Sunday, September 14, 2008

Epic Ride

I spent most of last week with a cold, and the weather had for the most part been overcast, windy, and otherwise depressing, so I didn't ride much during the week. On Thursday I may have overdone the weight on the deadlifts, leaving me with sore/stiff hamstrings afterwards. Still, on Saturday morning the weather looked fantastic (cold and sunny) so, sniffles and hamstrings be damned, I was going out for a ride.

After a quick check to see if this would be a group ride (nope, everyone's hung over, sleeping, and/or working), Andrew and I set off to do Paradise Loop. I put on my longer bike shorts, the ones that cover my knees, and thought, that's funny, these are pretty loose around the middle - but chalked this up to recent weight loss. I filled up my bike pouch with a tube, house key, sunscreen, and a CO2 cartridge, and we set off.

A few miles in, Andrew looks over and says, hey, are you wearing my shorts? I'd assumed that there was no way I could mistake his castelletti men's large shorts for my castelleti women's large shorts, but that would certainly explain the extra room around the middle. But once he pointed this out, I couldn't stop thinking about the important difference between boy shorts and girl shorts: the specific arrangement of padding sewn into them. Once I started thinking about it, I noticed some... chafing. Which I will not go into the details of. Anyway, I now have a much more highly developed sense of what constitutes Good Padding.

The weather warmed up after we went over the Golden Gate Bridge and dropped into Sausalito. We were keeping a pace much slower than usual due to the combination of sore hamstrings and sniffles, but were still going fast enough to weave among the bike tourists that clog the area. When we got to the hill to Corte Madera, I had a sudden burst of energy and did that climb at 9mph, a chunk better than the 7mph I did the last time. When we got to the top, both of us realized we had forgotten to downshift, and had done the hill in a middle gear instead of an easy one. So that was cool.

Another 10 miles of rolling hills later, the road suddenly started to feel bumpy. I thought I was imagining it at first, but when I felt my rear wheel shift around a little bit I realized the tire was going flat. Boo. It wasn't all the way flat though, just at about half pressure. A quick check of the time suggested that we didn't really have enough time for me to change the tube and still make the next Tiburon ferry, so I figured I'd gamble: spend the CO2 cartridge on inflating the tube and hope it held until we got back to the ferry. This worked swimmingly for another six miles, when the tube lost pressure again. I figured with one cartridge left I'd better spend it on a tube with no hole in it, so I pulled everything out of the pouch, replaced the tube, spent Andrew's CO2 cartridge filling it, then put the bad tube, spent cartridge, and sunscreen back in the pouch, put the tire back on, and we went on our way.

The astute reader will notice that something is missing from that sequence of actions. We rode on for another few minutes before the nagging thought surfaced: had I put the house key back the pouch? I dug through the pouch and discovered that (a) I had one more CO2 cartridge than I thought I did, and (b) no house key. We retraced our steps and went back to the place where I'd changed the tire, but at this time of year the roadside is covered in tiny gold leaves that look *exactly* like my house key, and after fifteen minutes of searching did not find it. So now we're way too late to get the Tiburon ferry and I've lost my key.

This meant we either had to ride all the way back to SF, or catch the ferry in Sausalito. Normally we'd just ride all the way back, but there's a pretty significant hill on the approach to the bridge, and I was already pretty tired. So: Sausalito ferry it is. This would require a 15mph pace for the next 45 minutes, which is easy enough under normal circumstances but felt herculean this time. I ate my last clif bar, hoping it would stir up some energy, and resolved to not think about my hamstrings at all. My respiratory system sensed the urgency of the moment and decided to step up its production of mucus, and of course a stiff crosswind popped up out of nowhere. That was the longest 10 miles I've ridden in a long time, with a constant stream of mucus coming out of my nose, a heat-related headache setting in, and the pain in my hamstrings spreading out to cover more leg muscles. Not sure how we made it there on time, but we pulled up just as the ferry boarded.

The extra CO2 cartridge I mentioned earlier now becomes relevant to the plot, as Andrew got a flat right after getting off the ferry. We popped in a spare tube for him and spent the last cartridge. The rest of the ride home was uneventful, thankfully, as we were completely out of spare parts.


mmm said...

Wow, crazy story. What kind of tires are you using that you get so many flats? Or have Oran and I just gotten really lucky so far?

Lexi Baugher said...

I have Kenda tires, which didn't get any flats for the first nine months I was on them. I don't think the tires themselves are bad. Just unlucky, I guess.