What are the odds?

I knew it was going to be a little chilly this morning, so I slept in.  My goal was to get on the road by 9 or so.  I was moving a little slow this morning, so it was probably closer to 10 before I rolled out of my driveway.  I have lots of choices for longer weekend rides and today’s plan was to do the Dam Loop in reverse.  It’s a little tougher this way and the last time I did it, I was still recovering from my crash and went out too fast.  I was spent by the time I hit Loop 360 in Austin. I’d been feeling pretty good lately and I’ve really been working on my climbing stamina so I decided to warm up with one of the climbs from Tour das Hugel: Oasis Bluff.  My route there takes me up Bullock Hollow.  The climbs are not super long, but they are super steep…some topping out at near 20%.  When you’re a big guy like me, these can literally take your breath away.

The weather was perfect, a little cool, but at least I didn’t have to wear a base layer, only to have to take it off later.  So, my timing was perfect.  I was just cruising along down 620 and then up Bee Caves Road towards 360.    Just past Cuernavaca, I stopped at a convenience store for some water and a Clif bar.  I was a little over half way into my ride.  After refilling my water bottles, getting some ice and eating my snack, I was ready to get on the road again.  I was just getting up to speed when I noticed my rear tire was kinda low, so I pulled over.  Sure enough, it was almost flat.  I got out a spare tube, my CO2 inflater (with cartridges) and my tire tools.  I pulled the tube off the rim and proceeded to check the tire.  As I ran my finger around the inside of the tire, I quickly found the problem because I almost pricked my finger on the 1″ staple sticking through the tire.  I pulled it out and checked the rest of the tire.  I then installed the new tube and remounted the tire.  I used the technique I described in one of my earlier posts (see Avoiding a CO2 Blowout) and finished without an issue.  I got back on the road and headed towards 360.

I cruised down the big hill heading north on 360 and began climbing up the hill on the other side.  About halfway my tire was flat again.  My spare tube was one I had patched so I thought I might have not patched it properly.  Imagine my surprise when I found another, bigger staple in my tire.  I quickly changed out my tube and once again, my CO2 inflation technique worked like a charm.  I got back on the road and began hoping I didn’t have any more flats.  I normally carry about 2 tubes on most training rides along with 2-3 CO2 cartridges.  After that, I plan to phone a friend.

I’m no statistician, but I began wondering what the odds were for me to get 2 flats, both on my rear tire, from staples.  I usually do a pretty good job avoiding debris and glass, but I’m not sure how I would have seen the two staples I pulled out of my tire.  I spent the next 3 miles trying to figure it out.  I never did get an exact number, but I figured the odds were pretty low.  I was still thinking about it as I rolled past Spicewood Springs Road and decided to take it back instead of continuing on 360.

I hadn’t been on this section of Spicewood Springs Road in about 10 years.  When I worked at BMC, this was a favorite short route for a lunchtime ride.  Spicewood Springs Road is unique because it really hasn’t changed much in the 25 years I have been living in Austin.  It’s surrounded by suburban neighborhoods, but when you ride down this road, you feel like you’re riding down a deserted country road…right in the middle of Austin.  Austin’s pretty unique in that way.  It’s grown tremendously over the past 25 years, but there’s still plenty of green space all over town…enough to make you think you’ve left the city and are in the country.    As my friend Darryl indicated, there’s  a lot more traffic in recent years (see Austin Traffic), but it’s nice to know that you can still find sleepy little roads that are still pristine and picturesque.

I normally don’t stop to take pictures, but I went back to get the two I’ve shared here.  My route today had plenty of photo opportunities, but if I stopped to take them all, I’d still be on the road.  Once back on the road, my mind wandered back to my calculation of odds.  This time, I tried to figure out the odds of finding one of these special roads in Austin.  I was quickly distracted by the scenery along the road.  So, in the end, I figured the odds of picking up 2 staples were astronomically low and the odds of finding a road like Spicewood Springs Road were actually pretty good.  It makes me appreciate where I live, especially on days like today.


4 responses to “What are the odds?

  1. Oh man, that must have really took a lot out of your ride today. Sorry to hear about the flats…..but great that you were able to ride out there on this fantastic day.


  2. Great ride report. I used to carry two tubes too but moved to a smaller seat bag and only carry one now. That looks like a great place for a rest stop.

  3. If I’m riding my Specialized hybrid (9 flats in 14 weeks), the probability is a number very close to 1! Thanks for the CO2 tip. I’ve only tried my cartridge once and failed miserably. I’ve since bought a second type of cartridge that will hopefully be more reliable. I’ll give your technique a shot when I next get a flat, hopefully many many months from now!

  4. The flats weren’t all that bothersome. I rarely get them, so I figured I was due.

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