It’s All About Timing



Despite the heat (100 degrees), I planned to ride tonight. I looked at the National Weather Service maps for St. Louis, and saw some real ugly storms 100-150 miles north of town, but they were headed for central Illinois. There was another cluster sitting right on top of Rolla, growing in intensity, but I figured I probably had time to get my ride in.

When Mr. Slate pulled the birdie’s tail, I slid down the back of my brontosaurus and cruised toward the Weldon trailhead. I knew today was gonna be tough, but I figured I’d take it easy, maybe ride ten miles or so, and ride toward the I-64 bridge complex so I’d be in shade most of the way.

Typically, I hate the heat, but there’s something about riding through it that I really get into — especially when shielded from the sun by the canopy of trees. I rode slow at first, building to higher speed as I went along, trying not to push it too much.

While along the trail, I saw probably have a dozen deer, including some itty-bitty fawns. They were all headed toward the boggy water, I guess in need of some relief from the heat.

I hit the bridge complex, and felt great. I was really thinking about going on up to Pitman Hill — about three miles — but decided that if I wanted the extra miles, I could ride to Defiance from the Weldon trailhead. That’d put me not too far away from the truck in case I got exhausted quickly along the way. I turned back toward Weldon.

The ride back was going quick. For some reason, I was keeping a great speed, and felt like I wasn’t working hard at all. All of sudden I heard a sound — pfffffft! It sounded like startled cat hissing at me, and it totally freaked me out. I looked around, but didn’t see anything, although an upset feline could be hiding easily in the trees along the trail. I got a bad feeling about what had just happened, and looked at the front tire — no issues.

I looked at the back tire. Dead as a doornail. Ugh.

Now you’d expect that this would be a great opportunity for me to try out the new tire repair kit, or to replace the tube with the one I bought. Yeah, that’d be the right answer. Except that I had left that gear on my desk at home. Ugh again. I came to the swift realization that I bought a tire repair kit just in the nick of time for when I’d need it, only to not have it with me. D’oh!

At this point, I was three miles from the trailhead, and there was nothing to do but walk the bike back to the trailhead. Toward Weldon I plodded along, pushing Bandit at a measely 3.3mph as opposed to the 14.5mph I was enjoying prior to my tire expiring.

A fellow cyclist stopped to ask if I needed help — that was nice! I declined, as there wasn’t much he could do for me and I was in no distress. He rolled on and I continued down the trail. I passed a guy on one of the trailside benches who quipped, “Nice day to take your bike for a walk!” I got a chuckle out of that, and stopped to talk with him for a minute or two, and then continued on.

The good news was that my bike odometer was working, so I had a good idea how fast I was going, how far there was to go, and could make an educated guess as to when I’d get back to the trailhead, so I was in no hurry, and had no worries. With a mile or so to go, I noticed the sun was no longer beating through the trees, and I could just see that a big cloud had eclipsed it. The shade was glorious, and the air temperature felt like it dropped a little. I figured that this was that little storm I’d seen over Rolla, blowing off some clouds our direction. I had plenty of time to get back to the trailhead before anything would happen.

I walked my bike down the ramp at Weldon, loaded up, examined my tire (couldn’t find anything obvious), and about then the sun came out. Good timing.

Today’s excursion was certainly one of the more interesting ones for me, with just seven miles of riding and three miles of walking. I have a mammoth blister on the heel of my left foot — my riding sandals just weren’t built with hiking on gravel in mind. No biggie, and that won’t keep me from riding on Saturday.

Now I’ve just gotta figure out how to replace the tube in my rear tire…. 🙂