Flat Flat Flat Flat Flat

By Allan Edmonds

A group of us “moderate” riders did the Middle Century out of French Lick on Saturday while the Double Century crowd was doing its thing along much of the same route as laid out by Jim Schroeder. Altogether there were around 20 riders more or less evenly split between Doubles and Singles (and two who started with the Doubles and finished the singles route for a total of 150 miles). The Doubles had 3 or 4 support vehicles. The Singles were mostly on our own.

Double Century Route

Middle Century Route

A few of the Singles were up for riding a good part of the way with the Doubles providing some welcome drafts, I’m sure. My own group, however, took off shortly before the Doubles arrived at French Lick at their mile 50. We stayed ahead for awhile. But we got passed when one of our group had a flat.

CE expertly swapped in his spare tube in a short 10 minutes and we were on our way again. The repair included a stick-on boot provided by Craig over the tiny hole in the tire.

Before long Robin picked up a roofing nail that went through the tire and penetrated the rim! CE reported that he was riding next to Robin and heard a “tap-tap-tap”, which made him worry that something was mechanically wrong with his own bike.

At least it was a pleasant grassy area for working on repairing the tire. Cost us 14 minutes.

As a result we were only slightly late getting into the first scheduled rest stop.

Before long CE had his second flat. He swapped in a borrowed tube while carefully checking tire and rim for defects. None found. It seemed to be independent of his first flat. This one took 13 minutes.

The result was that we rolled into the planned lunch stop at the Subway in just before the main Double Century group was getting ready to depart, with our having had 37 minutes of down time.

Someone said that Doug was offering a spare tire to anyone who needed it at the Subway, but no one took him up on it.

Shortly after leaving the lunch stop. CE had another flat! This was really frustrating. He patched the tube this time. Still we couldn’t find any problem and it seemed independent of the other punctures. When we pumped it up it seemed to be losing air. So we backed off and looked for a problem. None found. Apparently it was just leaking air through the valve stem since we left the pump attached. So in the end this flat was changed twice. This one took 30 minutes and CE for one was feeling a bit grumpy. But we mostly stayed relaxed, knowing we had all day.

By and by around mile 60 CE had his 4th flat. At that point he told us to go on and to come back and pick him up after we finished. He gave his car keys to Gail, and we went ahead while he walked about a mile to the nearest small town. About this time Steve connected with us having left the Double group with his plan not to over tax his knee and limit his ride to 150 miles.

Soon Rachel had the idea of asking Sid and Jack who were at Sid’s new B&B in West Baden Springs and not riding to pick up CE, which they kindly did! That saved us from an extra couple of hours of driving after the ride, which was important when we were already running so late.

The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful. One wrong turn in Jasper that added a mile or two. Fun frozen yogurt treats at the IGA. Not too much trouble on the gravel.

All but CE finished our Middle Century doing well. It was a great day in southern Indiana and even CE, despite the difficulties with his tire, later reported “I really did have a fun ride yesterday. “

Thanks to Jim Schroeder for designing and promoting the ride and including a way for a group like ours to conveniently do a “short” option.