Got out today on a beautiful Sunday morning ride. Because I was riding with my wife, we hadn’t planned to go too far — about 13 miles.
Halfway into the ride, I got a flat.
The good news is, I’m getting a lot faster at fixing flats on the road. The bad news is, I’m getting a lot faster at fixing flats on the road.
I got moving again, and after some easy riding to assess the performance of the new tube, I continued the ride. I finished the distance we had planned. I was never more than six miles from the house, and if needed I could have phoned Pat to bring out the car and pick me up.
As I considered this possibility, now that I was riding without a backup tube, I remembered the MS 150. One of the sights that sticks in my mind was the large number of SAG vans along the route. After the halfway point, I saw more and more riders waving down the vans and catching rides to the finish.
Having to sag in might be an ignominious end to a ride, but it happens.
The question is, how bad do things have to get before you decide to pack it in and flag down assistance?
I didn’t need to do it today, but I have done it — more than I’d like to recall. I bonked once, and simply couldn’t turn the pedals anymore. Sag in. I got a blowout, and although I had a spare tube, I didn’t have a spare tire. Sag in. I had multiple flats on one ride, and not enough spare tubes or a patch kit. Call for help. I crashed, and was too sore to make it all the way home. Call for help. I flatted, and wasted my CO2 cartridges. Call for a ride home.
These incidents wouldn’t force some riders to quit. They’re out to finish the ride they started, and nothing will keep them from the completion of their appointed rounds (apologies to the Postal Service). They’ll pull McGyver-like stunts to get their bikes moving again, in the face of all odds. They’ll HTFU and come back from illness, cramping, or too little sustenance and somehow finish the ride. They’ll stick with it when the weather turns sour, and fight through wind, rain, and even snow.
I will press on most of the time, but that’s if I’m fatigued. And usually in those cases, I simply rode out too far, and face a longer ride home than I really want to do. That’s when I suck it up and stay at it.
How important is it to you to finish the ride you started?