It had been a little while since I had flatted in the middle of ride. It was a good thing. It seems that when you go a stretch and not have anything to throw you off kilter, a ride can become not much different than a walk in the park.
I was most of the way up on Laurel Mountain in Pisgah when I could feel the back end was a little too soft. Continuing on a segment, I decided to stop and check.
We climbed up the next bump and stopped. I took out a tube and skewered off the tire. A quick check of its inside, I didn’t feel or see anything. A second check by a fellow rider found a teensy weensy thorn poking through.
Whew. Thank goodness I hadn’t put the new tube in.
I then put it in. After getting it set, I went to pump it up. The valve stem was gone. It had broken off inside my pump.
Three fellow riders continued on. Two stayed back. One of them pulled out a spare tube and saved me from having to pull out the patch kit. Sooner than later, we met up with the others, who were waiting, at the juncture to go up on to the instersectoin where Pilot Rock Trail crossed over, and where we would turn left for the downhill.
I was looking forward to the rock fest. Yet, the uneasiness induced by the flat and riding on a handpumped tube with no spare one in the pack had me mentally imbalanced. A few minutes into the downhill, I was physically off balance.
My left foot caught a branch sticking out on the left and head-over-heels I went. The endo immediately made the ride an adventure of the mind. I was on edge.
Clipping back into the pedals, I put my head back on straight and pointed the front tire downward. No more spills occurred. I was able to loosen up and enjoy the Appalachian bone-jarring.
Regrouping at the end of the primary descent, we turned left and before long we hike-a-biked up to the trail-crossing to turn off to Slate Rock. Some trail grub was ingested, and pulls on the hydration pack went down the gullet.
A few photos were snapped atop Slate. I needed to finish up, and then drive back to Indiana yet. We pedaled out.
Down we went, smiling. We bottomed out at the forest road, and I needed to get back to the truck. The others ended up deciding to end their ride for the day.
Five miles on a forest road in autumnal colors on a 65 degree day sounded like a nice way to finish up two days in western Carolina. Going into the final turn of the gradual sloping loss of elevation, I went wide on a cement in-road bridge over a stream and caught a sandy patch, leaning a little to low and squeezing the rear brake a dab to hard. The back tire slid out, and down I went.
The only thing that hurt was my elbow. It wasn’t the bone though. I had scraped off a 4 inch long and 1 inch wide swath of skin and gashed a cut in the center of it.
What a way to end a ride! I climbed the final 10 minutes or so, humbled by the way of the trail.
We never know.