Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Battle Against Mother Nature

After two weeks of Mission Trips and a week of painting the youth room, I was ready for a break. What better way to take some time off than by biking from Orlando to Savannah? 

After briefly planning the logistics of the ride during the middle school mission trip, I was in touch with Matthew Norman and we were determined to tackle this ride together. Matthew bought his gear, equipped his bike and was soon ready to go.

Fast forward to the morning of the ride to see our plans plagued by horrible weather. I'm no meteorologist, but it appears that when high pressure on one side and low pressure on the other side of the country collide together with a large depression forming in the south -- terrible weather ensues.  

After four hours of furious debating on whether or not to continue as planned, I reminded myself that I would regret it if I did not at least attempt the ride. With that mentality, I called Matthew and the last second packing commenced. 

Two hours later, We were packed in the minivan heading to Titusville, dropped off and on our way. 

We began pedaling away despite the dark clouds surrounding us in every direction. With a 15 mph tailwind pushing us along, we began covering ground exceptionally fast holding a 21+mph average. We were 19 miles in before we felt the first raindrop, and as I turned around I soon wish I hadn't. Behind us a raging storm had developed and brewed into a mass of dark, swirling clouds visibly moving in our direction very, very fast. Matthew took off ahead of me determined to out-run the approaching rain, holding a 26-27 mph pace. We were flying along racing mother nature as she soaked us and flashed lightening all around when BOOM, my rear tire blew out and the weight of my body coupled with 40+ pounds of gear slammed the rim into the asphalt, causing my bike to fishtail uncontrollably. I remember leaning towards the grass on the shoulder to my right and my bike eventually came to a stop after braking for well over 15 feet. 

Upon looking at the tire, I found a hole the size of the top of your ring finger in the sidewall. I unhooked both bungee cables, unpacked my panniers and flipped my bike over to get the tire off. After replacing the tube and folding my 5 dollar bill in between the new tube and tire, we were off again. Everything seemed fine for the next 3 miles until I began to hear a repetitive tapping noise coming from my rear wheel. Looking down, I saw the bulge of the tube making its way through the hole and rubbing against the downtube of the bike during every revolution. We stopped again, took the tube out and this time used duct tape to try and seal the hole. After pumping 80 PSI into the revamped tire, I went to attach the wheel to my bike again, but saw something distressing. The tube not only pushed the duct tape out of the way, but was now protruding at least two inches through the hole and away from the tire. Holding the entire wheel up to eye level so that Matthew could also see the irregular tube... It blew in our faces. Imagine a shotgun going off in your ear leaving you shell shocked and ringing. We both stumbled back confused and dazed, and then laughed it off. 

We were now left with our only choice to hitchhike to the nearest town. It only took about three attempts of holding our thumbs out to flag someone down. The first to stop was in a 4 door sedan and could be no help without a truck to store our bikes. We thanked him and he drove off. The second to stop was a man in a Ford F-250 with a bed big enough to hold both bikes, our gear and the two of us all together. He took us 7 miles up to the next town of Oak Hill, complete with a gas station and dollar general ran by rednecks. We sat in front of the Dollar General trying to figure out what our next move was to be for two hours before we got a ride back home. 

All in all, I am glad we at least attempted the trip. I was rather upset at first, but looking back it was for the better that we didn't continue. Storms continued to assault the coast all the way up to Savannah, and a ride in the cold rain would not have been enjoyable. 

It was still a day full of adventure, and that is all we wanted.

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