Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tour de Troit ride report

Yesterday, my mom, her friend Myrtle, Kendall, and I went to Detroit to stay for the night, since we were going to be doing the Tour de Troit bike ride today. My brother had a free room at the Hilton that was going to expire this weekend, so he let us use it. I have never actually stayed the night in downtown Detroit--we live about 40 minutes away, so there has never really been a need to stay there. But I love Detroit!

A mural next to the hotel parking lot

Greektown

We went to dinner at a restaurant called Redsmoke Barbecue, which was recommended by someone at the hotel. I ordered a caesar salad with pulled chicken, and it was AMAZING. Their caesar dressing was fantastic, and the smokey flavor of the chicken went really well with it. Everyone really liked their food, so I am going to keep that place in mind for when we are in Detroit again.

After dinner, we went to Greektown Casino. I'm not a big gambler (I play Keno occasionally at the bar, but I never go to casinos), so I didn't play; but Kendall really likes playing roulette, so I just went with her. I never understood roulette, so Kendall explained it to me, and it was actually really fun! I'm kind of glad I didn't have much cash with me, though, because I'm sure I would have played ;) Kendall played $25, and ended up winning upwards of $400 (walking away with $180, though).

My mom and her friend went up to the room, but Kendall and I went down to the hotel bar to chat. We stayed late! I don't remember what time we got back to the room, but I think it was around 1:00. We got up at 7:00 this morning for the bike ride. It was raining on and off, which was a bummer, but we just hoped that it would clear up.

Myrtle, me, my mom, and Kendall

Kendall and I went to Wave 2, and my mom and Myrtle were in Wave 1, so we split up before the race started. We stood around in the rain while we waited for the start. I've never seen so many bikes in one area. There were about 6,000 people registered for this ride!

Kendall and I waiting for the start

Roosevelt Park, where the starting line was

This was when we were waiting for Wave 2 to start

As soon as our wave started, Kendall and I just tried to stay together and find a little breathing room (it was pretty crowded). I was loving the ride--it was an awesome way to see Detroit. At around mile four, we had to go under a bridge, and there was water over the road. At the last second, I made the split-second decision to go up on the sidewalk while I rode under the bridge--a stupid decision that affected the rest of my ride.

It was really dark under the bridge, and there was a lot of litter on the sidewalk. There was also mud, and some glass. I couldn't see very well, and I heard a pop at one point. I got back onto the road after the bridge, and my bike felt "off" (hard to describe). I asked Kendall if my back tire looked okay, and she said it looked low. I pulled over, and my tire was completely flat.

I had just bought a spare tube yesterday, so I had that with me; but I had no clue how to change the tube. I watched several YouTube videos over the past week about changing bike tires, but it was just too overwhelming and I couldn't remember anything. I told Kendall to go ahead, and I would just walk back to the starting line--I didn't really have any other choice. I walked back about half a mile, and there was a tent set up that a few people were changing tires in. I was so relieved! A really nice guy changed my tire tube, and then I was able to ride again.

Unfortunately, I was now at the back of the pack, and even the sag wagon had passed me while I was waiting for my tire change! On the plus side, there weren't many people back there, so I was able to ride much faster (and pass the sag wagon). I wanted to try and catch up to Kendall, so I did a few fast miles. Then, I noticed that my front tire was looking pretty low. I pulled over again, and it discovered it was leaking air. I rode it as far as I could, but it only made it a couple more miles before it was totally flat. I didn't have any other spare tubes.

I started walking, hoping that maybe there would be an aid station or something that I could maybe patch it. After a mile or so, a guy who was riding by asked if I needed air. I said, "Yes! Thank you!" and he let me use his air pump. I hoped the air would buy me some time to ride to an aid station or something. It was leaking faster at that point, and only lasted a couple of miles before it was flat again.

At that point, I knew it was over. There was no way I could walk 20 miles to finish the course, and I didn't have any more spare tubes to fix my tires. I used Google Maps on my phone to see how to get back to the hotel, and it was about six miles away. So, I started walking, while pushing my bike with me. It took me nearly two hours, but I finally made it back to the hotel. I put my bike in my mom's car, and just sat in the car (because of course it was raining again!) to wait for the rest of my group. Jerry called me, and I asked if he could come pick me up. It was only 12:40, and I knew it would be a while before everyone else finished and got their food and drinks at the finish line (the finish line was another 2.5 miles away, otherwise I would have walked there, too).

Jerry picked me up from the hotel, and drove me home. I can't even begin to describe how disappointed I am that I couldn't finish the ride! I had NEVER gotten a flat tire before, and today I got two. I did learn quite a bit, though, and I will definitely do this ride again next year. I'll make sure to bring at least three spare tubes, and an air pump (I had an air pump on my bike, and I swapped it out for a water bottle cage yesterday! Doh). I will practice changing the tubes, so that I can just do it myself if needed.

Over all, it wasn't a super fun day, but I really did like the ride when I wasn't having tire problems. I wish I could have finished it, but it just wasn't in the cards today. Lesson learned!

21 comments:

  1. That sucks that you ran into those issues and had to cut your ride short, especially after training for the ride! I always try to practice changing my flat tires every year, even if I don't get a flat, just to be ready. Having 2 tubes and CO2 cartridges (or a pump) is helpful to keep you going! Best of luck with cycling- maybe there's another event you could do before winter?

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    1. I was just looking into some other events for this fall! There is another one in Detroit coming up, so I may do that one :)

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  2. UGH i hate when that happens! I should learn how to change my tires. and carry spares hahah. My tire has only ever gone flat once, and i took it to a bike shop... but if i were biking to work? that'd be awful! I'm sorry you didn't get to finish the race, thats so annoying!!

    www.slowandsteadykandm.com

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  3. Ask your local bike shop if they have really strong/puncture resistant tires - I don't know what they're called, but that's what my shop recommended for an upcoming bike trip for me. Probably pricey, but I don't know how to change flats, either.

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  4. Oh Katie I'm so sorry that happened! I ride a lot and only have gotten a flat tire once during my first Olympic triathlon. I had no tube but thankfully someone else did. It added 30 mins to my time but at least I got to continue. Now I carry a tube and co2 cartridge in a tiny bag under my seat. I hope you get another chance and keep enjoying biking!

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  5. It sucks but you loved it and there will be other events....I can't wait until the day I see the post when you do a Century ride :)

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  6. I have started to enjoy biking and lately my tires have been going slowly going flat a lot to where I have to blow them up before every ride and then they are pretty flat by the end again.

    I hate that!

    I may have to check out the YouTube videos and figure out how to change a flat too if I want to keep up with biking. (Nothing can be easy and smooth these days) ha!

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  7. No disappointment allowed. I am trying to tell myself that things happen for a reason.....and that it's all good and works out in the end! :-)

    That said, you also know that your DNF was NOT due to YOU but due to mechanical issues.....so hold your head high! And you know how to fix it for the next time!!!! (and yes, practice the tube changes!)

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  8. Good advice from the previous commenters! If you take your bike to the shop to get the flat changed, ask to watch them. They will show you how to inspect the actual TIRE (not the tube) to see if there is a fragment of glass, or even a sticker in it. That is often the reason when you get repeated flat tires---there is something still in the tire which just repunctures the tube when you sit on the saddle and the pressure increases between the tire and tube. I'm so sorry that happened on your ride, but you'll be a better, more confident rider because of it! And, I want to come to Detroit to see a baseball game---glad to hear that it's fun.

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  9. I am sorry you had a disappointing ride! Definitely practice changing your tubes at home so you don't have to try to learn under pressure. It's not hard to do (I just had one myself yesterday while riding). You just want to make sure you have a couple tire lifters, a hand pump and your tubes and you will be good to go next time.

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  10. Bummer!
    Changing tires is tough. They sell self sealing tubes...I would consider them. They are heavier, so not great if you are really racing. But would probably be perfect for everyday riding and tours like this.

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  11. I'm sorry it turned out this way! This really is the downside to biking. I'm an anxious person and sometimes I have to psych myself up to go out because there's a lot that can go wrong and ruin your ride. I know my local REI has free bike maintenance classes--if you like a hands on environment, that might be a place to go learn how to change tires, etc. (It really isn't that hard, but it looks super complicated.)

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  12. If you got a second flat then you likely had whatever caused the first one still within the outer tube.

    I went to my local bike shop and asked them to teach me hands on.. they were happy to do it.

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  13. I have a can of goo and compressed air that is supposed to seal smaller holes and air up the tire. I have never had to use it so I can't say how well it works.

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  14. How did the rest of your group do? Too bad you couldn't stay and cheer them on.

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  15. Bummer! I'm still proud of you for getting out there and trying a different type of race! I've done the LA River Ride a couple of times (NOT the century one, though -- EEK!) and have loved it, even though I only have a beach cruiser. I've been fortunate that the only mechanical problem I had was a slipping gear that forced me to ride in 3rd the whole time. I was able to get that fixed at the aid/repair station.

    The next ride will come sooner than you think and you'll be telling us all about crossing the finish line! :)

    Looking forward to hearing about your 10-miler. I need to get back on my training schedule for my next half in October.

    Martine

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  16. I'd love to hear how your mom, her friend, and Kendall did on the bike ride. I've heard it's a great event!

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    1. They were really far ahead of me after I got my tube changed. My mom and Myrtle did great! They didn't have any issues. Kendall had THREE flats and had to do a lot of walking as well. It would have added another five miles of walking (2.5 each way) for me if I'd have gone to the finish line (on top of the six I'd already walked). I was so far behind them that it would have been impossible for me to go see them on the course. But everyone agreed we'd like to do it again next year!

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  17. Bummer you couldn't go to the finish and end the day with your group. :(

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  18. There isnt a hilton downtown detroit

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    1. There is a Hilton Garden Inn on Gratiot in downtown Detroit.

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