Friday, July 1, 2011

A puncture in the wilderness

As part of our training for the upcoming Mekong ride in 2 weeks, we needed to push the envelope. The route this time was from Bull Creek Train Station to Mandurah. I cannot believe the WA Government would invest in such an infrastructure, 75km of pure bike path, linking Perth to the beautiful coastal town.

At 705am, the regular 4 showed up plus a new big and burly friend Colin, on a Giant MTB.

The station inspector kept an eagle eye for bikers who failed to dismount and it was entertaining watching her lie in wait for her next prey. The weather unfortunately was cold (10c) and wet but heh, small things like that don't deter the all weather birds (does not apply to me as I'm a bird of the Kentucky kind when it gets too cold).

We were in high spirits as we battled the early morning drizzle. It was fun whizzing in total freedom compared to the bumper to bumper traffic crawling its way into the city. I learned my lesson on my last wet ride and rode my trusty Brompton, not because it was ideal for long distance riding, but because it had the very necessary fenders. A wet bottom is a cyclist worse nightmare in my books.

We only had to cross 2 intersections. It was a hassle to cross these!

After that, it was an easy straight south all the way. The route is clearly marked and the various distances sign posted were welcome bits of encouragement.

It was great to see so many bicycle commuters all decked out in their rain gear going to work, panniers and all. Riding through every tunnel, we rang our bells like little boys, enjoying the echo of different sounds bouncing off the dark surroundings.

While the 3 of us were going along on a nice clip, poor Colin was suffering. Being new to cycling, his bike was not properly set up and his seat needed to be badly adjusted. Lets just say the future of his offsprings-to-be were at great risk. At the midway break of 35km, a quick surgical procedure with my Topeak multi-tool brought instant relief. But by that time, Colin had had enough and called it a day. He rode to nearby Warnbro Train station and headed home. I hope he won't be too discouraged and trust we would see him again.

With the cold and wet weather, I was ravenous. As I had a 130pm appointment I was in a bit of a hurry and had to rush through my rice with curry.

Curry in a hurry!

Washed down with hot tea, and finishing off with some rum and raisin chocs, I was all revved up and ready to go. While Rod and I were busy peddling and drafting, I got an unexpected phone call. It was to tell me that Ken had a puncture so we back track to find him fiddling with his rear wheel.

The most unfortunate news of all was that Ken forgot to pack a spare tube! And we were about 40km from his house. This was truly a case of being stranded in the middle of nowhere! He was kicking himself in the butt and so was I for not bringing along at least a patch kit! I had a 16" tube while Rod had a 700c tube, both were useless in this situation. The other Ken, a newbie, grinned naively as he too had not bring along any spare tube. Ignorance is bliss until something happens!

In Australia and the UK, bicycles are also known as push bikes. The name must have come from someone who had to push his bike because of a puncture! So poor Ken did just that while the 3 of us rode on to Mandurah where Rod had to pick up his car to rescue him, with an estimated wait time of 2 hours.

It took us just over 4 hrs to complete the nearly 70km ride, with stops and all. The train ride home took all of 40 mins but it was a great sense of satisfaction to have made it. This was the furthest I've ridden on my Brompton.

Getting caught without a spare tube is a lesson which all of us will certainly not forget. I will say that bringing one along is as necessary as wearing a helmet! If not, a puncture in the wilderness can certainly mean an unexpected "game over".


Taiwoon said...

Bro Al, This is a very nice write up on the training ride! So envious of u having 75km of un interupted bicycle paths! I am sure the folks will bring the correct size of inner tubes from now on! Ride on!

omegaforest said...

Taiwoon just did 128 training ride.heheh and he has many to suffer with him!