Three more flats yesterday to make it four in six days. I am getting a little tired of this. I would, however, like to make it totally clear that the combined effort of those three flats did NOT prevent me riding my century yesterday. I, in fact, finished with 173km, and century number 16 for 2006. Maybe I'll break last year's total of 30 after all.
I had started the day with plans to attempt a double century, after the Floyd Landis debacle of the last couple of days, I figured it was time for a real lad to get up and take charge. I might have succeeded, too. I was feeling pretty good as I cruised down the Tweed Coast, beyond the mess currently being made of the Pacific Highway at Billinudgel and on toward Mullumbimby. Things seemed okay as I cruised over the short climb on the Coolamon road.
It was here that the problems started. First of all my headlight died. I had a feeling something was wrong, an instinct told me to give it a quick test -- it failed. I've since spent a siginficant amount of time today trying to fix it, and it's going to have to go back to the importer in Melbourne. That effectively ruined any hope of a double-century. Now I just had a century to aim for. Literally 200 metres later I found the first flat tyre of the day. A slow leak, so I simply removed the wire that had found it's way into the tyre, and inserted the spare tube. I then decided to head toward Mt Jerusalem, and home that way to avoid the Pacific Highway roadwork that might have caused the problem.
The climb of Mt Jerusalem was tricky in parts due to a gravel surface, parts of which hadn't dried out properly from the previous evening's rain, yet it was negotiated with relative ease. In the saddle between the two peaks, however, I found another problem, another piece of wire had found it's way into the tyre. This was a faster leak, and traffic here is non-existent, so I could find the leak and patch it easily. Removing the wire was a little more tricky, and eventually I had to cut it out with a pocket knife -- albeit carefully to avoid ripping the tyre any more. I spent a lot of time looking at this while doing so:
Wait, this view was even better.
I took stock of things after descending into Uki, and grabbing a water refill. I hadn't expected to come here. In one sense the ride had been disappointing because of all that had happened. Yes, the scenery had been marvellous, but it had lacked what I had been seeking. I just wanted to catch the tailwind home and forget about the whole day. Urliup, however, had other ideas. I negotiated the climb there easily, then hit the dirt road through the forest and immediately felt revitalised by the cool moist air. Now all was right with the world. This is what Urliup is about:
There was a final sting in the tail. The final climb at Bilambil has provided some annoyance in recent times, but I was coping with it comfortably yesterday, and on the verge of launching a blistering attack in the final stages and taking some serious ownage. It didn't happen as there was yet another flat tyre to contend with. This time on the front (the other two had been on the rear). This was a very slow leak, and only on the front, sod it, I'll just pump it periodically and keep riding for the last 30km or so. That actually worked reasonably well, but the end of the ride was accompanied by frustration rather than elation.
The headlight is going to Melbourne for a proper repair, meaning I'll be using the back-ups and old lights for however long it takes to return to me. I'm just hoping my pathetic attempts at fixing it haven't voided the warranty, but I wasn't thinking about that the night before the 600k randonee debacle. I'm also likely to be up for new tyres in the near future. I'm disappointed with the short life-span of the Continental tyre that I bought in Queenstown in New Zealand back in March. I really expected another couple of months out of that.
I'm sure there is something positive to say about something in the world that isn't called "Urliup", but right now I'm struggling to find it. Incidentally, it's the third time I've had three flats in a day on a century ride, and so far I've managed to complete all of them.