45 Miles - Flat Tire and All Sorts of Troubles; Cold Crosswind; Ugly West Texas Scenery - March 3, 2017
I biked east on Highway 176, frustrated with the shoulder's pebbles and rock particles.
After 3-4 miles, I stopped. I said a prayer, doing it audibly and even speaking into my voice memo function on my phone.
I was nervous. I was unsettled. And it wasn't warm either.
Then, a mile ahead, the back tire went flat. This was my second flat, the first happening on
Day 15 in Lordsburg.
I got to working on the flat.
See that black circular cover? If you're a bicyclist, you know that's what you need to spin off first.
How did I say this?
This is embarrassing to state ...
I couldn't turn it. It was stuck! Yes, really stuck. Somehow it was jammed, and for the life of me, I couldn't twist it off.
Never have I had this problem.
I kept trying. Really, that black plastic thing should twist off without much effort.
After about 15 minutes, I wasn't sure what to do other than to return to Andrews and find someone who could help.
With my bike beside me, I walked two miles to the east side of Andrews. I visited an auto repair place run
by two men, but the young man available only spoke Spanish and they were busy.
So I moved on. It kind of reminded me of the Interstate 10 hitchhike incident. There I was
walking with a broken bike by my side, hoping someone would help.
Andrews County, TX Roads Department
As you'll note in the video, I went past some kind of worksite with a garage and trucks, and when one guy waved, I sought them. They were friendly and
were willing to help. It turns out they were part of the county department for the roads in Andrews County.
There was Rufus (red hoodie), John (beige jacket), and the head mechanic in the gray jacket.
Even they had trouble getting that black thing off. In fact, it wasn't until the mechanic grabbed some pliers and did some gritty work
did he get it off. The reason it was stuck: the small coily thing was jammed in it.
"Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues." ~Confucius
Here's where I got a sizable dose of humility. The tire was off and they handed it to me. I said, "Okay, I can handle things from here."
I pulled out my tire spoon and got to removing the tube from the tire and frame. However,
the thick thorn-resistant tube in that narrow Gator skin tire was so cramped that I couldn't get it out on my own. Before I knew it,
the guys were helping me again. Once more it was an ordeal that took a while.
(Watch the video to the left from 4:27 to 5:19 to see them trying to get it out.)
Finally, we got the punctured tube out and the wheel was given to me. I said "thank you" and implied I wouldn't need their help anymore.
I worked the tube in the frame and tire, and all that was required was to air it up.
Do you know what happened next? Remember the pump I bought in Deming one week ago? I put it on the tube nozzle, and then realized something was funny.
It wasn't fitting. The pump had an ending for a mountain bike tube, and it wouldn't fit on my road bike tube!
(Thus, even if I had done everything on my own on the road, I would have needed help anyway.) Again, John, the mechanic,
and another guy spent a lot of time figuring out how to use their tire pump to air my bicycle tube. It was tricky and took many tries.
Meanwhile, all this time I stood there helplessly. Of course, I was grateful for the help.
But I also felt humiliated and ashamed. Here I was telling them that I was biking across America, and my "negative self-talk" was hammering me
about how foolish I must have appeared to be so inept at the task at hand. It shook me. I kept standing there with my hands over my face.
Once the tire was aired -- and that took plenty of time for them to do it right -- I got the tire back on and was on my way. Before I left,
Rufus (with the red hoodie) encouraged me. He kept saying things like, "Hey, sometimes you need help. It's OK." I thanked him once more and got a picture with him.
I was filled with gratitude. I told them that someday I might come back to Andrews and surprise their crew with pizza and beer. By the time I left,
it was near lunch time. The workers disappeared, some of them driving off and waving to me, while I hopped on the bike and pedaled east.
Here are two more quotes on humility ...
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." ~Ancient Hebrew Proverb 11:2
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." ~James 4:10
My poor bicycle ... lying there as we worked on the tire.
Back On The Road - Highway 176 in West Texas
The weather was cold. A swift crosswind made riding unpleasant. And there was NO scenery. I'm talking NONE. No houses. No towns. No services.
A steady flow of semis flying by me was more unnerving than usual. The shoulder continued to be rumbly. In short, it had become a sucky day.
There was one other troubling factor: I was now cycling without a means to air my tires if I had another flat.
(My pump would be useless until I obtained an adapter that I'd buy tomorrow at a bicycle shop in Midland.)
So obviously I was worried about getting another flat and being stranded once more.
The good news was Glenda in Ackerly was expecting to meet me when I arrived in Big Spring. After I texted her about my situation, she said she'd meet me
as quick as she could if I needed a ride. Otherwise, she'd hit the road after she got out of work at 4 p.m.
With the late start and all these adverse factors, I knew I'd likely not make it to Big Spring.
After 90 minutes of riding, I got into a groove. I shook off some of the "grumpies" that were nagging me.
I saw a lot of roadkill, and eventually I forced myself to stop and get some laughter in. :)
Martin County, Texas
When I crossed into Martin County, I turned back and said "good-bye" to Andrews County.
-The rough shoulder.
-The lack of scenery.
-Cpl. Ray's Coffee House
-The Andrews County Roads Department
It was experience I'll never forget.
There really wasn't much to photograph. Before reaching Tarzan, I called Glenda to tell her I wouldn't make it Big Spring.
Maybe if the weather had been warmer and the "mood of the day" had been better, I probably would have made it, but it wasn't meant to be.
Glenda told me to meet her near Grady High School, between Tarzan and Lenorah, and she was on her way.
A Crucial Support Vehicle in West Texas
About one mile from Lenorah, I saw a car ahead on the shoulder. Much thanks to Glenda for driving 26 miles (one way) to assist me.
Her help was a bright light on an otherwise gloomy day.
Glenda: When Good Friends Drive Out To See You Glenda, a proud West Texan and a Texas Tech supporter, beside her vehicle.
For the third time in as many cross-country trips, Glenda and her husband Sean and daughter Leyna would play a role in supporting me in this region.
I met Glenda over ten years ago, when the forums of my website www.ColoradoGuy.com were a
busy and happening place. Over the years, Glenda and Sean would
come out to Colorado during annual meetings where forum regulars would meet and do
fun stuff in the mountains. This family has kept in touch over the years, and in fact, Sean and Glenda are included in my book
Under a Triumphant Sky. At the start of
Chapter 11 is the scene where I was in their home and during dinner, they shared
their concern about me riding in those sometimes wild west Texas winds.
It was so good to see Glenda. Whenever I'd see friends in their locale, it felt so good to know
I had biked there from San Diego, California.
By now, the Pacific Ocean seemed a faaaaaaaaar away. :)
I biked another 1.5 miles to Lenorah. From here, Glenda shuttled me to Big Spring
where I'd stay in a motel. In past trips, I stayed at her house, but two years ago they adopted a stray cat whom they rescued ... and I'm allergic to most
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