TDF/2 Stage 6

Just for the record, I didn’t yell. Nor did I throw anything. Well, not hard. I did toss a plastic bottle of chain lube up on the porch, but just because I didn’t need to take it, not out of pique. But I digress.

I’d been apprehensive about today’s ride for a while. First, it’s the longest day of the Tour, and I needed to ride 70 miles. Second, the weather forecast pretty much said it would rain all day, with occasional thunderstorms. I’ve got rain gear, but I don’t have lightning gear. So when I got up at 6 this morning, I checked the radar, and it looked like it was likely to get worse in the early afternoon. I figured it would be best to take the road bike and try to make some mileage fast.

So, I cleaned the pedals and lubed them (trying to get rid of the annoying squeak), and then I started thinking about the cleats on my bike shoes. Is there some reason that only the right one squeaks? When I looked at them, I realized that the right cleat was a bit different shaped. So I replaced it with a spare that looked more like the left one. Then I started loading up stuff, but where would I carry the rain gear? So I changed my mind.

I got out a small pannier, and loaded everything into that, and put it on the Long Haul Trucker. Then I discovered that the rear tire was flat. I wasn’t in the mood to change a flat, so I got everything back onto the other bike. More or less. The rain jacket packs into its own pocket and straps under the handlebars. I figured I’d skip the rain pants.

I got on the bike and started down the driveway, only to discover that then new cleat wouldn’t clip into the pedal. Keep in mind, I did not yell. I may have muttered a few things, but not loudly enough to disturb the dog, who views me riding a bike on the driveway as a ploy to flush bunnies out of hiding. So I went back to the house and swapped shoes, then got back on the bike.

It was already raining lightly, and I was about a quarter mile down highway C before I remembered that I hadn’t put the fenders on the road bike. So, I went back for the fenders. By the time I finally was on the road for real, it was almost 8, and I was annoyed, albeit quietly so.

I rode out to Millersville, and then west on highway 72. It went from raining lightly to raining steadily, but the road is great; they recently repaved and widened it, and it has a full-width paved shoulder separated from the right of way by a rumble strip. By the time I got to Patton, though, it was pouring, and sunscreen washed into my eye. I stopped at a convenience store, washed out my eye, and had a sandwich while the heavy rain went by. I continued another 5 miles west, then turned around at the 35 mile mark.

TDF/2 Stage 6 - Rain clearing

Things were going great until about 25 miles from home, when I heard that rhythmic whooshing noise that means “Hi, there, I’m a big hole in your tire.” So I stopped, pulled the wheel, replaced the tube, got out the CO2 pump… and found that it was broken. No way to put air in my nice new tube.

A car stopped and two young women asked if I needed help; they even drove back to their house to get a pump, only to return with the news that their father had gotten a compressor and gotten rid of the hand pump. I tried knocking on doors of a couple of nearby houses, but no luck. I called Robin, who was having lunch with friends in Cape, and she said she’d bring me a pump. I told her not to hurry. Then I picked up the bike and started walking east. About a quarter mile down the road I came upon a place with a lot of farm equipment sitting around in a field, and a sign saying “equipment repair”. I wandered down the drive, into the office, around back, and finally heard a tractor running in a big shed, where I found Johnny Cathcart, the proprietor. Why sure, he did have a compressor handy, and he was happy to stop what he was doing and help me pump up my tire. I called Robin and told her she didn’t need to rescue me, and within minutes I was back on the road, filled with joy and renewed vigor.

Johnny Cathcart

Until I hit a smooth stretch of pavement and realized there was a biggish lump in the tire – probably not seated well on the rim, or maybe a twisted tube. I wasn’t going to go back and bother Mr. Cathcart again, so I just figured I’d chance it until Millersville. By the way, I didn’t yell or throw anything. In Millersville the gas station had a pump, and I was able to deflate the tire, untwist the tube, and get back on my way.

When I got home, since I was already dirty and wet, I went ahead and put the LHT up on the stand so I could change that flat. That’s when I found that the tire had a huge bald spot in it. Not that I don’t have an extra tire – but the extra was on another wheel that has these deep rims that make it almost impossible to dismount a tire. I sweated over that for quite a while. Lucky thing I didn’t try to fix that flat this morning. I might have thrown something.

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