The first time Mark’s chain broke, we laughed and joked around while we fixed it. We were enjoying pristine weather on a beautiful desert loop which will be part of the Julian Death March next month.
Stopping to adjust Mark’s front derailleur took awhile, but was fairly straightforward. We never did figure out how it got out of whack in the first place. We had stopped next to this old ranch with what looked like a mining operation going on out back. What would it be like to have a mine in your backyard?
The second time Mark’s chain broke, we still laughed and made jokes about how these things come in threes. We were on the back side of a loop trail, it would have been a long walk without a chain tool.
The third time Mark’s chain broke, we fixed it quickly without saying much and were on our way. Mark was getting really good at fixing his chain.
The fourth time Mark’s chain broke, we wondered how many links you can remove from a chain before you start walking. The desert flowers were in full swing and really pretty.
What was making us both pretty nervous was the knowledge that we had been descending all morning. Our altimeters told us that a 2,500 foot climb was approaching. It was still a long walk back to the car if his chain kept breaking every few miles.
Luckily, it did not. It held together as we slowly climbed up a steep and rocky jeep trail. We passed two groups of four-wheelers who were descending. They were nice and pulled off to the side to let us pass without stopping. We got several cheers and appreciative comments. A little girl said we were inspiring.
My guts became sore from working to balance my bike as it stumbled over the rocky terrain at less than 3mph. It was a great workout in very dramatic scenery.
We headed back to the car after 23 miles, cutting our ride in half. We managed to climb almost 4,000 vertical feet so it was still a pretty good day. Next weekend we’ll have a do-over and preview the last 20 miles of the aptly named Julian Death March.