On the way home, we passed a bicyclist on the side of the road on Portland Ave. around 42nd Street. It was getting dark and the rider looked like they might need a hand; the bike was upside down, the rear wheel and tire were off, and he was rummaging through a backpack looking for something. We have also had a rash of armed robberies in friendly So. MPLS lately, so Molly suggested that we circle around and see if he needed a hand.
When we pulled up, we saw an older guy with a very nice Scott carbon-fiber road bike. He had the wheel off the bike, and the tire/tube off the wheel, but the presta valve was stuck in the rim and he could not get it out. I unscrewed the valve from the rim for him and showed him how I worked that little bit of magic, then he asked for a flash light because he had lost the tightening screw from his quick-release skewer for the rear wheel. Although we looked around with a powerful flash light for the missing nut, we could not find it.
It was not getting any lighter, and I could tell this guy was not going to be riding home anytime soon, so I asked where he was headed and if he wanted a lift to somewhere. He replied that he was trying to get to Richfield. I told him we would take him that far if he wanted, but when it came time to put his bike in the bed of the pickup, he balked at that since it might get scratched (it was a really nice bike, but still, I would rather risk a scratch than spend my evening on Portland Ave looking for missing bike parts in the dark). We ended up leaving him out there and hope he is okay, but I have been thinking about the "self-sufficient rider" today.
TCBC has a decent description of what it takes to be a self-sufficient rider. I ran into quite a few broken down folks during my Anchorage Trail Watch days, but often those were just people out for a quick spin - not riders on high-end road bikes planning to make longer rides. I actually rescued quite a few downers in Anchorage and made phone calls for the ones that could not ride home. Knock wood, I have only had to call Molly once to come rescue my non-self-sufficient butt. I got a flat somewhere between the Mendota Bridge and Harriet Island in Lilydale or St. Paul. Everything was going just fine until I fucked up inflating my spare tube with my one-and-only CO2 cartridge. Based on that sorry experience, I got some Gatorskins, ditched the CO2 for a road pump, bought a light that can double as a flashlight and have never looked back.
When we parted ways last night, the Scott rider's game plan was to replace the wheel (which could not be secured to the frame) and walk the bike to Chicago and then take a bus home. I hope he made it with no problems!