Comedy of errors

Wow, I woke up this morning sore. My right leg (which I has really improved over the last few months) was stiff as a board. I rolled out of bed and felt the muscles knot. What on earth caused that? It wasn’t that I rode any differently than in times past. Then I remembered.

If you are under 45-years old, you might not understand this. If you are that age and older, I think you will. It wasn’t really my ride on the bicycle that made me sore. It was my ride off of it.

I took the afternoon off again (for those of you counting, I have two full days left to use of vacation time before May 10) in order to ride with the Boyd crew. After a couple of really good solo rides, I was looking forward to getting with the group. I made sure I was well hydrated and got something to eat before heading over to the start.

On the way over I noticed the wind was really whipping. The weatherman was saying to expect 15 mph winds. I’m certain it was gusting beyond that. The skies added to the blustery aura with dark and heavy clouds. I started to wonder if we would get wet before we finished.

Still, I was averaging over 20 mph as I headed out from home. Then just as I was going over the railway overpass on Pete Hollis I noticed my rear tire go squishy. Oh no! I had a flat.

At first I tried to just keep riding by keeping my weight over the front wheel. My hope was this would keep the pressure off the now flat rear and allow me to limp to Boyd Cycling before the group left. Maybe they would be merciful and not leave me but let me change the wheel before heading out.

Then my rear wheel started making a racket. I knew I couldn’t keep riding it without damaging the rim. So, I got off the bicycle and put my “coffee shop covers” over my cleats and started jogging on the sidewalk toward my destination. This is, I believe, what made me so sore.

giro-apeckxHave you run in cycling shoes before? If you haven’t, the best way I can explain it is for you to take a board the length of your foot and put a smaller block of wood about a third of the way down the board. Strap the board to the bottom of your foot with the block just under the ball of your foot. Now, run.

It was only about two football fields, but it was enough. However, I made it before Boyd Johnson and Neil Browne left. Boyd was kind enough to get me a tube and we got the wheel switched out. I pumped the tire and after the delay we were ready to roll.

We started out and immediately I felt a bump coming from the rear. In my haste, I had not inspected the wheel before we started. Unfortunately, the tire was not seated correctly and the tube was bulging. We stopped to let a little bit of air out of the tire. I turned around to go refill the tire and told the guys to go ahead without me. I would catch them.

Quickly I refilled and got started. I knew that even if they were going slowly I would have to push it. I also realized that “slowly” is a relative term for cyclists. My realization was that “slowly” to Boyd was probably a tad faster than “slowly” for me.

It wasn’t long before I was getting close to the red line. I glanced at my heart rate to see it ticking up against 178 bpm. That would not be good if I couldn’t get that down before we hit Altamont.

Finally, I saw them up ahead. That was the good news. The bad news was that we had reached Furman. I would have next to no time to recover before the climb.

I caught them just as we turned off the SRT to make our way to the base of Paris Mountain. I was gulping in air and trying to bring my heart rate down. This was not going to be pretty.

I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow. Suffice to say that by the top of the Water Tower segment, I was backing off. Not only was I tired, I was also having issues with my gearing. My chain kept slipping.

Then I started getting text messages from my office. It was annoying to be suffering along and hear “Ding Ding” coming from my rear pocket. “Hey! I’m dying here!” I said to no one who could hear me. “Let me die in peace!” The phone didn’t care, “Ding Ding” it replied.

I suffered over the top in 15:20 something. The ride down to meet up with Boyd who had left me in the dust allowed me to finally recover a bit. I turned around early in order to get a head start on him.

Before long I heard him coming around me saying, “Here, jump on.” With that he took off with me hanging onto his wheel. It was the most fun I had on the ride. That is until the final climb. I got into a rhythm that I could hold and started up. Boyd got farther and farther away.

The three of us came together at the top. Neil mentioned that he was toast from the Tuesday Night Worlds the night before. Boyd commented that he planned to cut short because he was racing the Ring of Fire that night. I simply replied, “I won’t argue with you.”

We all three turned and while Boyd and Neil soared off down the Furman side grade, I limped down fearful of something else going wrong. It wasn’t a good ride. However, it is one of those rides that give you a story to tell. I guess that is one reason why even a bad ride on your bicycle is a good one.

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About Jonathan Pait

Jonathan started riding mountain bikes in the early 1990s. After discovering the ride can start at the end of his driveway, he moved to the road in 2006. Little did he know that first pedal stroke would lead him on an adventure that has become much larger than the bicycle.