Open Road Press

Mechanical Problems August 3

Tim and I will readily admit, we are not bike mechanics. When trouble brews in that area, we feel anxious and insecure. So when we were doing very basic maintenance on our chains (oiling them) before we left for the day, Tim noticed a chunk of his tire was torn. Thank goodness for duct tape. Shortly after taping the wheel we were off to Fredericksburg, Virginia. The roads were smooth, windy, and picturesque.

We were rather pooped from inadequate sleep the night before at an inadequate motel (limited breakfast, no refrigerator for our water bottles, no ice bucket in the room etc.) As soon as we got on some of the back roads for the day, we heard several voices behind us. Usually we can ride in these rural areas with no one around! But today, we were surrounded by 49 other cyclists and their support vans. I was the only woman rider among 50 guys! It was great! Tim and I were both sleepy and rather unmotivated in the morning and until these younger guys riding from Richmond, Virginia, to Washington, D.C., showed up. They were having a reunion of sorts as all of them had biked across America to raise money for disabled children and adults through the Push America organization. They did push us even though that wasn’t their job or intention. It is wonderful when God puts people in our lives, even unbeknownst to them. Just having them there provides the motivation we didn’t have on our own. Check out www.pushamerica.org for more information if you are interested in finding out more about their organization.

After riding about fifty miles or so and getting through most of Fredericksburg, I noticed a sign for a bike shop in Old Towne, an historic section of Fredericksburg. Never thinking we would need one–since the duct tape was keeping Tim’s tire still rolling along, we crossed the Rappahannock River. As soon as we were about 500 feet from the bike shop I suddenly stopped for a quick bathroom break. I noticed a bubble on my tire. It was a lump underneath the tire like a ganglion cyst I had on my hand many years ago. The tire was squishy, so we inflated it. We thought that might make the bubble go away, but it only caused another one to pop up in a different part of the tire. We turned around, walked our bikes back across the bridge, and the bike shop switched my tire within moments, saving the (un)mechanically inclined time and frustration. They didn’t have a new tire in stock, so they mounted one of the used spares we had been carrying from our prior trip. The bike mechanic recommended that Tim’s duct-taped tire be replaced, so he sent us off in the direction of a second bike shop in town, where they quickly replaced Tim’s tire too.

Now we were ready to roll into the closest motel for the night, in Fredericksburg. Our gps, however, sent us the long way–over five miles, perhaps in an effort to avoid the incredible traffic snarls in the area. Little did we know our tiresome tire travails were not over…

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