Day 10 – Psssst. Another Flat.

Morning on the St. Clair River

Morning on the St. Clair River

We woke to the sound of fog horns blaring.  Barges were moving slowly up and down the St. Clair, through the thick fog.  While I took my time getting up, Dad snapped this photo of our tent in the early morning fog.

We biked south along the St. Clair river, and had breakfast at the Wee Village Cafe again.  They were out of pancakes, much to my chagrin, but I satisfied myself with french toast, as did Dad.  Another patron asked about our trip, and kindly gave us a map of Michigan, which was their home state.  It was helpful to have that map, not only because it helped to plan our route, but also because it had a mileage chart, something not all of our maps had.

The Sombra Ferry

The Sombra Ferry

A ferry would take us across the river to Michigan, and we got in line.  The ferry took 2 18 wheelers, or six cars, and a bunch of pedestrians.  A tanker truck was first in line to board, and after it was aboard, they had to readjust the boarding ramp, because the tanker made the boat list.  After the cars were on, the list evened out.  We actually spent more time waiting for the ferry and boarding, than we actually spent crossing the river.

Customs looked like they’d be simple, but we weren’t sure if we were pedestrians or vehicles.  We asked a pedestrian if he knew which line to be in.  He said, “I don’t know, I just come across here [the duty free store] to get my booze.”

Dad exchanged money while I checked Marine City for WiFi, of which there was none.  We headed up to St. Clair, and crossed over one of those grated draw bridges.  The grates make steering very awkward, especially when pulling a loaded trailer with traffic behind.  The rest of the ride was quite pretty, along the river.  As we rode along, we tried to find detailed maps of the county that showed all the roads.  They were hard to come by, but we eventually found a gas station that had good ones.

In St. Clair, we stopped and I found WiFi, but it was a pay-per use service called Marine WiFi.  Dad watched the bikes and the Bob, while I searched around the city for WiFi.  I tried the Library, but they didn’t have any, and directed me to a coffee shop, which I didn’t find, but I did find WiFi at at pizza shop.  I blogged and posted photos for a while, then walked back to Dad, and saw a neat metal sculpture of three people biking.

Safety first ...

Safety first ...

Dad had taken a photo of the sculpture, but had given the man his helmet, since the sculptor had neglected to give his subjects head protection.

Back on the road, we rolled on, till I felt a weird feeling in my rear tire like I had a flat.  We stopped to check but my pressure was fine.  Instead, my wheel was badly out of true, and we noticed that one of my spokes had also broken.  We took it out, called my mom to ask her to find a nearby bike shop using Google Maps, and we got directions to a bike shop in Richmond.

We got to the bike shop around 1:30, and were quite hungry.  We took the wheel off the bike, then the tube and tire off, so the mechanic could true it, using a truing stand.  Unfortunately, the bike store was busy, and there was only one guy at the shop.  So instead, we bought parts and Dad decided to put the spokes in himself, while I searched the town for food and a map.

Eventually, I found some food and a map of the county. Dad had had a hard time putting in the spokes and truing it on the bike, so he asked the mechanic to do it for us, and apparently the mechanic suddenly had some time, so he could do the work for us. I went back to the store to get more food while the mechanic did the work, and I got some drinks and Ben & Jerry’s.  Dad realized we didn’t have spoons for the ice cream, so we used the caps of our Gatorade bottles instead.  It worked ok, but we ended up using our tongues to get the ice cream out of the caps a lot.

The mechanic finished putting in the spokes and truing the wheel, and then we put the tube back in, and tried to get the tire back on.  It seems possible that the wheel is actually a little bit larger than standard wheels, because we had a awful time getting the tire back on.  We had to use tire irons, eventually.  We tried to pump it back up, but we had pinched the tube putting the tire on.  Ugh.  We tried again, using the tire irons again, and it flatted again. Tube out, new tube back in; we bought a CO2 pump and got the tube to inflate properly.

We continued on to Armada, on a short new bike path and then dirt roads.  We asked some folks on the roadside if there were any paved roads that went east-west, but they were mostly really far north, or really far south.  When we got to Armada, we were deciding whether we should eat, or keep going when I got another flat, standing still.  Number 3.  We scooted over to a gas station, and tried again, but cut the edge of the tube because we were using the tire irons.  That made us decide to use our hands instead of the tire irons.  With very sore thumbs, the tube went in, and the tire back on, and we re-inflated using a CO2 cartridge and pump.  The tube held.  We put everything back in the Bob, and started to get ready to go.  Psssssst…..Flat number 5.  We thought that we might be getting flats because of the new spokes, so we put some medical tape over the spoke holes.  We reassembled it, and tried to pump it up with CO2 again, but we misused the cartridge, and it spewed all over, and got our hands really cold.  We got the next cartridge, and pumped it up to 110 psi, but then we couldn’t get the pump off the valve stem.  Augh.  We tried to gently pull the pump off, but it wouldn’t go. We couldn’t ride with the pump on,  so we had to pull harder, and the next flat happened when the valve stem ripped out of the tube.  Totally preventable, and annoying.  Curse words were uttered.

We tried again, and slowly put in CO2, and used a different type of valve stem, which was easier to remove from the pump.  The final pressure was only 90 psi, but it worked.  We went to get food, both dinner and lunch, as it turned out, since we wanted to get in as many miles as we could before dark, since we had spent so much time fixing mechanicals.  Romeo Planks was a town we passed, and Romeo too.  The roads were pretty bumpity bumpity, and I was worried the whole time I was going to flat.  It was a little nerve wracking, especially with the Bob behind me.  We went up a hill, followed by lots of traffic.  Down the other side, we passed a sign, “CAMPGROUND ROAD.”  Oh, good.  A campground.  Perfect.  We took the road called Campground, and there was a washboardy downhill, during which I worried even more about flatting. Then we came out on a little pond, and we saw two beavers, and some swans.  The road seemed to be pretty residential, and we didn’t see any sign of a campground.  So, back up the hill.

Up ahead on the right was a church.  We turned off our tail lights, and went around back.  They had outdoor power outlets, so we were able to charge our phones and my computer. We ate our grinders, set up the tent, and I blogged for a while.  Then we rolled the tent fly part way off, so we could watch the stars as we went to sleep.


Miles: 44
Avg Spd: 15.1
Mechanicals: 7
Bunnies: 0
Roadkill: 13
Serious cyclist: 3
Hours of Rain: 0
Miles of highway with shoulder: 3
Miles without a curve: 5
Beavers: 2
Minutes Dad spent thinking about work: 0
Times I ran into Dad: 2


One Response to “Day 10 – Psssst. Another Flat.”

  1. Louise Says:

    Nate: how did you run into your dad — not once, but twice?!

    Anyway, S & N, I felt for you with all those flat tires! Strange that it just kept happening, one after the other and not before or after.

    Also, I liked the description “washboardy hill” – could picture it perfectly and as always, felt like a I was with you — only I was a lot more comfortable!

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