Saturday’s ride started out great. It really did. We left Lake Merritt around 8:20 heading up into the hills for a 72 mile ride that would take us south all the way to Sunol and back. It was nice and cool. Very foggy around the lake and the hills. Perfect weather for climbing. It was a big group, over 100 riders if I had to guess. But it turned sour so quickly.
About 20 miles into the ride, I was feeling great. The sun was starting to peek out from behind the clouds, but it was still coolish. We were ascending the last part of the climb up Redwood Road before the descent into Castro Valley. Then my back tire started feeling sluggish and looked down. It was flat. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!!!! After last week’s ride, this was the last thing I needed.
I pulled over resigned my fate. Took the wheel off, got the tube out and started to work on replacing it while riders left me in the dust (literally) by the side of the road. This was the first time I changed a tube on my own and I made a nighmarish hash out of it. I accidentally took the tire off the rim completely. It wasn’t that big of deal, but it just added to the time it took me to get back on the road, which was about 30 minutes.
By the time I was ready to roll again my hands were covered in chain grease and (as I found out) there was only one club rider behind me. I was exhausted from wrestling with the tire and just wanted to get the hell out of there. I continued to climb and caught up with Erin, who I found out, is married to Ray who I met last week in San Jose. She told me that Ray was well behind us, which turned out to be lucky for me.
I rode with Erin up over the summit and on the start of the descent until I realized that I forgot to tighten my back break (big mistake) and had to stop. After I tightened it, I was feverishly trying to catch up to her when I heard something funny from the back tire (never good when you’re going 35+ miles an hour) and then a loud POP! like a gun being a shot – a BLOWOUT!!. A mutherfucking BLOWOUT!
I was lucky that I had started to slow when I heard strange noises coming from the rear tire and got the bike under control. It could have been really ugly. Again, I pulled over and started to go work on the bike. Only this time, I had no spare tube and no CO2 cartridge to inflate the tube that I didn’t have. Plus the tire was hosed. Right where the blowout occurred—near the stem, the edge of tire was completely frayed. It wasn’t sitting right in the rim and was putting too much pressure on the tube which then exploded.
Ray almost zipped past me. He asked if I had everything I needed and I said NOOO!!!. and it was just loud enough for him to hear me and stop. What a saint this guy is. He gave me his spare tube and together we went to work on fixing the flat. Do you know how long it takes to inflate a tube with a hand pump? A fucking long ass time. But we got it fixed and headed down the road together at a very modest pace, lest this tube explode.
When we finally met up with Erin down in Castro Valley, she told us the group she had been with (this is the “Light” group had left the rest stop about 30 minutes earlier). Who knows how far down the “Advanced” group that I normally ride with was. Too far ahead to even contemplate.
I let Ray and Erin carry on and I went off in search of bike shop to get a new tire. It was easy to find (more or less) since I have Google Maps on my Blackberry. I landed at Eden Bikes. When I got there, the tube was on the edge of blowing. It looked like it had an embolism. Fairly frightening stuff. I paid more for a new bike tire than I paid for my all terrain mud and snow tires on the Subaru. Good thing I only needed one of them. I loaded up on spare tubes and CO2 and hit the road.
But my heart wasn’t really in it. I didn’t want to head down the lonely road to Sunol on my own. Not today. Not after what just happened. But I did make the Dublin Grade and flew down (42 MPH) into Pleasanton where I had a friend pick me up and take me to lunch.
I’m bummed that I didn’t get to finish the ride, but I’ll get it some other day. Maybe this weekend if I’m feeling up to it.
Ride Time 2:22:07
Max Speed 42
Average Cadence –
Flats 2 (including a blowout)
Here’s the route map: