Three Flats And A Bad Road

By Stephen Ewashkiw | June 24, 2014

15,351 km so far.

Yeah, today’s title kind of gives the game away.

Today was rough. This is the third day in a row that was supposed to be an easy ride, but didn’t end up that way. We did eventually make it to Pasuruan, but it took far longer than it should have to ride just 60 km.

Pop Goes The Weasel

Once again, most of our ride was on a busy highway. This time it’s the 24. The first 15 km reminded us more of China than anything we have seen since we were there 5 months ago. The road was non-stop traffic, the pavement was falling apart, and there were endless small business along both sides of the road. Like China, the air was thick and grey with exhaust fumes, and despite the stifling heat, we wore our face masks.

Blue skies, a volcano, and another of the endless stream of trucks.

Blue skies, a volcano, and another of the endless stream of trucks.

The big difference was we could see blue sky and the sun. We went months without seeing that in China.

After all the punishment we have put our bikes through recently it wasn’t a big surprise, but not long into today’s ride Jane’s rear tire went flat. It was bound to happen to one of us, if not both. We were near a scooter repair shop, so went back to it, hoping they would be set up for inner tube repair. They weren’t, but they didn’t mind us using their space to work on the bike ourselves.

To appear manly at the scooter shop, Stephen fixed Jane's tire.

To appear manly at the scooter shop, Stephen fixed Jane’s tire.

In fact, they helped me find the hole, and then I set about patching it. They were interested in our trip, and we had a good chat with one of them, who spoke English well, and translated for his friends. Before long the bike was all back together, and we pushed off.

Shit, Pop

For the next 10 km I rode behind Jane to keep an eye on her tire, and it seemed to be doing fine. Then, just as we got to an unbelievably busy road, jam-packed with a castrophony of traffic, it went flat again. We pulled up onto the steps in front of a pharmacy, and set about with repair number two, while diesel fumes infused our very essence and blaring horns meant we had to yell at each to be heard.

Mmm. Nice.

Jane found 2 more holes in the tube.

Jane fixing the second flat. Not happy.

Jane fixing the second flat. Not happy.

This is when I realised the hole we had patched earlier was on the inside seam of the inner tube, as were the new holes. This led us to suspect some grit had gotten into her tire and was puncturing the tube. We checked it for grit again, but found nothing. So, Jane patched it up, and we headed off.

A few seconds later it was flat again. Seriously?

Instead of messing around with another repair job, we got out one of our spare tubes, hoping it wouldn’t immediately get a hole once we put the wheel back together. By this point the relatively new Malaysian tire, which had been ornery during the first repair, was getting used to coming on and off, so the inner tube swap was fairly quick.

Lucky number 3. Hope this thing holds!

Lucky number 3. Hope this thing holds!

Again, we were off. First though, we had to walk our bikes across four lanes of non-stop huge trucks and busses. A local generously walked out into traffic for us, stopping it, and allowing us to safely cross. Thank you, Indonesian Moses!

Little Coincidences

We stopped at an Alfamart after a while for a drink break, and while sitting on their stoop eating Happytos Corn Chips and drinking soda, another cyclist rode up on an Xtracycle, with a second bike strapped to the long back rack / seat that gives the bike its name.

Hartadi is an Indonesia cyclist who was on his way from Surabaya to Probolinggo to deliver his old bike to his young nephew.

Hartadi, Stephen, and the Xtracycle in the background.

Hartadi, Stephen, and the Xtracycle in the background.

He bought us a couple of bottles of juice, and we had a great chat. It was really nice to meet an Indoensian cycling enthusiast since we haven’t met ANY other cyclists while on the road in Indonesia yet.

Jane’s note: Except for hundreds of people who use their bikes to transport goods, ride to and from the store, and take their kids places. This is how we wish everyone would use bicycles, so we don’t want to forget about them completely.

The rest of our ride was on Highway 1, yet another horrendously noisy and busy highway.

Fortunately, as we were riding into Pasuruan we saw, across four lanes of traffic, a brand new hotel. Hotel Transit has only been open for one month, which means new beds, clean sheets, and a sparkling bathroom that doesn’t smell of the Indonesian version of air-freshener, ie. mothballs.

Plus, it is a soft open and they have a great deal on the room rate right now. We had expected to get to town a few hours ago, giving us time to look around for a place to stay. Exhausted, dirty, and ready to get off our bikes, we were extremely happy to find Transit so easily.

An addendum: About five hours after we first met Hartadi, Jane walked from our hotel to the Indomart down the road, and bumped into him again as he was on his way home, having already dropped the bike in Probolinggo. That’s a long day of cycling! Had Jane spent an extra few seconds in the store she never would have seen him.

The world is an amazing place.

Soundtrack: Paul Simon, Graceland | The Beatles, Revolver | Dr. Dre, 2001 | Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot | Jeff Tweedy, Roadcase 027: Live At The Coronet, 12/19/2013  

Want to see the route map? View it on Ride With GPS.

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