Although weather and road conditions are beyond her control, the woman in charge of the MS: Toyota Best Dam Bike Ride stepped up and apologized this week for the epidemic of flats encountered on the weekend ride.
Rain and a fresh patch of asphalt seemed to create the puncturing combination Sunday morning, Aug. 7, outside of Ft. Atkinson. By one estimate, at least 200 tires went flat; and some riders dealt with multiple deflations.
Colleen G. Kalt, the president & CEO of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society-Wisconsin, has organized the ride for 28 years and felt a motherly sense of responsibility for the unprecedented tire problems.
“I can assure you the course had been checked prior to the event and then again early Sunday morning,” she wrote in an email to the participants. “Still, for those who experienced the frustration of a flat tire or even worse, multiple flats due to this issue; I want to apologize for the hassle, annoyance and grief it caused you.”
Asked why she sent the message, Kalt explained: “These riders, I love them, that’s why.”
Over the 28 years, the participants in the MS ride from Waukesha to Madison have raised $21 million to support research to treat and cure MS. This year, the 1,869 riders and volunteers will generate roughly $1.6 million.
Kalt deserves credit for standing up and holding herself accountable. Chris Kegel and his team from Wheel & Sprocket also deserve kudos for handling the lion’s share of the repairs on road.
Kegel said that at one point, he had 50 bikes in the repair cue, after swapping tubes for two hours.
Prevention: The owner of the Wheel & Sprocket stores said tires pick up debris from the road when they’re wet from the rain. Bits of glass, wire, and sharp stones collect on the tire, then push their way into the tube.
Cleaning debris from the tire, using thicker tires and replacing worn tires are all preventive measures.
Other issues: Riders in Madison have reported a rash of flats, possibly related to the material being used to seal roads in that city and other Dane County locations. Boiler slag has replaced gravel as a material used in chip seal, and the extra-hard material may be puncturing the rubber.
I hope to do more reporting on that issue next week.