We took a bike path on the outskirts of town that doesn't lead to anywhere that we would normally commute, and since we don't so much ride for recreation as for practicality, we had never had a reason to take this particular path before. It is rail trail, an old railway where the tracks have been removed and crushed limestone has been put down, and it followed salt creek. It turned out to be a beautiful and somewhat secluded ride through areas of town that I literally did not know existed. We ditched the trail at Wilderness park, which is like a mini forest on the prairie.
The countryside and the weather was stunning once we got outside of town but we hit 5:00 traffic and decided that the shoulderless highway was too busy and that gravel roads were good for training anyway. The gravel we found was very loose and we had some decently nasty hills to climb. At one point I had to get off and push my bike up the hill because the gravel was so loose that my tires were just spinning in place. Though I was considerably frustrated with that moment, it was such a serene day that I could hardly stay sour for long.
I wish that I could write in such a way to allow the reader to experience what it is like to struggle up the last hill of a gravel road and on the crest, with squinty eyes from the evening sun, see the pavement with a nice wide shoulder begin as you effortlessly pick up speed and feel the summer breeze run finger tips across your skin that is beginning to look a little pink from just a little too much sun and a little too much exercise. I pressed my arms up into the air to stretch my back that had been hunched over in a posture of aggressive resolve and smiled at the horses pastured to my right who had stopped their grazing to pensively watch our foreign caravan roll by. From the looks that we get from people and horses alike, we may as well be riding camels.
We were right on schedule, riding on the nice smooth shoulder of the highway around 8:00, when I heard a loud pop from behind me. Brenton's tire on his dog trailer had split down the middle. We walked our bikes to a driveway to a strange old apartment complex situated about 10 miles from the closest small town, made a phone call, and cooked some pasta on the camp stove while we waited for a tire to be delivered.
A man in a golf cart, probably the maintenance guy for the apartments, came down to ask us if we needed any help, but he seemed as if his true intention was to gauge what our intentions were. Our tire delivery was going to take some time so we settled in on the grass and threw a frisbee for the dogs. The man came back down about an hour later and asked us if we were sure anyone was coming. Brenton assured him that we were not gypsies and that we still did not need any help unless he found a 700c tire laying around since the last time we spoke. A farmer from across the street also came and asked us if we needed help and he proceeded to tell us that the last guy who came through the area on a bicycle pulling a trailer was carrying everything that he owned and was asking for food and work. We decided to walk the rest of the way to the lake and were nearly there by the time our tire arrived. It was almost midnight by the time we were setting up camp and we went to bed without a beer or a fire.
Lesson learned; spare tire is necessary even when you are riding with kevlar tires.