It all started so well. With some big events in the diary already it was time to start riding some longer distances. To make the most of the days forecast sunshine and blue skies Dan and I planned to ride to Worcester and back using as much off road as possible which would make it around 50 miles. no massive gradients really but some good base miles.
The issue with blue skies on January is that they come with low temperatures and given the amount of rain we’ve experienced lately lots of ice. Run off from the surrounding fields on our route were frozen solid. The very bright sun dazzled us through the hedgerows giving that flickering effect that did nothing for our vision. this meant i saw the patch of ice that was across the road on a corner at the last minute. using my “cat like” skills i managed to stay upright but the only way to do this was to not deviate from my course so i ended up in the middle of someones driveway feeling relieved i’d not hit the tarmac.
It was at this point we had a little chat to assess the planned route that was ahead of us. We could see the frozen bars of water across the lane and knew that the route had a couple of miles downhill from this point on where picking up speed, or more importantly the need to brake for corners would arise. So a remarkable event took place, we were actually sensible (it won’t last, mark my words) for once and thought about how we could get to the nearest off road without braking a hip or worse, damaging the bikes. Off road, perversely in these conditions would give more grip and be safer!
So we made our way to the canal and relative safety…….well until the freezing fog descended and turned the 0 to 1 degree temperatures to a finger numbing -5! (that’s degrees Celsius Fahrenheit users) We bowled along passing other towpath users who looked out of the mist for a few miles until Dan shouted for me to stop. He was sprayed from ankle to chest in tyre sealant with the tyre rapidly deflating. we revolved the wheel so all the sealant would be over the hole but the hole was actually a slit and the sealant couldn’t cope with the size of it. so rather than lose all the sealant we went for the slug option. No Gastropods were harmed today though. A slug is a little tyre insert that you plunge into the tyre through the puncture hole using a split needle. the slug stays in a plugs the hole enabling inflation and the ride to continue! yay!….actually boo! as even though the slug worked perfectly during the re-inflation process the tubeless valve managed to destroy itself.
just about enough air to make the wheel rideable had made it in though but there was no way we were going to limp the next 35 miles of the route so again we did the sensible thing (i don’t think i like this new trend) and turned around and headed in the direction of home. So, all in all not the ideal ride but I think it was equally as valuable as if we;d done a hundred mile ride…
….you see, not every ride is going to be perfect, if you look at social media it might look like everyone else’s weekend was idyllic and ridden under warm skies with no mechanicals but the reality is there are going to be times when things don’t go to plan and rides like today are excellent training for these times. As we regrouped with coffee and cake on the way home we could reflect on our new “in the field” puncture repair and the need, if on a long ride or event away from civilization to take a spare tubeless valve (being so close to home we decided not to stick an inner tube in, we did have these with us though) and the most valuable lesson was to take things as they come, don’t panic, don’t throw your toys out of the pram. It’ll all look different when sat in front of the fire recounting the days adventure with your non cycling family.
No embellishing the tale though!