Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Be Prepared, it's not just for Boy Scouts - A cold, rainy and "flat" bike ride

I went for a 46 mile bike ride with two of my girlfriends today. It had rained all night so the conditions were wet and cloudy but the rain had stopped. It was chilly so we were all wearing several layers of clothes. We met at Majestic Park, near Lone Mountain (seen behind us), so we could get on the 215 trail at its beginning. We headed out at about 9:00 a.m.

You get on the 215 trail near the end of W Alexander Rd. The first two miles are mainly uphill with a one mile section between W Cheyenne Ave and W Lake Mead Blvd that is a good challenge. Once you top that hill, it is fairly flat all the way to W Charleston Blvd. We then turned onto Charleston and headed towards Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. At about mile 10, my friend got a flat front tire. We pulled over so she could change it. She had two tubes and two CO2 cartridges. She got the tube changed and tried to air it up but realized her cartridge valve was not working so I loaned her mine. That change wasted one cartridge so she ended up using two cartridges on that tube.

Once aired up, we were ready to go. It was neat to see how low the clouds were on the mountains. You could not even see the Red Rocks which is sad because that is one of my favorite views in the valley.

We continued on to the overlook, at about mile 13.5, for a short potty and snack break. The overlook is the high point of the ride so we had been climbing the entire time so the stop was nice. We then continued towards HWY 160. At about mile 17, my friend got another flat front tire. She used her second and final tube and borrowed a CO2 cartridge to fix that tire. This pit stop went much faster as she was becoming a pro at changing her tires. 

Once aired up and ready to go, we continued on our way. At the 23 mile mark, we joined HWY 160 and made a small triangle that led us back to HWY 159, Red Rock Canyon Rd. This started our climb back towards the overlook. We decided to make another small stop in the little town of Blue Diamond. They have a bike shop and a small general store so my friend was able to buy a few more CO2 cartridges. We also used their potty and picked up some snacks. 

After our short break, we hit the road again. Once we rejoined the main road, there were several miles of climbing. I just put my head down and cranked away. After we passed the overlook, we get to have a long, fast downhill back to the 215 trail. This is my favorite part of the ride because I like to go fast! When we were about two miles from our turn to get onto the 215 trail, my friend's phone flew out of her back pocket. Luckily her phone had a tough case on it and it landed in the gravel off the road. We stopped and she was able to find it after a short run back up the road.  

Once back on the 215 trail we had a nice long flat section. The roads had dried out nicely and the sun occasionally shined upon us. With about five miles left in our ride, my friend's back tire went flat. This was obviously not her day. We pulled over and began to change the tube. Since she had already used her two tubes, I gave her one of mine. She used one of her new cartridges. This change was a bit more difficult since she had to deal with the chain while taking the tire on and off. She briefly debated on just staying there while we went back and got the cars but we told her that we were not going to leave her. We had started this journey together and we were going to finish it together. 

Now that my friend was a complete pro at changing tires, we rode the final few miles back to our cars. By the time we got there and she had her bike on her car, the back tire was flat again. She had come to the realization that it was time to buy new tires. With all the flats and mishaps, no one got hurt and we had a fun time together. 

This ride reiterated some very important things. Always be prepared! If we had not all had two tubes and two cartridges, we would have been stuck somewhere along HWY 159, with no cell service. If my friend had not been riding with some money, she wouldn't have been able to buy more supplies and snacks. Up until the summer of 2014, I only rode with one tube and one cartridge. After I had a friend blow a tire at a race and then blew the spare while changing it which caused him to DNF, I decided that I needed to always carry two of everything. Today's ride was a perfect example of why it's important to be prepared. Another important thing is to know how to change a flat. I sat in my garage one night and changed two tires so I would know how to do it when the time came. I have attached a YouTube video another friend of mine made that gives great instructions on how to do it. Remember, being prepared is not just for the Boy Scouts!

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