Tandem content: Fixed one, saw a few. Recumbent content, saw several, worked on mine.
As some know, I was wrenching this years Boston->NYC AIDS ride, and
was one of the crew managers. (or as it turned out the New Haven to NYC
ride). While the "rain" thursday wasn't considered sufficient to stop the
ride (we rode/wrenched thru hurricane induced rain in BNYAR2), the idea
of 4,000 people spending the night in a big hilltop field, in lowest bidder
two person tents with 100 mph winds was another story. While the agreement
to use UConn included use of gym's and
auditoriums should the weather prove inhospitable to tenting, the UConn officials forgot that they would be needing the same emergency shelters for their students.
With no room at the inn, some connections (a rider was the managers brother) led us to the New Haven Coliseum. The riders were bussed, the bikes loaded onto trucks, and 3,000 odd camped out on every available flat surface at the arena. (some decided to stay in boston, and drive down the next day, I wound up under the nosebleed seats)
Friday it was clear, but windy. The riders did about 30 miles on a winding route between new haven and bridgeport. About the only truly unusual "repair" I got was removing one of the gear truck padlocks. Since Seaside park (our original campsite) became underseaside park during the storm and was still a bit soggy, we stayed at nearby high schools. As usual we had to remind them to deliver our generator. Mostly routine stuff, one rider had the grace to break an easy to change spoke. (traditional broken spoke will be one on the rear wheel under the gear cluster, so you have to take all that apart to fix it). I had a little time before riders showed, so I spent some of it rigging a new front derailer rig on frankenbike. (used one of the new-fangled clamps under the bottom bracket sorts, so I could tweak its angle relative to the chain.)
Saturday was the first "normal" day of riding. I was shaken awake (per
plan) at 4 am. The shower truck I chose was the one that didn't have any
hot water (I was truly AWAKE after that). (they have tractor-trailer trucks
fitted with showers. When not used for the ride, they are out west serving
the forest fire fighting crews). Got my breakfast, gave people their assignments,
jump started the generator (its battery was dead, I think I really understand
irony now...) so the camp crew could see to fix things. Got my assistant,
and was off for the first "pit stop". (we have to get the trucks on the
road ahead of the riders, or
wait half an hour for them to pass thru the only exit before we can get out.)
Pit crews often are in fairly silly costume. I started at one that was a belated mardi-gras. They gave me beads, and a lacy mask to wear. (I am wearing them at the office today). At other of the stops, we had our share of drag queens, staff with external undergarments, and one "Klinger" lookalike in a french maid's uniform, two day beard and army boots. (dainty tray with cups of blue gatorade, offering "Smurf Piss" to all around him).
The most interesting repair that day was the kid on the clunker (Cygnal, one of the department store brands)-- his rear axle broke and we didn't have any replacement wheels left in his size/style -- cheap/old 700c freewheel, never mind matching the solid axle. We had already used the 3 we brought. All the cassette wheels we had were 8 speed, so the chances of his 6 speed shifter doing anything useful were low. The only loaner bike handy was Frankenbike (my underseat steered recumbent). He tried but lacked confidence. (He also had a bad habit of aiming for the most expensive objects nearby. He tried twice at a disk wheel, and once at a spinergy.
He got lucky in the end. The deceased wheel we had on the front of the
truck (our sign/mojo -- mangled parts get hung from it, and we carry it
into closing ceremonies) while truly trashed, did have a salvageable axle
that fit his wheel. We picked up the bearings that had gotten scattered
on the ground when the hubs were taken apart (didn't have any replacement
balls that size with us) and packed them back into the wheel. I think at
least one of them was a rock that had about the same shape, and some of
the steel ones were less than perfectly round. This was all taking place
in a race with the closing of the
route. (would have meant he got sagged into closing ceremonies). We got it together, told him the warranty was good for 50 feet or 30 seconds, and sent him on his way.
He made it to closing... I almost didn't.
We dropped the truck on Randalls Island, a somewhat parklike space in
the middle of the east river, and 17 of us got into a 15 passenger van
to get shuttled to closing ceremonies. Needless to say the closure
of 8th Ave. affected traffic patterns. (they built a stage across one end)
5 blocks from the holding area, we parked the van, and ran to join the
rest of the crew. We all made it, but I had to pick up the "marching" T
shirt after the ceremonies. (nice because they are long sleeved and
in colors other than the purple of the crew shirts -- I now have about 10 purple T's from the years I have done the ride)
Closing ceremonies were as they have always been (tho I do miss James Earl Jones as the speaker). If you haven't done a similar sort of ride, I can't explain it to you. (if you have done it, I won't need to). We cheered, cried, and hugged each other. Bikes were raised over heads. Water bottles were emptied over each other. At least one rider had champagne to spray.
Now I was in manhattan, wearing one of my crew's backpack (we split
her gear between several of us so she could keep up on the run to the ceremony,
I had left my gear with the truck on Randalls). My original plan for getting
me and gear home had fallen thru, so I had 500 lb. of tools (including
my welding tanks which are a little difficult to legally transport - I
doubt Amtrak would have let me bring them for example) on an island 8 miles
away. Time to improvise. Went to the area where bikes were getting disassembled
and packed up for shipping back to Boston, and was able to re-unite the
pack with its owner. One
Several of the luggage trucks were now empty and had to get moved off 15'th before the city did it for us. Good, a way to get me and gear in the same place, so I offered to help ferry them.
I found myself blasting thru the streets of Manhattan in an empty 20'
truck, trying to keep the other drivers from getting between me and the
van I was following. The driver of the post office truck got pissed
when I didn't let him cut me off.. The trucks get lively when empty.
Over some of the onstreet "whoops", I managed to "catch some air" at only
25 mph... After sitting around the truck parking lot for an hour or two,
I managed to find a group that was ferrying one of the
passenger vans back to Boston, and only had 6 instead of 15 passengers, so I could fit my tools inside. (it was a challenge). Got home at about 2 am. (as mentioned earlier, the day had started at 4 am).
Yes, I already signed up to run things again next year. Any journeyman mechanics that want a 3 day crash course in advanced bike repair, let me know. (any master mechanics that can help give said course especially welcome). I find it fun -- you see a huge variety of bikes, have a bin of parts that you aren't paying for, experts to look over your shoulder when needed, and neat is not a priority. If you get them rolling again, you are a hero to a rider.
This year with the reduced mileage (only about 45% of the planned) and no rain riding, we actually had it pretty easy. The folks I rode home with had worked "bike parking".... They got hammered instead. (they had to load and unload all the bikes for the transfer to New Haven. Very long day in open parking garages, during the worst part of the weather)
There were 4 upright tandems on the ride. (down from previous
years). There were at least 8 recumbents, all singles on the ride (up from
prior years). Not sure what the totals would be if Floyd hadn't butted
in. (I am sure that some Boston riders elected to just stay home).
I only had to minister to one of the tandems (stripped head on the allen
bolt in the captains seat clamp). One of Bill Cooks Barcroft recumbents
was in the lead pack on the second day. (needed some zip ties, to
keep his camelback from rubbing on the back wheel). There were two coroplast
faired bikes, a Tour Easy, a Haluzak, and
some others. Frankenbike almost participated.