Saturday, May 15, 2010

Foreign Objects

April 2010 - May 2010

Today I got my first road bike flat of 2010. I was nearly done with my ride, and to get home I hopped on the Eisenbahn State Trail for what should have been an easy final mile on asphalt as smooth as glass. From where does that expression come? There was nothing smooth about the piece of glass that cut right through a brand new Continental Ultra Gatorskin and ripped a 1 cm hole in the tube. My rear tire instantly and completely depressurized.

Being so close to home, for a second I thought about simply taking the “walk of shame” rather than doing a trailside repair. But then I made the right choice and got down to business … and was rewarded almost immediately with a small crowd of well-wishers. First came a man on a mountain bike whom I assured I had everything I needed. Then came a family from Slinger, visiting the Eisenbahn for the first time. I had just removed the rear wheel when the four of them walked up and greeted me. When I explained that I had run over a piece of glass, the mother seemed delighted to have encountered a foreigner. Something in my manner of speaking suggested European to her. I declared my origins in and ongoing fealty to Pittsburgh PA, where paradoxically I also am greeted as an outsider instead of a native son. (There’s a distinct dialect in Pittsburgh that I can mimic well enough, but it isn’t natural to me.) Anyway, these very nice people from Slinger seemed genuinely interested in the operation of fixing a flat tire. And as common as it may be to us as cyclists, seen through the eyes of the uninitiated maybe it is pretty cool.

“Do you have a spare tube?”

Yes, two of them.

“Do you have a spare tire?”

No, but I don’t need one. However, I will have to boot the tire with a folded dollar bill. Money has threads woven through it, you know; it’s not just paper … makes a strong patch.

“What about air?”

My frame pump will get me going. Some guys use CO2 but I like the frame pump … never runs out.

And so on. In the end, I was glad to have an audience. I’m not the fastest flat changer in the world, but this was one of my better efforts. Narrating as I worked had a strangely calming effect on me. With two young boys looking on, it was no time to start swearing at my misfortune.

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