How many flat tires does it take to end a bike ride?
The Seagull Century is one of those iconic bicycle rides that has been on my bucket list for quite a while. It originates from Salisbury University in what is called low, slow Delaware. There are three options - two are century rides (100 miles) and one is a metric century (62 miles). I chose to do the metric century, I am not ready yet for 100 miles and don't know if I will ever be.
It is a charity ride put on by the college and they use the entry fees to make a lot of monetary donations to many worthy causes. Most of the "workers' that help to make it such a successful ride are volunteers. This year there was a sea of over 7,000 riders. This year was the 25th anniversary.
It was an amazing sight to see so many riders and their bikes.
Since it was a shotgun start, I had to try and slide into the group. That start was a little scary, riding shoulder to shoulder so close to other cyclists. I was in a peloton!!
The weather really co-operated. The morning was cool, but the temperature rose to 90 degrees during the day. You don't feel the heat until you stop riding on account of your motion. Most of the time I was going 16 mph. There are rest stops about every 20 miles with a smorgasbord of fruit and goodies, a water refill station and lots of port-a-potties.
So when did I get my first flat?
I was zipping along, stopped at the first rest stop, refueled and gave kisses to my best supporter. I thought for sure I was going to finished the ride in time for lunch. My bike started bumping along. I looked down and noticed my front tire was flat. I was only a few miles from the second rest stop, so I thought I would try filling it with air and maybe that would get me to the rest stop and I could deal with it there. As soon as I put my pump away, my tire was flat again.
I knew I could change the flat. I had the supplies I needed and the know how. So why do I always panic? Other riders passing by often ask if everything is OK? When I was trying to do the quick fix, I replied that I was fine. When that didn't work, I accepted help. As nice as it was that this fellow stopped to help me, I could tell he was not well-versed in tiring changing.
Two more guys stopped to help also. They were more helpful, but took a backseat. The new inner tube was in place and I put the wheel back on my bike and off I rode. Not 10 seconds later, I heard a big pop and looked down to see my entire front tire wobbling and hanging loosely from the rim. I emitted my favorite word in a situation like that $$%^%$#t!
I had a pinch flat. It is very common when the new inner tube is not seated properly. It is exactly what it sounds like. The inner tube gets pinched by the rim. At that time, the support truck came driving by and stopped to see if I needed help. They loaded my bike in the truck and we headed to the 2nd rest stop with the bike repair tent where a professional put a new inner tube in my front tire.
After having a few orange sections and a piece of apple pie, I gave my buddies a kiss and off I went.
Say it ain't so, as I started to feel that wobble in my front tire again. How could it be? I wanted to sit down and cry. 3 flats in one ride? I was out of inner tubes and out of spirit. I called the support van to take me to the end and finish with 41 miles.
The red truck showed up with a really nice guy. He asked me what I wanted to do and informed me that he had supplies to fix a flat. He didn't really know how, but would be happy to help me OR put my bike in the back of the truck. Whatever I wanted. What the heck, I decided. I took off my tire, got out my tools and changed the tire myself with this guys support. I was so grateful. I got back on my bike and slowly started the last leg of my ride. If I had another flat, so be it.
But.... I finished!
I was so happy to see the finish line and hear those college students congratulating all the riders for a great ride, and most of all to see my two buddies.
Next year I will ride it again. My 2 choices will be to try and ride the 100 mile route or take along my favorite passenger and morale booster - Bailey! I think I have already made my decision.
Avg mph: 15.0
Saddle Time: 4 hrs 8 minutes
Real Time: 6 1/2 hrs