The Mexican sandbirds

I've gotten myself into a problem and I'm not sure how I'm going to overcome it.

The day started off with a familiar enough theme: cold and windy. It was raining when I woke up at around 7 but the weather channel's forecast for the area said it would clear up. It wouldn't be until past 10 that I motivated myself enough to drag everything out the door and begin biking. Today's route had me going directly west paralleling interstate 80 on state route 30. Despite a 20mph wind from the north and temps in the 50's all day the road was truly flat the whole way and the shoulder a generous four feet in width. That's the good news.

At about noon my rear tire again went flat. After muffling a few choice expletives I set to work and repeated the steps that had served me on the Natchez Trace back in Mississippi. I did not have a spare tube, just the original one that went flat shortly after the whole tire was replaced the day before that first flat. Although I hadn't really prepared as such for this eventuality I figured that if I got another flat I would repair the punctured tube with a dab of Krazy glue. This was my improvisation and although I now had my doubts it would work after about half an hour I got it all back together and the patch held.

A few miles up the road though and I got *another* flat. This time my 'good' trailer wheel, the one that didn't have a slow air leak that needed to be pumped every day. What's going on? The first flat of the day didn't turn up anything after a close check of the tire. It was as if the air just pooped out through the valve. This time I found the offending culprit in the form of one of those thorns that sticks to your socks when you walk through grass. My mood after this second flat was quite a bit less jovial. I wondered what the coincidences were that I could ride over 2,000 miles with only one flat and then get two back to back. Mumbling under my breath I got to work. I did thankfully have one spare trailer tube and by now my tire replacing technique was improving so that it only took about 10 minutes to get back on the road.

To get back on the road only to get a THIRD flat a couple of miles later. Now I was fit to be tied. I tell ya, I wanted to lift the bike and the trailer and toss everything into the ditch and go home. I mean, what the hell's going on?! It so happened that when I got this third flat I was coming into a town so I walked in leading the bike and found a gas station. I went to the mechanic and asked him if by any chance he could fix a bike flat.

I said, I got three flats today. On two of them, and probably the first one as well, it was these thorns that got stuck to the tires. "Ah yeah, Mexican sandbirds are famous around here." Are notorious you mean, I thought like a pesky teacher at a most inopportune time. "There's really nothing you can do. You gotta get thorn resistant tires and pray they work. I could patch the tires if you show me the holes but it probably won't work." He went on to talk about a local who had the same problem a few years ago when he got a bike and who had seven patches put on but the air kept leaking out. I kind of tuned out of the rest of his conversation after it became clear he'd be no help.

Now my front tire is flat and I have no spare tube. Ogallala, the nearest "city" is still over 20 miles away (and I would later find out has no bike shops). My only course of action is to do the Krazy glue treatment on it as well. Except after I disassembled the tire I could not find the hole. I put it back together and simply pumped air into it, hoping that the leak would be slow and I could hold it together until I reached Ogallala. And what the hell kind of name is Ogallala anyway?? See, I'm still pissed.

I rode on. I got a fourth flat. This time it was the other trailer tire and this time again all I bothered doing was take the thorn out and pump air into it. I was now pumping air into each tire once a mile or so and was utterly aggravated by the whole thing. By the time I could see the outskirts of Ogallala I got my fifth flat and just to make sure I could really be irate it had to happen to the rear trailer tire that received the new spare. I did not bother doing anything at this point, just resigned to my uber-crappy luck.

I checked into a low-end motel which when I entered my room I was instantly reminded of a Third World country kind of place. I figured poetic justice, a fitting end to a most shitty day. And now here I sit in this small Third World motel room with a stack of inner tire tubes strewn on the floor as I wonder what kind of a mess I'm in and how I'm going to get out of it. Even if I can successfully patch all of them with glue as soon as I start riding these frikkin' thorns will pierce them all over again.

Day 46