Monday, June 4, 2012

My First Flat Bike Tire - A Novel

posted by Danni

I always envisioned that I would get my first flat bike tire when I was alone, far from home, in bad weather, with some sort of time constraint which would make a speedy repair necessary (i.e. needing to pick my daughter up from school.) Thankfully, this is not at all how it happened. Which, given the trials and tribulations I encountered in getting the damned thing fixed, was a VERY good thing!

This past Wednesday I had just completed a super short ride from home to the Grist Mill and back. I was walking my bike into the house when I was startled by a loud popping noise followed by a great deal of hissing. I laughed when I realized that my first flat tire had happened in the comfort of my own home. Could I be any luckier?

The next day was a beautiful day for a bike ride so I was determined to fix the flat tire. A couple of years ago, just before I took possession of my new recumbent, a friend had taught me how to change a bike tire. Since I consider myself to be a fairly competent person I felt I could remember what he had taught me and, given that I wasn’t stranded on the side of the road and I had plenty of time to figure things out, I knew I would be successful.

In my mind I heard my friend’s voice instructing me on how to fix a flat, “Step 1: If you are at home, go to the fridge and get a nice, cold beer. (All successful bike repairs start with a nice, cold beer :) Step 2: . . . “ So, while hearing my friend’s voice in my mind I set myself to the task of fixing the flat. I really thought I was doing great. I remembered to run my finger along the inside of the tire before inserting the new tube to make sure there wasn’t anything sharp that would re-puncture the tube. I remembered to only slightly inflate the tire to make sure the tube was not squeezed between the tire and the rim before fully inflating it. Heck, I even remembered to align the words on the tire with the words on the rim given that aesthetics are very important to my friend who taught me how to change a tire and I knew he would take notice. I felt I was doing great. It was much easier than I thought it would be. I was even starting to feel a bit smug. So, with everything done and seemingly in order, I happily started to pump up my first successfully repaired tire. 80 psi . . . 95 psi . . . 100 psi . . . 115 psi (almost to 120) . . . 118 psi . . . POP!!!! Ssssssssssssssssssssssss!

What did I do wrong?!!!!!

In much despair I emailed my friend who taught me how to change a tire to see if he could offer some words of wisdom to help me get the thing fixed. Thankfully, he took pity on me and offered to help me with the repair - a good thing, too. With my complete lack of experience it would have taken me a long while (and several more popped tubes) before I would have noticed what he saw immediately - the sidewall of my tire had a hole in it. He showed me how to insert a tire boot and we quickly patched the tube - too quickly as it turns out. With the tire back together he started to fill it with air. When the tire was almost full, “SSSSSSSSSSSSSS.” Well, at least there wasn’t a loud popping sound this time. That’s a good thing, right? (Those loud pops are startling and they really hurt the ears.) He knew immediately that we didn’t let the patch cure long enough. I threw him my last new tube and, much more quickly than I ever could have done, he had the tire repaired . . . FINALLY.

However . . . it was a temporary repair since the hole in the sidewall was so bad the tire had a pronounced bulge. I just wasn’t comfortable with the thought of riding my bike with a bulging tire. I knew that the tire was bound to blow again and this time it wasn’t going to be in the comfort of my front hallway. I needed a new tire before I could ride my bike again. Fast forward to the next morning with me sitting in much traffic to get to Belmont Wheelworks where, after much searching and a call to Scott (who hadn’t yet arrived to work) to see if they actually had a tire to fit my bike, I finally had a new tire.

With the new tire in hand I headed back to my friend’s place. He knew just how frustrated I was at this point and, once again, offered to help with the repair. However, he wasn’t being as chivalrous as he had been the night before. This time I had to endure much teasing in exchange for his services. You see, when I arrived at his place he was in his driveway repairing his own flat bike tire. He immediately started teasing me that I was cursed with bad tire luck and it was affecting everyone around me. It turns out that, not only did his bike have a flat tire that morning, his landlady’s car had a flat tire, as well. “Great!,” I thought, “Now I’m being accused of carrying a flat tire curse. Can it get any worse?” (Hint: Never ask this question. You’ll just tempt the Gods!)

So, once again, in very short order he had the new tire put together and ready for air. With some mock trepidation (a.k.a. more teasing) given the fact that the tire would most probably pop again given my curse, he proceeded to fill the tire with air . . . POP! Ssssssssssssssssssssss! NOT AGAIN! :(

In his mind I’m sure he was thinking that I truly was cursed. In my mind I was thinking that the Gods were teaching him a lesson for ruthlessly teasing a ‘damsel in distress.’ In any case, I was glad that I had purchased not one, but three, new tubes when I purchased my new tire. I found myself wondering how many we would go through before the tire was finally repaired – that is, if it ever could be repaired. Maybe I truly did have a flat tire curse.

Finally, we were able to successfully repair the damned thing. It was just then that Chamberlain rode into the driveway with a happy, non-stressed, “Hello!” And before I could even get out a quick hello in reply, my friend blurted out a warning, “Scott, keep your bike well away from Danni unless you are in the mood to change a tire!”


Anyway, if you find yourself looking for somebody with whom to go on a recumbent ride this summer, I would love to join you. I’d just highly recommend that you make sure your tire repair kit is well stocked and you have SEVERAL spare tubes with you. Hey, you might even consider bringing a spare tire, as well - just in case . . .

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