Saturday, October 8, 2011

Iceman Went to the Mountains ...

And Rode ... (spoiler deleted).

Irregular buddy Iceman went to Murphy, NC this past week, thinking to get in some "serious" and scenic mountain rides.  He sent an e-mail to all the Irregulars describing his incredible rides; however, being a firm believer in helping even more people see the humor in life, even occasionally when it is at my expense, I thought a larger readership might enjoy the story of his incredible exploits.

Therefore, Irregular Velo Adventures presents, unedited (except for forcing the paragraphs to properly separate, and inclusion of reference to the Whirligig Farm / Ride), the following TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURE from Iceman:

"Make Lemonade out of Lemons" Mountain Riding  
I promised Martin a synopsis of riding my bike in the mountains this past week.  In hindsight, I should have joined IvaN in Cycle North Carolina, with State Tourism perfect weather this week...instead, I honed my expertise at changing flat tires...repeatedly.  
I showed up for the "Exploration" ride last Saturday at the McD's in Wakefield with a flat rear tire...first since flatting same on our Summer Solstice [Whirligig] Century ride earlier this summer.  I quickly changed the tube and decided to get a new rear tire before my planned riding in the Murphy, NC area later this past week.  Taking a scenic 7 hour drive through the mountains on Tuesday, I was ready to start riding on Wednesday.  
I went to "Map My Ride" and found a posting for a nice ride out of Murphy around Hiwassee Lake and over the TVA dam - just about 50 miles.  Lots of rolling hills and a couple mountain passes.  Since the morning temps were in the mid 40s but the afternoon temps up in the low 80s (!!), I decided to start mid-morning after the sun burned off the fog. I got my first flat (second if you count previous Saturday) just barely out of town, but changed quickly without any worries...just a fluke, right?  Second flat about six miles later was a killer...was out of air cartridges and did not have a patch kit.  Decided to turn around and start walking the bike and within 15 minutes got a ride in a pickup truck back to town.  Kindness of strangers!  
The nearest bike shop was about 25 miles away in Blue Ridge, Georgia, but they were closed on Wednesday.  The next closest was in Blairsville, Georgia, where I got more tubes and air cartridges.  I did not drag my bicycle with me, certain that I was capable of fixing the flat properly.  
Now here's the Lemonade part...just outside of Blairsville is the famous Brasstown Bald mountain and some gorgeous mountain roads and Parks on the way to scenic Alpine town of Helen.  I enjoyed some driving through early-fall foliage, bright sun and little traffic.  Even hiked to the top of Brasstown and looked around for miles across three states.  Noticed a plume of smoke rising north in North Carolina.  Later, coming back to Murphy, I realized that the fire was still burning, and just east of town, an entire mountaintop was engulfed in flame, completely out of control.  Lots of traffic, spectators, fire trucks ready to water down houses and yards, etc..  Grand total:  9 miles of "riding" with two flats.  
Take Two of the Hiwassee Lake ride started Thursday morning.  Five miles out I flatted again, and after repair, again before I even got going.  With the last tube and air cartridge, I carefully checked the entire rim and tire and decided to limp back to town.  Everthing went OK until the middle of Murphy with flat number three (six for the week).  Walked two miles back to the hotel.  This time called the Blue Ridge, GA bike shop and drove the bike and all equipment there for professional evaluation.  The root cause appeared to be rim tape that slipped to one side of a spoke hole...the tube was getting pinched between the inside rim and the hole.  After an expensive charge for labor, more tubes, more cartidges...I was on my way.  
Here's the lemonade part again...the local police Captain was in the bike shop talking mountain biking with the owner.  He mentioned there was a barbecue lunch further up the hill in a park across from the county courthouse.  I visited and found out the local cable company was having a "customer appreciation day" with free food, drinks and entertainment!  Expensive bike lunch.  
I headed back to Murphy and planned to ride an abbreviated route to visit the Hiwassee Dam and hit the Tennesee border on the back side.  Pulled the bike out of the back of the car and was flat again!  So even the professional didn't do it right!  I had the equipment to change everything once again, load up spares, and start riding.  It was now about 3 PM on Thursday and I hadn't completed a decent ride yet!  Turns out this was finally the last problem and I had an enjoyable 42-mile ride around the lake that afternoon and a short early ride on Friday to the Georgia border and back, before driving to my in-laws place near Knoxville for the weekend.  
Total of seven flats and two short rides for the week...but lots of lemonade surprises!  

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