So, last time we left off I was planning on taking a day off of riding. I hit up the swoopiness of Schaeffer Farms dirt with my lady for ride #6. Technically I guess I really didn't take day #7 off from riding since we logged 8-9 miles of commute type stuff going to the bike shop and dinner, but it was nice to take it easy and still loosen the legs a bit.
On Saturday (day 8) I headed out to the Shed and Gambrill with Ricky d who had just built up a Jamis 29er as a drop bar off-road fixed gear. So in solidarity I flipped my flop and was back in the fixed gear fat tire game. It had been a few months, once the snow had cleared for good I quickly went back to my freewheeling ways on the MTB bikes. Going back to fixed was a good time, a nice way to change up the same old terrain and see if you've still got what it takes when you can't coast in the technical stuff. Ricky did a nice job shooting this sequence of me hitting a rock drop on the ride, I like the contrast of the black and white vs. the color.
Sunday I set out to hit a solo tarmac and gravel combo on the skinny tire fixed but didn't realize a major storm was on the way. As I started to get ready the rain moved in. Checked radar and a giant green blob was just moving in. I was bummed, it looked like a wash out. I sulked around the house a bit but soon noticed the rain had stopped. I quickly suited up and as I rolled out the rain started again. Screw it I said, I'm riding. I can always abort the mission if the big rains move in like predicted.
I rolled out to the west and started working some roads I hadn't been on. Climbed a mutha of a hill to the little town of Braddock Heights then dropped off the knob for a nice long descent that had my legs flailing trying to keep up with the wheels. This put me in the heart of farm country and some scenic riding with the cows on lonely roads. Nice. Worked my way over to a series of 3 nice long gravel roads that put a big smile on my face. You see, I am definitely not a roadie. Even when I'm on the road I'm searching for dirt. Gravel roads have the added bonus of almost always being quiet, scenic and smack in the middle of nature which was the case here. Chased a turkey for a bit on one of the roads before he took flight.
By the time I made it to Jefferson there were some big, dark clouds moving in. It had been raining most of my ride but it wasn't heavy, I had fenders on and the temps were warm so it was actually pretty nice. This stuff though, it looked like it was the business end of the big storm I had seen on the radar earlier. I decided to shorten the route I had in mind and start working my way back to Frederick. I had a nice rhythm going, music playing when I heard the sound of a deflating tire. Bummer, I had a nice non-stop riding working and was looking forward to pushing out the remaining miles. I quickly pulled over to repair the puncture. As soon as I opened my burrito wrap I noticed a balled up spare tube, the sign of one that looked like it had already been used. One thing at a time, I'll deal with that in a minute. As I go to remove the tire I'm having problems and notice the tip of my lever is snapped off. Strike one. I weasel the tire off with a single lever and assess the damage. A single hole that I match up with what looks like a large slice in the tire tread. In goes a dollar bill for a boot. Next up, check out the "spare" tube.
Sure enough, the tube is spent (strike two sucker) so I reach for the patch kit. You can probably guess where this is going: a used up tube of glue that I can blow dust out of. Strike three. When I'm on the MTB I'm always prepared. I like to be self-sufficient. I try to remember when the last time I even had a flat on this bike and the broken tire lever puts it all together: the Dirt Track Date. in October. OK, I need to come up with something. Jefferson is about 15 miles from home and I past that a few miles back. Will a straight up patch stick to a tube with no glue? The answer to that my friends is "NO". Trust me, I tried. Then I get the an idea: tie a knot in the tube at the hole. McGyver, you've got nothing on me I think to myself. Knot tied, I stretch the tube around the rim, inflate and reinstall the wheel and get on my way. The rain has held out and I'm ready to finish this off.
After a couple of miles the tire is getting soft. Hmmm, my genius idea seems to have a flaw. I ride until I can feel the thump, thump, thump of the knot in the tube each time it rolls over the pavement. I pull over and pump, jump back on and ride. The pump job last a lot shorter this time. Once again I pull over and pump. I don't make it far before I know this routine is not going to get me home. Time to take a second look at this tube. Did I miss a second hole.
The rain is picking up steady and I roll to a spot with some tree cover to pull the wheel for a second time. As I pump, the tube loses air almost immediately and I quickly figure out why. Split at the valve, unrepairable. I yank out tube #2 and figure I'll do the knot trick with this one and be home quickly. Only problem is this tube is a good deal bigger, something on the lines of a cyclocross tube. Even the smallest knot I can work is too big for me to get the bead of the tire on the rim. Game over. I reluctantly pull out the object I strongly dislike, the cell phone, and call the team car (a.k.a. my wife) to come bail me out. I hang my head in shame and wait for the pick up to haul me the last 6 miles home. A broken frame, a tacoed wheel. These are the kind of irrepairable cycling issues that warrant a bail out. A flat tire that can't be repaired due to my own lack of checking my kit is inexcusable. Until this point, the ride was great, new roads with gravel goodness, I will definitely be back out here, but it ended on a bad note with no one to blame but me. From this point on the rain poured down the rest of the day and all night. Maybe it was some sort of sign.
With that, I took a couple of days off to rest the legs a bit and headed back out last night solo on the road. I wanted to keep it steady and bang out some miles without getting into any crazy hills. A few of us are heading to the 24 Hours of Big Bear this weekend so I wanted to get a last ride in before heading down Friday to check out the course. Once again I hit up some new roads, headed east and then north on a mix of main artery 2 lane roads with big fat shoulders and some low traffic country cow pasture cruising. Good stuff again and I made good time.
Hopefully I haven't been riding too much leading up to this weekend. We'll be in the Co-ed open category, 1 girl and 4 guys on single speeds. First time for me at this venue and first time for me in this class and though I've ridden with all of my team mates many times it's the first time I've raced on a team with any of them except Ricky d. Should be a good time since we will be making camp with Team Mom, Team Dad and Uncle Bud, as well as Donald from Avalon Cycles and his Patapsco Porn Star team and the SSO Rejects. A great big carnival of good people. We'll have Clipper City on tap to fuel us through the race. If you are out there look for the Bicycle Escape and Kenda banners and stop on in the compound and say Hi.