Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Flat Tire

Yesterday, I had the interesting experience of my SIXTH flat tire of the summer.  I'm getting a little tired of flats.  I've had more flats this summer than I have in all my years of biking so far.  I've flatted my hybrid once and my roadie five times, including the initial flat where I had to replace the entire tire.

Yesterday, I went out at about 630AM, intending to do an 11 mile ride and a 1.5 mile run.  Just like the training paper says.  I'm so good.

As I worked my way through West Hartford, I came to the part where West Hartford becomes Simsbury, and turned right onto Simsbury road.  Simsbury Road is gross- covered with debris and sand and gravel and broken glass.

A few hundred yards past the intersection, I felt that familiar-by-now feeling of riding on sand, and decided to pull up.  I unclipped, then remembered I am riding on new shoes.  Yes, I finally upgraded to real road pedals after 7 years of riding hybrid pedals.  This is significant, because road bike shoes are intended to be clipped in to pedals.  Period.

I took my front wheel off, patched the slit, and put in my new tube.  I was just starting to pump when the valve snapped in half and fell deep into my pump.  There I was:  5 miles from home, wearing road bike shoes with hard plastic bottoms and a big cleat, my only pump now jammed with my spare tube's broken valve.  I pulled out my cell phone... which promptly died.

It was now that I unleashed my finely honed vocabulary of swear words.

A homeowner backed out of his driveway in a big truck, pointed, and laughed, and drove away.

A biker on the other side of the road rolled by without a wave.

A biker commuting to work actually crossed the road and continued on her way.

A Police Officer checked to make sure I was not hurt, but he was running traffic and had left his phone in his cruiser.

At Bishop's Corner, I asked a group of parents sending their kids to camp if anyone could lend me a phone.  A man with a Blackberry clipped to his belt said, "No, I don't have a phone".  Two mothers gripped their children close, and said, "Sorry.  We don't have phones."  Yeah, I believe that, in affluent West Hartford, especially when you are sending your child to Rennbrook Day Camp.

I think it must be my very sketchy Italian looks- the dark hair, the big schnoz, the imposing quads, the facial scars masquerading as dimples.  If you saw me coming down the street, I'm sure you'd run screaming.  I guess I'm that terrifying.  I should work that, really, and take up a life of lucrative crime...

The only bright side:  early on in the fun, I walked by a synagogue, and one of the rabbis was walking to work.  He said the only practical things anyone said all day:  "Are you hurt?"  (I wasn't.) "Oh, then that is a blessing... Do you need to use a phone?  Here, use mine, don't worry about the minutes!"

I checked with a Rabbi friend.  It seems this would be considered a mitzvah.  Rock on, Rabbi!

All in all, I walked 4 miles in bike shoes from Simsbury to West Hartford before M (who had gotten the message the Rabbi left) found me, as he drove around my usual routes looking for me.

M saved me.  Here's my cleats, after four miles of walking, and the valve that broke and caused all this trouble!

Naughty valve.  There's supposed to be a piece on the top that keeps the air in.  Useful, really. 

Cleats, after Four Miles of walking.  Hopefully, now you get why people don't hike in road shoes.  My gearhead brother in law actually identified the type of pedals I ride in just by looking at the cleat.  Neat trick, indeed.  


Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

Sounds like a true Good Samaritan story to me, right down to the folks who passed you by, then getting help from a Rabbi! Gotta store that one away for later....

The Vagabond Priest said...

Tom- you kidding? It's already tucked into my files for that story when it comes up next year! :-)