This morning, we woke up in a suburban neighborhood above Lake Canandaigua, NY. We were parked in the driveway listening to persistent rain, which in an RV sounds sort of like being in a tin can. Last summer, Cheryl went to Provence with my sister and mother. Organizing the trip was a high school friend of my sister, Ginny, who had asked a former student, Janet, along. Knowing our route was near Canandaigua, Cheryl asked if we could camp out at Janet's house. By a fortuitous coincidence, her husband has taken a job at Charles Wright Academy, where Cody and Will went to school last year; Janet, Trent, and their two young sons will be moving to Tacoma in a couple of weeks, so we'll be able to return the favor once we get back.
It was great to have some alternative conversation partners, and for Annie and Shaine to play with different toys, and be older sisters. We delayed departure as long as possible, hoping in part for the rain to stop. It finally did about an hour into the ride, but the weather remained cloudy and cool (58 F) all day, with mist/drizzle persistent into the afternoon.
About 15 miles into our first leg, Will said he was going to stop for a minute, and would catch up. When he didn't arrive after 20 minutes, we went back to look for him. He'd been walking his bike for 2-3 miles. He had a flat, but no patch or tube. We got him back on the road, and decided to take the direct route to Darien, on US 20, for the rest of the day. It would mean an hour longer the next day, but we hoped to be refreshed after visiting Niagara Falls.
We stopped at a combination western supply shop/RV supplies store (try to imagine the selection!) literally in the middle of nowhere (no towns for twenty miles). The proprietor was friendly, so I bought a Vernor's ginger ale from him, hoping to remind Cody how much he'd liked the bubbles in his face when he'd drank it on our previous trip to the Midwest in 1984 (he was 3). Despite his phenomenal ability to remember everything about the St. Louis Gateway Arch from that trip, the bubbles rang no limbic bells for him, but did cause a fight amongst the siblings, as I'd bought only one can of the stuff. That took 15 minutes to quell.
Back on the road, we were rolling along nicely, when the unmistakable sound of a fast flat on the rear woke me up. Sounding exactly like you're running over a spool of rattling wire, it's a reminder to stop soon, so you don't ruin your tire sidewall or rim. We did, and got out the equipment for repair. I had a tube, a patch kit, tire levers, pump - the works! But, the tube was for a mountain bike, not our 700c wheels, so we patched the old tube. It held about 70 lbs of air, when it started hissing - no chance re-patching, as the valve was now torn out of the tube's rubber! Next effort: patch Will's old tube, which he was still carrying. That held, and off we went.
The shoulders of this highway were wide, but well-weathered in this snowy, rainy country. Meaning they had multiple small cracks all through them, giving a jigsaw puzzle appearance. Sometimes the cracks widen, to the width of a bicycle tire. I managed to put the front tire into one for a few moments. Shortly thereafter, the wet part of the tire (indicating what was actually touching the sodden pavement) widened, meaning a slow leak. We stopped, found it, patched it, pumped it up, and rolled away.
The ride was now distinctly softer, as we usually go with 130 psi in our tandem tires, and can probably only pump up to 110-115. By this time we were quite gun shy, feeling that something else would blow at any moment. The back tire did. Apparently,we hadn't gotten enough air into it, and a new hole developed at the sidewall, where it had gotten pinched under our combined weight. We gave up and called Cody on the cell phone we carry for emergencies. By this time, he was at the night's RV camp, and he brought the Support And Gear wagon back within 25 minutes. We loaded up the tandem, took down my single, and went our ways at separate speeds. Lessons: remember rule # 1, which I had not followed that morning - always pump up tandem tires to 130 before starting out. Add rule # 2 - always check the size of the spare brought along. And keep in mind rule # 3 - always stay together, unless the sag wagon is behind you.
By the time we got to camp, the skies were clear, and the air was warming up to 65 F. I played teeter-totter with Shaine, and then took the kids out to dinner at the camp snack bar - cheeseburgers and pizza slices. Cheryl stayed "home alone" and ate leftover chicken and salad, with fresh new potatoes, and got some respite from all of us for an hour. We thoroughly cleaned the van, then watched the second half of "Mr. Holland's Opus" on our 9' TV/8mm Camcorder combo. Tomorrow morning: sleeping in, pancakes, and Niagara Falls.
Miles: Will, 56; Al (on Tandem and single) 56; Cheryl (on Tandem and single), 45; Ann (on Tandem (14).
Total miles: 545 (avg: 60/day for this first segment)
**Next Day's Journal**