So, today I was a rider martial for my club's big charity fundraiser event (25 mile, 75K, 100K). That means that I was supposed to ride the route (I chose to do the 25 miler twice) looking for riders having trouble and help them if I could (mostly in fixing flats).
First circuit, 0.8 miles from the start, a couple by the side of the road just putting the tire back on the rim (to be known as Couple A). They don't need any help from me, but they are talking about how he's gotten so many flats in the past few days. I tell them I don't mean to insult, but have they checked the tire for foreign objects. The glare I get from both of them tells me that I'm not going to be on their Christmas card list -- EVER. I continue on and a few minutes later they go flying past me without even an "on your left".
At 1.2 miles, another couple (Couple B). He's having trouble removing the tire and tube from the rim. I stop to offer tire levers (which he doesn't have). Between us, we get the tire and the tube off. For some reason, we wind up having a lot of trouble getting the tube to sit in the tire and the tire to sit in the rim. I'm fumble-fingered under any circumstance, and especially now with two people looking on. Finally, in frustration, he grabs the wheel out of my hand and does it himself, then starts pumping. It's taking a while to fill, and as we're pumping, the SAG wagon pulls up to help. The SAG guy takes a look at the tire and says "you don't have the tire all the way on the rim". The SAG guy starts working the tire, but can't get it, so he takes the whole thing off to start from scratch. "Hey", he says, "this isn't the right tube for this tire" (hint: the tire says 700x28, this tube isn't even close). The rider is just downright rude and insulting to the SAG guy, refuses the correct size tube from the SAG guy (who's been riding for 78 of his 85 years and has been, among other things, a wrench for any number of professional teams), stuffs the tire and tube onto the rim, fills it with air, and leaves in a huff ahead of me (I'm slow, and I'm supposed to be riding this slowly anyway).
At 1.5 miles, still another couple (Couple C) fixing a flat (his). He's got his tire and tube back on the rim, but his pump isn't working. It probably is, but the Presta valve is screwed close. I open it while I hand him my pump. I ask if they checked for foreign objects and the answer is a polite "yes, but thanks for asking". We fill up the tire, close the Presta valve, and off they go ahead of me.
At 1.9 miles, there's couple A. His tire is flat again. I help him remove the tire and then I check it myself. There are four separate punctures, each a piece of brownish-amber glass. I saw no brownish-amber glass between the 0.8 mile point where I first saw them and now. It's possible he picked it up in that stretch, but you and I both know that those shards were in the tire when I asked them if they checked back at mile 0.8.
At 2.2 miles, there's couple C. Flat again. I check it myself. There are two glass shards in the tire (not brownish-amber). He admits that maybe he didn't check the entire tire the first time, but stopped when he found a piece of glass. I help them patch the tube. We get it all put back together and he ducks into a porta-potty while I head off.
At 2.9 miles, the wife of couple C catches up to me. "Hi", she says, "you don't happen to know how to call for the SAG wagon, do you?" Apparently, as soon as hubby got back on his bike, a couple of spokes just went kerblooie. I'm worried that maybe we did something wrong when we were using the tire levers to get the tire off, but she assures me that it was probably caused by him throwing his bike into a guardrail when he got the second flat. The instructions for calling the SAG wagon are on the cue sheet, but I make the call for her anyway.
So reader, I'm sure that at this point you know what's coming up. Yes, at mile 3.1 or so, there's couple B. His tire (the same one) is flat as a pancake. I do have the right sized tube for him, but I'm sure as hell not going to offer it to him (not after the way he treated the SAG guy). I tell him that his choices are to wait for the SAG wagon, or walk back to the start. Last I see of him, he's walking back.
No new problems until about mile 19 of my second loop. A couple (Couple D) just ahead of me pull over. Her bike is making a VERY loud clicking noise as she pedals. We're checking the chain and derailleurs (sp?), we're checking the pedals, we're checking everything we can think of, but we can't seem to either localize the noise or find its cause. Then the husband notices that her rear tire is flat. We start checking out the rear tire. I'm not an expert on bike design, but I'm pretty sure that bikes are NOT supposed to have a 3" roofing nail stuck through the sidewall (not even out of the bottom of the tire, but out of the sidewall, and pretty high up on the sidewall). A 3" roofing nail that is perfectly positioned so that the head hits the frame on every revolution of the tire (thus the clicking noise). Since she does not have a quick release wheel, they decide that he's going to bike to their house (about 2 miles away), get the car, and come pick her up (this is a VERY nice neighborhood we're in -- houses go for $1-$5 million a pop -- and there are lots of riders going by, so she should be perfectly safe). They assure me that they don't need any more help from me nor need me to stay with her, and I head off in one direction while the husband heads off in the other.
I get back to the start/finish, am talking with other members of the club, and all of a sudden, here comes the husband of Couple D, looking very distraught. When he got back to where he left his wife, she wasn't there, but the bike was. Have I seen or heard from her (no). We check with the amateur radio operators who provide communications -- nothing. We ask the police assigned to the event to check with the various cruisers doing traffic duty out on the routes. Then someone gets a good idea -- let's call the SAG wagons. And we find that she's on the third one we call. He (politely) asks for the phone and asks for her to be put on the phone in the SAG wagon. "Dear, I thought you were going to wait for me". I couldn't hear her response, but I for one would NOT want my significant other to have the same look on her face that this woman's response brought to her husband's face. We assure the police that the woman has been found and is safe and the husband wanders away. I later find out from the SAG driver that her answer had been that she had decided not to wait for her husband because the SAG wagon drove by, and because the bike was so old she had decided to just abandon it and get a new one.
I'll be checking the local paper tomorrow morning for any domestic homicides.