Sunday, July 5, 2009


boot: a small piece of material used inside a tire to cover a cut in the tread or sidewall. Without it, the tube will push through and blow out. (

okay, it's time to write about friday's ride.
this is the deal.
I was unprepared, unthinking, and a complete embarrassment to the biking world. if I had a cycling license, the powers that be would have revoked it after witnessing my behavior last friday.

I had made plans for saturday that involved non-biking activity, so I scheduled myself for a Big Long Ride friday morning. it was time to head to morgan, which has become a rite of passage for me each summer. this ride is an 84-mile round trip if I keep it simple, and it involves enough climbing ~ including the back side of Big Mountain, my nemesis ~ to keep me humble. this isn't the kind of ride you jump into the minute june rolls around; this is a ride you work up to.
so I'd done my work, and it was time.

I left home at 6:25, and made it to my morgan stopping point (that would be a big, beautiful phillips 66 with clean restrooms and water for refilling water bottles and good snacks for refilling energy supplies) by 9:15.
by 9:25 I was back on the road, retracing my steps.
all was well, beautiful, awesome, cool, sunny, just another great training ride halfway under my belt.
by 10:10 I was back at east canyon dam, my eyes drinking in the deep blue water and bright sunshine and hundreds of happy boaters out and about.
at 10:17 a shot rang out, and I was down.
okay, not really.
it sounded like a shot, but it was just the tube in my rear tire exploding, and I didn't go down, I just quickly came to a disgusted and completely disappointed stop.
and this is where the fun began.
okay, not really.
I pulled my tire from the rim, pulled out the blown tube, and ran my fingers around the inside of the tire to make sure there were no pointy things in there to pop my next tube. nope, no pointy things. but golly gee, there were 2 darn HOLES in my tire.
my worn tire, that I had been advised to change out for a new one a good 2 weeks before. I'd even been given 2 new tires so that I would do that very thing, and those 2 new tires were still sitting in the utility room at my home.
well, there I was, by the campground on the north side of the dam, sticking folded up dollar bills in my tire to cover those holes, inserting a new tube in, using my cartridge to inflate that new tube, and discovering that my new tube ~ yes, my brand new tube ~ wouldn't hold air.
I pulled out my cell phone and dialed my son's number, ready to toss in the towel and take my 53 miles and call it a (disappointing) day.
no service.
just then a little white SUV pulled up beside me, and a cheerful guy in jeans and a t-shirt hopped out . . . angel rick.
who ended up giving me a spare tube he had in his car, and inflating it with a cartridge he happened to have, as well. who also gave me his cell phone number in case my dollar-bill boots stopped working and I needed further help.
back on the road, I was careful to stay out of the junk (pebbles, rocks, grit, garbage, broken glass, you know) in the bike lane, thanking God with each successful revolution of my tires. the first mile passed, then the next. gratitude was oozing out of me, and pretty soon I was heading up the hill from hell.
and at the top of that hill from hell, I patted myself on the back for making it up, and paused to inhale the view and my last granola bar treat. I was almost home, just another 17 miles, most of which were downhill. my internal grin split me from side to side.
so I started down, loving the rush of air and the thrill of just being there. I ticked off the first kilometer, then the next, and was working on the third when
the gunshot that brought me to my screeching, devastated halt.
my heart sunk so far down it made my feet itch.
to be on the home stretch, and to have your dream yanked completely out from under you is a heartbreaking event.
I pouted, looked at my tire which now had 3 holes, and I thought through every possible way out of this bind. unfortunately, the only thing that made any sense at all was to somehow get a ride down that hill and home.
I started walking, hoping for a nice truck-owner to take pity on me, when my next angels, greg and jed, appeared.
they tried to offer a new tube or a boot, and I shook my head, knowing I didn't dare try another patch on that shredded tire.
so they squeezed their awesome tri-bikes and gear and bodies around, threw my bike up top on the rack, and twenty or so minutes later, chivalrously delivered me to my doorstep.

any grand adventure is only good as the lessons one learns along the way: I hope I learned this one well.
no, it's not about how to make a boot for a hole in a tire, though that was the first time I did so.
no, this one is all about awareness, preparation, and thought.
I will never be perfect, but I can hope that this taught me to always, always, remember that infamous P motto:
prior proper planning prevents piss-poor performance.

nuf said.


Doug said...

You Are awesome, I was somehow inspired to google the exact words "the Tao of cycling" yesterday and look what I found. Keep it up fellow bicycle journalizer,philosophizer.

susan said...

thank you! may you always have a spare tube, a boot, and time to ride :)