Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lower Deschutes Trail Biking Disaster

Went out for what I thought would be a relaxing bike ride along the Deschutes River today and came back exhausted 3 hours after dark with two flat tires.  The ride was beautiful and the cold weather was perfect for riding along the river.  I saw a bunch of historical items along the way and an old homestead but I did not expect the path to be littered with sharp thorns... Click the title to read all about this epic bike ride for me....

Something in my gut told me to stay home with Emily who was still tired from biking Sandy Ridge but I was up for another adventure and there was blue skies out the window…. So, I packed up my bike again in the truck and headed out towards The Dalles for what I thought would be an easy ride on the Lower Deschutes Trail.   Right off the bat it turned out to be a longer adventure than I had expected as the drive took about an hour and a half when I thought it would take under an hour.  

When I pulled into the parking lot and got geared up it was 1:30pm so I only had about 3.5 hours of sunlight left in the day to do the 30 mile round trip out to the old Harris Ranch and back.    It was a very flat gravel/dirt path the entire way without much elevation gain and I do 17  miles to work in about an hour and half so I thought it was doable.  It was a very pleasant ride out to the ranch along the pretty Deschutes River below me.  I biked past rolling hills and a few historical structures such as an old rail car that was left after the path was converted from a railroad line to the bike path it is today.  I also passed some very old farm equipment and a rock fence post with a bunch of antlers on it.  

When I got to the Harris Ranch at 2:45 pm I thought I was making good time so after checking out the very old (and leaning to the side) building I decided to continue on down the path past a a historical marker and very old water tower further into the mountains.  My guidebook said that I would reach a turnaround sign in a few miles so I kept biking. The path narrowed and showed less use beyond the ranch but it was still rideable so I kept going.  I checked my gps on both my phone and Garmin unit and noticed I had gone over 17 miles and it was now 3:30pm… time to turn around.

This is when my heart sank… As I got off my bike for a rest and a snack I noticed my back tire felt a little mushy.  I looked at it and to my horror discovered it was covered in thorns and deflating fast… SHIT.  I pulled out a spare tube and took the tire off.  I ran my hand through the inside and sheered off all the sharp ends of the thorns before putting the tube in and getting out my CO2 cartridge I had with me.  Unfortunately the CO2 cartridge only filled my 650B tube just over half way… and I didn’t have a hand pump with me.  

Then it occurred it me that my front tire might be in trouble too!  I looked at it and saw something stuck on it and pulled it… SHIT AGAIN.  Immediately air started hissing out of the hold I had just created by pulling a thorn out.  I frantically looked around for the thorn to shove back into the hole but couldn’t find it.  I was 17 miles into the ride with about an hour left of sunlight, a half inflated back tire and a front tire that was deflating.  No time to think, I shoved a granola bar into my mouth jumped on my bike and peddled hard because I knew my front tire wouldn’t last long.  

My legs were pretty shot by now after Sandy Ridge on Saturday and riding 17 miles to where I was but I was able to make it back to Harris Ranch and a little further down the trail before my front tire completely gave out and flattened to the ground.  Thankfully, I had made it past the worst of the path and only had smooth dirt ahead of me.  Because it was so smooth I decided to just ride the flat tire out… for the next 15+ miles….  It was slow going and when I couldn’t see anymore I put on my headlamp and crept along, being very careful to avoid any big rocks as to avoid damaging the front rim.  It felt super weird on my squishy back tire but everything held up.  

When I got back to the old railway car I stopped for a rest.  It was past 6pm and completely dark without a moon for any light.  I knew I was safe and that animals had no reason to attack me but Cougars do live along the Deschutes and seeing pairs of eyes looking at me from the trees above the river was a bit unnerving all by myself in the dark.  It was exhausting peddling out on flat tires but I finally made it out close to 7:30pm.  I quickly packed up my stuff and jumped in the truck to reach service to call Emily.  Once I had talked to her and explained I would be late I detoured to Hood River and stopped for several much deserved slices of pizza.  Never will I ride anywhere again without at least 2 spare tubes and a reliable hand pump!  Lesson learned!

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