Sunday, June 09, 2013

Bundle of Styx ride.

King of the Styx
There are great rides, and then there are rides when on the way back someone remarks: "Well, at least you'll get a good blog post out of this". Although it was a pleasant ride by any stretch, The Bundle of Styx was definitely in the latter category.

In our never-ending quest to seek out and ride fresh gravel, the mission was to ride a couple of sections of forestry road we've not tried before. The starting point was at Westerway, about an hour from Hobart. We were planning to do a 70km loop, heading up from Karanja to the Styx River Bridge and then having a poke through the Valley of the Giants towards Maydena before returning on the fast downhill tarmac to Westerway. Having driven these roads on reconnaissance trips I was confident we'd have no trouble finding our way and completing the circuit. (Route and profile here for the curious.) 

Benny and Kiwi and I set out around 10.30am, and made good time of the first dirt sections. The weather was good and the road wasn't in bad condition apart from a couple of short bits which had a bit of loose rock on them. We had a short stop at an old quarry then headed on towards the Styx River Bridge at about the 25km mark.

Because I thought the roads were in pretty reasonable condition - and because Ben had had reasonable success running narrow tyres - I took along my road bike shod with 25mm Gatorskin Hardshells. Gatorskins have a sometimes deserved reputation for being quality tyres able to soak up the worst punishment, so I didn't give much thought to carrying more than the usual two spare tubes in my repair kit. And that was to prove our undoing.

Heading down the steep, fast hill down to the river, I had a rush of blood and picked up a bit too much speed. Inevitably I've hit one of the larger rocks in full flight and managed to puncture both tyres at once. 

No problem, I thought, I'll have these fixed in a jiffy. The only minor problem was that on mounting one of my spare tubes, it immediately went flat from a faulty value. Ben, who was cracking nervous jokes about what might happen to us if we were stranded out in the bush, had a few self-adhesive patches, so we patched the three or four holes in one of my other tubes and put that in. It too went flat. As a last resort we used Ben's single spare tube. 

So here we were: in the middle of nowhere, 25km from the car, with no spare tubes or patches. We decided that pushing on would be foolish so we retraced our steps. That too proved to be a wise decision.

As Ben struck up jaunty songs featuring the assorted atrocities inflicted upon the stranded in these parts, my back tyre blew again. We were about 15km from the car. This time the only think I could think of was cutting the valves off the four punctured tubes and stuffing them into the tyre. Ben and Kiwi took off on a rescue mission and I limped onward. I eventually managed to make it all the way back to town.

The ride wasn't a total disaster. It was a nice day out and I got to play with a borrowed GoPro camera (low quality video here). And I re-learned some valuable lessons about how many tubes to carry and the need to carefully select your tyres to suit your ride.

3360km so far this year.

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