From the cycling department:
We love the wind /
Cos it is good to us
SPONGMONKEY #1: Hey, did you hear something?
SPONGMONKEY #2: Almost. Hey, let’s go to Quizno’s.
I set a record for my journey home at 35’24″ (no, that’s not 35 feet, 24 inches…). The wind at E 24km/h was a real helper. I coulda done it a little faster, too, but as I was doing the bit of Hunt Club from the 416 overpass to Moodie, a fellow cyclist pulled up and we chatted ’til we got to Moodie where I turn north (the True North, strong and free!).
I love biking.
Flashback to last Friday. I’m biking home. It’s a beautiful, sunny day, winds calm. I’m cycling north on Moodie, about to turn west on Robertson. As I go through the intersection, something feels wrong, and just as I exit the intersection, my back tire becomes wobbly.
I pull over to look at the flat tire.
Yup, flat. Distance to home? 6km. Time to walk it with a bike to tow along? 1hr, at least.
Lean the bike up against a sign beside the sidewalk. I try to pump the tire up; maybe it was a slow leak I hadn’t noticed, or a bump that magically deflated the tire? Yeah, right. This tire does not want to hold air. OK, next step: I take the tire off of the bike. I look at it to see if I can find an obvious culprit: a nail, or a staple, or a piece of glass or some little sharp thingie sticking outta my tire.
No luck. OK, next step (and this is the part where I learn not to take my handy dandy Park Tools bike kit for granted): I take the tire off the rim. It comes off pretty easy, I didn’t have to use the little wheel pry, but I did anyways. Now I look around the inside of the tire for some protruding sharp thing. I see nothing.
OK, next step. I inflate the tube and feel around it. Clearly this is not a slow leak, so I should be able to find something. AHA! A tiny hole is allowing my precious air to escape! I dig around in my little kit; I thought there were some emergency patches in there. And so there are! Aside from losing one of them (it got stuck to the little ziplock baggie I carry them in and I couldn’t get it free), I field-cleaned the site of the hole (read: lick finger, clean spot, rub with old biking shirt), waited a moment or two for it to really dry, and stuck on the patch. Damn, thos things’re good!
Wait a few moments for the patch to set well. I know that just up the road there’s a Canadian Tire where I can get a new tube if necessary, but this will be a good trial experience. I inflate the tube and sure enough, it holds air. Deflate tube. Manoeuver tire partway onto rim. Stuff tube into tire and partially inflate so it stays there. Begin hooking the tire into its proper place. Those tire pry thingies really come in handy. Done!
Deflate tube. Partially re-inflate. Bounce tire around on the ground for a moment or two to allow the partially inflated tube to wiggle around and find a good position within the tire. Mostly inflate tire. Woohoo! It seems to be holding air. My 70psi toroidal atmospheric prison is secure!
All that’s left is to figure out how to mangle the wheel around the chain and back onto the bike again, and secure it. Replace pannier, and away I go! I finally notice that there’s something on my back, and I remember the camera bag strapped on there. That’s how comfy this thing is: I forgot it was there while I was repairing my bike.
The rest of the trip home was short and uneventful. The whole thing reminds me of when I came back from my sister’s wedding. This whole ‘have all the things you need to fix your flat tires with you’ thing is really working out for me so far. Knock on wood. Knock on head. It’s all the same, really.
Part II: The Bike Shop (a.k.a. When Things Go Right)
So on Saturday morning, before heading over to P&M’s place to help with some construction (and then watch the Sens send Tampa Bay home), I call up my favourite bike shop, Rebec & Kroes. Yes, I had to search teh intarweb to get the spelling right.
Why call the shop, you say? Why not just go to the local hardware store, get a tube and install it? Well, my bike, she needs tuning anyways, plus there’s some stuff I want to get (like more patches and a nice baggie to put ‘em in). The chain is a little rusty because my shed, where the bike lived for the winter, is crap. It’s a cubular moisture prison, shall we say. (it’s OK ’cause I hope to build a new shed this year) Also, the gear shifting is a little off — it’s a new bike, the new cables are breaking in.
ME: Hi, I need to bring my bike in for a tuneup. And I blew a tire, so I need
a new tube, too.
RK: Ah, er, well, sure, there’s a two week wait for tuneups, though.
ME: Holy carp! That’s crazy!
RK: Yeah, it’s that time of year around here.
ME: Well, I should probably make an appointment.
RK: Unfortunately, it’s first come first serve. We don’t do appointments
’cause too many assholes ditch and then our techs stand around playing poker
‘stead of fixing bikes.
ME: OK, well, I guess I should bring my bike in, then. When are you open ’til?
RK: We’re open today and tomorrow, but the techies are only in on weekdays.
(OK, conversation not entirely verbatim, here d:)
Decision time. If I want a tune-up, I have to lose my bike for two weeks. Otherwise, I can ride on the patched tube or go buy a Crappy Tire tube, but still keep riding an out-of-tune bike. Neither of these is really very good.
ME (stalling for time while I make up my mind): Hey, I seem to remember when I
bought my bike there last year that you guys would do a free tuneup for me,
RK: Oh, when did you buy your bike?
ME: Last year, in the fall.
RK: Oh, well, I have good news for you! Not only is your tune-up free, but
we’ll get your bike done by the next business day!
ME, trying to imagine how I was in a dark tunnel with a tiny light at the far,
far end one minute, and now I’m out in the bright, bright sun: Well, hot damn!
Er, uh, I guess I should go find my receipt, eh?
RK: Well, you should be OK, we remember our bikes, we can find you in our
ME: Awesome! Well, I’m about to head out. How ’bout I bring my bike ’round
and drop it off, and you can call me when it’s ready.
RK: Sounds good, see you soon.
Talk about turning your frown upside-down. I ran upstairs to see if I could find my receipt anyways. I didn’t find it (a bunch of papers have gone AWOL since Christmas cleaning) but I did find the bag full of owner’s manuals and stuff the bike came with. And guess what? There’s four 3M patches in there (you can count on anything that Minesota Mining and Manufacturing makes that has to do with being sticky)!
So I dropped off the bike. Guess what: new tube? $5.50. New chain? $30. New little baggie for patches? $0. Woohoo! Now I just have to fold ‘em up in some wax paper when I get the chance.
That’s the best flat tire experience I’ve done yet, although last year’s story comes pretty close.