We've all had them; rides from hell. That ride that won't end, is filled with calamity, punctuated with mechanical problems or otherwise "less than perfect".
Today was one of those days...
I got to hook up with my best friend for a ride- an occurrence that doesn't happen very often because he lives in Los Angeles and I rarely ride on weekends because I try to give as much of that time to my family as I can.
He just returned from a trip to the Netherlands and I had just returned from Montreal, so it was perfect timing for us to get to go for a ride. I dropped my daughter off with my mother and headed over to where my friend was staying. The "plan" was for a nice, leisurely 2-2.5hr ride... great plan.
I got to the house and pulled the bike out of the car... DANG... flat front tire. No sweat, I'll just replace the tube. Tube was replaced, changed into my kit and away we rolled.
We rolled along at a moderate pace since neither of us has had too much saddle time lately. Once we get out into the East County area of San Diego (lots of hills), we ride up a few good climbs and find ourselves on one of the better local climbs (Dehesa, for the locals reading this). Once we get to the top of the climb, I realize I have a slow leak in the rear. Bummer. I find the tiny piece of glass and then pull the tube out and use his spare (since I'd already used mine for the front). I check the tire thoroughly and remount everything. Good to go... and away we went.
We roll down the hill and back the way we came to head home. Once at the bottom, we decide to stop and refill bottles because it is really darned hot. At this time, I realize that the rear tire is feeling mushy. I pull the tire off and check the tube and it is leaking through a hole at the valve stem. Dang! Can't patch that one, so I pull the original flatted tube from the rear and patch it. Patch is good, air up the tire and put the bike back together. Before I can strap the pump back to the frame... another leak appears and the tube goes flat again...
Now I'm pissed and pull the thing out AGAIN and find another hole in the tube, just millimeters from the first patch and on top of it, the tire has a blister where the tread is trying to blow off the casing. Argh... I put patch number two on the tube and place a boot in the tire (a piece of another old tire cut to be a patch for the inside of the tire- for those who don't know what a tire boot is). Everything looks good and now we look ok. Off we go back to home...
By now, we've wasted at least an hour at the convenience store messing around with the flats and getting fluids. Both of us are now getting sore/ cramping from all the stop-start going on. A few miles later... the tire is losing air AGAIN! At this point I am nearly ready to throw the bike into the bushes because I am so frustrated and out of carbohydrates. On top of it all- we have no more spare tubes and I've used up all of the patches. Now I am left with the prospect of stopping and periodically putting aire in the tire and riding until it is time to do the same thing again... not fun.
We stop and put more air in the leaky tube. We get back on the bikes- both of us going cross-eyed now- and head for home... until we have to stop and add more air to the leaky tube.
This happens about three times total until we get home... and the cheeky bastard tries to outsprint me to the top of the hill before the house! Fortunately I knew it was coming because he ALWAYS sprints on the hill there. I'll spare him the embarrassment of saying who won the sprint (it was me).
All in all, a short ride turned into a 5 hour marathon of flats and frustration. But, you know what? It was a beautiful day and I was on my bike riding and talking with my best friend. In the end, just how bad could it be?
Thanks buddy for the patience, the tube and all of your patches.
(Looking back over this all, I know I missed one more flat somewhere because when we added them all up, we came to a total of 6 flats on the day- all of them mine.)
Here's to hell rides and all the good ones inbetween!