August 2, 2016 – Partly Cloudy, 85 degrees
Miles Today: 34
Miles to Date: 13,814
States to Date: 38
The moment I wake up I wonder: is my bike tire good? Though I have a very short day, I take a quick appreciation of the Shenandoah River from my host Chuck’s deck and then I’m out. Tom looks fine; my tire is firm. I speed down Chuck’s steep hill. It’s all great, until it isn’t. Two and half miles out, my back tire is flat again; my fifth flat in less than 36 hours.
I ride Schwabe Marathon Plus tires, expensive, heavy-duty tires renowned for no flats. I did over 6,000 miles flat free on my last set. Today I learned the downside of such sturdy tires. When something does penetrate, it can nestle in the rubber and not puncture the tube until the wheels roll and things heat up. That’s the only reason I can explain why repeated repairs held pressure, even overnight, and I could ride for a few miles before the tubes lost pressure.
While Chuck sagged me again, this time to a bike shop in Winchester, I wondered if perhaps this whole bike thing was played out. From inside a car, the world looks pretty good and the AC feels great. But once I got a new tire/tube assembly from Element Sports and tested a few miles around town, I returned to open road and rediscovered there is nothing like being on a bike.
I had a perfect scenario, a summery day winding through the Shenandoah Valley, one of the most bucolic places on earth. I rode past plantations and mills, horse country and small villages. There is much conservation land in Clark Country and Virginia has wonderful, well marked, paved, side roads: cousins to Texas’ Farm-to-Market Roads.
Despite so many snags over the past three days, I arrived in Front Royal by mid-afternoon, in part because I set my bicycle tour objectives light, but more because a good friend came to my aid.