Friday, May 7, 2010

Smooth pavement in the sky for a tired old bike

After the hills we rode a short day and found a campsite. In the morning I noticed I had broken yet another spoke on my rear wheel. The problem was that I was riding a really old road bike(that was pretty much worn out) and the frame would only allow really skinny tires. The skinny tires can't absorb enough of the impact of the bumps of the road with a load on the back of the bike. We rode another day into del rio and I was about done. I had spent a fortune keeping my bike rolling and still felt like everything was about to break. We got to the only bike shop within a hundred miles and my hopes were shattered. The shop was actually a carpet, tile, and bike shop. The mechanic was not inspiring and the shop only had about 5 bikes on hand, most of which were the same brands that walmart sells. They replaced the spoke and tried to true my wheel, but they had no idea what they were doing. When I got it back the wheel had three or four loose spokes and was probably worse that when I rolled it into the shop. Del and I both new that we were getting ready to head into 60 and 70 mile stretches with no services and we knew the wheel would not hold up.
The budget for my trip was shot by all the repairs and new wheelset. I started looking into oneway car rentals to head home. I was super bummed but i am getting ready to start dental school and money will be tight for the next four years. I didn't have the money to buy a new bike and my broken down bike needed a new cassette, new crank, new brake pads, new chain, new headset and new rear wheel.
Del rented a room at a hotel and I headed to the pool so that my fowl mood didn't ruin his trip. I called my mom and she tried to convince me to buy a new bike and offered to loan me the money. My dad flat out told me I should finish and he would buy the bike. I came back upstairs and del had talked to our friend Scott who had started calling shops in Austin to try to buy a bike, have it shipped and loan it to me for the summer. At that point I new I would finish. It was so nice to have so many friends and family behind me and I realized the money would work itself out. The next challenge was finding a bike and figuring out how to get it to del rio. Scott called and found a shop in Austin that had touring bikes built up and ready to go. The only problem was Austin was four and a half hours car. So I got up at 6am and wobbled to hertz, but when they opened at 7:30 they told me they had no cars to rent. On my ride to another car rental place my wheels pretty much quit and I got a flat tire. The second place had no available cars either. The third place had a cobalt and I declined the $40 insurance and headed to Austin via San Antonio. Five miles in a rock broke the front window. Sweet day so far. I made San Antonio and hit a few bike shops, but they didn't have any of the right bikes. I pushed on to Austin, but a wreck led to an hour of traffic not moving at all. I finally made it to Austin for rush hour and got to the shop after 6pm. The shop was packed and a really cool bike mechanic came out to help me out. He showed me all the bike he thought would work and I knew right away when I tested the surly long haul trucker. The bike is heavy, but tough and simple. The mechanic fitted me up and we finished an hour after close. I started stripping the few parts that i wanted off of my old bike and boxed them up. Just as my old bike looked to be heading to better roads in the sky, a hippy kid rode by on an old single speed and started chatting. I gave him my frame and he promised to turn it into a fixed gear and give it to a friend who didn't have a bike. It was after 8:30 and I found an office depot and shipped some parts home. Leaving Austin I realized I had not eaten yet all day, so I hit the drive thru and settled in for the drive back. The rental car place only had a drop box at the airport location so i drove there and made it around 1:30am. The airport was tiny, closed and five miles from the elks lodge where del was camping. Did I mention the drop box was locked inside the closed terminal. Finally I just left the keys in the cup holder, left a voicemail at the renatl office and put on my headlamp. I stopped at a 24hour mcdonalds and ate a few double cheeseburgers and eventually made it to the elks lodge and passed out. It ws a rough day, but I felt lucky to take my dad up on a bike and also felt lucky to have a partner that was cool with waiting around for all my bike problems and then waiting again for me to waste a day buying a new bike.


  1. Thanks for hanging tough Jake. Finish strong!

  2. one of the best things I love about you...lemonade always out of lemons...kudos for working it out. Glad you get to keep the pursuit for adventure...and what kind of adventure is it if it is always fun and easy?!? Great attitude and spirit of the challenge!! Keep on Rollin!!