The morning of the #BeeLine200 was an awesome and exhilarating morning with many factors that didn’t get considered into the allowed time. Starting the day at 3am preparing the last items and double checking everything, I headed out to Bike Barn of Phoenix to meet with Kevin West. Kevin was the only rider who made it out to ride with me and it was an honor to get to ride with such an awesome person let alone a great cyclist.
When we were ready to ride out at 5am we put our legs to work at an average 25-30 mph heading towards HWY87 (The BeeLine Highway). Pedaling towards the BeeLine was a simple task and once we got on the BeeLine we were trucking it down the road however something started feeling different on my bike at that point. We were hardly 10 miles in when all of a sudden my bike got very heavy, it was like I was pulling another bike. The headwinds were pushing back between 15-20 mph so I thought maybe this was the case of why my bike felt so heavy, and I also considered that I did have a heavy pack on my shoulders; something was just not right. Within a few minutes I noticed that I couldn’t ride any faster than 10 mph which wasn’t the norm when I rode my bike on the BeeLine every other time, I also noticed that Kevin was easily speeding further from me’ something wasn’t quite right.
About every 30 minutes or so I checked my tires by merely squeezing them to see if they felt low and they didn’t so I continued to pedal as my bike continued to feel heavy and slow. Even when going downhill I had to pedal very hard to go forward. When I got passed Sunflower I was pedaling uphill into a curb and suddenly I was blown off of my bike, thankfully I unclipped before landing in the road; the wind was very strong. This wasn’t the first hard gust that pushed me over into the rail or came closed to blowing me into an oncoming vehicle but this was the worst of them during the route. Given the wind gusts were so strong I kept telling myself that it was the wind and the backpack that kept slowing me down.
After several hours I arrived almost at the top of one of the last big climbs before making it to the turn off at HWY188 to Tonto Basin and I had my first flat tire. When I went to change my tire I heard my friend Kevin West as he was coming across the street to assist and to check on me; Kevin rocks! He quickly changed my tire as we spoke of the difficulty on this route and after he changed my tire we agreed that it was time to call it a day on the BeeLine200 as it was an extremely difficult route with high winds and lots of trash rough areas (debris, broken glass, metal shards, and more) to ride through. Kevin then started riding towards Chandler back towards his home while I started to pedal uphill going towards HWY188; my bike was no longer heavy? All of a sudden my bike wasn’t hard to pedal as I easily pedaled my bike at 25mph up that hill to go down it at 48mph, to climb the next hill at 27mph; the high winds were still going. Why all of a sudden was my bike back to easily able to ride again? Had something been in my tire the entire time and not noticeable? Once I turned onto HWY188 almost 1 mile from where I had my first flat tire in the rear of my bike….. I had a front flat tire.
While I was changing my front flat tire (2nd flat in less than 10 minutes) someone stopped to ask if I was okay and I thanked them while saying I was finishing up and thanks. I finished changing the front tire and the rear tire was flat again with a small piece of metal sticking out of it, this was the 3rd flat tire. A vehicle pulled up beside me to ask if I was okay or needed anything and I asked if they’d drop me and my bike off at Jake’s Corner Store and I turned off Strava ending the ride for the day. The couple happily took me to Jake’s Corner Store, I offered them some money or lunch or whatever to thank them and they were so kind wishing me luck while saying they were a cyclist too. I grabbed some refreshments at Jake’s Corner and then proceeded to change my rear tire, once I fixed it I started to ride towards Globe on HWY188 when all of a sudden a loud boom happened as my rear tire had blown off of the rim and was wrapped around my brake pad; this was the 4th flat tire and I had only ridden about 100 feet from Jake’s Corner Store. I called my wife after I changed the 4th flat tire to have her come an pick me up when she had the time since that was the last tube that I had on me. After I got off the phone another car pulled up to offer assistance, this awesome person owned a local bike shop offering me a lift and free mechanic service if I needed it; the people in Tonto Basin area are amazingly awesome and nice. I thanked the gentleman and told him that my ride would be coming that I was okay and I walked my bike back to Jake’s Corner Store where they happily welcomed me to chill out as long as I needed to.
I was at Jake’s Corner Store for 3 hours until my wife could get to pick me up, so many locals stopped to chat with me and to offer me assistance, food, anything; some people even came by many times to make sure that I was still okay. During my time at Jake’s, I enjoyed the relaxation, the awesome pizza and the amazing people of the area; it was an awesome day. The BeeLine200 ride even though it had ended due to how bad the roads and wind were the ride was an amazing adventure filled with good people and I can’t wait to attempt it again.
So much was learned from this awesome ride and so much happiness was gained from it as well. First of all, I realized that the bike I have isn’t the right bike for me. My bike is a race bike that every time I take it out on an adventure like this something happens and in this case, it was 4 flat tires and a damaged rear cassette. This bike isn’t built to carry weight and without having disk brakes this bike can’t have more durable tires for rugged terrain. Now, this route was a road route but every time that I ride on the BeeLine Highway I’ve had a flat tire and since January when I got this road bike I have gone through 12 flats and 10 tires which we’ve totaled the expense to be almost $1500.00 in tires and tubes. I’ve tried tubeless and tubes, no matter what the BeeLine Highway has enough junk on it that I always have to repair a tire or a tube so It’s time for a bike change. We’ve been looking into a different bike for me to ride and no one carries either of the two bikes of interest and we’ve had no choice but to go directly to the manufactures to get one. The 2nd thing learned from this ride was the wind, before the ride there were no weather concerns until the last minute. Never trust the weatherman as not once have they ever been right; always guessing to sell ad space. The high winds were not taken into consideration before the ride because there wasn’t any knowledge of them however this did make the ride even more challenging which is a good thing; not many routes that I ride will ya find many other riders. The 3rd thing I learned from this ride is how rare it is to find adventure and/or ultra-distance cyclist in my area. It’s a click here, it isn’t anything more; it’s completely made me re-think everything. The end result is that I do not plan to ride any more group rides ever. I don’t mind riding with a friend here and there but… I love to ride my bike not brag that I have one.
From this point, I plan to focus more on adventure rides and long distance cycling while I document them all. I also plan to focus on reviewing cycling products, bikes, and bike shops given the experiences that we’ve encountered since we began riding.
Will I do the #BeeLine200 again? Absolutely! I plan on doing the full route very soon, after getting a different bike.