Yesterday was going to be the day I pedaled to Ventura. I had the route all planned out. I had my support crew ready to go, even after some logistical rearranging of plans thT needed to be done on he part of one of them. My Camelback was packed with energy bars and electrolyte drink mix. My water bottles were chilling in the fridge filled with electrolyte goodness. My goal destination awaited, with the planned end point being a friends house where I would shower, then we'd all go celebrate. Everything was ready.
And then Friday night came, and one member of my support crew had to take the other to the emergency room with a kidney stone. We've known about this particular one for a couple of weeks, but it was now turning into a crisis situation. Sure enough, she was admitted to the hospital, but wanted me to still do my ride.
Saturday morning came and I decided I would still do it. I needed the time in the saddle and the miles. I geared up and headed out the door. Then I saw the rear tire was completely flat. Weird. I hadn't been doing so much riding to justify that. I filled it up win my foot pump and left.
The first part of the route I had planned is all uphill. Sometimes it's just a gradual climb, and sometimes the hills are steep and tough, but the entire first 25 miles is a steady elevation increase. I felt every inch I was gaining. It felt just so much more difficult than it should have. Some parts of the road,even with a marked bicycle lane, aren't great either. It's heavily traveled by trucks, so there are lots of ruts and ridges, not to mention gravel. Pretty soon, it felt like evey bump was making its way to my teeth. They started to rattle around in my skull more than usual. I looked behind me, and darn it if that rear tire wasn't flat again. It wasn't completely flat, but it was just a matter of time until I was riding on the rim.
I stopped and debated. I had a tube with me, but no air. I could change the tube, but with no air, wouldn't be sure if it was the wheel or the tube that was problematic. There was a gas station, I thought, a half mile or so ahead of me, so I could walk the bike that far and try to change the tube there then get air, or change the tube where I was and walk to the gas station, or call it a day and turn around for home. I knew there was no way I could make it another twenty miles to where my support crew (reduced by 50%) would meet me with a foot pump. My biggest concern wasn't walking the bike, it was changing the tube on the REAR tire. I messed up some rear tires last year when I didn't remount it correctly, and didn't want to run that risk again.
I weighed all those factors, and decided to go home. I was over five miles out, so running home would still be a good training season, even if it wasn't the one I planned. I would pretend I was training for a duathlon.
New plan in mind, I started running. Almost a mile into that activity, a huge pack of cyclists came storming my direction. I lifted my hand in greeting. The lead guy hollered, "You okay?"
"Yeah," I hollered back.
Someone else said, "Need a tube?"
I chuckled and said ruefully, "No, I'm good. Thanks, though!" And kept running. Then I heard bike tires behind me. I turned to look, and saw that two riders had peeled away from the peloton to see if I needed help. First I recognized that the kits they wore were from the bike shop where I had purchased my bikes. Then I recognized one of them as the owner, Rob.
I thanked them profusely for turning around to help, then apologized profusely that they had tuned around, and basically alternated between those two themes. I explained that I had a tube but no air, and that I was going to be at the shop to get the flat repaired, and he said, "We'll just do it now." Like a well-trained pit crew, they had the tire off and tube replaced lickety split. The thing that took the most time was them trying to figure out which one had a Co2 cartridge. Turned out neither did, thinking the other one had packed one, but one did have a pocket pump, which was enough to get it full enough to make the trip home. Rob left the rear brake lever loose for some reason that made sense to him but that sounded like "fwah fwah fwah" to me. He told me to stop in at the shop later and he'd take care of it.
I happily started pedaling home, and it felt great to have air in that tire. I saw a gas station and briefly pondered stopping, getting a full tire and continue with the plan, but with the brakes being kind of wonky, knew that wasn't such a great idea.
All told I did about 16 miles, as I took an intentional detour just to add some miles- so far less than the 65 I was planning on. I suppose it could be considered a failure. But the good things were:
I wasn't so far away from home that i was uncomfortably stranded.
No mechanical failures at a dangerous part of the road, like a steep downhill, which could have been disastrous.
Good incentive to get Co2 cartridges, which I did later when I took my bike to the shop, as well as some more tubes.
I was able to spend more time with my hospitalized support crew, which was important.
Got to see at there are good people in this world who are willing to help, even at the expense of their own goals and schedules.
This week's goal: TBD.
Happy training and riding!