Friday, May 6, 2016


There was a time, when I first started mountain biking, that a flat tire would end my ride.  Not only was I not wise enough to carry what I needed to fix my bike...I wouldn't have known what to do if I did have what I needed with me.  Over the years, I've learned to deal with a whole lot more than just flat tires.  I have to credit any ability I have to fix my bike mid ride to Mark Lentz and Jay Zech.  Mark has given me a whole lot of "on the trail" experience and Jay was kind enough to teach me a thing or two while at the bike shop.  

Doing a little maintenance on my bike -- July 2015
Flat tires suck...but when riding in places like Michaux State Forest (or even locally at Rocky Ridge)...they are bound to happen.  Generally, the rule of the ride is, each person carries what is needed to fix their own flat at least once...a tube, a pump or CO2, and the tools needed to get your wheel moving forward again.  The only times I had to push my bike out of the woods, in recent memory, were the times I've forgotten to bring what I need.  We've sealed flats with dollar bills, power bar wrappers, and super glue.  I remember when Glenn's tubeless tire, filled with Green Slime, blew a side wall.  It looked like Predator threw up on the trail!  Regardless, we've always found a way to keep our wheels rolling.

Glenn giving Mark a hand with his flat near Tumbling Run at Michaux State Forest -- 2006
Mike Alicea fixing his flat near Woodrow Road in Michaux State Forest.  He has perfect technique -- June 14, 2014

My son, Alex, experiencing his first road ride flat -- June 18, 2014
It would be nice if flats were the only thing that happen to a bike while riding....but that's not the case.  Some mechanicals take a little more skill to fix.  Everything I carry with me cycling is because of the experience of not having it when I needed it.  When I don't have what is needed a little creativity can go a long way.  Bolts fall off of a bike when you least expect it and chains break.  In Timmy's case, his chain seems to break every couple minutes...

Tim fixing his chain at the Lakes -- April 28, 2013 

Tim fixing his chain at Rocky Ridge -- June 30, 2015

Tim fixing his chain at the Lakes -- October 17, 2015

Tim fixing his chain at the Lakes...again -- October 17, 2015

Me waiting for Tim to fix his chain at the Lakes -- October 18, 2014

Probably the best person to have with you when something happens to your bike is Mikey.  The man can fix anything (and tell you the make, model, and serial number of the parts he needs as he is fixing it).  He has a knack for bike maintenance that I will never know and he's saved my butt more than a few times in the middle of a ride.  Mikey, you're the man and I'm so pumped to be riding with you again soon!

Mikey fixing my brakes in Patapsco Valley State Park -- August 16, 2011
My most desperate fixes have come during adventure races.  While racing the French Creek Fling Adventure Race in 2011, I blew a tire two minutes into the race.   It took me ten minutes to fix it...all the while being passed be the entire field.  Ultimately I finished in 5th place over all...but only seven minutes behind the first place team.  Big lesson learned:  I need to fix my flats faster!   Ironically, my biggest mechanical happened three years prior in the same race.  My rear derailleur ripped completely off of my bike.  After removing a few cables and cutting up the strings of my Camel Bak to tie things up...I turned my 2006 Epic into a single speed.  Anything to keep moving forward.

My make-shift single speed after the completion of the French Creek Fling Adventure Race -- October 2008

There are, I've found, things that happen that you can never prepare for.  When this happens, your bike ride turns into a hike...which can also be fun.  A few years back I was riding at Governor Dick with Mark Lentz.  The trails at Governor Dick are littered with boulders the size of my pick-up truck.  Such a fun place to ride...unless one of those rocks tacos your rear wheel.  Mark and I pushed our bikes out that day and explored stuff that we wouldn't have otherwise...keeping our Garmins running the entire time.  Mark's claim to fame that day is that he still  has a KOM on a hill we pushed our bikes up!  That's so like Mark.   
Regardless of whether we are ultimately forced to hike our way out or if we have the mechanical savvy to ride through any problem the trick is to just keep on moving.  It's a good metaphor not just for biking...but for life.  

The last second I had on a usable rear wheel in Governor Dick -- April 1, 2013

Showing off the damage to  my rear wheel -- April 1, 2013

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- May 6, 2016

Tim...fixing his chain at Rocky Ridge.  I should mention that Tim once fixed Mikey's chain for him...with a rock!