A Bicycle, A Flat, and a Riding Buddy

So I went for a bike ride today – on the Fuji, not the Honda – because, well, exercise.

[Yes, yes, I know, some of you are gagging on that sentence. Deal with it. It’s my blog.]

Riding my bicycle has been the most reliable way for me to lose weight for years. If I go for a ride of 50 miles or more, I’m out long enough to get my base metabolism up for a day or so, which helps me drop 2 or 3 pounds of real weight. (“Real weight” is defined as anything other than sweat. On a typical ride, I take a Camelbak backpack with two 3-liter reservoirs. I have found that I *cannot* drink water fast enough to keep my body totally hydrated, so I’m always a pound or two lighter when I get home just because of that.) Then all I need to do is minimize the following week’s weight gain so that I’m a little lower on the scale for the next ride.

Today’s ride started like all typical June rides. I left the house at 5:30 and met my riding buddy at our usual spot, after which we headed east out Old Spanish Trail toward Vail. On the way we detoured into Saguaro National Park (East) and rode the eight-mile loop road, which bicycle riders affectionately (?!?) call “Cardiac Hill.” After completing that loop, we continued east on Old Spanish Trail toward Colossal Cave Park.

We took a short break at a local convenience store / country market, where I had a strip of Clif Shot Blox (electrolyte replacements), a couple of granola bars and a small bottle of chocolate milk. Then off to Pistol Hill (a right turn off the road to Colossal Cave) and home.

At the top of Pistol Hill I had to stop and wring out my sweat band – it was soaked through and I was sweating into my eyes. <blech> It was a good place to stop, as a light breeze was blowing. That helped keep the sweat from getting *too* bad, and it also served as part of my own personal swamp cooler.

We pushed off and started down the south side of the hill, intending to ride to Vail and take another break. Nature (and sharp objects) had other plans. I don’t know what it was, but I ran over something that tore the sidewall of my back tire and blew out the tube POW-psshhht-psshhht-psshhht-psshhht and that was it. Flat.

In due course, I had the tire off the rim, my riding buddy had gone back and picked up half a dozen potential culprits (so nobody else would ride over them), and we were trying to figure out how to get me home. The hole in the tire was about half the height of the entire sidewall, so there was no way to just put a new tube in and go. Fortunately, Riding Buddy (henceforth called RB) had a patch kit. I don’t know why *I* don’t have one, but I don’t, which I’m going to remedy tomorrow morning. But we used one of his patches to stick the sides of the tire cut together (sort of) and then put it all back together and back on the bicycle. The tube was already trying to push through the patch, but I decided to press on anyway. I figured every little bit of additional distance I got would get me that much closer to home.

I was surprised that the patch lasted over 7 miles. I can’t ascribe specific percentages, but the second flat was due to a combination of time (the tube was *going* to push through the patch eventually) and distance (every revolution of the tire flexed the sidewall, which I’m sure helped the patch work loose).

By the time the patch failed, we were riding north on Houghton Road and headed for the barn, so to speak. But the bike pulled up lame, so I walked it over to a Carl’s Jr to wait, while RB rode around the shopping center to see if a bike shop existed. It didn’t, of course. Someone said there was a bike shop about a mile up the road, but we opted to have me sit tight while he rode home and got his Jeep Cherokee to come rescue me. Which I did, and he did, and I had a nice lazy hour out on the southeast corner of Tucson.

If there’s a moral of this story, it’s this: RBs are great. He met Toni and me during a training ride for El Tour de Tucson when we helped him out (he had 3 flats on that ride, all within a quarter-mile of each other). We’ve been riding together ever since, and I would do pretty much anything for him – and he for me. Fortunately, it hasn’t gone into the realm of crazy stuff, but I’m very lucky to have a great RB like him.

3 Comments on “A Bicycle, A Flat, and a Riding Buddy

  1. Hey bro, heckuva story! This might be the beginning of a “been there done that” book by you. My best ride on my bike (WAYYYYY back in the day) was the Skyline Drive somewhere in Virginia. A long (about 5 miles) descending twisty section of road was like downhill skiing. I enjoyed it so much I rode back up to the top and did it again. Dad would have loved your story! Keep the pointy end going forward……bro

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