The bike ride was to celebrate at long last having the replacement wheel BikeShopGuy has been promising since September 2008. That was when I actually managed to break a piece off of the hub. BSG assured me he could fix it, and gave me a loaner wheel to use in the interim. Some months went by before he got around to repairing my original wheel, and when he did, it turned out the new hub he used didn't fit my gear set. So he loaned me an even better wheel and decided to try again. The new loaner was from his own bike, which he figured would provide added incentive to complete the job. Still, by the end of the summer he hadn't done anything further, so he decided to just order me a replacement. It finally arrived a couple of weeks ago, but we'd been playing phone tag in the interim, plus there was the whole flu thing. Yesterday I finally managed to catch him at the shop, and we swapped things around.
The new wheel is from the same manufacturer, but has a better quality (Shimano) hub than the OEM original, which given what happened is a probably good thing. The best part is that it didn't cost me a cent. The cost was mostly covered by the sale of my original wheel to someone who only needed to fit eight gears, and the rest was gratis for my patience. Cool beans. And as long as we were removing one tire anyway, I had him rotate the tires front and back to even out the wear a bit (the rear tire always seems to wear quicker than the front).