I am not sure if this counts as an epic ride but it has certainly been a challenge ride for me. South Australiaâ€™s Sea to Vines (C2V) ride is in its infancy and in fact will celebrate its third birthday in November 2006. It is a road ride (if done properly) and is called the C2V because it starts at Glenelg a popular seaside suburb of Adelaide the capital of South Australia and ends up in a very famous winery Wolf Blass in the also very famous Barossa Valley. A distance of 120kms comprising a ride inland (East) up into the Mount Lofty Ranges and then a turn at the top, left (North) to the Barossa Valley. A nice place to start and a great place to finish.
There is an alternative point to start and that is called Eagle on the Hill and it is close to the aforementioned top and therefore just before the left turn and from there the ride is just over a 100km in length. The majority of riders start at Glenelg a number such as I start at the Eagle but ride up from their homes in my case 25 kms away in Adelaideâ€™s north eastern suburbs. There are about 1500 riders in all.
Not much of a challenge so far eh? Well it so transpires I was the first rider to register in 2004 and therefore the way I see it the first official rider ever in the history of the C2V. It then transpired that after the start in 2004 I was the first person to pull out due to equipment failure (of sorts) and therefore according to the way I look at things I am the first person to pull out in the history of the C2V. I figure this makes me important.
So we pulled away at the start and headed up the remainder of the climb into the Mount Lofty Ranges and a short distance from the highest point in the ride â€“ Bang (sounds more macho than pop). It was followed by a rapid hiss and a number of exclamations of shock from the accompanying riders. A couple of revolutions of the rear wheel later and I realize Iâ€™m the victim. What followed was one cyclist causing more than his fair share of mayhem amongst the group by riding erratically (okay out of control) trying to stop, trying to keep going, trying to avoid other riders, trying to get out the way and trying not to dismount incorrectly. All I managed to do was stop.
Upon inspection I had blown a hole in the wall of my tyre. The tube had protruded through the hole and burst so amid numerous comments including â€œyou allright?â€, â€œbad luck sonâ€, and my personal favourite â€œyouâ€™re going the wrong wayâ€ I headed back down to the Eagle in the vain hope someone may have a spare tyre. Nope!
Only option was to sit and wait for the Glenelg riders to come through and then score a lift to the finish with some officials where I could catch up with family and friends and console myself with a few first class South Oz red wines – we make the best in the world by the way.
However at the last major stop 40kms from the finish by sheer fluke I met a lady who was driving her car as a support vehicle for her hubby and his mates and she said they had an old emergency tyre in the boot of the car. We quickly found hubby and he gave it to me without any hesitation (Bike Riders are the best people). I went off to find my helmet etc and by the time I got back Hubby and his mates had the tyre inflated and the wheel in place, they had left and I was ready to go. I rode the last 40kms apologizing to riders as I passed them and they had no idea why. I felt incredibly guilty passing them when I was in the first 10kms of my ride and they had already done 80km plus of theirs.
Now this is a truly fat cyclist 114kgs (250lbs) circa 2004 C2V. No Wonder the rear tyre expired. Note the not very clever use of chin strap!
So to 2005. I had a year of riding under my belt including a couple of other classic rides, I was still 114kgs and was ready for the C2V challenge again. Once again starting at the Eagle we headed up the hill. This time I mentally cheered as I passed the point where I stopped last year then over the top and getting ready to turn left. The road was a bit bumpy but it did not explain my inability to turn left, the puncture in my front wheel did.
Swearing I pulled up and set about fixing it. Again with a lot of sympathetic cries of â€œbad luckâ€ ringing in my ears as riders passed I thought at least it is only a puncture. Got a spare tube out disposed of the punctured one correctly fixed the bike and rode off. 100m along the road the tyre is flat again. Dumbfounded I assume I have pinched the tube I spin the wheel to get to the valve and I feel something go past my hand. Upon closer inspection I have a needle (sewing machine not a hypo) that has gone into the tyre, through the tube at an acute angle and is sticking out the wall of the tyre on the other side. It is fully 8cms long. With a mixture of sweat, suncream lotion and other crap on my fingers I could not get any purchase on the needle to pull or push it out in either direction. I start to walk hoping that mates following from Glenelg will spot me and offer assistance.
Before they arrive a bloke comes out of his house as I pass and offers help. He produces some pliers (an item I always carry now) and the needle is out but not before it put up a fight.
I sit in the shade pull another tube out dispose of the old one correctly and begin to thread the new one into the tyre. I go to put a little air in the tube and there is no guts to the valve (once again the French have run away â€“ French valve get it?). I should explain my surname is Champion de Crespigny (no truly it is) so Iâ€™m allowed to have a swing at the French. So now Iâ€™m down to my last tube taking great care or so I thought as I installed it and with no idea how I disposed of the valve less one I start to pump it up but at about 30psi nothing seems to be happening. I inspect the valve and find it has snapped off â€“ no more air going in but on the plus side it is not letting any air out. More swearing follows.
Riding very gently I head off to the first stop. All the Eagle riders have gone none of the Glenelg riders have arrived yet. On the steeper hills I am having to walk up so the rim does not keep bottoming out on the road and also having to walk down as I discovered quickly it was very difficult to stop on an almost flat front tyre as well as hard to steer. Walking up the last and steepest hill before the first major rest station some bloke I have never met before pulls up alongside and chats with me as he rides at my walking/pushing pace. On hearing my plight he produces a new tube from his pockets hands it to me and then rides off (Bike Riders are the best people). I stop at the top of the hill to fix the tyre and discover my next problem.
I could find nothing thin enough and or stiff enough to actually push the rest of the valve in to let the air out of the tube. Messing around I got some air out but not a sufficient amount to let me get the tyre off, just enough to make riding more difficult. I had to walk down the hill and then very carefully ride into the rest stop. As I stop my mate Damien rode in listens to my tale of woe and laughing loudly he immediately produces a car key and lets the tyre down. Before you ask I was not carrying any. He grabs a drink and is gone and is looking forward to telling my girls (wife and daughter) at the finish what has happened to me this time. (Most bike riders are the best people)
I fix the tyre and ride on and nothing of any further note happens until the finish. Thatâ€™s four tubes I had gone through in the first 25kms and 3 in 100metres. I must say the guard of honour which was really Sal my wife, Dana my daughter and our friends that had gathered at the finish line wanting a bit of a laugh at my expense was a nice touch. My friends and family believe that I and others like me are living proof that the Chaos Theory exists and is indeed proven.
When we got home a few hours later I took my bike off the car rack and went to wheel it into my garage. The front wheel was flat!
2006 â€“ Iâ€™m over 18kgs (40lbs) lighter, Iâ€™ve got my new Orbea (from Mike Turtur Cycles Main North Road Prospect South Australia) and Iâ€™m going to nail it this time non stop, incident free and looking good. Well you can see the picture not good but maybe a bit better.