The weather in Calgary this weekend was absolutely sublime. Almost like summer as the temperatures got up to around 20C (68F). How best to take advantage of it?
Saturday looked like the nicest day, so I hit the road for a 2 hour ride. I picked a route I had ridden once before in July of last year. It is accessible from my house, takes me over some hilly roads past fancy houses, farms, cows, horses and oil wells. It ends with a straight shot down highway 1A from Cochrane back to Calgary. I dressed in capri riding tights, a short sleeve tech top, a short sleeve jersey and arm warmers. Within a few miles the arm warmers were coming off as it was so warm out. Warm out does not equal no wind around these parts though and it really felt like the wind was all around. Oh well, ride on! The sky was clear and the mountains looked absolutely beautiful as I rode towards the west. The promise of summer, the promise of long rides outside around my city put a smile on my face. It felt good to be outside!
I felt strong on the hills and tried to trust myself to not brake so much on the downhills. I also tried going into aero, just getting the feel for my bike. Before I knew it I was on the outskirts of Cochrane, ready for the final 10 mile stretch along the highway towards home. There is a net downhill from Cochrane to Calgary, and despite the fact that you are riding on a highway, the shoulder is very wide so I don’t mind the traffic too much. It looked as though the shoulder had been swept recently as there wasn’t too much gravel out there. The wind was wicked along here though. While I can normally hammer home in my big chain ring I couldn’t get out of my small chain ring.
Then all of a sudden it happened. 4 miles from home and I felt the familiar rumble from my back wheel. A quick glance down confirmed that my rear tire was without a doubt…very…flat. I hopped off the bike and moved over into the grass, well away from the road. I could do this, no problem! I took my back wheel off (why is it always your back wheel that goes flat??), moved the tire over to one side and took out the tube. Thankfully I had the presence of mind to check the tire for debris and I found it – a staple that I’d ridden over embedded in my tire. If I had missed that the next tube would be flat as soon as I attempted to inflate it. I grabbed a spare tube and attempted to blow some air into the valve but nothing. Hmm, maybe a squirt from my CO2 cartridge would help?
Anyhow, with the CO2 cartridge nothing happened besides the valve stem starting to freeze up. Upon closer inspection it looked like some of the rubber inside the tube has fused together. On to my second and final tube. No pressure….if anything happened to this tube I would be hooped! No sense thinking who I would call to come rescue me unless it came down to that though… Just stay calm, inflate a bit of air into the tube, manoeuvre it into place between the rim and the tire. Check to make sure it isn’t caught under the bead of the tire anywhere and move the tire back into place. Then inflate. Whew!
I grabbed all my trash, put the wheel back on the bike and headed for home. I was worried it wouldn’t hold, but it got me home. 2 hours, just like last year, but this time with a lot more wind than when I rode before. When I analysed the data compared to last year I was significantly stronger on the hills (where I had more of a crosswind) and the ride home into the wind was the great equalizer between this year and last year.
On Friday I had been chatting with a friend about getting comfortable changing a flat. I had suggested that she take her wheel off and practice changing a tube out while sitting in the comfort of her living room. If you are comfortable with it at home you’ll know what to do when you flat on the road. Riders around here are super nice and always stop to see if you need a hand, but it is best to not have to rely on someone to come by. You may blow a few tubes at home, but better at home than to go through your only two tubes while you are still miles away from your end point. Um, not that I would know anything about that….cough, cough….
I hope everyone had a great weekend!