Could Be Worse

Almost went down at high speeds yesterday.


The first time was while I was leaving Yosemite. Coming down from 10,000 ft elevation, it was some of the prettiest views I’d ever seen. All of the sudden I felt wobbly, and with a  light pull on my front brake the tire pulled sharply to the right. I corrected, and realized my front tire had gone flat. I wrestled the machine back and forth while coming down from 50mph. The cliff edges that were the source of spectacular views moments earlier suddenly became possible liftoff locations. At one point, around 25 mph, the bike got so sideways I actually had to kick my heel out to keep from falling over, jarring my knee but correcting the bike nonetheless. Two thoughts occurred in rapid succession. The first was that I realized I could very possibly be going down. The second was a stern determination not to. After kicking the bike back up, I was able to ride the rear brake until slowing the machine enough to get off the road onto the gravel shoulder. After catching my breath and pulling out my tools, I identified a loose valve stem as the source of the problem. I tightened it, pumped the tire back up, and took off, checking the pressure every few miles, and then every fifty or so.
Coming down the backside of the Sierras was gorgeous, a wonderful farewell to from Yosemite. After that it was desert highways, cruising at 70mph for a few hours. The tire seemed to be holding up fine.

Until once again it suddenly went flat. The whole first incident coming down the mountains lasted about five seconds from blowout to standstill. At seventy, it was almost twice as long, and about twice the battle. The same two thoughts occurred, this time simultaneously.
“I might go down.”
By the time I came to a stop, I was completely on the rim, because the inner tube had been beat to hell by the speeds. One of the items I neglected to get before leaving was a spare tube. Total rookie move. I’d educated myself about a pretty good amount, for having two months between getting the bike and hitting the road. I was hoping to make it to Tucson before learning how to replace tubes and work on tires. Doh. It was about 2:30 when I called AAA, and was given the dispatch ETA of 3:40. There was a place an hour away that could sell me all I needed, and install it too. So from the 2:00pm disaster, I was looking at being back on the road by 5:30 at the latest, with 50 miles sitting in a passenger seat. I got off the phone and felt at ease, thinking it was almost too easy.

Because it was. At 4:20 I called AAA again to check on the status of the dispatch. They said they’d call me right back with an update. Half an hour later I receive a text message saying the tow truck would arrive around 5:10, which is good and dandy, except the motorcycle shop closes at 6. The driver showed up around 5:40, and looked like the kind of tow truck driver that would be three hours late.

Things could be worse. I could be missing chunks of meat from my bones. A day delay for being unprepared ain’t so bad. I’m looking at 438 miles to Phoenix, where there’s a street fair on Friday. After getting the tire fixed, I’ll have the rest of the day Thursday and the first half of Friday to make it. I’ve had 200 mile half days in the last week, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Sitting in the desert in 90 degree sun sucks. Wrestling your machine at high speeds twice in one day blows. Neither are as bad as bleeding all over the road. I’m thankful.

Broke down with a flat front just south of Olancha, CA.

There are no words I can use to describe Yosemite, so I’ll just wait until I get to New Orleans and begin editing the videos. A few photos will have to do for now.