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Day 69: a ride that went downhill

Saturday, August 12, 2023
South Lake Tahoe, CA โ†’ Placerville, CA
100.77 km && 941 m elevation [62.62 mi && 3087 ft elevation]

๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Song for today: Sobradinho โ€” Sรก e Guarabyra ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท

Today, I had access to the @mitstudents account as part of our Spokes team Instagram takeover!

Most of what happened today was recorded in the stories there, but in case you missed out, you're in luck. Here are those stories posts, plus some additional *previously unseen* fancy, schmancy footage.

For most riders, it was a relatively chill and uneventful day. It was mostly a downhill ride: over 1500 m (~5000 ft) elevation loss!

For me, though? It was more of a "two halves"-type situation...

Half 1: fun

Echo Summit

We started the day by Lake Tahoe, first headed south towards Meyers along a nice bike trail in South Lake Tahoe. In order to get out of the Tahoe basin, we climbed up Echo summit on US-50 until Tahoe was a tiny blue blurb in the distance.

Here's Duha making the rest of us look bad burning those 8% grades.

Echo Lake

As we got to the top of the summit, we took an old mountain pass road to get to Echo Lake, a more secluded alpine lake south of Tahoe.

After a bunch (like a bunch) of parked cars, we finally got to the edge of the water. We were greeted by a swarm of fun rangers that gave us the lay of the land as we explored the lake. The water was still cold, but the views were amazing!

Half 2: not fun

Tire pimple makes an early appearance

As we were about to leave Echo Lake, we noticed a hissing sound coming from my tire โ€“ which had also become significantly softer/flatter compared to on the ride up. Looking at it more closely, we saw a large bump between the two types of tread in my back tire: the connecting rubber between them was ripping up!

Non-AAA roadside repair

After trying to ride it out for a while, my tire was pretty much flat within 15 minutes or so. It was time to take the tire out and try to patch it, again (if you've been reading the blog, you'll know tires and I don't get along that well).

First, I took the tire off to add a patch under the pimple area on the inside of the tire. There wasn't really that many places we could go to, so we got to work right there on the road shoulder.

It was all going fine and dandy, until it was time to pop the tire back in place. For the tubeless tires we're running, we need quite a bit of pressure to get them to seat properly. Normally this is fine, since I carry a carbon dioxide canister with me just for that. But โ€“ the horror! โ€“ my can ran out before the tire was properly in place. It looked pretty much like game over.

Local contractor-assisted (lesser) roadside repair: time to go!

As we sought some shade while waiting for the van to turn around and come with the tools to reseat the tire, we ended up moving into the front yard of a house under construction by the road. The contractor came out, and quickly offered his air compressor.

Only thing was, it was buried under his trailer of construction equipment. A deal was born: we help unload the trailer, he lends us the air compressor. Without much else to do, there we went carrying around power tools, styrofoam insulating plates, what have you.

Using his air compressor, we were able to finally pop it in and pump it up to a good-enough pressure. Crisis averted (albeit unconventionally), and time to get back on the road to finish that ride!

Half 3: even less fun

Ha, bet you didn't see that one coming. At least if you didn't see the Instagram stories, I guess.

The Pimple Strikes Back (2023)*

* soon available for streaming on Disney+

After riding another 20 or so minutes on the newly half-inflated tire, we met up with the van to properly inflate it with our large bike pump. It was all looking pretty sunny and we were about to set off, until we noticed the bump was now even larger and tougher. The original tire rubber had now fully ruptured, and the only thing keeping air in was the patch I'd added about an hour earlier (quite a strong patch though, I have to say).

Just as it seemed game over had been avoided, that tire was just a goner. Time to get in the car and get supplies for a proper fix (again, again).

"This wheel ain't large enough for the two of us!" โ€“ new tire, presumably

Unfortunately for Kat (who was driving the van today), we had to go all the way to Sacramento โ€“ almost 1.5 hours round-trip by car โ€“ to find a Specialized retailer that had the tires I've been running on my bike. With the new rubber in hand, I set off to yet again replace a tire.

I'm starting to become just too familiar with the steps...

After wrapping up the new setup on my bike, I also went around and added some extra sealant to other people's bikes. Hopefully we (and by that I mean me, because who else here gets flats honestly) can all survive the last couple days of the trip without any more incidents!


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