Friday, April 2, 2010

Apr-2: Bicycle Repairman

Few of the Irregular Rides actually qualify as an "adventure".
Today's ride, however, certainly qualifies as an adventure.
Therefore, "Irregular Velo Adventures" is proud to present the following true-life adventure.

But first, while riding WAY off the back of the hammering foursome, while riding along like Terry Gilliam in the Monty Python skit, taking in the scenery and trying to ride for the enjoyment, the idea for today's post came to me.  For your education, please be sure to check out the video immediately below.  Then go to the text below the video.

If I were a fan of the television show "MacGyver", I would perhaps put a post from that show here.  However, I never got "into" that show, so ... no post.

Irregular Velo True-Life Adventure

The Trouble Began on Monday past when LT went out to ask his secretary WHY there was nothing on his schedule for Friday (Good Friday).  His secretary quickly informed LT that "we get Good Friday OFF, you slave-driver!"

The Trouble Escalated when LT suggested a Good Friday ride from VGCC, looping Kerr Lake.  My response was "Great Idea".  Funny thing, though -- despite the fact that I was concerned enough about potential high water / flooding on Kerr Lake a month or more ago to have contacted MikeD about means to find out about possible flooding on Nutbush Creek and Anderson Creek roads in advance of a possible Middleburg 100-miler for the Spring Equinox, no such wise thoughts entered my head upon receipt of Dave's e-mail.  I therefore put out an e-mail to the "Irregulars" informing that we were planning a repeat of the Jul-03-2009 ride.

Some Trouble Was Avoided when, for who knows what reason, I e-mailed randonneur Branson that I thought I'd be doing the Morrisville 200k brevet next week, if an 84-mile Kerr Lake Loop ride this week went well.  That turned out to be a lucky e-mail.  Why?  Because Branson was able to inform me that Nutbush, Anderson Creek, and Jacksontown Rd were all closed due to Kerr Lake flooding.  We scrapped doing a loop of Kerr Lake.  But what ride would we do?

A Glimmer Of Hope appeared when Dave said "how about that Roxboro ride you wanted to do?"  Ah, day saved.  Except I could not find hide nor hair of a cue sheet or a map of the never-to-happen Roxboro 93-miler.  So ... instead of taking a previously planned course, and carving out a few miles to get a shorter, 75-mile route ... I had to create a ride from scratch ... on roads I'd never ridden ... or seen.

Luckily, Yanceyville is 30 miles or so West of Roxboro, and that was to be the intermediate destination of the ride.  And, more luck, I had a cue sheet for the upcoming Summer Solstice Irregulars 300k that went through Yanceyville, and looped around, generally heading North of Roxboro.  Soon I had a map of a 75.2 mile ride that fit the bill.  By mid-day on Thursday, I had e-mailed the enrolled suspects (LT, IvaHawk, Tito, LeeD, JohnA) a cue sheet.  We were set to ride. 

I Was At PUE And Ready To Transfer to one of the transporting vehicles by 6:50 for the supposed "leaving PUE at 7:00".  At 6:55, I thought to myself "somebody should be here by now".  At 6:57, I thought "where the eff is everyone?"  At 6:58, IvaHawk and Tito pull into the parking lot and see me across the way, leaning against my car, arms folded.  They pull up and Iva asks "are you tapping your foot?  I told Tito that it looked like you were tapping your foot."  About a minute later, JohnA arrives.  And then LT and Lee.  We load up and are underway at about 7:06.

It was a pleasant ride up to Roxboro.  We pulled into a parking lot by the Sherrif's Office, and just across the street from a Roxboro Fire Department firehouse.  We started unloading and doing final prep on our bikes.

Iva Casually Commented "I Think My Front Tire Is Flat".  Definitely was.  Started trying to pump up the tire; it would not hold air.

JohnA walked between the two vehicles a couple times, looking for something, then announced "I Have No Shoes."  Oh, great!

Tito completed the change on Iva's tire.  Pumped up the tire.  Good -- all we need to worry about is John's lack of his cycling shoes.

Maybe we can borrow some duct tape from the firemen to make faux toe clips for John -- BANG ! Iva's replacement tube had exploded. Sigh.

Bicycle Repair Man, aka, Lt. Dave, completed the duct tape toe clips about the same time we got the second blown tube out of Iva's tire.  We tried my spare tube, but the valve-stem was too short for Iva's fairly deep dish rims.  Oh, Dave has a long-valve-stem tube -- I know because we traded tubes last year after he had a flat and we found that his rims required a longer stem tube, which I had, but he didn't.  Knock on wood.  Neither Dave nor I have had a flat in over a year.

The initial duct tape toe clips in Roxboro.

Great, the little twisty open and close to let in / let out air on Dave's tube just fell off. It wasn't the entire valve assembly such as Snapper and I have each separately managed to unscrew with our hamfisted approaches to changing flats / putting air into our tires.  No, it was just that teeny tiny little bitty thing that you loosen or tighten to put more air in the tire -- or let it out.  Sharper eyes than mine found that incredibly tiny item on the parking lot.  Dave used the pliers in my multi-tool (not a cycling multi-tool, but a faux "Swiss Army Knife" mutli-tool) to hold the very thin valve thing upon which the teeny tiny little bitty loosy-tighty thing screws onto; eventually I realized that I was trying to put the teeny tiny little bitty loosy-tighty thingy on backwards; flipped around, we had an operable valve and tube in just a few seconds.

So, for the third time, Iva's front tire was pumped up.  Okay, now we can get going.  BANG !!!

Increduously, we all looked at Iva's tire.  What had we done wrong?  Dave is really good at changing flats.  Iva was ready to call it a day and call his wife, Tracy, to come get him (we needed his vehicle to transport at least three bikes and two people -- so if he went home, at least two others had to also go home -- or change their ride to being Roxboro to PUE).  Maybe We Should Actually Check That The Tire Is Okay; no one has checked to see if there is wire on the inside of the tube, or if the inside of the rim has a problem. Aha!  Look at this!  This nearly brand-new tire (the burr on the center of the tire- "where the rubber meets the road") was still visible.  But the side-wall, right on the bead, had a gash about three inches long.  Must be a defective tire.  Later, we thought that the problem might have been that the tire had been in Iva's SUV for the last couple days, and if he had parked in direct sunlight, the inside of the vehicle might have gotten really, really HOT and THAT will cause tires to blow.

Can we fix this with duct tape?  Someone came up with the game-saving idea:  Iva would drive to Yanceyville, and find Gilbert and his bike shop, North Road Bicycle Imports, get a new tire and three new tubes (one to use, one for his spare, and one to replace Dave's spare).  Then Iva would ride the course backwards looking to meet us, and . . . we would have ride.  We decided we would figure out how to get Iva's car back into the mix later.

Iva left for Yanceyville.  The rest of us left for Yanceyville -- at least we were finally riding at about 8:53 -- nearly an hour after the hoped for start.

The Duct Tape Toe Clips Worked Well, at least for a few miles. Waaaayyy before we got to Ceffo (7.4 miles into the ride), one of the duct tape toe clips fell off onto the road.  John continued soldiering on.  Luckily, he has "Look" pedals, and those do provide somewhat of a platform for stomping as if on a flat pedal.  He still had the other duct tape toe clip.

I Turned At (In) Ceffo, the others immediately stopped at the Ceffo Fire Station.  Half-a-mile down the road, I realized that no one was following.  I turned around -- now thinking that perhaps I turned onto the wrong road.  When I got to the firehouse, I told Lee that I thought I had turned onto the wrong road.  Lee told me that David had said we had been on the wrong road for several miles.  I looked at the cue sheet.  No, we had been on the correct road, it was just that the little green roadsigns did not match what the google-maps had for the name of the road.  The name that google had WAS the name that pointed the opposite direction when we had turned left some miles back -- so I was confident we were only -- maybe -- a 100 yards off course.  I went to scout-about.  Turned out I was not wrong.  We were supposed to turn back there at the "Ceffo" sign.  We were on the correct course.

Now, What The Heck Is Dave Doing In The Firehouse?  Somebody said he went in hoping to find a piece of wire to improve the faux toe-clip(s).  Is he having to bribe them or something -- he's been in there an awfully long time.  Dave FINALLY emerged and said "I had to fix the toilet so I could take a crap!" Figures.  This adventure just kept piling on.  Let's go.

Dave Sees The Guy That Lives Next Door is in his front yard, and said "I'm going to see if that guy has a wire we can have." If there had been time, this would have been a good point for Lee to have have told the "Dave and the Glass Truck" story.  But that story never came out.

Wire toe clip.

The guy next door re-emerged from the double-wide with a clothes-hanger.  Bicycle Repairman was again in business. With his brute strength and bloody hand (from the original duct tape toe-clip construction) and the pliers from my multi-tool, Dave made a simple cage for John.  As we prepared to get onto the road again, Dave asked all of us to be on the lookout for those little surveyor flags, as they would be attached to a better quality wire than the clothes-hanger was.

Back on the road.  Enjoying the passing scenes.  A couple crossings of long fingers of Hyco Lake resulting long climbs on the other side.  Me dropping everyone off my front -- repeatedly.  Dave and Tito seemed to be taking turns slowing or (in the case of Tito) actually turning around to ride back to me.  I wasn't worried.  I was going to ride my own pace up those hills.  And my copy of the cue sheet was at least as good as their copies.

Around 12 Miles, Dave noticed, and I had noticed, that we had ridden past Ralph Winstead Rd on our right.  Dave had looked at his copy of the cue sheet and knew we were supposed to be on Ralph Winstead Rd, but there was no way we were going to turn down a dead-end.  At least we were still headed West (in the general direction of Yanceyville), even if it was the wrong road -- we convinced ourselves that we probably were on the wrong road.  Dave, Tito and I decided that it would be nice if Lee and John (who were pretty far ahead) would stop at a cross-road so we could check the name of the road we were on and jointly decide on a course of action.  Tito took off to catch Lee and John.  Shortly thereafter, I commented to Dave, "you know, we might still be on the correct road; I recall, from the electronic map, that somewhere along here the road does a slight bend and changes its name." [editor's note: Two days later, looking at the map (see above), the road supposedly changes names twice at slight bends. Maybe one of the times was a county line, but I don't think so because I recall LT motoring ahead to the only CL I crossed (on my bike) during the entire day -- and it wasn't on that road -- I think.]

Tito caught Lee and John and everyone waited and . . . ah, there is a road sign -- we were on Ralph Winstead Rd.  So . . . twice we had been confident that we were on the wrong road, and each time we had been wrong.  That is, we were on the correct road.

At about the 23-mile mark, we paused before turning onto NC-119, and Tito got a call from Iva.  Iva was riding towards us; he was currently on NC-62.  We told him we would almost certainly meet him on Longs Mill Rd (a road that turned out to be a bit rough, but otherwise, was a great 4.2 miles of hill scenes and dairy farms and generally really scenic riding -- but I get ahead of the story).

Just as we were set to push off onto NC-119, Lee points and says, primarily to Dave, "look, a cleat." Dave looked where Lee was pointing, then turned around with a "what the bleep are you are on about" look on his face to look at Lee, and Lee pointed again and said again "a cleat".  Dave turned, looked near the bottom of the stop sign, and cottoned on.  Excitedly, Bicycle Repairman was again on the scene.  Dave untwisted the heavy-ish wire that was twisted about the stop sign post, and soon was improving the faux toe-clip.  Job completed, John commented "hey, this is great!  The wire on the underside of the pedal acts as a tensioner."

John models the newest toe clip accessory for a $5k Trek Madone.
I may, repeat may, rotate this photo -- later.

We rode on, met Iva, and then trudged into the light headwind on NC-62 headed for Yanceyville.  Well -- I trudged.  Tito was generous enough to putz along with me.  The other four (LT, Lee, IvaHawk, JohnA) hammered through Hamer and on to the outskirts of Yanceyville.

Into Yanceyville And Into Gilbert's Shop.  The Yanceyville Court House Square made for a nice place to stop -- it looks like it would be awfully HOT in 90+ temps. Bicycle racks outside Gilbert's shop.  Park bike, enter shop and call out for Gilbert.  (Gilbert and I had never met, although we had exchanged e-mails.)  Emerging from the depths of his store, came Burl Ives, er, Gilbert Anderson. As Gilbert and I are chatting, Tito walks past me, goes up to Gilbert "shoulder-to-shoulder" and gives Gilbert a one-arm "man-hug" saying "Gilbert, it has been a long time since you painted my bike." 

"You've been sandbagging on us, Tito!"  He claimed he didn't know it was the SAME Gilbert Anderson from . . . when they were both much younger.  Weren't all of us -- younger, that is.

IvaHawk had told Gilbert about the beginning of our ride from Roxboro -- Gilbert thought the duct tape toe clips were GREAT.  He also thought the self-tensioning wire "cage" was GREAT.  He claimed he always carries duct tape along on a brevet -- some 20 miles later, when Iva, JohnA and I had looped back to Yanceyville and were loading up Iva's car to drive back to Roxboro to meet the intrepid three, Gilbert regaled us with a story or two of "fixes" during brevets -- including one miserable experience in the midst of the swamps near Wilmington, trying to change a flat with mosquitos eating everyone alive, and finally using duct tape around the tire and the wheel to hold things together -- riding thump, thump, thump into Wilmington. Aah . . . adventure.

After leaving Gilbert's, things calmed down . . . mostly.  John lost / removed part of his Bicycle Repairman clips while we still in Yanceyville, but other than that it was just nice riding toward Blanch and diving down to the flood plain of the Dan River, and climbing back up to the plateau.  Our six-some split when we got back to NC-62:  LT, Lee and Tito (the intrepid three) continued on the route (but not before I had cautioned LT that once the route returned to North Carolina - after about a mile in Virginia - that they would have to be on their toes because one or two of the roads had three or four names on the electronic map, and who could possibly guess what the little green road signs would actually "say"); IvaHawk, JohnA and I closed the "Yanceyville loop" - look at the map - part of the route about 3/4 of a mile after we headed back toward Yanceyville.  We reached Yanceyville, loaded up, and returned to Roxboro without further incident.

The Intrepid Threesome Was Not So Lucky.  After they returned to NC, the left turn indicated on the cue sheet had a problem -- "Road Closed / Bridge Out" read the sign on the barricade.  So they didn't turn, and ended up in Ceffo, which was on the outbound course, 7.4 miles from Roxboro, but not on the return course.  Tito called Iva and requested a "rescue" in Ceffo -- Tito did not tell Iva what the problem was -- so John and Iva and I were left to our imaginations until Iva could return with the Intrepids.  Maybe someone broke a chain; maybe someone had another two flats; maybe they were exhausted from being lost; maybe they were just over-heated (after all, the temps had been summer-like -- we saw 93F on a "time and temperature" sign as we left Roxboro). 

After learning of the "Bridge Out" sign, I guessed the Intrepids had just basically run out of mental energy.  The day had been fun -- but one can only take overcoming so many obstacles, and then . . . .  I talked with LT on Saturday and asked if it was a situation of being drained of the last reserves of mental energy when they encountered the "Bridge Out" sign.  LT's response: "that about sums it up."

Everyone back in Roxboro, loaded up, return to PUE.  John found his shoes in his vehicle.  Everyone went their separate ways to home -- and some to later firehouse duty.

Lest anyone think that we had a bad ride -- the riding was FANTASTIC.  Very little traffic.  Sometimes more farm tractors than cars.  Some wonderful roads.  Some a bit rough.  Some little rougher than that.  NOTHING to challenge New Light Rd as pit of pits for road surfaces.

Further, lest anyone think we had a bad time -- we all had a fun time.  Very tired, but a fun ADVENTURE, for sure.

Group stats.  The stats below the break are mine.  John reported getting 56.96 miles -- I told him he could only count that as 56.9 -- no rounding up; 56.9 miles with faux duct tape and wire toe clips (that he had to borrow wire-cutters from Gilbert to remove) stomping with tennis shoes on Look "platform" pedals. IvaHawk ended with about 36 miles.  The Intrepids ended with about 72 or 73 miles by the time Iva met them on the road between Ceffo and Roxboro.

Roxboro: Ceffo-Leasburg-Hamer-Yanceyville-Blanch-Hamer-Yanceyville; w/ LT, IvaHawk, Tito, LeeD, JohnA; 57.4 m.; 3hrs, 40min in-motion time; 15.7 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; 938.2 m.; 60 hrs, 38 min; 15.5 mph.
Apr tot: _1 rides; _57.4 m.; _3 hrs, 40 min; 15.7 mph.
YTD tot: 17 rides; 995.6 m.; 64 hrs, 18 min; 15.5 mph.

[edit, Apr-07-2010]:  Our adventure got picked up by Gilbert and "featured" on his North Road Blog -- mostly (I think) so that his good friend Adrian would see / read the "duct tape adventure".  


  1. Before any of us left Roxboro for Yanceyville, Iva suggested that I ought to come up with a check list for people.

    To paraphrase Lee, I ain't your momma, but here is the check list:

    1. Prep your bike the night before.
    2. Arrive early. Especially if we are making a "road trip". Arriving early will improve the chance that one will transfer ALL their gear to one of the caravan's vehicles in a calm and complete manner.

    See the corallary to Rule #1. ;-)


  2. Haaaa! It was a great adventure indeed. I went to Inside-Out and they have placed an order for two dozen pairs of the Lt. Dave Nanogram Toe Clips. Get crackin' over in manufacturing...I'm strictly sales. Thanks to all for their encouragement and patience

  3. Martin, The writeup is as good as the ride. It certainly does justice to what turned out to be memorable experience. Although, I only got less than half the hoped for mileage, I'll remember this ride longer than others. I had a good time telling Tracy all about it. I think she was listening. This was the first BEAUTIFUL day we've had in 2010. Some may like 50 degrees; I like 85 - even higher. Thanks for setting up this route, Martin, leading well as usual, and for chronicling it so well. Oh, I'll check my equipment next time. Iva

  4. Maybe someone should tell John the story of the rider who forgot his water bottle

  5. This sounds like a velo version of "The Hangover!" All you needed was a MikecTyson cameo..

  6. "bullcity" - I had to research "The Hangover". I had been thinking a "Flash Gordon" type serial, especially as I wrote the post in bits over the course of three days, but "The Hangover" definitely fits the genre.

  7. Regarding "Maybe someone should tell John the story of the rider who forgot his water bottle":

    That could either be "Duke" Sink from a few weeks ago. We modified the course to go looking for open convenience stores. Eventually ending up in Creedmoor at the new BP station, where Lee and I had to INSIST and DEMAND that "Duke" actually purchase a bottle of water. (He thought three "cupfulls" would suffice to replenish fluids lost so far and to enable him to safely finish the ride.)

    Or, it could be refering to Aug-22-2009, the blog post for which ends:

    "What are the lessons from Saturday's ride?
    "1. Don't lose concentration before the ride and arrive only 11 minutes before wheels-away.
    "2. Don't lose concentration prepping the bike and thus forget to include your water bottles.
    "3. If you do either or both of the above, do NOT try to "make it up" to the group by riding too fast in the beginning.
    "4. Do not lose concentration while leading the line, and then go off into the "verge".
    "5. Occassionally, pick some routes that do NOT end Ghoston-Peed-MVC."

    If you check the following week we did NOT finish Ghoston-Peed-MVC.

  8. The ride was a lesson in touring. We could go anywhere if we can handle what we faced on Good Friday. John was amazingly flexible and his nickname for the ride is good for me: goat fuck ride.

  9. Regarding "Maybe someone should tell John the story of the rider who forgot his water bottle":
    On Apr 4, 2010, at 9:36 PM, "skiffrun" wrote:

    Anyone want to claim this annonymous and unsigned post?

    I suspect the Mallet.
    From: "the Mallet"
    Sun, Apr 4, 2010 10:49 pm

    Why would I want to claim that?
    From: skiffrun
    Monday, April 05, 2010 7:19 AM

    Because I recall that you were the first one I found waiting for me when I came charging back from PUE, and when you pulled up alongside, I recall you saying something to the effect "the group is loving this! (tee hee)". [editor's note: the "(tee hee)" has been added to convey the correct emotional and inflection context.]

    So I figure that that ride might have imprinted on your brain cells a bit more than on the brain cells of the others.

    Or it could be that being about 15 years (or more) younger than most of the rest of us, your brain cells are more adaptable than ours. ;-)
    From: "the Mallet"
    Mon, Apr 5, 2010 5:42 pm

    You got me again, Holmes.
    Now, the question is, am I being complimented for sleuthing skills, or dissed for having less adaptable brain cells?