Posted by: twistsoffeet | April 4, 2011


Sometimes things just happen.

When these things happen, I can either get depressed (and yes I have done that), or I can just run with it and turn it into something good– at least a positive lesson.

Yesterday was just one of those days.

Granted it was not devastating or even close to being devastating, but it could have gone much worse.

I woke early yesterday after a fitful night of sleep.
I was stressed out and frustrated.
I really do not want to be here, I want to be on the road…

Just riding my bike, looking at the sights and dealing with what comes along.

I already had plans for a ride of about 60 miles, but decided it would take at least 100 miles to work through things.  I sat around reading information on bicycle touring and trying to plan a little more of my travels.  I always plan my travels, but at the same time I usually don’t follow the plan.  I usually learn a lot when planning my trips, and what I learn eventually comes into use, but I am apparently easily distracted and end up going places and doing things that were never in the plan.  I look at this as a positive character trait.

I slammed down a protein shake slid my water bottle into its cage and walked out into the world proudly strutting in my spandex and bright orange jersey.

I picture myself as looking somewhat like a fluorescent orange Pack Man heading out to gobble the world.

My legs are still very pale due to my heavy use of sunscreen and those bright white legs combined with the orange jersey, I am certain, made me visible to the space station.  But I am not certain if it made me any more visible to the drivers of automobiles, as several of them came disturbingly close as they passed me, even though they could have easily moved left and given me at least a 10 foot buffer zone as they passed.  Granted, it was Saturday morning and many were possibly driving home from where they passed out on Friday night, and it is entirely possible they really did not see me.

The lesson learned is that I am going to plan my Saturdays as rest and laundry days while I am on my journey.

After about 13 miles into my ride, I discovered my water bottle was missing; apparently I had failed to secure it properly in its cage.  So I turned around to look for it, although I did not hold out much faith that I would actually find it. It is not a huge deal as I have other water bottles, but I am going to need all that I have as I travel through the summer.

After traveling about 20 miles through the day, I had a flat tire.  Now this should be, at most, a minor inconvenience on my upcoming trip… but today I did not have my bicycle pump or a patch kit/spare tube or any tools.  I know I was planning on riding many miles, so I should have been better prepared.  But I ride in a loop, and it was not like riding in the middle of nowhere.

I decided to walk over to the local Trek bicycle shop and get my tube replaced. This would be a walk of only 3 miles or so.  On my way, I saw a group of people loading up 3 vehicles with about 10 bicycles, apparently heading out to the starting point of their ride that day. I asked them if they might have a pump and one of the men produced a electric pump powered from his cigarette lighter. I filled the tire, and it took forever, but I enjoyed speaking to these people.

Then my bike fell over barely missing hitting his car.  This, I think, is when my headlight came loose in its mounting bracket.  My tire finally was fairly stiff with air, so I took off and made it about 50 feet before it was completely flat.  I ended up walking to the bike shop anyway.

When I reached the bike shop, the young woman who was working there immediately went to work on my bike. This woman was about 20 years old, 5’6″ tall, very slender, and races bicycles. I only mention her size because I was impressed with her being a racer.  Most male racers I know of are fairly tall and slim, but usually have large powerful thighs to push them through the sprints uphills and generally long miles of riding.  I got the feeling that this woman was pretty good on a bike, but just looking at her you would not necessarily suspect she had racing ability.  Where did she get the strength to race?

I do not have rear quick releases on this bike, so she had to wrench it and was unable to loosen the nuts on my axle.  I volunteered to loosen them, but even I had a little difficulty.  She then took off the tire and removed the tube quickly and efficiently, and had my bike back together.  I walked away, checking out the bike I intend to purchase this week.

Suddenly, there was a loud bang and the sound of air whistling out of my tube. This young woman was holding her ears with a blank, somewhat frightened look on her face, wondering what happened.  It turns out that when my bike went flat, it also apparently slashed the bead on the tire and that caused the tire to pop when she put air in it.

About this time, I was frustrated because my already tight budget had recently gotten much tighter and I really did not need to be buying a new tire for a bike that I do not intend to be riding on very much longer. At this point, the regular mechanic returned and he checked out the tire, and headed into the back.  He returned with a used tire that he offered to me for free. It was a skinnier tire than what I was running, but it was in good shape and it was perfect to hold me for another week.  They also put on a velox cloth rim tape and another new tube.  All of this, and they only charged me $7.48 for 1 tube.

I could have been despondent and depressed when I lost my water bottle, but instead I was just thirsty.

I could have been frustrated when I noticed my tire was flat, but instead I had a nice walk. I met some friendly people who tried to help me get my tire pumped up and who gave me a bottle of water.

I could have been really bummed out about having to purchase a new tire on a severely restricted budget, but instead was given a tire for free and had my rim taped up for free, all while being able to talk about bicycle touring  with friendly and interesting people.

But most importantly, it helped me to realize that when I am out on the road touring across this country, I will run into friendly people who are interesting and helpful.  And even when I am miles from nowhere, if something goes wrong, I just have to keep a smile on my face with a positive attitude and things will work out just fine.

When I returned home, I discovered that I had lost my bicycle light somewhere on this trip, and that is not a good thing.  However, I am going to retrace my route from yesterday and maybe I will find it– and maybe also my water bottle.

Ultimately, the world keeps turning and my journey is going to happen no matter what.  I will depart later than hoped for, on the 25th of April– the day after Easter– whether I am ready or not.  I will leave on an extremely tight and nearly nonexistent budget.

But I will have a good bike, four months of food, a tent, sleeping bag, and my laptop to continue this blog… and everything will work out just fine.

There will be tired times, scary times, hard times, hot, wet and dry times, and even lonely times, but in the end it will be an amazing experience.


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