Lessons from a Lexa


On Saturday, I went out for my long ride of the week – 60 miles. I’d done 60 miles about a month ago but hadn’t cycled that much since due to summer, so whilst I was pretty confident I could do it, I wondered how it would go. My boys headed off to watch Manchester United vs Barcelona in San Jose and I headed out for my ride.

Now I was given a new lipgloss this week in NEON coral. It boldly declared ‘Lasts all day’. Hmmm, Stila, I thought. Really? Can you last a 60 mile bike ride? So I slicked it on,freaked out slightly at its neon-ness and set off.

Objects in this photo are brighter than they appear. MUCH brighter.

My plan was to ride the 15 miles up to Brisbane to my little friend Rory’s third birthday party, eat his cake, cycle up a giant hill to Skyline, do an out-and-back to Woodside and then cycle home. Perfect. And it started perfectly until about 10 miles in, I heard a hiss from my back wheel and I’d got my first puncture on Margarita.

Okay, I could do punctures. I know how to do them.

Got the wheel off. Triumph 1.

Got the inner-tube out of the tyre. Triumph 2. 

Got out my spare tube. Totally the wrong size.

Lesson 1 – Make sure you carry the correct inner tube with you. 

No worries, I can fix this. Located the puncture. Triumph 3. 

Scraped, glued and patched it. Triumph 4. 

Fixing the puncture
Fixing the puncture

The patch didn’t stick. I tried more glue. I tried a bigger patch. Nothing. It was not holding. Various kind cyclists stopped to check I was okay (and rode on, freaked out by my lipgloss).  In the end, after 40 minutes of roadside sitting, I admitted defeat, called a taxi and got a ride for the 1.5 miles (!) to Summit Bikes.

The mortification was huge. Walking into a very nice bike shop IN BRIGHT PINK RUNNING SHOES wearing NEON CORAL LIP GLOSS with a PUNCTURE I WAS UNABLE TO FIX MYSELF!


Lesson 2 – Make sure you actually DO know how to fix a puncture.

Lesson 3 – Woman up and start wearing those cycling shoes

Lesson 4 – Neon coral lipstick is a NO.

Honestly, so mortified.

The Summit guys were super-kind (and dishy, aah the lipgloss) and before long, I was back on the street and ready to go. By this time, I’d missed the party so I diverted up a big steep hill to Skyline and set out towards Woodside.

My head wasn’t quite in the right place. I’d been out for about 2 1/2 hours and had only done 10 miles. It took a good 10 miles of pedaling before I’d come to terms with the fact that I would be out here for a good 4 more hours. Angela mentioned that’s the same mindset that you need for LONG runs and she’s right – that acceptance that you’re going to be here for a long time and there’s no point chuntering to yourself about it.

An old photo but I cycled this road on Saturday
An old photo but I cycled this road on Saturday

Lesson 5 – Half the battle on this century ride will be having the right attitude.

So I stopped chuntering and started appreciating the nature around me. I cycled out to Portola Valley, turned round and cycled back home and stopped at Woodside Cafe for a pastry and a coffee. I got home much later than expected, with 60 miles in tired legs and one heck of a firebum! But it had been a good day.

I learned a lot of important lessons. I MUST learn to fix punctures. I thought I knew but apparently I don’t. I can’t let my century ride be scuppered because I didn’t learn basic bike mechanics. And I need to try out these clippy shoes.

Those are my goals for this week. Please hold me accountable.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Layla says:

    First of all, you’re more prepared than I am because you were carrying a patch kit! I tried using one at home and encountered the same troubles you had (and was later told that the glue was probably old, which means that’s ANOTHER THING to worry about). After that failed patch attempt, I just carry two tubes (though I will now triple-check that mine are the right size) on my bike. But I’m so impressed that you tried more than once to fix it yourself on the side of the road. That’s awesome determination.

    Second, related to the determination: You’re definitely correct about the mental attitude. STP was twice as long as my first century ride, but it was ever so much more pleasant — probably because I knew we might be out there allllll day long for two full days, so I just didn’t even think about time. The bonus of an organized ride is that you’ll have lovely scenery AND lots of people to look at. They’ll all be wearing spandex and mushroom helmets, many of them will look much more out of shape, and many will have much older, heavier bikes. You’ll blend in. I promise!

    Third, did the lipstick last the whole day? Curious minds want to know!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Yeah, it could well have been old glue. I’ll buy a new patch kit to carry with me, good thinking. And the lipstick wasn’t bad. It was Stila liquid lipgloss and by the end of the day there was some colour left, if not perfect of course. I might well try it in a more human colour!!!

      1. I’ve found that long-lasting lipgloss always seems to have an orange tint. But I also haven’t tried any new ones in years — yes, years. My lips are colorless on their own, and I hate it, so I should probably try testing products again. If Stila lasted through a bike ride, a flat tire, a cab ride and a bike shop, that’s quite the endorsement regarding its longevity!

      2. Cathryn says:

        Worth a shot!

  2. jess says:

    OMG, you totally had me laughing out loud with the hot pink shoes, and neon coral lips running to the LBS to get help. Why didn’t I get that story on Sunday’s run!?!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I was too busy laughing at your jokes!! Oh it was so embarrassing in the shop – and such dishy guys.

  3. Nic J says:

    The reason I haven’t cycled for several years is the fear of being unable to fix a flat tyre, so sympathies! Well done for keeping going though! In your neon lippy!! Ace!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thanks!! I thought you’d be a killer puncture-fixer! We should go on a course, you and me.

      1. Nic J says:

        Sadly no – this is my equivalent of you clipping in! I need to practice in the garden, so I get more confident. And learning your lesson I should probably double check the inner tubes sizes and replace them/the repair kit as I probably bought them all over a decade ago! Oops!

      2. Cathryn says:

        New glue. That’s what I’ve learned this week.

  4. Jenny Kim says:

    Sounds like a rough day. I was freaking out just reading about being stuck 10 miles out. That makes me very anxious. But you seem to be able to handle yourself very well.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Yay, you commented 😉 I was fine as I knew I could always get a cab home. I worry about being stranded away from cabs/phone reception etc but I can’t control everything, darn it!! Hope you’re recovering well!

  5. Jen says:

    This had me laughing out loud – literally!! Sorry you had to learn so many lessons, but better now than on race day…and also so we can benefit from some laughs (with you, not at you)! 🙂

  6. dlubi says:

    Congrats on getting right back up when the ride got rough! You are really strong & can handle anything thrown your way! Your winning attitude will get you through anything!

    You are totally right about half the battle in long events being about attitude. Things can always go wrong – it’s how you handle those moments that makes the difference. You are ready for that century!!!

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