Cycling Misadventures

I’m going to start by pointing out that my rear tire has had a small but significant gash (“The Tire Gash” from here on) in it for several weeks. Bad enough that I probably should have replaced the tire, but not so bad that I actually did.

This story has nothing to do with that.

The Route

My handy-dandy 310xt has this to say about yesterday’s ride:

There are a few interesting things to note, if you’re accustomed to looking at these types of things. For anyone who isn’t, hopefully you’ll be able to spot them by the time you’re done reading this. (You’ll have to hit “View Details” to see it all.)

Embark

Where this story does begin, if not with the tire gash, is with a route to Fort Collins that I found after deciding that a Boulder->FoCo ride would be the perfect distance for last weekend’s long ride. (Here it is on MapMyRide) I didn’t end up getting out the door early enough to be sure of a finish by sundown, so I came up with a truncated version, just in case. There was an accident on US-36 at Longhorn which closed the highway. I took a detour to Neva via 63rd, about 10mi, which rounded out the truncated route to a near-exact 80mi.

Determined to take on the whole route, I left earlier in the afternoon this week. The weather wasn’t ideal, but looked calm enough. The first leg of the ride went really well; it’s an excellent ride and I highly recommend it. I could easily see some part of this becoming my Colorado “Chelsea Out & Back“.

Blowout

Then, 24 miles in, a familiar and unwelcome feeling. Squirrely control, wattage increase / speed loss — a flat tire. Oddly, I wasn’t actually annoyed. Worried about timing, yes, annoyed, no. It was my first flat of the season, and a great opportunity to practice roadside repairs (I had had plenty in 2009, and it came in handy around mile 82 at IMKY) as well as practice with CO2 cartridges (of which I have had little, and it always bites me).

I was kicking myself about The Tire Gash as I dismounted. “If you’d only swapped this tire yesterday. Now it’s cost you a tube, a CO2 cart, and interrupted a ride.” Determinited to do due dilligence before putting another tube in harm’s way, I checked the whole tire. I found a still-intact Tire Gash, and also a thumb tack. Sigh. It was probably put there specifically for me by some thoughtful driver. Thanks dude! I finished swapping in a new tube and was on my way. Yes it took 30 minutes. Shut up.

(Another!) Blowout

After that, things were rockin’. Cruised through Loveland (which I mistakenly thought was Fort Collins, since I didn’t have a map, only cues) and out Wilson toward Horsetooth Res. The weather was looking less happy, but still mild enough that I wasn’t worried about anything serious. (@gratzo, feel free to call me an idiot here.) Then an amazing thing happened. I hit some manner of bump, and got to watch a a gyser of air erupt from my rear tire. It reminded me of the fireworks pinwheel from the Mr. Wizard end credits, which I can’t seem to find online right now.

Again, I kicked myself over The Tire Gash, and again, for no reason, because it was still completely fine. Instead, I found a centimeter-long rip in the tire, centerline to sidewall. There was actually a ding in the rim, as well. Craziness. The other piece of excitement was the scenery for this second snag:


View Larger Map

55mph speed limit, two feet of sandy, rocky, slope-y shoulder, with tall grass transitioning into what I’ve always pictured rice paddies are like: wet, swampy, and vast. I began evaluating my options. I had the equipment to change a secon flat, but I was pretty sure the tire damage was bad enough that my repair efforts would be short lived. The weather, of course, had chosen this moment to begin taking a turn for the worse. I decided it was time to call in the cavalry.

Help!

I texted Emilie, since she remains my closest cycling friend in Colorado. I didn’t really expect anyone who doesn’t ride to be on board with rescuing me from the percieved insanity of a bikeride to Fort Collins đŸ™‚ The SMS conversation went like this: “Can you do me a huge favor?” “Probs. What’s up?” “Just had 2nd blowout & I don’t think the tire’s salvageable, can you come pick me up?” “I’m north of loveland :(“. I immediately get a phone call. It’s Jana, because Emilie is driving. Turns out they were actually IN Loveland Pass, so they thought there was a very real possibility of lucky happenstance for a heroic rescue, when they were actually three hours away. Dammit Colorado, Y U NAME ALL THINGS SAME?

They suggested I call Dave Heal, who also has a bike rack; I tapped out another text message as beads of rain gathered on my phone’s screen. He’d gotten a head start on Memorial Day celebrations, and was unable to drive. He did offer his car though, if I found another driver.

Just then, a dude was walking toward me from a car that had been parked along the side of the road just up from me. He asked if I needed help or a ride — turned out he owns a bike shop in Loveland: Mountain High Cyclery. His car had run out of gas, and he was en route to Fort Collins. A warm, dry place to wait for rescue was rather appealing, but I was worried that it was the wrong direction for help coming from The Republic. As a second stroke of luck, his wife had just come up from Loveland to rescue HIM with a gas can, and was headed back. I arranged to be dropped off at a presumably-warm and dry Starbucks. Had a neat conversation with her during the drive, about her husband’s bike shop, their family’s stint in the midwest, COBOL, and Hobby Lobby. Silly Starbucks was closing just as I got there. (7pm on a Saturday? What are they thinking?)

Still not sure how I was getting back to the safety of the bubble, I put out an APB on one of the currently-active BelugaPods. Ryan, who I was chiefly trying to avoid inconveniencing with all this, stepped up.

King Soopers

Google Maps on my phone told me it was going to take Ryan about an hour to arrive, and there was a King Soopers across the street. So I did what any student of Do More Faster would have done — I went and did the grocery shopping for the week. I left The Symphony of Evil (have I really never written a post about him? Yeesh.) by the door, and went clop-clop-clopping around the store, wearing a skintight lycra tanktop and bike shorts. Strangely enough, the denizens of Loveland thought this was a little weird. Luckily, Crowie had been getting them accustomed to seeing people in such garb, so I didn’t get quite as many stares as I might have:

Photo

Rescue

I finished shopping, and started tweeting to kill time. I got this awesome screenshot from Ryan in response to something totally unrelated:

Photo

I love technology.

Ryan asked on the drive home: “What would you have done if your phone died?” My answer was “patch the tire as best I could, and try to make it back to Loveland, and look for a place with a phone.” I’m pretty sure that’s the right answer, and it’s a really valid question. Anyone else have thoughts on what they would have done? Also, Ryan suggested an awesome idea for an outing to go on. Combined with a comment Marissa made a few weeks ago, I have a sweet plan for some upcoming rabblerousing. Stay tuned for more on that in future post.

Thanks everyone who was willing to help rescue me, and especially Ryan, who actually did! #cofounder