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.


jeff said...

"lookin' like a fool" with you bike on the ground? Bike on the ground, bike on the ground...

Jon said...

You can often use the handle of a quick-release as a tire iron...

Big Oak said...

Even with tire levers and spandex shorts, I am no super hero. Great story. Glad someone else came along!

Jenny-Jenny said...

That is hilarious! My super hero cipher stuck with his bike on the ground. It's good you didn't have a cape on! "No Capes, Darling."

Boz said...

you can use your wheel skewer as a tyre lever.

Anonymous said...

Keep looking for the levers that aren't there... it's like trying to shift halfway up a steep climb; you're just praying that new gears will miraculously materialize.

Buttsy said...

IT took two riders, before you asked for help...You must be such a bloke! Does your multi tool have anything that would double as a tyre lever? Just a suggestion, My tool splits into two and you have two (rather clumsy) tyre levers.

Hope you learned a lesson. We laughed, You reminded me I have to change my back tyre on my road bike as it will puncture.......soon...

Groover said...

There are two other things you should learn from this:

1. Never jinx yourself with that thought of not having had a flat in x amount of time. It's known to mankind that such a thought causes a tyre to flatten within the next few days.

2. Never turn your bike up-side-down when changing a tube. It's a big no-no. Very uncool. Even more uncool then tryin' to be superman.

I'm serious. :)