When Felkerino and I began planning our recent bike tour, we put a lot of thought into where we wanted to start. Should we drive somewhere with the bike and begin pedaling? Fly to a distant location for a supported tour?
We determined that we wanted to ride from home. No gas, no car, no muss, no fuss. And how cool is it to tell everyone that you went on a 700-mile bike tour that started from your front door? It’s cool!
I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about all the places that I rode, and all of them from my own front door. We are so awesome, I thought. Other people are out driving to their vacation destination, or taking flights to do who knows what. Not us, though. We are righteous cyclo-tourists!
October 11th came and Felkerino and I started off proudly on our journey. Around 40 miles into our tour, however, our self-satisfaction rapidly plummeted as the wheel of our recently serviced Phil Wood rear hub began its death rattle. Pedal pedal clunk. Pedal clunk clunk. Clunk clunk clunk pedal. Clunk.
After some stressing on the C&O Canal and some choice words about Phil Wood, Felkerino and I rushed home and swapped out the rear wheel. Felkerino summed up the day on his Facebook page, saying:
Phil Wood hub clunks. Phil Wood fixes under warranty. Phil Wood hub taken on tour. Phil Wood hub makes hideous noises. Phil Wood hub leaking grease when we return home, 80 miles ridden. Phil Wood hub retired as we drive to our first overnight on tour with backup wheel. Thanks Phil Wood.
Not wanting to set our tour back at all and not feeling like adding another 60 miles to the 80 we had already covered for the day, we put the tandem on our roof rack and drove out to Harpers Ferry. Yes, we drove our car. Boo.
It was a sad day, as I could no longer be so righteous and I couldn’t tell people that we rode to “x” place from home. Now I had to say we rode from Harpers Ferry, W.V. Oh well! I still felt good we had worked ourselves out of the day’s jam.
The next eight days of riding were amazing. I won’t go into detail, as I’ve already summed up the riding on previous posts. The bike worked perfectly (as did the captain, ha ha!). The weather, scenery, and routes were unforgettable. The bike made not a peep for the remainder of the tour.
Yesterday, we returned to our car, loaded up the bike and ourselves, and drove to dinner in Frederick, Maryland. Our car then decided it was not going any further. We were stuck in a strip mall parking lot with our bike on the car roof. We called AAA, were advised there was “something major” going on with the car, and waited for a tow truck.
For a moment, we considered riding our bike the 60 miles home. It was a pretty evening. But it was 7:30 p.m., and the last thing I felt like doing after my bike tour was riding a bike. Our car was towed to the shop, we were towed by our friend Chuck to the Metro, and he also took our bike back to his house.
As we walked home from the Metro, Felkerino said, “This tour sure is ending on a whimper. We left with our bike, had to come back to get our car, now we’re walking home with neither. I blame Phil Wood.”
It was a little unceremonious to be sagged by our friend, return via Metro, and walk in our front door with our bags on our shoulders, but I found it hysterical. No, we didn’t get to say “I rode here from home” whenever anyone asked us about our trip. Our tour wasn’t petroleum-free. We didn’t have a triumphant return home on two wheels (or even four) Sunday evening. We got home four hours later than we planned, and we had to drag our tired selves to work today. We still have to have our car fixed and do something about that blankity blank rear Phil Wood hub. But through a little bit of luck, some help from our friends, and the good old Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority we made it home unscathed. I’m not going to send Phil Wood a thank-you letter anytime soon, but I must confess that I had a great vacation!