May 24, 2007

White Ranch and lightning!

Our friends Erik (pictured on his 5″ travel WW/Ventana 29er) and Natalie are in town (on their way to the midwest) and we took them to one of their old stomping grounds – White Ranch. Somehow we managed to avoid getting rained on for a couple of hours, but then (when we decided to bail down the fire road back to the car, rather than getting hit by lightning) I managed to spectacularly flat my front tire (on the new DH rig, which performed like a freakin’ champ except for the flat).

So, no problem. I’ve got a spare tube, right? I give Sarah the keys and tell everyone to go ahead, and that I’ll catch up, hence breaking the cardinal group-ride rule, which is that you make sure the person with the mechanical is rolling before you leave.

So, I spend 3 or 4 minutes pumping as hard as I can with my minipump. Tire isn’t getting very hard, though. Hmm. Pull the tube out, and what do you know, it’s got a hole in it too! Fantastic…

But hey, I always carry a patch kit too, just in case. I grab it. Open it. Look in disbelief at the perfect, unused, brand new pile of patches. And no tube of glue. No glue. Somehow, I have purchased a patch kit with no patching capabilities. And I’ve been carrying it as “insurance” for more than a year. Super!

Did I mention that there’s a lightning storm? And that I’m a *long* way from the car? And that my wife and friends have no idea where I am and are probably wondering what’s taking so long?

I’ve had this sort of this happen before, so I look around for vegetation to stuff into the tire (pine needles are best, but I’m in the middle of a wide-open hillside with no trees for several hundred yards). I’ve managed to bump my way home on a tire stuffed with weeds and pine needles before, but it takes a while (and a lot of work) to stuff enough crap in there to make it a workable proposition. I don’t have that kind of time.

That’s when it hits me – we’ve had a really wet spring in Colorado, and the weeds are growing like… well, like weeds. Nice big green weeds. Including *milkweed*. You know, the kind that have little thorns on the leaves and thick white sap? The kind that makes your hands really *sticky* after pulling them unless you’re really lucky and don’t break the stalks? Yep, there’s milkweed everywhere. All around me on the trail, in fact…

So, I shit you not, I glued a patch onto my tube with milkweed sap. And it held pressure for several hours (though it was flat when I went into the garage a while later just to check). The stuff definitely doesn’t dry as quickly as rubber cement, and it’s not vulcanizing, so the patch isn’t going to meld to the tube like it should, but it saved my butt from a good soaking and possible death by lightning strike. Milkweed kicks ass.