WireWorld » Bicycling » Bike Blog » Tour of Borrego

Tour of Borrego

Me at about mile 25 or so...

I rode 66 out of 80 miles through the desert on the Tour of Borrego a little over a week ago. I'll tell you, the looks I got from co-workers when I told them I was going to ride 80 miles through the desert were worth every penny I spent making it happen.

The way it works is that it's two loops, a 40 mile loop and a 22 mile loop. So you can do two 40 mile loops to get 80 miles, the 40 and 22 to get 62 miles, just the 40 or just the 22. A lot of folks were only signed up for the 40 or 22 mile version.

Mass Start

I can still visualize the start. We started going downhill and there was a mass of cyclists and I was reaching 20-25 mph as I descended while only pedaling at a moderate pace. I was worried about putting out too much effort at the start and having none left at the end. It was weird doing it as part of an organized event. I usually just roll out the door some weekend morning whenever I feel ready to go and it's not any big thing. But this was.

Eventually, we turned right at the traffic circle in the midst of Borrego Springs and headed out towards the dip. The 22 mile route stopped early, but we kept going all the way to the Texas dip. I made awfully good pace for a lot of it because I fell in with a pelton. Pelton is a pro cycling word... basically if I sit with my front wheel behind somebody's rear wheel... or even overlap and get even closer, they can push the air aside for me, so I'm putting half as much effort as I would on my own. I slid myself into the pelton of club riders and even took a pull or two just so that I wouldn't be a wheelsucker. They told me I had a nice bike. I think it was because they don't normally see a crazy guy on a mountain bike keeping up with the roadies.

My triathelete of a boss tells me that I was taunting them by breaking out of the pelton to the side and shooting video. My thought was just that if I zigged too far to the left or right, I'd take somebody out, so I'd better get some breathing room..

Sadly, I may have a lot of power, but my power / weight ratio isn't very good, so when we did the dip (pictures to come) I lost the fast pelton and went with the slower riders. So I finished the first 40 mile loop, feeling good, and even got a hug from my wife when I returned to the starting point.

Yellow desert flowers

The second part of the ride was a little harder because my back was hurting from all of the road vibrations. But I kept going, even though I was now towards the end of those crazy enough to attempt the 80 mile route. There was a guy in a green mountain bike at the very end who was just as crazy as I am but a little slower.

I had to stop and rest my back at two points, but I was making it.

Trouble appeared at mile 66. Suddenly, I hear a blowing sound and realize that my rear tire was leaking air. I should note that I've never blown a tire, so I suppose it's only fair it would happen in a real ride. Thankfully, I knew how to get the tire off and change out the tube. The hole confused me, because it was towards the rim and I couldn't find any holes. Eventually I shrugged and put a new tire on. I found out the next week that what happened was the sidewall of my not-very-old tire had failed.... but then I when I put the works back together, the chain skipped and got bent.


Now, my multi-tool has a chain tool. I even have some spare chain at home. But I'd never used the thing, so I didn't know what to do. So I called for the SAG wagon, but he was busy taking down the signage so I just figured it would be easier to just toss my bike in the trailer and head back in. The guy SAGing was also a photographer.

Failed chain

Meh. I could have finished. My muscles weren't especially sore. I wasn't totally tired. But I couldn't replace the chain on the road.

I got a little bit of sunburn. I kept with my eating-and-drinking routine that I had to develop to get past a 20 mile ride, which mean that I was mostly eating the homemade cookies and sports gels that I'd brought instead of the stuff they had (except for their Product W) and I filled up my water supplies at every stop.

Needless to say, now I've got the special Shimano pins and a section of spare chain in my saddle bag, and I know how to use my chain tool because I changed out the chain. Except that I found out that my cassette has worn out now, so I've got to swap cassettes.