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Eight Bike Tips from LOST Ride

Anne (of lovebug fame), Pam, a new rider – Hillary – and I took off Saturday evening for a ride on what I call Ghost Road 27. It’s an abandoned stretch of what used to be the major north-south highway through central Florida. The stretch we were riding is about 15 miles long between South Bay and Clewiston. It’s slowly going back to nature, and it’s blocked off by about five gates that have to be gone over, through or around.

Dodging gates


The temps were on the warm side of comfortable and we had a strong tailwind that made it feel even warmer, because the technical nature of the road kept us from going too fast. About a mile past where I warned the other riders about watching out for cracks in the pavement, the wide front tire of my Surly LHT fell into one. I was able to maintain control, but I felt a little sheepish.

Non-poisonous snake

We had several dogs give chase, but they weren’t serious. Some friendly folks along the way waved and spoke. We didn’t see any gators on this trip, but Mr. Snake made an appearance. Anne used her Texas snake-charming skills to try to herd it where I could get a better photo, but Florida snakes must be immune to her charms.

I was seriously sleepy

When we got to Clewiston, we stopped at a Sonny’s BBQ for dinner. I was so sleepy I thought my head was going to fall in my plate. When we headed back, the temperature had dropped and our tailwind became a headwind. At dusk, I suggested we stop to don some bug spray. With the wind blowing as hard as it was, I didn’t think mosquitoes would be a problem, but it’s easier to put on the spray when you’re not dancing and swatting. I decided to pull on my knee warmers, too. You Yankees will scoff, but I ride better with warm muscles.

Nothing between here and Europe to block wind

When we got on top of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST) it became very clear that there was nothing between us and Europe blocking the wind. I told my much younger riding partners that they were welcome to ride their own pace. “You can’t get lost on the LOST. I’m going to gear down, crank up the tunes and get into my own zone.” They quickly disappeared.

A few miles down the trail, I saw them waiting for me. It wasn’t an act of kindness. I had the car keys. I told them that I liked it better when they were a speck in the distance. If they were close, I’d try to keep up with them. They took me at my word and blasted off again.

A couple more miles down the road, I saw they had stopped again. This time it was because Hillary had a flat. The good news is that she had a tube and a CO2 cartridge. The bad news is that Pam didn’t have a light; Anne’s light, which used a rechargeable battery was dead, and Hillary’s light, which used some kind of funky battery was also dead. Oh, yeah, Hillary didn’t have an inflator to go WITH the cartridge.

B&M IQ Cyo R N Plus and Flare 5

I have a ViewPoint Flare 5 LED light on my helmet to use as a flashlight and another one on my bars as a ‘be-seen’ flashing light. A B&M IQ Cyo R N Plus generator light is my primary headlight. It’s nice to have spare lights, particularly when you’re riding with folks who may not be quite as prepared. A generator light will provide power as long as you have legs (although mine were a bit questionable on this ride).

I also have an inflator, so I told Hilary that we’d give her tire a shot of air from her threaded cartridge that would, hopefully get her home. I also clipped my spare be-seen light on her bars and said, “Ride like crazy.” My CO2 inflator takes both threaded and the cheaper non-threaded cartridges.

Pulled out the Topeak Road Morph pump

She got about 200 yards before the tire was flat again. I dig out my tools and we took out the old tube and put the tire back together. A few squirts of air from my Topeak Road Morph Pump with Gauge made it feel like all was right with the world, so I pulled out one of my CO2 cartridges to top it off. It flatted almost immediately. Hoping that it was just that we hadn’t closed the valve all the way, we gave it another shot of air. Same result.

One of the nice things about the LOST is that you’re completely isolated from motorized traffic. That’s one of the bad things, though, because some of the pickup points are seven to 10 miles apart. Fortunately, we were within a mile of one, so I gave Pam the be-seen light and sending her off down the trail to the cars. I told her I’d follow. We left Anne and Hillary to walk to the pickup point, after asking them if they know what a python slithering through the grass sounded like.

Pam beat me to the cars by a wide margin. Wide enough that she had time to get to the car, drive to the non-python-eaten riders and get back just as I was racking my bike.

What 8 valuable lessons can we take from this ride?

  • Bring a light, even if you think you’ll be done by dark.
  • Make sure your batteries are charged and/or bring spares.
  • Carry a backup light.
  • A CO2 cartridge won’t do any good if you don’t have an inflator. You can’t always count on riding with someone who has one.
  • Tire tools make removing the tube easier.
  • Carry a spare tube. If you’re out in the boonies, two is better.
  • A pump will do the initial fill of the tire; you can finish it off with the cartridge, but a pump will provide air as long as you can pump. The cartridge is one-shot.
  • Watch nature programs so you can be familiar with the sound of slithering pythons. If you hear one, don’t warn your partner, just start to move away quietly. Snakes go for the closer prey. (It dawns on me that I was the slow rider on this trip. Maybe I shouldn’t give away ALL my secrets.)

16 comments to Eight Bike Tips from LOST Ride

  • C. Reed

    Wow. We usually just carry Gatorage, cell phones, credit card, water and Fix a Flat.

    SLithering Pythons? Are you kidding me??
    ha ha ha

  • How much do I love this blog?
    Way too much!
    Great job.

  • Andy

    Why waste CO2 when you have a road morph? I pump up tires with mine all the time, sometimes up to 140psi, without any issues.

    • Andy

      I should mention, I use the original length one, not the smaller version, but it looks like you have the long one from the picture you provided. Just flip down the foot stand part and you can use two arms to pump it up.

    • I agree with you. I opted for the CO2 because we were close to bug-thirty o’clock, I was tired and it was late. The Road Morph moves a good amount of air. It’s the best bike pump for its size that I’ve owned.

  • George P

    Don’t sweat the snakes, most U.S. species are nonvenomous and harmless, unless you look like a rat. Hard to tell from the photo, but I suspect that snake was a rat or corn snake, not a python. And snakes don’t “slither.” I think that term only applies to politicians. Meet me at the zoo sometime and I’ll introduce you to a few… snakes, not politicians.

    I have a small, maybe 6-inch long pump. It’s damn near useless. Too hard to pump the tire tight. I need to get a bigger pump or a CO2 gadget and some cartridges. I already carry a spare tube.

    • George,

      I’m with you on the corn or rat snake ID. I labeled it as non-poisonous.

      On the other hand, there was a water moccasin that stretched 2/3 of the way across the trail just south of Chancey the weekend before. My light picked him up and let me identify him as a SNAKE!! and not a shadow just in time for me to swerve around and dodge him on the tail end.

      I don’t like the image of rolling over one in the middle and having him flip up into my crank. I’m afraid there wouldn’t be enough room on the bike for the two of us.

      If you want a reliable pump, look at a Topeak Road Morphy like mine. CO2 cartridges are nice for go-fast riders who’ll get dropped by their impatient buddies if their flat change takes longer than 47 seconds. Given a choice, go for the pump. It’s a lot cheaper in the long run.

  • Great story Ken as always. I have also learnt to ride with a appropriately stocked saddle bag, which includes two spare tubes (have hit a pothole once and pinched flatted front and rear), spare batteries etc. Even carry a spare light now that it is winter. I detailed my full saddle bag contents here.

  • Osa

    Sounds like you almost had as much fun as I did working… ;) Seems like I need to get that rack, put panniers on it and fill them with useful gear for the next time I get to go “adventuring” with you all. Good thing it all worked out for you in the end!! I’ve always known we could count on you Ken! :) Think I’m going to see Wayne this week…

  • Mark Steinhoff

    You do have some interesting rides down there. I have to admit, I would like to change having to watch for car doors in the suicide lane up here in the shadow of The Arch, to just having to identify the bump I just rode over as a corn snake or some other Squamata that needs its belly warmed.

    And while I also chide you about the amount of stuff you tote on your bike, I think the estimate of 30 pounds (if you include the christmas tree cluster of electronic gear on your bars up front) is pretty accurate, sometimes it comes in handy. But you make the word “redundant” blush with the backup backup gear. Then again, it’s you that has to get your Surly rolling from a dead not, not me.

    I on the other hand, tend to load up the essentials for ride based on a few simple questions. How far am I going to ride, will I ride by myself, where am I riding? Short distances means I’m the only extra thing on the bike besides one water bottle. If I am close enough to walk my broken down bike home, again I’m the only extra thing on the bike besides a water bottle (remember, I did carry my old Bianchi half way across the old 7 mile bridge when my tire shredded that fateful day I was with you). If I’m riding a distance that is too far to walk home (anything over 7 miles is my measurable bar) then I will add the tube, the tools, the air and a few bandaids.

    It’s not that I don’t like stuff, it’s that I don’t like the weight of stuff. Then again, YOU are carrying the equivalence of TWO of my bikes every time you head out on your Surly. Urf. All that being said, whenever I ride with you and your mobile bike store I know that not only could we mend anything that might break on our bikes, but with the right sockets we could also build a missile launcher or a washing machine, whichever one is right the for occasion.

  • The New Newbie

    Sounds like a great ride….in a 4 Wheeler!!

    Ken W. made me do it!!

  • Hi ken.

    It’s been like over a year I do not come to this site, but recently received an email to my old account and here I am!

    I live in Clewiston, was out of town but for now back.
    Lately I’ve been riding in direction to Moore Haven, the better pavement part, and the reason I’m writing is due to something I read here about choosing the right bike.

    I have two: a tour bicycle and a mountain one, and recently I switched to the mountain tired of having a couple of flats (I’m 190 p. weight), and man it was like moving from a jet airplane to a bulldozer doing three times the same effort; so if the person coming to LOST is looking for a good timing, or not being left behind by the group, probable a mountain bike will not be a good choice, but of course is better off to avoid flats.

    Regards,
    Alejandro.

  • Ah…!!!
    I forgot.
    Yesterday I saw a 10 feet alligator, not common on this side of the canal; and a small snake, with many bugs and a heating Sun that could break anybody in two pieces…
    Somebody said we do not have poisoning snakes, but yes, there is a red one that has some poison; the other day I had one in my backyard, never seen in yrs…so I went for a machete…and…you can imagine.

  • Fantastic article and adventure here Ken. Great photos. Looks like a fantastic ride. All the best.

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