the kindness of strangers…

As you may recall, we had quite the flat-a-palooza last weekend on our bikes. Well, as I was leaving for my brick workout today, I didn’t exactly forget about it, I wouldn’t say that… but I didn’t exactly “remember” what it had done to my flat-fixin’ supplies. You know. Spare tubes. Cartridges. Things that come in handy when you have a flat and want to be able to keep going. Things that keep you from phoning a friend and calling in a favor. Let’s just say, I was tempting fate. Or tempting flats. Foreshadowing, anyone?

The workout for the day was to be a brick workout, calling for a 1:15 bike ride followed immediately by a 20 minute run. I decided to do a 1:30 bike to make up for the 1:30 bike I had skipped earlier this week (which, I should add, was the only workout I skipped this week!).

I left the trailhead, headed west straight into a vicious headwind. Ugh. But better to have it on the way out than on the way back, I thought to myself. Not even 2 miles in, the trail, which follows the river, was completely flooded. No passage to the sides of the trail. Too chilly of a day to ride through. Fortunately, I knew of a detour that required more street travel, but would still do the trick. No big deal, I was off on my merry way.

One of the things I love about being out in the spring is seeing all of the new flowers pop up and today I saw the first of the purple silky lupines that grow on both sides of the trail, and also lots and lots of happy mule’s ears. See?

Fairly close to my turnaround point, around 40 minutes, I came across another puddle and debated my options. It was not huge and it was passable, but a couple out walking their dog informed me that another puddle lay just around the corner and the only option there was to go through it. So I opted to turn around and head back. No big deal.

Around this time, my headphones decided to poop out on me. Well, I should be more specific – the right ear pooped out the other day. Today, the left ear called it quits too. Bummer, but not the end of the world (today at least).

The rest of the trip was uneventful, until it wasn’t. As I made my way along the shoulder of the road – the detour on my way back) – I remember thinking, “I never even notice how much junk is on the road. Or maybe there’s not this much junk on the road, just in the bike lanes. Lots of land mines and potential flats in these parts, eh? Oh…. I hope I don’t get a flat… watch out for that twisted metal shrapnel looking thing…” You know the drill by now. I’m not sure what I caught, but just as I had finished that stream of thoughts, I could swear I heard a slight hissing noise. Nah, maybe my mind is playing tricks on me.

Pssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst. Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst. Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst. Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst.

Really? Sure enough.

And only then did it actually occur to me that this was one flat I was not going to be able to fix.

Fortunately, I had made good time and good progress. By my estimates, I was between 3-4 miles from my car. Not too far if you’re biking. Or running. But pushing a bike and walking in bike shoes, well. Doable, definitely. I mean, if you had to…

I decided to pop the tire off and switch out the tube. Knowing I had no cartridge, I was only hoping that someone would pass by and check on me. And then I would be ready.

It was my lucky day. First, having seen Jason change not one but two flats last weekend, I had recently gotten a refresher course. And second, just as I putting the tire back on the bike, a couple passed by and asked if I needed help. Me? Well… now that you mention it, I could sure use a pump if you happen to be carrying one! As we were pumping up the tire, two guys also passed by and asked if we were good.

Thank you to those kind strangers that helped me get back on the road this afternoon! While we weren’t able to get the tire fully inflated (to 120 psi – kind of hard on those little travel pumps), we were able to get it full enough for me to make it back to the car without having to walk. And I still had plenty of time to go run a couple miles. All in all, my day was better because some people I didn’t know took the time to help me. Some days it’s hard to feel good about the future of mankind, but days like today really make you appreciate the camaraderie of sports and the generosity of others.

And I promise that next time I head out on my bike, I will be prepared. Not only for my own potential mini-catastrophe, but also armed and prepared to help in case we see another rider who needs a hand.  Guess I’ve got some shopping to do before tomorrow…




rules of the road…

Our community is very biker and runner friendly. Tons of triathletes… maybe its a ‘birds of a feather’ thing directly inspired by Ironman that has rolled through town every year since 2003, maybe not. Either way, we’re fortunate to have some really great trails that get pretty significant use by all of those folks training (including yours truly), especially when the sun finally decides to shine.

Spend as much time as I do running and biking on these roads and trails and you’ll see a lot. Obviously, there are a lot of people out and about – many of whom have headphones in. Runners are weaving back and forth, trying to avoid the walkers who inevitably come with zigzagging dogs who are sometimes on those leashes that seemingly have no end (or zigzagging dogs who have no leash as all), and trying to avoid what often comes with dogs who have irresponsible owners (roadside poo). Long boarders and skate boarders are trying to avoid the runners and the walkers and the dogs. And bikers, trying to keep their pace and their cadence up and get through the traffic and into the clear just as fast as possible, are zooming through the traffic with their fingers crossed, “no whammies, no whammies, no whammies!”  Eeek- Scary.

I’ve seen a few things over the past few weeks already that I thought I’d share here while they’re fresh in my mind (and I’ll add to this list as I think of things):

– Obviously, respect all users.

– If you have earbuds or headphones, keep one ear free so you can hear what’s going on around you.

– Give everyone their space. Overestimate how much space they need and how much space you need.

– If you want to, pass. But slow down, make sure you’re clear of oncoming traffic and pass safely – don’t be a ninja and especially don’t be a ninja on a bike. Let people know you’re coming – I prefer a simple “passing please” as I approach folks I need to pass. (I find this is easier than “On your left” because for some funny reason this phrase seems to confuse people. People freak out and forget which way to move and end up moving directly into your path. I imagine if I could see their face as they hear “On your left”, they’d resemble a deer in the head lights, eyes as wide as saucers. What is this nonsense?) If you’re somewhere super congested, avoid the congested areas or buy a bell.

– If you have a dog (and for the record I do – we have 2 actually), keep him or her on a leash close to your side and know what his or her reaction to runners and strangers biking will be before you go out. And please, please pick up after your dog. Nobody likes those warm squishy stinky surprises left on the side of the road, not even other dog owners. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us dog owners and trail users.  Please and thank you!

Anyhoo… off my soapbox for now…

PS- watch out for mountain goats.

photo by MollySVH