Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bike To Work Week—Day 4

Un-pack the bike for the ride in...


Before I talk about Day 4, I will report on the ride home of Wednesday, Day 3 because, Gentle Reader of This Blog, there was an event—a blow-out—and the details lay within.

You see, the commute is becoming routine; I ask you—is that okay? Is this worth writing about? Well, my ass does get sore, and I arrive with a layer of filth and grime on my person—no one has screamed obscenities or thrown something at me. To most drivers the fact that I do not appear in the bike lane bustling down the road might bring them concern. “Hmm, I don’t see that big biker guy—wonder if he got run over?”

This are the clouds that came in with the head winds and made my commutes so gosh dern enjoyable...

Tucked in the bike locker, my Raleigh from this week's commuting.

Going home and almost at the Alvernon Bridge, my tire suddenly blew out. On inspection, I found a drywall screw through the tire. No problem to fix the flat, just put in another tube, pump up the tire and be on my way. The problem, mes amis, it the rear fender—it makes it makes getting the wheel off a chore, and then getting wheel back on practically impossible.


Fixing a flat tire takes time. No matter how good you are at it, you must keep your wits about you and get the job done. Gentle Reader, you probably have seen a cyclist come completely un-glued when he or she has flatted. I will admit it is a thin line you walk depending on the circumstances, extent of damage, and your mental and technical preparedness.

I once got a flat on a brevet, which came in the first 20 or so miles. It was still very dark in the morning, and bitterly cold. One minute I was chatting to Steve, Star of the Blog, and Paul Layton—and the next—I had flatted and they and the group of fast-moving Randonneurs had quickly sliced into the darkness—and were gone.

I struggled vigorously to get my repairs going, but it was not going well. I couldn’t get my tire off as it was new and a biting tight fit. My hands were becoming un-useable because of the cold. Next trying to pump up the tire proved just as difficult. I glanced and saw the tail light of Paul’s recumbent going up and over a rise, miles away.

This is a situation where you must get back on the road somehow or some way—if you have to DNF and limp back to the start, so be it. That, or face freezing to death. Gentle Readers, the Desert is unforgiving—Her remote beauty is dear to me, but when in trouble—she is aloof and has no sympathy for any weakness, neither man nor beast nor machine.

Could I walk back 20 miles to Casa Grande by morning? And not freeze to death? Possibly. If I got lucky, after five or ten miles I might get cell service, call 911, and Border Patrol or a Sherriff might come rescue me.

Before I had to face these dark realities, the glow of Steve’s E – 6 came gliding toward me. Sensing I was in trouble, Steve had turned around to come and find me. He got my tire inflated, and my wheel set. We were back moving again, and slowly—ever so slowly as the sun was rising, I gradually warmed to where I could think right and we were back in the brevet—and riding strong once more.

Arrival at the bike lockers, having just run the gauntlet of Tucson Traffic!

Back in Day 3, for the ride home, after about 15 minutes of firm persuasion, the wheel snaps back into place. I’ve been able to pump enough air in the tire so that it holds. I am off, and soon I gain speed and now I’m flying down the deserted bike path.

It’s 6 pm and I would be at the Y parking lot, but I’m more than 10 miles from there now. The wind is giving me a bit of a break and I climb the last four miles to my parking spot. I arrive at 6:30. That’s not so bad.

Day 4 on the LeMond: A very fast ride in via River Rd. Every light was green and for many miles I kept a cadence you would only find on the open road. As I neared the office, traffic was congested yet my momentum made me faster and I flew past what seemed like huge sluggish herds of metal and glass. As soon as I pulled into the bike locker and stopped, I was standing in a pool of sweat.

Ah! Tucson!

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