Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mount Hamilton Road Ride: Lesson(s) Learned

 The Short Version: After a beautiful climb up Mount Hamilton, on the way back on this 87 mile out-and-back ride, I flatted at the 55 mile mark. I went through two tubes and two CO2 cartridges, and ended up walking 5 miles to a bar/restaurant/store 25 miles from anywhere and waited until someone realized I was not at the finish and returned to find me. I had a patch kit...did no good without any air. A pump sure would have been handy.

The Long Version:

A view of the road leading up to the Lick Observatory
There were two 'Hammerin' Wheels' rides up  Mount Hamilton to choose from. Both were out-and-back rides going up to the Lick Observatory; one up front (starting near San Jose, 40 miles w/~5k of climbing) and the other up the backside (from Patterson, 87 miles w/~8k of climbing). I chose to HTFU and hit the Backside Lick ride (yes, there is a joke in there somewhere). I wanted to get my mileage and climbing up in preparation for PMBAR and other endurance events. The only problem, I suck at riding the road bike long distances unless I ride it like a mtb (slow and steady). Well, the group I was with HAMMERED! Or at least what I would consider hammering. I quickly fell back...and it did not help that I pulled my phone out ~mile 2, and a bunch of money also fell out, Doh! (so I had to stop and pick it up...good thing too). Still, I was able to keep the group in my sights and at one point, a couple guys fell back and tried to pull me up to the group, but they failed as they grossly overestimated my resolve to keep up. I was content riding a pace I felt I could manage knowing that the climb up to the observatory would be a 5 mile steady climb with some steep pitches and switchbacks. About a mile into that climb I started to cramp and lost sight of the others. The last three miles I was off the bike 3 different times due to cramps. Still, I lumbered on and by the time I reached the observatory, the group had snacked, refueled and was headed back down. I quickly purchased two cokes (glad I had that money) and poured them into my bottle, used the restroom and headed back down the mountain. I am a slow descender (don't want to get hurt, or in the case of these roads 'die'), so I rode the brakes and eventually made it to the bottom and started pedaling. I was amazed at how much better my legs felt with that little rest. I started pedaling a steady pace, standing on inclines and sure enough, I had some of our group in my sights. At one point, some guys pulled over for a quick break so I was able to pass them. I was feeling good!
Yeah, that was a short lived feeling as a few miles later (~55 miles into the ride) I flatted. No problem, I brought two tubes and two CO2 cartridges. First tube would not hold air, it was DOA with air leaking right out of the base of the valve stem. Ruh-roh! I took care with the next tube and was relieved that it was holding air. I was a bit stressed about falling back again so I guess I tried too quickly to get the tube set up. Within two minutes, it was flat (most likely pinched during my rush job). There I was, no more air, no pump. Thank God I was wearing my comfy mtb shoes. I walked ~5 miles until I reached the Junction (bar/restaurant/store in the middle of BFE). Thought a few times how if I would have joined the other ride, I would have been done by now! Only three vehicles passed me. A two seater convertible, a sherrif SUV and a Ford Truck. No one stopped, even though I tried to wave them down. I was now 25 miles from the end of the ride and no one at the Junction was heading to Patterson, so I waited, and waited for Kane (my ride) to realize I never made it back...and eventually he did return and get me. Dang, that was one long day.
Three Important Lesson(s) learned:
1. Use your hands to roll the tire on to the wheel. Using the tool you are likely to pinch the tube.
2. Carry a pump! It is already strapped to my bike and ready for the next flat.
3. Stick to the mtb for long tough rides. The road bike is for recovery or fun, scenic rides.

Meh, who am I kidding, I would so do that ride again!The climb was awesome and the views breathtaking (or is it the other way around?).

1 comment:

  1. For as long as I've known you, I've always considered you to be full of hot air. I'm surprised you couldn't use that to your advantage in this circumstance. For PMBAR and other singletrack epic events, I'm certain you won't need a pump. Save the weight and don't worry about carrying one.