532km Baudette to Cedar
Just imagine: 8 flat tires in one afternoon. And then imagine fixing those punctures on a road without shade, when your patience is already wearing thin after dealing with a broken rim – one that should have lasted much longer than it did – and being rejected from a campground because tents weren’t welcome, even though there was plenty of free space.
Then picture walking to the next campsite and going straight for the showers (because nothing is going to feel better than a shower after the day you’ve had) and putting your money in the machine, only to be left standing there naked with no water at all for your 50 cents. And even after you go to complain and get nowhere, you’re still left with an unrideable bicycle and you’re 30km from the nearest town.
This was our one very chaotic day on the road.
Those patches, those darn patches, just wouldn’t stick to all the holes we had in our tubes. We glued and rubbed and held them tight but every time we inflated the tire the patches gave up almost immediately. Why wouldn’t they hold? We don’t know. And the spare tubes we were carrying quickly wore thin from all the rips created as our not-quite-wide-enough rim tape let the spoke holes on the inside of the rim rub against the tube.
So there we were, with all the tools and spare parts in the world stuffed in our bags, including what we theoretically needed to fix the simplest of all bicycle problems, the flat tire, and yet we were coming up empty. We covered the spoke holes with duct tape but it was too late for the tubes. By this point they were totally chewed up.
To say it was frustrating is understating the case. We were exploding inside with annoyance at broken parts and not having enough spare tubes and failing to make any headway on the road and the fact that on a busy road no one stopped to help us. Oh, how we longed for those countries where people stopped as a matter of course to make sure you were okay. And we’d spent far too much money in the past 24 hours and we still hadn’t gotten a shower and all our dishes were dirty and neither of us had the energy left to clean them when Andrew remembered something very important.
“Good things have happened too,” he said and how true that was.
Putting one very bad day aside, the past week has been filled with so many good things. First came the Rundquist family, who found us outside a supermarket in Deer River and instantly invited us home for venison steaks and a soft bed for the night. Then there was the lady in a local winery who gave us a big bag of popcorn for snacking, followed by Sarah and Byron who treated us to coffee and shared tales of their European adventures. And let’s not forget the wonderful things we discovered in Ashland while we were getting our rim fixed: a great food co-op and a shop selling wonderful used books for just 25 cents.
And last, but not least, in our list of fantastic things: two couples in the campground in Cedar who came to our rescue. One with friendship in the form of cold beer, two big slices of cantelope, a chunk of cheese and a chance to blow off some steam and the other with the offer of a ride back to Ashland, so we could buy more tubes and tape and a new patch kit – everything we need to hit the road again.
As we prepared to go to bed we found a shiny new penny on the ground. “It’s good luck,” we said as we put it into our change purse and crawled exhaustedly into the tent.