It probably wasn’t the best plan, but my second day was going to be the longest of this trip. In order to make it to my next warm showers host, I was going to have to travel 95 miles. For this reason, I started at the crack of dawn. The actual mileage on the bike ended up being closer to 88 miles. What I hadn’t noticed was that the ferry ride of 7 miles had figured into that calculation. You can see the details here at route statistics. Regardless, the welcome I got from Margie and Jim was more than worth the mileage!
Besides the long mileage, the day was going to be filled with many interesting and challenging crossings involving tall bridges, narrow passes, ferries between ports, and the usual pointless up and downs (PUDs). And what would an adventure like this be without at least one flat tire. If you guessed it was on the easy to change front wheel, you are of course wrong and never met a guy named Murphy who wrote a famous law.
Three years ago, I started my ride with a set of “Gator Skins”, because I was told they were the toughest, most puncture resistant tires on the market. A thousand miles into the ride, I got my 2nd and 3rd flats 10 minutes apart at the Kansas border. I had not rotated the tires between front and rear. Carrying the panniers on the rear, it got much more wear than the front and was pretty thin 1000 miles into the ride. The Gator Skins were replaced by a set of “Armadillos”. While I saw many dead and flattenned armadillos along the road, mine were not one of them! I’m not sure what the hierarchy of tire toughness actually is, but I chose a set of “Marathons” for this ride. They came highly recommended and my warm showers host told me tonight that he went cross country more than 3000 miles without a flat. Needless to say, around 65 miles into todays ride, Hidalgo started feeling a little bumpier than the road conditions suggested he should. When I stopped and felt the rear tire, I could tell that he had lost some pressure. I pumped it up as best I could with my Pocket Rocket hand pump. When I checked the tire again 2 miles down the road, I could tell that this was not going to hold and I would need to change the tube. I’m too tired and it would take too long to adequately describe the ordeal it is to change the rear tube on Hidalgo’s touring set-up. IT’S HARD. I almost forgot to run my fingers along the inside of the tire before putting on the new tube. I’m glad I did because I could feel a sharp, small object a few inches from where the valve would have been. It turns out that a tiny wire fragment, similar to wire brush filament only a few mm in length had made it though to the tube. Thirty or thirty five minutes later I was back on the road.
There were beautiful views of the Puget sound throughout the day. After the flat, I saw some of the best crossing the Hood Canal Floating Bridge. Other than a lot of pointless up and downs, the final stretch to Jim and Margie was pretty easy. Speaking of my warm showers hosts, they had also done a trans America ride in 2015. Jim went east to west as part of a small group and Margie was his SAG (support). They fed me like I was a foreign dignitary. There was also just the right amount of beer to keep me balanced. They’ve told me about the breakfast I will get tomorrow morning – it might be hard to keep a tradition of 2nd breakfast. I might not need it until my first hotel stay. Warm Showers hosts are the best. They have great stories, incredible hospitality, and I feel like we could have been friends for years, though we have only met for a few hours!
I had a similar experience this afternoon on the ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend. Another biker (from Bellingham, WA) was hopping on the ferry about the same time and we ended up parking our bikes together. After mentioning my long ride, we went upstairs, shared a table and talked about all kinds of “life subjects”. Mentoring, personal histories, relationships, future desires, and values. It’s just another thing that makes a trip like this become an adventure.
The Lone Rider