17 September, 2009

On Monday's ride I passed a sight I've seen a couple of times--a bicycle inner tube draped over some kind of public sign. It annoyed me--guys doing things like that give the rest of us law-abiding riders a bad name. And I hate litter. Seriously. I am the guy who carries the wrapper from my dinner mint around in my pocket if there isn't a trash can outside the restaurant. I'm sure you share the sentiment. So this was an ugly, annoying sight. Really, what were they thinking?

Then the little indignities of a committed long ride began to pile up.

First, I dropped my GU. What is it? It's a little packet of electrolyte/carb/"energy" gel that you can eat drink imbibe while under way. It seems ridiculous and like a fake product marketed to phony athletes, but in truth it works and so I brought some along. While taking my third draft on the thing, I dropped it. I was hauling at this point, on a trafficky street, clipped into the pedals...you get the picture. I didn't turn around and pick it up.

I littered.

Karma kung-fu chopped me a dozen miles down the road: on the rotten stretch of road between the nuclear plant at San Onofre (with its immortal surfer appellation, "The Twin Titties"), and the state beach/camp ground a few miles south, I suffered a blow-out.

--which is always a drag.

For those non-riders reading this, when biking, one always carries an extra inner tube in case of flat--you just roll it up and stow it in a little pouch you can strap beneath your seat (like a traveling glove-box under yr rump). Very handy. My case also carries my driver's license (for the cop when you get ticketed for endangering those poor defenseless 6,000 lb. S.U.V.'s), a credit card and Starbucks discount card, my iPhone (verrry handy), and a patch kit. And one of the coolest biking inventions, a CO2 canister.

This little thing, which is not much bigger than a roll of quarters, holds enough compressed CO2 to inflate a 27" bicycle tire to the recommended 120 or so pounds of pressure. Yes, that's how much air pressure these tires take--compare that with the asthmatic 35 lbs or so required by a car. (Which means when your tire blows on a road bike, you can really hear it--and feel it. It blasted my back wheel off of the ground when it burst under me--exciting!). But the coolest thing about the CO2 can happens when you fire it off to inflate the tire--once released, the gas cools rapidly--and deeply. In the 6 seconds or so it takes to blow through a can and fill a tire (they are one-use only, so don't blow it!), the can and nozzle and valve stem all freeze. It's really cool and strange, esp'lly when you are standing roadside under a blazing sun and suddenly there's ice on your wheel--and your fingers.

In the blow-out my actual tire was damaged, so I had to patch that.Then I put in the new tube and triggered the CO2 can and off I went.

Only, once I got home, I couldn't find the blown tube in my under-seat kit. I must have forgotten it in the rush to get the bike going again...then I remembered where I left it....
p.s. and I'd hung it there so I wouldn't forget!


Brian said...

wow, what a great story. I totally loved that. you brought me back to the seaside twin-titty nuclear reactor. I drove by that place up and down the coast so many times; I can see it and smell it. I bet it feels great to bike it.
I've heard of people eating too much of that gel stuff when participating in endurance-like activities. A woman told me last week of her husband doing a triathlon. She was waiting to photograph him at a point along the course of the running section of the event. As he approached, he turned off-course and headed straight to a porta potty. Never to be seen again.
I really like the integration of the images and the storytelling.

Davis Chino said...

Bless you, Bri, for the kind words--and for the cautionary tale. I will GU easy.

I totally blew the last image by not including the Twin Titties...sigh.