Today was the first Saturday ride of my new bicycling fitness program so I was due to ride 30 miles. I set the alarm for 8, woke up at about 7:30, and headed out.

About 2 miles into my ride I saw a guy walking his bike down the sidewalk towards me. I asked if he needed help and he said yes. I pulled off the road to offer what assistance I could. Turns out his name is Kevin and started cycling about three weeks ago. Both he and his wife ride and they’ve already been on a group ride here in town and ridden the Jacksonville-Baldwin trail. I rode that trail back on Ride 8. He’s riding for the same reasons I am. His problem was a flat. I had a spare tube that I put in for him and put a little CO2 in it to make sure everything was ok. That’s when we noticed that CO2 was escaping from my inflator. My inflator uses non-threaded CO2 cartridges so it’s held in place with a plastic cover that, when you screw it on, pushes the cartridge into the valve and pierces the cartridge top. CO2 was leaking around the seam of the plastic piece holding the cartridge. I went to tighten it and the plastic broke allowing the CO2 to rapidly escape. It sure gave Kevin and I a start. How embarrassing. I tried to make it work somehow but couldn’t. It was broken beyond repair. I had to leave Kevin in the same condition I had met him in, with a flat, and go on about my ride. That just stinks. I did get his phone number and gave him the website address so we could perhaps get together for some rides in the future. Kevin, if you read this, I’m sorry it didn’t work out this morning.

(On a side note, I’m looking out the window of my study and am glad I rode early because it’s pouring right now.)

Well, I hopped back on my bike and continued riding. I knew about where I wanted to ride. I was planning on riding my 13-mile morning ride and inserting a 20-mile leg in the middle. Here’s what it looks like:

This route is pretty good and only has a couple spots where traffic can get bad and that’s along the St Johns Towncenter. Early in the morning, though, it wasn’t too bad. The loop around the University of North Florida is nice and there is virtually no traffic on AC Skinner Parkway. It made for a good ride.

Now that I’ve posted my route, let me explain what happened when I got home. I ride up to the driveway and my wife is in her car with the kids ready to back out. They see me and get out. I can tell she’s upset. I ask what’s wrong and she asks if I realize that I’ve been gone for over 3 hours (2:20 riding time, the time helping Kevin, and a short rest break). I told her I had a 30-mile ride scheduled this morning but that didn’t help. It turns out that after 1.5 hours or so she tried calling me (my phone was in the seat bag and I didn’t hear it), had been out twice along my weekday route looking for me, and was getting ready to head out again. She was worried sick that I was laying in a ditch somewhere hurt. I understand her feelings and apologized. Truth is, about half-way through my ride a I realized that I hadn’t left her a map of my route and/or hadn’t told her how far/long I was riding. Critical mistakes. With tools like Map My Ride, there’s no excuse for me to not print out my route and leave it for her in the event she needs to find me. I should also check my phone more often. So, let this be a lesson for those of you out there with significant others who are waiting for you at home.

Besides Kevin, I saw five or six other “serious” cyclists and four or five folks just out for a cruise on their comfort bikes. I also saw several runners out for their Saturday morning exercise.

All told, I managed to ride 31.88 miles with a riding time of 2 hours and 19 minutes. After having ridden Wednesday and Thursday, I had to take Friday off to let my rear recover a little due to lack of time in the saddle. That day off, coupled with a better set of bibs, worked wonders for my sit bones and I didn’t have any trouble the entire ride. The highlight of the day though was meeting Kevin and at least trying to help him out.