Always Bring Two CO2

In the Bay Area, especially in Silicon Valley, it almost never rains. It can be characterized as a desert because most years see less than 10 inches of rainfall. It rains three times a year in the early spring and on one of those days I had intervals to do. I waited until the end of the day to see if the rain would clear up and, since it didn’t, I begrudgingly put on my rain jacket and headed out on my bike. They always say the hardest thing to do is start your ride in the rain. I decided it was too wet to go out to Kings Mountain, a good even climb, and headed to Old La Honda because it was 15 minutes closer to home. 

I got to the climb and got on with the intervals. About halfway up the climb on the first set, I felt my rear tire slowly losing air. You know, that bouncing feeling in your seat and the feeling of pedaling through mud. That’s fine, I got off the bike, got my flat kit out, and started to change the tire. It was particularly difficult to get the tire back on the rim after changing the tube and the cotton rim tape was bunching up. By the time I had the tube in place, I couldn’t feel my fingers; the temperature was dropping quickly in the early evening. I managed to get the CO2 out and onto the tube valve and punch it into place. The tire expanded, but didn’t pop into place. Tubeless rims require the bead of the tire to sit properly within the rim or there is a good chance the tube will blow out. So, like any good mechanic, I start smushing my tire into the ground to try to get the bead to set. The tire soon bulged in the wrong way and I panicked and let the air out of the tire, worried that the tube was going to burst. 

But I only brought one CO2 cartridge. This was the first time I ever ran out of CO2 and it happened to be in the rain, in the evening, on the side of a mountain. So there I was, just standing around in spandex, wondering what in the world I was going to do next. I called my roommate, no answer. I called my coach, voicemail. I started shivering from the cold when a tiny classic car rolled around the corner. “Hey do you need any help?” “Yeah, do you have a bike pump?” “I live just up the road, give me a second.” 

And that man saved me from assured death. Ok, not really, but it was clutch. He mentioned he had to bike up Old La Honda everyday to get home from school as a kid and always enjoyed watching the cyclists tackle the climb. The worst part of this adventure was the dangers of descending back to the valley floor. I had poor hand tactility and coordination, so braking was tough, but we got there eventually. Needless to say, I didn’t get my intervals done on that day. Maybe I should have just stayed home.

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