I woke up at around 6:30 even though the alarm wasn’t set to go off until 7. Kris had a job interview in Kalamazoo, so I was glad to get to say goodbye and wish him luck. If there had been a convenient way, we would have loved to let him lighten our load by throwing our bags in the back of his car, but I couldn’t think how to do it. After the interview he had to come back to Lansing for work and was both busy enough with his interview and, along with Anika, had done a great job hosting us without having to worry about our bags.
We had been on the road for about 20 miles before we stopped at Walmart in Charlotte. There wasn’t really another one for a while so we got some snacks and headed through the town of Charlotte. We had missed the much more famous one in North Carolina so it was good to go through it even if it was just to grab a quick picture as C was eager to keep the pace up.
Our plans hit a snag when the slow flat I thought I could feel materialised. For a little while my back wheel had felt a little different when cornering and the bike had felt more sluggish so I sat down and changed tube. I couldn’t see a cause so put a new one in and hit the road. 15 minutes of listening to a learn Spanish programme later and I was slowing down and pulling over. C had been riding ahead and had been out of bell range when I stopped so took a while to notice that I wasn’t behind her. I spent a good bit of time trying to make sure that this would be the last puncture and inflated both of my remaining tubes to ensure they were good. I put one in, headed out and hoped for the best. It didn’t come.
The next 25 miles were a pain. 5 miles of riding was followed by a quick break to re-inflate. The distance between breaks got shorter as the hole got bigger. After pumping up my tyre for the 10th time and 4th in 5 miles I was pretty furious.
We pulled over in the shade so I could change tubes in the hope that, even if it had a hole, I’d be able to go more than the mile my other tyre was giving me. As soon as I put the bike down I knew it wasn’t my day as I could hear mosquitoes buzzing round. After much anger at the wheel change I got back on and rode the rest of the way to Kalamazoo. Thankfully the tube I had changed to turned out to have a smaller puncture and with the help of a couple of fortuitously placed bike shops made it to Jim’s only having to pump up 3 more times.
The torturous ride had finally come to an end. I’m not sure if it takes the biscuit from Dr Mary, a pair of bubbly ladies from his running club. On hearing about my need for a new tyre, the three of them racked their brains and tried to get in touch with people all over Kalamazoo to get me a replacement. After accepting that I probably couldn’t get one at 9pm we decided that it looked like a trip to Alfred E Bike was on the cards in the morning. They’re the largest bike shop in Kalamazoo and their website had the tyre I was looking for on it and there was a chance it might be in stock at the shop.
During all the calling, Jim was busy preparing food. He had decided on grilling up some bratwursts, which he had soaked in beer, and burgers. It tasted good, although Jim was being modest and telling us not to compare them to the ones we would be able to get in Wisconsin.