Monday, August 1, 2011

Mondays Lesson

Today I'd like to teach you a very valuable lesson. Sometimes even when you have all the neccassary tools and supplies you would need to complete a successfull ride, it's still not enough. That's what I learned yesterday.

I've been very fortunate not to have hardly any flats this year. Then again, I change my tires out more frequently, which probably helps in keeping that from happening as much. Yesterday I had a flat, and normally it would be no big deal to fix it, but as it turned out, the ride resulted in me hike a biking for 2 hours in the hot, humid, stuffy jungle that's known as 4 Winds.

I got a good ride in at Rockbridge on Friday, and cooked myself pretty well since it was the last day in a 4 day riding block. I then had every intention of getting in a nice long ride down at the Lake of the Ozarks, at a trail called Honey Run. Well, as my luck would play out for the day, I got lost trying to get to Honey Run, and eventually wasted an hour driving back country roads, and ending up being overall pretty pissed. I don't know what happend, I've been to the that trail dozens of times, but it's been a few years, and for some reason everything seemed differnt. Add on the fact that I had no cell phone coverage, and it pretty much led me to fly blind. And blind I was... I had no idea where I was.

Being frustrated and in the same neighborhood as 4 Winds, I made a decision. I was going to tackle what is known as the manliest trail around. It's everything mountain biking should be. Loose, rocky, and knarly as hell in spots. 4 Winds is the kind of place that when you finish riding it, you feel like you've actaully accomplished sometime. It's not a groomed out, run of the mill kind of trail. Normally it's mostly overgrown, and they've even gone as far as to close the roughest of sections now. I had the Epic, and I was ready to tackle this beast, and conquer it in it's entirety.

Well everything was going well, until about 3 miles in I noticed my rear tire going soft. Knowing I just re-Stansd it, I grabbed my co2, and pumped the tire full of air. It sealed, and I was off and going... For awhile.

Roughly 2-3 miles later, I was picking my way up a rough and rocky incline when I hear the undeniable hiss that was a slit sidewall. No amount of Stans was sealing this one. Damn. Luckily I always carry a spare tube, and I hoped that I had enough air in my BigAir to get it pumped up enough to limp back. So I take off the spare tube that's been fixed to my bike, unmoved since I put it there back in March. Like I said, I've been lucky this year.

I slowly started the fix a flat procedure, but in the back of my head I knew that if I didn't have enough air, or the tube had somehow developed a leak, I would have one hellava long hike out. I was halfway through this 12 or so mile loop, and there was no easy way back.

I hook up the co2, and use every last bit of air it had to give. Only to hear the still undeniable slight hiss that was air escaping out of the sidewall slit. At first I figured it was the air between the tube and tire escaping, but moments later I noticed the tire getting ever so softer.

Damn. Damn. Damn. It's time to walk.

2 hours, 100 seedticks, and a pair of skinned up legs later, and I was at my car. It was a long hike indeed, and anyone of you all know that hiking in biking shoes is no fun. Toss in the fact that the trail is all loose rock, and major overgrown in spots, and you have the makings for what was one rough day in the woods.

I took some pictures of the trail, but on my old Iphone that no longer has service and I can't figure out how to upload them. The trail was beautiful in spots as I hiked back, and horrible in others. I hiked up and down the hills, crunching my cleats against rocks for what felt like a million steps.

I could have been even more pissed at the end of my day. It was a pretty much wasted ride, and it was a rough hike, but luckily I did have the right supplies as far as water and nutrition. When I flatted I still had one and a half water bottles full of EFS, and a pack of GU Chomps and a Honey Stinger Waffle. That made the hike easier. Without any of the above, especially water, the hike could have been very much worse.

I've been going sans Camelback all year, and loving it. I put everything in my jersey pockets, and it seems to make my back happy. Until I run out of supplies and I have to hike 6 miles out. You see, with the camelback, I would have had a hand pump, patches, and another tube. I would have been able to ride on. But I didn't, and I remembered why sometimes it's neccessary to overdo it, just in case.

Anywhere else and I would have been able to hike out in 20 minutes. But as it would have it, 4 Winds made for an interesting day, and in the end it conquered me more than I conquered it.

No worries though, I lived to fight another day.

Another day that will come sooner than later, and will include 4 Winds again, but this time with a much different outcome.

If first you don't succeed, try, try again...


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