I woke to as many mosquitoes as when I went to sleep so I broke camp in just as much of a hurry as I set it up in and biked the few remaining miles to Glenallen for breakfast. With rain threatening and a outlet close at hand I ate a leisurely breakfast, wrote a couple of blog posts, and caught up on email before heading for Valdez.
I was about 45 miles in going down a long hill when I heard a strange squeal from the back wheel. I looked and looked but I can't find anything that is rubbing on tire. I did however discover that the rear tire is worn down to the red warning layer about 1/4 of the way around.
I replaced both tires right before this trio and the front one still looks new so something isn't right. My best theory is that the wheel is out of true, possibly from pulling the trailer, and that caused the wheel to wear faster as well as causing the squealing noise going down hill.
These tires should have lasted a couple thousand miles and while I have several spare tubes with me I don't have a spare tire. I'd also hate to put a new on one without knowing what caused this one to fail. So, without a better option I decided to ride on and see if I could make Valdez on it. A little concerned about a blowout on the miles of steep down hill between Thompson Pass and sea level I half heartedly stuck out my thumb whenever I heard a car coming up behind me. I didn't really expect anyone to pick up a cyclist who was still riding so I was a little surprised when a few miles later the brake lights of a pickup came on a truck a quarter mile after it had passed me by. I rode up and asked the lady if she has stopped for me. She said "no, I just stopped to change my sons diaper, but we can probably fit you in if you need a ride. And so began my rather unlikely ride over the pass with Angie and her five kids on their way back from Anchorage. I think my by bike trip may have been an easier than her drive. Six straight hours of driving with five kids under 10 in the car? That's hardcore...
It turns out the sole bike mechanic in Valdez is on vacation in Italy this month so I didn't get any answers there. I did find a dry place to cook dinner and sleep for a few hours without setting up my tent before getting up at 4:30 to catch the ferry the Whittier. It's pretty flat from Whittier to Anchorage so I'm hopeful the tire will hold up until I get there. I doesn't sounds like I missed too much driving over the pass since it was cloudy and raining anyway. I met up with the Alaskabike group on the ferry this morning and they said it was pretty wet and cold going over the pass and not much to see besides clouds. I would like to go back sometime and ride it on a sunny day because it is amazing up there when it is clear.