Ride to mile 25

I finally switched out the tires on my mountain bike. This is perhaps the latest I've made the switch to studs since I moved to Alaska. As I pumped the front tire up to 55 psi, the valve started to make that horrible hissing noise that indicates I have only seconds to release pressure before the twisted tube explodes (I pop more tubes this way than I'd care to admit.) I frantically grabbed at the hose and valve but it was too late. The tube exploded out of the tire right in my face, and the blast startled me so much that I jerked my hand away from the valve and punched the hub hard enough to bruise the entire backside of my right hand. My cat cowered against the door, horrified. I thought I had screwed up any opportunity to ride the ice-slicked streets, but then I found another heavily patched 29" tube stuffed in an old Camelbak.

This is my fifth season as a holiday orphan. Every year I tell myself that the expense, work hurdles and hassle of holiday travel isn't worth it, and every year the holidays roll around and I miss my family something fierce. I would even like to go with my sister on her Black Friday shopping frenzy, pushing against the roiling masses of humanity and frantic consumerism just for a glittering piece of something I don't need and never wanted. My own personal Hell would probably look something like Black Friday, but that is how much I miss my sister and the rest of my family.

I think about them when I ride, plying the damp streets and chilled air for comfort amid the homesickness. I think about coconut cream pie and ribbon Jello and table cloths that look like flannel sheets. I think about my Grandma lovingly demanding that all 47 of us recite what we're thankful for and I think about my Grandpa smiling as we chatter on about great friends and that super cool concert we went to the week before. I think about the Cowboys on TV and bowling with my cousins and even scoring more than 100 for the first time in my life. I think about Slurpees at 7-11 and sunlight on brown yards and launching sweet air beneath four tires off the train tracks. I find myself lost in memories when I ride around Thanksgiving, every year.

And I think about ways I can get home for Christmas, but I know it's already too late.


  1. It's never too late...

  2. Jacqui6:00 AM

    Hi Jill. I missed my sister yesterday, she rocks. I've had the same tire problems many times but thanks to a great "Zin" book on bike maintenace, I can actually deal with bike emergencies. Was supposed to go to Colorodo to get certified as a mechanic, but was too screwed up to go. Went for a ride last night to the grocery store, my first ride with a headlamp. My back blinking light broke, but luckily the headlamp had a red light as well. Spent most of my time on the suburban sidewalks and unexpect curbs (didn't fall though!). Look forward to your next post.

  3. I would agree with Isle Dance...Never too late Jill. You can make it happen if you so choose. Maybe I'm blowing smoke, but if you really miss your family that much than you should be with them for the holidays.

    That's one of the things that has always kept me here in MN. Not wanting to be far from family especially my parents and especially now that they are both in the autumns of their lives. I just don't want to be that far off.

    Hang in there and make the best of your rides, and everything else life in Juneau and in general has to offer.

    On a lighter note...Black Friday for me was a quick trip to REI for a new headlamp, balaclava, and thermos:)

    Now, I'm patiently waiting for parts to arrive for the new Pugs.

  4. So, what's your record for number of patches on a tube? Mine is nine (9), so far... I'm not against buying new tubes, it's just the comical nature of a multi patched tube is hard to resist.

  5. Put talcum powder on your tubes, before putting them in the tire. They'll smell great, they'll never blow again, and your cat won't scramble every time it sees the pump.

  6. i have a 26" tube with 21 patches but its still round when infated!,became a bit of an ongoing joke me keeping it,a 26 will fit 29er wheels fine if old and stretched a bit..,ditto on the talc powder...

  7. Speaking as a Mom and Grandma:

    They miss you too. See what you cn do about Christmas.

  8. Great way to keep the holiday blues at bay; putting one pedal stroke in front of the other.

    I enjoy reading about your daily adventures. Happy Holidays,


  9. Black Friday was fun! Walmart was Hell on earth. I would have loved to have you there. Even though it is probably the last place you would want to be!

    This post brought tears to my eyes. Ever since we got to have you for a month, it is really hard to have you gone. Especially during holidays. If you don't do your race in Feb. maybe you could think about coming here for a visit :) We would love to have you here to meet our little guy!

    Miss you so much and love you!

  10. Oh Jill. You make me miss *my* family and it's not even Thanksgiving here in Canadia. Go home for Christmas. Go.

  11. dinglearm5:51 PM

    Holidays are tough. It's nice to be around family, but sometimes that is just not possible. Sounds like your family is very close, so close you feel them even when they are not there.

    You are very lucky.

  12. Anonymous10:01 PM

    Was that you biking on N Douglas Hwy this morning (Sat)? You looked cold and not too happy - ??? Maybe you were just listening to a sad song on the ipod.

  13. That was me. But I wasn't cold or miserable. I'm guessing no one ever looks thrilled when outside in sideways rain from the perspective of someone in a vehicle, but I was pretty content. Sad song on the iPod ... that's possible.

  14. Anonymous11:02 PM

    Perhaps you've never seen local bike nut Rob Welton on one of his winter bike rides with a maniacal grin on his face! Truly crazy. I was in a vehicle but only after xc skiing in aforementioned rain/snow for 2 hrs with a big grin up @ EC (also crazy)

  15. Yeah, I was just commuting as well, just rode a couple loops on the Rainforest trail near the end of the road. That was fun! North Douglas Highway with Eaglecrest opening traffic ... eh. :-)

  16. I almost forgot about catching about 100 feet of air while flying over the train tracks! Who was even driving that day? Thanksgiving is never the same without you...neither is Christmas. We miss you just as much. And if it makes you feel any better. It litterally was only me, mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa for Thanksgiving this year. It was a little sad not to have the rest of the family. Miss you sister

    xoxo Sara

  17. Julie in Alaska3:19 PM

    Nice post. You capture the experience of so many of us far-flung types in AK who have family elsewhere. This is why I am always trying to promote the idea that someone in the family move to my location. After 29 years, no luck. But I keep trying...there's the next generation to work on, now!

  18. Missing the family for the holidays is one this, but stating that you "would even like to go with my sister on her Black Friday shopping frenzy" might be going a little far, eh?! :)

  19. Anonymous10:10 PM

    I used to sell things, deliver things, design things, make things to earn money. I see now people also write things, and do it in such a way that others will pay them for their writings.

    Simply amazing

  20. +1 on the talcum powder.

    Also, another trick you can do to avoid twist and pinch blowouts is to pump the tire up the first time to about 10-15 lbs, work the tire around a little (kneed it sideways and against the rim), deflate it, then reinflate up to full pressure. This helps it to settle into the proper position before taking it up to full pressure.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


Another crash

My night on the PCT