Loaded and Broken
Like it or not, there’s virtually no way to be fully trained for a bike tour. No job pays the bills and comes with enough free time to go for a nine-hour bike ride on a daily basis. If I knew of such a job, I’d have it.
The closest you can come is to ride a bike every day, and ride farther when you can. But even if you could log 800 km/week, it would still be impossible to recreate the same conditions you’ll encounter when on tour.
Well, almost impossible. You can come close.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been logging about 400 km/week. It seems like a lot, but it still only half of the weekly distance of this summer's tour. But most importantly, I’ve been doing the weekend long rides loaded with all my summer gear. The impressive part is it doesn’t seem so bad! The difference between Valeria normally and Valeria loaded is comparable to the difference between Invictus (my road bike) and Valeria. Yeah, you can tell it’s slower, and it feels different, but it’s not a drastic difference. In the past, that’s been the case.
Most of the credit is due to packing more efficiently than ever before. The setup now uses only the front (smaller) panniers, mounted on the rear, a frame bag, and a few other smaller packs strapped to the handlebars. This makes Valeria a little tail-heavy, but the setup so lightweight in general, it barely matters.
But do you notice something about that photo? Yeah, the wheel…
Two days before I was to pack my bike and ship it to Oakland, I was riding home at dusk on a road I don’t use often. I didn’t notice that the shoulder stopped, then restarted, since the gravel was about the same color as the asphalt. When the pavement restarted, there was a lip about the size of a curb, only it was a cutout, making a hard right angle. When I hit it at speed - this was in the middle of a downhill - I heard a loud BANG.
There goes my rear tire. Oh well. That can be replaced.
I hit the brakes and stepped off, knowing I’d have to walk the last mile home.
Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
Oh no. Not the rim.
The rear rim had cracked entirely, and the spokes were shot as well. Upon examination, it looked like the front rim was also compromised. While touring rims are a standard size, they’re not the kind of thing a bike shop would have sitting on the shelf. For the most part, bike shops serve recreation first and utility second. The rims would have to be special ordered, and possibly the spokes as well. With less than 48 hours before shipping the bike, there was no way to get them here in time. They'd have to be sent to California.
So now it's a tough situation. Should the rims and spokes be sent to the hotel? Should I get a bike shop in Oakland to order them? Either way, it'll be necessary to visit a bike shop and have them buid the wheels. How do I get from the hotel to the bike shop with Valeria, considering she'll have no wheels? Maybe another one of the wedding guests can give me a lift?
This ain’t gonna be cheap, either. Grrrr...
from Western States