01 September 2009

Murphy's Law Strikes Again

16 June 2003
Day 2
Telluride to Montrose
71 miles


Today's ride was mostly downhill, making up for yesterday's strenuous climb. Because we were in a narrow canyon, we didn't have sunlight until about 10 a.m., so the descent was a bit chilly.

Screaming down Dallas Divide at the fastest clip I've ever recorded (40 mph), I suddenly had a premonition of a road hazard or flat tire throwing me end over end off the road and over the edge. The possibility frightened the heck out of me, and I sat straight up in my saddle (having been aerodynamically tucked to see how fast I could go). I kept it under 30 the rest of the way down. (linked picture is Dallas Divide in autumn)

A few miles outside of Montrose, I had my first-ever blowout on a bike. As I realized what was happening, I looked down just in time to see my back tire catch the edge of the pavement, and I went down hard. My mirror cracked. My left knee was a mess, and the tube in my back tire was my spare. (I'd had my first flat on Saturday while searching for a soon-to-be extinct Highway 666 sign, and the bike repair vans didn't have any mountain bike tubes that first day. Didn't know they would be needing them. The bike shop in Telluride was sold out of my size. First fatal mistake of the Ride: Failure to carry a spare. Second fatal mistake of the Ride: Where the heck are my bandages?!?)

I now am the proud (?) owner of a matched set of dinged knees.

A friendly mate from Australia came to my rescue with first aid and a gentleman's generosity, sacrificing his early arrival in Montrose to keep me out of the SAG wagon. After finding a nail in my tire, he helped me patch BOTH punctures in my tube (it went all the way through), provided what I was missing in the way of first aid and escorted me into town to make sure I arrived safely. We parted ways at the local department store, where I dropped off film and picked up TWO new tubes and goo to boot.

At the camping area, I turned my bike over to a repair van while I got my knee checked. Then I went to the early truck to collect my duffle bag, where I found the handle had ripped off the side, leaving the contents spread across the parking lot. Nothing was missing, but I would need a new bag or a heavy duty sewing machine if I wanted my gear on the truck the next morning.
After setting up my tent as close to the truck as I could get (carrying some items one by one), I picked up my newly tubed bike and headed back to the department store to pick up my film and select a brand new bag. Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?), the merchant did not carry duffle bags, so I had to settle for a sturdy suitcase with wheels and a couple of bungee cords. (My sleeping bag would not fit in any of the baggage in the store's inventory, and I definitely was not about to carry my sleeping bag on my bike.)

I must have made quite a sight walking back to the camping area in the pouring rain towing my bike in one hand and the wheeled suitcase in the other. Cyclists were still coming in from Telluride my entire return trip, and they commented that there must be a good story behind my predicament. I wanted to launch off into the plight of homeless in Montrose, but I bit my tongue in cheek.

Needless to say, that blowout could have happened a few miles earlier. We had camped next to a construction site in Telluride, which is where I'm sure I picked up that nail. Each morning before I departed, I prayed that I would be safe during my Ride. Today is proof that God does listen.

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