Any ride you can crawl away from.

I have been having more than my fair share of flat tires lately.  It’s not as if I’m actually aiming for the broken glass and nails and such so much as they are hunting me down.  And they must be stealth nails, because I rarely see them.

December 30th – Scheduled my last long ride for 2012.  Started off by asking Google to show me a bicycle route from Brisbane, California to Tiburon and back – a metric century. Why consult with Google Maps, you might ask?  Don’t I already know the way?

Well, yes.  However, the bicycle option for Google Maps has often suggested interesting routes I would not have otherwise considered.

This was not to be the case on this day.  In fact, as I perused the suggested route, I came across item #36: Turn left to stay on the Coastal Trail.  Take the stairs.

Take the stairs? Just what part of bicycle did Google not understand?  A friend suggested that perhaps it thought I was asking for a cyclocross route.  Other than those stairs, Google’s route was the same as I’d’ve taken without inquiry.

On the road by 9:00 because I wanted to get back before dark, everything went according to plan until I sauntered into Sausalito.  Started out on the Mill Valley-Sausalito path and suddenly there was a lot more friction in the road than I liked. Looking down, I could see that the recumbent’s front wheel was in the process of going flat.

Damn.  Another one.

Pulled over and pulled out the fix-it kit, which included both patches and a spare tube.  I decided on the spare because that would be faster.  I could patch the old tube when I got home.

Back on the road — Yes!! Much better!  Cranked the velocity up to about 20 mph to take advantage of the flat path and windless day.  Went about a mile and then …

thump thump thump thump …

Before I could finish the thought, What the hell is that thumping?  POW!

The front tire failed explosively and I went tumbling, as my father would say, “asshole over appetite.”  The asphalt rose to slap me in the face and I blocked it with my right hand.

Ouch!!

Whose idea was it to make asphalt out of such rough material?

Sliding several feet on hands and rump, all I could do was grit my teeth.  When the sliding stopped, I waited on all fours like a dog for the first wave of intense pain to pass.  After about three centuries, it did, and I picked myself up off the road.  Other cyclists were starting to gather.

“You okay?” they seemed to ask in unison.

Hmm.  Was I okay?  Quick check for broken bones and bleeding.  Seems I was able to protect all my favorite organs.  “I’m fine.  I think the bike is broken, though.”

Aside from the tire, the rear derailer lever was broken off.  That’s going to be fun.

Having assured them that I wasn’t going to pass out nor bleed to death, the other cyclists went their way, and I pulled out the fix-it kit again.

The new inner tube failed at the valve stem weld.  So now I have to patch the old inner tube, anyway.  Maybe I should write a letter of complaint to the tube manufacturer?  Would it do me any good?  Didn’t seem likely.

I had intended to meet a friend for lunch in Tiburon.  After explaining my delay by cell phone, we changed the lunch to Mill Valley.  Riding there, I discovered I could only change the cassette gears with great difficulty.  Effectively, I was stuck using the three gears available on the chainrings.

I needed to accomplish two things: Expedite the trip home and avoid the slog up the hill from Sausalito to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Fortunately, both of these were attainable by taking the ferry from Sausalito to San Francisco.  From there, it was relatively flat to Brisbane.

Except for one hill.  Third Street to Bayshore, near Candlestick.  I decided on an alternate route going around Candlestick Park, which was longer by a mile or so, but much flatter.

Little did I know that the 49’s had a game that day.  Hey, I’m not a football fan.  I hope they won and all that, but there I was, navigating around the aftergame traffic, police barriers, street vendors, and drunken fans on three gears.

Life is good!

ALC Training ride from Tanforan to Stanford University and Back

Before I get into the heart of this post, I want to ask a leading question:

It only takes about forty minutes for me to commute to work in the morning.  Not a huge amount of time, right?  Certainly not compared to the whole rest of the day.  But one of the reasons that I take that specific route to work is that there are several places where I can stop to pee.

I’m sure it has something to do with the time.  That’s when the morning’s first cup of coffee has finished the processing cycle.  Or who knows.  All I know is, it’s a good thing that the route is mostly urban and not rural.

Which brings up another question:  If you’re just running in to use the facilities, do you take the time to lock up your bike and take the day pack with you?  You’ll easily spend twice as much time dealing with the bicycle than you will taking care of business.  Or do you trust that nobody will steal it in the two minutes it takes to run in and run out?

Which is all merely an awkward lead in into the story of last weekend’s ALC training ride.  We were supposed to meet in Menlo Park at 9:30, but I wanted to leave early just in case.  Jumped into the car at 8:30 and …

click click click click click click click…

No battery.  Damn.  Not gunna make it.

I know what you’re thinking.  A real cyclist would have abandoned the car and pedaled her way to Menlo Park.  First off: Never claimed to be a real cyclist.  Second: Didn’t matter, because it would still take longer than 90 minutes to get there.

After dealing with the battery, I was still itching to ride.

I fired up Google Maps and said, “Google, I need a bicycle route from the Tanforan Mall in San Bruno to Stanford University in Palo Alto.”

I’m impressed that Google did its algorithmic best to keep me off of large, busy streets.  But I found that this also slowed me down in the long run, mostly from having to stop every block at every suburban stop sign.  I spent more time shifting than pedaling.  I took a more direct route back, mostly along Highway 82, which is often the main boulevard through many of the towns along the way, and found that most of the cities along that route have added sharrows and even bicycle sensors for the signal lights.  There weren’t even any rude motorists to complain about.  Total distance for the day was just under 50 miles (49.75).

Here’s the kicker:  Many of the ALC training rides are a combination of cycling environments, including rural.  For some reason, my kidneys were working overtime.  Couldn’t blame it on the coffee.  This would have made the training ride embarrassing to say the least.

“Go ahead, guys!  I’ll catch up with you in a bit as soon as I’m finished with this bush.”

And looking at the 2012 route for the ALC, maybe I should be concerned.

Anybody else want to chime in on this?