Thursday, March 18, 2010

Flat Tire Grief

The other day while I was out for a ride I was thinking to myself that it had been a long time since I had a flat. What a joyful thought, 3 years without a flat tire. Then as a rode along I felt like I was slowing down which believe it or not happens to me a lot. Normally, when this happens I think to myself “there’s no way I’m dogging it, I must have a flat”. The last 150 times that I’ve looking down to check to see if I indeed had a flat I didn’t. It’s just a case of my whimpiness, but this day as I looked down I noticed that my back tire was looking rather spongy. As I pulled over and felt my back tire my worst fears were confirmed. Arrrrrg, I had a flat.

Not to worry, just the other day I had repacked my seat wedge for the upcoming season with everything I would need to change a flat including one handy dandy latex glove so I could handle the chain/derailleur without getting grease all over the left side of my body. As I dug through my seat wedge I noticed that I had everything that I needed except for one item.

Tire levers!

For the next 30 minutes unbeknownst to myself I systematically made my way through the 5 stages of grief I’m sure this would have been hilarious to someone watching from a distance but to me. Well, not so much. Here’s how it played out.

Stage 1 – Denial
“What? No tire levers? That can’t be, I just repacked this bag. They must be in here somewhere.” Honestly, my bag is really small but you wouldn’t know it by the amount of times that I searched through it for those levers. It was like I was searching for a secret compartment to pop out like it was a Bat Utility Belt® but alas my levers had vanished into thin air.

At this point another cyclist approached me heading in the opposite direction and asked if I needed any help. Being in full denial mode I reassured him that I didn’t need any help and he went on his way. I didn’t need his help because I had talked myself into being strong and nimble enough to manhandle that skinny little tire off of the rim with my bare hands just a like a super hero would. I was wearing spandex shorts after all, so this should qualify me as an super hero able to fix flats with the greatest of ease in a single bound of course.

Stage 2 – Anger
Now that I had convinced myself that I could fix my flat with my bare hands it was time to get into action. I was able to wiggle one of the sidewalls up and off of the rim but the only way I could do this was to turn the tire inside out. Not really how I had planned my super powers to manifest themselves but the tire was off one of the sides of the rim. Then I realized that there was no way possible that I was going to get the tube inserted into my inside out tire and back on the rim. Enter the full blown anger stage. I wasn’t mad enough to jump up and down and hold my breath but I was angry enough to go through my seat bag once again and in the process chuck all of its contents on the ground one by one. Not a pretty sight but I was out in the middle of nowhere so no one else was around to witness my temporary cycling insanity.

Stage 3 – Bargaining
Now that I had to come to the realization that my super power flat fixing skills weren’t what I thought they were I had to do some bargaining with myself. I could wait for another cyclist to come by and beg to use their tire levers or I could make the dreaded phone call to Jenny and have her drive out to Timbuktu to get me with my tail between my legs. I didn’t like either of these options but I decided to hang around for a little while and wait for a fellow cyclist before calling Jenny.

Stage 4 – Depression
So there I stood on the side of the road with my bike turned upside down and the back tire turned completely inside out “lookin like a fool”. I stood there like a cipher in the snow waiting for a kind cyclist with tire levers to ride past. I was deep in cycling depression. Out for a ride on a great day, in nice weather, on one of my favorite routes standing on the side of the road with a flat. It could have been worse though, I could be at home mowing the lawn.

Stage 5 – Acceptance
I stood on the side of the road wallowing in my cycling depression for what seemed like an eternity when another cyclist came up the road and magically asked if I needed any help. Like Napoleon Dynamite I thought to myself “Heck yes I do”. I explained all I needed was to borrow his tire levers for a couple of minutes. He dug them out of his bag (because he was smart enough to pack them) and before he knew it I popped my tire completely on my rim so I could start over again mounting everything. I set a speed record getting that tire off of the rim while distracting him with cycling conversation so he wouldn’t notice what I mess I had made in my attempt to fix my flat. I was like a one man cycling master of illusion. Before he knew it I had completely put everything together and handed his levers back. I thanked him profusely for his help and he was on his way while I pumped my tire up.

As I rode home I decided a couple of things.

1. I would never go for a ride without tire levers
2. Cycling shorts do not qualify you as a super hero with bare hand flat fixing skills.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Two Great Videos

I came across a couple of great videos.

It looks like this one was filmed in Portland. One of my favorite places to ride.

This one is of Jens Voigt and someone is asking him what he says to his legs when they are hurting. I think I'll be saying this to my legs a lot this year.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It's All Relative

When I was in college I had a roommate who was a philosophy major. I don’t remember too many things about him but I do remember that he had two favorite sayings. The first one was “When I graduate I’m going to get paid to think”. On a good day he would utter this over-confident phrase 6 or 7 times in an attempt to convince himself that his major was legitimate. I’m not saying that majoring in philosophy isn’t legitimate but honestly he was pretty darn annoying about his major selection.

The other thing he used to say was “It’s all relative”. This is a very normal thing to say when it’s used in the right context but he used to drop this line as a “I have something profound to say” statement whether it made sense or not.

Here are some examples:
Me: I think I’ll make some Raman for dinner before I go to study.
Philosophy Man: It’s all relative.
Me: What?

Me: I’m going on a date with Jenny this Friday night.
Philosophy Man: It’s all relative.
Me: Huh?

Me: Did you know that you can get 32 oz of Diet Coke for .25?
Philosophy Man: It’s all relative.
Me: You keep using that line. I do not think it means what you think it means.

As you can see this phrase would immediately kill any conversation dead in its tracks because everyone would stare at him like a dog watches TV. You know, your dog knows there’s something there but he can’t quite make it out so he stares for a while then walks away.

Jenny knew this roommate so sometimes I will randomly drop this line into a conversation when she’s around and she will start to laugh. It’s like the inside joke that never gets old.

The other day I was in the car with my 14 year old son and we were listening to a pop station that he loves. Trying to get teenagers to talk to you can be a challenge sometimes so I was asking him about different songs that I knew nothing about. We were having a great conversation when out the blue a song came on the radio and he blurted out “This song is soooooo old”!!!! When I asked him how old the song was he said “it’s like 3 or 4 months old”. Really? 3 or 4 MONTHS?

To me an old song came out in the late 1960’s which would make it 40 years old not 4 months. I guess our concepts of what old is are totally different.

I was kind of embarrassed but all I could think was “It’s all relative” and in this case it actually made sense for once.

Philosophy Man I hope you’re getting paid to think somewhere in the world.