As per usual I went on another long bike ride this past weekend. And as per usual I accomplished a ridiculous feat of elevation climbing. However, this soon became a ride defined not by the difficulty nor scenic views but instead as a tale of preparation, adversity, and how I managed to overcome it.
Let's wind it back to the night before since I remembered to take a picture of my packed gear. Not pictured are some additional tools kept in my trunk bag. This was gonna be a long, arduous ride so I pulled out all the stops on good snacks, energy chews/powder, a full lunch, extra layer, and my 1.5L water bladder.
Also, a very carb heavy dinner that night and a good 8 hours of sleep followed by a quality oatmeal breakfast with plenty of tea and water.
So with all of that said, I was about as prepared as I could have possibly been for the ride ahead. We had no idea if the planned route would match the actual route but given that plan, the preparation was clearly necessary.
And off the day started without a hitch! The road is about an hour drive from home and neither of us are early risers so we began the ride around 0900 with the intent of finishing just after sunset. Our first ascent went to Mt Wilson in a 18 mile ride with about 4000 feet of elevation gain. That climb represented 1/3 of the way for the whole day according to the plan. So already the wheels of time we're turning in our heads and daylight was running thin. The absolute goal being to hit 10k elevation still but distance and anything extra was seeming doubtful.
Anyways at the top of Mt Wilson was an amazing view above the clouds. We also were able to get food at the observatory for a surprise injection of calories. I had a bowl of chili and half of an apple pie slice. That really fueled the amazing descent and into the next climb for sure.
Eventually (after a lot of damn pedaling and another 4000 feet of elevation gain) we made it to Cloudburst Summit at around 1500. With about 3 hours and change until sunset, it was a quick lunch followed by the quick ride back to the watering hole at Mt Wilson. Here we decided that we had to climb Wilson again to ensure we hit 10k since the "back of the napkin" math wasn't too reassuring. It being 1645 when we made that decision left us certainly in danger of getting stuck out after dark. At this point we were fully aware of having no real lights but plenty of energy and adrenaline left to go for it anyways. From there it was 14 miles of all downhill to the car so not exactly a physical challenge regardless.
Why is this the next picture? Because remember that adversity I was talking about? Yeah that showed up at 1730 right on time. Here I was just concerned if I did the math right and would I hit 10k. But after turning around to ensure I'd make it to the car around sunset given average speed calculations, BAM went my tire. And at first it was thought to be a minor delay, ive had plenty of flats so no biggie I'd just ride faster down the hill afterwards. But then upon inspection my situation worsened since the tire sidewall had been obliterated. Apparently I learned later from my friend who was ahead of me that he dodged a big ol rock (totally by chance) that was in the apex of the turn where I got my flat. Since I was struggling to figure out what to do for a while, my friend biked back up the hill after being concerned I fell off a cliff or was otherwise in trouble. Thanks to having a second mind to think about the problem he mentioned that I should try the patch kit I had and to use it on the inside of the tire and see how it goes. As a backup option, I sent him ahead to make it to the car before dark since he could just rescue me later on. I had plenty of clothing, food, and water so I could at worst just wait it out rather than try to walk.
Well after much struggling I finally cobbled my shit together and was back on the road in "working" order. The sidewall breach was bad enough that one patch on the inside was not gonna cut it so I plopped one on the outside as well. But I was able to put a good 50psi into the tube and ride without using the front brake at all and kept it slow the whole way down. I made it to the car at around 1830, 20 minutes after sunset.
At the end I did not make the 10,000 foot gain goal. But in reality the goal of "make it back to the car" became a far better reward for my efforts anyways. I didn't have to walk, I didn't have to wait, and I actually finished the ride as planned. Due to my friend's rescue effort plus some extra climbing, he managed to get to 10k. But since I still finished the ride, I get the "10k in spirit" award. I was glad he prioritized the right thing, making the goal, rather than picking me up sooner.
This angle shows better how sketch my tire was looking after the 14 miles of riding back to the car. I thought at any moment my tube would go and then I'd be waiting for rescue. I had a second tube because I like to prepare but I didn't think it would be worth wasting if the first one didn't make it very far. Nonetheless I made it though! It was a bit dark and my tail light had died long ago so I definitely took on some risk. But that is just lessons learned for next time!
Overall an amazing day regardless. It was an insane achievement of riding on top of the clutch roadside repair. I've done some shopping and bought better lights that arrive later this week. I've got a nifty cheap bike computer that showed up today. And I've gotta start carrying a park tools tire boot in addition to the patch kit as that would have worked better. Thankfully I've already got a spare new tire so once all the upgrades are installed, it's time for another ride!
Also, AMAZING cool fall weather (40-60F) and #pumpkinspice