First Bike Tour

21 07 2015

So there are a bunch of exciting new firsts when you move to a new place, right? First night in your new home. First barbecue. First load of laundry. That kind of thing.

The other day I went on my first bike tour. My birthday present from my husband this year was a brand new bicycle, the first new bike I have owned in almost three decades. The last time I owned a new bike I was still in my teens and Ronald Reagan was still president (1988). It was a blue Bianchi mountain bike that, after 27 years, creaked and squeaked with every turn of the pedals and most of its parts had been replaced over the course of those three decades. It was a trusty old ride and it served me well, but it was also time for it to retire to a good home.

My new ride is a gorgeous, sleek, black and silver number, very chic. I feel very young and very cool while riding it. After taking it around our new neighborhood, I decided it was time to venture further afield and show it off.

Me & my brand new ride.

Me & my brand new ride.

I chose an early Sunday morning and the Iron Horse Trail for this baptism of my new iron donkey, figuring a 20 mile ride on a paved trail (with no cars) would give me a good idea if I could see myself still riding it 27 years from now.

The trail is really beautiful. It stretches 30 miles through the hills of the East Bay and follows the Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way established in 1891 and abandoned in 1977. It’s flat and wide and full of folks just like me looking for a place to spend a few quality hours with their bicycles, dogs, spouses and/or kids. It is also, apparently, covered with invisible thorns, one of which found its way into my rear tire when I wasn’t looking.

When we bought the bicycle last month, the folks at the shop tried to sell me a membership to their “Flat Tire Club” – a $40 deal that would pay for all flat tires (materials and labor) for the life of the bicycle. My old Bianchi had had a total three flat tires – one per decade of my ownership. I declined the membership.

Silly me.

So suddenly on this gorgeous Sunday morning in the middle of nowhere, my nice new bike got sluggish, and I looked to see what the problem was. Most of the air had escaped already, and I was practically riding on the rim. I was already on my way back, but still about seven miles / 11 kilometers away from my starting point (and my car). I continued on, gingerly, standing in the pedals and shifting my weight to the front as much as I could. (What, was I supposed to walk back seven miles??) But after about 20 minutes of this the tire itself seemed to be coming apart. I had no choice but to get off and start walking.

Many passing cyclists took pity on me (“You’ve probably got a thorn! Happens all the time! It’s thorn season!”) but strangely none of them had a pump. About a mile from my car, a good Samaritan named Rob helped me out with a blast of gas into the tire so that at least I could ride the last little bit back. He told me to pay it forward and spread the good Karma.

I loaded my bike into my car, drove to the shop and joined the Flat Tire Club.

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