Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blood On My Shifters

Here is how not to have a happy cycling day trip.

To start, when prepping for departure, get irritated when Mrs. Otaku asks you to go to the store now for snacks rather than swinging by later with the whole caravan, as I had assumed. Sort of hang onto this irritation and allow it to inform further events.

Like when after you return from the store and continuing preps by topping off the air in the front tire, remove the pump head and the stem blows out of the tube. Stupidly decide to replace the wheelset rather than the tube in the interest of time efficiency. For some strange reason, decide to replace the rear wheel to keep things consistent.

While you are doing this, chastise your son when, for the thousandth time, he tries getting into the trailer while you are working on the bike. Then snipe at Mrs. Otaku a little for filling all the water bottles with gatorade instead of at least one with water even though when she asked previously, you had said you didn't care.

After you finally get going, ride about a half mile and shift to your lowest gear. This sends the chain directly into the spokes because in your irritated haste in changing the wheelset you didn't take 5 seconds to adjust the derailleur limit. This locks the wheel, fortunately you don't go down, but after you skid to a stop, you dismount and not quite silently beseech the gods to just take you now.

Mrs. Otaku is ready to throw in the towel at this point because you are being such a bear. But you mulishly decide that you will not surrender to fate and the show must go on. You clear the jammed chain, getting your hands all greasy and somehow jabbing your right hand. It doesn't hurt, but it is dripping lots of blood which adds to the general aura you've created. You now belatedly take the time to adjust the derailleur limits.

Things continue in this vein all day, with unsuccessful attempts to keep your general vexation at bay. Mrs. Otaku tends to bear the brunt of this. By the time you reach Gravelly Point to watch the planes and enjoy some onigiri, there is considerable doubt whether another cycling outing would ever be contemplated by other members of your party.

At least with you.

You nap a bit at Gravelly Point, which soothes the angry beast a little and on the ride back things are marginally better, although you still manage to unfairly snap at Mrs. Otaku when she bumps into you when you unexpectedly stop. But it is getting better, and in a conciliatory gesture you offer to make a few shopping stops along the way back. This significantly increases the trailer load, but simplifies life for Mrs. Otaku. She appreciates this, but is still wary...

By the time you get home, you are fully repentant. The reason Mrs. Otaku wanted you to go to the store before you left was to pick up some chicken so she could allow it to marinate all day, a prerequisite for her special yakitori.

While she is puttering around the kitchen, you ask your son to sit by you for a talk. You explain that even grownups get fussy sometimes and you are sorry for being so crabby. Apologizing to your kids once in a while is a good thing, but it is also good to keep it short and sweet.

You and your son then go outside to build the fire. Mrs. Otaku brings out the yakitori and you grill this while your son blows bubbles in the fading evening light. Mrs. Otaku allows that she really appreciates me apologizing to our son while gently reminding me that it has been many years since I was a submarine officer and even if it weren't, the family isn't my crew.

We sip some wine, mending a bit. The post-ride yakitori is delicious, as always, and my son's bubble blowing skills have become prodigious. I reflect a bit on the chain of events and my poor deportment. Mrs. Otaku hints that she wasn't serious about never going on rides again. Our family has survived this day.

All's well that ends well.

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