Monday, August 8, 2011

You Gotta Know When To Walk Away

Sunday Century
The Big Plan was to bust out a Sunday Century on a New-Old Route I have been wanting to get back to; it is a path that is both History-Laden and Ocean-Sided and a Favorite Old Trail of my Motorcycling Days. I was looking forward to the Ride and I was even more looking forward to slipping into my comfortable role of Orator and dealing out a little History Lesson spiced with Pithy Comments and Jocular Asides.

Don't Worry
Well, Y'all Dodged That Bullet. I Got a Flat just before the first of three little bridges that I cross on my way to Daytona about thirty minutes into the day. Somehow or another one of those stupid staples that go into, well, a stapler found its way onto the side of Old US One and hence into my new Kenda Kwest 35. The temperature at 8 AM was already so robust that I was able to locate the leak by the sweat pouring off my face and onto the tube. I was proud of having the right gear to Do the Job but the novelty has by now worn off and I would just as soon Some Genius hurry up and invent tires that don't get flat.

Remembering Karl
I mean, these Kendas have a Kevlar lining but it must be some kind of Watered-Down Kevlar. This was one of those staples that we used to shoot at each other in Fifth Grade when Mrs. Kaylor would step out of the room for a snort and Karl Latimer would run up to the desk and grab her stapler and let loose a barrage of staple fire and then put it back on the desk just as the knob of the classroom door was turning. A Freshly Fortified Mrs. Kaylor never noticed a thing and I often wonder which Penitentiary or Congressional Seat Karl ultimately found his way to.

But that staple should not have penetrated that so-called Kevlar and of course it left a Double-Hole Snake Bite that caused a little Shiver of Recognition to course its way down my spine.

On the Road Again
I got the new tube in and pedaled away Satisfied and Proud of my Self-Sufficient Cycling Techniques and then I heard a clicking sound and stopped, wondering what I had done wrong and what was clicking around back there. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I saw  a really Antique-Looking and very Rusty Safety Pin, the kind that once was used to hold Baby Diapers together back about the same time that Karl Latimer was getting his first felony conviction. WTF?

Do They Make Kevlar Diapers?
It was stuck in there just like it would be if Kevlar had never been invented (and at this point I'm not so sure Kevlar actually exists) and when I pulled it out the tire gave a very Relieved Hissing Sound as though to say  “Thanks for pulling that thing out of me” and I Sat Down to Cry.  But who could tell? It's 8:20 AM now and I look like I've been Blasted with a Fire Hose and then Rolled on the Ground and I've still got 90 miles to go. On a flat tire.

Wait! I've Got Patches!
Then I remembered the sweet new patch kit I picked up last week. It is very nice, it uses contact cement instead of the glueless patches I had been using. These patches are rubber and mounted between a piece of wax backing paper and a piece of clear cellophane and they work Real Good.  It is important to make sure you get that contact cement on in a nice even coat, though, and let it dry for five minutes or until the gloss goes off.  

And man,  I sure do wish I had those patches with me right now. But no, they are sitting on My Bench At Home where I was playing  with them yesterday afternoon. But I am not At Home (In more ways than one),   I am Here, on the Side of the Road, with my Bike and my Flat Tire and a Nice Even Coating of Sweat, Tears and Road Grime.

I'm Not Calling The Blonde
So I weighed my options. Call the Blonde for a Lost-the-Soccer-Match-Got-a-Wedgie Ride Home? Lock Up the Bike and Hitchhike to a Big Box for a new spare or a patch kit or both? Or push the bike the Ten Miles back to the house and stop on the way for a Six Pack and then Drink the Beer?

Well that was Ten Miles and Five Beers Ago and now here I sit bragging about my Spineless Quitter Attitude (SQA).   But that Ten Mile Bike Hike was Exercise Enough and these Beers sure are Cold and I have both tubes handily patched up and that Hundred Miles will still be there Next Time.

Plus I Do Kinda Have A Job
Miss Jo the New Trailer Park Manager is a little worried about my Production Record here at Whispering Pines and so we have agreed to a more Structured Operation. Actually she agreed to it. I wasn't there when she voted on it and all I got was the memo. So now I ride a spirited little 18 mile loop every morning before work or a 24 miler if I'm Feeling Spunky, (and  confident  that I can get back to The Park and Into a Trailer before she realizes I'm thirty minutes late.)

It is a fine arrangement so far and I'm starting to creep my mileage back up a bit. When I was Unemployed Completely I was Riding A Lot. I wore out the original wheel on the Old Schwinn and was living on Hot Dogs and Hand-Outs. Now that I am the Head (Only) Big Man In Charge of Fix-it, I live a far more Dignified Existence but, alas, the mileage has suffered, as I knew it would.

Another Promise I'll Probably Break
But Fear Not, Fair Readers! I vow to ride at least one Sunday Century a month and come on here to brag or complain about it. I got one in on the Fourth of July (I mistakenly reported it as 80 miles but miscalculated my miscalculations).  August is,  after all, a Young Month and I will Find a Way.

Why Do You Do It?
My fascination with Long Miles is a simple one: I occasionally fantasize about riding the Trans-Am or the Southern Tier across America and I am always following at least one rider at CrazyGuy. Right now I am following two guys who are traveling two very different trips on the Same Road. Both are excellent writers and the juxtaposition of their diametrically opposed outlooks makes for a fascinating point-counterpoint Tour of Our Country. (See Jeff Here and Chris Here).  

These Cyclists frequently put in miles Day after Day that make my paltry efforts look like the Feeble Meanderings of a Little Old Man. So I ride. I got some Catchin' Up To Do.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Kevlar Testing Facility


  1. Oh the flats they do suck don't they! Remind me to tell you about the tale of "Six flat fanny" some day. I try to remember, or at least my little inner PollyAnna does, when these mechanical's rear their ugly heads that most of the time the bike works fine and I don't have to worry about its functionality, only my own. Yeah, its a pretty paltry sentiment when you are sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire and no spare or patch. May your limitations be your own, not the bikes, on your next epic ride Velo Brotha.


  2. TJ

    I've been reading CGOAB journals every summer for a couple of years, but the one you recommended by Jeff Antrim has to be the best yet. Thanks for the link.

    Steve Z

  3. Good advice, Ryan

    Steve: Jeff's photography and choice of subject matter is the best I've seen. I'm glad you liked it. TJ

  4. Tim, I bragged yesterday that I had only one flat since Maryland. Make that two; the second happened within two hours of press time. Again, a "staple", which is really from a steel radial truck tire, which are plentiful out this way. I also just realized you live in West Seattle. I lived in Tacoma for a handful of years and always preferred biking across Vashon and taking ferries to get to Seattle than the alternative, Sea-Tac gauntlet. And thus, a long slow climb up Fauntleroy...

  5. No, Nick, I live in a Crappy Trailer Park on the East Coast of Florida. The Seattle Guy is my buddy Roadie Ryan, who wrote a Guest Post for me while my computer was down last week.

    This time of year I wish I was in Seattle, though.

  6. Pithy Comments and Jocular Asides. Nice.

  7. In the Wise Words of Jimmy Durante: "I Got A Million Of 'Em!"

  8. Tim Joe, I think most of the year Florida would be better than Seattle due to the ever present rain..
    I stopped and lent a guy my phone this morning so he could call for help. He had all the right gear (tube, patches, and a pump) but his pump quit. I had nothing to help him (my bad)..Short rides I travel cause I can always call for help but as the distances increase Karen seems less likely to come pick me

  9. Doug: It is the Curse of the Clydesdale, I fear.

  10. TJ - I will be coming that way next month heading towards some work in Orlando. Any chance if I stop on the coast that you can go for a bike ride and a beer on Saturday, Sept 17. Let me know... Zig

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  12. You still out there TJ?? Take some time off for a BIKE RIDE!!!

    Steve Z