And Wow!! again

Wheel full 70px My friend Jean Aime Bigirimanawho goes by JaBig Chocophile on facebook [link] is on the Dempster Highway north of the Arctic Circle bicycling across Canada to the Arctic Ocean. I first posted about him here [link].

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Wheel full 70px He has been on the road a little over a year and has ridden a single speed bicycle all the way from the Atlantic Coast in the Maritimes to the Pacific Coast in British Columbia then north up the Alaska Highway headed for Tuktoyaktuk, an Arctic Ocean coastal village in the Northwest Territories.  He has less than a week to go.  His facebook page is one of the most incredible accounts of a long-distance bicycle ride that I have ever seen.

Wow!!

Wheel full 70px Every so often something happens in the community of touring/endurance cyclists that just has one stopping to catch a breath.  I’m not talking about the incredibly sad events involving injury and sometimes death (the community suffered two tragic losses in the last 10 days when ultra-distance cyclist Mike Hall was killed in a competition being held in Australia [link] and then the legendary Steve Tilford died in an auto accident in Colorado [link])- those are terrible occurrences that just leave you shaking your head, and they seem to happen far too often.  Some things, though, just capture what inspires people to get on bicycles and ride, and ride, and ride.  The story of Montrealer Jean Aime Bigirimana, who goes by the name JaBig Chocophile on facebook [link], is one of those.

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Wheel full 70px This guy is in the last weeks of a 14 month, 17,500 kilometer/11,000 mile plus ride from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean in Canada.  He is currently cycling between Whitehorse and Dawson in the Yukon on the Klondike Highway and will then head north on the Dempster Highway and then ultimately an ice road to Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories…

…wait for it…

…wait…

…wait…

…on a single speed bike!!

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Wheel full 70px For those of you who live in the balmy south- meaning anywhere south of Duluth, Minnesota- you have no idea what this guy is doing. Here’s the weather right now in Dawson.

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That’s a balmy day for this time of year up here. And it was still winter when JaBig rode up the Alaska Highway, something that can be a challenge in a car.

Wheel full 70px He’s riding Centuries (100 miles/160 kilometers in a day) on a regular basis.  And he’s had his bike stolen during the trip. And been charged by buffalo. He seems to be unstoppable. His facebook page is well worth an extended look – highly recommended.

Weigh-in #19 – In the 280s

Wheel full 70px In the last Monday weigh-in I’ll do during my trip all I could think about was, “What in God’s name am I going to do to keep from gaining back what I’ve had a once in a lifetime opportunity to lose?”

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Wheel full 70px I never, ever want to weigh more than 300 pounds/~120 kilograms again.  Again, no fat shaming intended, but I am ashamed of myself for acting for so many years like there was nothing I could do about weighing more than than and, at times, close to 400 pounds/~180 kg.  Being overweight was a good indication of disarray and dysfunction in my life, and poor choices.

Wheel full 70px So I’m at my next “I can do this” moment.  Because if I can ride a bicycle 3,500+ miles from Nova Scotia to Florida, I can maintain my weight at a healthy (or at least far healthier than it had been) level.

And there goes my cushion again

Wheel full 70px Well, it may not be drizzling this morning but I’ll wax philosophical for a moment and say that into every long-distance bike tripper’s life some rain must fall.  My turn came this morning.

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Wheel full 70px Last night I noticed a wobble in my rear wheel.  I’d stopped and had one wheel or the other or both trued at several shops along the way.  No big deal there.  I had a piece of strap iron on a bike path get sucked up into the rear wheel and break a spoke in New Jersey, but that happened not too far from a bike shop and was dealt with in short order.

Wheel full 70px I’m assuming what happened in today’s situation was that a combination of the terrible pavement on roads across Kennedy Space Center plus a perfectly placed bump in the pavement somewhere close to the end of the day may have pulled through a stress crack in the rim and created the slot-like hole you see in the photo.

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Wheel full 70px Fortunately Stuart has at least one full service bike shop: Beyond Bikes, which is where I’m at now waiting for a replacement wheel to be built.  So once again I’m losing the little cushion of extra miles I’ve built up, but that’s how these things go.

Twelve days, six hundred miles

Wheel full 70px I decided at about 2:00 p.m. yesterday that I needed a break, so I stopped for the day early and didn’t proceed on in to Florida as I’d originally planned.  That will now happen this morning about ten minutes into my ride.

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Wheel full 70px No real reason for the short day.  I was just tired of being in the sun and my butt (pardon me, ladies) was sore.  I have really been pushing things the last couple of weeks, and it was just time.  The tipping point came when I discovered that all of my bike route planning apps had routed me a mile off to the west of the direct road I had been riding on to a parallel road that within a short distance turned into fine white sand  that was completely unrideable on a bicycle because it was soft and about four inches/10 cm deep.  So I had to backtrack and was not very happy about that.

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Wheel full 70pxA plus resulting from my decision was the opportunity to eat at a historic southern diner: Steffens, in Kingsland, Georgia where I spent the night.  I had fried chicken livers for dinner and came back for breakfast this morning.  Highly recommended if you are ever down this way.

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Wheel full 70px I’ll camp at the Kathryn Abbey Hanna park east of Jacksonville, Florida tonight. A fifty mile/80 kilometer day. Piece of cake!

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I’m sleeping…

…on top of a picnic table under the stars tonight.  Not because it’s really warm- it cooled off rapidly when the sun went down- or bug free- the mosquitoes are out in force tonight for the first time on my trip.  But here I am, because

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Wheel full 70px Sandspurs!  I’m not setting up my tent or risking my Thermarest in those, and this campground- otherwise very nice- is loaded with them.

Uh-oh

Wheel full 70px Well, drat.

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Wheel full 70px I was hoping I could make it all the way to Key West without a major tire issue.  Today I had a major tire issue.

Wheel full 70px It actually started yesterday, as I was noticing an “out of round” sensation from the rear wheel.  I was by that time deep into New York City’s borough of Queens late in the day and, after a quick check for broken spokes and not finding any, I continued on, figuring I could sort the situation out this morning.  At that time I did not spot any issue with the rear tire.

Wheel full 70px Unbeknownst to me, I had at some point during yesterday’s ride in from mid-way across Long Island, broken sidewall cords in that tire.  What I was probably feeling was a soft spot as the wheel rolled around over that point on the tire.  In all likelihood nothing was even visible.  I made it across Manhattan, met a friend, then onto the Hudson River ferry over to Hoboken, New Jersey, where I spent the night with my daughter’s in laws.

Wheel full 70px A casual look at the tire this morning quickly disclosed the problem.  I am, frankly, amazed that the tire was able to withstand about 20 miles/32 km of continued loaded riding, and especially over the city’s uneven streets, in that badly damaged a condition.

Wheel full 70px So it’s off to a local bike shop for some emergency maintenance and repair.  More on this situation as it develops.