I awoke today with the sound of synthetic rubber balls flying off metal bats. Instinct told me it was best to vacate the baseball dugout, especially since it was Little League day. The group got our stuff together and after a bit of researching, Tim had managed to score us a night at a house in Carson City!
We followed Tim and his trusted Google Maps to get us back on the right path. Unfortunately Google Maps couldn’t do anything to help the puncture I got 15 minutes into the ride. At this point I am losing count of the number of punctures I’ve had recently, but it’s starting to royally piss me off. Han stayed behind and helped me check my tyre. We then raced to catch up with the others who were waiting in Silver Springs.
Today was the day I was going to buy a new tyre. My rear one is running pretty bald now, the heavy load on the back wheel causes it to degrade much faster than the front one. Had I had the inclination/foresight/energy, I would have been switching the front and rear tyre every week or so. Lesson learned. Spreading the load over both ends of the bike would’ve solved the problem, but since I don’t have front racks or bags (nor the money to purchase any) then that wasn’t an option.
Carson City was still a long ride away and I was wary of bike shops closing soon. What made this worse is that tomorrow is Sunday, a day in which all bike shops have a habit of closing on. I desperately wanted to change my tyre, there are some mean mountains coming up over the next few days and I need the confidence that I won’t get a blow-out whilst zooming down them!
I left the gang to carry on with their scheduled stop in Silver Springs so that I could push on and try and reach the city before 5pm. I was cutting it fine. According to my wayward calculations I had to average around 15mph to succeed. The headwind killed all hope of that. Well, it did until I got another fucking puncture. My mind was made up pretty quickly. I would try my thumb at hitch-hiking.
With the bike turned upside down, and my sad excuse of a face, I made a very desperate plea to the large, infrequent SUV’s as they went past. The first car to stop was a state patrol car – awesome. After a quick conversation with the officer he explained that I couldn’t hitch-hike here as there was a jail house not too far away. I cheekily asked, but he declined to give me a lift into the city – it was worth a shot. I asked what my options were. He said, “You can’t hitch-hike, but if someone stops and picks you up then that’s fine.” I told him I’d wind my thumb in, and he went on his way.
Once out of sight, my thumb and arm mysteriously popped back into an upright position. Not too much longer and I was greeted by my comrades who stopped to check if I was OK / mock me. I was wary that I wouldn’t get picked up if there was a group of us, so I sent them on their way and resumed to not hitch-hike. Five minutes later, a red pick-up truck pulls onto the shoulder behind me. The extremely nice chap was called Craig, a middle-aged rocker who was on his way home to Carson City! The first thing he offered me was an ice-cold beer, and in this sweltering heat – things started to look up.
After the broken effort of a bike was loaded onto the truck we set off. A few minutes later and we were passing my fellow cyclists. Like the cock I am, I waved my beer out of the window and gave the thumbs up. Craig asked if it was OK to stop by his buddies house whereby I got plied with some more beer and whiskey. He also took me for a tour around their old recording studio which (by the accumulated dust) looked like it hadn’t been used in a long time. Life tends to have a bad habit of getting in the way of dreams and aspirations.
We then ventured onwards to the city, passing the infamous places of a sordid nature, and arrived about 45 minutes before closing time. I said farewell to Craig and thanked him profusely for his kindness and hospitality. A recurring theme in my journey across this magnificent country. I got all the bits I needed from “The Bike Smith”, they come highly recommended in my book/blog!
I popped the tyre onto my rear wheel, and I did so literally. When I inflated it with a borrowed pump (and a dodgy pressure gauge) I blew the inner tube, making a rather ear-splitting bang. This damaged the beading of the new tyre and the shop had just closed. I thought I was shit outta luck when the owner (after hearing the explosion) re-opened his doors and gave me another tyre free of charge. He said he could claim the other one back on it’s warranty. I was just extremely thankful that another random act of kindness saved me again.
Two other baggers passed the cycle shop as I was fixing up my bike and I caught their eye as I nodded to them in acknowledgement. They were Mike (@apechimp on twitter) and James (@jamesob on twitter) who also happened to be doing coast-to-coast. Take a look at their cycle blog, AhAdventure.us. There was no sign of the rest of the group yet so Mike, James and I decided to go and grab a bite to eat and shoot the shit. After many more beers were consumed we headed off through the city. They departed to their camping destination for the night, and I tried to find the house the others were staying in.
Thankfully it wasn’t too difficult to find in the dark and I soon found myself in a lovely house with the bike crew plus two. Not the same two tourers either, this was Steven and Chris who are from Florida (whose website is now down!). They are riding from New York to San Francisco and set off at a similar time to myself but it turns out we took slightly different routes. Only now, after over 3,500 miles of riding we finally crossed paths. We decided we’d all set off at the same time tomorrow which meant the gang was now 7 strong! It’s never a bad thing to add additional people to the clan, especially when they are pretty cool people. We all sat and watched the film 127 Hours and went to bed after chatting away for a while. Tomorrow there be hills, but these are the last major ones we have to cross till the coast!