There is no punishment for stupidity but there is no replacement for ingenuity! Lessons in this sport are often learnt from training or racing but from unexpected experiences…
Today was long bike ride day, which for me poses the question how to keep concentrating for that amount of time? Luckily, Scott and our new German arrival Joseph allowed me to join them for their ride – something outside of the gates of sanctity (or should I say sanity!). I was super excited at the prospect, as I had been wanting to do this ride for some time since I arrived here in Subic! We headed out after Scott had consumed his 15th dose of Starbucks coffee (the place only opened yesterday and the chicks there are already all over him).
We eagerly headed out of the Morong gate and on to the road to freedom! I have to admit to loving an adventure and this was the most that I have had in a few weeks. The road to Morong is as exciting as it gets – big descents (with interesting patches of rice that appears purposefully laid there for drying??? Not very conducive for fast moving vehicles?), and then of course the obligatory massive (profanity) climbs where one just never sees the end. Anyhow, I was rather pleased with myself having made it up those nasty climbs while still having the boys in view and then enjoyed the spectacular views on the way down to the town of Morong. It must be said, that if you are eager to venture out that way, a mountain bike is more preferable towards the end as the road gets really nasty (and that is coming from someone who regularly negotiates the pot holes of African roads).
We stopped for some much needed drinks (the lady at the stand had some trouble understanding why I would want 5 ice teas, 2 colas and 2 bottles of water just for me!) sat briefly on the pavement contemplating how lucky we were to be in such a place, and then headed off on our merry way…
It is Murphy’s law that things will always go wrong when you are at the furtherest point from home. On the way out of town (no easy task given the condition of the road), Scott hit a hole in the road and lost his water bottle. The words “oh no!” were barely coming out my mouth when I hit the same bastard of a hole and got a flat back tyre for my efforts. Humph! Not impressed…
In my efforts to show the guys that I am not some pansy girl that would waste their precious riding time I decided to demonstrate just how fast I could change a flat. Before anyone thinks of it, I DID check the tyre carefully, but it was indeed a pinch flat! Call it lucky but I probably have not had a flat in a year BECAUSE I am meticulous when it comes to that stuff. What I did not count on, was that the tube in my saddle bag was so unused that it was perished and chaffed from the zipper! I did not notice this until I used my bomb (co2 canister for all the illiterates in SA terminology), and the thing refused to inflate at all….
I let out an embarrassed giggle and looked at Scott, who being the gallant American handed me his tube and highly sophisticated bomb adaptor thingie. Insert the tube more carefully this time, check placement, put adaptor on tyre inflates! Yay! We are on the road again! As I put the wheel back in, I heard a suspicious pssssssst…. sound coming from the valve uh-oh! Joseph had a quick look and ascertained that the valve was not closed tight enough, ok, whew!
3k down the bumpy road and the wheel is flat as a pancake again. I am laughing, but it is in fact not very funny – we are out in the middle of nowhere and we are running out of spares. Thank goodness that we have a German with us – they are always super organised and have quality tools! Joseph then informs us that he only has a tube but nothing to inflate it with – Duh! Scott still had some gas in his CO2 adaptor thing, it should be enough to get some air in. Joseph hands me a green latex tube. In my opinion latex is a material best suited to another purpose than bike tubes, but I was not going to be picky at this point. Tube in, but very little gas and no means to pump up wheel….
Hah! A bit dumb that none of us had a pump, but coming from Africa, a girl thinks fast. We were stopped just outside a farm house, and I thought, while not make acquaintance with the locals. Put on the nice girl smile, greet in Tagalog and farmer’s wife rushes into the house to get pump! Unfortunately, although the pump was a magnificent floor version it had the wrong adaptor!
The boys then decided to go the 3k back into town with my wheel to the “vulcanising shop” which I had seen. Last hope, this type of establishment mostly occurs on very bad roads and services flat wheels.
In the meantime, I was invited into the farmhouse and offered a nice cold coke, while engaging the locals in conversation about various rice farming processes. I was about to be offered lunch when Scott and Jo arrived back with the bad news. Wheel could not be inflated. This was the end of my ride, but the start of the adventure that I was looking for!
Scott seemed a little worried when I said “Don’t worry, I make a plan like we do in Africa. There is always a solution to every problem…). Spoke to the farmer, who then told me that I could catch a bus back to Subic from Morong town, no problem! The farmer then said he would drop me off at the bus stop as he was on his way to deliver some rice. Organised! So my bike was carefully placed on top of the bags of rice by the farm workers and I joined then in the truck for the bumpy ride to the bus stop.
Once at the bus stop I became quite a spectacle for the kids coming out of school. I eventually started to humour their curiosity and laughed and waved back at them. The bus eventually came, and it was far from a Greyhound Luxury Liner, but I was very happy to see it. I negotiated with the bus driver (and the very curious passengers) to take me and my bike along with the chickens, fresh produce, and strange smelling things to Subic. For P45 I was sorted cheaply and had a 50/50 chance of getting there in this vehicle that looked like it might catch fire at any moment. I got a beautiful scenic trip on a road I would have never travelled before, and animated conversation from chicken bearing locals.
As I passed my fellow team mates on the road (only I was in the bus), I felt a bit guilty (ok, and stupid!) for not being able to complete my long bike ride, but was there any point to throwing a hissy fit? No, I had learnt a lesson and gained an experience more significant than a flat tyre.