might have a screwdriver. A truck, for example, would be a good bet. A Porsche Boxster would be a less-good bet.
Before long, I happened on a truck on the side of the road. There was nobody in it, though. I continued on until — surprise! — I saw a guy sitting on the side of the road about 20 feet from the truck. I could immediately tell that he was trying to spot elk. How could I tell? Camouflage, binoculars, and elk hunting season might have something to do with it.
“What luck,” I thought to myself. “This guy’s right by his truck and is doing nothing in particular! I’ll bet he’ll be happy to loan a cyclist a screwdriver.”
So I rolled up to him, slowing to a stop, and saying “Hi” to catch his attention.
And it’s a good thing I got his attention before I came to a stop, because if I hadn’t, he wouldn’t have witnessed the following sequence of events:
- I came to a complete stop, still clipped in.
- I started tilting, slightly to my left.
- I swung my left foot out, to clip out of my pedals.
- My cleat and pedal remained firmly attached to one another.
- I continued tipping to my left.
- I tried more desperately to unclip.
- I stayed clipped in.
- I crashed heavily on my left side, three feet from the man in camouflage.
- I said, “Oof!”
- I struggled to get from under my bicycle for an eternal minute, eventually removing my shoe so I can separate myself from the stupid thing.
- I asked the incredulous-looking man if he could loan me a screwdriver.
Evidently, three of the four screws that fastened my cleat to my shoe had come out, so that the cleat pivoted freely around the final screw.
Luckily, the man did have a screwdriver. I tightened the one remaining screw into the cleat, then removed one of the screws from my right shoe’s cleat and moved it over to the left shoe. And thus was I able to salvage the ride, though not my dignity.
You know what, though? I can’t help but wonder how the hunter tells this story. I imagine it begins with, “So I was just sitting there minding my business when this stinky, sweaty pansy in skin-tight shorts rode his bike right up to me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fear for my safety. Then the guy just fell over on his side for no reason whatsoever and started wrestling with his bicycle.”
Then he and his friends would speculate for hours — and rightly so — on what this strange event meant.
PS: This post rescued from my Spaces archive. Originally posted 09/06/06.