Tue, 21 Sep 2004

Tour Des Lacs

Jenny and I rode the Tour Des Lacs this past weekend. We rode the 84 mile Long Route with Cruise Saturday, and the 73 mile Three Lakes Route Sunday.

The weather forecast for the week leading up to the event was dismal. We were dreading the prospect of rain both days. We were lucky, though. It was cold both mornings, and the road was wet for the first 40 miles or so on Saturday, but it never rained on us. And Sunday we actually got some sun.

I fixed three flat tires on the ride. The first came early in the ride Saturday. I generally climb the hills at my own pace and wait for Jenny at the top. As I was topping a mile long climb, my cell phone gave the message alert tone. Who, I wondered, would be leaving me a voice mail message at 7AM on a Saturday morning?

It was Jenny. "Marc, I have flat tire. Do you think you can come back and help me with it?"

The long stream of riders struggling up the hill must have thought I'd lost my mind when I turned around and headed back to the bottom.

Jenny had company when I arrived. Another lady cyclist had pulled up to offer moral support. And a motorcycle was parked behind her with the emergency flashers on.

Those motorcycles were a frequent and welcomed sight on the tour. Volunteers patrolled the course, directing traffic, assisting cyclists in need, and calling for help when necessary.

All three were looking at the bike. Jenny and the motorcycle rider were fumbling with tire levers. None really knew how to change a flat. So I gave a detailed lesson as I replaced the tube in Jenny's front tire.

About 5 miles later, we rode up on a lady who had removed the front wheel from her bike and was staring at it with a puzzled expression. Do you need any help? I asked as we approached.

If you don't mind, she said. "I'll watch closely so I can fix it myself next time."

She had the exact same bike as Jenny. The only two I've seen. I gave another crash course in roadside tire repair and we were on our way again.

At the first food stop in Rockford, we saw the lady that had lent moral support to Jenny. Have you fixed any more flats? she asked.

Yes. In fact, I have. She hadn't expected my reply.

Really!? Yours or your wife's?

I told her the story. A few minutes later she found us again. Hey, she said, "This is my friend! We've been riding together. I was wondering where she was." She had her arm around the lady whose tire I had repaired.

What a coincidence. Out of 800 riders, the two we'd met so far were together.

The third flat was my own. On Sunday morning I discovered my rear tire was flat as we were leaving the hotel room. At least that time I had the comfort a chair and a warm room to make the repair.

In another coincidence, we met a couple that had ridden the Spokane Autumn Century the week before. They happened to be in the crash I wrote about. They were following the lady that cried out and crashed right behind me. Apparently she completely lost control of her bike as she approached the corner. The woman we met on the TDL said she saw it unfold in front of her and shouted over her shoulder, Rider down. Her partner didn't hear what she'd said. When he finally saw the rider down it was too late. He slid into his partner, taking them both down, as he tried to avoid the fallen rider.

Obviously, they weren't badly injured. We met them at the St. Maries food stop about 65 miles into the first day's ride. They were riding well.

Another sight that became familiar on the ride was the Bike Doctor. A gentleman from Wenatchee has a fully equipped bicycle repair business in a trailer he pulls behind his truck. We saw him at just about every food stop and he always seemed busy. We heard other cyclists talking happily about the repairs they'd had done while they waited.

I bought a pair of cleats from him. Jenny and I both had worn cleats, but I didn't replace them until after the ride, anyway. I just wanted to give the Bike Doctor a bit of business in hopes it would help make his weekend profitable. I'd like to see him on rides we do in the future. You never know when you might need a repair.

The ride was a real treat. We covered some back roads we haven't been on in the 13 years we've lived here, saw some great scenery, enjoyed the outdoors, met some fine people, and met a long standing goal—to do the Tour Des Lacs.

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