It was rather frustrating to see the snow melt away over the past couple of days, not because I miss it that much, but because I am not an adept of this tease-me type of weather. A week of snow, a week without snow, and so on. It is difficult to enjoy it either way. Nonetheless, after a long hiatus from the bike, Ben suggested we go for an early afternoon ride. The sun was out and the roads were clear, so we thought initially, and the temperature was hospitable. What a great idea!
Without a route in mind we set off at about 1:30pm from my place on East Hill towards Brooktondale. My only request was to stop at the local market on the way back. Ben agreed. None of us was in the mood for great adventures or strenuous efforts. The idea was to keep it simple. We decided to follow White Church and then Coddington to 96B and continue on an inverted Honeypot ride. But once we got to 96B we both found it best to cut the ride a bit shorter, taking Prospect Valley towards Shindagin Hollow.
All was well and we were moving leisurely along, interrupted occasionally by my request to take a picture here and there. We reached Shindagin Hollow and suddenly ahead lay the problem. The road was covered with snow and ice. Neither had studded tires, at least not on the bikes we were riding. After a brief pause we plowed along in the snow, at times walking at times riding. Eventually it became very icy and the inevitable happened. I went down with a thump. The bike slid underneath me and I fell butt first on the ice. In a jiffy I was back on my feet. We continued.
However amusing it was, we were making little progress and there were still a few miles to go. The road did not get better so we decided to turn around. This time Ben led the way and again the inevitable occurred. Ben went down with a thump, followed by another thump. The latter one was I. None of us was injured and we were back on our feet, this time more cautiously.
My short term memory does not seem to function well because once I found a nice icy stretch I decided to try to drift a bit while holding my bike. This was fun! Until I lost balance and found myself trying to get it back in vain. I was well beyond stability. It is then when both my feet went straight into the air. Instead of letting go of my beloved bike I decided to grab it. It too went in the air with me. Now I had a problem. There was not much I could do other than hope for the best. My bike and I entangled fell together with a large thump. This time it hurt. Ben had front row seats to this debacle and could give a better account. In the end I found myself with a mighty bruise on my right arm and a bent rear fender on my bike. After a bit of pulling and twisting my wheel was free to rotate. But my tire was hissing. Great. A flat.
The decision was made to move onto firmer, i.e., non-icy ground. It is then when Ben realized that he too had a flat. Both rear flats. Deep inside I felt misfortune was handed evenly. It was cold and we hoped that our larger tires could keep us going maybe out to Brooktondale, where we could fix our flats in the comfort of a heated space. That did not happen. We did stop once to inflate our tires a bit. Along the climb on Brailey Hill I was riding my rim. Out of the saddle I went to remove the load off the back of my bike. Ben convinced me it was better to stop. He too wanted to fix his flat.
My flat was caused by a thorn, which I successfully removed. Ben's originated from some sort of metal wire. Altogether the fix took a bit long, mainly because Ben's spare tube was that of a mountain bike, not the best fit for his rim. It all worked out and we climbed aggressively, now on a sticky and muddy road, with thoughts of smooth pavement. My feet were freezing. How I regretted that moment when I decided to leave my shoe covers home. But the end was near.
The gray clouds with which our ride began were now gone and in their place stood a wonderful palette of sunset colors. We were on Central Chapel Rd, on our way back to Ithaca via Brooktondale. It was getting late, and the market was already closed. I ended the ride longing for a treat from the market, but happy to have ridden, bruise, flat and all.