Last Sunday evening I headed out for a quick ride on the Makara Loop. I'm lucky to not only live within a few minutes' ride of Makara Peak, MTB heaven, but also on one of Wellington's best road rides, and while usually ridden as a loop, I prefer riding out-and-back to Johnsonville. Within a couple of minutes I'm dropping into the country side, and get to enjoy quiet roads for about an hour and a half. To avoid arbitrarily turning my bike around at the Johnsonville end, I usually ride down Ironside Rd, turn left at the bottom, and then up Ohariu Road, making it all feel like a nice loop.
I'd had a good day, first helping out at the Revolve Series race, then hanging with Kaitlyn, but still it was a joy to get out on the road, dry despite heavy rain earlier in the day. I'm absolutely loving my new Colnago, and was feeling good. I hadn't fired it in anger on the climb from Makara Village, and was looking forward to doing so. Still, I enjoyed putting in a few nudges on the way out to J'ville.
About half-way through the return trip, I was going pretty quick down towards the bridge marking the start of Takarau Gorge when I hit a stone on the road, and heard the sound of air leaving my rear tube. I managed to stop before the tyre was completely flat, and soon had the wheel off, and my patch kit out. Despite owning the bike for a few weeks, I hadn't yet organised a spare tube with the requisite 80mm valve stem. No matter...
I found the hole - two actually, a classic snake bite. I put glue on the tube, and gave it a bit of time to fester. Then, I put a patch on but immediately realised all was not well with the glue. When I rubbed the patch, the whole thing moved, leaving no trace of glue on the tube at all...! Crikey!
I tried again, but to no avail. My glue was off, and before long so too were my shoes.
The first kilometre or so of the road was smooth enough, and jogging in my socks next to the bike was OK. I was a good 12 kilometres or so from home, and I figured I could at least make some progress while I worked out what to do.
Before too long, I hit one of the freshly sealed sections, and immediately realised why the road felt so rough on the bike. On closer inspection the surface resembled a miniature mountain range with sharp peaks and deep valleys. Plan B was to walk for a bit in my road shoes, complete with 2-week-old cleats, replacements on account of the wear on my original pair.
Plan B sucked, and soon I was working on Plan C. I took the tube out and tied a knot around the hole. After a bit of a struggle, I got my 700x23C tyre seated, and pumped the thing up. The sound of air hissing was clearly not a good sign, and about 100 metres later, I was pumping it up again. I managed a couple of iterations of this before concluding it was quicker just to keep walking.
About 500m from the Makara Beach turnoff, and just over 3km into my walk, the valley had opened up nicely, and I decided to take to the paddock adjacent to the road. The fence had an electric strand, and it was a bit awkward to get my bike and self over the fence without getting zapped. Soon I was jogging along, enjoying the soft wet grass, and the ridiculous situation I was in.
Before long, the stream running through this land veered towards the road, coming to within half a metre of the fence. There was quite a narrow shelf for me to traverse, and such was my concern about toppling into the stream, I paid no attention to the fence. About half way across, my left arm came into contact with the electric fence. I got a hell of a fright, and was lucky not to overbalance into the stream... I was soon at a gate back out onto the road, and decided to take it rather than brave any more fences.
By this stage, my feet were feeling very trashed, and light was fading rapidly. I decided to call the waaambulance. I rang Simon's cell, but no answer. Similarly, his home number went unanswered. My man Oli was at home recuperating from his long-awaited hernia op, and I was reluctant to trouble any of my other friends. I'd got myself into this mess, and it was best that I get myself out of it, rather than bother anyone at 8pm on a Sunday evening. That said, I hadn't had a chance to chat to Simon for what seemed like ages, so kept trying his number.
About 5km down, my calm demeanour was really being put to the test! Every time I checked my phone all it would offer was "Emergency calls only". This is an emergency, fucker! So, I could neither continue to harrass Simon, nor could I enact Plan G, which was to phone a cab. I was now only 6km from home, it was almost dark, and even paying the cab to come out was going to be worth it.
By this stage I was wearing shoes when my feet couldn't stand the road surface, and socks only when the shoulder had either grass or a decent mat of pine needles! It was shoes off when a passing car, about the 4th or 5th I'd seen, stopped about 50m up the road. A woman's head appeared out the window and she called out "are you alright?" My wheels were soon in the boot of the car, and I had my frame on my lap in the back seat. The couple were from Christchurch, and were in Wellington for the weekend to escape the terrible carnage down there. They seemed like lovely people, to whom of course I was very grateful!
Less than 10 minutes later, I was walking up my driveway, about 3 hours after setting out for my 41km ride. My new cleats were absolutely rooted, and my feet weren't much better. I'd been home about 10 minutes when Simon rang to see what I'd been after!
I patched the tube the next morning, with glue from my "other" patch kit. One week on, its still at a decent pressure... I've been enjoying the irony of that immensely. Go prepared folks!