Tuesday May 12, 2009
The Marines have an unofficial motto: “improvise, adapt, overcome.” Depending upon which Marine you ask you will get an answer as to where that motto comes from. Ask an officer and you probably will get “We are given an objective, but not instructions on how to achieve it; we must improvise, adapt, and overcome depending upon our situation.” Ask a corporal and you will get “We are given outdated, worn out equipment, weapons, and tools, no support, but must achieve our objective. We must improvise, adapt, overcome.”
Ask a biker whose saddle bolt just broke, 17 miles out from the truck, how he is going to get back without pushing the bike. You will get “I don’t know; improvise, adapt, overcome?” I was faced with the situation and things looked bleak. Christine and I were riding the Seven Sisters route and were 17 miles from the starting point. I was going along on a straight stretch of highway when I heard a pop and my saddle and I fell to the top tube. I stopped as carefully as I could so as not to further damage the bike and certainly not damage me. When it became clear that my saddle indeed came loose from the seat post, we back tracked to see if we could find the pieces to put the saddle back on. We found some of the parts and then Christine found my bolt, and it was sheared in two. So much for repairs.
Christine went back to get the truck. It had taken us a little over an hour to get to our location so I was faced with sitting by the side of the road for over another hour or Improvise, Adapt, Overcome. Drum roll please. I strapped the saddle onto the cross bar or top tube with the saddle bag straps. I tried it out, and except for my legs looking (and feeling) as if I were riding a tricycle, it worked.
Don't Try This at Home, Leave it to Professionals
The experience reversed or modified some of my assumed biking wisdom. I had once complained that there was no comfortable saddle. However, faced between sitting on the top tube or a saddle strapped to it, you wouldn’t believe how comfortable that saddle felt. Once I had joked about the drop bars being for small people. Well, sitting on the top tube you are sitting so low you ARE a small person. The drop bars were quite comfortable as your handle bars. Moving the hands to the normal positions was very unstable and it made me look as if I were riding a tricycle. In another place I recommended sitting as long as possible while climbing a hill. However, if you are improvising, adapting, and overcoming, you stand all the way up the hill. First, your knees start screaming just pedaling in that cramped low position. Second, I couldn’t pedal hard enough in that position to get up a hill. If I ever advocated standing going up a hill to rest your knees, people would think I was crazy or a rank amateur who had never ridden over two miles around the neighborhood. All experts recommend standing as a last resort because it takes a lot out of the legs. To pedal standing going up a hill to rest your knees is contrary to biking techniques, so is pedaling with your knees under your chin. Another adaption to my inelegant situation was that I discovered you can unclip while standing and pedaling. Just unclip the upstroke foot while most of your weight is on the downstroke foot. It is awkward to turn your heel out while the knee is bent in the upstroke but with practice, and desperation, it can be accomplished.
All’s well that ends well. Despite the whining and griping about the crazy cramped legs with screaming knees, I was within two miles of the starting point when my sag came over the hill to the rescue. Christine's coming back to get me was greatly appreciated but her laughing at my appearance was not a case of laughing WITH a person. I was being laughed AT, but my chest is puffed out for—drum roll—improvising, adapting, and overcoming. I had an objective to get back to the truck, but not the instructions on how to accomplish it. I had mal-functioning equipment without support or parts to fix it, but overcame the adversity even if it did look like a frankenbike.