Well, as you may or may not know, my big ride of the year is coming up in about 3 weeks. The RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver BC and Party). It’s a 2 day ride, 100 miles each day. With other things planned for the upcoming weekends, I decided today was the best day for one last century ride before the big event.
Funny, sometimes the cycling gods have different ideas….
Michelle and I talked about it, and as it was supposed to get warm today (OK warm for us, upper 70s or so) it seemed like a good idea to take the ferry to the Olympic peninsula to ride. It’s usually cooler over there. My plan was to ride to Port Townsend, then drop down into Discovery Bay, and then head west until I was far enough from the ferry to result in 100 miles. Seemed pretty easy!
I woke up on time, and Michelle got up as well to make me a hot breakfast! (I had planned on a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks, the girl is a keeper!) I then had time to make a run for coffee and still get there before the boat arrived. As you can see, the weather seemed to be cooperating!
I had less than 10 minutes to wait before the ferry Puyallup arrived.
As the only bike rider in line, I was first in line and ready to head out for a day of riding.
We got to the other side, and I headed out along HWY 104 heading for the Hood Canal bridge. I was expecting it to look like the other times I had ridden.
However, the weather gods had a different idea…
No worries though, I had a bright vest on to cut the wind, lights on front and back, and I knew as soon as I got to the other side and away from the water a bit, the sun would be back out. It was kinda cool though hearing the bridge sound the fog horn as I crossed…
I made it to the other side, no problem, and started to climb the first hill when the back tire got squirrelly. For those who don’t ride, when the back tire goes flat, it feels, at least to me, almost like riding in mud. It just feels slippery…
DAMN! Its been years since I had a flat on the road…
No worries! I may not be an Indie pit crew, but I can damn sure change a tire! I got out the kit, flipped the bike and took off the tire. Then the first problem hit me. No pump…. I usually have a small hand pump on the bike. Old reliable, though, broke earlier this year. I replaced it but just hadn’t mounted it yet.
No worries, I had 4 c02 cartridges! We are in business!
I got the tire off, and peeled the inner-tube out of it. It had been there for so many miles it was STUCK to the inside of the tire! I used one cartridge to partially inflate the tube to find the hole. Then checked the tire. Nothing there. Ok, time to get the new tube on.
Editors note: Right at this time another rider came up the road and, as we do, asked if I was ok or needed anything. NOPE, said I, I am good! Cheers! he said as he rode away.
10 minutes later, it is ready to go, I hit it with CO2 and……it went flat again… New tube was bad… CRAP! I only had one spare tube. NO WORRIES!! I have a patch kit!
About THIS time a car drove by and hit its horn. I looked up and the passenger put his hand out the window and flipped me off! I will not type my response to this, but I am LOUD and he heard me!! Not sure if he hated cyclists or was a Husky fan and disliked my COUG Jersey. Either way he was an asshole! (In case you are curious I was WELL off the road as I change my tire. I was not in his way at all!)
Sorry to digress…
Patch kit! OK, busted it out and had two patches left. Perfect! the first tube had two holes! Now remember when I said it had been years since I had a flat? Well the self adhesive patches had crystalized over the years… DAMN!! OK now I am in trouble. No tubes, no patch kit and 11 miles from the ferry and my car.
What I did have was a roll of yellow duct tape. As we all know, duct tape fixes everything! I had two CO2 cartridges left. I wrapped both holes, hit it with the inflater and…found a third! DAMN!!!!
OK, one more wrap, one more cartridge, this is it…
And no dice, the duct tape did NOT hold. Long ago, when I chose mountain bike clips and shoes over street clips I did it for one reason. Someday I would have to walk… Today was that day.
I crossed the road and headed west. I looked at the speedometer and I was averaging
3.5 miles per hour! OK, here’s the plan. I cross the mile long bridge, then stick out my thumb for a ride. Worst case scenario, if no one picks me up, I will be there in 3 hours!
I made it across the main span, and was heading up the other side when I heard a beep behind me and a car pulled over. I immediately noticed he had a bike on a trunk rack. “What happened?” he asked. “Flat tire, bad spare tube, no more CO2” was my response. “I can fix you!!” he said, and pulled over into a safe area.
Turns out Aaron (from Mountlake Terrace, just like me) saw me walking with a flat, as he was heading eastbound to ride up to Hurricane Ridge. He thought to himself, “This is the middle of nowhere! He needs help!” He went across the mile-long bridge, found a place to turn around, and came back for me.
He pulled out a spare tube and his own CO2 kit. I explained I had no cash to pay him back (I ride with a debit card!) he just waved me off and said, “I was stranded once too. Not going to leave you in a lurch!” His tube wasn’t an exact match, but it worked. He got me mobile again!
And that ladies and gents is what we riders do. We stop and check when someone is stopped in a strange place. We give our spare parts, extra water, or skills to anyone who needs it. The brother and sisterhood of 2 wheels is strong! A complete stranger went out of his way to help me, and I will, for damn sure, pay it forward!
After he left, I considered continuing to Port Townsend, but even I won’t tempt fate that much. Instead I headed back to the ferry, where I met some fellow RAMROD riders who were coming back from a weekend cycle camping trip.
As I went across though, I couldn’t help but notice the weather was still perfect!
I got home, and Michelle and I made a run to REI for new supplies! $41 later I am stocked with tubes, patch kit and CO2! (I do still need to mount the pump on the frame though!)
I was going to stay home, but Michelle, not only my wife but my coach, sent me back out! I rode to I-90 and crossed yet another bridge, and then rode to Woodinville. In my travels I spotted this guy.
This loop ended up being 53 miles. Add to it my 11 going out and 10 riding back (not counting the mile walk in cycling shoes) I ended up with 74 miles. It wasn’t the 100 I wanted, but truthfully, meeting Aaron, and having him reaffirm how much we cyclists all care for each other, I don’t care about the miles I missed!
I am going to build a cyclist repair package and keep it with me! I WILL pay Aaron’s help forward!
Like the wind folks!