Sunday, October 6, 2013

Giant Screws, Giant Spiders, and One Dirty Duck!

I have been ducking my blogging duties (pun possibly intended) because when I have big things on my mind, I tend to clam up.  Since I prefer to compare myself to water foul rather than seafood, I decided I had better remedy this.

While I have milled about pondering my future in triathlon, specifically that portion of triathlon that stands between my beloved bike and the finish line, I have been riding... a lot.  And with an increase in riding often comes an increase in the associated obstacles: in this case, flat tires and mechanical failures.

It all started with Big C getting his chain link panties in a wad.  By wad, I mean this:
Chain link panties all wadded up!

Can you see the keeper wedged into the links?
Not how that is supposed to look!

I had to call a friend for a ride home for the first time in my riding career.  Well, I shouldn't have gotten too comfy with that idea since one of the downsides to my lifestyle is that unless I am at a horse show, it is unlikely that I would be anywhere near a friend to call. Fortunately, this little mechanical happened during a show and I called my friend who is best known as Wilbur's beloved Auntie D (who has one wicked throwing arm!).  Auntie D, who is in the process of remaking herself in the image of a cyclist, came to my rescue since Big C had told me where I could stuff it.

That little mechanical was like the first big raindrops before the deluge begins.

Next, I went for a group ride on Little C and  three blocks into the ride, picked up a screw.  Not just any screw but the screw you would want Cerebus' chain bolted to while you are stealing his breakfast.  It was a really big screw.  I was of course riding with the shop guys for the first time and wearing my shiny new (WHITE) team kit for the first time.  No pressure.  I hadn't had to change a flat in so long, I was all thumbs.  Well, that got changed and I was suitably mortified.  Then (and possibly because of this), my breathing went south and I decided that today was not my day.  I peeled off from the group and rode home.  Later that day, I rode solo and put down a confidence boosting effort.
THIS big!! I swear!!

Two days later, I went out on Little C again.  I knew it was going to be raining but I reminded myself that I don't melt and I can't choose the weather on race day.  I kicked myself out the door.

Like water off a duck's back, right??

 I was about halfway home on an out and back when I rolled through standing water on a bridge and both tires immediately ruptured.  I changed my flats but the front was not holding air.  I would later find a tiny shred of embedded glass that was only apparent when the tire was stretched inside out.  I was now out of tubes.  I rode a few minutes before the front was totally flat again, added more CO2, and repeated... until the CO2 was also gone.  Then I started walking.

And I walked.  7 miles... SEVEN... as in more than a 10K... 7 miles home in cleats.. with no socks... and wet feet.  About 2/3 of the way home when I saw blood coming up over the edges of the shoes, I found a cotton plant growing wild on the roadside.  On a whim, I picked the wad of cotton and stuffed it in my shoes to protect the shredded parts of my feet.  I don't think it really worked but it made for a good story.
No kidding.  Wild cotton.
I am Mac-effing-gyver!

I made it home covered in a pretty spectacular amount of road grim but otherwise in one piece.  My cleats were not so fortunate and were replaced the next day.
Road grime at it's finest!

A couple of days later, I showed up to a Tuesday morning group ride on Wednesday morning... yeah, one of those days... and decided to tackle the hills of West Austin solo.  The first road hazard I encountered on this ride was a spider.  A big spider. A spider so large and creepy that I would have thrown myself into traffic to avoid it.  I didn't realize that tarantulas went cruising down the side of the highways in Texas but now I know.  Big.  BIG... ENORMOUS... tarantula.  You cannot imagine how creepy they are when they crawl because unlike little spiders, you see every articulated movement.  ***shiver***
It most likely looked like this...

...but I saw this...

...and did this!
Later,  as I was crossing highway 360, which is a huge road and getting across is no joke, I encountered the next hazard of the day.  I made it into the left turn lane to cross traffic and turn around, when suddenly the bike went bumpity-bump-bump.  ANOTHER damn flat.  This time it was a nail and I was now stuck in what I would not consider to be a very safe place.  (Forget the cars, what if there was another spider!!)  I stood on the median of a major highway and changed that sucker.  The number of people, both on bikes and in cars (mostly with bikes on the back) that holler to me to make sure I didn't need help was a credit to Austinites and cyclists in general.

Flat no. 5: much better than spiders.
And finally, to round out a nice schedule from coach Brain, I did the Austin 70.3 course with a group.  In keeping with tradition, I missed a turn (not paying attention) and did part of the course backwards.  I also got a flat tire.  This time it was a microscopic bit of wire that was almost undetectable, except for the air hissing out around it.

Wilbur and I both like to sport cat 4 tattoos!
That flat rounded out the total at 6 flats in 9 days.  I really shouldn't publish this right now since my next move is to go ride my bike.  But I can't resist the opportunity to tempt fate!


  1. I was looking at the leg, with grim on it for a bit. I see no grim whatsoever. And NOW, I'm going back to look at the leg a bit more... I'm sorry.
    Also... in some countries the Spider is food, so we can't really judge.

    1. Oh, um, that should say GRIME... not GRIM. This is not Hogwart's.

  2. Okay, so on a happy note, I bet you can change a flat super fast now! Great job on all the riding...and yikes, watch out for those spiders!!!