We were clearly in the South. The humidity was higher... We got a little late start, and then realized that we had gained an hour by crossing the time line into central. You know you're on vacation when you don't know what time it is. Today was the day that we encountered a few set-backs, dealt with them, and reminded ourselves that we were capable of dealing with such things... An exercise in anxiety reduction. That and the fact that we were still making better time than we thought we might, even on the dirt. Our first obstacle was this: They must have escaped from a field... unlike the cattle out west who apparantly are much more territorial when it comes to defending their right to be on the road, these eastern varients just ran away. A little ways further, we encountered a bridge out. No signs, nothing... Mr. Happy puppet makes his first, but not last appearance for the day, boosting morale, and making the world safe for democracy. Easy go-around that added less than a mile to our day. No biggie. What next? A downhill, off-camber left hand sweeping curve on loose gravel. The dust had been picking up as the morning moisture burned off in the sun. I'm following LDF pretty close to stay out of her dust-wake. There's a barbed-wire fence on the far side of the curve, I see her questioning her speed going into the turn. She starts to brake, straighten her line, I'm thinking... "her front wheel is going to wash out..." Sure enough, she's scrubbed off a fair amount of speed, but the wheel lets go of the road, and she's down. Next thing I know, BAM!... I'M DOWN TOO! :eek1 How did that happen? Turns out, I was mirroring her actions, and basically while watching her crash, was sort of riding her ride. It was the weirdest thing... Damage: I scraped my hand, we spilled a little gas. Shaken up a little. Picked up the bikes, dusted ourselves off. Debriefed. The accident scene: Back on our way. After about another hour of riding, we were on some twisty pavement for a few miles, connecting dirt roads. We picked up the pace a little, and my bike started to feel squirly. I signaled LDF to stop, and looked it over... seemed good. Rode a little further and realized my front tire was low. Since we were on a blind curve, I rode up to the intersection a ways ahead and stopped. It was flat. Looked for something to support the bike... rock, log, ... nothing. We know the drill from flats on the big bikes. Unload luggage, loosened the front axle, and then I just placed the bike on it's side and got the wheel off. It ended up being near total breakdown of the tube around the valve stem... the tube at first seemed almost rotted, but if I rubbed the grittness off it (probably from the inside of the tire, actually, it seemed healthy: In retrospect, I think any puncture or tear around the valve stem area has to be a tire/rim slippage issue until proven otherwise. I wasn't running a rim lock on the front (2 on the rear), but there will be one going on when we go back to the bikes in September for sure. Hard front braking with the extra weight of the luggage is just asking for trouble. Don't want no trouble. We prayed for better luck: And tried to salvage some miles from what was left of the day.