After reading yesterday’s blog post (particularly if you read it in combination with any other post I’ve ever written) I’m surprised nobody emailed me with a first draft of today’s post written out, ready to use.
Because obviously, obviously, after attending a workshop on how to change a flat tyre and deciding that I don’t need to invest in a flat tyre repair kit just yet…
I got a flat tyre the very next morning.
With hindsight, I couldn’t dream up a more predictable scenario. I had forced myself to wake up at 4am for the second time in a row (so a bit of a killer, especially after a ‘late’ bike class the night before) to attempt to do the longest bike ride I’d ever done. I was aiming – for the first time! – for 40km. Too much! My confidence level was still at Level 5: Grand Master Idiot so I guess I needed to be taken down a peg or two. Throw in the new skills I had learned the night before and the distinct lack of purchasing the required items, and I was begging for a punishment from the Triathlon Gods.
The ride had been planned the day before, after being invited by my friend Wendy (a ‘former’ triathlete, though not at Noosa) to go for a ride to Narangba Valley State High School, where we would do some ‘technical laps’ as she called them. After a few texts back and forth, it dawned on me that I still don’t have a bike mount for the car (it’s on the list) so to even get to a meeting place I would have to bike there. I googled it and Narangba school is 14km from my house. Wendy kindly agreed to meet me on the way, but we were going to have to get up early and it was going to be a long ride in total. My first long ride!
So I woke up sleepy-eyed and scoffed some Sesame Snaps for energy. I packed a bag with basically just my phone in it (OK I also added a hanky because I am suffering with hayfever at the moment) which made me wish again that I had some lycra with a nice pocket in the back, like a real bike rider. I filled my water bottle, pumped my tyres and set off.
Riding with a partner for the first time was good fun – I was surprised to find that you actually can talk/yell to each other as you go along and Wendy showed me how to sit just behind her or to her side when on quiet roads with no cars.
She maintained an easy pace for me to keep up with and gave me tips for triathlons: she is the first person I’ve spoken to who has insisted I need to get elastic shoelaces for my running shoes. Apparently ‘The Athletes Foot’ (a shop) have the best ones, so I’ll be adding them to my list.
A highlight of the ride to Narangba was my survival of an attack from the infamous Australian Cyclist Killer, the native magpie. If you spend time in Australia you will see most cyclists have cable ties sticking out of their bike helmet on bizarre angles, to ward off the magpies that attack your head when you ride past a nest full of their young (which seems to be every suburban street in Spring, but should really be nowhere by now as it is day 10 of Summer)
The same magpie swooped at me twice as we approached the school, and the slap of her wings next to my head sounded like the crack of a whip – she had strength. I kept my head down and pedaled faster to get away – I didn’t have any sunglasses on and my only concern was having my eyes clawed out (yes, it happens to a select few every year) but I survived with both eyeballs intact and the pride of knowing I had become a Real Australian Cyclist.
So upon arriving at Narangba school, I had already equalled the longest ride I’d ever previously done and qualified as a True Blue Bike Rider. I felt good, and ready to do more. The technical laps that Wendy had promised were next, and turned out to be nice and flat but involving many, many turns and corners. There were roundabouts, T-sections, cross roads, right turns and left turns. We even had to do a 360 loop when we heard a screw fall off one of our bikes. We don’t know whose.
We chatted about lycra and bike shoes and different gear. We even discussed carrying flat tyre repair kits (really!) and I told Wendy about my maintenance class the night before. She laughed and said she has been riding for 10 years and doesn’t know how to change a tyre; she has always had her husband do it. Plus, she merrily pointed out, she rode for 5 years before she got her first flat!
We completed just under an hour of laps and it was time to go.
Goodbyes were yelled out and Wendy headed off to her house, while I went in the opposite direction back towards mine. I still felt strong and I had done 33km, so I was excited to know that by the time I made it home I would actually exceed the 40km target – by about 7km. What a blog post this will make, I thought!
I pedaled well and kept my head bowed as I went past the spot where the Magpie had swooped me previously. There was no sign of her. It was 6.30am by now and there were many more cars on the road than when I arrived, all about to start their commute into the city. As I went through the roundabouts I tried to keep as far left as possible, but then at the 4th one a car tried to overtake me as we approached the roundabout.
There was an island in the road that meant he couldn’t give me much space and I had to squeeze so far left that I had to go over gravel and rubbish – not ideal as you’re about to turn a sharp left at a small roundabout with a car next to you. I thought I might lose traction and slip off so I yanked on the brakes a bit but as I did, a sudden hissing noise started emanating from behind me. It wasn’t me, so it had to be the bike.
I don’t know how I managed to unclip my shoes, brake, and pull off onto the grass safely but I did it. I jumped off and inspected the bike – everything looked fine at first glance, but then as I rolled the bike forward I realised that the back tyre was as flat as a pancake. My ride was over. The Triathlon Gods had got me.
I looked forlornly at my bike computer. 35.69km… 5km short of the target. So frustrating.
I phoned Shane who laughed heartily at the irony and told me he was stuck working on some kind of emergency internet outage (his job is to fix such things) so suggested Grandpa could be back-up rescuer. I called the crazy Grandpa and almost before I had hung up the phone he was beeping the horn as he drove past me. Like a knight in shining armour. We got the bike into the back of his car and headed home, where I vowed never to tempt fate so audaciously again.
I’ll be out of action on the bike for a couple of days until I can get to a shop for parts. The interesting thing is, I miss her already. I didn’t even realise it – but I have grown to love riding my bike!