Thursday, July 9, 2009

Flat as Flat Can Be

It took some effort, but I managed to tweak my day to make time for a ride. As I figured it, I had an hour and twelve minutes. A odd number…well, an even number, actually, but you know what I mean – an unusual number, perhaps, but that was what I had. I hit got kitted out and hit the road. It was hot, it was windy, and my legs felt great. I don’t just mean “really good” either, I mean great, and not just great but Tony the Tiger “GGRRRREEATTTTTT!”

I was just flying right from the start. The heat didn’t matter. The wind didn’t matter. This was apparently my day. I don’t know what I hit. I didn’t see it when I hit it, and I didn’t find it when I went back to look for it. I know that I felt it and I heard the “whump” of the impact and I heard a noise like “Brppphhffffffewwwwww” (I think that's how you spell it) and three second later my tire was out of air. I stopped. It was a rear wheel flat, darn it.

My History With Flats

I haven’t had that many flats, so I can recall each one.

1. My first flat was on a group ride. Or, rather, right before a group ride was supposed to start. That was the time Jörg looked up at me and asked, “Why am I changing this for you?” “Because you don’t want to wait twenty minutes to leave and are too nice to leave without me?” I guessed. That must have been it, because he continued to fix the tire for me.

2. I discovered my second flat when I was getting ready to go out on a solo ride, so I got out my handy-dandy bike repair book, studied a bit and then changed the tire while sitting on my couch. It was a rear wheel flat, and, after I got the tube changed and inflated, I discovered that I couldn’t get the wheel back on.

What to do, what to do…

At the time I had a little two door hatch back car. I took the front wheel off the bike (I knew I could get that one back on) and discovered that there was just room for the frame in the back of my car if I shoved my seat about as far forward as I could get it. This was clearly unsafe, with the steering wheel making indentations on my rib cage, so I was glad the bike shop wasn’t far away.

I got to the bike shop and dragged my back in and explained to Steve what had happened. He didn’t laugh very hard. He then showed me the trick to getting the back wheel back on (it turns out it matters which gear you’re in. Who knew? Well, Steve did, for one. I didn’t. I then had to get the bike back into my car and get us both back home. I made it before I ran out of breath. (It’s really hard to breathe with a steering wheel kissing your sternum.)

3. My third flat happened on the road as I was returning from a group ride. I was less than half a mile from home, so I just walked the bike home and changed the flat there. (Yes, I know that I should probably be ashamed to admit that, but there it is. I just didn't want to have a go at changing the flat on the road. What can I say? At least I'm honest about it.)

4. 5. My fourth (and now fifth) flats happened out on the road while I was on solo rides, and I changed them successfully. (I didn't really have a whole lot of choice in either case. I wasn't going to walk my bike that far.) These two times were the first times I ever used CO2 cartridges to refill the tire, and I somehow managed that. (Even though I’ve done it twice, I still don’t actually know how I did it. I’ll figure it out one day.)

If you've read much of this blog, you may have gathered by now that I am not mechanically inclined. I am, in fact, mechanically declined, I'm sure.

Anyway, getting a flat certainly put a damper on my great ride, although, while I was in the process of changing it (and seeing how many body parts I could get grease on at the same time, apparently) a nice gentleman in a pickup truck stopped to ask if I needed any help. I said "no" which, for a few minutes, I though may have been overly ambitious, but I made out. I headed back home and used what had been my precious ride time to head to the bike shop and pick up a new tube. Also, while I was changing the tube, I noted that my tires are not in any too good a shape, either, so I needed a couple of those as well.

Still, the ride was GGRRRREEATTTTTT! while it lasted.

Tomorrow a ride is probably out of the question, but I can always hope. Maybe next time I climb into the saddle my legs will feel the same way they did today.

Wish me luck.

See you on the road.

1 comment:

  1. My first flat was out on a trail alone on my mountain bike. I had already ridden it quite a bit, so changing the tube wasn't too hard. It was also the rear tire, so I spent the majority of my first time changing a bike tube trying to get the darned wheel back on the bike. I eventually made it...after about a half hour.

    The second time I changed a tube, I was really just putting a new rear tire on my road bike. The tire was worn from the previous owner's time on a trainer. I thought that after doing the mountain bike tire with little trouble, I could do the road bike tire in maybe 10 or 15 minutes. All went well until I tried to get the new tire itself on. I've since learned that a brand new tire isn't very "stretched out" yet, so I eventually sucked up my pride and threw the wheel in the car for a trip to the bike shop. The guys there were nice enough not to charge me to finish pulling the tire over the rim.

    I'm a little nervous about getting a flat out on my road bike now. I also have some CO2 cartridges now, but I've never used them. I've heard stories about blowing a stem right off the tube with one of those. But I always take my cell phone along with me on a ride, so if I fail, I guess can hope that my hubby will have his ringer on. Ha!