Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Riding 65 miles on a flat tire.

Sunday I met some old friends on an annual ride around Lake Pepin (basically a fat part of the Mississippi River). It is 70 miles around the lake with one good climb coming in the first 10 miles and after that it is just rolling hills. We weren’t even five miles into our ride and I had a flat tire. My first flat in two years! I knew exactly what happened to…I was following a guy who didn’t call out any obstacles on the road those first few miles. I learned quickly he wasn’t going to be a group rider in that regards so I backed off his wheel a bit. In retrospect I didn’t back off far enough. He swerved to miss a large pothole, I tried to swerve but my back tire clipped the hole.

At first I thought I was lucky because nothing happened. 100 feet later I hear that sound I’m sure we have all heard, air rushing out of a tire at high velocity. I got my tire off, took the tube out and started inspecting. I couldn’t find anything. So I proceeded to put my tire back together with a new tube and then we found it…a slit in the sidewall of the tire and the new tube was poking through! I was going to put a Shot Block wrapper on the inside of the tire but Sol talked me into part of a GU wrapper. The GU wrapper being a little thicker seemed to work perfectly! The tire was holding.

Everyone quickly mounted their steeds and we were back on our ride. I took it pretty easy, pulling over twice to check the cut in the tire and all seemed fine. At that point I picked up my pace and hung with the group. Mike and I led the way up our biggest climb of the day; gaining 600 feet of elevation over 1.25 Miles. Usually you will see me leading the pack to the bottom of the hill as fast as gravity will bring me down but today I played it safe and kept it under 30 while most of my companions went over the 40 mph mark.

We couldn’t have ordered better weather for this ride, 70 and cloudy at the beginning. 80 and sunny at the end. We made a few potty/refuel stops along the Wisconsin side of the lake before crossing the river and starting our way back up the MN side. So, funny story. This guy Mike has been biking a TON. It was clear on the first large hill that we were two of the better hill climbers in the group. So we are going up the bridge that leads us from WI to MN and Mike looks back and I’m the only one there. All the sudden the pace lifts from 16mph to 18. Ok…I can match that. Again he looks back and I’m still there. All of the sudden I find myself doing 20 mph up this 4/5% grade hill to match his surge. Why? Because I’m competitive and he thought he could drop me. :) That is the only reason. I stuck with him to the top and coasted down letting the rest of the group catch up.

The MN side was relatively uneventful. We split up into three different pace groups for most of it. A few people that wanted to do 18-19, another holding around 17 and another 15-16. We stopped to regroup a few times and make sure no one else had any mechanical issues. At this point I had completely forgotten I was riding with a GU wrapper in my tire. I spent the rest of the day leisurely bouncing between the different paces. We were maybe 15 miles from the end of our ride and Bonnie had to stop to use the rest room; Bonnie was in the group averaging 15-16 taking in the scenery. At this point I find myself staring down nearly a half mile gap between me and the next group. Ok. Let the time trial begin. I surged ahead to let the group know to slow so Bonnie and Lauren would have a chance to catch up. I hit two stop lights going through that town, which put me in a world of hurt! I went from 25 mph to 0. I was just watching the group pull away. I was quickly back up to 25mph and stop. As soon as that light turned green I hit it. 25 mph, 24, 23…crap I was fading. I still had a quarter mile to make up and they were all riding 18/19 mph. I held on and eventually caught the group. We turned off at the first park just 0.5 miles further so we could all regroup.

During the next section Joe had to pull over, his foot was going numb. I stayed with him for a min so he could loosen his shoe and let his foot regain feeling while the rest of the group went ahead. Joe ran 10 miles the day before and I knew he might want some help getting back into the group. I don’t know why but I love pulling people. I enjoy sitting at the front of a group digging deep for a purpose. It is rewarding. Joe and I quickly met up with the group that was slowing to 16-17 mph with the headwind we picked up. I think everyone was satisfied with the day’s ride and we all coasted the next mile or so back to our cars. We had a great ride!

After a failed attempt at jumping into the Mississippi River (it looks gross! Who’s idea was that?) we all headed to grab lunch.

I hope we can do this ride again in the fall, I think it would be an absolutely perfect fall ride!

FYI – That is me in the tuxedo Jersey. :)

Thanks for reading!