Sunday, January 29, 2012

Playing possum

I am not sure why I am getting so many flats lately, It must be the sea of automotive glass that shimmers in the sun. Or possibly the attack of my competitiors hiding in the bushes throwing caltrops on the fog line as I pass. Regardless it has brought up a couple interesting scenarios in the last couple weeks.

Two weeks ago I was out riding on the TT bike and keeping up a pretty good average but the asphalt was akin to a gravel road it was so old. I came around the corner and saw another rider ahead of me a couple miles up and it seemed a natural response to pursue and pass as if I was a cheetah on the savanna bolting after a midday prey. Besides, it’s a workout right?

I grab a couple gear and start pouring on the pain pudding, I am not even looking at the rider in front of me since I am now breathing so hard I am sucking gravel up off the road. As I get up to the rider it is a bit of a disappointment. The guy I was hoping to be a challenge to catch and possibly pass was a mere Sunday marsupial cyclist. I use the term marsupial for the excessive amount of gadgets, widgets, and clutter a cyclist will pack in their jersey, seat pouch and this guy had a small bag on the handle bars.

As I passed him I was in awe at all the stuff he was packing, it would have seemed he was on a coast to coast touring trek. I thought nothing of it and continued on towards my turn around. On the way back I found the hoarding cyclist trying to change a tube. I could tell he was way out of his element so I decided to stop and give a hand.

Long story short the guy had enough rain gear, Gu packs, power bars, water bottles, maps, and survival gear to outlast a zombie land scenario, but had no pump, tools or levers. I showed him how to change out the tube and used my Co2 to inflate his tire and remounted the wheel and he was on his way to complete his weekly 5 mile ride from the house. As I got back on my bike and proceeded to my finish line with the uncanny speed of a sidewinder missile I had a blow out. Not slow leak but a full on gunshot heard around the world blowout. I immediately thought of the irony that I just used my only Co2 cartridge and all I had left in my jersey was my small pump. As I sat there in the shade for a good 20 minutes trying to pump my tire up to a reasonable air pressure I was thinking of the stuffed pouch rider that was no doubt home by now. How is it you can pack so much gear and still not be able to complete the priority tasks? Fast forward a week and I was riding north bound as a small group was riding southbound and the busted a tube right in front of me. I pulled around to see if they needed a hand and to my surprise none of the 5 riders even had a tube nor any tools, just cell phones and credit cards to bail them out of these scenarios, but at least they had a ton of food, electronics and rain gear to last a week in the Alaskan bush.

When did people stop packing the essentials? Its seems the “boutique” shop they all claimed allegiance to has a phone number to call and will dispatch a vehicle to come fix their problems where ever they may roam. WOW! That would be a great deal if you turned a wheel into a taco or busted a crank arm, but they were ready to call for a flat!

My kits change with the bikes I ride but primarily I will always pack the basics. This doesn’t matter if I am making a jaunt to the store or if I am doing an all day super century.

It consists of one tube with a patch kit in the box, one Co2 inflator, one sub 40 gram pressure pump and a mutli tool of some sort. Depending on the difficulty level of wheel and tires I may pack a set of tire levers. I might also add I usually have a wrap or two of duct tape around a water bottle in case I need to line a nasty slice in a tire. That’s it! It all small enough it fills one pocket in my jersey and no need for nifty bags or pouches. If you can’t fix it or at least limp home with this kit then you can call for backup. I guess being a boy scout and my fire and military careers have given me the itch to always be prepared but I am a minimalist and don’t see the need for packing the kitchen sink for a 5 mile ride.

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