“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.”
I got my first flat while commuting in Washington while home on the Burke-Gilman trail tonight. I felt particularly depressed when I realized my problem because night was falling and today was the first rainy day in a couple weeks. Good things about the flat, as they go:
- It happened on the way home, so I simply walked to the closest road crossing, called in reinforcements, and leisurely passed time waiting for my ride to arrive by changing the tire.
- To make the emergency call, I borrowed a cell phone from one of the dozen kind bicyclists who asked as they rode by if I was OK, if I had the tools I needed, or if I needed any help. I think most of them realize that it could just as easily be them next time.
- I amazed myself by getting the tire back on without any problems. That boosts my confidence in general, because in the past I have spent ages wrestling the darn thing back onto the rim, and sometimes I even needed Ian to help me.
- It happened on the front tire, which is so rare as to be almost mystical.
- When I got home and looked for the source of the flat, I had no trouble locating the problem:
I know, who would have expected me to find a penny embedded all the way into my tire?! I just included that little pointy bit of red plastic for reference.
Bad things about the flat, aside from ruining my perfectly good evening commute:
- When I tried to use my CO2 cartridge to fill the new tube up, the cartridge exploded in slow motion rather than doing whatever it was supposed to do. I have never once used a CO2 cartridge successfully. Tomorrow I’m ordering a bike pump.
- Now I have to wait in suspense to see if my tube change has actually worked. It’s so easy to pinch the tube when you put it in, or for the tube to be punctured by the same thing that caused the flat in the first place, or, in my case, for the tube to have gotten worn through from my carrying it around for a year in my emergency bike bag. I estimate that I have a slightly less than 50% chance that it’ll take and I’ll be all set.
- This puncture means I should really buy a new tire, too, because the relatively gigantic hole left behind when I removed the piece of plastic (which really was embedded deep enough to be flush against the edge of the tire) is now a weakness that could either let in another item to puncture the new tube or could let the tube slowly expand and eventually in that weakened place.
All in all, I feel grateful that nothing horrible happened but I also felt like a commute failure, not successfully changing my own flat tire on the road. What kind of commute expert just calls for somebody to pick her up when something goes wrong?