When I crawled out of the tent this morning it was freezing outside. I didn’t sleep very well at temperatures close to 0°C. I stopped by at a shop in Pacifica and loaded my bike up with fruits and vegetables. The great thing about the shop: Everything that is not a 100% fresh is being reduced rather than just being thrown out. Great to see a big grocery chain fight against waste. Pumped with apples and avocados I was ready to face my first challenge for that day: The so called Devil Slide. The Devil Slide is a 5km long way uphill with no designated bike lane and trucks passing you every few minutes. Everytime I heard a 10t-Truck rumbling uphill I stopped and let it pass. That was actually quite useful since I was just building up strength needed for my tour and therefore could have managed this mountain in one go.
Reaching the top of the hill felt like the biggest relief. I just let go and road down the hill in no-time. I came up to a place called Montara, where I wanted to take a little break. When the road went down to the side a little I felt like my back wheel was sliding. I didn’t think too much about it at that stage and just went to the toilet. When I came back I saw the full misery: A flat tire. And of course no spare tube on my hand. I didn’t take the tube out and thought that it might have broken right on the valve part. To kill the frustration a little bit I sat in the sun shine eating an apple and thought. I then took out my laptop to see if I have reception in this town with a population of 10. But WOW I was lucky! There was one open network with a really weak connection, but enough to get me on Google. So I looked up bike shops in that area and came across Gearhead Bicycles . Since I was unable to neither move my bike nor keep my stuff unattended I rang up the shop and asked them if they could deliver a tube for a little extra cash. The guy said “no problem” and asked for the type of valve I had.
Here comes the biggest stupidity of the day: I knew both tires had thin valves. Since riding my bike at the age of 3 I always only used thick valves. And for me they resembled absolute reliability. I thought that the thin valves might be too fragile. So what did I tell the guy on the phone: “Bring the tubes with thick valves”.
After another 20min on his motorbike he arrived and delivered me the two tubes. He said: “Oh, but you have thin valves”. I replied: “Yeah, but they will fit without problem”. I showed him the tube and asked if he could identify the reason for the flat tire. He said it was punctured in two parallel spot which typical for the rim cutting into the tube when being too low on pressure. He said that I might have had a small pinch and then just kept going. A little dip would then easily cause the rim to cut into it. After this advise he left and I started repairing.
It didn’t take long for me to notice that the thick valve actually does NOT fit through a rim that usually fits thing valves. In that moment I felt like the biggest idiot. I was showered with luck big time by having internet and by reaching someone being so generous to deliver the tubes to me and what now? I spent $20 for two tubes I can’t use and I was too proud to call him again to bring me some thin ones.
There were not many more options to choose from. So I decided for one last opportunity: Hitching a pick-up truck! After trying for a good 30minutes without success I noticed someone entering a pick-up truck just in the parking ground I was waiting on. I went up to him and asked what direction he would be going. “Going south” he said and offered me to get me to the next bike shop. Heaven opened up for me one more time!
So I get the Voicycle on board, secure it with straps and put all my stuff in the back as well. I now had phone reception and could google maps on my old phone. I looked up two bike shops and he brought me to the first one. Well, no signs of a bike shop being there so we asked the neighbour business and they told us that the bike shop had closed. Great.
So my generous driver remembered one in Half Moon Bay. So he drove me there. Of course this one had also gone. The last one google led me to was located in the same town and probably my last chance. So we went there and there was actually a bike shop. Only problem: It is closed Mondays. And of course it was MONDAY! At this pint I started feeling very uncomfortable using up my driver’s time. I was so sorry for causing him so much trouble.
There was a petrol station just across the street and I asked them if they knew of any other bike shop. They didn’t. So my driver drove me to a car-repair shop he knew, hoping that they might have bike tubes (I mean there might a 1% chance…) . Of course no tube here. The only thing they could recommend us is to go to a big Pharmacy and get the tubes there. Sounded like a good idea. So he drove me to Rite-Aid. When I arrived at the aisle for bicycle stuff I was about to cry. They had tubes of all sizes but all only with THICK VALVES! Believing that these thick valves would actually be thinner than the thick valves on the tubes I already had, I bought one of those, a patch kit and a tube protector that goes between the tire and the tube to save it from being punctured. When I told him what just happened he offered me to drop me off at the camp ground. I knew at this point that his patience was used up (and he had a lot!).
When arriving at the camp-ground I told him that for me this wouldn’t be any useful since I could leave my stuff unattended. So I asked him for one more favor: “Please bring me back to the car-repair place and have them drill a bigger hole into the rim”. And so he did. It took the car-mechanic one minute to solve my whole day-problem. I now had a hole which would fit any thick valve in the World! And if I would ever run out of thick-valve tubes and put all the patches on them if they get punctured, I could now go to ANY pharmacy and bike shop and I’d be sure they have tubes I could use. I thanked my driver big-time and we exchanged address. I promised him to send him a postcard once hitting San Diego, waved him good-bye and then got going to get by Voicycle back on the road.
Another 20minutes passed until I fit everything and pumped up the tire. Totally exhausted from frustration, running around and thinking I just wanted to treat myself and eat.
I stopped by at a sea-food place. Didn’t look fancy – more like a fish shop. I wanted to get 4 mussels, 5 shrimp and a bit of smoked fish. I didn’t say anything when he confronted me with $29! Again I was to proud to say a word. Just later while eating I found out, that he gave me twice of everything. Dodgy Mexican!
To end my day I just wanted to go somewhere, where I could get lost in the internet for a few minutes. Being there I overheard two German girls talking. Pretending not to be German (HAHA) I asked them if they knew a good place to stay overnight. They recommended me a hostel, but I didn’t want to pay for accommodation – sleeping in the woods would be fine. From then on they wanted to hear more about my journey and we kept talking for another hour.
Once the clock went to 9pm I decided to head off. The camp ground at the beach would be my choice for the night. I rode down there, set up and fell asleep in no-time. What a day!
[greenbox]Things I learned that day: [/greenbox]
– My voicycle starts shaking when going downhill with 40mph because of the side-winds
– Riding downhill at the Devil Slide is absolutely beautiful
– Even in the most remote areas might be a wifi-connection
– There are incredibly generous people on the West-coast
– Rather than always using my experience and “try”, I should get what I actually need
– Hitchhiking a pick-up-truck with a bicycle IS possible
– When google says that there is a bike-shop, it doesn’t mean there actually is one
– Car-repairs don’t have bicycle tubes
– Pharmacies only have thick valve tubes
– A thick valve is never thinner as another thick valve
– A car-repair CAN repair bicycles
– A seafood place that looks like a fish-shop can still charge like restaurant
– Mexicans like doubling your order.
– It’s cold on the beach and I should use the extra cover of my tent