Saturday, 14 March 2015

On a mountain road

There are bad places to discover that two of the bolts holding your front rack on have wandered off but thankfully going up a mountain road in El Yunque National Forest is a much better place than going down such a road. However, it is a not a good place when you discover that your supply of spare bolts was accidentally left on your living room floor. I took off my third bottle cage and used those bolts to secure the rack. My theory is that I had been in such haste to get out of the firetrap hostel that I assembled Leonardo in too much haste and failed to tighten the bolts sufficiently.

I used the opportunity to get use a zip-tie to secure a bike computer wire that was too loose. I then noticed my sunglasses were missing. I rode back down the road for less than a kilometer before finding them intact.

It was a poor road choice brought on by bravado felt necessary by the previous days events. Also, the ride out of San Juan had been very nice with bike paths along the coast and through a mangrove swamp. I passed a couple being photographed for their shotgun wedding photographs. I saw a number of spandex cyclists going the other way including a fully supported tour. At a gas station in Loiza, the first town East of San Juan, I was surprised to see biker munchies on sale along with CO2 cartridges! I suspect it catered to wealthy cyclists out of San Juan.

I joined Highway 3 where a flashing sign warned of possible congestion ahead and aforementioned bravado led me to take the suggested alternate route. This was a narrow, twisty mountain road with poor altitude economy, i.e. it went up and down for little reason. It was also very steep and I got to push very often. When the road entered the National Forest, the only "American" tropical rain forest, it became much better with more altitude discipline and the vegetation cut well back from the road. It also began to rain fairly firmly which led me to take off my sunglasses and let them hang on their strap.

I had thought to go further up El Yunque, but by the time I got to the turn off to the really exciting bits, I went the other way.  I was damned if I was going to do any climbing more unnecessary climbing today. Also, I had started at sea level and the road would go up into the 2000 foot range.

Going down wasted the climb as there wasn't the whee factor as the road was too winding to allow me to let loose. I alternated using between front and rear brakes to avoid the rims overheating. I also stopped a couple of times.

I got Luquillo for slightly late lunch at a kiosk in a long line of beach restaurants. While maneuvering Leonardo, I became aware there was some weird with the front brake. Upon examination, my heart sank: I had put on the zip-tie in such a way that it was compressing the front brake cable. I scrambled to grab my jackknife and cut it off. I shudder to think what it might have caused.

The rest of the day went fairly smoothly. The hostel in Fajardo was very nice, safe and friendly. I managed to locate a bike shop in town that had more bolts. They gave them to me for free. I returned the favour to Universal Bike Shop, A-51 Ave. Conquistador, Monte Brisas, Fajardo, owned by Antonio (Tono) Rivera, by getting the Moon Light Bay Hostel to include it in their list of local services. They didn't have a bike shop listed this afternoon.

A better day, all the same. Oh, I saw a frigate bird.

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