Monday, September 6, 2010

Cycling Sabotage

It's been difficult to ignore that in the last 2 weeks of training, I have not completed my long bike rides due to tire/tube malfunctions. Last weekend I made it 60 out of 75 miles due to a slashed tire and tube. This weekend, AGAIN, someone or something up there did not want me to complete my long ride.

I had a fantastic new route all planned out and was actually very excited to make that mileage mark after these long weeks of training. Again, just another barrier succumbing to my determination and fitness. You can view what the full route would have looked like here.

I knew things were trending downward about mile 8 when I got the first flat tire. Many of you are in-tune with your bike as I am and you instantly know the sound of a flat. It's that ominous 'thubbing' sound and the added vibrations of the handlebars or seat. I groaned and cursed a vulgar obscenity looking for a street lamp I could use to change my tire (it wasn't quite sunrise yet). After a delay of about 15 minutes or so, I was on my way.

The ride continued normally as I made my way though Usery Mountain and the Bush Highway. This was the part of the ride that was new to me so I was excited to see the new scenery and anxious to take on the elevation. The second half of this ride would take me down the Beeline Highway - the same road that will be used of the cycling portion of the Arizona Ironman.

A word of warning to anyone considering riding this road - on the safety meter of 1 to 10 - 1 being super unsafe and 10 be super-safe, this road was a 3. Riddled with debris (full tires, metal and bags of ???), covered in glass and flowing with traffic going 50-70 miles per hour (speed limit is 50) makes for a disaster waiting to happen.

Fortunately, the second flat tire hit me in a civilized part of the world (right at a gas station and casino). So I stopped to change my tire, grab some more water and sent a text to my wife that I had another flat tire and that I'd be delayed a bit more. At this point, I was recycling tubes. The tire I was putting back in was the one that had the hole at mile 8 earlier in the day. After finding the hole (which was hard enough), I patched it and pumped it back up as best I could with my hand-pump.

Back on the road, I was making good time and feeling slightly fatigued yet ready to finish the remaining 50 miles I had planned out. About the time I was considering whether my tire would hold out, I heard the ominous 'thubbing' again...I simply hung my head in defeat and dismounted. I tried one last time to apply another patch to the tire but it was painfully obvious that no amount of patches would be saving my ride this day.

I pulled my phone out and called my wife. As if she was almost expecting me to call, she did not even hesitate. She asked where I was and said she'd be there as quickly as she could (which was about an hour away from our house). I made my way back to the gas station to hang out, wait and reflect on my ride for the day.

Whether it's just bad luck or my choice in cycling routes, I need to figure out some way to appease the cycling gods here in the near future. While I'm consistently getting 3 hour rides on the weekends, I need figure out how to extend these a few more hours (and miles). Perhaps I need to sacrifice one of my old jerseys or start carrying a small bike shop on my bike...

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